Red Sox Relievers Combine To Toss 6 2/3 Scoreless Innings en Route To 5-3 Victory Over Nationals

The Red Sox bounced back from an ugly 10-2 loss on Friday and were carried by their bullpen en route to a 5-3 victory over the defending World Series champion Nationals on Saturday.

Chris Mazza made his second start and third overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was recalled from Pawtucket on Saturday in a roster move that saw Nathan Eovaldi placed on the injured list.

Working 2 1/3 innings while facing the Nationals for the first time in his career, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Washington tallies came in the top half of the third, when after retiring six of the first nine hitters he faced, Mazza struggled to record a single out and instead allowed three runs to cross the plate on four hits and a walk before fanning Kurt Suzuki on five pitches, which actually marked the end of his outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (46 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider and cutter a combined 70% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 10 swings-and-misses with the two pitches. He also topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Hit with the no-decision due to the length of this outing, Mazza could be a candidate to get another start next time through the rotation, which would likely come against the Blue Jays late next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

In relief of Mazza, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was dispatched with runners on first and second and two outs to get in the top of the third, and he got those outs while dancing around a bases-loaded jam in between two swinging strikeouts.

From there, Phillips Valdez stranded two runners and punched out the side in a scoreless fourth inning, and he also put two more runners on and recorded two more outs in the fifth before Austin Brice came on and ended the frame with the help of Alex Verdugo’s seventh outfield assist of the season.

Brice got the call for the start of the sixth as well and kept the Nationals off the board while leaving another two base runners stranded.

Josh Osich, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes followed suit by combining to toss three shutout frames the rest of the way, with Barnes picking up his third save of the year courtesy of a seven-pitch groundout off the bat of Eric Thames to close out the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke used six different relievers on Saturday — Hernandez, Valdez, Brice, Osich, Brasier, and Barnes — and the six combined to twirl 6 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen. Not too shabby.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Nationals in Anibal Sanchez. This time around, though, the Boston bats had an easier time of getting runs on the board, and it started right from the jump in the bottom of the first.

There, an Alex Verdugo leadoff single and one-out double from J.D. Martinez put runners in scoring position for Xander Bogaerts, who took full advantage of that opportunity by swinging away at the first pitch he saw from Sanchez, an 89 mph four-seamer above the strike zone, and crushing a 440-foot three-run home run to left-center field.

Bogaerts’ seventh big fly of the season, which had an exit velocity of 106.3 mph off the bat, gave his side an early three-run advantage.

An inning later, the bottom of the lineup got it done this time, as Kevin Pillar led the second off with a hard-hit triple and came into score moments later on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI groundout. 4-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, after the Nationals had stormed back to make things interesting at 4-3, Pillar struck once more, collecting his second extra-base hit of the night off an 0-1, 89 mph fastball from Sanchez at the top of the zone. It just so happens that this extra-base knock was hit 435 feet over the Monster and was good for Pillar’s fourth big fly of 2020.

That solo blast gave the Red Sox a two-run edge at 5-3, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the starting nod for Boston, while fellow righty Austin Voth will do the same for Washington.

Under normal circumstances, Godley’s rotation spot may be in jeopardy here seeing how the 30-year-old owns an ERA of 11.17 over his last three starts going back to August 12. However, Godley may be safe regardless of how he performs on Sunday since the Red Sox do not have a great deal of starting pitching options at the moment.

In nine career outings (five starts) against the Nationals, the South Carolina native has posted a lifetime 5.53 ERA and .884 OPS against over 40 2/3 total innings pitched.

Voth, meanwhile, is coming off a start in which he surrendered six runs in less than four innings of work at home against the Marlins on August 24.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his career, but he does own a lifetime 3.52 ERA in six prior interleague outings that span 30 2/3 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win to close out the weekend.

Red Sox Strike Out 11 Times Against Max Scherzer, Fall To Nationals 10-2

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day four months later than usual on Friday night, the Red Sox fell to the Nationals by a final score of 7-1 at Fenway Park to drop to 10-22 on the year.

Martin Perez made his seventh start of the season for Boston in this one as he was coming off his best outing of 2020 thus far in his last time out against the Orioles.

Working just four innings this time around, the left-hander got rocked for six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and no walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first five of those Washington tallies came in the top of the third, when after retiring the first six hitters he faced rather easily, Perez yielded a leadoff single to Josh Harrison.

That simple base hit would wind up being Perez’s undoing, as it was followed by a pair of one-out doubles from Victor Robles and Trea Turner, which brought in two runs, and a pair of one-out home runs from Juan Soto and Howie Kendrick, which brought in three additional home runs to put the Sox in a 5-0 hole.

In the fourth, the Venezuelan southpaw saw another Nationals run cross the plate when with two outs in the frame, runners on the corners, and Juan Soto at the plate, the speedy Trea Turner attempted, and failed, to steal second base, but gave Victor Robles enough time to score from third before getting tagged out to retire the side. That simultaneously marked the end of Perez’s evening as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cutter 35% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his heater, a pitch thrown 21 times.

Hit with his fourth losing decision while raising his ERA on the season to 4.58, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Braves on Wednesday or Blue Jays on Thursday depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Perez, right-hander Robert Stock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he faced the minimum in a scoreless top of the fifth before surrendering one run on two hits, one of which was an infield single, and a walk in the sixth, which increased his side’s deficit to six runs.

From there, Jeffrey Springs, similarly enough to Stock, didn’t give up anything in his first frame of work in the seventh, but served up a two-run blast to Josh Harrison and an RBI double to Turner in the eighth before getting out of the inning. Josh Taylor, meanwhile, stranded a pair of base runners in an otherwise clean ninth to keep the Nats at 10 runs. It didn’t make too much of a difference in the end, but it was still something.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up their most accomplished opponent thus far in Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who was making his first appearance at Fenway Park since 2014.

Despite coming into the weekend with a 4.31 ERA through his first six starts of the season, the 36-year-old was dominant on Friday.

The only damage the Boston bats were able to do off Scherzer came in their half of the third inning.

There, after Alex Verdugo reached base on a two-out single, Rafael Devers drove the outfielder in on a blistering, 108 mph run-scoring double to the gap in left center field, which actually happened to be the 100th two-base hit of the 23-year-old’s young career.

Other than that, though, the Sox could not get anything going against Scherzer. Not even a single base on balls as the three-time Cy Young Award winner fanned 11 over six strong innings of work.

When Scherzer’s night ended after those six frames, the Washington bullpen didn’t make things any easier for the Red Sox, either.

As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until the bottom half of the ninth when Boston got on the board again. That came courtesy of a Kevin Pillar RBI single to drive in Tzu-Wei Lin.

Alas, even after loading the bases with two outs, Verdugo flew out to shallow center field, and 10-2 would go down as Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox are now 4-11 at Fenway Park this season.

The Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left eight runners on base as a team.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (.680) now has a higher OPS than J.D. Martinez (.663)

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend series against the defending World Series champs.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will be serving as the opener for Boston, while veteran righty and former Red Sox minor-leaguer Anibal Sanchez will be doing the same for Washington.

A roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza, who last started on August 16 against the Yankees, to the active roster.

Sanchez, meanwhile, will be making just his second career start at Fenway Park since debuting with the Marlins back in 2006.

Originally signed by Boston as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2001, the now 36-year-old Sanchez was part of the trade that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to the Red Sox in 2005.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

RIP, Chadwick Boseman.

Red Sox Lineup: Going up Against Nationals Ace Max Scherzer on Jackie Robinson Day

After deciding to postpone Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, the Red Sox will open up a 10-game homestand and three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Friday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his seventh start of the season for Boston, and he’ll be opposed by vaunted right-hander Max Scherzer for Washington.

Perez is coming off his best outing of the year in which he held the Orioles to one run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over seven strong innings of work last Saturday.

More significantly, the Venezuelan southpaw topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball. He credits that increase in velocity to a revamped weight-lifting routine.

In two lifetime starts against the defending World Series champion Nationals, Perez owns a career 6.30 ERA and .841 OPS against over 10 total innings pitched.

Scherzer, meanwhile, has not been at his best so far this season even though the Nationals are 4-2 in his six starts.

Through his first six outings of 2020, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a 4.31 ERA and 3.76 FIP over 31 1/3 frames of work.

Despite those somewhat surprising numbers, Scherzer does have a strong track record at Fenway Park, as the 36-year-old hurler owns a lifetime 3.13 ERA and .711 OPS against in five prior outings and 31 2/3 innings pitched in Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Scherzer to begin things on Jackie Robinson Day:

Among the nine hitters that make up this lineup we have grown accustomed to seeing, J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar have taken Scherzer deep twice before in their careers, while Mitch Moreland has one career homer off the Nats ace.

Also worth noting here is the fact that Alex Verdugo has two hits in three career at-bats while facing off against Scherzer, which is somewhat prevalent considering the 24-year-old is leading off for Boston in this one.

First pitch Friday, which again is Jackie Robinson Day, between the previous two World Series champions is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 11 in game No. 32.

Red Sox’ Kevin Pillar Pulling for Former Teammate Mike Yastrzemski To Win National League MVP With Giants

For much of the 2019 season, Kevin Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski shared the same outfield for the Giants.

Together, the pair shared the team lead for home runs with 21 apiece while Yastrzemski led San Francisco in slugging percentage (.518) and Pillar finished second right behind him in that category (.448).

In short, the two outfielders put together really solid seasons at the plate last year and they were able to forge a friendship out of it.

Just recently, Pillar reached out to Yastrzemski, who turned 30 on Sunday, to not only wish him a happy birthday via text, but to support the Andover native’s MVP case as well.

In case you have not been paying too much attention to the National League West this year, Yastrzemski entered Wednesday with a robust .293/.410/.612 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 23 RBI through the first 31 games of what is his first full big-league season.

With those numbers in mind combined with the fact that the 2020 campaign has already reached its halfway point, Yastrzemski looks like a legitimate NL MVP candidate, and as previously mentioned, Pillar let his former teammate know that the other day.

“I’ve talked to him as recently as two days ago. It was his birthday, I wished him a happy birthday,” Pillar said Wednesday in regards to his conversation with Yastrzemski. “We talked a little bit back and forth and I told him to go win the MVP and he answered very simply with ‘I’m going for it.’ And that’s the mindset he has and he believes in himself. He knows he’s a really good baseball player and he’s going out there showing the world everyday that he has the confidence and swagger to back it up. He truly believes he can be an MVP this season and I wish him nothing the best.”

In their brief time as teammates, Pillar may have seen a little bit of himself in Yastrzemski considering both were late-round draft picks out of college and both were traded away by their original organizations right around the same time last spring.

“He’s a perfect example of a guy that persevered through so much in the minor-leagues and maybe a lack of respect from some organizations or from numbers,” Pillar continued. “Whatever the reason was he wasn’t getting an opportunity in the big-leagues, he finally got it. It’s a perfect example of someone given an opportunity and running with it.”

Because he only made his major-league debut with San Francisco last year, Yastrzemski will not reach free agency until after the 2015 season, at which point the Vanderbilt product would already be 35 years old. That being said, Pillar is hopeful Yastrzemski can get paid soon.

“Hopefully, the Giants see what everyone else is seeing and hopefully, I know he’s a little bit older and younger in service time, hopefully he gets the opportunity to go out there and make some money for his family because he definitely deserves it. He’s shown he’s one of the best players in baseball right now and I couldn’t be happier for him.”

The grandson of Red Sox legend and Baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Yaz homered at Fenway Park in his first trip to Boston as a major-leaguer last September.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

Red Sox Top Prospect Jarren Duran ‘Definitely’ Making Developmental Strides in Pawtucket, Ben Crockett Says

Jarren Duran has been a professional baseball player for just over two years, and in that rather brief period of time has emerged as one of the top outfield prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

Coming off his first full minor-league season in which he slashed .303/.367/.408 with 212 total bases, 90 runs scored and 46 stolen bases in 132 games between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland in 2019, the California native received an invite to major-league spring training earlier this year and impressed there as well.

When the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced major-league clubs to shut down their spring training facilities in March and Minor League Baseball to cancel its season altogether in June, one may have thought prospects like Duran may have lost a step in the development process.

That did not happen, however, as the soon-to-be 24-year-old picked up where he left off in Fort Myers by showing out even more at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Monday, Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett acknowledged just how exciting Duran has been to watch over the last month-plus.

“Jarren’s made great progress,” Crockett said. “One of the reasons we wanted to bring him in here is because he’s a guy we obviously thought really highly of from the get-go. He made fast progress to get to Double-A in his first full season. And then in the offseason, he undertook a swing change, I think, to make him even better. What we saw in spring training 1.0 was really encouraging and showed great progress. For us, it was important for us to continue to see that and to continue to help him take those strides forward. I think he’s definitely done that.”

Duran himself addressed the changes he made during this past offseason and when speaking to reporters last Friday.

“Working on my swing with Lance everyday here, Lance Zawadski, and I worked with Doug Latta a little bit,” the outfielder said via a Zoom call. “Just my swing path and cleaning things up, making things much simpler than they used to be, and just having a simple approach. I kind of owe it to those guys because I come here everyday and I grind it out with Lance everyday. Everyday’s a struggle to find your swing. You can go home, not play baseball for a day, and it feels like you haven’t swung in two weeks.”

On his new-and-improved swing path that has resulted in somewhat of a power surge in Pawtucket, Duran attributed that to just how direct his approach at the plate is now.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say lowering my hands,” the Long Beach State product added. “I would just say I have a better path. I have more of a line to the ball and extension through the ball and I’m not coming through the zone and getting outs super quickly. I think lowering my hands helps because my hands always come up. If I can keep them low, they’re just naturally going to come up for me. But, I think just keeping a direct path has really been my success.”

As Duran mentions, making a change that disrupts old habits or routines can be extremely frustrating, but given how much improvement the 2018 seventh-round draft pick has shown this year in light of those changes, it may very well be a sign that there are even more encouraging things to come. Crockett brought this point up, or at least the opening part of it, on Monday.

“Anytime you’re doing something that’s a little bit new or different than what you were doing in the past, it takes a number of reps to get that ingrained, to become natural,” he said. But, I think anything from a mechanical standpoint, it certainly comes down to reps and refining it and continuing to really hone in on exactly what’s going to be the right fit for the individual.”

With the help of Zawadski, a former minor-leaguer-turned-assistant hitting coach for the Portland Sea Dogs out of Framingham, and Latta, a renowned hitting instructor based in southern California, Duran may have unlocked some potential that could make him an even better prospect than he already was.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is certainly impressed with what Duran has to offer, saying last Wednesday that “he’s spent a lot of time working on his body from a physical standpoint and that’s looked great.”

All that being said, don’t expect a major-league call-up for Duran anytime soon even though outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar are both on expiring contracts. For one, Duran is not on Boston’s 40-man roster, which is not too huge of a deal but is still a factor nonetheless.

Secondly, as Bloom puts it, “one of the worst things you can do, especially if you’re doing it because you’re unsatisfied with the on-field product at the big-league level or you want to get a jolt…sometimes the worst thing you can do is take shortcuts in a player’s development. That can lead to short-term results that are not which you want and it can also lead to long-term difficulties.”

Red Sox Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘Should Be on Move’ Before Trade Deadline Passes, per Report

The Red Sox could trade Jackie Bradley Jr. before next week’s trading deadline, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Per Nightengale, the Sox “have let everyone know that there are no untouchables, meaning that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. should be on the move, but unlikely shortstop Xander Bogaerts.”

Bradley Jr., 30, is one of two Red Sox outfielders who will become free agents at the end of the season, with the other being Kevin Pillar.

After a hot start to 2020, Bradley Jr. has come back to earth and is currently slashing .235/.300/.358 to go along with two home runs and eight RBI through his first 25 games of the year. Both of those homers came in Baltimore this past weekend.

In terms of where he stands defensively, the 2018 Gold Glover ranks 10th in UZR/150 (-15) and 10th in Defense among qualified American League center fielders so far this season, per FanGraphs.

On a one-year deal that was originally worth $11 million but was brought down $4.074 million due to the shortened season, Bradley Jr. would only cost approximately $1.63 million for the month of September.

That being said, Bradley Jr. could prove to be a valuable addition for a contending club looking to shore up it’s outfield defense, especially if the former Gamecock were to get hot at the plate once more to close out the 2020 campaign.

Even if Bradley Jr. were to be productive for his new organization in this scenario, he likely would not fetch too hefty of a return considering the fact he would only be under team control for less than a full month not counting the postseason.

Over the weekend, the Red Sox were presumably able to get more in their trade with the Phillies by dealing Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent this winter, AND Heath Hembree, who is under club control through 2021, as well as cash considerations, in exchange for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom were to attempt to move Bradley Jr. and/or Pillar within the next week, would it be out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to attach a controllable player or a considerable dollar amount to sweeten the deal and garner a more significant return?

In other words, could the Red Sox use an expiring contract to essentially buy a well-regarded prospect? There was a chance of that happening over the winter, and it looks like it could happen for real before the end of the month. We’ll have to wait and see.

Red Sox Waste Strong Start From Martín Pérez, See Three-Game Winning Streak Snapped in First Extra-Innings Loss of Season To Orioles

The Red Sox got their first taste of Major League Baseball’s new extra-innings rules for 2020 on Saturday and in doing so saw their winning streak snapped at three games following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles in 10 innings.

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the year for Boston in this one, and he put together what was without a doubt his most impressive outing as a member of the Red Sox thus far.

Over seven quality innings of work, the left-hander yielded just one earned run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with a season-best six strikeouts on the night.

That lone Baltimore tally came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Perez served up a solo homer to Pat Valaika off a 1-1, 85 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

Other than that one blip though, Perez really got into a groove with the help of a few nifty plays from Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar.

From the middle of the third up until the conclusion of the sixth, the Venezuelan southpaw sat down 11 of 13 Orioles before running into a bit of trouble in the seventh.

There, Perez put runners at first and second with one out, and then runners at second and third with two outs, prior to retiring Ryan Mountcastle and Bryan Holaday in consecutive order to end his evening on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (62 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler was more aggressive in his approach on Saturday, as he turned to his cut-fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.8 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 16 times.

Unable to pick up the winning decision to no fault of his own while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.45, Perez’s next start should come against the Nationals back at Fenway Park sometime next weekend.

In relief of Perez, fellow lefty Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the eighth, and he allowed multiple runs in his second consecutive appearance after issuing a two-out walk to Hanser Alberto and getting taken deep to left field by Anthony Santander.

That rocket of a two-run home run saw Boston’s deficit get erased entirely, and Ryan Brasier had to come on to get his side out of the eighth with the 3-3 stalemate still intact thanks to the efforts of Christian Vazquez, who gunned down Andrew Velezquez at second base to end the inning.

From there, Brasier came back out for the ninth and danced his way around a two-out infield single and walk in an otherwise clean frame of work to send this one to extra innings.

In extras, Matt Barnes entered the 10th with his side up 5-4 and a runner, Rio Ruiz, already on second base, as the new rules for this season go.

Barnes, fresh off his first save in over a year on Friday, then yielded a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Cedric Mullins which Mitch Moreland fielded and unsuccessfully attempted to get Ruiz out at third.

With still no outs recorded and runners on the corners, Barnes proceeded to issue a wild pitch in the middle of his duel against Alberto, allowing Ruiz to score from third and knot things up at five runs apiece.

By reaching on an infield single to second, Alberto advanced Mullins 90 feet to third base, and an intentional walk of Santander filled the bases for Baltimore.

Because of that predicament, Boston brought in Jackie Bradley Jr. from center field and ran with a five-man infield from that point forward.

As cunning as that strategy may have been, it did not work out in the end, as Barnes got walked off on following a scorcher of a one-out, game-winning single from Pedro Severino.

Again, one night after picking up his first save of 2020, Barnes was charged with his second loss and second blown save of the year as the O’s took this one by a final score of 5-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Orioles veteran right-hander Alex Cobb, who held the Sox to one run in his season debut back on July 25.

This time around, the Boston bats were again held in check by Cobb, but only up until the fifth inning.

There, Bradley Jr. kicked off the scoring for his side by crushing his first home run of the year 402 feet to dead center field off a one-out, 2-1, 92 mph heater at the top of the zone from Cobb.

Jose Peraza followed that solo blast with a hard-hit, ground-rule double to left-center field that nearly left the park itself, and the second baseman was quickly driven in from second when the red-hot Alex Verdugo picked up his second extra-base hit of the contest on an RBI two-bagger that split the gap in right-center field.

An inning later, the middle portion of the Sox lineup got to new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, with Moreland and Vazquez reaching on a one-out walk and single, and Kevin Pillar plating Moreland from second on a softly-hit run-scoring infield single. Just like that, the Sox had themselves a two-run lead at 3-1.

Alas, that 3-1 edge would not prove to be enough in the end, as Baltimore tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, which resulted in Boston playing in their first extra-innings game this year.

In the 10th, with Verdugo already on second since he recorded the last out of the ninth, three straight one-out walks drawn by J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Moreland off of Cole Sulser allowed the Sox outfielder to score from third and make it a 4-3 game.

Despite having the bases loaded with two outs to work with in the 10th, the Red Sox could not make anything of that golden opportunity against right-hander Miguel Castro, and after the Orioles walked it off in their half of the frame, 5-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 runners on base as a team.

Alex Verdugo extended his season-best hitting streak to 13 consecutive games on Saturday. He also picked up his league-leading fifth outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the 9-19 Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while left-hander Wade LeBlanc will do the same for Baltimore.

Godley has yet to face the Orioles this season. LeBlanc, meanwhile, surrendered four runs to the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 26.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for the series win.

Red Sox Lineup: Mitch Moreland Returns as Boston Seeks Series Win Over Orioles

After stringing together their fist three-game winning streak of the season following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox will look to improve to 10-18 on the season with another win in Baltimore on Saturday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will make his sixth start of the year for Boston, and he will be opposed by veteran right-hander Alex Cobb for Baltimore.

The 29-year-old Perez is coming off a rain-shortened outing in his last time out against the Yankees in which he surrendered three earned runs over three innings of work.

On the season as a whole, the Venezuelan southpaw owns a 4.07 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, and a .665 OPS against through five outings and 24 1/3 total innings pitched.

In four prior starts at Camden Yards, Perez has yielded 14 runs (12 earned) on 24 hits and five walks over 25 total frames. That’s good for a 4.32 ERA.

Cobb, meanwhile, has made three of his five starts this season in Baltimore and owns an ERA of 4.60 and OPS against of .691 in those outings.

Back on July 25, the 32-year-old opposed Perez in his first outing of the year and held the Sox to just one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings on the mound.

Including that strong start, Cobb has posted a 3.73 ERA in 18 career outings against Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up against Cobb and behind Perez to begin things on Saturday:

Outside of the fact that Alex Verdugo has moved back up to the leadoff spot and Kevin Pillar has slipped down to the seven-hole, there really is not too much to point out here. Mitch Moreland is also back in the lineup with a right-hander on the mound for Baltimore.

Among these nine hitters, Moreland, Pillar, and J.D. Martinez have all taken Cobb deep once before in their careers, while Christian Vazquez has accrued 10 hits and collected two RBI in 14 prior at-bats against the Orioles righty.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win over the O’s as well as their fourth straight win overall.

Powered by Home Runs From Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers, Red Sox Extend Winning Streak To Three Following 8-5 Victory Over Orioles

On a night they made their first move before the trade deadline, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to a season-best three consecutive games on Friday following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles.

Colten Brewer made his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he looked much better than he did in his first career start against the Yankees last week.

That being the case because over four strong innings of work, the right-hander held the O’s scoreless while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Brewer ran into came in the bottom of the first, when he yielded two straight two-out singles to Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino before getting out of the inning unscathed.

Other than that, Brewer proceeded to retire eight of the final 11 hitters he faced going into the end of the fourth, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (50 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of his outing, Brewer did manage to lower his ERA on the season to 3.50. If he gets another start, it will likely come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in what was his 2020 debut.

The 23-year-old southpaw faced eight batters over two scoreless frames of work, allowing one hit, walking another, and fanning three on his way to picking up his first career major-league victory.

From there, fellow lefty Josh Osich got lit up for five runs on three separate homers over 1 2/3 innings before Austin Brice had to come on and record the final out of the eighth.

And in the ninth, with Brandon Workman on his way to Philadelphia, Matt Barnes got the call to close this one out, and the right-hander did just that by maneuvering his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean inning to secure his first save and his team’s ninth win of the season in 8-5 fashion.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles ace left-hander John Means, who entered Friday with a 10.57 ERA through his first three starts of 2020.

After going down 1-2-3 in their half of the first, the Boston bats got it going in the second inning for a second straight night when a red-hot Xander Bogaerts led the frame off with a 412-foot solo shot to give his side an early one-run lead.

An inning later, the middle part of the Sox lineup struck once again, when after Kevin Pillar reached base on a one-out single, J.D. Martinez drove the outfielder and himself in on a 431-foot two-run blast to center field for his third homer of the year. 3-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the fifth, with reliever Jorge Lopez pitching for Baltimore, Rafael Devers put his power on display and had by far the best swing of the night.

With one out and runners at first and second, the 23-year-old took a 1-0, 85 mph changeup down the chute from the O’s right-hander and proceeded to deposit it 447 feet to dead center.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fourth big fly of the year had an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, which was the hardest hit ball of the evening for either side. It also put the Red Sox up 6-0.

In the sixth, Michael Chavis provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Lopez following back-to-back leadoff base knocks off the bats of Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo.

Chavis’ sixth and seventh RBI of the season put the Red Sox up 8-0, and 8-5 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

With two hits on Friday, Alex Verdugo has extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Rafael Devers has six hits in his last three games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game weekend set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Alex Cobb will do the same for Baltimore.

Perez surrendered five runs (four runs) to the O’s in his Red Sox debut back on July 25. The 29-year-old has made four career starts at Camden Yards and owns a 4.32 ERA and .698 OPS against in those outings.

Cobb, meanwhile, held the Sox to just one run in that same game Perez started in July. The 32-year-old, who was born in Boston, comes into the weekend with a 3.76 ERA and .634 OPS against through his first five starts and 26 1/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their fourth straight victory.