J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox squander lead, let scoring opportunities go to waste in 5-4 loss to Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

The Red Sox certainly had their opportunities, but were ultimately unable to come away with a come-from-behind win over the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 5-4 at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, meaning they now trail in this best-of-seven ALCS by one game to none.

Chris Sale, making his second start of the postseason for the Sox, saw his October struggles continue after a poor showing in last week’s American League Division Series against the Rays, though there were some signs of encouragement.

Over just 2 2/3 innings of work on Friday, Sale allowed one run on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Sale surrendered came in the bottom half of the first, when — after the Red Sox left the bases loaded in their half of the inning — the veteran left-hander issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve that was followed by a one-out single from Alex Bregman.

A wild pitch from Sale allowed both of those runners to advance an additional 90 feet, and the Astros took full advantage of that miscue when Yordan Alvarez drove in the first run of the contest on a sacrifice fly to left field.

While the Sox may have fallen behind early, their potent lineup eventually got to Astros starter Framber Valdez the second time through the order beginning in the third inning.

There, moments after he bailed out Sale by making a sprawling grab in center field to escape a bases-loaded jam, Enrique Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by cranking a 448-foot leadoff home run off Valdez.

Hernandez’s solo shot knotted things up at one run apiece, while a one-out walk from Xander Bogaerts that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Rafael Devers put runners at first and second base for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, a former Astro like Hernandez, nearly grounded into another double play that would have ended the inning, but his grounder was instead booted by Altuve at second base, which allowed Bogaerts to score all the way from second to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Hunter Renfroe kept the rally going with a hard-hit RBI double to left field that plated Devers and moved Martinez up to second, though neither runner was able to score after Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo both struck out swinging.

Given a two-run lead to work with going into the bottom of the third, Sale retired Bregman before Alvarez and the dangerous Carlos Correa ripped back-to-back one-out singles off him. The lefty then fanned Kyle Tucker on five pitches for the second out, but that would mark the end of his night with the right-handed hitting Yuli Gurriel looming in the on-deck circle for Houston.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (37 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied heavily upon his four-seam fastball (57% usage) and slider (33% usage), as he only threw four changeups and two sinkers. He did, however, top out at 97.5 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Sale, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora, and he officially closed the book on Sale’s outing by getting Gurriel to ground out to second before retiring the side in order in the fourth as well.

From there, while the Boston bats continued to struggle against the Houston bullpen, Josh Taylor recorded the first two outs of the fifth inning before Ryan Brasier was deployed to finish it in the process of stranding a pair of runners.

Fellow right-hander Tanner Houck took over for Brasier in the sixth, and he saw his side’s 3-1 advantage wiped off the board when he yielded a one-out single to Chas McCormick that was followed by a game-tying, two-run home run to Altuve that traveled 382 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left-center field.

More two-out trouble came back to bite the Sox an inning later, with Hansel Robles serving up a go-ahead 350-foot blast to Correa that allowed the Astros to retake a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Renfroe was pinch-hit for by Danny Santana, who led things off against Kendall Graveman by striking out swinging on nine pitches. Verdugo then flew out to center field, but Arroyo kept the inning alive by drilling a 106.8 mph single to left field.

That sequence prompted Cora to turn to his bench, as he had the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for the right-handed hitting Christian Vazquez in that spot.

Shaw, representing the potential go-ahead run himself, proceeded to lift a 335-foot flyball to right field off Graveman, but it was one that was caught by Tucker at the warning track, thus extinguishing the threat.

Hirokazu Sawamura, meanwhile, was responsible for the bottom of the eighth, and in his first action of the postseason, struggled to find his command of the strike zone.

The righty loaded the bases with no outs by issuing a leadoff walk and a single before plunking Martin Maldonado. He then allowed the Astros to tack on a very important insurance run when he gave up a sacrifice fly to Altuve that Gurriel was able to score on to make it a 5-3 game.

Martin Perez had to come on to get the final two outs of the eighth, and he did that by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of a hobbled Michael Brantley.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth while opposed by Astros closer Ryan Pressly, Hernandez led things off by clubbing his second home run of the night and one that cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Pressly did recover, however, as he got Kyle Schwarber, Bogaerts, and Devers to each ground out to seal a 5-4 defeat for Boston in which they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

With the loss, not only do the Red Sox see their three-game postseason winning streak come to an end, but they also find themselves in a 1-0 hole in regards to this ALCS.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Garcia

The Red Sox will send Houston-area native Nathan Eovaldi to the mound as they look to even up this best-of-seven series against the Astros on Saturday afternoon.

The Astros will counter with fellow right-hander Luis Garcia, who held the Sox to one run over seven impressive innings during his June 1 start against them at Fenway Park.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Carlos Correa: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox advance to ALCS on Kiké Hernández’s walk-off sacrifice fly in 6-5 win over Rays in Game 4 of ALDS

The Red Sox punched their ticket to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2018 by taking care of business against the Rays and capping off a revamped version of Marathon Monday in walk-off fashion.

For the second consecutive night, Boston walked off Tampa Bay to come away with an enthralling 6-5, American League Division Series-clinching victory at Fenway Park. The Sox win the best-of-five series three-games-to-one.

Matched up against Rays rookie left-hander Shane McClanahan to begin things in the third inning, Christian Vazquez — Sunday’s hero — led off with a line-drive single and advanced up to second base when Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk.

After Enrique Hernandez flew out to left field to bring McClanahan within one out of getting out of an early jam, Rafael Devers made sure that did not happen, as he took the very first pitch he saw from the lefty and crushed a 404-foot three-run home run over the center field wall.

Devers’ second homer of the series gave the Sox a 3-0 lead, but they were not done there. Not with Xander Bogaerts singling and Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez striking for back-to-back run-scoring hits to add on and make it a 5-0 game.

With that sizable of an advantage to work with, Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was able to settle in nicely and bounce back from his rough outing in the first game of this series.

In Game 4, Rodriguez allowed a total of two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work.

The left-hander began his day by taking a perfect game into the fourth inning before yielding a leadoff single to Randy Arozarena. He then got through the remainder of the fourth unscathed, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

On the heels of a leadoff double from Jordan Luplow and a groundout from Yandy Diaz that advanced Luplow up to third base, Rodriguez gave up his first run in the top of the fifth on an RBI groundout off the bat of Austin Meadows.

The Rays threatened once more in the sixth, as they knocked Rodriguez out of the game with a pitch count of 78 (57 strikes) after he surrendered a leadoff double to Kevin Kiermaier.

Tanner Houck got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in relief of Houck, but the right-hander only endured more difficulties when he served up a two-run home run to fellow rookie Wander Franco.

Franco’s blast trimmed Tampa Bay’s deficit down to two runs at 5-3, and after Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning for Boston, they got to Ryan Brasier for even more in their half of the eighth.

Brasier — to put it simply — got rocked in his brief time on the mound Monday. The righty allowed back-to-back doubles to Mike Zunino and Kiermaier to make it a 5-4 contest before the dangerous Arozarena ripped a single to right field to tie things up at five runs apiece.

That sequence resulted in Cora turning to Garrett Whitlock, who put out of the flames of the Rays’ rally by retiring Franco, Brandon Lowe, and Nelson Cruz in order before hurling a 1-2-3 top of the ninth as well.

To that point in the night, the Red Sox lineup had squandered multiple opportunities to add on some insurance runs against a tough Rays bullpen, such as when Bogaerts grounded into an inning-ending double play in the seventh or Renfroe being gunned down at third base for the final out of the eighth.

With that being said, though, the Sox finally broke through against J.P. Feyereisen, and they did so by playing a little bit of small ball in the ninth inning.

After Vazquez led off with a single that just got through the left side of the infield, Christian Arroyo moved him into scoring position by laying down a well-executed sacrifice bunt.

Travis Shaw, pinch-hitting for Bobby Dalbec, advanced Vazquez up to third base on a four-foot infield single to set the stage for Hernandez.

With one out and the potential winning run just 90 feet away from scoring, Hernandez lifted a 300-foot fly ball to left field that was hit plenty deep enough to score the pinch-running Danny Santana from third to send the Red Sox to the ALCS.

Next up: ALCS begins on Friday

While the Red Sox have advanced to their first American League Championship Series in three years, they will have to wait to find out who their opponent will be.

In the other division series, the Astros currently lead the White Sox two-games-to-one, with Game 4 slated to begin on Tuesday afternoon in Chicago after Monday’s contest was postponed due to rain.

Regardless of who comes out on top in that series, though, the Sox will either be traveling to Chicago or Houston for the start of the ALCS on Friday since they are the lowest seed remaining.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Christian Vázquez walks it off for Red Sox in 6-4 win in 13 innings over Rays in Game 3 of ALDS

With both teams presented with the opportunity to go up a game on their opposition, the Red Sox and Rays partook in an instant October classic at Fenway Park in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Sunday that spanned more than five hours.

In the process of making some more postseason history, Boston held on for a 6-4 walk-off victory in 13 innings over Tampa Bay on Sunday night. They now lead this best-of-five ALDS two-games-to-one.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his second October start for the Sox after dazzling in last Tuesday’s Wild Card Game, put together yet another strong outing to add to his impressive postseason resume.

Over five solid innings of work, the veteran right-hander allowed just two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts on the night.

Both runs Eovaldi surrendered to his former team came in the top half of the first, as he yielded a one-out single to Wander Franco before serving up a two-run home run to Austin Meadows on a first-pitch fastball.

While Eovaldi’s miscue put his side in an immediate 2-0 hole, a revamped Red Sox lineup was able to back their starter up.

Matched up against Rays right-hander Drew Rasmussen to begin things on Sunday, Kyle Schwarber instantly cut that two-run deficit in half. The left-handed hitter greeted Rasmussen in the bottom of the first by crushing a leadoff home run 390 feet over the Green Monster.

Schwarber’s second homer of the postseason made it a 2-1 game in favor of Tampa Bay, though the Boston bats struck once more two innings later.

On the heels of back-to-back singles from Christian Arroyo and Kyle Schwarber to lead off the latter half of the third, Enrique Hernandez stayed hot by lifting a game-tying, RBI single that brought in Arroyo.

Following a pitching change that saw left-hander Josh Fleming take over for Rasmussen, Rafael Devers broke the tie by plating Hernandez on a run-scoring single that left his bat at 104.9 mph and gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-2.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, was in the midst of a dominat stretch at the time Devers made it a 3-2 contest. After giving up the homer to Meadows, the righty settled in by retiring 14 of the next 17 batters he faced. His day came to an end as soon as he recorded the final out of the fifth, at which point he had thrown 85 pitches.

Of those 85 pitches (58 strikes) thrown by the 31-year-old hurler, 33 were four-seam fastballs, 23 were splitters, 19 were curveballs, six were sliders, and four were cutters. He topped out at 99.3 mph and averaged 96.9 mph with his heater.

After Hernandez tacked on additional run to his side’s lead and made it a 4-2 game by clubbing a 424-foot solo blast over the Monster off newly-inserted reliever Pete Fairbanks to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora to begin the sixth inning.

Taylor issued a single to Nelson Cruz in between getting the first two outs of the frame before making way for Ryan Brasier, who retired the dangerous Randy Arozarena to end the inning while also getting the first two outs of the seventh.

Austin Davis was then dispatched and ran into some trouble before getting through the seventh unscathed when he got Brandon Lowe to fly out to center field.

Heading into the eighth inning with a 4-2 advantage still in tact, Hansel Robles was next up out of the Boston bullpen. Robles, who last yielded a run in late August, was quite simply unable to hold the Rays down for long.

Wander Franco led the top of the eighth off by taking Robles 364 feet deep into the Monster seats to trim the Sox’ lead down to one run at 4-3. A double from Meadows and groundout from Cruz put the potential tying run at third base in the form of pinch-running Manuel Margot.

Robles did manage to keep Margot at third momentarily by punching out Yandy Diaz on a foul tip for the second out of the inning, but Arozarena — as he has had the tendency to do — did not let Robles escape easily.

On an 0-1, 92 mph slider on the outer half of the plate, Arozarena added on to his October legend by lacing a line-drive double to left-center field past an outstretched Hernandez that allowed Margot to easily score from third to knot things up at four runs apiece.

Robles, who was charged with the blown save, was immediately removed from the game due to a stomach illness — as he left the field with head trainer Brad Pearson — and was subsequently replaced by Garrett Whitlock.

Whitlock, in turn, stranded the runner he inherited by intentionally walking Kevin Kiermaier before striking out Mike Zunino to retire the side. The right-handed rookie also sat down all three batters he faced in the top of the ninth to hold the Rays at four runs.

The Red Sox, however, could not take advantage of this in their half of the ninth, meaning this contest headed into extra innings with a score of 4-4.

Nick Pivetta, in his first relief appearance since Game 1 of this series, gave up a single to the speedy Margot to lead off the top of the 10th. After he got both Cruz to Cruz to fly out, though, Christian Vazquez threw out Margot as he attempted to steal second base while Arozarena was at the plate.

Arroyo was able to keep his tag on Margot’s leg as he slid over the bag, resulting in a confirmed third out upon a brief replay review.

In the bottom of the 10th, with former Yankees closer David Robertson on the mound for Tampa Bay, Verdugo reached base via a one-out single to left field.

J.D. Martinez followed by barreling a 375-foot fly ball to deep center field, but it was one that was caught on the warning track by an awaiting Kiermaier. Hunter Renfroe then popped out to first base for the final out.

Pivetta, called upon again for the 11th, got himself in and out of trouble after issuing a leadoff walk to Arozarena. The righty allowed the speedy outfielder to advance to second on a stolen base that came after a strikeout, but followed by fanning both Zunino and Jordan Luplow to escape a potential jam.

That sequence paved the way for the Sox to finally break through in their half of the 11th, but they could not muster anything even after Arroyo ripped a one-out double down the left field line off of Robertson to put the winning run in scoring position.

Bobby Dalbec, who previously pinch-ran for Schwarber, whiffed on three straight strikes before Hernandez grounded out to Franco at shortstop to extinguish the threat.

In the 12th, Pivetta continued to impress, as the righty sat down the lone three batters he faced in the inning. With the chance to pick Pivetta up in the bottom half of the frame, though, the trio of Devers, Bogaerts and Verdugo saw a combined six pitches from Luis Patino in yet another 1-2-3 inning.

Back out once more for the 13th, Pivetta endured some late-game drama. With two outs and a runner at first, Kiermaier crushed a 381-foot flyball to right field that nearly left the yard. It instead bounced off the warning track and deflected off Renfroe before caroming into the Red Sox bullpen.

As a result, Kiermaier was rewarded with a ground-rule double, though he and the Rays thought it should have been ruled a triple that would have scored the go-ahead run.

Tampa Bay challenged the call and it was upheld, meaning Kiermaier had to stay at second base while the potential go-ahead run in Diaz remained in third.

Having yet to allow a run, Pivetta followed by fanning Zunino on four pitches to send this one to the bottom of the 13th still deadlocked at four runs each.

At long last, the Red Sox finally responded to Pivetta’s efforts while matched up against Patino.

Martinez flew out and Renfroe drew a six-pitch walk to set the stage for Vazquez, who originally replaced Kevin Plawecki back in the sixth inning.

On the very first pitch he saw from Patino, a 96 mph heater down the heart of the plate, Vazquez absolutely unloaded on it and sent it 394 feet into the first row of Green Monster seats to walk it off for the Red Sox.

With Vazquez’s walk-off two-home run to seal a 6-4 victory, the Red Sox are now just one win away from eliminating the Rays from playoff contention and advancing to the American League Championship Series.

All told, Pivetta tossed four innings of scoreless baseball in which he scattered three hits, struck out seven and walked one batter to pick up the winning decision on Sunday.

Next up: Rodriguez likely for Marathon Monday

Neither the Red Sox or Rays have yet to officially name a starter for Game 4 of this series on Monday, though Cora told reporters Sunday night that the responsibility would likely fall to left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez.

Monday will also mark the first running of the Boston Marathon since April 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the Sox will have the chance to cap off a special day in the city by to closing out this series with their third straight win.

That being said, first pitch from Fenway Park Monday night is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox crush 5 homers, collect 20 hits in 14-6 rout of Rays to even ALDS at 1-1

It was a back-and-forth kind of affair, but the Red Sox were once again able to battle their way back for a potentially pivotal win over the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Despite putting themselves in an early hole, Boston bested Tampa Bay by a final score of 14-6 at Tropicana Field on Friday night to even this best-of-five series at one game apiece.

Coming off a Game 1 showing in which they were shut out in a postseason game for the first time in five years, the Red Sox lineup jumped all over Rays rookie starter Shane Baz to begin things in Game 2.

Kyle Schwarber led off the top of the first inning by drawing a four-pitch walk before moving up to third base on a ground-ball double from Enrique Hernandez.

Rafael Devers struck out on five pitches for the first out of the fifth, but Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo each followed by getting their productive nights at the plate started with back-to-back run-scoring singles.

The first instance of the Bogaerts-Verdugo combination at work gave the Red Sox an immediate 2-0 lead as Chris Sale took the mound, though it did not last long.

Sale, like Eduardo Rodriguez before him, was not long for his first postseason start since 2018. That being the case because the veteran left-hander surrendered five runs — all of which were earned — on four hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

On his first two pitches of the first inning, the Rays put runners on first and second on a pair of quick singles. Sale then issued a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz to fill the bases before giving up an RBI single to Yandy Diaz.

Diaz’s base hit pushed across the Rays’ first run of the night while also re-filling the bases for Jordan Luplow, who was primarily in Tampa Bay’s lineup to face of against left-handed pitching.

Sale, in turn, proceeded to serve up a towering, 387-foot grand slam to the right-handed hitting Luplow that saw Boston’s 2-1 lead turn into a 5-2 defecit.

On the heels of giving up that impactful of a hit, Sale’s day was done as soon as he recorded the final out of the first inning. The 32-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 30 (20 strikes) and induced just three swings-and-misses in total.

Having to turn to his bullpen earlier than anticipated for the second straight day, Red Sox manager Alex Cora handed things over to Tanner Houck in the middle of the second inning, and that decision proved to be quite beneficial.

After Houck retired the side in order in the bottom of the second, the aforementioned Bogaerts-Verdugo combination struck again in the top of the third, as the All-Star shortstop clubbed a one-out solo shot to knock Baz out of the game while the fiery outfielder greeted new reliever Collin McHugh by crushing a home run of his own.

The back-to-back blasts off the bats of Bogaerts and Verdugo cut Tampa Bay’s deficit down to one run at 5-4. Houck, in return, kept the score just like that by putting up two more zeroes in the third and fourth innings.

In the top half of the fifth, Hernandez provided some power, as he led the frame off by taking McHugh 393 feet deep to left field on a hanging slider to pull his side back even with the opposition at 5-5.

Hernandez’s homer was only a precursor of what was to come in the fifth, though, with Devers and Bogaerts each reaching base before J.D. Martinez made his impact felt in his return to the lineup by tattooing a go-ahead, three-run home run over everything in center field.

Martinez’s three-run blast, which came off Matt Wisler and traveled 412 feet off his bat, broke a 5-5 stalemate and gave the Sox their first lead since the first inning at 8-5 going into the halfway point.

Houck, meanwhile, was in the process of stringing together an impressive run of his own. Going back to his final start of the regular season against the Nationals last Saturday, the righty sat down 29 straight hitters before allowing a two-out single to Wander Franco in the bottom of the fifth.

From there, Houck got through the fifth before serving up a solo shot to Ji-Man Choi an inning later, though he wrapped up his evening on a high note and — in the end — gave up just that one run while scattering two hits, zero walks, and five strikeouts in his five innings of relief.

Christian Vazquez, who had been catching Houck, got one of those runs back when he drove in Verdugo on a ground-ball RBI single in the top of the seventh before being behind the plate while Ryan Brasier punched out the side in the bottom half.

Devers, sore right arm and all, added on to Boston’s lead in the eighth inning when he — while matched up against Michael Wacha — scored Hernandez and demolished a 425-foot two-run home run over the center field wall.

The Red Sox went up 11-6 on Devers’ home run. It was also Boston’s fifth homer of the night, which sets a new franchise record for the most hit in a single postseason game.

Hansel Robles took over for Brasier and preserved an 11-6 lead with a scoreless bottom of the eighth, while Vazquez tacked on one more on another RBI single.

Hernandez, meanwhile, capped off his stellar night by putting the finishing touches on his first-ever five-hit game (in the regular and postseas0n). He plated both Hunter Renfroe and Vazquez on a two-run single that made it a 14-6 game.

Given a sizable cushion to work with now, Matt Barnes — who was just added to the ALDS roster in place of Garrett Richards on Friday — slammed the door on the Rays in the bottom half of the ninth to lock up a 14-6 victory.

With the win, the Red Sox pull even with the Rays in this best-of-five series and now have the opportunity to win it back at home.

Red Sox lineup breaks out in a tremendous way

Out of the No. 2 spot on Friday, Enrique Hernandez went 5-for-6 with three doubles, one home run, three RBI, and three runs scored. He becomes the first Red Sox player to ever record four extra-base hits in a postseason game.

Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo, and J.D. Martinez (Boston’s Nos. 4, 5, and 6 hitters) went a combined 10-for-15 with one double, three home runs, seven RBI, and five runs scored.

Verdugo, starting in left field, also made a nice catch in foul territory to prevent Nelson Cruz from extending his at-bat against Tanner Houck in the sixth inning.

Houck earns win

Tanner Houck earned his first career postseason win in Friday’s win. He has essentially been lights out since the calendar flipped to October.

Next up: Eovaldi on tap for Game 3

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston, enjoy an off day on Saturday, then resume this ALDS with the Rays at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in Game 3, while fellow righty Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 p.m. eastern time on MLB Network.

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández, Xander Bogaerts both homer as Red Sox top Mets, 6-3, for sixth straight win

Exactly two weeks out from the American League Wild Card game, the Red Sox continued their winning ways against the Mets to kick off their final homestand of the regular season.

Although they fell behind first, Boston fought their way back for a 6-3 victory over New York at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, marking their sixth straight win.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox and his very first against the Mets, was sharp early on, but later fell off in what turned out to be another relatively short outing.

Over just 4 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The veteran left-hander took a perfect game into the third inning, as he did not give up his first hit until yielding a two-out single to New York’s No. 9 hitter, Tomas Nido, in the top half of the frame.

While it appeared as though Rodriguez was well on his way to putting together a strong performance, things took a turn for the worse in the fourth when he loaded the bases with no outs before issuing a bases-loaded, run-scoring walk to J.D. Davis to give the Mets their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Michael Conforto followed by grounding another RBI single through the left side of the infield that scored Javier Baez and very well could have pushed across another had Enrique Hernandez not gunned down Pete Alonso at home plate from center field.

Hernandez’s seventh outfield assist of the season proved to halt the Mets’ momentum, as Rodriguez escaped the jam by recording the final two outs of the fourth in consecutive order.

At that point, the Red Sox lineup had struggled to get anything going against Rodriguez’s counterpart in Mets starter Marcus Stroman despite having their fair share of opportunities — particularly in the third inning.

There, with no outs and the bases full, Xander Bogaerts grounded into what was at the time a back-breaking 5-2-3 double play, which was followed by an inning-ending flyout off the bat of Rafael Devers.

Compounded with New York jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their half of the fourth, things were looking rather dire for the Boston bats, but they were able to bounce back in a tremendous way beginning in the bottom of that particular frame.

With two outs in the inning, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot by ripping a 104.5 mph line-drive double off the center field wall. Christian Vazquez followed by lacing another liner, though this one flew over the outstretched glove of a back-pedaling Kevin Pillar, took a bounce off the Green Monster, and brought in Dalbec to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.

Rodriguez, meanwhile, came back out for the fifth, though he gave up back-to-back hits to Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor that put runners at second and third with only one out.

That led to Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving Rodriguez the hook at that moment, as the 28-year-old ended his day having thrown 92 pitches (55 strikes).

In relief of Rodriguez, Cora first turned to the recently-recalled Ryan Brasier, who inherited a bit of a mess but got out of it by fanning Baez on three straight strikes before getting the dangerous Alonso to ground out to short.

With their lineup flipping over for a third time beginning in the middle of the fifth, the Sox continued to pound Stroman, as Hernandez clubbed a game-tying, 379-foot solo shot over the Green Monster (his 18th home run of the season, Kyle Schwarber drilled a hard-hit double to the left-center field gap, and Bogaerts capped it off with an act of redemption — mashing a 426-foot, two-run moonshot to left field.

Bogaerts’ 23rd homer of the year put the Sox up 4-2, but the star shortstop was not done there, as he — with the bases full and two outs in the sixth — plated two more on a 107 mph two-run double off Brad Hand to make it a 6-2 game in favor of Boston.

From there, after Brasier and left-hander Austin Davis combined to work a scoreless sixth inning, fellow trade deadline acquisition Hansel Robles took over and did the very same in the seventh.

Garrett Richards, on the other hand, served up a towering solo homer to Alonso in an otherwise clean eighth inning. He also got the first out of the ninth before Darwinzon Hernandez slammed the door on the Mets to preserve the 6-3 victory for the Sox, though the lefty did not pick up the save.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to six consecutive games, but they also improve to 87-65 on the season by doing so. The Blue Jays and Yankees also won on Tuesday, so the Sox maintain their 1 1/2 game lead over Toronto for the top Wild Card spot in the American League.

Next up: Sale vs. Walker

The Red Sox will hand the ball to ace left-hander Chris Sale as they go for the quick two-game sweep over the Mets on Wednesday night. Sale will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

The Mets, in turn, will counter with right-hander and 2021 All-Star Taijuan Walker as they look to prevent the sweep from happening.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta impresses in first start back from bout with COVID-19, but Red Sox drop series finale to White Sox, 2-1, as Garrett Whitlock gives up walk-off home run

Nick Pivetta dazzled in his return to the mound on Sunday, but it was not enough to lift the Red Sox to a series-clinching victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston was limited to just four hits and were walked off on by Chicago, 2-1, marking the third straight one-run game between the two clubs and the Sox’ fifth loss in their last seven games.

Pivetta, making his first start since August 30 after being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Sunday, appeared to take advantage of the time he had off by putting together his best outing in more than two months.

Over 5 1/3 strong innings of work, the right-hander allowed just one unearned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he did deal with some traffic on the base paths early on, Pivetta did at one point retire 11 straight batters leading into the middle of the sixth of what was still a scoreless contest.

Chicago’s No. 8 hitter, Cesar Hernandez, led off the inning by reaching base on an Enrique Hernandez throwing error and promptly advanced into scoring position on a successful sacrifice bunt from Seby Zavala.

Luis Robert did not waste any time in scoring Hernandez from third, as the White Sox leadoff man ripped an RBI single to left field to push across the first run of the day.

That sequence marked the end of the line for Pivetta, who got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 28-year-old hurler finished his outing having thrown 79 pitches (59 strikes) while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.49.

In relief of Pivetta, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and despite intentionally walking Jose Abreu, he escaped the sixth while stranding the lone runner he inherited.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in a scoreless seventh inning before Hansel Robles also walked one in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth.

To that point, the Red Sox lineup had been held entirety in check by Chicago’s pitching staff, though they did have their opportunities.

After White Sox starter held the Sox to just two singles over five nearly-perfect innings on the hill, Jose Iglesias — who had one of those hits — led off the top of the sixth by drilling a leadoff single off lefty reliever Garrett Crochet.

Representing the potential go-ahead run in an 0-0 game, Iglesias attempted to move up to second when Hernandez lifted a 390-foot fly ball to deep center field, but was instead gunned down at second base by Robert for an 8-4 double play.

The White Sox quickly made the Red Sox pay for that base running blunder with Robert’s go-ahead single off Pivetta, while the Boston bats were unable to get anything else going against Crochet or Jose Ruiz, who recorded the final out of the seventh before tossing a 1-2-3 top of the eighth as well.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, the Red Sox were matched up against a familiar opponent in former closer Kimbrel, on for the third time in three days going back to Friday night.

Hernandez got the ninth inning started with a bang by lacing a 105.4 mph leadoff double off Kimbrel, and while Kyle Schwarber struck out, both Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers drew a pair of walks to load the bases for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo, as he has done throughout the season, plated Hernandez on a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in the tying run, but Bobby Dalbec punched out on four pitches to get Kimbrel off the hook in what had become a 1-1 game.

Looking to send this one into extras for a second straight day, Garrett Whitlock quickly got the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth by fanning both Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal.

Whitlock proceeded to get ahead in the count against the next batter he faced in Leury Garcia and was just one more strike away from punching out the side.

On an 0-2, 97.7 mph fastball down the heart of the plate, however, Whitlock served up a 430-foot walk-off home run to Garcia to give the White Sox a 2-1 win while also being hit with his fourth loss of the year.

With the 2-1 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 81-64 on the season and move into a virtual tie with the Blue Jaus for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: On to Seattle

The Red Sox will board a flight from Chicago to Seattle and open up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners — who are also in the thick of the American League Wild Card race — at T-Mobile Park on Monday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert is in line to do the same for Seattle.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Travis Shaw delivers with 3-run homer, game-winning hit as Red Sox battle back to defeat White Sox, 9-8, in extras

The Red Sox have seemingly made a habit of blowing sizable leads as of late and nearly let that trend continue against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday.

After grabbing an early five-run lead, Boston later fell behind by a run in the middle stages of the game, but battled back for a 9-8 win over Chicago in 10 innings.

Connor Seabold, making his major-league debut and first career start for the Sox on Saturday, was the beneficiary of some significant run support.

In just three innings of work, Seabold allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

Both runs the right-hander gave up came on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second, as he yielded a one-out single to Yasmani Grandal before serving up a monstrous two-run shot to Leury Garcia.

The Red Sox fell behind, 2-0, on Seabold’s miscue, but they quickly responded in their half of the third while still matched up against White Sox starter Dylan Cease.

Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for the rally by ripping a one-out single to center field, then Cease issued two straight walks to Kyle Schwarber and Xander Bogaerts to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, who drew a free pass himself to bring in Hernandez from third for his side’s first run of the evening.

Alex Verdugo kept the train moving by lacing a two-run single to left-center field that brought in Schwarber and Bogaerts, while Bobby Dalbec plated Devers from second on an RBI single of his own.

Travis Shaw, who wasn’t even in Boston’s original starting lineup, promptly ended Cease’s outing by driving in both Verdugo and Dalbec on a towering, 372-foot three-run blast to right field.

Shaw’s ninth home run of the season gave the Sox a commanding 7-2 lead while also knocking Cease out of this game, but the Boston bats were unable to score again in the third despite getting two hits off White Sox reliever Ryan Burr.

Seabold, meanwhile, escaped one final jam in his third and final inning by getting the dangerous Jose Abreu to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, thus ending his night with a final pitch count of 43 (27 strikes). The 25-year-old did not factor into Saturday’s decision.

In relief of Seabold got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen to begin the fourth, and he ran into some trouble when he issued a one-out walk to Grandal.

Richards nearly got Garcia to ground into another inning-ending twin killing, but Devers committed a fielding error by misplaying Garcia’s grounder before failing to field a chopper off the bat of Romy Gonzalez cleanly.

That sequence loaded the bases for the White Sox, and Richards followed suit by walking Brian Goodwin on five pitches to bring in one run before surrendering a bases-clearing, three-run double to Luis Robert with two outs in the inning.

Ryan Brasier took over for Richards after Chicago had trimmed their deficit down to one run at 7-6, but former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada knotted things up at seven runs apiece by lacing a game-tying, run-scoring double to left field.

Brasier’s woes rolled on in the fifth, as he got taken deep to right field by Grandal, who gave the White Sox their first lead since the second inning with his 20th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, when the Sox were down to their final six outs, former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was unable to keep his old team off the scoreboard as he had done the night before.

Christian Vazquez drilled a one-out double to center field off Kimbrel to put the potential tying run in scoring position. The recently called-up Jack Lopez pinch-ran for Vazquez at second base and quickly advanced up to third on a wild pitch.

A sacrifice fly from Hernandez was hit deep enough (357 feet) to center field to allow Lopez to coast in from third, and that tied things up once again at 9-9.

After Liam Hendriks and Garrett Whitlock kept things that way for their respective teams in the ninth inning, this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Verdugo assumed his role as the runner at second base after recording the final out of the previous inning.

A groundout off the bat of Dalbec allowed Verdugo to move up to third, and Shaw brought him in on an 85 mph RBI single off White Sox reliever Mike Wright.

Given a one-run lead to protect going into the latter half of the 10th, Josh Taylor was dispatched to get the three most important outs of the night.

Despite giving up a leadoff single to the first man he faced in Grandal which also put the potential tying run (Eloy Jimenez) at third base, Taylor did just that.

The left-hander punched out Garcia on three straight strikes, fanned the pinch-hitting Joey Mendick, and got Goodwin to ground out to second base to slam the door on the White Sox, preserve the 9-8 victory, and notch the first save of his big-league career.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 81-63 on the season to maintain their one-game lead over both the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Lynn

The Red Sox will activate right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list and have him make his return to the mound in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox, who will counter with fellow righty Lance Lynn.

First pitch of Sunday’s rubber match is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Kiké Hernández, Danny Santana activated from COVID-19 related injured list; Taylor Motter designated for assignment, Franchy Cordero optioned to Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Rays in the second of a three-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, the Red Sox made yet another flurry of roster moves.

First off, Enrique Hernandez and Danny Santana were both activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Secondly, infielder Taylor Motter was designated for assignment, while outfielder Franchy Cordero was optioned to Triple-A Worcester to make room for Hernandez and Santana on the major-league roster.

The Red Sox made all these transactions official earlier Tuesday evening.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had hinted on Monday that both Hernandez and Santana could re-join the club on Tuesday, and that winds up being the case.

Hernandez became the first Sox player to be placed on the COVID-19 injured list — and the first to test positive for the virus — when their outbreak began in Cleveland on August 27.

The versatile 30-year-old was forced to quarantine at the team’s hotel as a result of his positive test and was not able to return to Boston until this past weekend.

Despite missing 11 of his team’s games, though, Hernandez will return to the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday night, batting leadoff and starting in center field as he has typically done throughout the year.

Santana, meanwhile, did not spend nearly as much time on the COVID IL as Hernandez did.

The switch-hitting infielder/outfielder was initially placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on Sunday on account of exhibiting virus-like symptoms, but none of his tests since then came back positive — meaning he could be activated whenever.

Unlike Hernandez, Santana will start out Tuesday’s contest on Boston’s bench, though he could presumably be used in a pinch-hitting/pinch-running/defensive replacement capacity before the final out of the night is recorded.

With Hernandez and Santana being added back to the big-league roster, the Red Sox were forced to create two openings for them, and they did that by designating Motter for assignment while optioning Cordero to Worcester.

Motter, who turns 32 later this month, was just claimed off waivers from the Rockies last Thursday before being activated on Saturday. He appeared in three games for Boston, going 2-for-6 (.333) at the plate with a double, a triple, one RBI, and three runs scored while playing only second base.

Cordero, on the other hand, returns to Worcester after spending just two days with Boston in his latest big-league stint after Santana was placed on the COVID IL on Sunday.

The left-handed hitting 27-year-old made one brief appearance as a pinch-runner for Travis Shaw in the sixth inning of Monday’s 11-10 loss to the Rays, but was later pinch-hit for by Kevin Plawecki in the bottom of the 10th.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: José Iglesias signed, Josh Taylor activated, Michael Feliz selected from Triple-A Worcester

In addition to signing veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias to a major-league deal, the Red Sox made yet another flurry of roster moves ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Rays at Fenway Park.

First off, left-hander Josh Taylor was reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while right-hander Michael Feliz had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester and was added to the major-league roster.

Secondly, righty Kutter Crawford was returned to Worcester following Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Indians, while fellow right-hander John Schreiber and infielder Jack Lopez were also returned to Worcester.

The Red Sox made all of these transactions official earlier Monday afternoon.

Taylor, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list last Tuesday after being identified as a close contact of Matt Barnes’ while the team was in Tampa Bay, re-joins the Sox after a six-day hiatus.

The 28-year-old became the fifth of 11 players Boston has had to place on the COVID IL since their outbreak began last Friday, but he becomes the first of that group to be activated off it — with Enrique Hernandez likely to follow.

Joining Taylor in the Red Sox bullpen will be Feliz, who initially signed a minor-league pact with Boston on August 28 after being released by the Reds.

Prior to getting designated for assignment by Cincinnati in late August, Feliz had appeared in a total of 16 games between the Pirates and Reds this season, posting an 8.79 ERA and 3.65 FIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to five walks over 14 1/3 innings of relief.

A native of the Dominican Republic, the 28-year-old originally signed with the Astros as an international free agent in 2010. He made his major-league debut for Houston in 2015, appeared in 46 games while Red Sox manager Alex Cora served as Astros bench coach in 2017, and was part of the trade that sent Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh to the Lone Star State in 2018.

Per Baseball Savant, Feliz — listed at a stout 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds — operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup.

With the additions of Taylor and Feliz, Crawford and Schreiber — both of whom made their Red Sox debuts on Sunday, were returned to Worcester. Lopez, too, was returned to accommodate the signing of Iglesias.

Because all three of Crawford, Schreiber, and Lopez were called up as COVID-19 replacements, the Sox were able to take the trio off their 40-man roster without exposing them to waivers.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)