Red Sox among teams on hand to watch Justin Verlander’s showcase in Florida

The Red Sox were one of several teams on hand to watch Justin Verlander pitch at a showcase on Monday, reports Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal (Twitter link).

Per McAdam, the Sox were one of 15-20 big-league clubs in attendance to observe Verlander’s workout at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Verlander threw 25 pitches while hovering around the mid-90s and topping out at 97 mph with his vaunted four-seam fastball. McAdam adds that he apparently “looked impressive.”

Verlander, who turns 39 in February, became a free-agent last week after spending the last 4 1/2 seasons with the Astros. The veteran right-hander has not appeared in a game since July 24, 2020, however, as he suffered a forearm strain that ultimately required Tommy John surgery last September.

In his most-recent full season of work, 2019, Verlander posted a 2.58 ERA and 3.27 FIP to go along with a career-best 300 strikeouts and 42 walks over 34 starts spanning 223 innings of work en route to winning his second American League Cy Young Award.

Despite the fact that he has not pitched on a major-league mound in well over a year, Verlander still received a qualifying offer from Houston. This means that if the 38-year-old were to reject it and a remain a free agent, any other team that signs him would then owe the Astros compensation in the form of a draft pick.

In the Red Sox’ case, that would require them to forfeit their second-highest available selection in next year’s draft while also having their international signing bonus pool for next year’s international signing period reduced by $500,000

When speaking with reporters (including’s Christopher Smith) on Sunday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that the team was now in a better spot to pursue qualified free agents, such as Verlander, than they were a year ago.

“I think we’re in better position than we were a year ago,” Bloom said. “Even a year ago, I remember we talked about it and I said it’s certainly not something that’s off the table for us. Now at the time I said that knowing that most likely with those guys (last year’s qualified free agents), it wouldn’t line up. I don’t know how this offseason is going to play out. But I think just where we’re positioned now with the depth that we have internally, although we’re nowhere close to where we want to be, we are in a better position than where we were.

“So I think it’s likelier there could be a fit there,” he added. “But we’re just going to do as we would with any move, just access all the implications. And if it is something that makes sense for us, we’ve got to be ready to bounce.”

A client of ISE Baseball, Verlander does have some Red Sox connections, as manager Alex Cora served as Houston’s bench coach during their controversial World Series run in 2017.

Verlander, like Eduardo Rodriguez, has until November 17 to decide if he will either accept the Astros’ $18.4 million qualifying offer and remain in Houston for the 2022 campaign, or reject it and test the open market instead.

(Picture of Justin Verlander: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez to Hit Fifth for American League in 2019 All-Star Game

After being named to his third All-Star team on June 30th, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will start at designated hitter and bat out of the five-hole for the American League in the 90th Midsummer Classic Tuesday night. Sox manager Alex Cora, also serving as the manager for the AL Side this week, made the announcement earlier Monday.

Martinez was originally slated to be a reserve behind the Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence, but since the Rangers DH suffered a setback with his groin injury while on rehab this past Tuesday, Martinez got the starting nod.

Through 79 games this season, the 31-year-old is slashing .304/.376/.541 to go along with 18 home runs and 48 RBI in his second year with Boston.

In his career hitting out of the five-hole, Martinez has posted a .880 OPS while mashing 68 homers and driving in 213 runs over 1,415 total plate appearances.

Here is how the rest of the American League will be lining up on Tuesday, with two of Martinez’s teammates in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts available off the bench.

1. George Springer, RF, Astros
2. D.J. LeMahieu, 2B, Yankees
3. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
4. Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians
5. J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox
6. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
7. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
8. Michael Brantley, LF, Astros
9. Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins

Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander will get the start.

First pitch of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game is scheduled for 8:00 PM EDT on FOX.

Rafael Devers Takes Justin Verlander Deep as #RedSox Salvage Another Series Against Astros with 4-1 Victory

For the second straight week, the Red Sox entered Sunday down two games to none in their series against the Houston Astros, and the for the second straight week, the Red Sox came away with a series-closing win. They did that first with a 4-3 victory at Fenway Park on May 19th, and then again with a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park on Sunday.

Making his 11th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, whose spot in the rotation did not come up the last time these two clubs met a week ago.

This time around, the left-hander thoroughly impressed Sunday, tossing six innings of one-run ball on four hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

That lone run came in Rodriguez’s first inning of work, when an Aledyms Diaz leadoff single resulted in Houston getting on the board with a two-out RBI infield single off the bat of Saturday’s hero Carlos Correa to plate Diaz from second.

The thing is, that run could have been prevented had Eduardo Nunez, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, made a better throw to the plate and  if Christian Vazquez didn’t lose the ball on the attempted tag of Diaz.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez had a relatively simple time of things in this one, consistently maneuvering his way around the few baseruners he had to deal with while also receiving some help from his defense.

Retiring 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced, the 26-year-old’s fine day came to a close after getting Yuli Gurriel to pop out to second and end the sixth with his team ahead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (63 strikes), Rodriguez turned to his four-seam fastball 39% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings and misses and getting 13 called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.4 MPH with it in the fifth inning.

Improving to 5-3 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 5.04, the Venezuela native provided the Red Sox with a start they very much needed after the whole David Price situation the day before. Rodriguez will look for win number six in his next time out, which will come against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium sometime next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen with a two-run lead to protect going into the bottom half of the seventh.

Making his 26th appearance of the season and first of the series, Workman fanned a pair in a 1-2-3 inning before making way for Matt Barnes in the eighth.

Fresh off of getting walked off on on Saturday night, Barnes did allow the tying run to come to the plate with a one out walk of Tony Kemp, but did recover by sitting down the next two hitters he faced to send this one to the ninth.

And in that ninth and final inning, after his team tacked on an extra insurance run in the top half, Marcus Walden shut the door on the Astros to earn his first save of 2019 and lock up the 4-1 win for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander and future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander for the Astros, who like Rodriguez, did not pitch in the series at Fenway Park.

Going down by one run right away in the first, a Steve Pearce leadoff single later turned into Boston’s first run of the afternoon crossing the plate on a one-out sacrifice fly off the bat of Andrew Benintendi to knot this one at one all.

An inning later, Rafael Devers’ hot streak continued, as the 22-year-old led off the fourth by demolishing his seventh home run of the season 423 feet to dead center field to give his team a lead they would not have to look back from.

In the fifth, the Boston bats capitalized on some sloppy defense from the Astros infield, with Nunez scoring all the way from second thanks to Yuli Gurriel misplaying a grounder from Andrew Benintendi, who reached first safely with one out in the inning.

The Astros committed another error in the same time frame courtesy of Alex Bregman over at third, but the Sox were unable to capitalize there.

And finally, in the ninth, more misjudgements allowed Boston to push another run across, with reliever Framber Valdez letting Jackie Bradley Jr. advance to second after drawing a one-out walk and also advance to third on a ball that got past Robinson Chrinos behind the plate.

That particular sequence of miscues set up Eduardo Nunez in a prime RBI spot, and he took full advantage by driving in his club’s final run of the day on an RBI grounder to second which gave Bradley Jr. more than enough time to score from third and make it a 4-1 contest, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a quick turn around with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians set to kick off Monday evening back at Fenway Park.

Coming off a 4-3 road trip, this one home series will be all for the Sox before they head back out on the road again later this week.

Despite their reputation, the Indians are no longer the best team in their division at the moment, as that title currently belongs to the 36-16 Minnesota Twins, while the Tribe sit at an even 26-26.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to get the ball for the Red Sox in the series opener, while fellow righty Jefry Rodriguez will do the same for Terry Francona’s Indians.

Over his last seven starts dating back to April 20th, Porcello owns a 2.78 ERA and .196 batting average against over 45.1 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 6-1 in that span.

In 24 career starts against Cleveland, Porcello has posted a lifetime 3.57 ERA over 141 total innings of work.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, has never faced the Red Sox before in his young big league career. The 25-year-old is currently 1-4 with a 4.08 ERA through six starts so far this season.

First pitch Memorial Day Monday is scheduled for a rare 4:05 PM EDT start time on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

RECAP: #RedSox Punch Ticket to World Series as Jackie Bradley Jr. Is Named ALCS MVP.

For the first time since 2013, the Red Sox are headed back to the World Series following a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night.

In a game that wasn’t necessarily a must win for Boston, David Price put together perhaps the best postseason performance of his career in this Game Five.

Pitching six full innings on only three days rest, the left-hander held the Astros scoreless on just three hits and zero walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night. Mookie Betts supported the cause.

Given the fact it looked as though he could have been inserted into Wednesday’s night game as a late inning reliever, I would say Price exceeded expectations and then some with is outing.

To go into Houston, face an Astros team with their backs against the wall, and throw up six straight shutout frames is extremely impressive. As a matter of fact, it’s the first time in Price’s 11-year career that he got the winning decision in a postseason game he started.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (65 strikes), the Tennessee native had his changeup working for him, and he turned to it 39 times on the mound, which resulted in 12 total swings and misses.

He also topped out at 95.8 MPH with his two-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

All and all, David Price exercised his playoff demons on Thursday, got that monkey off his back, and should be your starting pitcher for Game Two of the World Series come next Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

In relief of Price, the heavily used Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final nine outs in this contest, and they saw things through to completion.

Matt Barnes got the first call to start the seventh, and he recorded the first two outs of the inning before serving up a solo home run to Marwin Gonzalez to put Houston on the board.

That would be followed by a seven pitch walk of Tony Kemp, and that made way for Nathan Eovaldi to come in and try to escape a bit of a jam.

Pitching for the first time since tossing six quality innings as Tuesday night’s starter, Eovaldi made his presence felt immediately by retiring the side in the seventh and then reaching 102 MPH in the eighth to fan Alex Bregman for the second of three outs recorded by the Houston native in the frame.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save opportunity with a three run lead to work with in the ninth after throwing two innings less than 24 hours prior, and he worked his way around a one out walk in an otherwise clean frame to send his club to the World Series.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros ace right-hander Justin Verlander, who came into Thursday with a 4-0 record and 1.15 ERA over the last four starts he has made with his team facing elimination.

The last time they saw Verlander, the Red Sox lineup could muster all but two runs on two outs in a Game One loss last Saturday, but that turned around for the better last night.

Starting the scoring in the third of this one was JD Martinez, a former teammate of Verlander’s, whose one out solo home run, his first and only of the series, put Boston on the board first.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Mitch Moreland would wind up acting as the catalyst for a three-run inning by reaching second on a leadoff double.

One Ian Kinsler single that advanced Moreland to third later, Rafael Devers came to the plate without a hit up to that point, but he would come through with the biggest at bat of the night.

On the first pitch he saw from Verlander, the 21-year-old infielder belted a 98 MPH fastball located at the top of the strike zone 359 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

That put the Red Sox up 4-1 and they would not have to look back en route to clinching their 14th American League pennant.

Some notes from this 4-1 win:

After finishing this series with nine RBI, all of which came with two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. was named ALCS MVP. A huge honor for someone who was not always a fan favorite this season.

Thursday was Alex Cora’s 43rd birthday and the Red Sox went ahead and got him a trip to the World Series.

From @SoxNotes: Players with 3+ postseason HR before turning 22 years old:
Mickey Mantle – 4
Bryce Harper – 4
Miguel Cabrera – 4
Andruw Jones – 4
Rafael Devers – 3

From @MLBStatoftheDay: The Red Sox are the first team to eliminate multiple 100-win clubs in one postseason since… The 2004 Red Sox!

Rafael Devers went 5/13 with one home run and six RBI over the span of five games in this series.

The Red Sox are still unbeaten on the road in October.

So, there you have it. Now, the Red Sox wait and see who comes out of the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers, with Los Angeles having the edge in that series at three games to two.

I should have more on all of this sometime later today, but for now, let’s just enjoy the celebration.

RECAP: Christian Vazquez and Andrew Benintendi Deliver Clutch Home Runs as #RedSox Squeeze by Astros in 5-4 Win.

In a game that took just under four hours to complete, the Red Sox came away with a surprising 5-4 win in a comeback effort against the Houston Astros. Thanks in part to both David Price and Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox go into the series finale on Sunday night with the chance to head home with a four-game split. With that in mind, let’s get to how we got here…

Making his 12th start of the season on Saturday night, Price put together the best performance a Red Sox starter has had in Houston so far. In six full innings, the lefty scattered three runs on five hits and one walk while fanning seven.

The first three innings of this one were a bit tough for Price, as the Astros tacked on all three runs they scored off the Tennessee native, including a two-run home run off the bat of Alex Bregman, over that stretch. From the fourth inning on though, Price was nails. He held Houston hitless while facing the minimum nine batters to notch his third quality start in his last four starts overall.

Departing with a pitch count of 109 (63 strikes) and his team trailing by one run after six innings, it seemed as if Price would be heading towards his fifth losing decision of the season. Instead, a three run rally in the top of the seventh changed that, and the 32-year-old hurler ended up with the winning decision, his sixth on the year.

In relief of Price, with a two run lead to work with all of a sudden, the Red Sox bullpen held a solid Astros lineup in check over three innings pitched. Heath Hembree was first up and he worked his way around a walk in a scoreless seventh. Joe Kelly was next, and despite getting scored on for the second straight night, did his job by giving Craig Kimbrel a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

The Red Sox closer came on with the 7-8-9 hitters due up for the Astros, and he got pinch hitter JD Davis swinging for the third and final out in this one. Picking up his 19th save of the season, Kimbrel has pulled even with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz for the most saves in the American League.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was faced with a daunting task in going up against Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in the American League right now. In 12 starts prior to the one he made last night, the former Detroit Tiger owned a 1.11 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched, lowest among qualified starters in the American League.

Luckily for the Red Sox, Verlander would be without his usual catcher, Brian McCann, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 29th. Instead, Max Stassi was behind the plate for Houston, and despite having caught Verlander before this season, it was clear to see that the two were having some communication issues throughout the night.

Speaking of former Detroit Tigers mentioned earlier, Verlander’s former teammate in JD Martinez put the Red Sox on the board in the first. In his first career at bat against the Astros starter, Martinez saw a 96 MPH fastball he liked and lined it into the opposite field for an RBI single that scored Andrew Benintendi from second.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez struck again with his second RBI knock of the game and his 50th of the season. This one came on a 97 MPH fastball from Verlander, and it was lined to center field for another RBI single that scored Xander Bogaerts from second. Here are both of those hits in one convenient, although shortened, GIF:

That second one drew the Red Sox within one run in what would be Verlander’s final frame of work.

The seventh inning is where things got really crazy.

With Astros reliever Will Harris entering this contest and nonchalantly recording the first two outs on eight pitches, Christian Vazquez came through with his first home run of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.

383 on that shot to left field for Vazquez to tie this thing up at three runs a piece. He knew it was gone the second that ball made contact with his bat. If you thought that home run was impressive, just wait until you see the one hit by Andrew Benintendi later in the inning.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a six pitch walk, Andrew Benintendi stayed hot by mashing his eighth home run of the season to put the Red Sox on top.

417 feet and 105 MPH off the bat of Benintendi on that missile, and it caught Harris and even Benintendi a bit off guard.

Animated GIF

That big fly put the Red Sox up by two runs late, and as I mentioned earlier, they would not have to look back en route to their 40th win of the season, the first team to accomplish the feat so far.

Some notes from this win:

Over his last four starts, David Price owns a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He has struck out 28 batters over that stretch as well.

JD Martinez became the first player to reach 50 RBIs this season with two of them last night.

Also, I wanted to include this little nugget about Christian Vazquez, courtesy of @RedSoxStats on Twitter.

Now with the chance to head home with a split, Rick Porcello will man the rubber for the Red Sox in the series finale of this four game set, as he will be matches up against Astros righty Charlie Morton. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET on ESPN. A bit of an odd time for Sunday Night Baseball, but I’m not complaining.