Red Sox select Zack Littell to active roster, option Kaleb Ort to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox selected the contract of right-hander Zack Littell and have added him to the active roster, the club announced prior to Saturday’s game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

In order to make room for Littell on the 26-man roster, fellow reliever Kaleb Ort was optioned to Triple-A Worcester. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, outfielder Adam Duvall was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.

Boston acquired Littell from the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations on Friday. The 27-year-old had a May 1 upward mobility clause in his minor-league deal with the Rangers, which required Texas to either promote or trade him if another club was willing to call him up.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox expressed a willingness to add Littell to their big-league roster, which led to Friday’s trade taking place.

Littell spent the first month of the 2023 season with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock after signing a minors pact with Texas in February. In eight relief appearances for the Express, the righty posted a 2.25 ERA with 16 strikeouts to two walks over 12 innings of work.

A former 11th-round draft selection of the Mariners out of Eastern Alamance High School (N.C.) in 2013, Littell made his major-league debut in 2018 and owns a lifetime 4.08 ERA (4.66 FIP) with 151 strikeouts to 60 walks in 145 career outings (four starts, 169 2/3 innings) between the Twins and Giants.

After a breakout 2021 campaign in which he produced a 2.92 ERA in a career-high 63 appearances for San Francisco, Littell struggled to a 5.08 ERA across 44 1/3 innings last season. He most notably got in a heated argument with manager Gabe Kapler after getting pulled from a game in September and was later outrighted by the Giants before electing free agency in November.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Littell operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a high-80s slider, and a mid-80s splitter, per Baseball Savant.

Littell, who will wear the No. 52 with the Red Sox, is out of minor-league options. In other words, the North Carolina native has to stick on Boston’s 40-man roster or he will otherwise be designated for assignment if the club intends on sending him back to the minors by hoping he clears waivers.

Ort, meanwhile, returns to Worcester after a brief one-day stint with the Red Sox. The 31-year-old was called up on Friday night to take the roster spot of Kutter Crawford, who was placed on the 15-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain. He did not pitch in Friday’s win over the Phillies.

Duvall has been on the injured list since April 10 due to a distal radius fracture in his left wrist. The 34-year-old slugger did not require surgery and has since transitioned from a hard cast to a removable splint. While he has yet to swing a bat, he has been running and doing other conditioning work, per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Because he was transferred to the 60-day injured list, Duvall cannot be activated June 9 at the earliest. It remains to be seen if he will require the minimum 60 days or will still be sidelined beyond that date.

(Picture of Zack Littel: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images)


Red Sox place Kutter Crawford on 15-day injured list with left hamstring strain, recall Kaleb Ort from from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have placed right-hander Kutter Crawford on the 15-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, the club announced prior to Friday’s series opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. In a corresponding move, fellow reliever Kaleb Ort was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Crawford strained his left hamstring in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 8-3 win over the Blue Jays. Perhaps it was due to pitching in wet and rainy conditions at Fenway Park, but the 27-year-old hurler appeared to be in visible discomfort after retiring Alejandro Kirk.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was optimistic that Crawford would be able to avoid a stint on the injured list but that is no longer the case. Crawford, who was in Boston’s Opening Day rotation to begin the year, has since emerged as a versatile multi-inning reliever alongside Josh Winckowski.

Including Wednesday’s injury-shortened outing, Crawford has posted a 1.08 ERA and 3.66 FIP with 12 strikeouts to just one walk in five relief appearances (16 2/3 innings) dating back to April 13. He currently ranks in the 95th percentile in walk rate (2.9 percent) and the 98th percentile in chase rate (39.5 percent), per Baseball Savant.

Because his stint on the injured list was backdated to May 4, Crawford will not be eligible to be activated until May 19 at the earliest. In the meantime, Cora and Co. will need to find a way to cover the innings he would have been responsible for out of the bullpen.

Ort, meanwhile, was optioned to Worcester this past Sunday as a corresponding move for the activation of Chris Martin. The 31-year-old did not appear in a game for the WooSox and is now back with the big-league club less than a week after getting sent down.

After making his first career Opening Day back in March, Ort got his 2023 season off a tough start by posting a 7.30 ERA and 6.28 FIP with 12 strikeouts to six walks in 12 relief appearances (12 1/3 innings). He surrendered five runs (four earned) to the Orioles on April 25. Opponents are now batting .308/.383/.577 against him.

As those numbers indicate, Ort has struggled when it comes to missing bats so far this year. According to Baseball Savant, the hard-throwing righty ranks in the second percentile of all big-league pitchers in whiff rate (15.7 percent), the 21st percentile in chase rate (24 percent), the 35th percentile in barrel rate (9.3 percent), and the 37th percentile in hard-hit rate (41.9 percent). Not ideal.

With that being said, the Red Sox still remain intrigued by Ort’s arsenal, which at present consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a low-90s changeup. Pitching coach Dave Bush alluded to as much when speaking with reporters (including’s Christopher Smith) last weekend.

“A lot of it is command,” Bush said. “Being able to put the ball where he wants to. We do like the stuff. We still like it. The fastball quality’s there. The slider shape is good. At times, the changeup has been a really effective pitch for him. But the command has been off. Pitching behind in the count and putting too many guys on base.

“The message we sent to him is to get down and work on his delivery so he can throw the ball where he wants to,” added Bush. “Because we do like the stuff. The stuff is still big. He’s still a power guy. But he has to command the ball where he wants to and throw more strikes. That was the directive when he went down and there’s some things to work on in Worcester to get back to being the guy we know he can be.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Kaleb Ort to Triple-A Worcester ahead of Chris Martin’s return from injured list

The Red Sox optioned reliever Kaleb Ort to Triple-A Worcester following Saturday night’s 8-7 win over the Guardians, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

By optioning Ort, the Red Sox have cleared a roster spot for fellow reliever Chris Martin, who is expected to be activated from the 15-day injured list ahead of Sunday’s series finale against Cleveland.

Ort, 31, has posted a 7.30 ERA and 6.27 FIP with 12 strikeouts to six walks in 12 relief appearances spanning 12 1/3 innings of work out of the Boston bullpen so far this season. The right-hander last pitched against the Orioles on Tuesday, allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits (two home runs) in just one-third of an inning.

When Ort entered that game in Baltimore, the Red Sox had an 8-1 lead over the O’s. By giving up five runs and only recording one out, Ort forced manager Alex Cora to bring in closer Kenley Jansen, who notched the save and secured an 8-6 win by retiring the only two batters he faced.

Though the Red Sox remain intrigued by Ort’s arsenal, particularly his upper-90s fastball, the righty has yet to find success on a consistent basis at the big-league level. He will now look to sort things out in Worcester, where he pitched to a 2.88 ERA in 39 appearances (40 2/3 innings) last year.

Martin, meanwhile, was placed on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation on April 16 (retroactive to April 13). The 36-year-old underwent an MRI after reporting arm discomfort, but the results revealed only inflammation as opposed to any sort of structural damage.

As such, Martin was never expected to be out of action for too long. After dealing with a stomach bug earlier this week, the veteran hurler made a rehab appearance for the WooSox at Polar Park on Friday night and allowed two unearned runs on two hits in one inning of work.

“I feel like I got what I needed [from the rehab outing] and today I feel good,” Martin told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier at Fenway Park earlier Saturday afternoon. “I’m starting to feel better. I’ve just got to keep with the process and keep working on the tedious things.”

Martin, who turns 37 in June, signed a two-year, $17.5 million with the Red Sox back in December. Prior to going on the injured list, he posted a 2.57 ERA and 5.06 FIP with two strikeouts and one walk through his first seven outings (seven innings) of the season.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Garrett Whitlock, Justin Turner power Red Sox to 2-1 win over Angels

Behind a strong start from Garrett Whitlock and one swing of the bat from Justin Turner, the Red Sox won their third straight over the Angels on Sunday afternoon. Boston defeated Los Angeles by a final score of 2-1 at Fenway Park to get back to .500 at 8-8 on the season.

Whitlock, making his second start of the year for the Sox, put forth a superb effort. The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts over seven fast-paced innings of work.

That lone run came in the top of the second. After Anthony Rendon led off with a double and moved up to third, Whitlock surrendered an RBI single to Brandon Drury to give the Angels an early 1-0 lead. The inning ended shortly thereafter, as Connor Wong gunned down Drury at second base to retire the side.

Fast forward to the bottom of the third, and Alex Verdugo reached base on a one-out single off Angels starter Reid Detmers. Verdugo promptly stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for Turner, who delivered by crushing a 386-foot two-run shot over the Green Monster for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

Turner’s blast, which left his bat at 103.2 mph, put Boston up, 2-1. Whitlock then took over by retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced from the beginning of the fourth through the middle of the seventh, at which point his day came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (61 strikes), Whitlock becomes the first Red Sox starter to pitch into the sixth (and seventh) inning of a game this season. The 26-year-old hurler also picked up his first winning decision of the year while lowering his ERA to 4.50.

With six more outs to get, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was put in a precarious position in regards to his bullpen. Because Kenley Jansen (who had pitched two straight days) and Chris Martin (who had just been placed on the injured list) were both unavailable, Cora turned to Kaleb Ort in the eighth.

Ort gave up a leadoff single to Gio Urshela and issued a one-out walk to Drury. After getting Logan O’Hoppe to fly out, Ort ended the inning by picking off the pinch-running Brett Phillips at second base. Ryan Brasier followed by striking out Mike Trout and getting Shohei Ohtani to fly out as part of a 1-2-3 ninth inning to end it.

Brasier’s first save of the season put the finishing touches on a a Red Sox win that took all of one hour and 57 minutes to complete.

Yoshida returns to lineup

After missing the last four games with light hamstring tightness, Masataka Yoshida returned to Boston’s lineup on Sunday. Dropped down to sixth in the order and serving as the Sox’ designated hitter, Yoshida went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning.

Wong strikes again

By snuffing out Brandon Drury at second base to end the top of the second, Connor Wong has now thrown out four of six possible base stealers to begin the year.

Next up: Bello goes up against Ohtani in season debut

Brayan Bello will come off the injured list and make his season debut for the Red Sox in Monday’s series finale against fellow right-hander Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Marathon Monday is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Justin Turner: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Kaleb Ort from restricted list, call up Josh Winckowski in series of roster moves

Before falling to the Blue Jays by a final score of 10-0 at Rogers Centre on Saturday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, reliever Kaleb Ort was reinstated from the restricted list while right-hander Josh Winckowski was recalled from Triple-A Worcester. In order to make room for Ort and Winckowski on the active roster, righty Tyler Danish and outfielder Jarren Duran were both optioned following Friday night’s game.

Ort was initially placed on the restricted list on Friday due to the fact that he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Since Canada dropped its vaccine mandate for visitors on Saturday, however, the 30-year-old hurler was able to join the Red Sox in Toronto for the second game of their three-game series against the Jays.

Though he was not used in Saturday’s defeat, Ort carries with him a 6.26 ERA and 4.91 FIP to go along with 27 strikeouts to 15 walks over 24 relief appearances (27 1/3 innings) for Boston this season.

Winckowski, meanwhile, was used out of the bullpen on Saturday. The 24-year-old rookie made the first relief appearance of his major-league career and his first overall appearance since September 4. He allowed three runs on six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts across three innings.

Of the 56 pitches Winckowski threw, 36 went for strikes. According to Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 202-pounder induced seven swings-and-misses and topped out at 96.5 mph with his sinker, a pitch he threw 22 times.

As for who the Red Sox sent down, Danish struggled mightily on Friday night. The 28-year-old surrendered four earned runs on five hits and three strikeouts and now owns a 5.13 ERA (4.97 FIP) on the 2022 campaign as a whole.

Duran, on the other hand, was called up to take the place of Ort on Friday. The speedy 26-year-old went 1-for-4 with a single in his fourth — and possibly final — big-league stint of the season before being optioned on Saturday.

Both Danish and Duran will remain on Boston’s taxi squad for the remainder of the road trip in Toronto. The Red Sox are now carrying 14 pitchers and 14 position players on their 28-man roster.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kaleb Ort on restricted list, call up Jarren Duran from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have placed reliever Kaleb Ort on the restricted list. In a corresponding move, outfielder Jarren Duran was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced before Friday’s series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Ort is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and is therefore unable to enter Canada legally. That mandate will be dropped by the Canadian government on Saturday, however, so the right-hander will be able to join the Red Sox in Toronto for the final two games of the series at Rogers Centre.

In 24 relief appearances for Boston this season, Ort has posted a 6.26 ERA and 4.91 FIP to go along with 27 strikeouts to 15 walks over 27 1/3 innings of work. The 30-year-old hurler picked up the first save of his big-league career in Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Rather than replace Ort with another pitcher, the Red Sox opted for a position player in Duran. The speedy 26-year-old missed Boston’s last trip to Toronto due to his unvaccinated status, but he has since received the shots and traveled with the team to Canada on Thursday.

In his first major-league action since late August, Duran will bat leadoff and start in center field for the Red Sox on Friday. The left-handed hitter is currently slashing .220/.283/.365 with 14 doubles, three triples, three home runs, 17 RBIs, 23 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 14 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 57 games (219 plate appearances) this season.

With Duran on the active roster for the time being, the Sox will be carrying catcher Ronaldo Hernandez, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, and right-handers Bryan Mata and Josh Winckowski on their taxi squad.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez belts game-winning homer as Red Sox take series from Orioles with 5-3 victory

The Red Sox fell behind early, battled back, and blew a late lead. But they still held on for a series-clinching victory over the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore, 5-3, to extend its winning streak to three and improve to 75-81 on the season.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his first start since August 12, pitched well in his return from the injured list. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

Both of those Orioles runs came in the top of the third. Following back-to-back singles from Kyle Stowers and Jorge Mateo to lead off the inning, Stowers scored from third by avoiding Connor Wong’s tag on an Adley Rutschman groundout. Anthony Santander then hit a grounder in the direction of Triston Casas, who booted the ball. The fielding error allowed Mateo to score from third to double his side’s lead at 2-0.

The Sox pulled back even with Baltimore in their half of the fourth. J.D. Martinez reached base on a one-out double off Orioles starter Mike Baumann. Casas then made up for his previous mistake by roping a 330-foot double off the Green Monster that plated Martinez to make it a 2-1 game. Enrique Hernandez followed with a run-scoring single of his own to bring in Casas and knot things up at two runs apiece.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (51 strikes). He did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season down to 4.05.

In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo recorded the final out of the fifth and also sat down the side in order in the top of the sixth. A half-inning later, Boston got to Orioles reliever Cionel Perez.

Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive single and promptly advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He moved up an additional 90 feet on a Casas single and then raced home when Christian Arroyo grounded out to third base.

With a brand new one-run lead in hand, Matt Strahm almost immediately gave that up in the seventh when Stowers took him 399 feet deep to right-center to tie the score at 3-3.

Following a scoreless top of the eighth from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox again responded. With one out and one runner on, Martinez came through with a clutch two-run homer on the very first pitch he saw (a hanging slider on the inner half of the plate) from Dillon Tate.

Martinez’s 14th home run of the season left his bat at 100.1 mph and travelled 392 feet into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 5-3 lead going into the ninth. There, Kaleb Ort worked his way around a two-out single to notch the first save of his big-league career. Kelly was credited with his first career win as well.

Offensively, Verdugo, Martinez, and Casas accounted for six of Boston’s nine hits. Verdugo went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Martinez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Casas went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk.

Next up: Final road trip to Toronto

The Red Sox will now head to Toronto for their final road trip of the season. It comes in the form of a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Native Canadian Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in Friday’s series opener opposite fellow righty-hander Alek Manoah.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Abraham Almonte and Alex Verdugo both homer, Rich Hill fans 9 over 6 scoreless innings as Red Sox defeat Orioles, 3-1

In rather uneventful fashion, the Red Sox won their second straight over the Orioles on Wednesday night. Boston bested Baltimore by a final score of 3-1 to improve to 74-81 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 25th start of the year, pitched well for the Sox. The veteran left-hander scattered five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work.

The Red Sox provided Hill with an early lead. After Rafael Devers ripped a one-out ground-rule double off Orioles starter Dean Kremer, Alex Verdugo followed by lacing a run-scoring single to center field to get his side on the board first in the first inning.

Two innings later, Abraham Almonte took the fourth pitch he saw from Kremer and drilled a 421-foot solo shot to right field for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Hill ended his night by retiring the final three batters he faced in order. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with exactly 100 pitches (67 strikes) and induced 15 swings-and-misses. He also picked up his eighth winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.41.

Shortly after Hill put an end to the top of the sixth, Verdugo led off the bottom half by sneaking a 331-foot liner past Pesky’s Pole for his 11th home run of the season. It left his bat at 102.6 mph and gave Boston a 3-0 lead heading into the seventh.

In relief of Hill, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier needed just 10 pitches to get through a scoreless seventh inning. Kaleb Ort, on the other hand, served up a solo homer to Robinson Chirinos to begin the eighth before settling down and retiring the next three Orioles he faced.

Matt Barnes was responsible for the ninth inning. The righty allowed two runners to reach base but ultimately held on to secure the 3-1 victory while also notching his sixth save of the year.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Baumann in series finale

The Red Sox will look to take this four-game series from the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi, who last pitched on August 13, will be activated from the injured list to make his penultimate start of the season for Boston. Baltimore will counter with fellow right-hander Michael Baumann.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello runs into sixth-inning trouble as Red Sox drop opener to Orioles, 3-2

The Red Sox were unable to put end to their three-game losing streak with a series-opening win over the Orioles on Friday night. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 3-2 at Camden Yards to drop to 67-72 on the season.

Matched up against O’s starter Austin Voth to begin things on Friday, the Sox left a runner on base in each of the first two innings before getting on the board in the third.

Connor Wong led off with a hard-hit double and it seemed as though Boston was about to squander another scoring chance after Tommy Pham struck out and Alex Verdugo lined out. But Xander Bogaerts kept the inning alive by cranking a two-run home run 379 over the shallow fence in right field.

Bogaerts’ 13th home run of the season gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead. Brayan Bello, meanwhile, was in the midst of his seventh start of the year for Boston.

The rookie right-hander wound up allowing three earned runs on three hits and four walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work, though he pitched better than that line indicates.

Thanks to some poor baserunning decisions from Cedric Mullins, Bello faced the minimum without giving up a run through his first four frames. After walking a pair in a scoreless bottom of the fifth, Bello ran into more substantial trouble in the sixth.

Mullins was at the root of it, as he reached base via a one-out single. Bello then issued back-to-back walks to Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander to load the bases. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to emerge from the visitor’s dugout and give Bello the hook in favor of fellow righty Kaleb Ort.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (49 strikes), Bello induced a total of 17 swings-and-misses while mixing in 30 four-seam fastballs, 22 changeups, 21 sliders, and 14 sinkers. The 23-year-old hurler averaged 96.4 mph with his four-seamer. He was charged with his fifth loss of the season as his ERA rose to 5.79.

Ort officially closed the book on Bello’s night, but not in a good way. He allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a wild pitch and a two-run single off the bat of Gunnar Henderson. Ort got through the rest of the sixth unscathed, though the damage had already been done.

Going from a two-run lead to a one-run deficit, the Sox threatened to score in their half of the seventh. After Verdugo drew a two-out walk and advanced to second base on a Bogaerts single, the potential tying run was just 180 feet away for Rafael Devers. Devers, however, could not come through against Orioles reliever Cionel Perez, as he popped out to shallow left field.

Following a scoreless bottom of the seventh from Zack Kelly, J.D. Martinez reached base in the eighth on a out-single. Rob Refsnyder pinch-ran for Martinez and moved up to second on a Triston Casas groundout. He then advanced to third after Enrique Hernandez reached on a fielding error. But Dillon Tate, who committed the error, got the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire to strike out swinging to strand Refsnyder at third base.

Matt Barnes put up another zero in the eighth to keep the deficit at one going into the ninth. Verdugo got the tying run on base by beating out a one-out infield single. Bogaerts then grounded into a routine 6-4-3 double play to end it.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 5-8 against the Orioles and 18-40 against divisional opponents on the season. They went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left 10 runners on base as a team.

Martinez’s milestone

With his second-inning single, J.D. Martinez recorded the 1,500th hit of his big-league career. Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk on Friday, currently ranks 22nd among the active major-league leaders in hits.

Next up: Wacha vs. Lyles

The Red Sox will look to put an end to their four-game losing streak on Saturday. Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston while fellow righty Jordan Lyles is expected to do the same for Orioles.

First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello runs out of gas in fifth inning as Red Sox drop opener to Twins, 4-2

The Red Sox opened a three-game series against the Twins on Monday by losing their second straight game. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 4-2 at Target Field to drop to 62-67 on the season.

Matched up against Dylan Bunday to begin things on Monday, the Sox got on the board first in their half of the third inning. Tommy Pham reached base via a one-out single and promptly scored all the way from first on an Alex Verdugo RBI double that traveled 341 feet to left field.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Xander Bogaerts single and had the chance to tag up when Rafael Devers lined out to Max Kepler in right field. But he remained at third base and was stranded there after J.D. Martinez struck out swinging.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk off Bundy and quickly went from first to third on a Franchy Cordero single that had an exit velocity of 112.7 mph. Cordero, like Story, moved up to third on another one-out double from Reese McGuire. But Pham grounded out Verdugo punched out, meaning the Sox would have to settle for one run yet again.

That would prove to be costly for Brayan Bello, who was making his fifth start and seventh overall appearance of the season for Boston. The rookie right-hander pitched well out of the gate, tossing three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth.

Bello put himself in a tough spot when he allowed each of the first three batters he faced in the inning to reach base. He then gave up a sacrifice fly to Jake Cave, but managed to limit the damage in the fourth to just the one run despite throwing 29 pitches.

The same cannot be said about the fifth inning. After the Sox left runners on the corners in the top half, Bello issued back-to-back walks to begin the bottom half. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to give Bello the hook in favor of Matt Strahm.

Strahm, in turn, got Kepler to ground out to McGuire before yielding a bases-filling walk to Jose Miranda and striking out the pinch-hitting Kyle Garlick on six pitches. With the right-handed hitting Gio Urshela due to hit next for Minnesota, Cora swapped Strahm for John Schreiber.

Urshela won the righty-on-righty battle, as he connected on a 3-2, 83.1 mph slider from Schreiber and roped a bases-clearing, three-run double to the right field corner. That gave the Twins their first lead of the night at 4-2 and that is where the score would stay.

Bello was charged with three of those runs while Strahm was tagged for one. For Bello, the 23-year-old wound up allowing three earned runs on five hits, three walks, and two strikeouts over four-plus innings of work. He threw 84 pitches (51 strikes) in the process of raising his ERA on the season to 7.27. The Red Sox have yet to win a game he has pitched in.

Following that disastrous fifth inning, the Twins bullpen took over by limiting Red Sox hitters to one hit — a single — over the final 4 1/3 frames of Monday’s loss.

On the flip side, the two relievers Boston called up to take the place of Austin Davis and Hirokazu Sawamura pitched relatively well. Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort have grown accustomed to following one another out of the bullpen in Worcester. On Monday, they got to experience that for the first time at the major-league level.

Kelly, making his big-league debut, needed just 18 pitches (10 strikes) to face the minimum in a scoreless sixth inning. The 27-year-old struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Luis Arraez. But that was quicky negated after Arraez was gunned down at second base by McGuire.

Ort, meanwhile, scattered two walks and two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work to keep the deficit at two runs. It proved to be for naught, though, as Twins closer Jorge Lopez made quick work of the Sox in the ninth to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. At 62-67, they now sit eight games back of the Blue Jays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Crawford vs. Archer

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Twins on Tuesday night. Kutter Crawford is expected to start for Boston while fellow right-hander Chris Archer is slated to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: David Berding/Getty Images)