What the Immediate Future Holds for Red Sox’ New Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom

The Red Sox are holding a press conference on Monday afternoon, more than likely to formally introduce Chaim Bloom as the club’s new chief baseball officer. Brian O’Halloran, who had been serving as an assistant GM alongside Eddie Romero and Zack Scott, will also be promoted to general manager.

With these moves coming days before the Major League Baseball season comes to a close, it appears that the Red Sox are headed towards what could be a transformative kind of offseason.

The 36-year-old Bloom hasn’t even been on the job for a day to this point, yet he’ll have plenty of decisions to make and ponder once he officially begins on Monday. Here are five things that the former Rays vice president will have to decide on almost immediately.

1. The future of Mookie Betts

As we all know by now, Mookie Betts has one year remaining on his contract headed into the 2020 season. Per MLB Trade Rumors, the reigning American League MVP is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration.

Since the time spring training began in Fort Myers, Fla in February, the notion has been that principal owner John Henry and the rest of the Sox brass would prefer to keep Betts in Boston for the rest of his career. Granted, that came about seven months before Henry also said he would like to see his team get below the $208 million luxury tax threshold for 2020.

Betts himself seems gun ho on reaching free agency and testing the open market rather than agreeing to an extension with Boston.

There are multiple directions Bloom and the Red Sox could go with this. For starters, they could deal the 27-year-old outfielder for a plethora of prospects to improve what’s viewed as a weak, yet improving farm system. They could hold on to him to begin the 2020 season and then decide to deal him at the July 31st trade deadline if they are not in a competitive spot. And among other things, they could somehow convince Betts to agree to a long-term contract extension.

2. The future of Jackie Bradley Jr. 

Jackie Bradley Jr., like Betts, is entering the final year of his contract with Boston before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter. The 29-year-old is projected to earn $11 million in arbitration the coming season, per MLB Trade Rumors.

With the Red Sox wanting to slash their 2020 payroll, Bradley Jr. emerges as a potential non-tender candidate or trade candidate if the former does not happen. At that aforementioned price tag of $11 million, Bloom and co. could decide that Bradley Jr.’s inconsistent play at the place is not worth it despite the fact that he is one of the better defensive center fielders in all of baseball.

3. The state of the starting rotation in 2020

Rick Porcello’s $21 million may be coming off the books, but all of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale dealt with injury issues in 2019 and are going to be another year older in 2020.

Per @RedSoxPayroll, the trio of Eovaldi, Price, and Sale will earn approximately $72.5 million all together next season, which is a larger amount than the Tampa Bay Rays’ payroll from this year.

Both Price and Sale were shut down at different points during the 2019 campaign, while Eovaldi, who turns 30 in February, missed more than two months of action from late April until late July while recovering from surgery to remove loose bodies from his throwing elbow.

Depending on the statuses of these three heading into the spring, it may be in Bloom’s best interest to scour the free agency or trade market for affordable starting pitching.

4. The state of the starting pitching pipeline going forward

Speaking of starting pitching, one thing that has bothered me about the Red Sox over the last few years has been their inability to develop any sort of reliable starting pitching options in the minor leagues.

Now more than ever, that needs to change. Whether it be through the amateur draft or international signings has yet to be determined.

5. Exploring contract extensions 

Outside of Mookie Betts, there a few other Red Sox worthy of contract extensions. Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Brandon Workman all come to mind immediately.

Devers, who just turned 23 last week, broke out in a big way in 2019, slashing .311/.361/.555 to go along with a career-high 31 home runs and 115 runs driven in while providing solid defense at third base for most of the year.

The Dominican Republic native is due to earn somewhere around $650,000 in his final year under team control in 2020, meaning the Sox could factor that into any sort of long-term extension to stay under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, if that is what ends up happening.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, also enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, posting a career-best 19 wins in 34 starts to go along with an ERA of 3.81 and FIP of 3.86 over a career-best 203 1/3 innings of work.

The 26-year-old out of Venezuela is projected to earn $9.5 million in his third and second-to-last year of arbitration in 2020.

Workman, finally, is the oldest of the group, as he turned 31 this past August and is entering his final season of arbitration next year. MLB Trade Rumors has him earning $3.4 million.

In a career-high 73 appearances in 2019, Workman emerged as Boston’s best option to close out games, posting a 1.88 ERA and minuscule .123 batting average against over 71 2/3 innings pitched.

It’s too early to say whether or not Workman will remain the Sox’ closer entering the 2020 season, but he certainly has established himself as a legitimate late-inning reliever out of Alex Cora’s bullpen.

We really haven’t even scratched the surface with this, but it is a start. Looking forward to Monday’s press conference.

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Red Sox Reportedly Looking to Trade Jackie Bradley Jr. This Offseason

The Red Sox may be looking to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Bradley Jr., who turns 30 in April, is entering his final year of salary arbitration and is projected to earn $11 million in 2020.

With it already out there that the Sox would look like to bring their payroll below the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, Bradley Jr.’s projected 2020 salary may not be in the club’s plans.

As Smith notes, Boston could non-tender their outfielder at any time before the December 2nd deadline, meaning he would become a free agent immediately.

Another possibility is that the team could tender Bradley Jr. a contract, look for a trade partner in the coming months, and potentially release him if no partner is found before Opening Day rosters are set, since, “arbitration contracts aren’t fully guaranteed until a player makes the Opening Day roster.”

Bradley Jr. is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he slashed .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI over 147 games played while also providing steady defense in center field.

Given the chance that Boston also deals Mookie Betts this winter, it would be hard to imagine a Red Sox outfield without Betts and Bradley Jr. in it in 2020. More is sure to come once we officially hit the offseason later this month, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox’ Mookie Betts Projected to Earn $27.7 Million in Final Year of Arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors

MLB Trade Rumors released their ninth annual salary arbitration projections for all 30 major league clubs pertaining to the 2020 season earlier Wednesday, and according to their initial model, the Red Sox have 12 arbitration-eligible players.

As indicated above, All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts is projected to earn a record-setting $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Since about the time the Sox were eliminated from postseason contention last month, most of the attention regarding the club has turned to what the future holds for Betts.

The recently turned 27-year-old has established himself as one of, if not the best corner outfielder in all of baseball and appears set to test the free agency waters in 2020.

That said, the Red Sox would surely like to keep Betts in Boston beyond next season and have made a handful of extension offers in order to make that happen. There seems to be this notion that Betts does not want to play in Boston even though he has shut that speculation down himself several times.

With how unlikely the chances of Betts agreeing to a contract extension before hitting the open market seem, a trade involving the 2018 American League MVP have come into question.

A player of Betts’ caliber has the ability to replenish Boston’s farm system to a certain extent if that is the direction they so choose, but he is also not a player you come across everyday either.

In regard to analytics, Betts’ has accumulated the second-most fWAR in all of baseball since the start of the 2015 season (35.4), trailing only Mike Trout (44.2) over that time period.

I understand that the Red Sox are hoping to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, which would require cutting a serious amount of payroll, but if you are still trying to compete for a postseason spot, or you are telling your fans that anyway, then I just do not see how you can deal a player who makes your team seriously better.

Anyway, I kind of went on a rant there, so here are the rest of the Red Sox’ arbitration projections, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 milliom
  • Sandy Leon – $2.8 million
  • Chris Owings – $3.0 million
  • Mookie Betts – $27.7 million
  • Brandon Workman – $3.4 million
  • Steven Wright – $1.5 million
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – $9.5 million
  • Matt Barnes – $3.0 million
  • Heath Hembree – $1.6 million
  • Andrew Benintendi – $4.9 million
  • Marco Hernandez – $700K
  • Gorkys Hernandez – $1.0 million

Out of the names above, some are likely to get non-tendered, while others like Andrew Benintendi and Marco Hernandez are entering arbitration for the first time in their careers and will see decently significant raises in pay.

Eduardo Rodriguez Falls Short of 20th Win, Rafael Devers Picks up 200th Hit, and Mookie Betts Scores Winning Run as Red Sox Walk off Orioles in 2019 Season Finale

After dropping their penultimate game of the year with a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox bounced back and wrapped up their 2019 season in style, as they walked off the O’s in nine innings in a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

Making his 34th and final start of the season for Boston on Sunday was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the weekend just one winning decision of 20 and 3 2/3 innings shy of 200.

Tossing seven full innings to surpass that 200-mark on the season, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned against his former club on four hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came in the top half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, back-to-back RBI knocks from Hanser Alberto and Austin Hays got the Orioles on the board first.

One mound visit from pitching coach Dana LeVangie later, and Rodriguez allowed the third run of the frame to come in on a fielder’s choice out off the bat of Trey Mancini.

Other than that bit of trouble though, the Venezuela native settled in nicely from the beginning of the fourth inning on, retiring 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, the point in which his outing came to an impressive close with an emphatic six-pitch punchout of Richie Martin.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (71 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 48% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing 14 swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately unable to get that vaunted 20th win due to what transpired later on, Rodriguez finishes his fourth full season with the Red Sox with a 19-6 record, a 3.91 ERA, and a career-high 231 strikeouts over 34 outings and 203 1/3 total innings pitched.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on for one final time in the eighth with a brand new one-run lead to protect, and he could not do that, as he allowed the game-tying run, which was unearned, to cross the plate on a two-out RBI single from Jonathan Villar.

No 20th win for Rodriguez, all while Barnes was charged with his eighth blown save of 2019.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman fanned the only three Orioles he faced on just 15 pitches to send this one to the bottom half of the inning with a 4-4 stalemate intact, and that eventually earned him his 10th and final winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Orioles right-hander Chandler Shepherd, who was with the PawSox up until May of this year before being designated for assignment.

Kicking off the scoring in the third just as Baltimore did, the Boston bats quickly responded from an early three-run hole by plating two of their own on back-to-back one-out, run-scoring hits courtesy of Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts, single from J.D. Martinez, and another walk drawn by Mitch Moreland brought Christian Vazquez to the plate in a one-run game with the bases full.

Up against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, Vazquez delivered with a line-drive RBI single to left to drive in Bogaerts and knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting things done once more, this time with Devers reaching base with a one-out double off Evan Phillips, his 200th hit of the season, and Bogaerts scoring him on an RBI single to the opposite field. 4-3.

That probably should have been good enough to get Rodriguez his 20th win, but as already mentioned, the Orioles rallied and tied things up in their half of the eighth.

In the bottom half of that eighth, it looked as though the Sox had jumped in front again, as Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed an 0-1, 95 MPH heater from Mychal Givens with two outs and Brock Holt on at first.

Instead of mashing his 22nd homer of the year though, Bradley Jr. was downright robbed by Stevie Wilkerson in right field, as the O’s outfielder sprawled out to take away what surely was a two-run shot. The .980 xBA on that line drive is quite evident of that statement.

So, the two sides headed into the ninth still in a 4-4 tie, and after Brandon Workman did what he had to do in the top half, Betts did what he had to do to lead off the bottom half.

Yup, the reigning American League MVP drew a six-pitch walk off of Dillon Tate in what very well could have been his last plate appearance as a Red Sox.

That brought Devers up to the plate for a fifth time, and all he did was rip a single through the right side of the infield. One that was certainly good enough to advance the runner on base up to third, but as he is known to do, Betts caught the opposition off guard and made the trek towards the promised land.

By the time the right fielder Wilkerson caught on to this, Betts was well on his way to sliding safely into home, as the Red Sox came away with a 5-4 walk-off win in their final game of 2019.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

 

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

So, the Red Sox finish their World Series-defending campaign with a final mark of 84-78, 19 games off the pace of the New York Yankees for the American League East crown and 12 games off the pace of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

To say the 2019 season was underwhelming would be an understatement, but there was still plenty to remember and definitely plenty to reflect on and learn from.

As I have said before, there are plenty of questions surrounding this club headed into the offseason, and they’ll have about four weeks to get a head start on those discussions.

Will Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. be traded? Will J.D. Martinez opt out of his current deal? Will Brock Holt be offered a new contract? These are all uncertainties at the moment, and only time will tell on how these issues are resolved.

That is for another time though. For now, it’s a good time to unpack, reflect, and say thanks.

Pitchers and catchers report in a little under five months.

Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez Both Homer but Red Sox Drop Second Straight to Orioles

After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.

Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.

Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.

An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.

In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.

Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.

From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.

Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.

Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.

A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.

An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.

In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.

Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.

And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.

In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.

Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.

The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.

The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.

In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.

Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.

Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.

With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.

 

Nathan Eovaldi Walks Four, Allows Three Runs in Final Start of Season as Red Sox Fall to Orioles

After falling to the Texas Rangers 7-5 in their final road contest of the season on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up the final weekend of the 2019 campaign with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

Making his 12th and final start of the season for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who came into the weekend fresh off his first quality outing of 2019 in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Working five full innings this time around, the right-hander surrendered another three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Orioles tallies came on one swing of the bat in the top half of the third, when with two outs and two runners on following a one-out double from Austin Hays and a one-out walk drawn by Trey Mancini in consecutive order, Eovaldi was just one pitch away from escaping a tight spot, but instead served up a hanging, 0-2, 81 MPH curveball to Renato Nunez, who crushed said pitch well over the Green Monster to get his side on the board first at 3-0.

Other than that one costly mistake though, Eovaldi settled in nicely enough, retiring six of the final eight Orioles he faced with the help of a 6-3 double play turned in the fifth, which would wind up being the Texas native’s last inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (50 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 41% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 99.6 MPH with the pitch while Juan Centeno was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year despite lowering his ERA down to 5.99, Eovaldi’s first full season in Boston is in the books.

The flame throwing righty finishes with a 2-1 record, a 5.99 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, and a .276 batting average against over 23 total appearances (12 starts) and 67 2/3 innings pitched.

In relief of Eovaldi, Hector Velazquez entered the sixth with a three-run deficit to maintain, and he filled the bases with two outs before getting Jonathan Villar to pop out to Brock Holt in shallow center to get out of the jam.

From there, Colten Brewer walked one and fanned two in a scoreless seventh, Andrew Cashner walked two in an otherwise clean eighth, and Marcus Walden allowed the O’s to score their fourth run of the night on a leadoff walk of Hays and two-out RBI single off the bat of Nunez in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Adrian Wojciechowski, someone they had only gotten two total runs off of over two seperate starts and 11 2/3 innings of work leading into Friday.

Unable to get anything going against Wojciechowski once again in this one, it was not until the last half of the ninth when the Boston bats finally got going.

There, with left-handed reliever Richard Bleier on the mound for Baltimore, Rafael Devers led things off with a scorching leadoff double, his 53rd of the year.

That set up Xander Bogaerts in a prime run-scoring spot, and he delivered with an RBI single right back up the middle to plate Devers from second and finally get his team on the board.

Bogaert’s 500th career run driven in did make it seem as though a late rally was about to get off the ground.

Any momentum that was built up quickly dissipated though, as Bogaerts was picked off at first for the first out of the ninth, Mitch Moreland whiffed on four pitches for the second, and Christian Vazquez grounded out to third for the last out, ending Friday’s contest with a final score of 4-1.

Some notes from this loss:

With their 77th loss of the season and 40th at Fenway Park, the Red Sox guarantee that they will finish with a losing record at Fenway.

Rafael Devers is three hits away from 200 on the season.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Friday was certainly an eventful day for the Red Sox. They capped it off with an uneventful loss to one of the worst teams in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the final Saturday game of the season, with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin getting the ball for Boston and rookie left-hander John Means doing the same for Baltimore.

Chacin has posted a 6.00 ERA and .831 OPS against in five total outings (four starts) and 12 total innings of work since joining the Sox at the beginning of the month.

His first start against the O’s should serve as one last final 2020 audition for the 31-year-old.

Means, meanwhile, looks to wrap up a solid rookie campaign on a positive note.

In terms of Game Score, the 2019 All-Star’s best start of 2019 came against the Red Sox back on May 6th, when Means tossed seven innings of one-run ball in an eventual winning effort at Camden Yards.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Two games left on the year. Time to cherish what is left.

Red Sox Blow Another Late Lead, Get Walked off on by Rays in 11 Innings for Second Straight Night

For the second straight night, the Red Sox fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 5-4 in 11 innings on Saturday, this time squandering a one-run lead in the 11th, compared to doing so in the seventh on Friday, to drop back down to 80-74 on the season.

Making his second start of the season for Boston and 15th appearance overall was Travis Lakins, who tossed two perfect innings in his first go at being an opener against the New York Yankees back on September 7th.

Working into the second inning this time around, the right-hander kept the Rays off the scoreboard while yielding one hit and one walk to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

A one-out double from Matt Duffy, followed by Joey Wendle reaching on a fielding error committed by Marco Hernandez in that bottom half of the second put runners at first and second for Tampa Bay.

Lakins was able to get Kevin Kiermaier to ground into a force out for out number two, but Sox manager Alex Cora did not leave him in to face Willy Adames with runners on the corners, instead opting to turn to his bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 29 (16 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 95.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Obviously not pitching deep enough to factor into the decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.22, Lakins should continue to see some more work out of the ‘pen before seasons end.

In relief of Lakins, left-hander Bobby Poyner inherited a situation in which there were runners at the corners for the Rays with one out to get in the second, and he got that out by fanning Adames on four pitches.

From there, Mike Shawaryn allowed Tampa Bay’s first run of the night to cross the plate in the third on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Travis d’Arnaud and was charged with another when Colten Brewer served up a run-scoring single to the first man he faced in Joey Wendle.

Fortunately for Boston, Wendle’s single got to Mookie Betts in right field rather quickly, and the reigning AL MVP put his arm strength on full display to nab d’Arnaud at home and retire the side.

Ryan Weber sat down the first eight Rays he faced from the middle of the fourth up until Wendle reached on a two-out single in the sixth, making way for Josh Taylor to come in to face the left-handed Kiermaier.

As it turned out though, Taylor did not even have to throw a pitch in the sixth, as Vazquez snuffed out Wendle trying to swipe second base for the third out.

Taylor also came back out for the seventh, but could not sneak a one-out, 1-0, 95 MPH two-seamer past Adamas, who deposited said pitch 462 feet to dead center to make it a 3-1 contest.

Another base hit to follow that mammoth shot up marked the end of Taylor’s evening, so Ryan Brasier wrapped up the seventh by retiring the only two hitters he faced in consecutive order.

Andrew Cashner did the same in the eighth, except with three Rays instead of two and Matt Barnes punched out the side in the ninth to send this one into extra innings knotted at three runs apiece.

In that first extra inning, Brandon Workman did not get off to the best of starts, as he yielded a leadoff walk to Austin Meadows. That would not come back to bite him however. Not with Sandy Leon and Hernandez connecting on a bang-bang play at second to catch Meadows and extinguish the threat.

And in the 11th, moments after his side went up 4-3 on a Mitch Moreland solo blast, Josh Smith began his frame of work by allowing d’Arnaud to reach on a leadoff double moments before giving the game away on a two-run home run off the bat of Nate Lowe.

That homer, coming off a 2-0, 91 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate, put the Rays up 5-4. Another walk-off loss.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Tyler Glasnow for Tampa Bay, someone they had not seen in nearly five months going into the weekend.

Unable to get anything going against the Rays starter, Xander Bogaerts kicked off the scoring for Boston in the fourth by greeting new reliever Yonny Chirinos with a leadoff solo shot to get his side on the board and cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, now down by two runs, it was the top of the lineup responding once again, this time with Mookie Betts reaching on a one-out single off of Nick Anderson to bring Rafael Devers to the plate for the second time ever against the Rays right-hander.

On the third pitch he saw from Anderson, a 1-1, 96 MPH four-seamer at the top of the zone, Devers made history on one swing of the bat, becoming the first Red Sox third baseman to ever hit more than 30 home runs in a single season with his 31st of the year.

That 421-foot two-run blast pulled the Sox back even with the Rays at 3-3 and ultimately sent this contest into extra innings for the second straight day.

In extras, or the top of the 11th more specifically, just when it looked like Boston was going to have to settle with trying to force this one to the 12th with two outs in the frame, Mitch Moreland came through in the clutch yet again.

The 34-year-old went deep twice on Friday night, and on the first pitch he saw from Diego Castillo on Saturday, Moreland unloaded on an 87 MPH slider that was essentially right down the middle and sent it 430 feet to center for his 18th of the year.

Moreland’s fifth dinger since returning from the injured list in July gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 4-3, and it probably should have won them this game too, but as already mentioned, the Rays put together a rally of their own in their half of the 11th, one that led to Boston getting walked off on by a final score of 5-4.

Some notes from this loss:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third installment of this four-game set on Sunday afternoon, with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough doing the same for Tampa Bay.

Since the calendar flipped to September, Eovaldi has allowed a total of nine earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings pitched spanning three starts. That’s good for an ERA of 6.08.

In one prior appearance at Tropicana Field, the place Eovaldi once called home, this season, the 29-year-old surrendered three runs on five hits while only recording two outs back on July 22nd, in his first game back since returning from the injured list.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has struggled recently for the Rays, posting an ERA of 5.40 and batting average against of .259 over his last five starts and 28 1/3 innings of work.

When facing the Red Sox this season, the 27-year-old is 2-0 with a 4.80 ERA over three total appearances (one start) and 15 innings pitched.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox STILL trying to play spoiler.