Tanner Houck gives up pair of home runs to Matt Olson as Red Sox get shut out by Braves, 8-0

The Red Sox were held to just six hits in the process of getting shut out by the Braves on Friday afternoon. Boston fell to Atlanta by a final score of 8-0 at JetBlue Park to drop to 10-6-4 in Grapefruit League play.

Tanner Houck, making his fourth start of the spring for the Sox, allowed four earned runs on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. The right-hander ran into trouble right away in the top of the first when he served up a towering solo shot to Braves first baseman Matt Olson.

After settling in and holding Atlanta to just that one run through four innings of play, Houck experienced additional struggles in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double to old friend Kevin Pillar. Ozzie Albies then drove in Pillar with a one-out single before Olson doubled his side’s lead with a mammoth two-run blast to deep right field.

Olson’s second homer of the afternoon put the Braves up, 4-0. Houck retired the next batter he faced in Austin Riley for the second out of the fifth, and that is how his day would come to a close. The 26-year-old finished with 81 pitches and now owns a 5.68 ERA across 12 2/3 innings this spring.

In relief of Houck, minor-leaguer Aaron Perry received the first call out of the Boston bullpen. Perry allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base before ending things in the fifth. Kenley Jansen, who was responsible for the sixth inning, yielded a leadoff single to Braden Shewmake but left him on base by retiring the next three batters he faced.

Ryan Brasier took over for Jansen in the seventh and surrendered one run on three hits. In the eighth, Kaleb Ort only managed to record one out while getting shelled for three runs on five hits — the first two of which were back-to-back home runs. Skylar Arias sat down the only two Braves he faced in the eighth before Ryan Sherriff struck out two in a scoreless top of the ninth.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been completely held in check. Braves starter Jared Shuster got himself out of a bases loaded jam in the first by punching out Bobby Dalbec. Shuster put up three more zeroes before giving up a leadoff single to Greg Allen in the fifth. The New Bedford native was then given the hook in favor of Nick Anderson, who immediately got Niko Goodrum to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and followed that up by retiring Christian Arroyo.

Fast forward to the seventh, Dalbec reached base on a one-out triple off Michael Tonkin but was left there after Reese McGuire flew out and Allen grounded out. A similar situation arose in the eighth, as Nick Sogard reached on a leadoff single off Jackson Stephens before advancing to third on a two-out double from Corey Rosier. Both Sogard and Rosier, however, were stranded in scoring position after Narciso Crook struck out swinging.

Down to their final three outs in the latter half of the ninth, Rob Refsnyder was hit by a pitch, Marcelo Mayer lined out to deep center field, Caleb Hamilton grounded into a force out at second base, and Tyler Dearden flew out to center to put the finishing touches on an 8-0 loss.

Next up: Split-squad action

The Red Sox will have a split squad on Saturday as they host the Orioles at JetBlue Park and travel to St. Petersburg to take on the Rays at Tropicana Field.

At home, Kutter Crawford will get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Grayson Rodriguez for Baltimore. On the road, righty Josh Winckowski will get the ball for Boston while left-hander Shane McClanahan will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game at JetBlue Park will be broadcasted on NESN+ while the game at Tropicana Field will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Sun.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Chris Sale fans 5 over 3 scoreless innings as Red Sox come up short in 4-3 loss to Twins

For the first time this spring, the Red Sox have lost back-to-back games. After coming up short against the Blue Jays on Friday, Boston fell to the Twins by a final score of 4-3 at Hammond Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Sale pitched well for the Red Sox in his second start of the spring. The veteran left-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with five strikeouts over three scoreless innings of work.

That lone hit came in the form of a two-out single from Donovan Solano in the bottom of the first inning. From there, Sale retired the next seven batters he faced through the end of the third, which is where his day would come to a close. The 33-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 32 (24 strikes) while topping out at 95.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also induced seven swings-and-misses, per Baseball Savant.

While Sale was in the midst of a strong effort on the mound, the Red Sox put up a three-spot off Twins starter Tyler Mahle in the top half of the second. Bobby Dalbec led off the inning by lacing a 109.5 mph double to right field. He then moved up to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single off the bat of Reese McGuire.

McGuire was able to tag up to second on a Niko Goodrum flyout and then scored from there on a David Hamilton single. Hamilton, ever the speedster, proceeded to steal second base and take third on a throwing error committed by Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers. He remained at third before Adam Duvall plated him on a two-out bloop single that landed in the infield grass.

Taking a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning, Kenley Jansen got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Sale. Jansen, making his first in-game appearance since last Saturday, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth. He also came back out for the fifth and, after recording the first out, served up a 351-foot solo homer to Jeffers for Minnesota’s first run of the day.

Jansen was then relieved by minor-leaguer Brendan Cellucci, who issued a one-out walk to Max Kepler before allowing Kepler to score on a Michael A. Taylor RBI single. The left-handed Cellucci minimized the damage, though, as he got Andrew Bechtold to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

The Red Sox had an opportunity to build their lead back up in the top of the sixth after Hamilton, Greg Allen, and Adam Duvall all reached base. With two outs in the inning, however, Twins reliever Cole Sands was able to prevent the floodgates from opening by fanning the pinch-hitting Eddinson Paulino on four pitches.

The Twins capitalized on Boston’s inability to score in the following half-inning. Joely Rodriguez, the third lefty of the day for the Red Sox, yielded back-to-back doubles to Yoyner Fajardo and Jose Miranda to lead off the sixth. Miranda, who tied the game with his two-base hit, then scored what would prove to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kyle Farmer.

From that point forward, the Red Sox lineup was not able to do much offensively. After Rodriguez got the first out of the seventh and John Schreiber sat down all five batters he faced through the end of the eighth, Boston went down quietly against Blayne Enlow in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a 4-3 defeat.

With the loss, which took two hours and 22 minutes to complete, the Red Sox drop to 9-2-3 in Grapefruit League play and 11-2-3 in all competitions this spring. They will have to wait until March 22, when they next take on the Twins, for their next shot at taking home the 2023 Chairman’s Cup.

Other worthwhile observations:

Christian Arroyo went 2-for-3 with two singles on Saturday. The 27-year-old is now batting .360 (9-for-25) in nine games this spring.

Dalbec, McGuire, and Hamilton recorded multiple hits as well. Allen, who reached base twice by drawing two walks, and Hamilton combined for five stolen bases.

Next up: Split-squad action

The Red Sox will have a split squad on Sunday as they host the Yankees at JetBlue Park and travel to Sarasota to take on the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.

At home, Tanner Houck will get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Yoendrys Gomez for New York. On the road, Kutter Crawford will take the mound for Boston while fellow righty Grayson Rodriguez, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will toe the rubber for Baltimore.

First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game taking place at JetBlue Park will be broadcasted on NESN+.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kenley Jansen works scoreless third inning in spring debut as Red Sox, Astros once again play to 4-4 tie

For the second time in four days, the Red Sox and Astros played to a 4-4 tie in Grapefruit League action. After it happened in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, a winner could once again not be determined in Saturday afternoon’s contest at JetBlue Park.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start of the spring for Boston, lasted just 1 1/3 innings against Houston. The right-hander came into camp still on the mend from a recent bout with COVID-19 and displayed his rustiness on Saturday by allowing three earned runs on five hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts.

After retiring the first two batters he faced in the top of the first, Pivetta gave up a groundball single to Jake Meyers and followed that up by serving up a two-run home run to Corey Julks. He got through the rest of the inning unscathed but ran into more trouble in the second by surrendering three straight singles to lead things off.

Pivetta struck out the next two batters to keep the bases loaded, but he then balked to bring in Rylan Bannon from third and issued a walk to Chas McCormick to refill the bases. Jake Faria came in for Pivetta and managed to escape any further damage by getting Jake Meyers to ground out to Rafael Devers at third.

Still, it was not a productive day for Pivetta, who needed 43 pitches to record five outs. That being said, the Red Sox lineup promptly came to life in their half of the second inning by putting up a three-spot against Astros starter Shawn Dubin.

Triston Casas led off with a single and Jorge Alfaro followed with a double. Jarren Duran then drew a walk to fill the bases for Rob Refsnyder, who plated Casas and moved Alfaro and Duran up an additional 90 feet with an RBI groundout. With one out and runners at second and third, Raimel Tapia came through with a game-tying, two-run double to left field that pulled Boston back even with Houston at three runs apiece.

The Red Sox and Astros then traded zeroes for the next five innings. Kenley Jansen made quick work of Houston in his spring debut by retiring the side in order in the top half of the third. The veteran closer did not commit a single pitch clock violation, either. Fellow free agent addition Chris Martin was responsible for the fourth inning. He worked his way around two walks and struck out one in a scoreless frame.

Josh Winckowski took over for Martin in the fifth and collected four strikeouts while scattering two hits and two walks to the 12 batters he faced across three more scoreless innings. Oddanier Mosqueda saw Boston’s run of five consecutive shutout frames come to an end when he surrendered a two-out RBI single to Zach Daniels in the top of the eighth.

Shortly after that go-ahead run crossed the plate for the Astros, though, the Red Sox quickly responded in their half of the inning. Niko Goodrum and Enmanuel Valdez each singled with one out to put runners on the corners for Daniel Palka. Palka, in turn, drove in the tying run (Goodrum) with a sacrifice fly to right field.

In the ninth inning of a 4-4 contest, Cam Booser faced the minimum in the top half for Boston and Cesar Gomez did the same for Houston in the bottom half. That is how the game, which ultimately took two hours and 36 minutes to complete, ended.

Other notable numbers:

Duran, who drew two walks and scored one run, was the only member of the Red Sox lineup to take ball four on Saturday.

By going 1-for-2 with that two-run double on Saturday, Tapia is now batting .357 (5-for-14) with four doubles in five Grapefruit League games this spring. He is currently tied for the team lead in doubles and is tied for third with nine total bases.

Next up: Kluber vs. Rogers

At 5-0-3, the Red Sox will close out the first weekend of March by hosting the Marlins in Fort Myers on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to start for Boston opposite Miami left-hander Trevor Rogers. This is the same pitching matchup we saw in Jupiter last Tuesday.

First pitch from JetBlue Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers, Masataka Yoshida among 12 Red Sox players who will take part in 2023 World Baseball Classic

The Red Sox will have 12 major- and minor-leaguers representing their respective countries/territories in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which gets underway next month.

Rafael Devers (Dominican Republic), Masataka Yoshida (Japan), Enrique Hernandez (Puerto Rico), Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran (Mexico), Nick Pivetta (Canada), Richard Bleier (Israel) and Kenley Jansen (Netherlands) make up 20 percent of Boston’s current 40-man roster.

Jansen, who signed a two-year, $32 million deal with the Red Sox in December, is on Netherlands’ roster but only as a member of their designated pitcher pool, meaning the veteran reliever will not be eligible to join the team during pool play.

Ceddanne Rafaela, one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system, was expected to play for the Netherlands, but the 22-year-old out of Curacao was instead omitted from the team’s final roster.

Trevor Story originally committed to play for the United States last July but took himself out of consideration for a roster spot by undergoing an internal bracing procedure on his right elbow last month. As a result, the Red Sox have no representation on Team USA. It should be noted that while both Verdugo and Duran were born in the United States, they are of Mexican-American descent.

Turning to the minor-league side of things, Jorge Alfaro and Rio Gomez will both play for Colombia. Alfaro signed a minors pact with the Red Sox last month and received an invite to big-league spring training. Gomez, on the other hand has been in the organization since being taken in the 36th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of Arizona.

Edwin Diaz will join Hernandez in representing Puerto Rico after signing a minor-league deal with Boston in January. The 27-year-old infielder had been playing for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series before they were eliminated by Mexico on Wednesday.

Norwith Gudino is the Sox’ lone representative from Venezuela. The 27-year-old right-hander inked a minor-league contract with the Red Sox in December and — in similar fashion to Jansen — is part of his country’s player pool.

The 2023 World Baseball Classic begins on March 8. Pool play runs through March 15 and the quarterfinals take place from March 15-18. The semifinals run from March 19-20 and the championship game will be held at loanDepot Park in Miami on March 21.

Before that all happens, the Red Sox will take on Puerto Rico in an exhibition game at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on March 8. Team Puerto Rico will also train at the Fenway South complex prior to the start of the tournament.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade Hoy Park to Braves for a player to be named later or cash considerations

The Red Sox have traded infielder/outfielder Hoy Park to the Braves in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, the club announced on Friday.

Park, 26, was originally acquired from the Pirates last month in a trade that sent pitching prospect Inmer Lobo to Pittsburgh. The native South Korean was designated for assignment for the second time this offseason when the Red Sox needed to clear a 40-man roster spot in order to make the signing of closer Kenley Jansen official on Tuesday.

After spending the last three days in DFA limbo, Park now finds himself with his third organization of the winter and the fourth of his professional career. The former Yankees prospect first broke in with New York in 2021 before being traded to Pittsburgh with Diego Castillo for All-Star reliever Clay Holmes last July.

Park appeared in 44 games for the Pirates down the stretch last season and batted .197/.299/.399 with three home runs, 14 RBIs, and 16 runs scored. The left-handed hitter spent most of this past season in Triple-A and only managed a .216/.276/.373 line with two homers, six RBIs, and seven runs scored across 23 games (60 plate appearances) with the big-league club in Pittsburgh.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Park — who turns 27 in April — has proven to be quite versatile during his brief time in the majors, as he has already appeared in at least one game at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and first base. The Red Sox were intrigued by Park’s ability to play multiple positions, but ultimately decided to move on despite the fact that he has two minor-league options remaining.

The Red Sox and Braves will now have the next six months to decide on which Atlanta minor-leaguer will be dealt to complete this deal. If the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, the Braves will send cash to the Red Sox.

(Picture of Hoy Park: Joe Puetz/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Kenley Jansen signing official, designate Hoy Park for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed closer Kenley Jansen to a two-year contract that runs through the 2024 season, the club announced on Tuesday. In order to make room for Jansen on the 40-man roster, infielder/outfielder Hoy Park was designated for assignment.

Jansen, 35, agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with Boston last week and was introduced to the media at Fenway Park earlier Tuesday afternoon. The veteran right-hander is slated to anchor a new-look Red Sox bullpen that will include other recent additions like Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez as well as Matt Barnes and John Schreiber among other setup options.

Since seeing Craig Kimbrel depart in free agency at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, the Red Sox have used 20 different pitchers to record saves over the last four seasons. Jansen, who currently ranks eighth in American/National League history with 391 career saves, will look to provide manager Alex Cora with more stability in the ninth inning moving forward.

After a decorated 12-year tenure with the Dodgers in which he he made three All-Star teams and saved 350 games from 2010 to 2021, Jansen spent the 2022 season with the Braves. The Curacao native converted a National League-best 41 of 48 saves for Atlanta while posting a 3.38 ERA and 3.21 FIP with 85 strikeouts to 22 walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 64 innings of work.

Jansen, who does not turn 36 until next September, will wear the No. 74 with the Red Sox, meaning catcher Connor Wong will have to find a new uniform number.

Park, on the other hand, was acquired from the Pirates late last month in exchange for pitching prospect Inmer Lobo. The 26-year-old originally broke in with the Yankees last July prior to being dealt to Pittsburgh in a trade that sent All-Star reliever Clay Holmes to New York.

In 23 games with the Pirates this past season, Park went 11-for-51 (.216) with two doubles, two home runs, six RBIs, seven runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 15 strikeouts. Since debuting last summer, the left-handed hitter out of South Korea owns a career .201/.276/.373 slash line to go along with seven doubles, two triples, five homers, 20 runs driven in, 23 runs scored, two stolen bases, 22 walks, and 53 strikeouts over 68 career games (210 plate appearances) at the big-league level.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox were intrigued by Park’s versatility, as the 6-1, 200-pounder already has accrued major-league experience at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and first base. Boston will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Park, who has the ability to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency since he has previously been outrighted in his career.

Following Tuesday’s announcement, the Red Sox now have 40 players on their 40-man roster. They will need to make another move once they are ready to announce the signing of Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to two-year, $32 million deal with veteran closer Kenley Jansen, per report

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $32 million contract with free agent reliever Kenley Jansen, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal — which is pending a physical — would pay Jansen $16 million in both 2023 and 2024, per The Boston’s Globe Alex Speier.

Jansen, 35, is a veteran of 13 big-league seasons who is best known for his time in Los Angeles. After spending the first 12 years of his career in Los Angeles, the right-hander signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Braves back in March.

In 65 relief appearances for Atlanta, Jansen posted a 3.38 ERA and 3.21 FIP to go along with 85 strikeouts to 22 walks over 64 innings of work. He also recorded a National League-best 41 saves in 48 opportunities and allowed one run in two outings against the Phillies in the National League Division Series.

A native of Curacao, Jansen originally signed with the Dodgers as a catcher in November 2004. He spent the first 4 1/2 seasons of his minor-league career behind the plate before transitioning to the mound midway through the 2009 campaign. The following July, Jansen made his major-league debut for Los Angeles.

It did not take long for Jansen to establish himself as one of the top relievers in baseball. He finished seventh in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 and registered his first season of 25 or more saves in 2012. From 2016-2018, the righty forged a 2.07 ERA and 2.29 FIP across 205 outings (208 2/3 innings) and made three consecutive All-Star teams. His 350 saves in a Dodgers uniform are the most in the franchise’s storied history.

Between Los Angeles and Atlanta, Jansen owns a lifetime 2.46 ERA and 2.44 FIP with 1,107 strikeouts to 226 walks over 766 relief appearances spanning 769 innings pitched. He ranks eighth in American/National League history with 391 career saves. In 10 separate trips to the postseason during that stretch, Jansen produced a 2.29 ERA over 59 total outings out of the bullpen.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Jansen operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of an elite cutter (his primary weapon), a sinker, and a cutter. This past season, he ranked in the 98th percentile of the league in expected batting average (.169), the 93rd percentile in expected slugging percentage (.292), the 93rd percentile in strikeout rate (32.7 percent), the 95th percentile in fastball spin, and the 93rd percentile in extension, according to Baseball Savant.

Jansen, who does not turn 36 until next September, does come with some concerns. Earlier this summer, he spent more than two weeks on the injured list due to an irregular heartbeat, which is something that has sidelined him in the past. He has had two cardiac ablation procedures (2012 and 2018) to combat this issue.

With the addition of Jansen, the Red Sox have made it clear that bolstering the bullpen was one of the club’s top priorities this winter after Boston relievers finished with the second-worst ERA (4.59) in the American League this season. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have already signed left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year contract last month and agreed to terms on a two-year $17.5 million deal with righty Chris Martin last week.

Assuming he passes his physical, Jansen will become the first established closer the Red Sox have had since Craig Kimbrel left the club after winning the World Series in 2018. Jansen, Rodriguez, and Martin are slated to join a bullpen mix that is highlighted by the likes of Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, John Schreiber heading into 2023.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)