Red Sox blow 6-run lead as bullpen melts down in 12-8 loss to Orioles

The Red Sox blew a six-run lead against the Orioles at Fenway Park and ultimately lost a winnable game in frustrating, yet ugly fashion. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 12-8 on Friday night to drop to 21-24 on the season.

As he has done so often lately, Enrique Hernandez provided an early spark by leading off the first inning with a line-drive single. He then scored all the way from first base when Rafael Devers promptly ripped a single to left-center field. Devers was able to move up to second because of an Anthony Santander fielding error.

J.D. Martinez followed by taking a 94 mph fastball off his left arm to put runners at first and second for Xander Bogaerts, who unloaded on a 3-2, 87 mph slider down the heart of the plate by sending it off the National Car Rental sign above the Green Monster for a three-run home run.

Bogaerts’ fifth homer of the season travelled 423 feet and had an exit velocity of 112 mph. It also gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead before they had even recorded an out. An inning later, a seemingly red-hot Alex Verdugo came through with two outs and the bases loaded by lacing a 406-foot ground-rule double into the center field bleachers. Verdugo’s second hit of the night made it a 6-0 ballgame.

On the other side of things, Garrett Whitlock made his seventh start of the season for Boston. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over six innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came in the top half of the fourth, as Whitlock issued a one-out walk to Trey Mancini before immediately serving up a two-run home run to Santander.

Whitlock gave up two more runs hits the inning, but limited the damage to two runs. The Red Sox got both of those runs back on a Martinez RBI double in the bottom of the fourth and a Christian Vazquez RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Whitlock, meanwhile, bounced back from his rough fourth inning by retiring five of the final seven batters he faced through the middle of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (56 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 58% of the time he was on the mound Friday. He averaged 95.4 mph with the pitch in the process of lowering his ERA on the season to 3.49.

In relief of Whitlock, manager Alex Cora first turned to Jake Diekman out of the Boston bullpen for the seventh inning. The left-hander allowed two of the first three Orioles he faced to reach base before giving up a towering, 391-foot three-run home run to Jorge Mateo.

Mateo’s blast trimmed the Sox’ lead down to three runs at 5-8. In the eighth, John Schreiber ran into some long ball troubles of his own when he issued a leadoff walk to Santander that was followed by a two-run homer off the bat of Austin Hays.

The first two earned runs Schreiber has given up all season brought Baltimore back to within one run at 8-7. Matt Strahm was then called upon to end things in the eighth, but the lefty surrendered a ground-rule double to Rougned Odor. He then got Ramon Urias to hit a three-foot groundball to the left side of the infield.

Devers charged the ball and barehanded it before attempting to make an off-balance throw to first base. His throw missed the mark by a wide margin, though, and that allowed Odor to score and knot things up at eight runs apiece.

Strahm was sent back out for the ninth and gave up three straight singles, with Santander giving the O’s their first lead of the night on an RBI base hit to right field. Strahm, who was later charged with the blown save and loss, then made way for Hirokazu Sawamura, who walked the first man he faced to fill the bases for Adley Rutschmann.

Rutschmann, in turn, grounded into a force out at home plate but reached first safely to keep the bases loaded. With Ryan Mountcastle up to bat, a wild pitch from Sawamura that got between Vazquez’s legs allowed Santander to score from third. Mountcastle drove in a run of his own on a sacrifice fly before Odor put the final nail in the coffin with another RBI single.

What at one point was an 8-2 lead for the Red Sox had turned into a 12-8 deficit. That is what happens when you allow the opposition to score 10 unanswered runs.

12-8 would go on to be Friday’s final score after the Sox went down quietly in their half of the ninth. Boston is now 3-4 in games started by Whitlock this year. They are likely a better team with him in the bullpen.

Next up: Doubleheader on deck

The Red Sox will look to bounce back in a day-night doubleheader against the Orioles on Saturday. Baltimore has yet to name its starters. Boston, meanwhile, will roll with right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Josh Winckowski, who will be making his major-league debut.

First pitch for Game 1 at Fenway Park is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. eastern time. First pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Matt Strahm: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo homers, Rich Hill takes perfect game into fifth inning as Red Sox hold on for 3-1 win over Orioles

The Red Sox kicked off the final leg of their road trip with a 3-1 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Friday night. With the win, Boston improved to 9-12 on the season.

Matched up against Kyle Bradish, who was making the first start of his big-league career for the O’s, to begin things on Friday, the Sox got on the board first in their half of the second inning.

Enrique Hernandez led off the top of the second with a single to shallow center field. After Franchy Cordero flew out, Christian Arroyo followed by clubbing a 408-foot two-run homer into Baltimore’s bullpen.

Arroyo’s first home run of the season gave Boston an early 2-0 lead. It was also the first home run hit by a Red Sox batter since Rafael Devers went deep off Corey Kluber in St. Petersburg last Friday.

Jackie Bradley Jr. kept the rally going by reaching base on an infield single. He then scored all the way from first when Christian Vazquez ripped a single to right field that got past Trey Mancini and rolled all the way to the wall. Vazquez was easily thrown out at third, but the damage had already been done.

Rich Hill, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, took full advantage of the three-run cushion he was given. The veteran left-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with four strikeouts over four-plus innings of work.

After retiring each of the first 12 batters he faced, Hill took a perfect game bid into the fifth inning but yielded a leadoff single to Austin Hays, which is how his night would come to an end. Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (35 strikes), the 42-year-old southpaw threw 24 curveballs, 20 four-seamers, four sliders, and two changeups while lowering his ERA on the season to 3.71.

In relief of Hill, Tanner Houck got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the bullpen. Houck, fresh off being activated from the injured list, stranded the lone base runner he inherited in the fifth despite allowing one hit and one walk in the inning. The right-hander sat down the side in order in the sixth but ran into additional trouble in the seventh when he loaded the bases with two outs.

Houck did not falter, though, as he punched out the pinch-hitting Rougned on three straight strikes to escape the jam and hand things over to Jake Diekman in the eighth. Diekman, in turn, needed 17 pitches to toss a scoreless frame.

Hansel Robles was dispatched for the ninth and immediately served up a solo home run to Ryan Mountcastle that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Hays.

With the tying run at the plate, Robles issued a balk that allowed Hays to advance to second. He then got Ramon Urias to fly out and Tyler Nevin to line out to right for the first two outs.

Cora went back into the bullpen and gave Robles the hook in favor of Matt Strahm, who walked Anthony Santander on five pitches to put the tying run on base with runners at first and second. The lefty, however, did not give in as he fanned the pinch-hitting Chris Owings to slam the door on Baltimore and earn the first save of his major-league career.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Watkins

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Orioles by sending right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound on Saturday night. Fellow righty Spenser Watkins will get the ball for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts leads the way with 4 hits as Red Sox snap skid with 7-1 win over Blue Jays

With Alex Cora back in the dugout, the Red Sox put an end to their four-game losing streak on Wednesday with a much-needed win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Boston defeated Toronto by a final score of 7-1 to snap their skid and improve to 8-11 on the season by doing so.

Matched up against Jays starter Ross Stripling to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox got right to work when Xander Bogaerts reached base via a two-out double in the top of the first inning. Rafael Devers followed with a sharply-hit double of his own that scored Bogaerts and made it a 1-0 game in favor of the visitors.

That sequence provided Michael Wacha with an early one-run cushion and he took advantage of it while making his fourth start of the year for the Sox. Over six quality innings of work, the veteran right-hander allowed just one run on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The lone run the Blue Jays got off Wacha came in the third inning following a pair of back-to-back leadoff singles from Tyler Heineman and George Springer. Bo Bichette advanced Heineman to third on a fielder’s choice and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove the catcher in on a fielder’s choice that was nearly an inning-ending double play.

Instead, Wacha gave up the tying run at the time. But the righty rebounded by getting through the rest of the third unscathed, stranding a runner in scoring position in the fourth, and retiring each of the final six batters he faced from the fifth through the end of the sixth to end his outing on a high note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (57 strikes), Wacha ultimately improved to 2-0 while lowering his ERA on the season to 1.77. The 30-year-old hurler threw 42 four-seam fastballs, 26 changeups, 11 curveballs, nine cutters, and four sinkers. He induced eight swings and misses with his changeup and averaged 93.6 mph with his heater.

Shortly before his night came to a close, the Red Sox put Wacha in position to earn the win by pushing across two more runs in their half of the sixth. Greeting new Blue Jays reliever Trent Thornton, Bogaerts led of with a single, moved up to third on a Bogaerts single, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of J.D. Martinez. Devers, meanwhile, scored on an Enrique Hernandez sacrifice fly that gave Boston a 3-1 lead.

In relief of Wacha, Jake Diekman got the first call from Cora for the bottom of the seventh and sandwiched a six-pitch walk of Santiago Espinal in between the first two outs of the inning. Hirokazu Sawamura then came on to face George Springer, who ripped a single to center field to put runners on the corners. To his credit, Sawamura escaped the jam by fanning Bichette on a 96.5 mph four-seamer.

Moments after that happened, Martinez led off the top of the eighth with a blistering 106.2 mph double off Julian Merryweather. Hernandez laced a 105.2 mph double of his own to plate Martinez. A well-executed sacrifice bunt from Jackie Bradley Jr. allowed Hernandez to move up to third and Bobby Dalbec brought him in on a sacrifice fly to right field to put the Red Sox up 5-1.

John Schreiber took over for Sawamura in the bottom half of the eighth and impressed in his 2022 debut by sitting down the side in order on 14 pitches.

The ninth inning was all about insurance for the Sox. Bogaerts drove in Trevor Story with his fourth hit of the night and Rob Refsnyder, who was pinch-hitting for Martinez, drove in Alex Verdugo on his first. That made it a 7-1 game going into the bottom of the ninth for Tyler Danish.

Danish, in turn, wrapped things up with a 1-2-3 frame to lock down the commanding, six-run victory.

Some notes from this win:

From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:

Next up: Whitlock vs. Manoah in series finale

The Red Sox will go for a series split with the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon when they send right-hander Garrett Whitlock to the mound for his second career big-league start. Whitlock will be opposed by fellow second-year righty for Toronto.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 3:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Trevor Story makes game-saving play as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox kicked off one of their longest road trips of the season with a series-opening win over the Rays in St. Petersburg on Friday night. Boston barely defeated Tampa Bay by a final score 4-3 at Tropicana Field to improve to 7-7.

Matched up against a familiar foe in Corey Kluber to begin things, the Sox wasted no time in attacking the Rays starter. A pair of first-inning singles from leadoff man Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts put runners at the corners for Alex Verdugo, who drove in Story on an RBI single back up the middle. Bogaerts himself scored on an RBI groundout from Jackie Bradley Jr.

Given an early 2-0 lead to work with out of the gate, Michael Wacha was rudely greeted to begin his third start of the season. With one out in the bottom of the first, the right-hander served up his first of two solo shots to Rays phenom Wander Franco. This one left Franco’s bat at 109.7 mph and traveled 389 feet into the right field seats to make it a 2-1 game.

The Sox were able to respond, though, and that happened when Rafael Devers led off the third inning with his third home run of the season. On a 1-0, 84 mph cutter from Kluber, Devers clubbed a 380-foot solo shot down the right field line to give his side a 3-1 edge. Bogaerts tacked on another by lacing a 107 mph double and scoring on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez. Travis Shaw nearly extended the inning with a three-run home run down the right field line like Devers’, but it was instead deemed a foul ball and Shaw struck out.

With a three-run cushion to operate with now, Wacha received some help from his infield in the bottom of the third. After putting runners on first and second with two outs, Bogaerts robbed Yandy Diaz of an extra-base hit by snatching a 110.7 mph line drive in mid-air to extinguish the threat.

An inning later, Story made a sprawling grab up the middle to rob Manuel Margot of a one-out single. Wacha continued to roll on through the fourth and was one out way from getting through a scoreless fifth. Franco prevented that from happening, though, as he took the righty deep once more to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to two. Randy Arozarena struck out to end the fifth, which would wind up being Wacha’s final inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (50 strikes), Wacha surrendered just two runs on three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts in his five innings. The 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball and changeup a combined 69% of the time he was on the mound Friday.

In relief of Wacha, Austin Davis received the first call from acting manager Will Venable out of the Boston bullpen in the sixth inning. With some help from Verdugo, who recorded his second outfield assist of the year by gunning down Yandy Diaz at second base, the left-hander faced the minimum on 17 pitches — 10 of which went for strikes. Fellow southpaw Matt Strahm was next up for the eighth and immediately gave up a leadoff single to Margot.

Kevin Kiermaier effectively traded places with Margot while grounding into the first out of the inning. Kiermaier then went from first to third on a Mike Zunino single that was accompanied by a Bogaerts throwing error and scored from third on a Brandon Lowe groundout.

With two outs in the seventh inning of a 4-3 game, Venable went back to the bullpen and brought in Hansel Robles to face off against Franco. Forcing the switch-hitter to hit from the left side of the plate, Robles got Franco to fly out to Verdugo in left to strand the potential tying run at second base.

Robles’ job was not yet done, however, as the hard-throwing right-hander came back out for the eighth. He struck out one and induced a pair of groundouts to send things along to the ninth inning.

Jake Diekman was unable to lock things down in the ninth. The left-hander instead walked the bases loaded while recording the first two outs of the frame to leave things in the hands of Matt Barnes.

Branes was brought in to face Franco and had nowhere to put him. Looking to reclaim his role as Boston’s closer, Barnes got Franco to ground out to Story, though it was no easy play.

After sliding to his left to field the 101 mph grounder, Story quickly got back to his feet and made the throw over to Bobby Dalbec at first base to record the final out. Barnes was credited with his first save of the year as he closes out the 4-3 victory.

Next up: Whitlock set to make first career start

As the Red Sox go for their second straight win over the Rays on Saturday, right-hander Garrett Whitlock will be making his first career big-league start for Boston. Tampa Bay has yet to announce who will be starting for them.

Regardless, first pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Trevor Story: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Should the Red Sox consider trading Austin Davis?

Seven games into the 2022 season, the two Red Sox relievers who are tied for the team lead in appearances with four apiece are Ryan Brasier and Austin Davis.

Both Brasier and Davis were used by manager Alex Cora out of the bullpen in Friday’s 8-4 loss to the Twins at Fenway Park. The former struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning. The latter allowed two runners to reach base but also fanned three in a scoreless eighth inning.

In Davis’ case, the left-hander has now yielded three earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over his first three innings pitched this year.

Put another way, Davis has posted a 9.00 ERA, a 2.33 WHIP, an OPS against of .945, a strikeout rate of 29.4%, and a walk rate of 11.7% so far this season. Two of his four outings have been scoreless, though Friday’s performance was undoubtedly his best work to this point.

Of the 21 pitches Davis threw in Friday’s loss to Minnesota, 13 went for strikes. The 29-year-old southpaw induced a total of seven swings-and-misses; three on his slider and changeup and one on his four-seam fastball.

In regards to his four-seamer, Davis averaged 93.6 mph with the pitch across 26 1/3 innings between the Pirates and Red Sox in 2021. On Friday, he averaged 95.6 mph with his heater and topped out at 97 mph with it, per Baseball Savant. For his big-league career, which dates back to June 2018, Davis had only thrown a pitch 97 mph or faster on two separate occasions prior to Friday’s outing.

Since the Red Sox acquired Davis from the Pirates for infielder Michael Chavis last July, the lefty has been one of Cora’s more frequently-used relievers. From the time he debuted for Boston on July 31 of last season, Davis has now made 24 relief appearances for the Sox. The only other hurlers who have seen more action over that stretch are Adam Ottavino (24 appearances), who is no longer with the team, and Hansel Robles (30 appearances).

Despite a career ERA of 5.49 in a Red Sox uniform, it would appear as though the club likes what they have in Davis. With that being said, though, it is worth wondering if Davis’ spot in Boston’s bullpen could be on the line sometime in the near future.

As a result of a shortened spring training, major-league teams were permitted to carry 28 players on their active roster. This, for instance, allowed the Red Sox to carry 10 relievers on their Opening Day squad.

On May 2, however, teams will be required to trim their rosters back down to the traditional size of 26 active players. When that time comes, the Sox will have no other choice but to carry no more than 13 pitchers on their active roster.

The way things stand now, Davis is one of three lefties in Boston’s bullpen alongside the likes of Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm. Josh Taylor, who began the season on the injured list due to a low back strain, could be nearing a minor-league rehab assignment.

With Diekman and Strahm being new free-agent additions and Taylor already earning the trust of Cora last season, would the Red Sox still entertain the idea of carrying four left-handed relievers on their 26-man roster beginning next month?

If Davis is deemed the odd man out once rosters shrink and Taylor returns from the injured list, the Red Sox could not simply option him to Triple-A Worcester, for the Arizona native is out of minor-league options. Because of this, Boston would need to expose Davis to waivers if they wanted to retain his services as a non-40-man roster player in the minors.

Taking that into account and assuming that Taylor will be back before long, what would be stopping the Red Sox from trading Davis away for a prospect who is not on a 40-man roster at some point between now and May 2? Why risk losing Davis for nothing when you could get something back in return?

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox have made similar moves in the past, with the Yoan Aybar-for-Christian Koss swap probably sticking out the most. Davis, of course, is far more established than Aybar and could fetch an intriguing return since he is still under club control for three more seasons after 2022.

At the end of the day, do the Red Sox need to trade Davis? No. Even with Taylor on his way back, perhaps the club still believes Davis can play an important role out of the bullpen this season. If not, though, then perhaps it would be in Boston’s best interest to explore their options now before running into a roster crunch in a few weeks.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec comes through with go-ahead homer as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Yankees to avoid sweep

The Red Sox will not be starting 0-3 for a second consecutive year, as they squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday night to avoid a sweep and improve to 1-2 on the young season.

Matched up against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery to begin things in Sunday’s series finale, the Sox once again got on the board in their half of the first inning.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts each reached base via one-out singles, and both scored on a J.D. Martinez RBI double that was followed by a sacrifice fly from Christian Arroyo.

In possession of an early 2-0 lead, Sox starter Tanner Houck had an immediate cushion to work with. The right-hander was not at his sharpest on Sunday, though, as he allowed three earned runs on six hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings pitched.

The first of those three runs scored off Houck came with no outs in the bottom of the third, when Giancarlo Stanton plated Anthony Rizzo from second base to cut Boston’s lead in half at 2-1.

After Jonathan Arauz got that run back on a sacrifice fly off Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt that scored Arroyo in the top half of the fourth, New York struck again in the latter half of the frame.

There, Houck issued back-to-back leadoff hits to Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino to put runners at first and second. He then punched out Josh Donaldson, who turned out to be the final batter he would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (45 strikes), Houck turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and hovered around 95.4 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Houck, Ryan Brasier got the first call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen. Brasier, in turn, allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a then-game-tying two-run single from Rizzo.

Kutter Crawford was next up in the fifth inning and impressed in his second appearance of the season. The 26-year-old righty stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fifth before striking out Rizzo and Aaron Judge in a scoreless sixth.

Moments before Crawford did that, Bobby Dalbec broke the 3-3 tie by cranking his first home run of the season off Schmidt. It came on the very first pitch of the sixth inning, a 94 mph sinker down the heart of the plate that Dalbec deposited 391 feet to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 4-3 advantage.

In the seventh, Crawford yielded a leadoff single to Stanton, representing the potential tying run, before making way for Matt Strahm. The left-hander proceeded to strand Stanton at first base by retiring the next three Yankees he faced in order.

From there, Hansel Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean eighth inning. And in the ninth, Jake Diekman got his outing started in dramatic fashion by fanning the dangerous Judge on 11 pitches. He then got Stanton and Joey Gallo to strike out swinging as well to lock down his first save in a Red Sox uniform.

All told, five different Boston relievers (Brasier, Crawford, Strahm, Robles, Diekman), combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings in which they scattered five hits and one walk while striking out a total of six.

Crawford, for what it’s worth, was credited with the winning decision — the first of his young career.

Some other notes from this victory:

From the Red Sox’ J.P. Long:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up: To Detroit

The Red Sox will continue their season-opening road trip by heading to Detroit for a three-game set against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to make his first start of the year for Boston in the series opener on Monday. Detroit will roll with fellow righty Matt Manning.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta gives up 2 more home runs and Jake Diekman’s spring struggles continue as Red Sox fall to Pirates, 6-2

After a rare off day, the Red Sox returned to action in Bradenton on Tuesday and fell to the Pirates by a final score of 6-2 at LECOM Park. Boston is now 7-5 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his third start of the spring for the Sox was Nick Pivetta. In his penultimate outing before the regular season begins, the right-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts over four-plus innings of work.

Two of the three runs Pivetta gave up on Tuesday came by way of the home run ball. After working a scoreless first inning, the 29-year-old served up a one-out solo shot to Hoy Park in the bottom of the second.

Two innings later, Pivetta ran into more trouble when he issued a pair of one-out walks to Greg Allen and Park. Veteran catcher Roberto Perez made him pay for that by ripping an RBI double to left field to score Allen and give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

Daniel Vogelbach added on to that when he took Pivetta 377 feet deep to right field to lead things off in the fifth. Pivetta then walked Bryan Reynolds on six pitches, which is how is day would come to an end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (50 strikes), Pivetta relied on his four-seam fastball 60% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday. The Canadian-born righty induced six swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.5 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Pivetta, Kaleb Ort got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen with no outs and one runner on in the latter half of the fifth. The non-roster invitee stranded the lone runner he inherited by getting Ben Gamel to ground into a force out at second and Yoshi Tsutsugo to fly into an inning-ending 7-6-4 double play.

From there, Jake Diekman was dispatched for the sixth, but the left-hander only saw his spring struggles continue. Diekman plunked the first batter he faced in Allen, yielded a one-out walk to Cole Tucker, then served up a blistering three-run home run to Kevin Newman.

That sequence increased Boston’s deficit to six runs. It also raised Diekman’s ERA this spring to an unsightly 22.63. The 35-year-old southpaw did manage to retire the side in the sixth before making way for Kutter Crawford, who fared far better.

In his two innings of relief, Crawford struck out five of the eight batters he faced while limiting the Pirates to just two base runners (one via a base hit and one via a walk) over that stretch. The 25-year-old hurler also hovered around 95-97 mph with his four-seamer, per Baseball Savant.

Crawford’s two impressive frames of work took things to the ninth inning. To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been stifled and kept off the scoreboard despite out-hitting the Pirates 8-7.

Down to their final three outs of the day and matched up against old friend Austin Brice, Nick Yorke drew a leadoff walk and Marcelo Mayer fanned on three pitches. That set the stage for versatile prospect Ceddanne Rafaela, who made the most of his playing time on Tuesday by crushing a two-run homer to the opposite field off of Brice.

Rafaela’s first home run of the spring made it a 6-2 game in favor of Pittsburgh, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Christian Arroyo batted leadoff and got the start in right field. He went 1-for-3 with a walk before being pinch-ran for by Ceddanne Rafaela in the top of the seventh inning.

Alex Binelas, Triston Casas, Marcelo Mayer, and Nick Yorke all came off the bench on Tuesday and went a combined 0-for-3 with one walk, one strikeout, and one run scored.

Next up: Anderson vs. Houck

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon to take on the Braves at JetBlue Park. As was the case the last time these two teams squared off in North Port, Tanner Houck is line to get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Ian Anderson is slated to do the same for Atlanta.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox make signing of Jake Diekman official, place James Paxton on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have officially signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year deal that also includes a team option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw James Paxton was unsurprisingly placed on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery

Diekman, 35, first agreed to a multi-year contract with the Sox over the weekend and was spotted at the Fenway South Complex with Matt Strahm on Monday. He then passed his physical on Wednesday, leading to his signing becoming official.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Diekman’s deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money. He will earn a base salary of $3.5 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn an additional $4 million in 2023. If the Red Sox decline his club option, Diekman will net $1 million in the form of a buyout.

A former 30th-round draft choice of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has pitched for five different teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career. The Nebraska native became a free agent this winter after spending the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics.

In 67 appearances (third-highest on the team) out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2021, Diekman posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks over 60 2/3 innings of work. His splits against left-handed hitters were similar to his splits against right-handed hitters, as he yielded a .716 OPS against the former and a .711 OPS against the latter.

There were 14 left-handed relievers across Major League Baseball who tossed at least 60 innings last year. Among them, Diekman ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), first in strikeout rate (31.7%), 11th in walks per nine innings (5.0), 11th in walk rate (13%), ninth in batting average against (.211), 13th in WHIP (1.34), and ninth in xFIP (4.09), per FanGraphs.

Throughout his career, Diekman has primarily been a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a four-seam fastball (averaged 95.3 mph in 2021), a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. Based off the data available on Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 195 pound hurler had one of the top whiff rates (35.1%) in all of baseball last season.

Diekman, who will wear the No. 35 with the Sox, brings plenty of experience to his new team and should prove to be a versatile, high-leverage relief option for manager Alex Cora. He recorded seven of his 14 career saves last year and has otherwise made 479 lifetime appearances between innings seven through nine.

With the additions of Diekman and Strahm, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has bolstered the left side of Boston’s bullpen to complement the likes of Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

(Picture of Jake Diekman: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino agrees to one-year deal with Mets, per report

Former Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino is returning to the Big Apple, as the free agent reliever has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $4 million deal with the New York Mets that includes an additional $1 million in performance bonuses. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman was the first to report the details of the contract.

Ottavino, 36, spent just one season with the Sox after being acquired from the Yankees alongside pitching prospect Franklin German in a surprising trade made last January.

Following a two-year run in the Bronx, Ottavino played out the final season of his three-year, $27 million contract in Boston. Across a team-leading 69 relief appearances in 2021, the veteran right-hander posted a 4.21 ERA and 3.96 FIP with 71 strikeouts and 35 walks over 62 innings pitched. In postseason play he yielded just one run in four innings of work.

Though suiting up for the Red Sox allowed Ottavino to reconnect with his alma mater in nearby Northeastern University, it seems apparent that the Brooklyn native enjoys pitching close to home since he has signed with a New York-based club in his only two stints as a free agent thus far.

While the Sox may have lost a veteran presence like Ottavino in free agency, they did reportedly add two other free agent relievers in left-handers Matt Strahm and Jake Diekman on Sunday.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox to sign left-handed reliever Jake Diekman, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly agreed to sign free-agent reliever Jake Diekman, pending a physical, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The details of the contract are not yet known, though Cotillo reports it is believed to be a multi-year deal.

Diekman, 35, has spent the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics after getting traded from the Royals in July 2019. Most recently, the left-hander posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks across 67 appearances (60 2/3 innings pitched) for Oakland in 2021.

A former 30th round draft pick of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has previously played for five different teams in the Phils, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Royals, and A’s. The Red Sox have been linked to the Nebraska native in the past and now acquire his services via free agency.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Diekman operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. His 31.7% strikeout rate and 35.1% whiff rate were among the top marks in the majors last year.

Against right-handed hitters in 2021, Diekman held opponents to a .200/.289/.421 slash line. Against left-handed hitters, he yielded a slash line of .229/.379/.337.

By adding Diekman, the Sox have truly bolstered the left side of their bullpen after reportedly inking fellow southpaw Matt Strahm to a one-year deal earlier on Sunday.

Beyond those two, Boston currently has three other left-handed relievers on their major-league roster in Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor. That being said, it’s likely that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are not yet done when it comes to adding bullpen depth ahead of Opening Day.

(Picture of Jake Diekman: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)