Bobby Dalbec breaks out of slump with 3-run home run as Red Sox open series against Orioles with 6-2 win

Bobby Dalbec came into Friday’s game against the Orioles in the midst of an 0-for-27 slump at the plate having not recorded a hit since April 27.

In his first at-bat of the night, Dalbec ripped a one-out single to left field in the top half of the third inning.

An inning later, the 26-year-old then clubbed a 399-foot three-run home run in that same direction off Orioles starter Matt Harvey to give his side a 4-0 lead.

The Red Sox ultimately topped the O’s by a final score of 6-2 at Camden Yards on Friday to improve to 20-13 on the season and become the first team this year to reach the 20-win mark.

Rodriguez goes five innings

Eduardo Rodriguez made his sixth start of the season — and second against Baltimore — for Boston in this one. The left-hander surrendered just one run, though he did scatter seven hits and three walks to go along with a season-low two strikeouts over five innings of work.

The one run Rodriguez gave up in his final frame of work, when he allowed three straight hitters to reach base on a double, walk, and RBI single from Trey Mancini. He did manage to retire the last two Orioles he faced to hold them at one run.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (61 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his changeup 31% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times.

Able to improve to a perfect 5-0 on the season while lowering his ERA to 3.82, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Athletics back at Fenway Park on Wednesday.

Sawamura’s homer troubles continue

In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth inning.

The right-hander served up a leadoff home run to Ryan Mountcastle to cut Boston’s lead to two runs at 4-2 before sitting down the next three hitters he faced in order.

Sawamura has now allowed at least one homer in two of his last four appearances and has seen his ERA on the season inflate up to 3.77 as a result.

Whitlock bounces back with two scoreless frames

On the flip side of Sawamura’s struggles, Rule 5 pick Garrett Whitlock bounced back from back-to-back poor outings against the Rangers and Tigers by tossing two scoreless innings of relief against the Orioles on Friday.

Renroe takes advantage of O’s sloppy defense, gets Sox on the board in the fourth

Before Dalbec went deep in the fourth, Hunter Renfroe provided Boston with an early 1-0 lead by driving in Rafael Devers from third on an RBI single off Harvey.

Devers had reached base — and advanced to second — in the first place on a missed catch error committed by the Orioles starter. He then stole third base to make it even easier for Renfroe to pick up his 15th RBI of the season.

Vazquez, Gonzalez provide late-inning insurance

With a 4-2 lead already in hand, the Sox tacked on two additional runs on a pair of run-scoring doubles from the likes of Christian Vazquez and Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth and ninth innings to make it a 6-2 contest.

This in turn, allowed Boston to rest closer Matt Barnes another day and deploy Phillips Valdez for the bottom half of the ninth.

Valdez closes it out

Valdez, making his second relied appearance in as many days after not appearing in a game for nearly two weeks, stranded the one hitter he allowed to reach base in an otherwise perfect inning to secure the 6-2 victory for his side.

Rain delay leads to late start

Friday’s game between the Sox and Orioles did not start until 8:43 p.m. eastern time due to a one-hour and 38 minute rain delay. The final out was not recorded until after midnight.

Next up: Richards vs. Lowther

Next up for the Red Sox, they will send right-hander Garrett Richards to the mound Saturday night to face off against left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

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

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec and Co.: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Despite having their chances to complete comeback, Red Sox fall to Tigers, 6-5, in 10 innings

The Red Sox were given multiple opportunities to come away with a come-from-behind win over the worst team in the American League on Wednesday, but were unable to do so in what would go down as a 6-5 loss to the Tigers in 10 innings at Fenway Park.

Trailing 3-1 going into their half of the seventh inning after pushing across just one run against Tigers starter Casey Mize, J.D. Martinez got his side back in the swing of things by belting a game-tying, two-run home run to right field off reliever Bryan Garcia.

Down to their final out in the ninth inning, Enrique Hernandez, Rafael Devers, and Martinez all reached base one way or another to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who laced a line drive to left field — but a liner that was catchable for Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman.

Moments later, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock came on for the top half of the 10th inning in what was his eight appearance of the season — and his first when working on just two days rest.

With a runner already on second base (extra-inning rule), Whitlock gave up a leadoff single to Jonathan Schoop before serving up a crushing three-run home run to Jeimer Candelario on the outer half of the plate.

Since beginning his major-league career with 13 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, the Rule 5 pick has now surrendered home runs in back-to-back outings going back to Sunday.

Even though they were put in a three-run hole, the Sox did nearly stage an epic comeback in the 10th. Marwin Gonzalez drove in a run on a single and later scored on a fielding error committed by Willi Castro.

Boston cutting things close led Detroit to make an interesting pitching change, as Michael Fulmer — Tuesday’s starter — was inserted into the game to face Bobby Dalbec.

Dalbec lined out to third for the second out of the inning and Hernandez went down looking on four pitches to end the game.

All in all, the Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and left 12 men on base as a team.

Perez’s winless streak at Fenway continues

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the season for the Red Sox in this one. The left-hander yielded three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.

The first run Perez gave up was scored by the Tigers in the fourth inning, when JaCoby Jones ripped a single to left field that Franchy Cordero could not come up with cleanly, which in turn allowed Candelario to score from second base on the play. Cordero was charged with a fielding error.

In the sixth, Perez was just one out away from completing his first six-inning start of the year, but after giving up a pair of singles, he allowed two more Tigers runs to score on a two-run base knock from Jones to make it a 3-1 game.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (57 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his cutter 38% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Ultimately hit with the no decision in this one while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.40, Perez has still yet to win a game at Fenway Park since signing with the Red Sox before the start of the 2020 season.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Perez, Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and recorded the final out of the sixth inning.

From there, Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes combined to punch out six batters over three scoreless frames before making way for Whitlock in the 10th.

Arroyo removed due to hand contusion

Starting at second base for Boston on Wednesday, Christian Arroyo had to be removed from the game after seven innings after taking a 92 mph sinker off his left hand — the same hand he injured late lost month — in the sixth inning.

Arroyo was later diagnosed with a left hand contusion and X-rays came back negative.

The fact that Arroyo had to be removed after Alex Verdugo had already been scratched from Wednesday’s lineup — meaning the Sox had a short bench — resulted in Christian Vazquez moving from catcher to second base, Gonzalez moving from first base to left field, Dalbec taking over at first after pinch-hitting for Cordero, and Kevin Plawecki taking over behind the plate for Vazquez.

Next up: Series finale

Thursday’s pitching matchup between the 18-13 Red Sox and 9-22 Tigers will feature a pair of right-handers, with Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and Spencer Turnbull doing the same for Detroit.

First pitch for Thursday’s series finale is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Garrett Whitlock finally gives up first run of season after tossing 13 1/3 scoreless innings to begin career: ‘He’s only human, man,’ Alex Cora says

It was bound to happen eventually, but Garrett Whitlock finally gave up his first major-league run as a member of the Red Sox in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers.

The right-hander came into the weekend having tossed 13 1/3 scoreless innings over six outings to begin his big-league career. The Rangers got to him for one run on two hits and a strikeout on Sunday.

Working in relief of Garrett Richards and Darwinzon Hernandez, Whitlock got the call to work the seventh inning of what at the time was a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.

Matched up against the bottom third of Texas’ lineup, Whitlock served up a leadoff home run to the first man he faced in Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a 1-1, 83 mph changeup down the heart of the plate.

Prior to making his first career appearance at Globe Life Field, the 24-year-old hurler had yet to allow a hit on his changeup this season, as opponents were 0-for-12 with six strikeouts against it.

So not only did Sunday mark the first time this season the righty had given up a run, it also marked the first time the opposition had reached base off of it.

Whitlock did allow a one-out single following the home run to Kiner-Falefa, but he retired the final two hitters he faced in order to end the seventh inning, preserve a 3-2 lead, and lower his ERA back down to 0.63 while picking up his fourth hold of the season.

Of the 15 pitches the Georgia native threw on Sunday, 12 were sinkers, two were changeups, and one was a slider, per Baseball Savant. He induced two swing-and-misses and topped out at 98.1 mph with his sinker.

Immediately after giving up the home run, the very next pitch Whitlock threw was a 96.4 mph sinker at the top of the zone that induced a flyout off the bat of Brock Holt.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora liked that aggressive approach, and he did not seem all that concerned about Whitlock’s ERA no longer being spotless.

“I mean, he’s only human, man,” Cora said with a chuckle during his postgame media availability. “The fact that he gave up the home run [and] the next pitch was 96 mph right down the middle, it tells you a lot about him. So, we’ll keep running him out there and he should be OK.”

Through seven appearances now in what his rookie season, the 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick has put up an 0.67 ERA and a .157 batting average against to go along with two walks and 19 strikeouts over 14 1/3 total innings of work.

As noted by Red Sox Stats on Twitter, Sunday marked the third time this season that Whitlock has been used on three days rest. He has been used on four days rest on two occasions and on five days of rest just once.

For Whitlock, who before joining the Red Sox over the winter was primarily a starting pitcher in three seasons in the Yankees organization, it’s probably safe to assume that some adjustments have needed to be made as he acclimates to his new role.

But after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019, he really is just someone who is happy to be pitching in the majors.

“I just try to be a good rookie,” Whitlock said on Friday. “Everyone’s got a role to play on the team. So I told (bench coach) Will (Venable) when I first showed up, I said, ‘Shoot. I’ll be the janitor on this team if that means I get to be in the big-leagues.’ Whatever the job is that I can do to possibly help the team out, that’s what I’m glad to be doing.”

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on rookie Garrett Whitlock: ‘From what he does in the bullpens to the weight room to the training room — even carrying the beer on the plane. It’s kind of like perfect’

Regardless of the situation, Garrett Whitlock continues to get outs for the Red Sox on a consistent basis.

The latest instance of that came in Wednesday’s contest against the Mets, when the rookie right-hander was deployed in the sixth inning of a game the Sox had a one-run lead in.

Needing all of 31 pitches, Whitlock retired six of the eight batters he faced while striking out four over the course of two scoreless frames of relief in the sixth and seventh. He later picked up his third hold of the season.

Since making his major-league debut on April 4, the 24-year-old has yet to allow a run on just six hits and two walks to go along with 18 strikeouts over six outings and 13 1/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen.

“He keeps growing. He keeps getting better,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Whitlock on Thursday. “Yesterday was fun to watch. 1-0 game in New York, and to give us six outs where we were bullpen-wise, it was amazing. So he keeps growing, he keeps learning, he keeps getting better. And he’s an important piece of our bullpen.”

Prior to being selected by the Red Sox from the Yankees in last December’s Rule 5 Draft, Whitlock had not pitched above the Double-A level and had last pitched in a minor-league game in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery that summer.

In his three seasons as a Yankees minor-leaguer, the 2017 18th-round draft pick never once swung a bat, but he nearly had to do so on Wednesday in a National League ballpark.

Cora asked Whitlock how many hits he had in the minor-leagues because his spot was coming up in the Sox’ lineup. The righty told him he had zero.

“And I was like, ‘Well, you better be ready. You might have to hit in the big-leagues,'” recalled Cora. Whitlock responded with a simple, “Whatever you need.”

To say Cora and the rest of the Red Sox brass have been impressed with Whitlock to this point would probably be an understatement. Not only is the Georgia native, who Cora described as “a cool individual,” dazzling while on the mound. He is making positive impressions off the field as well.

“He just goes about his business,” said Cora. “He trusts his stuff. He has a clean delivery. He throws a lot of strikes. And the stuff is that good. You saw it yesterday. That two-seamer in to [Jonathan] Villar, that was really good. We talked about it the first week. You guys asked me, ‘Who caught your attention? ‘ It was him. From what he does in the bullpens to the weight room to the training room — even carrying the beer on the plane. It’s kind of like perfect. Everything’s so structured. So we’ve got a good one.”

Per Baseball Savant, Whitlock currently ranks in the 98th percentile in expected weighted on-base average, the 98th percentile in expected ERA, the 89th percentile in expected batting average, the 93rd percentile in expected slugging percentage, the 93rd percentile in strikeout rate, and the 90th percentile in chase rate.

In simpler terms, he has done an effective job of mixing his sinker, changeup, four-seam fastball, and slider thus far.

“He’s competing since day one in spring training,” Cora said. “It wasn’t a given that he was going to make the team. Since day one, he’s been competing. He never showed hesitation about his work or what we were preaching to him. He just keeps going and it’s fun to watch. In an era that everybody puts pressure on people and everybody’s in the spotlight and everybody knows what you are doing because of social media, he’s just the same Garrett as when we got to spring training February 11.”

Whitlock, who turns 25 in June, would be under team control with the Red Sox through 2026 if he sticks on the club’s big-league roster for the remainder of the season.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: David Berding/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta outduels Jacob deGrom as Red Sox defeat Mets, 1-0, to finish off series sweep

Going into their series finale against the Mets on Wednesday, the Red Sox knew runs would be come to hard by with ace right-hander Jacob deGrom on the hill for New York.

Taking that into consideration, the Sox were also aware that they would not to put forth their best pitching effort to have a chance on Wednesday, and that’s just what they did en route to a 1-0 shutout victory over the Mets at Citi Field to secure the two-game series sweep.

The one run the Boston bats managed to score off deGrom came in the top half of the second inning, when Xander Bogaerts led things off with a hard-hit double and came into score moments later on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez’s seventh RBI of the season would prove to be all the scoring the Red Sox would need in this one as Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes combined to toss a two-hit shutout.

Pivetta, making his fifth start of the season, held the Mets to just one hit over five strong innings of work to go along with three walks, one hit batsman, and seven strikeouts on the night. He also worked a 10-pitch at-bat against deGrom in the third.

Whitlock, making his sixth appearance of the season, scattered one hit and one walk while fanning four hitters in the sixth and seventh innings, which led to Ottavino working a 1-2-3 bottom half of the eighth.

Barnes, meanwhile, came on for his second save opportunity in as many days in yet another one-run game and shut the door on the Mets by sitting down Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, and Dominic Smith on just 12 pitches to preserve the 1-0 victory for his side.

Gonzalez makes leaping play at second

While Ottavino may have faced the minimum three batters in his lone inning of work, he certainly got some defensive help from his second baseman in Marwin Gonzalez.

With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Francisco Lindor laced a 96 mph line drive towards left field that would have put the tying run on base had it gone for a hit.

Instead, Gonzalez, who was playing in the shift and on the outer edge of the infield dirt, left his feet and came up with a dazzling, off-balanced catch to rob Lindor of what could have been an important hit for the Mets.

Next up: On to Texas

After taking both games of this quick interleague-set from the Mets to improve to 16-9 on the season, the Red Sox will head to Globe Life Field inTexas to open up a four-game series against the Rangers that starts on Thursday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez is slated to get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by a former teammate in the form of right-hander Kyle Gibson for Texas.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their fourth straight win.

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

Xander Bogaerts hits third homer in 4 games, drives in 3 runs as Red Sox hold on to defeat Mariners, 6-5; J.D. Martinez also homers

Xander Bogaerts joked earlier this week about how he had yet to hit a homer this season.

Following the Red Sox’ 6-5 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park on Friday night, the star shortstop has now hit three home runs in his last four games.

Bogaerts’ third big fly of the 2021 campaign came right away in the bottom half of the first inning, when after his side fell behind early, the right-handed hitter crushed an 0-1, 82 MPH slider from M’s starter Yusei Kikuchi 409 feet to deep left field to score himself as well as Alex Verdugo to put the Sox up 2-1.

J.D. Martinez followed suit in the third, as the vaunted slugger picked up his team-leading seventh home run of the season — this one being a solo shot — by depositing another Kikuchi slider 343 feet to the opposite field. 3-1.

After the Mariners got a run back in the fourth, the Red Sox put the pressure on by loading the bases with the first three batters who reached base off Kikuchi to lead off the fifth, but could only get two runs out of it when Martinez grounded into a run-scoring double play and Bogaerts collected his third RBI on a hard-hit single that drove in Enrique Hernandez.

Verdugo scored another run for the Sox in the seventh following a leadoff single off Mariners reliever Ljay Newsome. Another base hit from Martinez advanced the outfielder to second, and he then came around to score on a fielding error to make it a 6-2 contest.

Verdugo records third outfield assist of season

In addition to enjoying a 3-for-5 day at the plate with two runs scored out of the two-hole, Verdugo also notched his third outfield assist of the season already on Friday.

Starting in left field, the 24-year-old recorded the final out of the top half of the fifth inning by gunning down Kyle Seager at third base to preserve what was then a 3-2 lead for Boston.

Perez can’t make it through four innings

Making his fourth start of the season for the Red Sox in this one was Martin Perez.

The veteran left-hander dealt with his fair share of control issues in the process of surrendering two runs on four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings of work. Only 46 of the 83 pitches Perez threw on Friday went for strikes.

Although he was not involved in the decision, Perez did see his ERA on the season drop from 5.93 to 5.71. His next start should come against the Rangers sometime next week.

Red Sox bullpen sees it through

With Perez unable to go deep into Friday’s contest, the Red Sox bullpen was put to the test beginning in the fourth inning.

Hirokazu Sawamura took over for Perez, recorded the final out of the fourth by fanning Mitch Haniger, then picked up two more strikeouts in a scoreless fifth which would later result in him notching his first winning decision in the majors.

Garrett Whitlock took over from there, and the Rule 5 pick continued to impress by hurling 2 1/3 scoreless frames of relief while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts before getting the hook with one out and two runners in scoring position in the eighth.

Adam Ottavino was the one who got the call to take over for Whitlock, and the veteran reliever escaped the jam by punching out the only two Mariners he faced to retire the side.

With a 6-2 lead to protect going into the ninth, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes took over and was fortunate enough that he had a four-run cushion to work with.

That being the case because after walking J.P. Crawford — Seattle’s No. 9 hitter — and giving up a one-out single to Ty France, Barnes proceeded to serve up a three-run bomb to Seager, which cut the Mariners’ deficit from four runs to just one.

Barnes did manage to retire the next two hitters he faced in relatively simple fashion, and the Sox were able to come away with a 6-5 home victory and improve to 13-8 on the season because of it.

Next up: Flexen vs. Eovaldi

Saturday’s pitching matchup will feature a pair of right-handers, with Chris Flexen getting the ball for Seattle and Nathan Eovaldi doing the same for Boston.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Home runs from Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez power Red Sox to 11-4 win over White Sox on Patriots’ Day

After being held in check offensively in both games of a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way and came away with a four-game series split with the White Sox on Monday following an 11-4 victory to celebrate Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park in style.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who was fresh off a solid performance against the Twins in Minnesota last week.

Working against another American League Central foe in the White Sox this time around, the veteran right-hander had yet another impressive day on Monday.

Over 6 1/3 innings of work, Eovaldi yielded four runs (all earned) on nine hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

The first two of those Chicago runs scored on extra-base hits from Luis Robert and Adam Eaton in the first and third innings. Eaton was also responsible for his side’s third run when he plated Tim Anderson on a two-out, run-scoring double in the fifth.

Eovaldi managed to keep the White Sox off the board for a little while after that, but after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the top of the seventh, his day came to a close with Eaton due to hit next for Chicago.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (75 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 41 times on Monday, inducing six swings-and-misses while topping out at 100.3 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his third winning decision of the season despite raising his ERA to 3.04, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Mariners at Fenway Park on Saturday.

In relief of Eovaldi, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first — and only — call out of the Red Sox bullpen an inherited a situation where there runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the sixth.

Whitlock, in his first appearance since Wednesday, allowed one of those inherited runners to score on an RBI groundout from Eaton — which closed the book on Eovaldi’s outing — but he avoided any further damage by getting Robert to ground out to retire the side.

From there, the 24-year-old continued to dazzle in his debut season with the Sox by fanning two and sitting down the final six hitters he faced in order to preserve the 11-4 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, a reeling Red Sox lineup was matched up against a tough opponent in White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who has finished in the top-7 in American League Cy Young voting in each of the last two seasons.

Despite the reputation Giolito carries with him, the 26-year-old struggled mightily in his first outing at Fenway Park in nearly two years.

That being the case because right from the get-go, the Sox put up six runs on seven hits while sending 11 batters to the plate in their half of the first.

Kiké Hernández led things off by crushing his third home run of the season just over the Green Monster to knot things up at 1-1, singles from Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez allowed Rafael Devers to drive in a run on a single of his own, and a Christian Vazquez single following a mound visit filled the bases for Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, one of the heroes of Saturday’s series-opening win, kept the line moving with an RBI single to score Martinez, while Hunter Renfroe drove in Devers on a groundout to third base.

Franchy Cordero followed with a line-drive RBI base hit to left field, which brought in Gonzalez. Just like that, the Red Sox had gone from trailing by a run to leading by five runs at 6-1.

Martinez provided more leadoff power in the bottom of the second, as he clubbed his sixth big fly of the season 398 feet over the Green Monster. 7-1.

A seven-pitch walk to Devers would mark the end of Giolito’s day after just one-plus innings pitched, and Renfroe would drive in the third baseman on a sacrifice fly off new White Sox reliever Zack Burdi. 8-1.

In the third, Verdugo became the third member of the top third of Boston’s starting lineup to go bridge. The 24-year-old took Burdi 417 feet deep to right field for his first Fenway homer of the season.

A one-out single off the bat of Vazquez an inning later would result in another Red Sox run crossing the plate when Cordero ripped a two-out, RBI single off Burdi.

And in the seventh, Martinez put the exclamation point on a 3-for-5 day at the plate by lacing yet another run-scoring base hit off Yermin Merceded — a position player — with two outs in the frame to bring in Hernandez from third.

Martinez’s second RBI knock of the afternoon gave the Red Sox a commanding 11-3 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 11-6.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they will welcome the 7-9 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a brief, two-game series beginning Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s series opener at Fenway will feature an exclusively left-handed starting pitching matchup, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the starting nod for Boston and veteran southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu doing the same for Toronto.

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

(Picture of Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Powered by strong performances from Alex Verdugo and Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox extend winning streak to 9 consecutive games with 7-1 victory over Twins to sweep doubleheader

A half-hour intermission between games during Wednesday’s doubleheader at Target Field could not slow Alex Verdugo down, as the outfielder once again played a key role in the Red Sox’ 7-1 victory over the Twins in Game 2 of the twin bill.

After making a game-saving catch for the final out of the day cap, Verdugo picked up where he left off by going 3-for-4 at the plate in the night cap.

Matched up against another tough opponent in Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, it took the Sox offense as a whole some time to get going on Wednesday, but they eventually broke through in the fifth.

There, already trailing by a run, a one-out single off the bat of Bobby Dalbec filled the bases for Franchy Cordero, who proceeded to draw a four-pitch walk to drive in his side’s first run of the night.

The Twins then pulled Berrios for Tyler Duffey, though the stalemate they had put themselves in did not last all that long.

That being the case because with two outs in the frame and the bases still loaded, Verdugo drilled a two-run, go-ahead single to right field to give the Sox their first lead of the night.

A wild pitch from Duffey allowed Cordero to score from third to make it a 4-1 contest, and two more walks once again filled the bases for Rafael Devers.

Devers, who led off the top of the fifth with a double, greeted new Twins left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar by lacing a two-run single to right, which gave the Red Sox a 6-1 edge in the late stages.

Verdugo provided some insurance in the seventh by taking Thielbar deep to right field on a a down-and-in fastball for his second home run of the season.

The 24-year-old’s 406-foot blast put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Rodriguez pulls it together for 5 strong frames

Another game, another Red Sox starter providing five solid innings of work on Wednesday.

This time around, it was Eduardo Rodriguez’s time to shine, as the left-hander held the Twins to just one run on five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts in his second start of the young season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (51 strikes), the 28-year-old ultimately improved to 2-0 following Wednesday’s impressive showing. His next start should come against the Mariners on Tuesday.

Pair of rookies wrap things up

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock came on for his first appearance in six days and needed all of 10 pitches to retire the three hitters he faced in order in the sixth.

From there, another rookie reliever — Eduard Bazardo — got the call for the seventh inning in what was his big-league debut.

The 25-year-old righty out of Venezuela was called up from Boston’s alternate training site to serve as the club’s 27th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader.

He worked his way around two walks and picked up his first major-league strikeout en route to preserving the 7-1 victory for the Sox.

Next up: Last game of road trip

After sweeping Wednesday’s twin bill and extending their winning streak to nine consecutive games, the Red Sox will go for the four-game sweep over the reeling Twins on Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be getting the ball for Boston in the series finale, and he will be matched up against fellow righty Michael Pineda.

First pitch Thursday (also Jackie Robinson Day) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their 10th straight win.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Garrett Whitlock impresses with 2 scoreless innings in second appearance of season; ‘We needed him, and he did an outstanding job,’ Alex Cora says

Garrett Whitlock’s major-league debut came in an otherwise forgettable game for the Red Sox.

In their series finale against the Orioles this past Sunday at Fenway Park, the Sox found themselves down by 10 runs before the midway point of the third inning.

Whitlock, having come over from the Yankees as a Rule 5 Draft pick in December, came on in relief of left-hander Josh Taylor with two outs in the top half of the third.

From that point forward, the right-hander did not look back as he retired 10 of the 13 hitters he faced over 3 1/3 scoreless innings of work.

Four days later, Whitlock was called on again to pitch against the Orioles, though he was doing so in Baltimore in a game that was much more competitive.

After the Sox lineup tacked on two runs in their half of the sixth to retake the lead over the O’s at 4-3, Whitlock came on in relief of Thursday’s starter, Eduardo Rodriguez, in the bottom half of the frame.

Although he was pitching in a closer game in his second outing of the season, the 24-year-old did not miss a beat in the process of sitting down all six hitters he faced in order over two perfect, scoreless innings of relief.

He needed just 20 pitches (15 strikes) to get through those two innings. 11 of those pitches were changeups, eight were sinkers, and one was a four-seam fastball that registered at 95.3 mph.

“You see it and it’s like, ‘Wow, he belongs,'” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Whitlock’s performance on Thursday. “The tempo. The conviction. Most of the time, Rule 5 guys don’t shake off your catcher, right? But he knows what he wants to do, and he does. He shakes him off and he goes to the pitch he feels is right in that situation. He’s been great for us.”

A former 18th-round draft selection of the Yankees out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2017, Whitlock had compiled 42 appearances (38 starts) across four minor-league levels before undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019.

His recovery from that procedure coincided with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so before this past Sunday he hadn’t pitched in a competitive game in nearly two years.

“We still have to be careful,” Cora said in regards to Whitlock. “This is not what he’s used to. But, we do believe his stuff will play. This is the second time [the Orioles] have seen him and you saw the swings, so we’re comfortable with him. That was a situation where we were down, we get the lead, he was hot, so why not, you know? We needed him, and he did an outstanding job.”

Christian Vazquez has caught Whitlock in both of his outings thus far. It’s safe to say the veteran backstop has been impressed with what he has seen from the rookie hurler in those two appearances.

“He’s doing good, man. Great kid,” Vazquez said Thursday. “He’s got great stuff. Heavy fastball. Plus changeup. So he’s doing good. I think he’s going to help us big time.”

Whitlock, who turns 25 in June, must remain on the Sox’ major-league roster throughout the season or he would otherwise have to be offered back to New York since he is a Rule 5 pick.

Assuming he remains in Boston for the entirety of the 2021 campaign, the Georgia native would then be under team control through the 2026 season.

This would allow the Red Sox to maintain the services of a young, controllable arm with plenty of potential who could emerge as a legitimate starting rotation option next spring.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

3 positive takeaways from an otherwise disastrous opening weekend for the Red Sox

In case you missed it, the Red Sox got swept by the Orioles over the weekend to kick off the 2021 season, marking the first time since 2012 they have started a season by losing three straight out of the gates.

It’s also the first time since 1948 that they have started the home portion of their schedule with three consecutive losses at Fenway Park.

In the process of getting swept by the O’s these last three days, the Sox never held a lead, went a collective 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and were outscored 18-5 over 27 total innings.

To put it simply, Boston’s 2021 campaign is off to a rather disastrous start, but it is still early, meaning there is time to turn things around.

Taking that optimistic outlook into consideration, there were still some positives the Red Sox can take away from their first series of the year. Here are three of them:

Tanner Houck picks up where he left off in 2021 debut

Tanner Houck (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Pitching with family members in attendance for the first time as a major-leaguer, Tanner Houck carried over the success he enjoyed last September (0.53 ERA in three starts) into his first start of the 2021 season on Saturday.

Starting in place of the injured Eduardo Rodriguez (left elbow inflammation), the 24-year-old surrendered three runs — two of which were earned) on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts, though his line was not indicative as to how well he pitched on account of some sloppy defense behind him.

“He did a good job,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about the righty. “He was good. Velocity was up, moving all the pitches. He did an outstanding job. Good fastball up in the zone, controlled his emotions. He did an amazing job for us.”

Despite the strong performance on Saturday, there is no guarantee that Houck will make his next start the next time through Boston’s rotation. That all depends on if Rodriguez, who threw a simulated game in Worcester on Friday, is ready to return to action later this week.

Garrett Whitlock shines in major-league debut

Garrett Whitlock (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

After being selected by the Red Sox from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, Garrett Whitlock emerged as one of the stories of spring training out of Fort Myers.

The 24-year-old allowed just one run over four Grapefruit League appearances this spring on his way to making the Sox’ Opening Day roster.

On Sunday, Whitlock made his big-league debut, pitching in relief of Garrett Richards and Josh Taylor, who combined to surrender 10 runs to the Orioles in just 2 2/3 innings of work.

Coming on with two outs and runners at every base in the top half of the third, the right-hander got out of the jam by getting Maikel Franco to fly out to right field. He then proceeded to retire nine of the next 12 hitters he faced while striking out five and not walking a single batter.

Per Red Sox Notes, Whitlock became the first Red Sox pitcher ever to allow zero runs, zero walks, and punch out five-plus hitters in a big-league debut. 39 of the 59 pitches he threw went for strikes.

Sunday’s outing marked Whitlock’s first time pitching in a competitive (non-spring training) environment since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019. He had never pitched above Double-A prior to going under the knife.

“It was a dream come true,” the Alabama native — who had his mother and wife on hand to watch him –said in regards to making his major-league debut on Sunday. “It was an honor to be wearing the Red Sox name making that dream come true. I just can’t thank everyone with the Red Sox enough for giving me a chance.”

Of the 59 pitches Whitlock threw on Sunday, 44 were two-seam fastballs, 13 were changeups, and two were sliders. Seven of the eight swings-and-misses he induced on the day came on the two-seamer.

“He was good,” said Cora. “He pounded the strike zone, used his fastball up, mixed up his offspeed pitches. It was fun to watch.”

J.D. Martinez off to hot start at the plate

J.D. Martinez (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

While the majority of the Red Sox lineup stumbled out of the gate against Orioles pitching over the weekend, J.D. Martinez did not.

Following a 2-for-4 showing in which he crushed his first home run of the season on Sunday, the 33-year-old slugger is now 6-for-12 with that one homer, three doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored to kick off his 2021 campaign.

The homer he hit on Sunday — which traveled 429 feet to dead center field off a 92 mph fastball from Bruce Zimmermann — was the 239th of Martinez’s career.

For Martinez, who would surely like to put a dismal 2020 season (seven homers, .680 OPS in 54 games) behind him, what he did over the weekend was a great place to start.

“He’s such a workaholic,” Cora said of the three-time All-Star. “In spring training, we saw him swinging and swinging and swinging, chasing pitches. All of the sudden, boom. The strike zone gets smaller, he gets pitches he can handle and he’s driving the ball. That was a good pitch down in the zone and he put a good swing on it It’s good to see him start off this way.”

So for how miserable of an opening series the Red Sox had, there were still some bright spots that indicate that this team may be better than the slow start they have gotten off to would show.

Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles, though, things do no get any easier for the Sox with the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay Rays coming into town for another three-game set that begins on Monday night.

If Boston wants to show that they can compete and play winning baseball at Fenway Park, they will need to turn things around quickly or otherwise risk falling out of contention much sooner than anticipated.

“We know where we’re at. It wasn’t a good weekend,” Cora said on Sunday. “But at the end of the day, it’s only three games. We have a chance to come tomorrow and do it again. We have to be better. Like I said, we have stuff to work on. I still feel the same way about the team five days ago than right now. We have a good team, but we still have to work, and work for our stuff.

“We just got to be ready,” he added. “And the goal whether it’s Baltimore, Tampa, or Seattle, it doesn’t matter. You try to win the series. So tomorrow is a new series. We got a chance to win it and we’ll go at it.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)