RECAP: Hector Velazquez Gets Roughed up as #RedSox Open up Players’ Weekend with 10-3 Loss to Rays.

Heading into Players’ Weekend winners of four of their last seven, the Red Sox arrived at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg for their last series of the season against the 67-61 Tampa Bay Rays, who entered Friday on a five-game winning streak.

Less than a week after being on the wrong side of 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay this past Sunday, Hector Velazquez made his sixth start of the season last night and did not have much of anything going for himself.

Pitching into just the third inning of this one, the right-hander ended up getting charged for EIGHT earned runs on nine hits to go along with two walks and four strikeouts.

At one point giving up six straight hits in the second, which led to three Rays runs crossing the plate, what really screwed Velazquez over came an inning later, when with two outs and runners on first and second, Steve Pearce, in the place of Mitch Moreland at first base, could not field a grounder off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier, which led to a single that allowed Ji-Man Choi to score from second.

On what should have been an inning-ending play, the Rays managed to tack on an additional four runs before Velazquez got the early hook in what was all of a sudden an 8-2 game.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (46 strikes), the 29-year-old turned to his sinker the most on Friday, as he threw it a total of 21 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Falling to 7-2 with a 3.69 ERA on the season now, Velazquez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend, if he remains in the rotation.

In relief of Velazquez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final five-plus innings of last night’s contest, but thanks to the efforts of Drew Pomeranz, only two other pitchers were used.

Pomeranz, who entered with two outs in the bottom half of the third with a runner on first, surrendered two runs on a two-run home run off the bat of Rays rookie Willy Adames in the fourth in an otherwise solid 4.1 frames of work to end the seventh. Xander Bogaerts came through with some flashy defense as well.

Joe Kelly, making his third relief appearance in the last four days, wrapped up a rather tough night for Red Sox pitching by working his way around two hits and tossing a scoreless eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays “opener” Diego Castillo, who pitched in the same role last Sunday and held Boston scoreless in nearly two innings of work.

Pitching into the second once again, the Rays hurler retired five of the seven batters he faced before getting lifted for Jalen Beeks with two outs and runners on first and second.

Beeks, a former Red Sox pitching prospect who was part of the Nathan Eovaldi deal last month, tossed four scoreless frames and picked up the win in his only other appearance against his former team on Sunday.

Although he was not as effective last night, Beeks did manage to pick up the winning decision, his third of the season, while surrendering three runs on seven hits and three walks to go along with four punch outs.

Starting the scoring in the top of the third with three straight two out hits, Xander Bogaerts stayed hot with a two RBI single to plate both Mookie Betts and Steve Pearce.

Those runs appeared to be crucial at the time, as it cut the Red Sox deficit to one, but as I mentioned before, the Rays went off for five runs of their own in their half of the third.

Fast forward to the fifth, and JD Martinez wrapped up his team’s scoring while collecting his league-leading 110th RBI of the season on a one out single to drive in Andrew Benintendi from second to trim the Rays lead down to only seven.

Some notes from this 10-3 loss:ย 

The Red Sox out hit the Rays 13-12 on Friday, yet got outscored by seven runs. That is mostly due to the fact that none of those 13 hits went for extra bases. Nope, all of them were singles.

In his last 10 games, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .385/.429/.718 with two home runs and 12 RBI.

Since its inception, the Red Sox are 0-4 in Players’ Weekend games. Not great.

Despite the loss, 90-40 is at least satisfying to look at, right?

Looking to get back on the right track later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston.

Porcello (15-6, 4.14 ERA) owns a lifetime 2.72 ERA in 14 career starts at Tropicana Field, with the most recent coming on May 24th, an outing in which the right-hander got shelled for six runs (four earned) in less than four innings in an eventual loss.

Opposite Porcello will be rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Tampa Bay, who has never started against the Red Sox, but does own a 3.00 ERA in four relief appearances against them this season.

First pitch of the second game of the series is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET Saturday.

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#RedSox Acquire RHP Nathan Eovaldi from Rays in Exchange for LHP Jalen Beeks.

Less than 24 hours after the New York Yankees acquired star closer Zach Britton in a four-player deal with the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox countered with a trade of their own, as the team acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays for pitching prospect Jalen Beeks.

Similar to Britton, Eovaldi, 28, is set to hit free agency this offseason. In the mean time, he will provide the Red Sox with a hard-throwing right-hander in the starting rotation.

In 10 starts with the Rays this season, Eovaldi owns a 4.26 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 57 innings pitched.

You may recall that back in May, when Eovaldi made his season debut against the Oakland Athletics, he tossed six no-hit scoreless innings in his first start since August 10th, 2016 when he was with the New York Yankees.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, Eovaldi, a native of Houston, Texas, relies heavily on his four-seam fastball, as he goes to it nearly 43% of the time he is on the mound. That four-seamer can also reach anywhere from 97 to 100 MPH.

In exchange for Eovaldi, Jalen Beeks, the sixth best prospect in Boston’s system, per SoxProspects.com, has been traded to the Rays. Beeks, a lefty, made two appearances for the Red Sox this season, one came in a start and the other in relief.

Although the sample size is small, I think it’s fair to say that Beeks, 25, was not going to contribute to this team this season. With the current window the Red Sox have, it’s understandable why they would want to go all in for 2018.

All and all, giving up one pitcher who may or may not help your team in the future for a pitcher who should contribute right away is a no-brainer in my mind. Eovaldi gives the Red Sox a right-handed starting option besides Rick Porcello. With the uncertainties guys like Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Steven Wright have, I’m going to go ahead and say I like this move.

The MLB trade deadline is less than a week away. Some big names like Britton, Brad Hand, and now Eovaldi are already off the market.

Next up for the Red Sox before July 31st hits should be a reliever of some sorts on an expiring contract that will not cost the team what’s left of its farm system. Someone like Addison Reed or Brad Ziegler, who Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox acquired near the deadline the past two seasons would work.

RECAP: Two RBI Each from Benintendi, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., and Moreland Lift #RedSox to Eighth Straight Victory.

On a night they were planning to rely heavily on their bullpen due to Brian Johnson hitting the DL on Sunday, the Red Sox looked to take the series against the Texas Rangers for their eighth straight win.

Although he was not expected to pitch very deep into this game, Hector Velazquez made his first start since April 14th on Tuesday night, and despite not being totally in command, he did a solid job to start this one out.

In three frames of work, the righty scattered one run while allowing two hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night. The only real mistake Velazquez committed came in the second, when Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor smacked a 92 MPH sinker 447 feet to right field to put his team on the board first.

Other than that, Velazquez got out of another jam in the same inning, and went on to work his away around a leadoff walk in a scoreless third. So, overall, not too shabby for the 29 year-old.

Since he was limited in what he could do, Velazquez finished with a pitch count of only 47 (32 strikes) and topped out at 93.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

Depending on the status of Steven Wright in this next turn around the Red Sox rotation, it will be interesting to see what the team does this coming Sunday, which would be Velazquez’s, or Wright’s, next scheduled start. But, given the fact it’s the last day before the All-Star break, it would not surprise me if we had another bullpen day on our hands. We’ll have to wait for that announcement.

Anyway, in relief of Velazquez, Jalen Beeks, who was recalled from Pawtucket Tuesday morning, made his first appearance with the Red Sox since his major league debut on June 7th.

In just over two innings of work, Beeks got hit fairly hard, as the Rangers tacked on their final three runs of the night with the Arkansas native on the mound. Despite that, it could have been worse for Beeks, had he not received some serious help from Mookie Betts in the fifth…

…and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth.

With one out in that sixth inning, Brandon Workman came on for Beeks with runners on second and third and a four run lead to work with.

On the fifth pitch he threw, noted slugger Joey Gallo nearly took a 93 MPH fastball from Workman and sent it out of the park. He did it 394 feet, but it was only good for a two-run double off the tallest part of the Monster in left field.

Cutting the lead to just two runs now, Workman recovered by retiring the next two batters he faced on six pitches to end the top half of the sixth.

From that point on, with the aid of an increased lead, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially money from the seventh until the last out of the ninth. Matt Barnes earned his third wining decision of the season thanks to a scoreless seventh, Joe Kelly held down the fort by tossing a scoreless eighth, and for the second straight night, the new guy, Ryan Brasier saw this win through with a scoreless final frame.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against 12-year veteran starter Yovani Gallardo for the Rangers, who entered Tuesday night with an unsightly 8.17 ERA on the season.

Six hits in the third inning is what got the scoring started for Boston, and surely enough, the five-run rally was initiated by back-to-back doubles from the 8-9 hitters in Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. to put the first run on the board.

Two batters later, an Andrew Benintendi double to drive in Bradley from second started a string of four straight knocks for the Red Sox 2-5 hitters, including a JD Martinez single to advance Benintendi to third, a Mitch Moreland RBI single, and to cap it off, a 2 RBI triple off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to clear the bases and put Boston up 5-1.

Fast forward to the fifth now, with Gallardo still on the mound for Texas, and Mookie Betts led things off with his 25th double of the season to put a runner in scoring position right away. Following a JD Martinez walk two batters later, Mitch Moreland came through with his second RBI of the night on a sac fly hit far enough to center field to allow Betts to score from third and make it a 6-2 game.

In the next two innings, the Red Sox padded their lead, which did shrink a bit in the top half of the sixth, with a run in each frame.

First, in the bottom of the sixth, with the score at 6-4, it was the 8-9 hitters who showed up for Boston once again, as a two out Blake Swihart single set up Jackie Bradley Jr. with another RBI chance, and he capitalized on it with his second RBI double of the night.

An inning later, Andrew Benintendi padded on to his All-Star hopes by notching his 57th RBI of the season on another double to drive in Mookie Betts from first and wrapping up the scoring at 8-4.

Some notes from this win:

I failed to mention this earlier, but Blake Swihart started at catcher for only the second time this season. Given the fact that Christian Vazquez is out with a broken pinky finger for the forseeable future, Swihart will be getting a decent amount of playing time, and he impressed both behind the plate and with a bat in his hands last night.

The Red Sox are 35 games over .500 at 64-29.

From @SoxNotes:ย This is the Red Soxโ€™ third win streak of 8+ games this season. It had been 40 years since they had as many as three win streaks of 8+ games in a single season (four in 1978).

In nine games this month, Andrew Benintendi has a 1.179 OPS. Today is the last day to vote for the final All-Star on each roster, so don’t forget to #VoteBenny before 4 PM on Wednesday.

redsox.com/vote

Going for their ninth consecutive victory and third straight sweep on Wednesday, it will be a pitching matchup featuring Bartolo Colon for Texas and Chris Sale for Boston.

At the age of 45, Colon owns a 4.65 ERA in 18 appearances with the Rangers in what is his 21st season in the big leagues.

He’ll be going up none other than Chris Sale, who in his last six starts, is putting up ridiculous numbers for the Red Sox en route to what could be his third straight start for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Jalen Beeks Struggles in Big League Debut as #RedSox Can’t Complete Sweep of Tigers.

On Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that pitching prospect Jalen Beeks would make his major league debut against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Beeks, 24, has been in the Red Sox organization since he was drafted in the 12th round of the 2014 draft. In 10 starts this season with Triple A Pawtucket, Beeks owns a 2.56 in 56.1 innings pitched. He was named the organizations minor league pitcher of the year last season and there was plenty of hype going into his first start with the Red Sox last night.

With Blake Swihart catching him, the rookie out of Arkansas introduced himself by striking out the first batter he faced in JaCoby Jones on five pitches. After that, five of the next seven batters Beeks faced reached base. A Nick Castellanos single, a Miguel Cabrera walk, a Jeimer Candelario RBI double, a John Hicks two RBI single, a Leonys Martin two run home run, and all of a sudden, the Tigers were up by five runs early. Not the best way to kick off your MLB career, but Beeks did settle down a bit.

From the second to the fourth, the lefty held the Tigers to just one run on three hits and two walks. The fourth and final inning of Beeks’ night was certainly the most impressive, as he retired Castellanos, Cabrera, and Victor Martinez in order to conclude his debut.

Finishing with four strikeouts and 88 total pitches (57 strikes), the former Razorback’s fastball topped out at 93 MPH in the first inning. Not known for his velocity, command was going to be a key part of Beeks’ night, but he left a few pitches over the plate and that came back to hurt him.

Despite the early struggles, the last three innings of Beeks’ debut were certainly encouraging. He will be sent back down to Pawtucket today, but I would not be surprised if we were to see the 24-year-old hurler make a spot start again this season.

In relief of Beeks, Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez did a decent enough job of keeping the Red Sox within striking distance over the last five innings.

Johnson surrendered just one run on three hits while fanning five in four innings of work and Velazquez struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

On the other side of things, Alex Cora went with a different looking lineup against Matt Boyd and the Detroit Tigers last night. For instance, Sam Travis was starting left, JD Martinez in right, Christian Vazquez at DH, and the most shocking, Blake Swihart starting behind the plate. WOW.

As he has done so often recently, Andrew Benintendi mashed his fourth home run in five games to lead things off in the first. 402 feet, 107 MPH off the bat.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Tigers starter Matt Boyd held the lineup in check last night. They had a golden opportunity to cut into Detroit’s lead after loading the bases with two outs in the second, but Benintendi grounded into an inning ending double play.

From that point on, Boyd surrendered one more run in the fifth on a Xander Bogaerts RBI groundout that scored Blake Swihart from third before departing with one out in the bottom of the seventh.

Against the Tigers bullpen, things did not fare much better for the Red Sox as they did against Boyd. Former Red Sox reliever Alex Wilson got out of the seventh unscathed, Joe Jiminez loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but escaped by striking out Sam Travis and Rafael Devers back to back, and Tigers closer Shane Greene wrapped things up by tossing a scoreless ninth to prevent the sweep.

Some notes from this one:

In this series against Detroit, Andrew Benintendi went 5/15 with 2 HR and 3 RBI in the leadoff spot.

JD Martinez exited this game in the eighth inning with back tightness that has been bothering him since the series in Houston. Despite that discomfort, Martinez expects to be back in the lineup later tonight.

Having taken two out of three from the Tigers, the Red Sox welcome another American League Central foe in the Chicago White Sox for a three game weekend set. At 20-40 on the season, they will be sending righty Dylan Covey (2.82 ERA in 22.1 IP) to the mound for the opener. He will be matched up against Chris Sale (3.00 ERA in 81 IP). Having given up 10 earned runs in his last two starts, Sale will have the opportunity to pick things back up again against one of the worst offensive teams in the American League.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM.