Red Sox lineup: Michael Chavis batting leadoff in first start of season against Orioles

Fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, Michael Chavis will bat leadoff for the Red Sox in his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Sox called up Chavis, who was on the team’s taxi squad, from the WooSox after placing utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Chavis will get the start at second base while hitting out of the leadoff spot for Boston, marking just the fifth time in his big-league career he has done so.

In four previous attempts — all of which came during his rookie season in 2019 — the 25-year-old went a collective 5-for-18 (.278) to go along with two home runs, five RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts over 19 plate appearances. He led off each of those games without a hit and is also a lifetime .202/.276/.356 hitter when leading off an inning, though he has crushed four solo homers when put in that spot.

Up with the Red Sox for the second time this season now, Chavis has a chance to once again prove that he belongs.

The former first-round pick and top prospect had put together an impressive spring, but ultimately lost the competition for Boston’s final bench spot to Christian Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options.

“He did a good job in spring training early on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Chavis Friday. “I do believe toward the end because of the competition, he started chasing hits and he got out of his approach.”

Since making his major-league debut in April 2019, Chavis has experienced many highs and many lows in his time with the Sox.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Chavis batted 296 with a .389 on-base percentage, .592 slugging percentage, .981 OPS, nine home runs, two doubles, 24 RBI, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over his first 26 big-league games and 119 plate appearances.

Since then, he has batted a subpar .228 with a .281 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage, 14 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, 53 RBI, 25 walks and 147 strikeouts over his last 111 big-league games (427 plate appearances).

“We know what he can do. I saw it in ‘19,” said Cora. “Obviously the league caught up with him. I do believe he did a good job in spring training knowing the boundaries of his swing. And hopefully, when he gets a chance here, he can do it.”

As Chavis prepares to make his first major-league start of the 2021 season against the O’s (15-17) on Saturday, here is how the rest of the Red Sox (20-13) will line up behind him.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be on the mound for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kiké Hernández (hamstring strain) on injured list, recall Michael Chavis from Triple-A Worcester

Ahead of opening up a four-game weekend series against the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday, the Red Sox placed utilityman Kiké Hernández on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

In a corresponding move, infielder Michael Chavis was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Friday.

Hernandez was removed from Thursday’s game against the Tigers due to tightness in his right hamstring.

The 29-year-old led off the bottom of the first inning with a hard-hit double, but then needed to be lifted for pinch-runner Franchy Cordero after advancing to third on a groundout.

While he still traveled with the team to Baltimore in order to receive treatment on his hamstring, Hernandez was left out of the Sox’ starting lineup for Friday’s contest against the Orioles, hinting that an IL stint could be coming.

Through 30 games this season, the versatile right-handed hitter is slashing .239/.298/.425 to go along with four home runs and 10 RBI while primarily batting out of the leadoff spot.

Chavis, meanwhile, also traveled with the Red Sox to Baltimore as part of their taxi squad.

The 25-year-old initially opened the year at the club’s alternate training site in Worcester, but made his 2021 debut against the O’s when J.D. Martinez was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list for one day on April 10.

In his lone appearance of the season to this point, Chavis was used as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of what would turn out to be a 6-4 win for Boston.

Chavis was returned to the alternate training site shortly thereafter and then made Triple-A Worcester’s Opening Day roster earlier this week. He is off to a 1-for-7 start with the WooSox.

With Chavis added to the major-league mix for the time being, the Red Sox gain yet another versatile option who can play multiple defensive positions.

“Most likely if something happens, probably that’s the route that we’ll take,” Cora said of Chavis during his pregame media availability Friday. “He’s versatile. He can play first, second, third. We can put him in left field. Right-handed bat. So if something happens, most likely it will be Michael.”

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Despite having their chances to complete comeback, Red Sox fall to Tigers, 6-5, in 10 innings

The Red Sox were given multiple opportunities to come away with a come-from-behind win over the worst team in the American League on Wednesday, but were unable to do so in what would go down as a 6-5 loss to the Tigers in 10 innings at Fenway Park.

Trailing 3-1 going into their half of the seventh inning after pushing across just one run against Tigers starter Casey Mize, J.D. Martinez got his side back in the swing of things by belting a game-tying, two-run home run to right field off reliever Bryan Garcia.

Down to their final out in the ninth inning, Enrique Hernandez, Rafael Devers, and Martinez all reached base one way or another to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who laced a line drive to left field — but a liner that was catchable for Tigers left fielder Robbie Grossman.

Moments later, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock came on for the top half of the 10th inning in what was his eight appearance of the season — and his first when working on just two days rest.

With a runner already on second base (extra-inning rule), Whitlock gave up a leadoff single to Jonathan Schoop before serving up a crushing three-run home run to Jeimer Candelario on the outer half of the plate.

Since beginning his major-league career with 13 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, the Rule 5 pick has now surrendered home runs in back-to-back outings going back to Sunday.

Even though they were put in a three-run hole, the Sox did nearly stage an epic comeback in the 10th. Marwin Gonzalez drove in a run on a single and later scored on a fielding error committed by Willi Castro.

Boston cutting things close led Detroit to make an interesting pitching change, as Michael Fulmer — Tuesday’s starter — was inserted into the game to face Bobby Dalbec.

Dalbec lined out to third for the second out of the inning and Hernandez went down looking on four pitches to end the game.

All in all, the Sox went 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and left 12 men on base as a team.

Perez’s winless streak at Fenway continues

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the season for the Red Sox in this one. The left-hander yielded three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.

The first run Perez gave up was scored by the Tigers in the fourth inning, when JaCoby Jones ripped a single to left field that Franchy Cordero could not come up with cleanly, which in turn allowed Candelario to score from second base on the play. Cordero was charged with a fielding error.

In the sixth, Perez was just one out away from completing his first six-inning start of the year, but after giving up a pair of singles, he allowed two more Tigers runs to score on a two-run base knock from Jones to make it a 3-1 game.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (57 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his cutter 38% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Ultimately hit with the no decision in this one while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.40, Perez has still yet to win a game at Fenway Park since signing with the Red Sox before the start of the 2020 season.

Red Sox bullpen takes over

In relief of Perez, Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and recorded the final out of the sixth inning.

From there, Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, and Matt Barnes combined to punch out six batters over three scoreless frames before making way for Whitlock in the 10th.

Arroyo removed due to hand contusion

Starting at second base for Boston on Wednesday, Christian Arroyo had to be removed from the game after seven innings after taking a 92 mph sinker off his left hand — the same hand he injured late lost month — in the sixth inning.

Arroyo was later diagnosed with a left hand contusion and X-rays came back negative.

The fact that Arroyo had to be removed after Alex Verdugo had already been scratched from Wednesday’s lineup — meaning the Sox had a short bench — resulted in Christian Vazquez moving from catcher to second base, Gonzalez moving from first base to left field, Dalbec taking over at first after pinch-hitting for Cordero, and Kevin Plawecki taking over behind the plate for Vazquez.

Next up: Series finale

Thursday’s pitching matchup between the 18-13 Red Sox and 9-22 Tigers will feature a pair of right-handers, with Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston and Spencer Turnbull doing the same for Detroit.

First pitch for Thursday’s series finale is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo, Xander Bogaerts, Hunter Renfroe, Kiké Hernández all homer as Red Sox hold on to defeat Tigers, 11-7

It was no easy feat, but the Red Sox held on to take the opener of their three-game series against the Tigers by a final score of 11-7 at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

The Sox jumped out to an early four-run lead in this one by teeing off on Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, with J.D. Martinez getting his side on the board in the first inning by grounding into a run-scoring fielder’s choice.

A string of RBI singles from the likes of Christian Vazquez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Hunter Renfroe would knock Fulmer out of Tuesday’s contest earlier than he probably expected, but Boston was far from done in the scoring department.

That being the case because an inning later, Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts tacked on three more runs to the Red Sox’ total by crushing a pair of home runs over the Green Monster off Tigers reliever Alex Lange.

In the third, Renfroe scored on a wild pitch. In the fifth, he belted a solo homer to make it a 9-3 game.

After Detroit made things interesting in the middle innings, Vazquez provided some much-needed insurance in Boston’s half of the sixth when he plated Martinez on an RBI double down the left field line.

Enrique Hernandez followed suit in the eighth, as the leadoff man joined the home run party and clubbed his fourth of the season to left-center field to give his side an 11-7 lead.

Pivetta fans eight over five innings

Nick Pivetta made his his sixth start of the season for the Red Sox on Tuesday, and his first ever start (second career appearance) against the Tigers.

Over five innings of work, the right-hander yielded three runs — all of which were earned — on six hits and two walks to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts on the night.

Those first two Tigers runs were given up by Pivetta in the top half of the first. The other one was given up in the top half of the fifth, an inning in which it seemed like Pivetta would not be able to get through after he put the first three hitters he faced on base.

Inducing a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera aided Pivetta tremendously, though, and he was able to end the fifth by getting Jonathan Schoop to ground out to third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (65 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 54% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday and topped out 96 mph with the pitch. He also induced eight of his 10 swings-and-misses on his slider, a pitch he threw 36 times.

Able to improve to a perfect 4-0 on the season, Pivetta will look for winning decision No. 5 in his next time out, which should come against the Orioles on Tuesday.

Red Sox bullpen takes over for final four innings

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth inning, and he put two of the first three Tigers he faced on base before serving up a three-run home run to JaCoby Jones.

Only able to record one out while inflating his ERA on the season to 7.88, Brice was given the hook in favor of Matt Andriese, who allowed one inherited runner to cross the plate before fanning a pair to retire the side.

From there, Adam Ottavino maneuvered his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean seventh inning, while Darwinzon Hernandez managed to get just one out in eighth before filling the bases on a Victor Reyes groundball that was misplayed by Bobby Dalbec and a pair of walks.

That led the Sox to make another pitching change, as Matt Barnes came on in a 10-7 game to face the potential go-ahead run for the Tigers in the form of Cabrera.

Fresh off being named the American League Reliever of the Month for April, Barnes escaped the jam by getting Cabrera to ground into yet another twin killing. He then 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve an 11-7 win for the Red Sox and notch his seventh save of the season in the process of doing so.

Renfroe reaches milestone

By depositing a 362-foot solo shot off Buck Farmer in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s win, Renfroe picked up the 100th big fly of his major-league career.

With a 3-for-4 showing at the plate, the 29-year-old is now slashing .333/.364/.714 over his last seven games played.

Next up: Rookie vs. a vet

Wednesday’s pitching matchup between the 18-12 Red Sox and 8-22 Tigers will feature rookie right-hander Casey Mize getting the ball for Detroit and veteran left-hander Martin Perez doing the same for Boston.

Mize, a 2018 first-round draft pick out of Auburn, will be making his first career start against the Sox.

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

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Garrett Richards fans 10 over 7 strong innings, Bobby Dalbec hits first home run of season as Red Sox top Mets, 2-1

Garrett Richards had said last week that his “delivery was off a little bit” following an erratic outing against the Blue Jays in which he walked six batters while only 48 of his 92 pitches went for strikes.

“I just think the delivery was off a little bit tonight,” he had said. “I was kind of fighting it the whole night. And then obviously, couldn’t get my release point under control. Just kind of a combination of things. Nothing that can’t be fixed.”

On Tuesday, Richards put the adjustments he made over the past six days into action and had his best start as a member of the Red Sox to this point as a result.

Over seven strong innings of work against the Mets at Citi Field, the veteran right-hander yielded just one earned run on seven hits and no walks to go along with a season-high 10 strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Richards gave up came in the bottom of the second, when with two outs he served up a solo home run to Jeff McNeil on a heater down the heart of the plate.

Outside of that, Richards was thoroughly impressive in spite of dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths. He did wrap up his evening by retiring the final three Mets he faced in a scoreless seventh inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 — 70 of which were strikes — the 23-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 35% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing 11 swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.8 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Sox, Richards will go for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the the Rangers in Arlington on Sunday.

Martinez records outfield assist, Vazquez thwarts steal attempt

While Richards was in the process of tossing seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday, he got a boost from his defense on two occasions in his fifth frame of work.

There, Mets catcher James McCann led things off by ripping a line drive to left field.

J.D. Martinez, starting in place of Alex Verdugo (hamstring) in left, fielded the ball on a run and with a quick throw to second base, snuffed out McCann while he was trying to extend a leadoff single into a leadoff double. Marwin Gonzalez, Boston’s second baseman on Tuesday, also made a nice effort to get the tag on McCann in the first place.

After punching out Mets starting pitcher David Peterson for the second out of the inning, Richards surrendered a single to old friend Kevin Pillar. But like McCann, Pillar did not last long on the base paths thanks to Christian Vazquez throwing him out attempting to steal second base.

Andriese and Barnes close it out

In relief of Richards, Matt Andriese — not Adam Ottavino — got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the eighth, and he needed all of 16 pitches to sit down Pillar, Francisco Lindor, and Dominic Smith in order.

From there, Matt Barnes came on for the ninth and fanned two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect inning of relief to notch his fifth save of the year and preserve the 2-1 victory for his side.

Dalbec hits long-awaited first home run of season

While Richards and Co. did an effective job of keeping the Mets off the board, the Red Sox did not find themselves in many scoring situations on Tuesday, but they took advantage of the opportunities they had.

One of those opportunities arose in the top half of the third inning, when Bobby Dalbec led things off by crushing his first home run of the season 390 feet to right-center field off Peterson.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the top of the lineup got the job done this time when Enrique Hernandez led the inning off with a double and came in to score on a Rafael Devers bloop RBI single moments later.

Devers’ 19th RBI of the season gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Next up: Pivetta vs. deGrom

Things will not get any easier for the 15-9 Red Sox on Wednesday, as they will be matched up against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who struck out 15 in a two-hit, complete game shutout bid in his last time out for the Mets against the Nationals.

Nick Pivetta will be tasked with opposing deGrom for Boston. The 28-year-old righty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start against the Blue Jays, but wound up allowing two runs in a game the Red Sox lost 7-3.

First pitch for Wednesday’s series finale is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández makes impressive shoestring catch, Marwin González starts double play with glove-hand flip as part of Red Sox’ win over Mariners

The Red Sox got a defensive boost from two of their newest, most versatile position players in Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

In the top half of the third inning, Kyle Seager laced a fly ball off Eduardo Rodriguez that traveled 370 feet off his bat to right-center field.

Kiké Hernández, who started in center field for Boston on Sunday, had been playing Seager pretty straight up and started headed towards the triangle as if that is where the ball was going to end up.

Instead, a strong gust forced Hernández to make a quick adjustment while he was tracking the ball.

Rather than continue towards the triangle, he took a sharp right turn in front of the Red Sox bullpen and made a shoestring catch by the JetBlue sign in right-center for the final out of the inning.

“It’s very windy at the ballpark,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the conditions at Fenway during his postgame media availability. “It’s playing different than two years ago or three years ago. It feels so windy out there. When he hit that ball, Kiké said that ball was going toward the triangle and it just stopped in the air and he had to reroute and make the play.”

Hernandez, who made his 15th start of the season in center for Boston on Sunday, was originally slated to start at second base in Cora’s initial lineup.

Alex Verdugo was to start in center field in the series finale, but he was scratched by Cora about an hour before first pitch on account of the hamstring cramp he sustained on Saturday and the wet conditions on a rainy Sunday.

Because of that, Hernandez moved from second base to center field in Cora’s lineup, while Christian Arroyo got the start at second.

The 29-year-old went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs run scored out of the leadoff spot for the Sox to close out the weekend. He is currently slashing .250/.295/.432 with three home runs and eight RBI through 22 games played thus far.

In the top half of the eighth inning, right-hander Adam Ottavino took over for Rodriguez and walked the first man he faced in Mitch Haniger with his team up two runs at 5-3.

On his very next pitch, though, Ottavino got out of a potentially-binding jam by inducing soft contact off the bat of Ty France.

France dribbled a grounder to the left side of the infield and while playing the ball on a bounce, Marwin Gonzalez ran in, fielded the ball with his glove-hand, and nonchalantly flipped said ball with his glove-hand to Arroyo at second base to start an impressive 6-4-3 double play.

“Marwin played excellent shortstop,” Cora said.

Of the 18 starts Gonzalez has made so far this season, only three have come at shortstop. The other 15 have come at first base (six), second base (four), third base (two), left field (two), and right field (one).

On the play in which Gonzalez was involved in his ninth twin killing of the year, Cora also liked what he saw from the second baseman who helped turn it in Arroyo.

“Not an easy play for the second baseman because you don’t expect that flip,” said the Sox skipper. “He stayed with it and was able to turn it.”

The fact that Arroyo was still playing after getting drilled in the left hand by a 93.8 mph fastball in the first inning was a somewhat awe-inspiring feat on its own.

The 25-year-old was clearly in discomfort after taking that heater off his glove hand, but he remained in the game until its conclusion. The X-rays he got on his hand came back negative.

“I told him just don’t worry about your at-bats,” Cora said. “If you can play defense, just grind it out, and he did.”

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Home runs from Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez power Red Sox to 11-4 win over White Sox on Patriots’ Day

After being held in check offensively in both games of a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way and came away with a four-game series split with the White Sox on Monday following an 11-4 victory to celebrate Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park in style.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who was fresh off a solid performance against the Twins in Minnesota last week.

Working against another American League Central foe in the White Sox this time around, the veteran right-hander had yet another impressive day on Monday.

Over 6 1/3 innings of work, Eovaldi yielded four runs (all earned) on nine hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

The first two of those Chicago runs scored on extra-base hits from Luis Robert and Adam Eaton in the first and third innings. Eaton was also responsible for his side’s third run when he plated Tim Anderson on a two-out, run-scoring double in the fifth.

Eovaldi managed to keep the White Sox off the board for a little while after that, but after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the top of the seventh, his day came to a close with Eaton due to hit next for Chicago.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (75 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 41 times on Monday, inducing six swings-and-misses while topping out at 100.3 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his third winning decision of the season despite raising his ERA to 3.04, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Mariners at Fenway Park on Saturday.

In relief of Eovaldi, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first — and only — call out of the Red Sox bullpen an inherited a situation where there runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the sixth.

Whitlock, in his first appearance since Wednesday, allowed one of those inherited runners to score on an RBI groundout from Eaton — which closed the book on Eovaldi’s outing — but he avoided any further damage by getting Robert to ground out to retire the side.

From there, the 24-year-old continued to dazzle in his debut season with the Sox by fanning two and sitting down the final six hitters he faced in order to preserve the 11-4 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, a reeling Red Sox lineup was matched up against a tough opponent in White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who has finished in the top-7 in American League Cy Young voting in each of the last two seasons.

Despite the reputation Giolito carries with him, the 26-year-old struggled mightily in his first outing at Fenway Park in nearly two years.

That being the case because right from the get-go, the Sox put up six runs on seven hits while sending 11 batters to the plate in their half of the first.

Kiké Hernández led things off by crushing his third home run of the season just over the Green Monster to knot things up at 1-1, singles from Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez allowed Rafael Devers to drive in a run on a single of his own, and a Christian Vazquez single following a mound visit filled the bases for Marwin Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, one of the heroes of Saturday’s series-opening win, kept the line moving with an RBI single to score Martinez, while Hunter Renfroe drove in Devers on a groundout to third base.

Franchy Cordero followed with a line-drive RBI base hit to left field, which brought in Gonzalez. Just like that, the Red Sox had gone from trailing by a run to leading by five runs at 6-1.

Martinez provided more leadoff power in the bottom of the second, as he clubbed his sixth big fly of the season 398 feet over the Green Monster. 7-1.

A seven-pitch walk to Devers would mark the end of Giolito’s day after just one-plus innings pitched, and Renfroe would drive in the third baseman on a sacrifice fly off new White Sox reliever Zack Burdi. 8-1.

In the third, Verdugo became the third member of the top third of Boston’s starting lineup to go bridge. The 24-year-old took Burdi 417 feet deep to right field for his first Fenway homer of the season.

A one-out single off the bat of Vazquez an inning later would result in another Red Sox run crossing the plate when Cordero ripped a two-out, RBI single off Burdi.

And in the seventh, Martinez put the exclamation point on a 3-for-5 day at the plate by lacing yet another run-scoring base hit off Yermin Merceded — a position player — with two outs in the frame to bring in Hernandez from third.

Martinez’s second RBI knock of the afternoon gave the Red Sox a commanding 11-3 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 11-6.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they will welcome the 7-9 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a brief, two-game series beginning Tuesday night.

Tuesday’s series opener at Fenway will feature an exclusively left-handed starting pitching matchup, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the starting nod for Boston and veteran southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodríguez fans seven over 5 strong innings in first start since 2019; Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernández collect first homers of season as Red Sox top Orioles, 7-3, for fourth straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez picked up on Thursday where he left off 557 days ago.

The left-hander’s last start of the 2019 season came against the Orioles, and he allowed three runs over seven strong innings in that contest.

After missing the entirety of the 2020 season due to myocarditis, Rodriguez finally made his long-awaited return to a big-league mound on Thursday in Baltimore.

Working against the O’s in their home opener, the recently-turned 28-year-old again held Baltimore to three runs — this time over five innings — while scattering four hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three runs Rodriguez surrendered on Thursday came by way of the home run ball, with Ryan Mountcastle crushing a two-run homer in the first and Pedro Severino clubbing a solo shot off the lefty in the fourth.

From that point on, though, Rodriguez did manage to retire each of the final four hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (56 strikes), the Venezuelan hurler sat at 91-95 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he threw 13 times — while also inducing four swings-and-misses with his changeup — a pitch he threw 25 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision of the year because of his triumphant effort, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Twins next Wednesday.

Whitlock, Barnes sharp out of the bullpen

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. The 24-year-old followed up his impressive big-league debut from last weekend by punching out three of the six Orioles he faced over two perfect frames of work to pick up his first career hold.

Matt Andriese, who helped Whitlock develop his changeup over the course of spring training, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk and one-out single to toss a scoreless eighth.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, was on the cusp of an immaculate inning (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts) in the ninth, but he still struck out the side on 11 pitches anyway to preserve the 7-3 victory for his side.

Devers gets on the board with first homer

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey, whom they had just seen last weekend.

Following a one-out double from Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away by mashing his first home run of the season — a two-run shot — off Harvey to give his side the early 2-0 advantage.

Per Baseball Savant, Devers’ first big fly of 2021 left his bat at 111 mph and traveled approximately 452 feet to deep center field.

Retaking the lead and adding on some insurance

Harvey managed to hold the Boston bats in check after giving up that Devers homer, and him doing that coincided with the Orioles jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

In the sixth, though, the Orioles starter put the first two hitters he faced — Devers and Christian Vazquez — on base on a pair of singles, and that would lead to his exit from this contest.

Matched up against lefty reliever Paul Fry now, Marwin Gonzalez drew a six-pitch walk, which allowed Christian Arroyo and Franchy Cordero to plate a pair of runs on an RBI groundout and RBI single.

Verdugo sparked more offense in the seventh, as he collected his second double of the afternoon and later scored on a two-base hit off the bat of a red-hot J.D. Martinez — marking the seventh straight game the vaunted slugger has reached base on an extra-base hit out of the gate.

That sequence put the Red Sox up two at 5-3, and Gonzalez added on to that with a run-scoring single of his own to make it a 6-3 contest going into stretch time.

Kiké Hernández comes through with first home run

Devers was not the only member of the Red Sox to notch his first homer of the year on Thursday, as Kiké Hernández did the very same in the top half of the eighth.

On a 2-2, 86 mph slider from Orioles reliever Tyler Wells, the 29-year-old pulled said pitch 372 feet to left field for his first home run in a Sox uniform.

Hernández’s 72nd career homer put the Red Sox up 7-3, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Next up: An off day

Now winners of four straight after starting the season 0-3, the Sox will enjoy an off day on Friday before they look to keep things rolling against the O’s on Saturday.

Right-hander Garrett Richards is slated to get the ball for Boston in that contest, and he will be matched up against rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Garrett Richards struggles while Garrett Whitlock shines, but Red Sox still get swept by Orioles following 11-3 loss

The Garrett Richards era did not off to a great start for the Red Sox on Sunday, as the club extended its season-opening losing streak to three consecutive games following an 11-3 defeat at the hands of the Orioles at Fenway Park.

Richards, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Sox in February, made his highly-anticipated team debut in this one. To put it simply, it did not go well.

The right-hander yielded six runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the afternoon. In the process of allowing all those runs, Richards managed to record just six outs before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after walking the bases full in the top half of the third inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (35 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly half of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.6 mph with the pitch.

Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 27.00, Richards will look to rebound in his next time out against these same Orioles next Saturday in Baltimore.

In relief of Richards, left-hander Josh Taylor inherited a mess and closed the book on the Sox starter’s day by allowing seven more runs (four of which were charged to him) before Garrett Whitlock came on for what was his major-league debut.

Pitching in a competitive environment for the first time in nearly two years, Whitlock — a 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick — carried over the success he enjoyed this spring into his first appearance with the Red Sox by twirling 3 1/3 scoreless frames of relief while scattering just three hits and punching out five.

From there, Hirokazu Sawamura worked a scoreless top of the seventh, while Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino both made their 2021 debuts in the top halves of the eighth and ninth innings of Sunday’s contest.

Barnes, responsible for the eighth, maneuvered his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean frame. Ottavino, responsible for the ninth, surrendered one run on two hits and two walks in what was also his Red Sox debut.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up 11 runs to the Orioles on 17 hits, eight walks, and 15 strikeouts. The Boston pitching staff had been effective in the team’s first two games of the season, but that was not the case on Sunday.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was again held in check by a Baltimore pitching staff that was led by rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann this time around.

By the time the Boston bats managed to push something across on a Kiké Hernández sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third, they were already in a 10-0 hole.

J.D. Martinez continued his hot start to the new season by crushing a 429-foot solo home run to deep center field — his and his team’s first big fly of the year — off Zimmermann to lead off the fourth to make it a 10-2 contest.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez again got the best of Zimmermann, this time lifting a run-scoring double to the left field corner that brought in Hernandez all the way from first.

Martinez’s second of two hits on the afternoon cut the Boston deficit to 10-3, but three runs is all the Sox could manage as 11-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

From Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

The Red Sox have started a season 0-3 for the first time since 2012. This is also the first time they have started a season 0-3 at Fenway Park since 1948.

Next up for the Red Sox, they will look to bounce back from a series-opening sweep to the Orioles by welcoming in another divisional foe to Fenway in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will be making his 2021 debut for Boston, and he will be opposed by former Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who will also be making his 2021 debut for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox still looking for their first win of the season in what will be their first game under the lights this year.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Cora attributes Red Sox’ 0-2 start to poor defensive effort: ‘The team’s that play good defense, they win ballgames. And the first two games, we haven’t done that’

The Red Sox are 0-2 to start a season for the first time since 2012.

One reason as to why the Sox are off to such a slow start is the fact that they have managed to score all of two runs — both of which came in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Orioles — through their first two games of the new campaign.

While that early lack of offensive production may be concerning, there is something else that has been hampering this Red Sox team, and that would be their defense.

Even by placing an emphasis on defense throughout spring training by setting up “defensive labs” scattered around the backfields at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has seen his team commit two errors and even more miscues since first pitch on Friday afternoon.

Kiké Hernández had difficulty fielding a hard-hit groundball off the bat of Anthony Santander in the sixth inning of Friday’s contest.

At the time, neither the Sox nor Orioles had managed to bring in a run, but Hernandez’s blunder — which came with runners on first and second and one out in the frame — while playing second base allowed everyone to reach base safely.

On what could have been a much-needed inning-ending double play for Matt Andriese, the top of the sixth continued and Baltimore took full advantage of Hernandez’s error when Ryan Mountcastle laced a two-run double off the Green Monster to plate his side’s first two runs of the day. The Orioles would go on to win by a final score of 3-0.

A day later, defensive miscues continued to plague the Sox in right-hander Tanner Houck’s first start of the season.

After getting through the first 3 2/3 innings of Saturday’s contest in relatively easy fashion, the 24-year-old ran into a bit of trouble in the fourth when he issued a two-out walk to Rio Ruiz.

Houck followed by getting Austin Hays to hit a broken bat ground ball to a sprawling Rafael Devers over at third.

Devers, having chosen to go to second base as opposed to first for what should have been an inning-ending force out, instead overthrew an outstretched Marwin Gonzalez covering the bag.

Devers’ errant throw wound up in shallow right field, and it — as well as as a passed ball by catcher Kevin Plawecki — allowed both Ruiz and Hays to advance an additional 90 feet to put a pair of runners in scoring position, though they wouldn’t stay there long.

That being the case because the Orioles again took advantage of a Red Sox mishap when Maikel Franco smacked a two-run single through the left side of the infield to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead.

An inning later, after they had scored a run in their half of the fourth, the Sox had the chance to hold the Orioles at two runs for the time being, but ultimately failed to do so.

With two outs and a runner at third, Houck found himself just one out away from getting out of a bit of a jam, and it looked like he was going to do so when he got Santander to rip a sharply-hit ground ball to Xander Bogaerts at short.

Bogaerts, having just made a tremendous diving play to hold that runner at third, attempted to backhand Santander’s grounder while backtracking to his left, but failed to bring in the ball cleanly which allowed Santander to reach base safely and drive in the run.

Bogaerts certainly had a tough play to make when considering where he fielded the ball as well as Santander’s speed down the first base line, but it was still one that — if made cleanly — could have made a difference later on. For what it’s worth, it was not ruled an error.

“I think defensively, the two games, we haven’t been sharp,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday afternoon. “We made some bad decisions. We didn’t make any plays. For us, it’s very important to play defense. The team’s that play good defense, they win ballgames. And the first two games, we haven’t done that.”

In Devers’ case, the 24-year-old is coming off a 2020 season in which he committed 14 errors, ranking tops among big-league third basemen in regards to number of errors committed.

The mishap Devers had in the fourth inning on Saturday is one that could have been avoided had he backed off and let Bogaerts field Hays’ grounder instead. That over-eagerness is something the Red Sox are hoping to correct sooner rather than later.

“He wants to make every play,” Cora said about Devers when asked about his defense. “He’s just got to make better decisions. We love the effort. That was a ball way to his left. He gets to it. But, you got to know who you got next to you and you have to make better decisions. Like I said, the effort is there. If he makes that play, it’s a great play. But, it’s an above-average play. I rather have them make the average play and move on to the next play and do that. So, we’ll keep working with him. I think we have to just make better decisions.

“It was a tough play, regardless. At second or at first,” added the Sox skipper. “Sometimes you make those great plays and you’re better off moving on to the next one, right? Because it’s a tough play to throw to first. It’s a tough one to throw to second. You can put yourself and the team in a bad spot.”

The Red Sox themselves are a few months removed from a 2020 season in which they committed the second-most errors (45) and compiled the seventh-worst Ultimate Zone Rating (-2.5) in the American League last year, per FanGraphs.

For Cora, defense is something he wants to see the Sox excel at. He has yet to see that through the first two games of the 2021 campaign.

“Out of the three phases of the game (hitting, pitching, fielding), the defense part of it is the one that has been disappointing in the first two games,” Cora stated.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)