Travis Shaw delivers with 3-run homer, game-winning hit as Red Sox battle back to defeat White Sox, 9-8, in extras

The Red Sox have seemingly made a habit of blowing sizable leads as of late and nearly let that trend continue against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday.

After grabbing an early five-run lead, Boston later fell behind by a run in the middle stages of the game, but battled back for a 9-8 win over Chicago in 10 innings.

Connor Seabold, making his major-league debut and first career start for the Sox on Saturday, was the beneficiary of some significant run support.

In just three innings of work, Seabold allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

Both runs the right-hander gave up came on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second, as he yielded a one-out single to Yasmani Grandal before serving up a monstrous two-run shot to Leury Garcia.

The Red Sox fell behind, 2-0, on Seabold’s miscue, but they quickly responded in their half of the third while still matched up against White Sox starter Dylan Cease.

Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for the rally by ripping a one-out single to center field, then Cease issued two straight walks to Kyle Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, who drew a free pass himself to bring in Hernandez from third for his side’s first run of the evening.

Alex Verdugo kept the train moving by lacing a two-run single to left-center field that brought in Schwarber and Bogaerts, while Bobby Dalbec plated Devers from second on an RBI single of his own.

Travis Shaw, who wasn’t even in Boston’s original starting lineup, promptly ended Cease’s outing by driving in both Verdugo and Dalbec on a towering, 372-foot three-run blast to right field.

Shaw’s ninth home run of the season gave the Sox a commanding 7-2 lead while also knocking Cease out of this game, but the Boston bats were unable to score again in the third despite getting two hits off White Sox reliever Ryan Burr.

Seabold, meanwhile, escaped one final jam in his third and final inning by getting the dangerous Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, thus ending his night with a final pitch count of 43 (27 strikes). The 25-year-old did not factor into Saturday’s decision.

In relief of Seabold got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen to begin the fourth, and he ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out walk to Grandal.

Richards nearly got Garcia to ground into another inning-ending twin killing, but Devers committed a fielding error by misplaying Garcia’s grounder before failing to field a chopper off the bat of Romy Gonzalez cleanly.

That sequence loaded the bases for the White Sox, and Richards followed suit by walking Brian Goodwin on five pitches to bring in one run before surrendering a bases-clearing, three-run double to Luis Robert with two outs in the inning.

Ryan Brasier took over for Richards after Chicago had trimmed their deficit down to one run at 7-6, but former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada knotted things up at seven runs apiece by lacing a game-tying, run-scoring double to left field.

Brasier’s woes rolled on in the fifth, as he got taken deep to right field by Grandal, who gave the White Sox their first lead since the second inning with his 20th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, when the Sox were down to their final six outs, former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was unable to keep his old team off the scoreboard as he had done the night before.

Christian Vazquez drilled a one-out double to center field off Kimbrel to put the potential tying run in scoring position. The recently called-up Jack Lopez pinch-ran for Vazquez at second base and quickly advanced up to third on a wild pitch.

A sacrifice fly from Hernandez was hit deep enough (357 feet) to center field to allow Lopez to coast in from third, and that tied things up once again at 9-9.

After Liam Hendriks and Garrett Whitlock kept things that way for their respective teams in the ninth inning, this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Verdugo assumed his role as the runner at second base after recording the final out of the previous inning.

A groundout off the bat of Dalbec allowed Verdugo to move up to third, and Shaw brought him in on an 85 mph RBI single off White Sox reliever Mike Wright.

Given a one-run lead to protect going into the latter half of the 10th, Josh Taylor was dispatched to get the three most important outs of the night.

Despite giving up a leadoff single to the first man he faced in Grandal which also put the potential tying run (Eloy Jimenez) at third base, Taylor did just that.

The left-hander punched out Garcia on three straight strikes, fanned the pinch-hitting Joey Mendick, and got Goodwin to ground out to second base to slam the door on the White Sox, preserve the 9-8 victory, and notch the first save of his big-league career.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 81-63 on the season to maintain their one-game lead over both the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lynn

The Red Sox will activate right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list and have him make his return to the mound in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox, who will counter with fellow righty Lance Lynn.

First pitch of Sunday’s rubber match is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: José Iglesias signed, Josh Taylor activated, Michael Feliz selected from Triple-A Worcester

In addition to signing veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias to a major-league deal, the Red Sox made yet another flurry of roster moves ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Rays at Fenway Park.

First off, left-hander Josh Taylor was reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while right-hander Michael Feliz had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester and was added to the major-league roster.

Secondly, righty Kutter Crawford was returned to Worcester following Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Indians, while fellow right-hander John Schreiber and infielder Jack Lopez were also returned to Worcester.

The Red Sox made all of these transactions official earlier Monday afternoon.

Taylor, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list last Tuesday after being identified as a close contact of Matt Barnes’ while the team was in Tampa Bay, re-joins the Sox after a six-day hiatus.

The 28-year-old became the fifth of 11 players Boston has had to place on the COVID IL since their outbreak began last Friday, but he becomes the first of that group to be activated off it — with Enrique Hernandez likely to follow.

Joining Taylor in the Red Sox bullpen will be Feliz, who initially signed a minor-league pact with Boston on August 28 after being released by the Reds.

Prior to getting designated for assignment by Cincinnati in late August, Feliz had appeared in a total of 16 games between the Pirates and Reds this season, posting an 8.79 ERA and 3.65 FIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to five walks over 14 1/3 innings of relief.

A native of the Dominican Republic, the 28-year-old originally signed with the Astros as an international free agent in 2010. He made his major-league debut for Houston in 2015, appeared in 46 games while Red Sox manager Alex Cora served as Astros bench coach in 2017, and was part of the trade that sent Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh to the Lone Star State in 2018.

Per Baseball Savant, Feliz — listed at a stout 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds — operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup.

With the additions of Taylor and Feliz, Crawford and Schreiber — both of whom made their Red Sox debuts on Sunday, were returned to Worcester. Lopez, too, was returned to accommodate the signing of Iglesias.

Because all three of Crawford, Schreiber, and Lopez were called up as COVID-19 replacements, the Sox were able to take the trio off their 40-man roster without exposing them to waivers.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe leads the way with 2 homers as Red Sox hold on to defeat Twins, 11-9

Despite getting out-hit 14-11, the Red Sox were able to hold on to a series-opening, 11-9 victory over the Twins at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Tanner Houck, just recalled from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day, made his eighth start (10th overall appearance) of the season for the Sox, and he was not particularly sharp.

Over 4 2/3 innings of work, Houck allowed three runs — all of which were earned — on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts on the evening.

The Twins got to the right-hander right away on Tuesday, as he served up a leadoff triple to Max Kepler to begin things in the top half of the first that was quickly followed by a one-out RBI single off the bat of Jorge Polanco to put the Sox in an early 1-0 hole.

Houck was, however, able to settle in by keeping Minnesota off the board in the second and third innings, and the Boston bats rewarded him for that in their half of the third.

Matched up against Minnesota starter Griffin Jax, Travis Shaw picked up where he left off on Monday and belted a leadoff home run 413 feet into the bleachers, marking his second straight homer in as many swings of the bat.

Shaw’s solo shot pulled the Sox back even at one run apiece, but the Twins countered by getting to Houck for two more runs in the fourth, with Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon each reaching base and Miguel Sano driving both runners in on a two-run single back up the middle.

That put the Twins back up by two runs at 3-1, though the Red Sox did not let their second deficit last all that long with Rafael Devers drawing a leadoff walk and Alex Verdugo ripping a one-out double to left field to put a pair of runners in scoring position for Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe got his productive day at the plate started by taking a hanging, 83 mph slider from Jax and depositing it 374 feet over the Green Monster for his first of two home runs on the night.

Even with Renfroe giving the Sox a 4-3 advantage with his three-run blast, Houck ran into a bit more trouble in the fifth when he plunked the first man he faced in Brent Rooker and allowed him to advance up to second base on a wild pitch.

After punching out Polanco and getting Josh Donaldson to pop out to third base, Houck’s outing came to an unceremonious end as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (54 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did raise his ERA on the season to 3.43.

In relief of Houck, Cora turned to Josh Taylor out of the Boston bullpen, and the left-hander — who ultimately earned his first win of the year — did his job by getting Arraez to ground out to second base to end the inning.

At the halfway point, the Red Sox were in possession of a 4-3 lead. With Jax still on the mound for the Twins, they made sure to pad said lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Enrique Hernandez, celebrating his 30th birthday on Tuesday, led off with a single and moved up to second base on a Minnesota fielding error.

Jax quickly recorded the first two outs of the frame, but Devers kept the rally alive by lacing a ground-rule, RBI double into the right field seats that brought in Hernandez from third to make it a 5-3 contest.

J.D. Martinez followed by drawing another walk, though he was quickly brought in on yet another double from Verdugo, which brought Renfroe to the plate in a prime run scoring spot.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Jax, another hanging slider, Renfroe took full advantage of that opportunity by crushing his second home run of the night — and 25th of the season — 420 feet over everything in left-center field.

Renfroe’s league-leading 10th homer in the month of August alone gave his side a commanding 9-3 lead, and at that point, it looked like the Sox were going to run away with another lopsided win over a last-place team.

That did not turn out to be the case, however, as Martin Perez struggled mightily in his relief appearance. After allowing one run on one hit and an RBI groundout in the top of the sixth, the lefty got rocked for two more runs in the seventh when he served up a two-run shot to Polanco.

Hirokazu Sawamura, working in relief of Perez, did not fare much better, as he walked one, gave up a single to another, and misdirected a wild pitch that allowed both runners to advance into scoring position with one out.

After fanning Mitch Garver, it appeared as though Sawamura was out of trouble when he got Nick Gordon to swing at a 93 mph splitter in the dirt.

Gordon, however, was able to just barely foul off the pitch to keep his at-bat alive, and he followed by lining a two-out, two-strike, and two-run single back up the middle to pull the Twins back to within one at 9-8.

Adam Ottavino, working in relief of Sawamura in the eighth, worked his way around a Jake Cave leadoff single (with the help of Christian Vazquez gunning Cave down at second base) and a two-out walk of Rooker in an otherwise clean inning.

Looking to add some insurance in their half of the eighth, the Red Sox offense got just that from Hernandez, who truly celebrated his birthday in style by following up a Vazquez leadoff single and clubbing a towering two-run shot over the Monster off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar.

Hernandez’s 16th home run of the year, which traveled 425 feet and left his bat at 108.6 mph, put the Sox ahead 11-8, which would prove extremely beneficial a half inning later with Matt Barnes on the hill in the ninth.

To put it simply, Barnes’ August woes continued, as the Boston closer served up a leadoff homer to Donaldson before walking two straight to bring the go-ahead run to the plate — all without recording a single out in the inning.

That ugly sequence resulted in Cora turning to Hansel Robles, who promptly saved the day — literally — in the process of punching out two and recording the third and final out when he got Cave to line out to end the game.

By securing the 11-9 victory for his side, Robles was able to notch his 11th save of the year (and first with the Red Sox) while also topping out at 99.4 mph with his high-octane four-seam fastball.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 72-55 on the season to increase their lead over the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot to two full games.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Ober

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Twins and look to extend their winning streak to three consecutive games on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will look to bounce back as he gets the start for Boston, while fellow righty Bailey Ober will do the same for Minnesota.

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

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Josh Taylor from COVID-19 related injured list, designate Matt Andriese for assignment

Before opening up a three-game series against the Yankees with a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, left-handed reliever Josh Taylor was reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list. In order to make room for Taylor on Boston’s 40-man roster, right-hander Matt Andriese was designated for assignment.

Secondly, right-hander Tanner Houck was appointed as the 27th man for Tuesday’s twin bill in the Bronx, the club announced earlier Tuesday morning.

Taylor winds up missing just one day of action after initially being placed on the COVID-related injured list before Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles.

Though it does not appear as though the 28-year-old ever tested positive for the virus this time around since he tested negative on multiple occasions, he was forced to take a car service to get from Boston to New York as opposed to flying with the team.

Taylor, who did test positive for the virus last summer, opened the truncated 2020 campaign on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Through 48 appearances out of the Boston bullpen this year, the southpaw has proven to be one of the Sox’ most effective relievers, posting a 3.23 ERA and 2.92 FIP with 51 strikeouts and 20 walks over 39 total innings of work.

Per Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Taylor should be available for both games of Tuesday’s twin bill.

Because Boston placed Taylor on the COVID-related injured list on Sunday, they were able to temporarily create a spot on their 40-man roster, which in turn allowed them to claim infielder Travis Shaw off waivers from the Brewers without making a corresponding move.

With Taylor’s return, however, the Sox needed to make room on their 40-man roster for the lefty, and they did so by designating fellow reliever in Andriese for assignment.

Originally signed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal that included a team option for 2022 back in December, Andriese got his Red Sox career off to a solid start, as he put up a 1.42 ERA and .577 OPS against over nine relief appearances spanning 12 2/3 innings pitched in the month of April.

Once the calendar flipped to May, however, things seemed to take a turn for the worse for the veteran right-hander, as he struggled to the tune of an 8.39 ERA and 1.090 OPS against across 17 outings (24 2/3 innings) before landing on the 10-day injured list with right hamstring tendinitis on July 10.

Andriese, who turns 32 later this month, was able to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on August 7 and was even scheduled to work two innings for the WooSox on Tuesday, but that is no longer the case.

Instead, the Red Sox will have seven days to either trade, release, or sneak Andriese through waivers, though he could refuse an assignment to Worcester and elect to become a free agent instead.

Finally, we arrive at Houck, who was recalled from Worcester to serve as the 27th man for Tuesday’s doubleheader.

The 25-year-old will get the start for Boston in Game 1 on Tuesday, as he will be matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Matt Andriese: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Red Sox add Travis Shaw to major-league roster, option Franchy Cordero and Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester, release Marwin Gonzalez

Ahead of their three-game series against the Yankees that begins in the Bronx on Tuesday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves during their day off on Monday.

First off, infielder Travis Shaw was added to Boston’s major-league roster, while both outfielder Franchy Cordero and catcher Connor Wong were optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

Secondly, utility man Marwin Gonzalez was released after he was designated for assignment on Friday, the club announced earlier Monday night.

Shaw was claimed off outright waivers by the Sox from the Brewers on Sunday and was promptly added to Boston’s 40-man roster since they had an open spot after placing left-handed reliever Josh Taylor on the COVID-19 related injured list that same day.

The Red Sox originally selected Shaw in the ninth round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Kent State University, and the left-handed hitter spent the first two seasons of his major-league career (2015-2016) with Boston before being traded to Milwaukee in December 2016.

After bouncing around between the Brewers, Blue Jays, and Brewers again, Shaw was ultimately placed on outright waivers by Milwaukee this past weekend.

The left-handed hitter had slashed .191/.279/.337 with eight doubles, six home runs, 28 RBI, 14 runs scored, 19 walks, and 51 strikeouts across 56 games (202 plate appearances) with the Brewers this season prior to dislocating his left shoulder in early June.

Sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville on July 27, Shaw hit .273/.415/.485 with two home runs and eight RBI over 11 games (41 plate appearances) with the Sounds before losing his spot on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster.

In claiming the 31-year-old off waivers, the Red Sox add another left-handed power bat to the mix that has proven capable of playing first base, second base, and third base over the course of his big-league career.

“He’s a good kid, he’s a good guy,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of Shaw on Sunday. “We’re going to use him the right way. I think he gives us more weapons to maneuver over nine innings. We can pinch-hit, we can platoon, we can do a lot of things with him. Looking forward to seeing him and start working with him.”

A noted fan of former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, Shaw — a native of Ohio — will don the No. 23 in his second stint with the Red Sox.

In order to make room for Shaw on the major-league roster, Boston only had to send down one player, but instead optioned two in Cordero and Wong.

Cordero, who was recalled from Worcester on July 22, appeared in 13 games during his second stint of the season with the Sox. Over the course of those 13 games in which he made starts at first base and in left field, the 26-year-old went 7-for-32 (.219) at the plate with seven singles, three runs scored, two walks, and 14 strikeouts.

Wong, meanwhile, was recalled from the WooSox on Sunday as part of the same series of moves that saw Taylor head to the COVID-19 related injured list.

The fact that Boston optioned the 25-year-old backstop back down to Worcester — and thus trimmed down their big-league roster to 25 players for the time being — would seem to indicate that they are hopeful that Taylor will be cleared to return to action on Tuesday, though that is no sure thing.

If Taylor were to be activated before Tuesday’s doubleheader, though, the Red Sox would need to clear a 40-man roster spot in order for him to be added back to the major-league squad.

In addition to the possibility of Boston getting Taylor back this week, they will also be adding right-hander Tanner Houck as the 27th man for Tuesday’s twin bill at Yankee Stadium.

Though Cora has yet to officially name starters for the upcoming doubleheader, the expectation seems to be that Houck will start one game while fellow righty Nathan Eovaldi will start the other.

Finally, we arrive at Gonzalez, who was released three days after being designated for assignment on Friday — at the same time Kyle Schwarber was activated from the injured list.

The versatile 32-year-old initially signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Sox back in late February, but never really found his footing at the plate with his new club.

Despite providing value as a switch-hitter who could play multiple defensive positions, Gonzalez hit just .202/.281/.285 with two home runs and 20 RBI in 77 games (271 plate appearances) with Boston prior to losing his roster spot.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Josh Taylor on COVID-19 related injured list, recall Connor Wong from Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up their three-game weekend series against the Orioles at Fenway Park on Sunday, the Red Sox placed left-handed reliever Josh Taylor on the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, catcher Connor Wong was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Taylor has proven to be one of the more consistent relievers out of the Boston bullpen this season, posting a 3.23 ERA and 2.93 FIP to go along with 51 strikeouts and 20 walks over 48 appearances spanning 39 total innings of work.

At the moment, it’s unclear if the 28-year-old has tested positive for COVID-19 or if he is just experiencing COVID-like symptoms, as has been the case with several Red Sox players (Matt Barnes, Jarren Duran, J.D. Martinez) within the last few weeks.

Taylor did, however, test positive for the virus at the onset of summer camp last year and — in addition to being forced to quarantine at a Boston hotel — opened the truncated 2020 campaign on the COVID-related IL. He did not make his season debut until August 17 as a result of all that.

If the lefty does indeed test negative for COVID-19, he could be activated as soon as Tuesday ahead of an important doubleheader against the Yankees in the Bronx.

If Taylor’s PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test comes back positive, though, he would be placed into a mandatory 10-day quarantine, which would result in the Red Sox triggering additional virus-related protocols.

Wong, meanwhile, returns to the Sox just one day after he was sent down to Worcester at the same time fellow catcher Christian Vazquez was activated from the bereavement list.

In six games spanning four separate stints with Boston, the 25-year-old rookie has gone 4-for-13 (.308) with one double, one triple, one RBI, three runs scored, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 14 total plate appearances.

It’s likely Wong will be available off the bench for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox swept by Rays following 3-2 defeat; Boston extends losing streak to season-high 4 straight games

After Xander Bogaerts essentially described Sunday night’s series finale against the Rays as a must-win, the Red Sox came up short at Tropicana Field and were unable to avoid a three-game series sweep at the hands of their division rivals by a final score of 3-2.

Nick Pivetta, making his 21st start of the season for the Sox, took a perfect game into the third inning after sitting down each of the first eight batters he faced in order.

A two-out walk to the Rays’ No. 9 hitter in the bottom of the third, however, altered the course for Pivetta, as he saw his no-hit bid come to an end moments later by serving up a two-run home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-2, 85 mph slider that was grooved down the heart of the plate.

Lowe’s blast put Tampa Bay up 2-0, but the Boston bats were able to cut that deficit in half in the top of the fourth. There, when matched up against tough Rays starter Shane McClanahan, ex-Rays outfielder Hunter Renfroe put a charge into his 16th big fly of the year.

Renfroe turned around a 2-2, 97 mph fastball from McClanahan and deposited it 427 feet to deep center field. The solo shot, which had an exit velocity of 104 mph, made it a 2-1 game in favor of the Rays.

The Sox had a chance to do more damage in the inning, with Christian Vazquez ripping a one-out single and Alex Verdugo advancing him into scoring position by drawing a walk, but McClanahan rallied by getting Kevin Plawecki to fly out and Bobby Dalbec to strike out to escape the jam.

Pivetta, meanwhile, got through a scoreless fourth inning unscathed, but ran into more trouble in the fifth when he yielded a leadoff single to rookie phenom Wander Franco.

A wild pitch from the right-hander allowed Franco to move up to second base, and old friend Manuel Margot took full advantage of that miscue by lacing a run-scoring single to right field to bring in Franco and make it a 3-1 contest in favor of his side.

Following that sequence, Pivetta was able to record the first two outs of the fifth, but his night ended then and there when Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave him the hook with the left-handed hitting Lowe due up next for the Rays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (54 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up surrendering three earned runs on three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor was called upon to face Lowe, and he won that particular matchup by getting him to pop out into foul territory to retire the side.

From there, recently-acquired reliever Hansel Robles made his Red Sox debut in the sixth inning, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff single by inducing a fielder’s choice out and 3-6-3 double play in his lone scoreless frame of work.

The Rays turned to their bullpen starting in the seventh after McClanahan had given them six strong innings, and Verdugo greeted their first reliever of the night — Drew Rasmussen — by lining a scorching 111 mph double down the right field line to lead things off.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Plawecki fly out and scored on a wild pitch while Kiké Hernández, but even after Hernández himself singled and Rafael Devers drew a walk with two outs, a slumping J.D. Martinez was unable to bring in either runner and instead grounded into a force out to leave things at 3-2 in favor of Tampa Bay.

Following two scoreless innings of relief from Garrett Whitlock in which he scattered three total hits thanks to some stellar defense behind him out of the bullpen, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs going into their half of the ninth inning.

With righty reliever Matt Wisler on the mound for the Rays, Plawecki and Jarren Duran (pinch-hitting for Dalbec) grounded out and punched out, respectively. But Hernández provided a spark by reaching base on a two-out single.

The pinch-running Jonathan Arauz took over for Hernández as the base runner at first base, and Devers was able to advance him all the way up to third on another base hit to center field, leaving things in the hands of Martinez.

Very much in need of a hit, Martinez got ahead in the count against Wisler at 3-1, but swung at an outside pitch that likely would have been a ball before putting an 81 mph slider that was down and away in play.

Unfortunately for Martinez, the ball left his bat at just 71 mph and traveled a mere 226 feet before landing in the glove of Margot for the third and final out of the ninth, thus sealing a 3-2 defeat for the Sox.

In the process of getting swept by the Rays on Sunday night, the Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position while leaving 10 men on base as a team.

Sunday’s loss also extends Boston’s losing streak to a season-high four consecutive games, dropping them to 63-44 on the year. They now trail Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games for first place in the American League East after what was undoubtedly a crushing weekend.

That said, the Red Sox will be off on Monday as they prepare to embark upon the next portion of this three-city road trip in Detroit against a surprising 51-57 Tigers team led by Cora’s former colleague in A.J. Hinch.

Boston previously bested Detroit by taking the opening and concluding games of a three-game set at Fenway Park back in early May. The Sox outscored the Tigers, 28-22, in the process of doing so.

This time around, right-hander Garrett Richards will get the ball for Boston in Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park. He will be opposed by fellow righty Wily Peralta for Detroit.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be looking to snap this four-game skid.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox bullpen experiences eighth-inning meltdown in 11-2 loss to Phillies

The Red Sox came into the eighth inning of Saturday’s game against the Phillies at Fenway Park trailing only by a run at 3-2.

Josh Taylor, after recording the final out of the seventh, was looking to notch his 27th straight scoreless appearance out of the bullpen in the eighth, but got off to a poor start by issuing a leadoff single to Bryce Harper.

A five-pitch walk of Andrew McCutchen did not do Taylor any more favors, and neither did a two-run double off the bat of Rhys Hoskins that resulted in the left-hander’s scoreless streak coming to an unceremonious close.

Taylor would get the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after plunking the next man he faced, and in came Brandon Workman, inheriting a bit of a mess.

Workman, like Taylor, failed to record an out in the top of the eighth, as the veteran reliever walked a batter to fill the bases before yielding two runs on an RBI single and bases-loaded walk.

Turning to his bullpen for the second time in the inning, Cora handed things off to the recently-recalled Austin Brice, who proceeded to allow four additional Philadelphia runs to cross the plate on hits from Jean Segura and Harper before eventually and mercifully getting out of the inning.

By the time that happened, though, the Sox found themselves in a considerable 11-2 hole, and they would go on to lose by that score on Saturday evening.

Perez’s poor start

Martin Perez made his 18th start of the season for Boston on Saturday, and he did not end the first half of his season on much of a positive note.

That being the case because in just 3 2/3 innings of work, the left-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on six hits and two walks to go along four strikeouts and two home runs on the afternoon.

Right out of the gate, Perez fell victim to the long ball, as he served a leadoff home run to Jean Segura in the top of the first to put his side in an early hole.

An inning later, Perez again dealt with some early trouble, this time walking leadoff man Rhys Hoskins before giving up a booming two-run shot to Alec Bohm, making it a 3-0 game in favor of Philadelphia.

The Red Sox lineup was able to counter off Phillies starter Matt Moore by pushing across two runs of their own on a Xander Bogaerts solo homer (his 14th of the year) in the second and a pickoff error that allowed Christian Vazquez to score from second base in the third, cutting the deficit down to one run at 3-2.

Perez, however, saw his day come to a close sooner than he probably expected in the top half of the fourth, when he gave up a two-out single and walk to Ronald Torreyes and Andrew Knapp, making way for Hirokazu Sawamura to take over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (47 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler wraps up the first half of his 2021 campaign with a 7-5 record and an ERA of 4.04.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Perez, Sawamura took over in the fourth, recorded the final out of the frame, and tossed a scoreless top half of the fifth as well.

From there, Garrett Whitlock retired three of the four hitters he faced in the sixth and got the first two outs of the seventh while also giving up a single to Jean Segura.

With the left-handed hitting Bryce Harper due up next for the Phils, Cora turned to the left-handed throwing Taylor, and while the southpaw got out of the inning without facing Harper thanks to a successful pickoff of Segura, that matchup is where things took a turn for the worse for the Sox.

Taylor’s scoreless streak snapped

By surrendering two runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman in the eighth inning on Saturday, Josh Taylor’s impressive run of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped.

Prior to Saturday, the last time the lefty had given up a run came on April 24, meaning he went 77 days without seeing his ERA increase.

Taylor’s streak of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances goes down as the second-longest such run in Red Sox history, trailing only Koji Uehara’s 27 straight scoreless outings during the 2013 season.

Slow day for the Red Sox lineup

While the Red Sox bats were able to get to Matt Moore for two runs early on Saturday, they were unable to get anything going offensively the rest of the way.

From the middle of the fourth inning on, Moore and the Phillies bullpen (Hector Neris, Bailey Falter, J.D. Hammer, Connor Brogdon) put nothing but zeroes on the board for their side to contribute to the victory.

All in all, Boston went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Saturday while leaving seven men on base as a team.

Rays closing gap in division

With the 11-2 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 55-35 on the season. They have dropped three of their last four, resulting in the Rays trimming Boston’s hold of first place in the American League East down to 1/2 games.

Next up: Nola vs. Pivetta

The Red Sox will look to close out the first half of their 2021 season with a series victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.

Philadelphia will send right-hander Aaron Nola to the hill in the rubber game, while Boston will dispatch fellow righty and former Phillies hurler Nick Pivetta, who will be making his first career start against his old team in the finale of this three-game series.

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

Red Sox’ Josh Taylor extends scoreless streak to 18 consecutive appearances in Monday’s win over Blue Jays; ‘He did an outstanding job,’ Alex Cora says

Slowly but surely, Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor has emerged as one of manager Alex Cora’s most trusted weapons out of the bullpen.

The latest instance of just how effective Taylor has been this season arose during the seventh inning of Monday night’s 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

After getting 6 2/3 quality innings from Nathan Eovaldi, Cora turned to Taylor with one out to get in the top of the seventh and the potential tying run at third in the form of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Working with a 1-0 lead to protect, the left-hander took advantage of a lefty-on-lefty matchup by getting Rowdy Tellez to fan on six pitches, punctuating the at-bat by making the Blue Jays first baseman look foolish on a 2-2, 88 mph slider at the bottom of the zone.

As he came back out for his next inning of work in the eighth, Taylor again did not waste much time, as he got Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to third base on the first pitch he saw before picking up two more swinging strikeouts against Cavan Biggio and Reese McGuire.

“J.T.’s been throwing the ball great,” Eovaldi said. “He comes in in that big situation right there. I got the double play ball, and he was able to leave Vlad over there at third base and he got Tellez. It was a huge situation right there to clean up that inning. And then he followed that up with another clean inning to bridge that gap to (Matt) Barnes.”

When all was said and done and the Red Sox walked off the Blue Jays, 2-1, Taylor only needed 15 pitches to get through 1 1/3 innings of relief in the process of picking up his eighth hold of the season.

“He’s been doing that for a long time,” Cora said of Taylor’s performance. “We felt that pocket belonged to him. He gets the lefty. … He had Tellez, and then we felt like he could get Gurriel in that spot. And with all the lefties coming up, it was a great spot for him.

“That’s the way we saw it before the game,” added Cora. “The way they constructed their lineup and their defensive alignment, so we felt that was a good pocket for him and he did an outstanding job.”

By retiring all four hitters he faced on Monday, Taylor extended his scoreless appearance streak to 18 consecutive games, which dates all the way back to April 30.

Over that dominating stretch, opponents are hitting a measly .149/.231/.170 off the 28-year-old hurler. He has struck out 18 batters and walked just four in his last 14 innings out of the bullpen.

Among 38 major-league left-handed relievers who have thrown at least 14 innings since April 30, Taylor ranks first in ERA (0.00), first in hits allowed (7), fifth in batting average against, sixth in on-base percentage against, third in slugging percentage against, fourth in weighted on-base average against (.193), seventh in strikeout percentage (34.6%), second in FIP (1.65), and seventh in xFIP (2.78), per FanGraphs.

The fact that Taylor has turned in solid performance after solid performance as of late is certainly encouraging considering how poorly of a start he got off to earlier this season.

Because of his recent run of success, the southpaw has lowered his ERA on the year from 9.72 — which is where it sat the morning of April 30 — all the way down to a respectable 3.63.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Omar Rawlings/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)