Red Sox not ruling out reunion with Garrett Richards: ‘It’s certainly possible that something could line up,’ Chaim Bloom says

The Red Sox may have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season on Sunday, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has yet to rule out a potential reunion with the right-hander.

Richards, who originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Sox in February, had a $10 million team option for 2022 attached to that deal that the Sox needed to decide on by 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday.

Boston ultimately chose against picking up Richards’ option, thus making the 33-year-old hurler a free agent who will be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Still, when speaking with reporters via a Zoom call on Sunday evening, Bloom spoke highly of Richards’ 2021 season when others might view it as a rather disappointing one.

“It’s funny,” Bloom said. “When I talked to Garrett to let him know, I made sure to compliment him and credit him by telling him how I feel, which is that he really turned around his season and, in many ways, saved ours with what he did once he got comfortable in the bullpen.”

Coming out of spring training, Richards opened the year as Boston’s No. 3 starter. After a rough 2021 debut against the Orioles on April 4, he proceeded to post a 3.14 ERA and 3.90 FIP to go along with 56 strikeouts to 30 walks over his next 11 starts and 63 innings of work from April 10 through June 6.

Beginning in mid-June, however, Major League Baseball began to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances in order to enhance their grip on baseballs. Richards wound up getting caught up in this crackdown, and it negatively affected his performance on the mound.

From June 11 until August 8, Richards struggled to the tune of a 7.15 ERA and 6.94 FIP with 29 strikeouts and 16 walks over his next 10 starts (45 1/3 innings pitched) before being removed from Boston’s starting rotation and relegated to the bullpen on Aug. 11.

As a reliever, Richards fared far in shorter burst, much to the delight of Bloom. The veteran righty put up a 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP while striking out nearly 25% of the batters he faced in 18 appearances and 26 1/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen.

“For a season in which he really struggled in a lot of ways, I think he also found a lot of success,” said Bloom. “Even before the switch to the bullpen, there was a period in the early start of the season where he was really rolling and really was a stabilizer for us. So, there were a lot of good things mixed in.”

In the postseason, Richards made Boston’s Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series roster. He pitched a third of an inning in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced the Red Sox to remove him from their roster and replace him with Matt Barnes.

Taking all those factors into consideration, the Sox, as Bloom explained on Sunday, felt as though it was not worth it for them to bring Richards back for the 2022 on what would essentially be a one-year, $10 million deal.

“We get to the end point with this decision, and we didn’t feel like it made sense to exercise the option,” Bloom said. “But, we’re going to stay in touch with him and it’s certainly possible that something could line up.”

Bloom, of course, is someone who likes to keep all doors open when it comes to constructing a big-league roster. And while it may be unclear at the moment if Richards — who turns 34 in May — is best suited to market himself as a starter or reliever, the Red Sox reuniting with the ISE Baseball client remains a possibility for now.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline Garrett Richards’ club option for 2022, per report

The Red Sox have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season, thus making the right-hander a free agent, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Richards, 33, originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with Boston back in February that included a $10 million team option for a potential second year in 2022.

Like Martin Perez, who also had his club option declined on Sunday, Richards opened the 2021 campaign in the Sox’ starting rotation. The veteran righty posted a 5.22 ERA and 5.15 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts and 48 walks over 22 starts spanning 110 1/3 innings of work before being demoted to the bullpen on August 11.

As a reliever, Richards improved while working in shorter bursts, putting up a more impressive 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP with 28 punchouts to 12 walks in 18 appearances (26 1/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen.

In the postseason, Richards was named to the Sox’ Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series rosters. He tossed one-third of an inning in Game 1 against the Rays on October 7 before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced him to come off the club’s ALDS roster and be replaced by Matt Barnes.

With the Red Sox declining his option, Richards — who turns 34 in May — will once again be hitting the open market. He will, however, be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

By electing to not pick up the options on either of Perez’s or Richards’ contracts, the Sox now have one more option-related decision to make before 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday with catcher Christian Vazquez and his $7 million team option for 2022 hanging in the balance.

On top of that, Boston must also decide if they will be extending an $18.4 million qualifying offer to any player who is eligible for one, such as free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez or veteran slugger J.D. Martinez if he opts out of the final year of his contract.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox add Matt Barnes to ALDS roster after Garrett Richards suffers left hamstring strain

Before taking on the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on Friday night, the Red Sox made a slight change to the composition of their bullpen.

After requesting and receiving approval from Major League Baseball to make a substitution, the Sox replaced right-hander Garrett Richards on their ALDS roster with fellow righty Matt Barnes, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Richards, who was used in relief of Eduardo Rodriguez in Thursday’s loss to Tampa Bay, needed all of three pitches to get Randy Arozarena to ground out to retire the side in the second inning.

Since he was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain, though, Richards had to be removed from Boston’s roster. Per Major League Baseball’s postseason rules, the 33-year-old would not be eligible to participate in the American League Championship Series. He would, however, be available for the World Series if the Sox were to make it that far.

Barnes, on the other hand, was initially left off the Red Sox’ ALDS roster as a healthy scratch so that three left-handers (Austin Davis, Martin Perez, Josh Taylor) could be available out of the bullpen.

Despite not being named to the roster, Barnes still traveled with the Sox to St. Petersburg in the event that he would be needed due to an injury elsewhere, which turns out to be the case.

For how impressive of a start Barnes got his season off to — in which he netted himself a two-year, $18.75 million contract extension while being named to his first career All-Star team — the latter half of his year was full of struggles.

Over the final two-plus months of the regular season, the 31-year-old fireballer posted a dismal 9.26 ERA and 7.11 FIP in 17 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen. He also missed a significant amount of time during that stretch after testing positive for COVID-19 in late August.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Barnes is available out of the bullpen for Friday’s contest against the Rays.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Late rally lifts Red Sox to 5-3 victory over Nationals after Tanner Houck tosses 5 scoreless innings

It took nearly four hours to complete, but the Red Sox managed to hold off the Nationals on Saturday afternoon to ensure that their season will extend beyond Sunday one way or the other.

Powered by a four-run outburst in the ninth inning, Boston outlasted Washington by a final score of 5-3 at Nationals Park, marking their second straight win that tightens their grip on one of the two American League Wild Card spots.

The Sox did not announce a starter for Saturday’s contest until a few hours before first pitch, but who they ultimately rolled with — Tanner Houck — turned in quite the outing to put the finishing touches on his rookie season.

Houck, making his first start since September 17, twirled five perfect innings in which he kept the Nationals off the scoreboard while striking out eight and walking none in the process of retiring each of the first 15 batters he faced in order.

The right-hander got through those five flawless frames on just 53 pitches (39 strikes), but given the fact he had just thrown 41 pitches this past Tuesday, the 25-year-old’s day came to an end as soon as he recorded the final out of the fifth.

In the process of witnessing Houck put together a bid at a perfect game, the Red Sox got very little production out of their lineup while matched up against Nationals starter Josiah Gray.

Rafael Devers put Boston on the board by crushing his 36th home run of the season off Gray with two outs in the top of the fourth, but that was all they could push across while Houck was still on the mound.

In relief of Houck, Garrett Richards got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he saw the combined perfect game bid come to a close when he issued a two-out single to the pinch-hitting Gerardo Parra in an otherwise clean sixth inning.

Ryan Brasier, taking over for Richards in the seventh, got himself in and out of trouble, as he loaded the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk before emphatically punching out Jordy Mercer on five pitches to extinguish the threat.

Brasier, who completed his fourth straight scoreless appearance in as many days, celebrated getting out of the jam by pounding his chest, though the Sox lineup found themselves in a similar situation just a half-inning later.

After Enrique Hernandez, Kyle Schwarber, and Xander Bogaerts had each drawn a walk with two outs in the eighth, Devers had an opportunity to put this one way, but instead struck out against Nationals reliever Tanner Rainey.

With the score remaining at 1-0 in favor of Boston, Adam Ottavino appeared well on his way to recording the first two outs of the bottom of the eighth rather quickly. The veteran righty punched out Carter Kieboom on three straight strikes and proceeded to get Ryan Zimmerman to lift a 288-foot fly ball in the direction of center fielder Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe, however, lost the ball in the sky, which allowed Zimmernan to reach base safely on a double that allowed the Nats to fill the bases when Ottavino yielded back-to-back walks to Lane Thomas and Alcides Escobar.

At that moment, the dangerous, left-handed hitting Juan Soto was looming in the on-deck circle for Washington, which prompted Cora to turn to the left-handed throwing Austin Davis out of the bullpen.

Davis got Soto to hit a 303-foot sacrifice fly to deep center field that brought in Zimmerman from third to tie things up at 1-1, but followed that up by getting Josh Bell to line out to shortstop to retire the side there.

Potentially down to their final three outs in the ninth, J.D. Martinez led the inning off by drawing a 10-pitch walk that put the go-ahead run on base.

Jose Iglesias took over for Martinez as the runner at first, and he came in to score all the way from first when Christian Vazquez unloaded on a first-pitch fastball from Rainey and laced a run-scoring single to deep right field.

Travis Shaw followed by plating Vazquez on an RBI single of his own, and the Red Sox had themselves a 3-1 lead just like that. Hernandez provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance when he greeted new Nationals reliever Mason Thompson by clubbing a 401-foot tow-run shot to left-center field.

Hernandez’s 20th home run of the year gave Boston a commanding 5-1 lead going into the bottom half of the ninth. And although Davis gave two of those runs back on a two-run homer off the bat of Andrew Stevenson, Hansel Robles took over from there.

Robles worked his way around a two-out walk in relief of Davis and ultimately slammed the door on the Nationals to secure the 5-3 victory for the Sox as well as notch his 14th save of the season.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox improve to 91-70 on the season, they also move into a tie with the Yankees, who lost on Saturday, for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Additionally, Boston remains one game ahead of the Blue Jays, who also won on Saturday, while remaining one game up on the Mariners, who defeated the Angels on Saturday.

That being said, the Sox have ensured that they will be playing beyond Sunday’s series finale regardless of who wins and loses elsewhere. Whether their first action after Sunday comes in the form of a tiebreaker on Monday or the American League Wild Card game on Tuesday has yet to be determined.

Next up: Sale vs. Adon in regular season finale

While their plans could change, the Red Sox — at the moment — are slated to give the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale in Sunday’s finale against the Nationals.

The Nationals in turn, will have right-handed pitching prospect Joan Adon make his major-league debut and close out their season.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec and Enrique Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández, Xander Bogaerts both homer as Red Sox top Mets, 6-3, for sixth straight win

Exactly two weeks out from the American League Wild Card game, the Red Sox continued their winning ways against the Mets to kick off their final homestand of the regular season.

Although they fell behind first, Boston fought their way back for a 6-3 victory over New York at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, marking their sixth straight win.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox and his very first against the Mets, was sharp early on, but later fell off in what turned out to be another relatively short outing.

Over just 4 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The veteran left-hander took a perfect game into the third inning, as he did not give up his first hit until yielding a two-out single to New York’s No. 9 hitter, Tomas Nido, in the top half of the frame.

While it appeared as though Rodriguez was well on his way to putting together a strong performance, things took a turn for the worse in the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs before issuing a bases-loaded, run-scoring walk to J.D. Davis to give the Mets their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Michael Conforto followed by grounding another RBI single through the left side of the infield that scored Javier Baez and very well could have pushed across another had Enrique Hernandez not gunned down Pete Alonso at home plate from center field.

Hernandez’s seventh outfield assist of the season proved to halt the Mets’ momentum, as Rodriguez escaped the jam by recording the final two outs of the fourth in consecutive order.

At that point, the Red Sox lineup had struggled to get anything going against Rodriguez’s counterpart in Mets starter Marcus Stroman despite having their fair share of opportunities — particularly in the third inning.

There, with no outs and the bases full, Xander Bogaerts grounded into what was at the time a back-breaking 5-2-3 double play, which was followed by an inning-ending flyout off the bat of Rafael Devers.

Compounded with New York jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their half of the fourth, things were looking rather dire for the Boston bats, but they were able to bounce back in a tremendous way beginning in the bottom of that particular frame.

With two outs in the inning, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot by ripping a 104.5 mph line-drive double off the center field wall. Christian Vazquez followed by lacing another liner, though this one flew over the outstretched glove of a back-pedaling Kevin Pillar, took a bounce off the Green Monster, and brought in Dalbec to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, came back out for the fifth, though he gave up back-to-back hits to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor that put runners at second and third with only one out.

That led to Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving Rodriguez the hook at that moment, as the 28-year-old ended his day having thrown 92 pitches (55 strikes).

In relief of Rodriguez, Cora first turned to the recently-recalled Ryan Brasier, who inherited a bit of a mess but got out of it by fanning Baez on three straight strikes before getting the dangerous Alonso to ground out to short.

With their lineup flipping over for a third time beginning in the middle of the fifth, the Sox continued to pound Stroman, as Hernandez clubbed a game-tying, 379-foot solo shot over the Green Monster (his 18th home run of the season, Kyle Schwarber drilled a hard-hit double to the left-center field gap, and Bogaerts capped it off with an act of redemption — mashing a 426-foot, two-run moonshot to left field.

Bogaerts’ 23rd homer of the year put the Sox up 4-2, but the star shortstop was not done there, as he — with the bases full and two outs in the sixth — plated two more on a 107 mph two-run double off Brad Hand to make it a 6-2 game in favor of Boston.

From there, after Brasier and left-hander Austin Davis combined to work a scoreless sixth inning, fellow trade deadline acquisition Hansel Robles took over and did the very same in the seventh.

Garrett Richards, on the other hand, served up a towering solo homer to Alonso in an otherwise clean eighth inning. He also got the first out of the ninth before Darwinzon Hernandez slammed the door on the Mets to preserve the 6-3 victory for the Sox, though the lefty did not pick up the save.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to six consecutive games, but they also improve to 87-65 on the season by doing so. The Blue Jays and Yankees also won on Tuesday, so the Sox maintain their 1 1/2 game lead over Toronto for the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Next up: Sale vs. Walker

The Red Sox will hand the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale as they go for the quick two-game sweep over the Mets on Wednesday night. Sale will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

The Mets, in turn, will counter with right-hander and 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker as they look to prevent the sweep from happening.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodriguez twirls 6 scoreless frames, Bobby Dalbec stays hot with 2-RBI night as Red Sox earn series split by blanking Rays, 4-0

For everything they went through over the last week in regards to placing eight players on the COVID-19 related injured list, the Red Sox were able to cap off a hellish seven game-road trip with a 4-0 shutout victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Thursday.

Matched up against a tough opponent in Rays starter Shane McClanahan, the shorthanded Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Tuesday right out of the gate.

Bobby Dalbec, having just earned American League Rookie of the Month honors for what he did in August, got his month of September off to a solid start by driving in Hunter Renfroe on a two-out, sharply-hit RBI single in the top half of the first inning.

Renfroe, on the other hand, delivered with a two-out RBI base hit of his own an inning later, as he plated Danny Santana from second base on a line-drive single to left field, thus giving his side an early two-run advantage.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 26th start of the season for Boston, took that two-run lead and essentially ran away with it in yet another strong outing.

Over six-plus scoreless innings of work, Rodriguez kept Tampa Bay off the scoreboard while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

After taking a perfect game into the third inning, the left-hander managed to face the minimum of 12 batters through his first four frames.

In the fifth, the Red Sox lineup tacked on two more runs of McClanahan, and No. 9 hitter Jonathan Arauz got the mini-rally started by drawing an 11-pitch leadoff walk.

That impressive display of patience and plate discipline flipped the lineup back over, as Kyle Schwarber moved Arauz up to second on another hard-hit single. J.D. Martinez drove Arauz in on a sharply-hit RBI single of his own, while a red-hot Dalbec made it a 4-0 contest by pushing across Schwarber on a run-scoring base knock to center field.

With that brand-new four-run cushion to work with, Rodriguez continued to dominate, stranding a pair of base runners in the fifth and sixth innings, though he did run into some trouble in the seventh.

There, after issuing a leadoff walk to rookie sensation Wander Franco that was followed by a Yandy Diaz single, Rodriguez was put in his first true jam of the night, and he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora as a result.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (56 strikes), the 28-year-old southpaw turned to his four-seam fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing nine swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.6 mph with the pitch. He also later improved to 11-7 on the season and lowered his ERA to 4.88 in the process of doing so.

In relief of Rodriguez, Garrett Richards got the first — and only — call out of the Boston bullpen, and he continued to show how effective he can be as a reliever.

Inheriting a bit of a mess with three outs still to get in the seventh, Richards proceeded to retire the first three Rays he faced (two by way of the strikeout) to officially close the book on Rodriguez’s night before tossing two more shutout innings to pick up his second save of the season and secure a 4-0 victory for the Red Sox.

Since moving to the bullpen on August 13, Richards has allowed a total of one earned run over 13 1/3 innings of relief. That’s good for an ERA of 0.68.

With the win, the Sox were able to salvage a split in their four-game series with the Rays while also improving to 77-59 on the season. They picked up 1/2 a game on an idle Yankees team for the first American League Wild Card spot in addition to maintaining a two-game lead over the Athletics for the second Wild Card spot.

Next up: Welcoming in the Indians

The Red Sox will happily board a flight to Boston and open up a three-game weekend series against the Indians that begins at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while fellow righty Cal Quantrill is expected to do the same for Cleveland.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta lasts just 1 2/3 innings as Red Sox get swept by Yankees after comeback attempt falls short in 5-2 loss

Nick Pivetta’s introduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night certainly did not go as planned in what would turn out to be his shortest outing of the year.

In what was his first career start against the Yankees as a member of the Red Sox, Pivetta got rocked for four runs — all of which were earned — on four hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout over just 1 2/3 innings of work.

Boston ultimately fell to New York by a final score of 5-2, as they were unable to avoid getting swept in three games by their division rivals in Wednesday’s series finale.

While the Sox’ offensive woes continued to drag on, the visitors actually struck first right away in their half of the first inning.

Matched up against Yankees left-hander Andrew Heaney, who came into the day having posted a 9.00 ERA through his first three starts with New York, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started by crushing a two-out, 379-foot solo shot to the second deck in left field.

Bogaerts’ 19th home run of the season gave Boston the early 1-0 lead, but Pivetta ran into quite a bit of trouble in the second inning after retiring three of the first four batters he faced in the first.

There, the right-hander issued a leadoff single to Giancarlo Stanton that was followed by a seven-pitch walk of Rougned Odor. Gary Sanchez then lifted a softly-hit fly ball to shallow right field, but it was one that was just out of the reach of right fielder J.D. Martinez.

Odor, who initially retreated back to first base after he initially thought Martinez had made the tough catch, managed to advance to second, loading the bases with no outs for Brett Gardner.

Gardner drove in the tying run — Stanton — from third on a sacrifice fly to center field before New York’s No. 9 hitter, Andrew Velazquez, plated the go-ahead run on an RBI single through the right side of the infield.

That gave the Yankees their first lead of the night at 2-1, and after he stole second base and Rafael Devers made a fantastic play at third for the second out of the inning, Anthony Rizzo delivered with the back-breaker.

Just activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, Rizzo — down in the count at 0-2 — laced a line drive off Pivetta that deflected off the glove of Bobby Dalbec and rolled into foul territory in right field.

Rizzo’s base hit pushed across both Sanchez and Velazquez to make it a 4-1 contest, and it promptly marked the end of the line for Pivetta after he walked Stanton and got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up getting hit with his sixth loss of the season while seeing his ERA on the year inflate to 4.43.

The Red Sox bullpen, to its credit, was fairly effective in relief of Pivetta, as Garrett Richards, Martin Perez, and Adam Ottavino combined to toss 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball before Josh Taylor surrendered a run on two hits in the bottom of the eighth.

Still, just because the bullpen held the opposition at five runs to keep things relatively close at 5-1, that does not mean the offense was able to take advantage.

After Bogaerts got the Red Sox on the board with his solo home run in the first inning, Heaney countered by putting together his best outing in Pinstripes to date by allowing a total of one out and two walks the rest of the way.

From the start of the second inning through the middle of the seventh, the Sox did not send more than four batters to the plate, though they did have scarce opportunities to score more than one run.

In the top of the fourth, Bogaerts reached base on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved up to third on a Devers groundout, but was stranded there by Heaney when Martinez grounded out to end the inning.

In both the fifth and sixth innings, Boston led things off with a runner reaching base, though neither made it further than second on account of a flyout, a lineout, pop out, fly out, and 5-4-3 double play.

So, Heaney capped off his stellar night by retiring all the final five Red Sox hitters he faced to make way for the Yankees bullpen to take over in the eighth.

Fellow lefty Zack Britton followed suit by tossing a perfect frame in that eighth inning, but closer Aroldis Chapman certainly made things interesting in the ninth.

On a 2-1, 97 mph heater on the inner half of the plate, Renfroe turned a 5-1 game into a 5-2 game by sending his 22nd home run of the season 456 feet to deep right field.

A one-out walk from Bogaerts and two-out single off the bat of Martinez brought the tying run to the plate in Kevin Plawecki, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone countered by going back into his bullpen.

Matched up against Lucas Luetge now, Plawecki worked a full count and on the eighth pitch he saw from the lefty, ripped a grounder to the left side of the infield.

It took a Herculean effort from the shortstop in Velazquez, but the Bronx native was able to make a sprawling grab and get to his feet in time to gun down Plawecki at first for the final out of the contest.

That in turn, secured a 5-2 victory for the Yankees and 5-2 defeat for the Red Sox as they wind up getting swept out of Yankee Stadium.

With the loss, Boston falls to 69-54 and they are now six full games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Off day on Thursday, then a weekend series against the Rangers

The Red Sox will travel back to Boston on Wednesday night, enjoy an off day on Thursday, and welcome the lowly Rangers into town for the start of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park on Friday.

Left-hander Chris Sale will make his second start of the season for Boston in Friday’s series opener, while Texas will turn to right-hander Dane Dunning.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox move struggling Garrett Richards to bullpen with Chris Sale’s return on the horizon

The Red Sox have removed right-hander Garrett Richards from their starting rotation and have moved him to the bullpen, manager Alex Cora announced Wednesday.

Richards, who would have in been line to start on Saturday, will be available out of the bullpen in Tuesday night’s contest against the Rays at Fenway Park.

Saturday’s game against the Orioles, of course, will be started by none other than ace left-hander Chris Sale, who will be making his 2021 debut for the Sox.

In his latest start against the Blue Jays in Toronto this past Sunday, the veteran right-hander surrendered four runs — three of which were earned — on six hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts over five innings of work, bringing his ERA on the season up to 5.22 over 22 starts (110 1/3 innings pitched).

Richards, 33, originally signed a one-year, $10 million deal with Boston in February after spending the previous two seasons with the Padres. He got lit up for six runs over just two innings in his Red Sox debut in early April, but settled in nicely for a spell after that.

From April 10 through June 11 — a stretch of more than two months, the Oklahoma native put up a respectable 3.42 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 32 walks across 12 starts spanning 68 1/3 innings of work.

Things took a turn for the worst for Richards in mid-June, however, and it came right around the same time Major League Baseball began enforcing stricter policies in regards to pitchers using foreign substances (“sticky stuff”) to enhance their grip on the baseball.

Including an outing against the Braves on June 16 in which he allowed six runs (four earned) in just four innings, Richards has posted an unsightly 7.55 ERA and 1.056 OPS against over his last seven starts and 31 innings pitched, with that start against the Blue Jays over the weekend being the latest instance of his prolonged summer struggles.

Because of these struggles, the Red Sox obviously felt it was time to make a change and opted to move a member of their Opening Day starting rotation to the bullpen for a second time in less than a week as Richards joins the likes of left-hander Martin Perez, whose spot has essentially been handed over to Tanner Houck.

Like Perez, though, Richards does have major-league experience working as a reliever, and Cora believes both hurlers can benefit from the move to the ‘pen while also serving key roles for Boston’s pitching staff moving forward.

Prior to joining the Red Sox over the winter, Richards — who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds — made 59 total relief appearances over the course of 10 big-league seasons with the Angels and Padres.

Most recently, the former Oklahoma Sooner was used out of the bullpen by San Diego for the home stretch of the truncated 2020 campaign, as it was his first “full” season back since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2018 while he was still with the Angels.

In four appearances out of the Padres’ ‘pen last September, Richards pitched to the tune of a 1.80 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .167/.211/.389 slash line against over five total innings of work.

While it’s no sure thing Richards will find success as he transitions to a relief role with the Red Sox on account of the difficulties he has already endured this season, one would have to assume that his fastball and curveball, both of which possess elite spin rates, will play better out of the bullpen than they did the starting rotation. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Red Sox remove Martín Pérez from starting rotation; Tanner Houck expected to take left-hander’s spot

The Red Sox have removed left-hander Martin Perez from their starting rotation and moved him to the bullpen, manager Alex Cora announced Friday.

Perez recorded just four outs while surrendering three runs in his latest start against the Tigers in Detroit on Thursday, hence the move to demote him to the bullpen.

Including Thursday’s outing, the 30-year-old has posted an ERA of 4.77 and FIP of 4.90 with 85 strikeouts and 33 walks over 22 starts spanning exactly 100 innings of work this season.

After tossing 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 3, Perez has struggled mightily since then, pitching to the tune of a 7.13 ERA and 1.073 OPS against in his last 11 starts and 41 2/3 innings pitched.

As The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier pointed out on Thursday, Perez has made nine starts of four innings or fewer so far this year, which is the most in the American League and tied for the most in all of Major League Baseball.

While Perez may have made his final start for the Red Sox this season, Cora still believes the veteran southpaw can provide value out of the bullpen, especially with fellow lefty Darwinzon Hernandez being sidelined with a right oblique strain at the moment.

“Obviously with Darwinzon (Hernandez) being down, having that third lefty (in the bullpen) is something I’ve been telling Chaim (Bloom) will be good, especially against a few teams in this division now,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) prior to Friday’s game against the Blue Jays. “Obviously New York is not as right-handed as they were early. Tampa, the Yankees and obviously we’re going to play some teams that have a lot of switch-hitters. So I do believe somehow, someway, he’s going to help us out of the bullpen.”

With Perez, who owns a lifetime 4.60 ERA in 16 career relief appearances (31 1/3 innings pitched) heading to the Boston bullpen, Tanner Houck will likely be taking the lefty’s spot in the Sox’ starting rotation.

Houck, who threw a simulated game in Detroit on Monday, will start the night cap of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Over six appearances (four starts) for the Red Sox this season, the 25-year-old right-hander has produced a 2.45 ERA and 1.71 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts and just five walks in 22 1/3 innings of work.

In addition to Houck essentially re-joining Boston’s starting rotation this weekend, Chris Sale’s return is on the horizon as the ace left-hander prepares to make what should be his final rehab start with Triple-A Worcester on Saturday.

That being said, one has to wonder if Garrett Richards’ spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy as well if Cora and Co. want to roll with five starters (Sale, Houck, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Eduardo Rodriguez) relatively soon.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox see losing streak grow to 5 straight games as they drop series opener to Tigers, 4-2

Looking to turn around their fortunes after a winless start to their longest road trip of the season, the Red Sox were unable to get it done in the first of three at Comerica Park in Detroit, as they quietly fell to the Tigers by a final score of 4-2 to mark their fifth consecutive loss.

Matched up against Tigers starter Wily Peralta, the Sox actually jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a J.D. Martinez RBI single in the first and Hunter Renfroe solo homer in the second inning, but were not able to push across anything after that.

Red Sox starter Garrett Richards, meanwhile, was once again underwhelming in allowing three earned runs on five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over just four-plus innings of work.

After being handed that early two-run cushion to work with, Richards gave one of those runs right back to the Tigers in the bottom half of the second when he served up a solo shot to Miguel Cabrera, marking the 498th career home run for the future Hall of Famer.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Detroit threatened once more, this time loading the bases off Richards without recording an out before Harold Castro drove in the tying run on a sacrifice fly.

To his credit, Richards escaped the fourth without giving anything else up, but the veteran right-hander saw his night come to an end an inning later when he issued a leadoff walk to the Tigers’ No. 9 hitter — Derek Hill — that was followed by a hard-hit RBI double off the bat of Akil Baddoo, thus putting Detroit ahead, 3-2.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (46 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler, who ultimately raised his ERA on the season up to an unsightly 5.21, was given the hook in favor of Hirokazu Sawamura.

Sawamura got out of the fifth with the help of an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, while Hansel Robles punched out the side in a scoreless bottom half of the sixth.

The Tigers, however, tacked on an important insurance run in their half of the seventh right after the Sox had failed to even things up in the top of the inning.

With Yacksel Rios on the mound for Boston, a two-out double from Jonathan Schoop proved to be the catalyst for Detroit as Robbie Grossman followed with a run-scoring single to make it a 4-2 contest.

Austin Davis kept the deficit at two by keeping the Tigers off the board in the eighth, thus giving the Sox a fighting chance in the top half of the ninth with closer Gregory Soto in for Detroit.

Christian Vazquez flew out and a pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec punched out for the first two outs of the frame, but in a tough left-on-left matchup, Jarren Duran was able to reach base via an infield single to bring the potential tying run to the plate in the form of Rafael Devers.

Devers, however, struck out on five pitches, with the fifth and final pitch from Soto being a nasty 2-2, 101 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

All in all, the Sox did record nine hits on Tuesday night, but went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

With the 4-2 loss — their fifth straight, Boston falls to 63-45 on the season, though they remain just one game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Mize

The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill in the second game of this three-game set on Wednesday as they look to put a halt to this five-game skid.

Rodriguez, in turn, will be opposed by Tigers rookie right-hander and 2018 first overall draft pick Casey Mize.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)