Franchy Cordero leads the way with 3 hits as Red Sox battle back to take series from Tigers with wild 12-9 win

It took all of four hours and 13 minutes, but after trading punches back and forth for 8 1/2 innings the Red Sox were able to come away with a series-clinching, 12-9 win over the Tigers at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Winning Thursday’s game was no easy task, as the two sides scored a total of 21 runs, notched a total of 30 hits, and committed a total of six errors while exchanging leads on six separate occasions.

Boston was ultimately able to come away with a drama-filled victory over Detroit, though, and they improved to 19-13 on the season because of it.

Hernandez injured injured in first inning

After leading the bottom of the first off with a hard-hit double off Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull, Enrique Hernandez would have to leave the game due to right hamstring tightness. He was replaced by Franchy Cordero.

Cordero would prove to play a pivotal role in a contest he did not even start. The outfielder came into the day in the midst of an 0-for-25 rut and wound up reaching base four times on an RBI double, a pair of singles, and a fielding error.

Early lead does not suffice

Cordero took over for Hernandez after the utilityman had advanced to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout in the first. J.D. Martinez then drove him in on an RBI single to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

Inserted into the leadoff spot, Cordero collected an RBI of his own in the second by plating Kevin Plawecki on an opposite field double to make it a 2-0 contest.

Rafael Devers and Plawecki doubled their side’s run total in the third on a pair of RBI singles, putting the Red Sox up 4-1.

At that point, Nathan Eovaldi — Thursday’s starter — had been rolling, allowing just one run to cross the plate over his first three innings of work.

The top half of the fourth, however, was a different story for the right-hander, as he gave up five hits in an inning that saw the Tigers bring across three runs of their own to knot things up at four runs apiece.

Back-and-forth in the middle innings

Eovaldi’s struggles continued in the fifth, as he yielded back-to-back leadoff singles before getting the hook in favor of Josh Taylor with one out in the inning.

Taylor allowed the lead runner he inherited to score on a wild pitch before allowing the second inherited runner to score on a run-scoring single off the bat of Niko Goodrum.

That gave the Tigers a 6-5 edge, and it closed the book on Eovaldi’s day. The 31-year-old hurler ended up getting tagged for six earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over just 4 1/3 innings pitched. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.62.

Phillips Valdez allowed Detroit to double their lead in the sixth, but Boston answered back right away with Martinez ripping an RBI single and Devers lacing a two-run single up the middle to make it an 8-7 game.

Again, the Tigers responded by scoring two more runs over the seventh and eighth innings to go up 9-8.

Vazquez comes off the bench and delivers

Down to their final six outs, Devers — representing the tying run — led off the bottom half of the eighth by reaching on a fielding error. He would advance to second with two outs due to a wild pitch.

Plawecki then drew a six-pitch walk to put runners at first and second and was replaced by Christian Arroyo.

With the No. 9 hitter due up next, Christian Vazquez emerged from the Red Sox dugout to pinch-hit for the slumping Bobby Dalbec.

Fresh into the game, Vazquez came through with one of the biggest hits of the day by hitting a game-tying single off Tigers reliever Alex Lange to score Devers and make it a 9-9 contest.

Cordero followed suit by reaching on a fielding error committed by Jeimer Candelario that allowed Arroyo to score from third.

Now with a one-run lead in hand, Alex Verdugo provided some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Gregory Soto to put the Sox up 12-9.

Ottavino picks up first save of the season

With Matt Barnes unavailable, fellow righty Adam Ottavino got the call for the ninth inning, worked his way around a leadoff walk, and retired the next three hitters he faced in order to preserve the 12-9 win and record his first save of the year.

Next up: On to Baltimore

The Red Sox will travel to Baltimore for a four-game weekend series at Camden Yards that commences on Friday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston in the opener, and he will be opposed by veteran right-hander Matt Harvey.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero and Rafael Devers: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi crushes 2 homers for Royals; former Red Sox outfielder has found success since moving down in Kansas City’s lineup

Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.

After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.

Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.

In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.

As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.

But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.

Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.

Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.

Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.

At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.

Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”

Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.

Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.

The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.

The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana to begin rehab assignment with High-A Greenville next Tuesday

UPDATE: Cora has confirmed that Santana will indeed begin a rehab assignment next week.

Red Sox minor-league signee Danny Santana will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Greenville when the 2021 minor-league season starts next Tuesday, according to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

Santana, 30, signed a minor-league deal with the Sox last month that included an invite to big-league spring training.

Shortly after signing, however, Santana suffered a right foot infection in mid-March that required surgery as well as a stay in the hospital.

Since then, the Dominican native has been able to return to the field and has been rehabbing in Fort Myers. It would appear that he is now at a point where he can take it up a notch in regards to the level of competition he is facing.

“He’s going through his progression. He’s getting his at-bats,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Santana over the weekend. “He’s feeling good. Actually, I’ve been in touch with him every other day. And he’s progressing well.”

Originally signed by the Twins as an international free agent back in 2007, Santana has proven to be a super-utilityman of sorts over the course of a seven-year major-league career.

Over the last two seasons with the Rangers alone, the switch-hitter has played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

In addition to playing everywhere in his time with the Rangers, Santana also put together one of the best season of his career with Texas in 2019.

Across 130 games spanning 511 plate appearances, the 5-foot-11, 203 pounder slashed .283/.324/.534 with 28 home runs, 81 RBI, and 21 stolen bases en route to being named the Rangers’ Player of the Year.

Last year, though, Santana was limited to just 15 games on account of a right elbow sprain and was ultimately non-tendered by Texas in December.

“A switch-hitter with speed and power,” Cora said Thursday afternoon. “We saw it two years ago. He was amazing. Against us he was really good. I do believe he’s a quality at-bat from the left side. He brings speed. We can run a little bit more. That’s what he does… Let’s see where it takes us. We need him to get healthy and get his repetitions. And we have to be patient and see where it takes.

“But he’s a good player,” added Cora. “He’s a player we recognized during the offseason just like the other two (Kiké Hernández and Marwin Gonzalez). It just happened his situation was a little bit different with the surgery. It’s a player we really like. And we do feel when he’s right, he can contribute to a championship-caliber team.”

Before going down with that right foot infection this spring, Santana seemed to have a legitimate shot at cracking the Sox’ Opening Day roster as a bench piece given his defensive versatility and ability to hit from both sides of the plate.

Now that he is on the cusp of getting back into game action, Santana’s Red Sox debut could come sooner rather than later if Franchy Cordero (.191/.255/.234, 25 K in 51 PAs) continues to struggle at the plate.

That being the case because Cordero can be optioned to the minors and — as noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier — the Triple-A season begins next week.

Speier also notes that Santana’s initial pact with the Sox included an April 30 opt-out if he is not called up to the big-leagues, but that opt-out date has now been pushed back “by a couple of weeks” to mid-May.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran spending time in left field at team’s alternate training site

Red Sox outfield prospect Jarren Duran has started to see playing time in left field at the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, as evidenced by his participation in Monday’s simulated game at Polar Park.

During the live stream of Monday’s sim game, Worcester Red Sox broadcaster Josh Maurer said that Duran has “been transitioning to playing corners over the past few days, not just in today’s game (h/t SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield).

The 24-year-old was originally drafted by the Red Sox as a second baseman out of Long Beach State in 2018.

The area scout who had signed Duran, Justin Horowitz, thought that the speedster played second base well, but saw an opportunity for him to move to center field given his freakish athleticism.

“I just thought his athleticism was a little bit bottled up at second base,” Horowitz told MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith last month. “He could play second base. He did it fine. I had no issues with it. I just thought there was a chance for impact in center field if you could kind of let this kid go be himself and run around out there and be a ball hog. So that’s what I recommended.”

Since making the move to center field, Duran has emerged as the top outfield prospect in Boston’s farm system and came into the 2021 season regarded by Baseball America as the organization’s fifth-ranked prospect overall.

Of the 1,645 1/3 defensive innings Duran has played in the minor-leagues since making his pro debut in 2018, 164 have come at second base, 1,220 2/3 have come in center field, and 260 2/3 have come in right field.

Over the course of the spring, the 6-foot-2, 202 pounder only played left field on a few occasions after exclusively playing center during the 2019 minor-league season as well as at the alternate site last year.

The fact that the Red Sox have Duran exploring a new position comes at an interesting time considering the fact that corner outfielders Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe have gotten their 2021 campaigns off to slow starts.

Cordero, who the Sox acquired from the Royals in February as part of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, is struggling to the tune of a .200/.265/.244 slash line out of the gate to go along with a 47% strikeout rate.

Renfroe, who signed a one-year, $3.1 million with Boston in December, is currently slashing .176/.241/.255 with just one home run and eight RBI over his first 58 plate appearances.

Despite the offensive struggles, Renfroe has proven to be the best defensive outfielder on the Red Sox’ major-league roster. The same cannot be said for Cordero, who at 26 only has 112 career big-league games under his belt over five seasons.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote Monday that “the Red Sox aren’t at the point of giving up on either [Cordero or Renfroe], but their outfield situation hardly seems settled for the long haul.”

If Cordero and/or Renfroe’s struggles do continue, Duran would then represent a potential solution to Boston’s outfield problems, but only after immediate holes on the big-league club have been filled.

That’s why the Sox have made sure to get Duran acquainted with a new position while he is in Worcester as opposed to under the lights in Boston. Red Sox farm director Brian Abraham said as much in a recent conversation with Speier.

“If there is an opportunity for [Duran] to get to the big leagues at some point this season or in the future, if he gets put in left field at Fenway Park, we don’t want that to be the first time he’s playing left field in a professional baseball game,” explained Abraham. “We want players to feel comfortable in an uncomfortable spot and to prepare guys for the potential for there to be different things that happen, whether it be a transaction or an injury. The more versatile the player, the better chance they have of impacting the big league club.”

To put it simply, the Red Sox want to put Duran in a position (no pun intended) where he is capable of being a big-league contributor for an extended period of time.

By having Duran patrol unfamiliar territory in left field, the Sox are hopeful that the experience will open more doors for the California native to make an impact in the majors sooner rather than later.

That being said, Duran receiving a callup anytime soon is no sure thing. As Speier notes, the young outfielder “still has yet to play an official minor-league game above Double-A.”

The last minor-league game he played in also took place more than 19 months ago, too.

Because he is already in Worcester, it seems more than likely that Duran will begin the 2021 minor-league campaign with the WooSox, who are slated to kick off their inaugural season on May 4.

And while there is no timetable as for when Duran could be getting called up, the Red Sox will be sure to closely monitor how the left-handed hitter adjusts to a new tier of competition at the Triple-A level as he is coming off a year in which he made several improvements to his game on both sides of the ball.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

What do Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe’s offensive woes mean for Red Sox’ outfield picture?

22 games into the 2021 season, it’s fair to say the Red Sox are not getting the results they had hoped for from two significant outfield additions they made over the winter.

Those two additions would be a pair of former Padres outfielders in Hunter Renfroe and Franchy Cordero.

Renfroe, who signed a one-year, $3.1 million deal with Boston back in December, did not play in the Sox’ 8-2 loss at the hands of the Mariners on Saturday afternoon.

Through 14 games this season, the 29-year-old is slashing a dismal .188/.241/.271 with just one home run and seven RBI over 54 plate appearances.

What Renfroe has lacked in offensive production, he has made up for it with his glove thus far as he came into play Saturday ranked seventh among qualified American League outfielders in ultimate zone rate per 150 games (22.7).

The same cannot be said for Cordero, whom the Sox acquired from the Royals as part of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City back in February.

Cordero did play in Saturday’s loss to the M’s while starting in left field and batting out of the eight-hole, but struck out swinging in all three of his trips to the plate.

The 26-year-old out of the Dominican has now punched out 23 times in 49 plate appearances this season while watching his slash line dip to an underwhelming .200/.265/.244 with just two extra-base hits and five RBI to his name so far.

While he has yet to put his power on full display in Boston, Red Sox manager Alex Cora attributed Cordero’s early struggles and high strikeout rate to the notion that the left-handed hitter was trying to make too much contact rather than stay within himself at the plate.

“I do believe he’s actually trying too much to make contact instead of staying on his swing,” Cora said of Cordero prior to Saturday’s loss. “Instead of recognizing your pitch and put a good swing on it, he’s not actually doing that. He’s late on the fastball. Now he’s out in front of offspeed pitches.”

Despite an 0-for-3 showing with three strikeouts in Saturday’s contest, Cora still remains confident that Cordero will be able to turn things around and prove to be a valuable member of this Red Sox team.

“You’ve got to keep coaching the player and giving him confidence,” said Cora. “He’s working on his craft every day with (hitting coaches) Timmy (Hyers) and Peter (Fatse). He’s in a bad stretch right now. But this is a guy that we trust and we believe he’s going to make contact. And when he makes contact, good things happen.”

Prior to being dealt to Boston in February, Cordero accrued 315 plate appearances with the Padres and Royals from 2016-2019. He crushed 12 total home runs in those 315 plate appearances, but — as previously mentioned — has yet to hit a homer in a Red Sox uniform.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described Cordero as someone who “hits the ball about as hard as anyone in the big-leagues,” upon acquiring him from Kansas City this winter.

So far this season, the 6-foot-3, 232 pound pound outfielder has yet to barrel a ball and is averaging an exit velocity of just 87.8 mph on the balls he has put in play, per FanGraphs.

It should be said that the Red Sox invested in both Cordero and Renfroe with the idea that they could prove to quintessential low-risk, high reward players.

Besides Renfroe’s fine defense, there really has not been much of a reward from either outfielder thus far. Again, it’s still relatively early on in the season, but that point begs the question: How long will the Red Sox wait before making a significant change in the outfield?

And by make a significant change, I mean call up Jarren Duran.

Duran, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the top outfield prospect in Boston’s farm system and is currently waiting in the wings at the club’s alternate training site in Worcester.

With the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the former seventh-round draft pick has not played in a competitive (non-spring training game) since 2019 and has yet to play above Double-A.

The Red Sox initially drafted Duran as a second baseman out of Long Beach State, but converted him to an outfielder on account of his speed and power potential.

This spring, the left-handed hitter clubbed three home runs, collected seven RBI, and slashed .340/.367/.702 across 47 Grapefruit League appearances.

While he has provided that much offensive firepower at spring training, the Puerto Rican winter league, and the alternate training site this year and last, the Sox still feel as though Duran can improve upon his defense in center field, which is understandable given the fact he is still relatively new to the position.

Bloom has said before that the Red Sox do not want to skip any steps in a prospect’s development, which would certainly seem to indicate that Duran is bound to see playing time for the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox before garnering any big-league consideration.

On top of that, Duran — who turns 25 in September — has yet to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which as you might expect is full at the moment.

The California native needs to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster before November 20 in order to avoid eligibility for the Rule 5 Draft, but that is yet another obstacle in the way.

Still, Duran is undoubtedly one of the more exciting prospects the Red Sox have to offer. He seems to be more big-league ready than the likes of outfielders Jeisson Rosario or Marcus Wilson (both of whom are on the 40-man roster), too.

So, if Cordero and Renfroe continue to sputter along, it would not be surprising to see the Red Sox give Duran a crack in the outfield sooner rather than later.

His time is coming, and maybe it will come sooner than expected.

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero, and Alex Verdugo: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodríguez fans seven over 5 strong innings in first start since 2019; Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernández collect first homers of season as Red Sox top Orioles, 7-3, for fourth straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez picked up on Thursday where he left off 557 days ago.

The left-hander’s last start of the 2019 season came against the Orioles, and he allowed three runs over seven strong innings in that contest.

After missing the entirety of the 2020 season due to myocarditis, Rodriguez finally made his long-awaited return to a big-league mound on Thursday in Baltimore.

Working against the O’s in their home opener, the recently-turned 28-year-old again held Baltimore to three runs — this time over five innings — while scattering four hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three runs Rodriguez surrendered on Thursday came by way of the home run ball, with Ryan Mountcastle crushing a two-run homer in the first and Pedro Severino clubbing a solo shot off the lefty in the fourth.

From that point on, though, Rodriguez did manage to retire each of the final four hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (56 strikes), the Venezuelan hurler sat at 91-95 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he threw 13 times — while also inducing four swings-and-misses with his changeup — a pitch he threw 25 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision of the year because of his triumphant effort, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Twins next Wednesday.

Whitlock, Barnes sharp out of the bullpen

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. The 24-year-old followed up his impressive big-league debut from last weekend by punching out three of the six Orioles he faced over two perfect frames of work to pick up his first career hold.

Matt Andriese, who helped Whitlock develop his changeup over the course of spring training, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk and one-out single to toss a scoreless eighth.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, was on the cusp of an immaculate inning (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts) in the ninth, but he still struck out the side on 11 pitches anyway to preserve the 7-3 victory for his side.

Devers gets on the board with first homer

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey, whom they had just seen last weekend.

Following a one-out double from Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away by mashing his first home run of the season — a two-run shot — off Harvey to give his side the early 2-0 advantage.

Per Baseball Savant, Devers’ first big fly of 2021 left his bat at 111 mph and traveled approximately 452 feet to deep center field.

Retaking the lead and adding on some insurance

Harvey managed to hold the Boston bats in check after giving up that Devers homer, and him doing that coincided with the Orioles jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

In the sixth, though, the Orioles starter put the first two hitters he faced — Devers and Christian Vazquez — on base on a pair of singles, and that would lead to his exit from this contest.

Matched up against lefty reliever Paul Fry now, Marwin Gonzalez drew a six-pitch walk, which allowed Christian Arroyo and Franchy Cordero to plate a pair of runs on an RBI groundout and RBI single.

Verdugo sparked more offense in the seventh, as he collected his second double of the afternoon and later scored on a two-base hit off the bat of a red-hot J.D. Martinez — marking the seventh straight game the vaunted slugger has reached base on an extra-base hit out of the gate.

That sequence put the Red Sox up two at 5-3, and Gonzalez added on to that with a run-scoring single of his own to make it a 6-3 contest going into stretch time.

Kiké Hernández comes through with first home run

Devers was not the only member of the Red Sox to notch his first homer of the year on Thursday, as Kiké Hernández did the very same in the top half of the eighth.

On a 2-2, 86 mph slider from Orioles reliever Tyler Wells, the 29-year-old pulled said pitch 372 feet to left field for his first home run in a Sox uniform.

Hernández’s 72nd career homer put the Red Sox up 7-3, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Next up: An off day

Now winners of four straight after starting the season 0-3, the Sox will enjoy an off day on Friday before they look to keep things rolling against the O’s on Saturday.

Right-hander Garrett Richards is slated to get the ball for Boston in that contest, and he will be matched up against rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez comes through with walk-off double as Red Sox top Rays, 6-5, in 12 innings for first series win of season

In the span of four innings, J.D. Martinez went from zero to hero for the Red Sox in their contest against the Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

After committing a costly baserunning blunder while representing the tying run in the bottom half of the eighth, the 33-year-old slugger had the chance to redeem himself later on well into extra innings.

With two outs and two runners on in a 5-4 game in the 12th, Martinez — matched up against Rays reliever Ryan Thompson — drilled a flyball over the head of an outstretched Randy Arozarena in right field plenty deep enough to plate both Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo to give the Sox their first walk-off victory of the season with a 6-5 win.

Martinez, who finished the day 2-for-6 with three RBI, stays hot and is now slashing .476/.522/1.000 through his first five games of the year.

Martin Perez tosses five-plus solid frames

Well before Tuesday’s late-night drama, Martin Perez made his first start of the new campaign.

Working five-plus innings, the veteran left-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts. The second walk he gave up came with no outs in the top half of the sixth, and it marked the end of his outing.

Of the 92 pitches Perez threw on Tuesday, 52 went for strikes. The Venezuelan hurler also mixed in 29 cutters, 21 changeups, 19 sinkers, 15 curveballs, and eight fastballs on his way to picking up the no-decision. His next start should come against the Twins sometime next week.

Matt Barnes dazzles with two perfect innings of relief

After Austin Brice, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Darwinzon Hernandez managed to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard through the end of the eighth inning, Matt Barnes was called in for the ninth as he was tasked with holding the Rays at three runs.

Making just his second relief appearance of the year, the flame-throwing righty did exactly that by retiring the side in order in the ninth and then doing the same in the 10th after the Sox had knotted things up.

In total, Barnes struck out four of the six batters he faced and induced six swings-and-misses in the process of doing so.

Tanner Houck, Phillips Valdez close things out

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had said before Tuesday’s game that rookie right-hander Tanner Houck would be available to pitch out of the bullpen against the Rays.

Having just thrown 85 pitches in his start against the Orioles over the weekend, it seemed unlikely that the 24-year-old would be used in this one, but he was after all.

With a runner on second base to start each extra inning, Houck wound up surrendering the go-ahead run to the very first hitter he faced in Willy Adames, who ripped an RBI double down the left field line to give his side a 4-3 edge.

Houck did manage to escape the top half of the 11th without giving anything else up, though fellow righty Phillips Valdez fell victim to the unearned run himself an inning later.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to yield five runs (three earned) on eight hits, five walks, and 13 strikeouts on Tuesday night.

Christian Vazquez comes through in the clutch

Before Martinez’s late-inning heroics, the Boston bats were finding it difficult to score runs just one night after plating 11 in their first win of the season.

Facing off against vaunted Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow, the only run the Sox managed to bring across over the first seven innings came when Christian Arroyo scored from third on a wild pitch.

Martinez tacked on the first of his three RBI with a run-scoring double in the eighth off Pete Fairbanks in the eighth, then it was Christian Vazquez’s time to shine in the ninth.

Going into his fourth plate appearance of the night without a hit, Vazquez did not waste any time in greeting new Rays reliever Diego Castillo, as he led the bottom of the ninth off by crushing a solo shot 383 feet well over the Green Monster for his first big fly of the season.

That moonshot would pull the Red Sox back even with the Rays at three runs apiece, and it would ultimately set up the Martinez walk-off later on in the 12th.

Franchy Cordero makes leaping grab in left field

One key moment that cannot be lost in the shuffle of Tuesday’s drama was the play Franchy Cordero made to end the top half of the seventh inning.

With one out in the frame and runners on first and second, Rays centerfielder Manuel Margot lifted a flyball to left that was on the cusp of bouncing off the Monster before a leaping Franchy Cordero robbed the former Red Sox prospect of extra-bases.

There was some confusion as to whether Cordero caught the ball or trapped it against the left field wall, and that confusion allowed the outfielder to double off one of the runners — Arozarena — at second base to end the inning.

The Rays disputed the call on the field by challenging it, but it was upheld by replay review.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Yarbrough

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Wednesday afternoon, so it’s certainly a quick turnaround.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on YouTube. Yes, you read that correctly. YouTube.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Franchy Cordero reinstated from COVID-19 injured list; Michael Chavis, Colten Brewer sent down to Worcester; John Schreiber designated for assignment

The Red Sox have reinstated outfielder Franchy Cordero from the COVID-19 related injured list, the team announced Tuesday morning.

In a corresponding move, right-hander John Schreiber was designated for assignment in order to make room for Cordero on the 40-man roster.

Additionally, both infielder Michael Chavis and right-hander Colten Brewer were optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Worcester.

Cordero being activated off the COVID-19 injured list most certainly means he will be good to go for Opening Day on Thursday.

Originally acquired from the Royals as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City, the 26-year-old has impressed thus far in Grapefruit League play.

Coming into Tuesday, Cordero is slashing .294/.333/.588 with one triple, one home run, and one RBI through his first six games and 18 plate appearances with the Sox. He played back-to-back games for the first time this spring on Sunday and Monday.

Upon arriving in Fort Myers last month, the Dominican native’s status for Opening Day became cloudy once he was placed on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive for the virus back home.

The left-handed hitting slugger was not cleared to return to baseball activities until March 11, but it now appears as though he has the green light for Thursday’s season-opening contest against the Orioles at Fenway Park.

“He feels great,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Cordero this past Sunday. “There’s a good chance he will be with us Opening Day. Let’s see how he reacts out of this one. But everything is very positive with the way he has been able to bounce back. The game in Tampa, he hit a triple, he move around in the outfield. He’s in a good position.”

Cordero, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 232 pounds, has played in just 95 games since making his major-league debut with the Padres in 2017 on account of multiple stints on the injured list. He has been hampered by a right wrist sprain, a right elbow sprain, a tight forearm strain, and a left abductor strain in the past three years alone.

Because of his history, the Red Sox will clearly have to be cautious in how they manage Cordero to ensure that he can stay healthy and play as many games as possible.

With Cordero being reinstated on Tuesday, the Sox needed to clear a 40-man roster spot for the outfielder, and they did so by designating right-hander John Schreiber for assignment.

Schreiber, who turned 27 earlier this month, was claimed off waivers from the Tigers back in February.

The 6-foot-2, 210 pound righty appeared in just two games for the Sox this spring, allowing a pair of earned runs on five hits, one walk, and one strikeout over 1 1/3 total innings pitched in those two appearances. He was optioned to the alternate training site on March 16.

The Red Sox now have seven days to either trade, release, or sneak Schreiber through waivers if he is not claimed by another club first.

Turning to the next move made by the Sox on Tuesday, infielder Michael Chavis and right-handed reliever Colten Brewer were both optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Worcester.

The 25-year-old Chavis had been competing with fellow infielder Christian Arroyo for one of Boston’s final bench spots, and it even seemed like both could make the team’s Opening Day roster if Cordero was not going to be ready in time.

But with Cordero getting the go-ahead, Arroyo and Chavis essentially become redundant since they both hit from the right side of the plate. And with Arroyo being out of minor-league options, the decision became clear that Chavis would be the one receiving a demotion.

This news comes in spite of the fact that Chavis had a solid spring (.892 OPS in 65 plate appearances), but it goes without saying that the Georgia native still has some things to work on at the plate after struggling to the tune of a .212/.259/.377 slash line across 42 games in 2020.

Having written all that, it would not be all that surprising to see Chavis back up with the Sox sooner rather than later. He has, after all, only played 29 career games at the Triple-A level, so perhaps he can use this demotion as a way to better himself once the Triple-A season begins in May.

As for Brewer, the 28-year-old was also embroiled in a spring competition for one of Boston’s final bullpen spots. That competition was ultimately won by fellow righty Phillips Valdez, though neither Valdez (9.35 ERA in 8 1/3 innings) nor Brewer (9.95 ERA in 6 1/3 innings) looked particularly sharp in Grapefruit League play.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “Valdez and Brewer will be easily interchangeable, as both can be optioned to and from Worcester as the Red Sox choose. Brewer (4.59 ERA in 80 ⅓ innings in two seasons with Boston) will likely be one of the first relievers called up if Boston needs a relief arm.”

With all these moves being made, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity. More transactions are likely to come — with Eduardo Rodriguez and Ryan Brasier being placed on the injured list among them — but for now, here’s how Boston’s 26-man Opening Day roster should shape up come Thursday morning:

Starting rotation (5): Nathan Eovaldi, Tanner Houck, Martin Perez, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards

Bullpen (9): Matt Andriese, Garrett Whitlock, Austin Brice, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Hirokazu Sawamura, Phillips Valdez, Adam Ottavino, Matt Barnes

Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki

Infielders (6): Bobby Dalbec, Enrique Hernandez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Marwin Gonzalez, Christian Arroyo

Outfielders (4): Alex Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, J.D. Martinez, Franchy Cordero

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi, Hunter Renfroe power Red Sox to 2-0 victory over Orioles

The Red Sox improved to 13-8-1 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 2-0 shutout victory over the Orioles at JetBlue Park.

Nathan Eovaldi made his sixth start of the spring for Boston in this one, and it turned out to be his best start of the spring thus far.

That being the case because over 5 2/3 innings of work, the veteran right-hander kept Baltimore off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

With the help of two twin killings and some fine defensive work from Enrique Hernandez and Hunter Renfroe, Eovaldi did not face more than four hitters in a single frame. He also retired the last three Orioles he faced in order before getting the hook with two outs in the top half of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (48 strikes) on Wednesday, the 31-year-old’s fifth and final start of the Grapefruit League campaign should come against the Braves in North Port next Monday.

In relief of Eovaldi, right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura got the call with one out to get in the sixth, and he wound up putting together his most impressive outing of the spring to this point by getting Tyler Nevin to ground out to end the inning before fanning a pair in a 1-2-3 top of the seventh.

Wednesday marked the 32-year-old’s fourth appearance in a Red Sox uniform, and it was his first without registering a walk or allowing a single base runner. Certainly a step in the right direction there.

From there, Adam Ottavino also struck out two Orioles in a perfect inning of relief in the eighth, while left-hander Josh Taylor closed things out and picked up the save by sitting down the only three batters he faced in order with some more assistance from Hernandez.

All in all, Sox pitchers collectively retired the last 13 Orioles batters who came to the plate from the top of the fifth until the end of the game, which ended with a final score of 2-0.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, which featured the likes of Hernandez, Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Marwin Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki, was matched up against Orioles right-handed pitching prospect Dean Kremer to start things out on Wednesday.

After stranding a handful of base runners over the first two innings of this one, the top of the Boston lineup got things going in the third when Hernandez drew a leadoff walk.

A few moments later, Renfroe came to the plate for his second at-bat of the night after singling in the first, and he again got the best of Kremer — though to a much higher degree — by crushing a two-run home run deep to the opposite field.

That two-run shot — Renfroe’s third of the spring — put the Sox up 2-0 early, and that would prove to be all they needed to secure the 2-0 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday.

Some notes from this win:

After a slow start to the Grapefruit League campaign, Alex Verdugo put together his first multi-hit performance of the year in this one. The 24-year-old went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles while playing all nine innings in center field.

Franchy Cordero, who started in left and hit out of the seven-hole, went 1-for-3 with a hard-hit single to right-center field. He is 3-for-7 with a walk in his first three exhibition games with the Sox.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the crosstown rival Twins at JetBlue Park on Thursday night — their second consecutive contest under the lights.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his fourth start of the spring for Boston, and he will be matched up against right-hander Randy Dobnak for Minnesota.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcast on NESN Plus and will air on MLB Network on delay.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright right-hander Marcus Walden to Triple-A Worcester, add him to spring training roster

After being designated him for assignment last Wednesday, right-handed reliever Marcus Walden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox announced Monday afternoon.

Despite losing his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, Walden has been added to the club’s major-league spring training roster.

The 32-year-old was initially DFA’d last week so that the Sox could clear a 40-man roster spot for veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez.

At that time, the Red Sox had seven days to either trade Walden, release him, or sneak him through waivers, which they ended up doing.

In 15 appearances out of the Boston bullpen last season, Walden struggled to the tune of a 9.45 ERA and 8.59 FIP over 13 1/3 innings pitched in two separate stints with the club.

Going into the 2020 campaign, the California native was coming off a solid showing in 2019 in which he compiled a 3.80 ERA and a 76:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 relief appearances spanning 78 innings of work.

Walden proved to be one of Alex Cora’s most reliable relievers in ’19, and the Red Sox manager recently acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to cut the righty.

“It’s a tough business,” Cora said last Thursday. “There are certain situations that we like the player, we like the person but it’s a tough one. He didn’t have the best season last year, but at the same time, there’s a lot of good arms out there. It’s tough to make a decision like that but it’s a decision you have to make.”

Walden ultimately returns to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity, but he remains with the organization nonetheless and will look to return to form with the WooSox to begin the 2021 season.

With the addition of Walden, Boston’s spring training roster now stands at approximately 72 players.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki and outfielder Franchy Cordero remain on the club’s COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Marcus Walden: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)