If Red Sox are looking internationally for bullpen help, Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez should be on their radar

Like most clubs, the Red Sox will be looking to upgrade their bullpen in various ways this winter.

Of the 29 non-position players who made at least one relief appearance for the Sox this past season, only 11 remain on the team’s 40-man roster as of this moment.

While The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote on Saturday that the Red Sox “are looking to upgrade their bullpen,” he also noted that they “likely won’t limit their search to familiar names” and are instead “expected to look internationally for help.”

As alluded to by Speier, the Sox have been active in the international market since Chaim Bloom took over as chief baseball officer two years ago. Most notably in this case, Boston signed veteran reliever Hirokazu Sawamura out of Japan to help fill out their bullpen for the 2021 season.

This off-season, the Red Sox seem primed to once again dip their toes into international waters — while also remaining active within the traditional free agent reliever pool — in order to upgrade their bullpen.

How will Bloom and Co. go about addressing this area of need? Well, this piece in particular will focus on one potential free agent target in Hanshin Tigers right-hander Robert Suarez.

Suarez, 30, began his professional baseball career in the Mexican League in 2015, but signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball that November and has spent the last six years in Japan.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, Suarez later signed with Hanshin in December 2019 and has enjoyed quite a bit of success in his two seasons there.

Most recently, the native Venezuelan posted a miniscule 1.16 ERA and 0.77 WHIP to go along with 58 strikeouts to just eight walks over 62 relief appearances spanning 62 1/3 innings of work in 2021.

Operating as Hanshin’s closer, Suarez led NPB’s Central Division in saves (42) while also striking out 25.3% of the batters he faced and walking just 3.5% of them.

When he first joined the Tigers in 2019, Suarez became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign. He then re-signed with the club on a two-year deal that included a player option for 2022, which would allow him to become a free agent again this winter.

Earlier this month, Yahoo! Japan reported (and Sung Min Kim, formerly of FanGraphs and The Athletic, relayed) that Suarez was ‘garnering interest’ from multiple Major League Baseball teams.

At present, it’s unclear if the Red Sox are one of the teams inquiring about Suarez, who turns 31 in March. However, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound hurler “is still not technically a free agent just yet.”

If and when the time comes that Suarez does become a free agent this off-season, one would have to think that more information regarding potential suitors and such will become available.

In the interim, the Red Sox will undoubtedly be exploring all options available to them when it comes to improving their bullpen and the rest of their roster.

(Picture of Robert Suarez: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Hirokazu Sawamura ‘good to go’ for remainder of ALCS despite experiencing right hamstring discomfort earlier this week

UPDATE: Sawamura is ‘good to go’ after there was some concern regarding his right hamstring, Cora told MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Original Story: Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura is currently dealing with a right hamstring injury that could result in him being replaced on Boston’s American League Championship Series roster, manager Alex Cora said prior to Game 6 on Friday.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) during his pregame media availability, Cora indicated that Sawamura would throw on the field at Minute Maid Park before the club decides if a roster move is necessary.

After not being named to Boston’s Wild Card Game or division series squads, Sawamura was added to the Sox’ 26-man ALCS roster last week as he essentially replaced fellow right-hander Matt Barnes.

The 33-year-old hurler out of Japan has appeared in three of the five games the Red Sox have played against the Astros thus far, posting a 4.50 ERA and 5.67 FIP to go along with two strikeouts, two walks, and one hit batsman over two total innings of work.

During the regular season, Sawamura missed time on the injured list on two separate occasions due to right triceps inflammation in late July and a bout with COVID-19 that began towards the end of August and lasted through mid-September.

Should Sawamura be deemed unable to pitch for the remainder of this series, right-handers such as Barnes and the recently-activated Phillips Valdez could emerge as candidates to replace him.

On the flip side of that, left-hander Austin Davis — who was on the Wild Card and division series rosters but left off the ALCS roster — represents another possible fill-in option.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Hirokazu Sawamura, Austin Davis activated; Brad Peacock, Stephen Gonsalves returned to Triple-A Worcester

Before opening up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Monday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while left-handed reliever Austin Davis was activated from the paternity leave list.

Secondly, right-hander Brad Peacock and left-hander Stephen Gonsalves were both returned to Triple-A Worcester to make room for Sawamura and Davis on the major-league roster.

The Red Sox made these transactions official earlier Monday night. They also reinstated righty Eduard Bazardo from the 60-day injured list and optioned him to Worcester.

Sawamura rejoins the Sox after initially testing positive for COVID-19 while the club was in Tampa Bay in the final days of August. At that time, he was the fifth player on the team to return positive results since their outbreak began in Cleveland on Aug. 27.

Upon his quarantine period coming to an end, the 33-year-old — who is vaccinated against coronavirus — traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago for their weekend series against the White Sox and even threw a bullpen session at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday.

On Monday, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Boston would be making Sawamura available to reporters ahead of the series opener against Seattle, indicating that he would indeed be activated.

In his first season with the Red Sox, Sawamura has posted a 3.09 ERA and 5.35 FIP to go along with 54 strikeouts to 29 walks over 50 relief appearances spanning 46 2/3 innings of work. The Japanese hurler last pitched in a game on August 28, as he did not require a rehab assignment.

Davis, on the other hand, returns to the Red Sox bullpen after being placed on paternity leave over the weekend.

Acquired from the Pirates in exchange for Michael Chavis ahead of the July 30 trade deadline, the 28-year-old southpaw has put up a 4.61 ERA, but much more respectable 3.38 FIP, with 14 strikeouts to six walks in 14 outings (13 2/3 innings pitched) since making his Boston debut on July 31.

In activating Davis, the Sox gain yet another left-handed bullpen option alongside the likes of Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Martin Perez, who is expected to be reinstated from the COVID IL himself on Tuesday.

With Sawamura and Davis back in the fold, the Red Sox returned another pair of hurlers to Worcester in the form of Peacock and Gonsalves.

Peacock had just been sent back to the WooSox on Saturday when Connor Seabold was called up to make his major-league debut, but remained on Boston’s taxi squad before having his contract selected once again on Sunday after Phillips Valdez was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on account of a positive test.

That being said, it’s safe to assume that the 33-year-old righty will remain with the Red Sox in Seattle as part of the taxi squad in the event that they need to add another pitcher for the final leg of this road trip.

Gonsalves, meanwhile, had his contract selected from Worcester on August 31 — when both Taylor and Sawamura were added to the COVID-related IL.

The 27-year-old lefty made his Red Sox debut that very same day and appeared in three games for the club, allowing a total of two earned runs on two hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and four strikeouts over 4 1/3 total innings in that stretch.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Hirokazu Sawamura activated from injured list; Jonathan Araúz recalled from Triple-A Worcester; Marcus Wilson designated for assignment

Before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday, the Red Sox made a flurry of roster moves in the wake of Friday afternoon’s trade deadline.

First off, infielder Jonathan Arauz was recalled from Triple-A Worcester. Secondly, reliever Hirokazu Sawamura was returned from his rehab assignment with Worcester and was activated from the injured list. Finally, outfielder Marcus Wilson was designated for assignment.

The Red Sox made all these transactions official earlier Friday evening.

This series of roster moves comes after the Sox made three significant additions within the last 24 hours, acquiring All-Star outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the Nationals while adding relievers Hansel Robles and Austin Davis in trades with the Twins and Pirates, respectively.

With reliever Brandon Workman being designated for assignment on Thursday night, infielder/outfielder Michael Chavis being traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for Davis and Wilson being designated for assignment on Friday, Boston was able to create three 40-man roster spots for Schwarber, Robles, and David.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Sawamura returning from the injured list essentially fills the vacancy on the big-league roster left behind by Workman, while Arauz will take Chavis’ spot on the Sox’ 26-man roster for the time being.

Cotillo also notes that the Red Sox will need to make additional moves this weekend in order to add Robles and Davis to the major-league roster. Schwarber is expected be placed on the 10-day injured list since he is still recovering from a hamstring strain.

Arauz, who was added to Boston’s taxi squad for their three-city, 10-game road trip, will start at third base and bat out of the nine-hole in Friday’s series opener against Tampa Bay.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old infielder is about to embark upon his second major-league stint of the season with the Red Sox. In four games against the Athletics and Angels from May 12-16 at Fenway Park, he went 2-for-8 (.250) at the plate with one double, one RBI, two runs scored, two walks, and three strikeouts over 10 plate appearances.

Sawamura, meanwhile, returns to the Boston bullpen after missing the minimum 10 days on the 10-day injured list with right triceps inflammation. The 33-year-old righty was initially placed on the IL on July 23 (retroactive to July 20) and later tossed a scoreless first inning in his lone rehab outing for the WooSox at Polar Park this past Wednesday.

In his first season with the Red Sox, Sawamura has been quite effective, posting a 2.87 ERA and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 44:18 over 38 relief appearances spanning 37 2/3 innings of work.

As for Wilson, he was designated for assignment to allow for the Sox to create more space on their 40-man roster for their deadline acquisitions.

Originaly acquired from the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Blake Swihart back in April 2019, the 24-year-old outfield prospect has slashed .242/.370/.452 with 10 home runs and 30 RBI across 64 games (265 plate appearances) with the WooSox so far this season.

The Red Sox will have the next seven days to either trade, release, or outright Wilson off their 40-man roster.

With all these moves made, Boston’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

WooSox Notes: Hirokazu Sawamura perfect in rehab outing; Kutter Crawford and Durbin Feltman solid in Polar Park debuts

The Worcester Red Sox fell to the Buffalo Bisons by a final score of 5-1 at Polar Park on Wednesday, marking their fifth consecutive loss.

While the WooSox did drop to 37-34 in their second of six against the Bisons, there were some positive developments — some of which will definitely pique the Red Sox’ interest.

Sawamura perfect in rehab appearance

Rehabbing reliever Hirokazu Sawamura opened the game for Worcester and needed all of 13 pitches — nine of which were strikes — to toss a perfect first inning in which he struck out one and got two to softly ground out.

Sawamura, who has been on the injured list since July 23 due to right triceps inflammation, had his stint on the IL backdated to July 20, meaning he could be activated as soon as Friday.

Barring any setbacks it seems likely that the 33-year-old righty will come off the injured list ahead of this weekend’s series against the Rays in Tampa Bay.

Crawford solid in Triple-A debut

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford made his Triple-A debut on Wednesday and was quite impressive in his first action in a WooSox uniform.

Taking over for Sawamura, Crawford yielded three runs — all of which were earned — on nine hits and just one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Of those nine hits the right-hander allowed, three were infield singles and seven were on soft contact, according to WooSox broadcaster Mike Antonellis.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (59 strikes), Crawford ended his day by retiring six of the final seven hitters he faced.

Crawford, 25, was promoted from Double-A Portland to Triple-A Worcester last week after posting a 3.30 ERA and 2.85 xFIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to just five walks over 10 starts (46 1/3 innings pitched) with the Sea Dogs to begin the season.

The Red Sox originally selected the 6-foot-1, 192 pound hurler in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University.

Crawford entered the 2019 campaign as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system according to Baseball America and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery that fall before having bone spurs removed from his throwing elbow the following summer.

His next start for the WooSox will likely come on the road against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders next Tuesday.

Feltman works his way around trouble in Polar Park debut

Like Crawford, fellow Red Sox pitching prospect Durbin Feltman made his first-ever appearance at Polar Park on Wednesday.

Working directly in relief of Crawford, Feltman issued a leadoff double to Bisons shortstop Kevin Smith to begin things in the eighth, but maneuvered his way around that by sitting down the next three batters he faced on a pair of fly outs and a lineout.

Of the 11 pitches Feltman needed to get through the eighth inning of Wednesday’s contest, seven went for strikes.

The 24-year-old right-handed reliever was promoted to Triple-A on July 23 and got rocked for three runs on four hits over two innings against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs that very same day.

Originally selected by Boston in the third round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Texas Christian University, Feltman — listed at 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds — opened the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland and put up a 3.29 ERA and 3.62 xFIP in addition to 37 strikeouts and 10 walks over 22 relief appearances spanning 27 1/3 innings pitched.

Both Crawford and Feltman can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in their respective careers this winter, so there is a possibility that either one of the two righties could be dealt ahead of Friday’s trade deadline.

If not, they would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20 in order to be protected from this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Hirokazu Sawamura on injured list due to tricep inflammation, recall Phillips Valdez from Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday night, the Red Sox placed right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura on the 10-day injured list due to right tricep inflammation.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty reliever Phillips Valdez was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Friday evening.

Sawamura last pitched for the Red Sox this past Monday, throwing two pitches to record the final out of the seventh inning in a 13-4 win over the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Including Monday’s outing, the 33-year-old hurler out of Japan has posted a 2.87 ERA and 4.08 xFIP to go along with 44 strikeouts and 18 walks over 38 relief appearances spanning 37 2/3 innings of work in his debut season with the Sox.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “there was no indication that he was dealing with an injury before he was placed on the IL.”

Because his stint on the IL was backdated to July 20, the soonest Sawamura can be activated is next Friday, July 30.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including Cotillo) following Friday night’s win over the Yankees that he does not expect Sawamura to miss an extended period of time.

“It’s not bad,” Cora said. “It’s something we feel like… he wasn’t going to be able to post for a few days so we’ll take care of him and see where he’s at in a few days. Hopefully, he’ll be back with us sooner rather than later.”

Valdez, meanwhile, returns to the Boston bullpen after being optioned to Worcester on June 10.

The lanky 29-year-old opened the 2021 campaign with the Sox — his second with the organization — and put up a 4.24 ERA and 3.98 FIP over 20 games (23 1/3 innings).

From the time he was sent down to the WooSox in early June until the time he was called back up on Friday, Valdez pitched to the tune of a 3.38 ERA, allowing a total of four earned runs in 11 appearances that spanned 10 2/3 innings of relief.

As noted by Cotillo, Sawamura is the fourth player the Red Sox have had to place on the injured list since the All-Star break concluded, as he joins the likes of Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring strain), Christian Arroyo (left hamstring strain) and Danny Santana (left groin strain).

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Hirokazu Sawamura dealing with right hip soreness; stint on injured list a possibility, Alex Cora says

Red Sox reliever Hirokazu Sawamura has been dealing with soreness in his right hip and will not be available to pitch out of the bullpen in Thursday’s series finale against the Astros, manager Alex Cora said.

Per Cora, Sawamura first experienced discomfort in his hip during his most recent outing on Monday in which he worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in a a 5-3 win over the Marlins.

“There’s a few guys banged up, obviously,” Cora told reporters prior to Thursday’s contest at Fenway Park. “One of the guys that we’re paying attention to is Sawamura. He’s been sore from his last one, his right hip. So we got to see where he’s at. He’ll be down today.”

While the 33-year-old has been getting treatment on his sore hip this week, Cora did mention the possibility of a stint on the injured list for the right-hander if he is not ready to return to action in the coming days.

“We’ll see how he we feel about him in the upcoming days,” said Cora. “And if we have to make a move, maybe that’s the route we go.”

It turns out that the Red Sox did make a roster move to replenish their bullpen, though it did not involve Sawamura.

Boston recalled righty Brandon Brennan and optioned fellow right-hander Phillips Valdez to Triple-A Worcester on Thursday evening.

Under normal circumstances, Valdez would be required to spend at least 10 days with the WooSox, but as noted by OverTheMonster.com’s Matt Collins, “that restriction goes away if he replaces someone who hits the injured list.”

With all that being said, it’s still no sure thing Sawamura will end up on the injured list. That likely all depends on how the Japanese hurler respond to treatment.

“We’re not sure yet,” Cora said when asked if Sawamura is going to be placed on the IL. “We have to pay attention to his situation. He’s been down the last few, but he complained about it in the last outing. And he’s been getting treatment, but we have to know if he’s going to be available tonight, tomorrow, or when he’s going to be available, and we go from there.”

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers mashes 3-run homer, Marwin Gonzalez enjoys 2-hit night as Red Sox open series against Yankees with 5-2 win

It would appear that Rafael Devers has gotten his fastball back.

After struggling with the heater in Houston this week, Devers got this weekend’s series against the Yankees started with a bang at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

With two outs and runners at first and second in the top of the first, the 24-year-old greeted Yankees starter Michael King by crushing an 0-2, 96 mph fastball at the top of the zone to deep right field for a three-run home run.

Devers’ team-leading 15th homer of the season traveled 429 feet off the left-handed hitter’s bat and had an exit velocity of 112.4 mph, which would turn out to be the second hardest-hit ball of the night. It also gave the Red Sox an early 3-0 lead.

Gonzalez breaks out of slump with two-hit night

To his credit, King settled in for New York after a rough first inning. The Rhode Island native strung together four consecutive scoreless frames before allowing a one-out single to Xander Bogaerts in the sixth. That resulted in the Yankees turning to left-hander Lucas Luetge.

Hunter Renfroe greeted Luetge by advancing Bogaerts to second on a single, while Hunter Renfroe — who came into Friday’s contest in the midst of a 1-for-24 skid — scored both runners by lacing a two-run double down the left field line.

The Sox went ahead 5-0 on Gonzalez’s first hit since May 22, and the switch-hitter also reached base again on a one-out double later on in the ninth.

Eovaldi tosses six solid innings, but scuffles towards the end

Nathan Eovaldi made his 12th start of the season for the Red Sox on Friday, matched up against one of his former teams at a ballpark he knows quite well.

Over six innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded two runs — only one of which was earned — on eight hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

Both runs Eovaldi surrendered came in his final frame of action, with Aaron Judge getting his side on the board with a two-out solo home run to the short porch and Gio Urshela scoring on a Marwin Gonzalez fielding AND throwing error later in the inning.

For how impressive he was in the beginning, Eovaldi gave up four of his eight hits in the sixth. Still, six quality innings is six quality innings.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (59 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler’s next start should come against the Astros back at Fenway Park on Wednesday.

Strikeouts galore from the Red Sox bullpen

In relief of Eovaldi, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the seventh inning.

Sawamura needed all of 12 pitches to punch out Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner, and D.J. LeMahieu in order, and he also picked up two more strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the eighth as well to pave the way for Matt Barnes.

Barnes, making his 24th appearance of the season, dominated to the tune of a three-strikeout inning in which he secured his 13th save of the year while also preserving a 5-2, series-opening victory for the Red Sox.

With the win, their second straight, the Sox improve to 34-23 on the season and move to a game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Taillon

A struggling Eduardo Rodriguez will take the hill for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Saturday night. He will be opposed by right-hander Jameson Taillon.

Rodriguez is coming off the worst month of his career. In six May starts, the left-hander went 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA and .957 OPS against over 29 2/3 innings pitched. The Sox went 1-5 in those six starts.

Saturday will mark Rodriguez’s first outing at Yankee Stadium since August 2, 2019.

Tallion, meanwhile, carries with him a 5.10 ERA through his first 10 starts (47 2/3 innings) in a Yankees uniform. The 29-year-old has only made one prior start against the Red Sox, which came when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in April 2017.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Lifeless Red Sox drop third straight to Astros, 2-1; Nick Pivetta hit with first loss of season despite striking out 9 over 6 innings

A stagnant Red Sox offense was once again held in check by the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

Houston starter Framber Valdez gave Boston a chance to get something going immediately in the first inning. The left-hander loaded the bases with two outs and walked in a run by issuing a free pass to Hunter Renfroe.

Bobby Dalbec was presented with the opportunity to do some more damage in his first at-bat of the night, but he grounded out sharply to shortstop to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that lone run is all the Sox could get off of Valdez, as the southpaw settled in after a rough first inning and strung together six straight scoreless frames to get through seven strong when all was said and done.

The Boston bats did not fare much better against the Astros’ bullpen, with all three of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts lining out to center field against reliever Ryne Stanek in the top half of the eighth.

In the top half of the ninth, a one-out single from Renfroe and two-out single from Vazquez off Astros closer Ryan Pressly provided the Red Sox with some late life and the chance to at least tie things up at two runs apiece.

Alas, Christian Arroyo hit a broken-bat pop-up to the infield, and 2-1 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

By dropping their third consecutive contest to the Astros, the Red Sox fall to 32-23 on the season (16-10 on the road), yet still remain two games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Pivetta grinds through first two innings, winds up turning in solid performance

Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta needed 57 pitches to get through the first two innings of his 11th start of the season on Wednesday. Like Valdez, he also put himself in a bases-loaded jam right away in the first, but got out of it having allowed just one run.

From that point, though, the right-hander locked in and put together one of his best outings of the year to this point all things considered.

Over six innings in total, Pivetta yielded two runs — both earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 111 (72 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 28-year-old was ultimately hit with his first loss of the year — and his first since coming over to the Red Sox from the Phillies last August. His next start should come against the Marlins back at Fenway Park on Monday.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a perfect seventh inning while Hirokazu Sawamura and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless bottom of the eighth with the help of Christian Vazquez snuffing out Alex Bregman at second base.

Next up: Perez vs. Odorizzi

The Red Sox will send left-hander Martin Perez to the hill on Thursday afternoon as they look to halt this three-game losing streak, avoid a sweep and in turn end an otherwise forgettable series against the Astros on a positive note.

Perez will be opposed by veteran right-hander and his former Twins rotation mate Jake Odorizzi for Houston.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Red Sox commit 2 costly errors, fail to get anything going offensively in 5-1 loss to Astros

The Red Sox were within striking distance of the Astros heading into the bottom of the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

Trailing by a run at 2-1, Hirokazu Sawamura came on for Garrett Richards and yielded a leadoff single to Kyle Tucker. A Rafael Devers fielding error on a Chas McCormick groundball put runners at first and second with no outs.

Sawamura proceeded by inducing another grounder off the bat of Myles Straw, one that was hit directly to Xander Bogaerts for what looked to be the start of a huge 6-4-3 double play.

Bogaerts fielded the ball cleanly and made a routine toss to Marwin Gonzalez, who misfired on his throw to first base that got past a sprawling Danny Santana and allowed Tucker to score easily.

A five-pitch walk of Martin Maldonado, a wild pitch, and an intentional walk of Jose Altuve loaded the bases as Red Sox manager Alex Cora made the switch from Sawamura to Garrett Whitlock.

Making his first appearance out of the bullpen in a week, Whitlock issued a free pass to the first man he faced to bring in another run before Yordan Alvarez tapped an infield single off him to plate an additional run and make it a 5-1 game.

What transpired in the seventh inning on Tuesday was what ultimately did the Red Sox in. By falling to Houston by a final score of 5-1, Boston drops back down to 32-22 (16-9) on the season. They remain two games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Richards provides six solid innings

Garrett Richards made his 11th start of the season for the Red Sox and put together yet another strong showing.

Despite dealing with his fair share of traffic on the base paths, the right-hander surrendered just two earned runs on four hits, four walks, and five strikeouts over six innings of work.

The first of the two Astros runs Richards gave up came on a towering solo home run from Jose Altuve right away in the first inning. The second came on a sacrifice fly from Chas McCormick after Richards served up a leadoff double and followed with a four-pitch walk later in the bottom half of the fourth.

Besides that, the 33-year-old hurler was able to retire six of the final seven Astros he faced to get through six full innings.

Despite lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.75, Richards was charged with his fourth loss and is now 4-4. His next start should come against the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night.

Red Sox’ offensive woes continue

For the second straight day, the Red Sox lineup was held in check at Minute Maid Park. Boston was once again limited to five hits while managing to push across just one run against Astros rookie starter Luis Garcia.

Hunter Renfroe sparked the lone offensive output of the night with a leadoff double in the fifth, marking his fifth consecutive game with an extra-base hit. Danny Santana advanced Renfroe to third on a single moments later, and it appeared as though the Sox were ready to pounce.

Christian Vazquez failed to advance either runner by popping out to the infield, Marwin Gonzalez plated Renfroe on an RBI groundout, and Enrique Hernandez also popped out to extinguish the threat.

From there, an Alex Verdugo leadoff single and Vazquez two-out single in the seventh went for naught as Garcia made it through seven complete innings for the first time in his young career.

The Astros bullpen took over in relief of Garcia and preserved the one-run effort by tossing a pair of scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Valdez

Wednesday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Astros will feature a pair of right-hander and a left-hander, with righty Nick Pivetta getting the ball for Boston and southpaw Framber Valdez doing the same for Houston.

Pivetta will look to play the role as the stopper with the Sox looking to halt a two-game skid and get back in the win column.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)