Red Sox Falter in Sixth Inning, Fall To Phillies 13-6 as Losing Streak Grows To Nine Consecutive Games

Another night, another venue, another opponent, and another loss for the Red Sox on Tuesday. This one came in 13-6 fashion at the hands of the Phillies at Fenway Park, marking the Sox’ ninth consecutive defeat to drop them to 6-18 on the year.

Zack Godley made his fourth start and fifth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, and he looked significantly better than he did in his last time out against the Rays on Wednesday.

That being the case because over four innings of work, the right-hander held the Phillies to just one run on four hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Philadelphia’s lone run off Godley came in a laborious top half of the fourth, when with one out in the frame the Sox starter allowed three straight base runners to reach, with the last of those three, Jay Bruce, plating Didi Gregorius on an RBI single to right field.

Fortunately, Godley was able to dance his way around any more trouble, as he retired the final two hitters he faced to end his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84, 49 of which were strikes, the 30-year-old hurler turned to his cutter and curveball 83% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches. He also topped out at 91.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to just three times.

Hit with the no-decision on account while lowering his ERA on the season to 6.87, Godley likely did enough here to earn himself another start, which would presumably come against the Orioles on Sunday.

In relief of Godley, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the fifth, and he served up a solo homer to Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins in an otherwise clean frame of work.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor made his second appearance in as many days after getting activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Monday, and he was only able to record the first two outs of the inning while allowing the Phillies to come back and knot this contest up at four runs apiece.

With that, Heath Hembree was dispatched to get out of the mess Taylor had created, but the right-hander was only able to dig a bigger hole for his side by serving up a 409-foot three-run blast to Bryce Harper and a run-scoring base hit to Gregorius before getting the hook in favor of Colten Brewer.

Brewer did manage to end things in the sixth without yielding anything else, but he did give up a leadoff home run to Phil Gosselin in the seventh, which put the Phillies up 10-4 an inning after they had been trailing 4-2.

Marcus Walden did not fare much better in the eighth, as he could not sneak a two-out, 1-1, 91 mph cutter past Jay Bruce, who deposited that pitch just over the wall in center field for another three-run home run. 13-5.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, faced five hitters in the ninth but did not give anything up to keep the deficit for his side at eight runs. It did not make all that much of a difference in the end, but still.

All in all, the Boston bullpen combined to allow 12 earned runs on 12 hits (four home runs), and two walks over five innings pitched on Tuesday. Not exactly what you want.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup absent of Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. was matched up against someone making his first ever start at Fenway Park in the form of Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin.

Getting the scoring right away on Tuesday, Rafael Devers got a nice day at the plate started with a one-out single off Eflin in the first and was almost immediately driven in by Xander Bogaerts moments later. 1-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the third, and the top portion of the Sox lineup struck once more, as Alex Verdugo led things off with a wall-ball double to left, and Devers plated him on an RBI double of his own.

J.D. Martinez proceeded with yet another run-scoring two-base hit, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-0 lead.

In the fifth, after the Phillies had tacked on two runs of their own, Bogaerts provided what looked to be important insurance at the time with a sacrifice fly off new reliever Blake Barker that brought in Verdugo from third.

Bogaerts’ second RBI of the night put the Sox up 4-2, but as it would later turn out, that would be the last lead they held on Tuesday as the Philadelphia offense went off the rest of the way.

Mitch Moreland got a run back on a run-scoring single in the seventh, and another on a run-scoring double in the ninth, but it would not be enough as 13-6 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

J.D. Martinez was removed from this game in the fifth inning due to dehydration.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Michael Chavis struck out five times in his five plate appearances on Tuesday.

Next up for the Red Sox, they will close out this brief two-game interleague series and homestand against the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will make his second start of the season for Boston, while veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta will get the ball for Philadelphia.

Hart, 27, is coming off a rough major-league debut against the Rays at Fenway last Thursday in which he surrendered five earned runs on seven hits and four walks in just two-plus innings pitched in an eventual loss.

The Red Sox are sticking with the rookie southpaw for at least one more start despite that shaky debut though, so perhaps that will give him a boost ahead of his first career interleague outing.

Arrieta, meanwhile, has posted a 4.02 ERA and 3.37 FIP through his first three starts and 15 2/3 innings of the 2020 season.

In six career appearances (five starts) at Fenway Park, the 34-year-old owns a lifetime 4.45 ERA and .755 OPS against over 30 1/3 total innings pitched.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox looking to avoid extending their losing streak to double digits.

Sloppy Red Sox Commit Four Errors, Can’t Avoid Four-Game Sweep in 17-8 Loss to Rays

In a game that saw a drone delay, two position players pitch, and one utilityman catch, the Red Sox were on the wrong side of a 17-8 blowout against the Rays at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Kyle Hart made his major-league debut and his first career start for Boston to close out this series and, even without fans in the stands and his brother watching from the Bleacher Bar in center field, had a tough go of things.

That being the case because in just two-plus innings of work, the rookie left-hander yielded seven runs, five of which were earned, on seven hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top of the first, when after Mike Brosseau led off with a walk and Jose Martinez reached base on a fielding error committed by Jonathan Arauz, Hart gave up a pair of RBI singles to Yandy Diaz and Willy Adames to put his side in an early two-run hole.

A scoreless second inning made it appear as though Hart was beginning to figure it out on the mound, but even after getting a one-run lead to work with, things took a turn for the worse for the southpaw in the third.

There, a leadoff walk drawn by Diaz, followed by back-to-back home runs off the bats of Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe, as well as three more hits from Adames, Manuel Margot, and Yoshi Tsutsugo, resulted in the Rays jumping out to a 6-3 advantage before Hart got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke earlier than he would have liked to.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (44 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his sinker and slider a combined 56% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses with the slider alone. He also topped out at 91.2 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Charged with his first loss in his first career start, Hart’s status is up in the air, as Roenicke told reporters postgame that the Red Sox “are not exactly sure” if the hurler will get another start.

In relief of Hart, right-hander Phillips Valdez was dispatched with three outs to get in the third. And he got those outs, but not before allowing one of the runners he inherited to score on an RBI forceout.

From there, like Hart before him, Valdez was also the recipient of some shoddy defensive work from the infielders playing behind him.

Upon giving up leadoff single to Diaz, the lanky righty induced a soft grounder off the bat of Hunter Renfroe, which was promptly fielded by the charging Rafael Devers. Rather than make an apt throw over to second for the force out though, Devers airmailed the throw into right field, allowing Diaz to reach third and Renfroe to reach first safely.

The ever-dangerous Lowe took full advantage of that mishap, as the Rays second baseman laced a sharp RBI single through the middle of the infield to drive in Diaz and make it an 8-4 second.

Just a few moments later, Devers was once again tested when Margot batted another soft grounder towards the hot corner. Once more, the 23-year-old picked the ball with his bare hand cleanly, but rushed his throw to Mitch Moreland over at first and the ball wound up by the tarp in foul territory. That, of course, gave Renfroe plenty of time to score from second. 9-4.

Tsustgo increased his side’s advantage even more with a sacrifice fly to right field, and the Rays were up by six runs just like that to no fault of Valdez, really.

That point was emphasized again an inning later, when Valdez retired the only three hitters he faced in the fifth before making way for Marcus Walden in the sixth.

Similarly enough to Hart three innings prior, Walden could not record a single out in his sixth appearance of the season. He instead served up two home runs, one of which being an absolute bomb to Kenmore Square from Renfroe, one triple, two singles, and one walk to the six hitters he faced by the time he was replaced by Josh Osich.

The lefty entered in a 16-5 game, and he kept it that way by recording the final three outs of the sixth in 1-2-3 fashion before punching out the side in a scoreless top of the seventh.

Heath Hembree made his first appearance since last Saturday by coming on for the eighth, and he fanned a pair in another shutout inning of relief.

In the ninth, we got our first and second position player pitching sightings of the season for the Red Sox when Jose Peraza took the mound after starting the game at second base. The 26-year-old allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, but then to add insult to injury, took a 105 mph comebacker from Lowe off his right knee, which marked the end of his evening.

Having to turn to another position player, Kevin Plawecki took the mound while Tzu-Wei Lin, yes, Tzu-Wei Lin, was put behind the plate.

The veteran backstop walked one and recorded two outs thanks to some nifty glove work from Alex Verdugo in left field, but it was too little too late.

On the other side of things, a Xander Bogaerts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow to begin things on Thursday.

Down by a pair of runs before even getting the chance to take their first at-bats, the Boston offense quickly erased that deficit with an RBI single from Devers and a two-run double from Plawecki.

By the time this one had reached the midway point of the third, the Sox’ deficit had grown to five runs, but the red-hot Jonathan Arauz cut into that by lacing a two-out, two-run double to right field, bringing in J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to make it a 7-4 contest. The 22-year-old’s first career extra-base hit.

An inning later, Martinez picked up from where he left off on Wednesday with another run-scoring double off Glasnow. This one came with two outs in the fifth and brought in Peraza from second. 10-5.

As it would later turn out, five runs is the closest the Red Sox would get to the Rays from the start of the sixth inning on.

By the time Boston got on the board again in the ninth, Tampa Bay already had a 17-5 edge. But at least three straight two-out hits from Michael Chavis, Kevin Pillar, and Plawecki brought in three more runs to make the final score look a little bit closer at 17-8, right?

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

Michael Chavis has nine hits in his last seven games and has bumped his OPS on the season up to .892.

Kevin Plawecki is 9-for-19 (.474) with six RBI to begin his Red Sox career.

Jonathan Arauz has eight hits in his last four games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as the club is about to embark on a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx.

It will be a bullpen game for Boston in the series opener for Boston on Friday, while New York will turn to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.

 

 

 

Red Sox Lineup: Xander Bogaerts Starts Day on Bench Due to Lower Half Fatigue in Series Finale Against Rays

In the finale of a four-game series against the Rays and a seven-game homestand on Thursday, the Red Sox will be sending rookie left-hander Kyle Hart to the mound for what will be his major-league debut.

Opposing Hart will be right-hander Tyler Glasnow for Tampa Bay. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has gotten off to a slow start this year, posting a 5.56 ERA and 5.27 FIP through his first three starts and 11 1/3 innings pitched of 2020.

In three outings against the Red Sox last year, Glasnow allowed a total of four earned runs over 15 total innings of work. That’s good for a 2.40 ERA and a .648 OPS against, for what it’s worth.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up against Glasnow and behind Hart on Thursday evening:

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the reason Xander Bogaerts is being held out of the lineup is because he “has some fatigue in his lower half” and Sox manager Ron Roenicke “wanted to give him a rest.” The All-Star shortstop is available off the bench, however, and he will be in the lineup against the Yankees on Friday night.

Bogaerts had cooled off at the plate over the past week or so (3-for-his-last-16), so perhaps this bit of rest will come at an opportune time for him.

With Bogaerts out of the lineup to at least begin things on Thursday, Jose Peraza will start at shortstop, while Jonathan Arauz, who has six hits in his last nine at-bats, will slide in over at second.

Also worth pointing out, Kevin Plawecki, who is 7-for-his-first-14 this year, will be catching Hart while Christian Vazquez gets the day off.

Per MLB.com’s game longs, Plawecki caught Hart once during the first version of spring training back on February 28.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to avoid the four-game sweep before hopping on a flight to Newark.

Jonathan Arauz’s Three-Hit Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Come up Short in 8-7 Loss to Rays

In a back-and-forth nine-inning contest that took nearly four-and-a-half hours to complete, the Red Sox came up just short in an 8-7 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Ryan Brasier served as the opener for Boston in this one, and in doing so made his first career major-league start. The right-hander stranded two base runners and recorded one strikeout in a scoreless first inning. That was it for him.

From there, Colten Brewer was dispatched as the “bulk inning” guy out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the second, and he surrendered three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the night.

The first of those three Tampa Bay tallies scored off Brewer came on a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single in the top of the second that could have been a double had it not been for Kevin Pillar gunning the speedster down at second base in the same sequence. The other two runs were pushed across with one out in the fourth, when Brewer served up a two-run single to Michael Perez. Again, the damage could have been even worse since Perez himself nearly scored moments later, but was instead nabbed at the plate off an Austin Meadows double.

Marcus Walden was next up for the start of the fifth, and he managed to only record two outs while walking a pair and yielding one run on a Joey Wendle RBI triple.

Upon giving old friend Manuel Margot a free pass on four straight balls, the righty was given the hook by Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

Springs, coming off back-to-back scoreless outings out of the Boston bullpen, regressed a bit on Monday in that he escaped the fifth inning unscathed, yet conceded three runs while only being able to record three more outs on 51 total pitches (34 strikes) before Roenicke had finally seen enough.

With no outs in the seventh, a runner on second, and his side in a 7-5 hole, the Sox skipper turned to Phillips Valdez, who was able to get out of that mess before allowing a run of his own to score on three straight two-out hits and a walk in the eighth.

That all set up the recently-recalled Dylan Covey for the top of the ninth, and in what was now an 8-7 contest, the right-hander faced the minimum three batters to keep the deficit at one run. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still a somewhat positive development.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar face in the form of Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who had just started against Boston back on August 5 at Tropicana Field.

This time around, the Sox bats got to Yarbrough early once more, with Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki all coming through with back-to-back-to-back run-scoring plays in their half of the first. That early rally resulted in a 3-0 advantage for the home side.

In the third, J.D. Martinez, who had scored one of those runs in the first, followed an Alex Verdugo groundout by taking a 2-2, 84 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Yarbrough and crushing it 425 feet over everything in left field for his long-awaited first home run of the 2020 season. The solo shot put the Red Sox up 4-1 headed into the fourth.

Flash forward all the way to the sixth, after the Rays had bounced back to take a 5-4 lead, Chavis led things off against tight-hander Chaz Roe by lacing a double down the left field line and was promptly driven in by Plawecki on an RBI single. 5-5.

That stalemate did not last long though, as Tampa Bay jumped out to an 8-5 lead in their half of the eighth, which meant the Sox had more work to do on the offensive side of the ball. And that they did.

Down to their final two outs in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Jonathan Arauz came to the plate, already with the first and second hits of his major-league career under his belt, with the bases loaded and Jose Alvarado on the mound for the Rays.

After watching the first two pitches go by, the 22-year-old took a 97 mph slider on the outer half of the plate and ripped what would turn out to be a two-run single to an empty patch of grass in left-center field.

Arauz’s third hit of the night brought his team within one run of the Rays at 8-7. Alas, any shot at another rally fell short in the ninth, and 8-7 would go on to be Monday’s final score. What a doozy.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-4 with that home run and one RBI on Monday. Kevin Plawecki also went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set against the Rays on Tuesday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while Andrew Kittredge, who picked up the save for the Rays on Monday, will open for Tampa Bay.

Perez put together five solid shutout innings in his last time out against the Rays at Tropicana Field on August 5. He’ll be going for his first home win of the season.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI.

Red Sox Waste Big Offensive Nights From Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers in Soul-Crushing 9-7 Loss to Yankees

In their highest-scoring game since Opening Day, the Red Sox still found a way to lose to the Yankees on Sunday night, as they fell to the Bronx Bombers by a final score of 9-7 and were unable to avoid getting swept by their division rivals.

Utilizing the opener strategy in this one, the Sox first turned to right-hander Austin Brice on Sunday, who was technically making his first career major-league start although he only pitched a scoreless first inning while walking two and striking out the side.

From there, left-hander Matt Hall, who served as an opener for Boston last week, had a tougher time of things from the middle of the second on. That being the case because the 27-year-old served up a three-run blast to Aaron Judge in his first frame of work and back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles to Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela in his second.

Heath Hembree was next up, and after tossing a perfect bottom of the fourth, the veteran righty got taken deep by Luke Voit on a two-out solo shot in the fifth. At the time, Voit’s homer pulled the Yankees back even with the Sox at 6-6.

The Boston offense was able to tack on another run in between Marcus Walden’s two shutout frames of relief in the sixth and seventh, but things took a turn for the worse for the Red Sox bullpen in the bottom of the eighth.

There, Matt Barnes entered with his side up one run at 7-6, got the first two outs of the inning rather easily, and then walked Mike Tauchman, the Yankees’ No. 9 hitter, on five pitches.

As the saying goes, “walks will haunt,” and that walk certainly would come back to haunt Barnes later on.

With New York’s lineup turning back over, Tauchman took off for second base with D.J. LeMahieu at the plate and got to the bag safely. Having to deal with a runner in scoring position now, Barnes couldn’t sneak a 2-2, 96 mph fastball past the Yankees second baseman and instead gave up a game-tying, run-scoring single back up the middle. 7-7.

It would have been one thing if Barnes managed to escape the eighth with the 7-7 stalemate still intact, but the ever-dangerous Judge had other ideas in mind.

Arguably the girthiest No. 2 hitter in baseball, the Yankees slugger took a 2-0, hanging 84 mph curveball from Barnes and deposited it 468(!) feet to the bleachers in left field.

That soul-crushing missile of a two-run home run put the Yanks up 9-7, which would ultimately go on to be Sunday’s final score as Barnes was hit with his first loss and blown save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in the form of Yankees southpaw James Paxton.

With the Canadian-born Paxton on the hill, the Boston bats actually got on the board in the first inning for the first time all weekend when after J.D. Martinez reached base on a two-out double that could have been caught, Xander Bogaerts crushed his second big fly of the season 386 feet to right-center field to put his side up two early on.

In the third, more damage off Paxton came when Kevin Pillar led things off with a ground-rule double and came around to score moments later on a Rafael Devers RBI base knock to right.

A Martinez strikeout followed by consecutive one-out, run-scoring singles off the bats of Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez brought in two more runs, and the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 lead just like that.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck once more, this time taking Yankees reliever Michael King 437 feet to left-center field for his second dinger of the evening. 6-5 Boston.

And in the seventh, it was Devers’ turn to put his pull-side power on display, as he watched King hang a 2-1, hanging changeup on the inner half of the plate and proceeded to send it all the way to the right field bleachers, or more specifically, 427 feet away from home plate.

Devers’ long-awaited first long ball of the new season looked to be the all-important go-ahead hit in this one as it put the Sox up by one run at 7-6. A las, as previously mentioned, the Yankees staged a rather soul-crushing comeback in their half of the eighth, and 9-7 would go on to be your final score. Red Sox get swept.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox are 3-7 through their first 10 games of 2020.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Despite the loss, Rafael Devers had an impressive night on both sides of the ball.

10 games into the season, the Red Sox have one of the worst records in baseball. Not great! It’s not a total surprise, but it’s still not great!

Anyway, the Sox have an off day on Monday before opening up a rare two-game set against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and left-hander Martin Perez are slated to start for Boston, while right-hander Charlie Morton and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough are lined up to do the same for Tampa Bay.

This will be the first of two trips to St. Pete for the Sox this season. They won 60% of their games at Tropicana Field in 2019.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Enjoy the off day.

Red Sox’ Jonathan Lucroy Clears Waivers, Gets Outrighted to Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket

Three days after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy cleared waivers and was subsequently outrighted to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket on Saturday.

Lucroy, 34, originally inked a minor-league deal with Boston back in February and was one of three backstops to make the club’s Opening Day roster late last month.

That being said, even despite enjoying a fair amount of success during spring training and Summer Camp, Lucroy got the short end of the stick in terms of playing time behind Christian Vazquez, as Kevin Plawecki emerged as the Sox’ true backup.

Prior to getting DFA’d, the two-time All-Star appeared in just one regular season game for Boston as a defensive replacement on Opening Day and never got an at-bat.

Now, after no other team put in a claim for him, Lucroy will remain with the Sox organization as serviceable roster depth at the catching position if he so chooses. Of course, seeing how he has accrued more than nine years of major-league service time, it would not shock me if Lucroy has the choice to become a free agent, either. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

For the time being, as the above tweet states, the Red Sox have 60 players in their 60-man club player pool.

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?

Matt Hall Struggles in First Career Start as Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight

For the fourth right in a row, the Red Sox gave up seven-plus runs while scoring four or fewer runs in an 8-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Mets at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Matt Hall made his first career big-league start for Boston in this one, and unlike originally planned, he did not pitch five full innings. Instead, the 27-year-old only made it into the third while giving up three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Mets tallies scored off Hall came in his second inning of work when the former Tigers hurler served up a one-out RBI double to Robinson Cano and moments later, a two-out, two-run single to Amed Rosario. Just like that, the Sox found themselves in an early hole.

Hall did manage to escape the second without yielding anything else and also recorded the first two outs of the third, but a four-pitch walk of Michael Conforto put an end to his evening as manager Ron Roenicke gave him the hook in favor of Austin Brice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51 (32 strikes), Hall relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 51% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing one swing and miss while topping out at 89.8 mph with the pitch. If the Missouri State product does get another start, it would likely come against the Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Hall, as previously mentioned, the right-handed Brice entered with two outs in the third and fanned old friend Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches to retire the side. From there, the ex-Marlins reliever proceeded to sit down four of the next five Mets he faced, but a one-out single off the bat of Jeff McNeil in the fifth put an end to that impressive run.

J.D. Davis followed McNeil’s single with a cheap Fenway Park two-run homer off of Pesky’s Pole, which inflated the Sox’ deficit to four runs at 5-1.

With that, in came Colten Brewer for Boston, and he impressed with four punchouts over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief headed into the middle of the seventh. Unfortunately, Brewer’s admirable effort did not rub off on Ryan Brasier, as the 32-year-old got walloped for three runs on three hits and a walk in the eighth, which put his side in an even deeper hole at 8-2.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman came on for his 2020 debut, and he worked his way around a leadoff single while facing the minimum three batters thanks to a 5-4-3 double play that came off a Cespedes grounder.

A las, as nice as it was to see Workman in a regular season game for the first time since last September, his effort was not enough for the Red Sox to mount a comeback in this one, as 8-3 would go on to be your final.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another hurler making his first career major-league start in the form of Mets left-hander David Peterson, who was actually drafted by Boston in 2014 but instead opted to attend the University of Oregon.

Once again trailing by multiple runs early on, the Sox’ first run of the night off Peterson came in rather confusing fashion in the bottom half of the third.

There, with one out and the bases loaded, Rafael Devers grounded out to Robsinson Cano at second base, although to the naked eye, it almost looked like he lined out. Keeping that in mind, Andrew Benintendi, who was at second, saw Cano flip the ball to Amed Rosario for the force out at second, then proceeded to take off for third and wound up in the middle of a rundown while Kevin Plawecki, who was at third, scored his side’s first run of the night in the midst of all the madness.

All in all, what looked to be a promising inning for the Boston bats came to a premature conclusion, but not before one run was able to cross the plate at least.

Fast forward to the sixth, and a pair of two-base hits from Devers and Kevin Pillar off Peterson cut the Sox’ deficit to three at the time as the former drove in the latter with two outs in the frame.

Nothing more came of that opportunity, though, and the only other run Boston pushed across the plate was essentially one of the garbage time variety in the ninth, when with one out and Hunter Strickland on the mound for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. scored Pillar from third on an RBI groundout.

That made it an 8-3 game in favor of the Mets, and that was that.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers has four hits in his last three games so that is definitely a step in the right direction.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as this home-at-home bout against the Mets shifts to Queens. That being the case because back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom will be getting the start for New York in Wednesday’s series opener.

Fortunately enough, Boston will be countering with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who through one turn through the rotation has put together the best outing of any Red Sox starter in the team’s lone win of the year thus far.

The Red Sox are 1-4. The season is already more than 8% of the way over. It’s time to turn things around. First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

 

Kevin Plawecki on Having Three Catchers on Red Sox’ Roster: ‘Whoever Is Back There, Obviously the Main Goal Is to Win’

When Kevin Plawecki signed with the Red Sox back in January, he may have thought he had the backup catcher spot in the bag seeing how his new club had recently traded away Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez was the only other backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster.

Things remained that way headed into spring training at Fort Myers, but the Sox’ catching outlook changed when former All-Star backstop Jonathan Lucroy inked a minor-league deal with Boston on February 19.

Given his track record, self-proclaimed improved health, and history with new Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Lucroy appeared to have had the upper hand over Plawecki if Boston was only going to carry two catchers going into the 2020 season.

Of course, that was when the 2020 season was supposed to begin in late March. The ongoing, worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has since pushed Opening Day for a truncated, 60-game season to July 24 for the Sox, and with clubs being allowed to carry 30 players for the first two weeks of the season, both Plawecki and Lucroy are likely locks to make the team.

Prior to the pandemic-induced layoff, the pair of veteran backstops were swinging the bat well during Grapefruit League play. Even after a nearly-four-month break, that much has remained true thus far at Summer Camp in Boston.

More specifically, Plawecki went 3-for-3 at the plate in the Sox’ intrasquad contest at Fenway Park on Thursday. He seemed to have been pleased with how things have gone so far at camp when speaking to reporters via Zoom once his day had ended.

“It kind of clicked for me,” Plawecki said in regards to his approach at the plate after a few rough outings to start things out. In terms of where his offense is at right now, the 29-year-old said he “feels good.”

One obstacle that has emerged for Plawecki as a result of the layoff was that he essentially had to learn an entirely new pitching staff twice, as what he had picked up during spring training basically became more obsolete over time prior to the start of Summer Camp earlier this month. Still, the Indiana native was more than ready to “embrace” that challenge.

On the notion that the Red Sox will carry three catchers to at least begin the season, Plawecki put team results ahead of individual performance, saying, “Whoever is back there, obviously the main goal is to win that day.”

And even if he is not playing consistently, the former first-round pick of the Mets says he’s planning to “stay ready every day,” and whenever he is in the starting lineup, “go out there and do my best.” 

With 60 games to play this season, one in which Plawecki likened to a “college baseball sprint to the finish,” it will be interesting to see how the Red Sox divide up playing time between the three catchers that will presumably make their Opening Day roster.

In 296 games since making his major-league debut with the Mets in 2015, Plawecki has played 257 games at catcher and just four at first base. Out of those combined 261 games playing a defensive position, the Purdue University product has seen more than 98% of his playing time come as a catcher.

Lucroy, meanwhile, has played 1,068 games as a backstop and 44 as a first baseman in 11 big-league seasons. In other words, 96% of his playing time at a defensive position has come at catcher, and 4% has come at first base, if that makes any sense.

Vazquez will most likely see the majority of his playing time come behind the plate as he will anchor the Sox’ pitching staff, but he has also seen time at first, second, and third base, albeit very sparingly.

It’s also worth mentioning that any one of Vazquez, Lucroy, or Plawecki could see time at designated hitter if, say, J.D. Martinez needs a day off or is playing in the outfield.

Red Sox’ Jonathan Lucroy Continues to Impress at Summer Camp

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy has been with the Red Sox for less than five months. He signed a minor-league deal with the club back in February, put up solid numbers in 12 Grapefruit League games, and then the COVID-induced shutdown happened.

During that layoff, the 34-year-old stayed busy and got acquainted with a few of his new Red Sox teammates – Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, and Brandon Workman – at a facility in Dallas. There, Lucroy, a native of Florida, caught bullpens for the trio of Texans frequently, thus potentially forging a stronger relationship with those Red Sox relievers.

When the Sox announced their initial 47-man player pool for the start of Summer Camp, Lucroy was not included on said roster, which raised some eyebrows considering how well he looked earlier in the year.

It turns out that the reason Lucroy was not originally included in Boston’s Summer Camp pool was due to contract-related issues. That dilemma did not last too long, obviously, as the two-time All-Star was added to the Sox’ Summer Camp player pool as a non-roster invitee on July 2.

Since then, Lucroy has picked up from where he left off in Fort Myers and continues to prove that when healthy, he can contribute.

You see, one of the reasons Lucroy had to take a minor-league deal this year was because of how poorly he had played the previous three seasons.

Over that span, in 315 games between the Rangers, Rockies, Athletics, Angels and Cubs, the former third-round draft pick has posted a wRC+ of 76 and an fWAR of 0.2, ranking 17th and 19th among 19 qualified big-league catchers.

One of the main reasons for those struggles were injuries. Between a herniated disc in his neck that has been a bother the last three years and a concussion-broken nose combo suffered in a home plate collision with Jake Marisnick last summer, Lucroy, as he puts it, has “played in pain.”

Now, following an offseason procedure to replace the aforementioned herniated disc in his neck with a metal facsimile, Lucroy is feeling much better health-wise. He showed that during the initial version of spring training, and he’s showing it again at Summer Camp.

Through the Sox’ first two intrasquad games at Fenway Park, Lucroy has racked up four hits while also catching a handful of innings behind the plate. If all goes according to plan, he’ll likely be the third catcher on Boston’s Opening Day, 30-man roster alongside Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

“I do feel really, really good,” Lucroy said Friday. “I do feel like I can compete at a very high level and be consistent. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and have a chance to do that.”