James Paxton’s 8 strikeouts not enough as Red Sox blow late lead in 5-4 loss to Reds; Masataka Yoshida, Enmanuel Valdez homer

For the second night in a row, the Red Sox fell short of a comeback win over the Reds in the process of suffering their second straight one-run loss and their third straight loss overall.

Despite receiving a strong performance from James Paxton and leading after six innings, Boston fell to Cincinnati by a final score of 5-4 at Fenway Park on Wednesday to drop back to one game of .500 at 28-27 on the season.

With right-hander Luke Weaver starting for the Reds, the Red Sox opened the scoring when Masataka Yoshida belted a 359-foot solo shot down the right field line to lead off the bottom half of the second inning. Yoshida’s seventh home run of the year, and first since May 4, left his bat at 97.8 mph.

An inning later, Connor Wong extended his hitting streak to seven by reaching base on a one-out single. He then moved up to second on an Alex Verdugo groundout before coming into score on an opposite-field RBI double from Rafael Devers. The run-scoring knock was the 200th two-base hit of Devers’ career, but he was left at second as Justin Turner grounded out to end the third.

Boston would maintain a two-run lead through four innings. Paxton, who to that point had experienced very little turbulence in his fourth start of the season for the Sox, then ran into some trouble in the fifth. After recording the first two outs of the frame via strikeout, the veteran left-hander issued a four-pitch walk to Jose Barrero.

Luke Maile, Cincinnati’s No. 9 hitter, wasted no time in making Paxton pay for the free pass by driving in Barrero all the way from first on a towering RBI double off the Green Monster. Maile then advanced to third on a Kevin Newman single, but Paxton stranded the runners on the corners by fanning the final batter he faced in Matt McLain.

All told, Paxton allowed just the one earned run on four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts over five solid innings of work. The 34-year-old finished with exactly 100 pitches (68 strikes) and induced 22 swings-and-misses, the most of any big-league pitcher on Wednesday. He also lowered his ERA on the season to 4.26.

With Paxton’s night done, the Red Sox got that run right back in the bottom of the fifth when rookie Enmanuel Valdez took Weaver 356 feet over the Green Monster for his fourth homer of the year. The 99.1 mph blast put Boston back up, 3-1, going into the sixth.

Kutter Crawford received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Making his first appearance since tweaking his right ankle in Arizona this past Saturday, Crawford immediately issued back-to-back walks out of the gate. The righty then retired Tyler Stephenson and the pinch-hitting Jake Fraley on a pair of flyouts, but he could not escape the jam entirely.

Instead, Crawford extended the inning by giving up an RBI single to Nick Senzel that cut Boston’s lead down to one at 3-2. Josh Winckowski came on to record the final out of the sixth but he, too, was not his usual self in the top of the seventh.

After Maile reached on a Devers throwing error to lead off the inning, Newman and McClain delivered back-to-back singles to fill the bases with no outs. Winckowski then got Jonathan India to ground into a a 6-4-3 double play, but it was enough to allow the pinch-running Will Benson to score from third to knot things up at three runs apiece.

Just moments after they tied the game, Spencer Steer gave the Reds their first lead of the night by crushing a go-ahead, two-run home run into the Monster seats off Winckowski, who was ultimately charged with a blown save as well as the losing decision.

Trailing 5-3 now, the Red Sox had a golden opportunity to respond in the latter half of the inning. Valdez, Verdugo, and Devers all reached to fill the bases with two outs. But lefty reliever Alex Young got Turner to ground out to short to extinguish the threat.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the eighth from Chris Martin, Yoshida led off the bottom half with a hard-hit double off new Reds reliever Lucas Sims. Jarren Duran then drove in Yoshida from second with a two-base hit of his own. Alas, the potential tying run was left on base as the pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia (lineout) and Valdez were each retired by Sims.

Like Martin, Nick Pivetta put up a zero in the top of the ninth to give the Red Sox one more shot in the latter half. With two outs and the bases empty, Devers lifted a 104.6 mph line drive to center field off Buck Farmer, but it fell well short of the bleachers and was caught by Senzel on the warning track for the final out.

Next up: Sale gets ball in series finale

On the heels of a 13-13 May, the Red Sox will look to open the month of June by putting an end to this three-game losing streak and avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Reds in Thursday’s series finale. Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston while Cincinnati will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Hunter Greene.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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


Tanner Houck strikes out 8 over 6 strong innings, but Red Sox muster just 4 hits in 2-1 loss to Angels

Despite Tanner Houck’s strong start, the Red Sox were held to just one run on four hits in a series-opening loss to the Angels on Monday night. Boston fell to Los Angeles by a final score of 2-1 at Angel Stadium to drop to 26-22 on the season.

Houck, making his ninth start of the year for the Sox, put together a solid outing in his bid to remain in the rotation. The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts over six innings of work.

The Halos got to Houck for that lone run in their half of the second. After drawing a one-out walk, Brandon Drury went from first to third base on a Matt Thaiss single. He then opened the scoring by coming in from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Luis Rengifo.

Houck proceeded to load the bases by hitting a batter and giving up another single, but he escaped the jam by fanning Mike Trout on an 84 mph slider at the bottom of the zone. From the middle of the third inning through the end of the sixth, the righty retired eight of the last nine batters he faced.

In addition to striking out Trout and Shohei Ohtani a combined four times on Monday night, Houck induced 17 swings-and-misses on his 83 pitches (65 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.99.

Shortly before Houck’s night to an end, the Red Sox got on the board in the top of the sixth. After being held in check by Angels starter Jaime Barria, Connor Wong led off the inning with a groundball double off veteran reliever Aaron Loup. Wong then moved up to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout and scored the then-tying run on a Masataka Yoshida RBI single.

With things knotted up at 1-1 going into the seventh, Kutter Crawford took over for Houck out of the Boston bullpen. Making his first appearance since being activated from the 15-day injured list on Friday, Crawford worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh and came back out for the eighth.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Mickey Moniak broke the tie by crushing a 401-foot leadoff home run to deep right field to put the Angels back up, 2-1, going into the ninth. Chase Silseth then closed it out by making quick work of Verdugo, Yoshida, and Justin Turner as Crawford was charged with the loss.

At a swift two hours and five minutes, Monday marked Boston’s second-quickest game of the season behind only a 2-1 win over this same Angels team that took one hour and 57 minutes to complete back on April 16.

Next up: Bello vs. Canning

The Red Sox will look to avoid a third straight loss in the middle game of this three-game set against the Angels on Tuesday night. Brayan Bello will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Griffin Canning will go for Los Angeles.

First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Ryan Sherriff to Triple-A Worcester ahead of Kutter Crawford’s return from injured list

The Red Sox optioned left-handed reliever Ryan Sherriff to Triple-A Worcester following Wednesday night’s 12-3 win over the Mariners, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.

By optioning Sherriff, the Red Sox have created a roster spot for right-hander Kutter Crawford, who will be activated from the 15-day injured list ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Padres in San Diego, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Crawford has been sidelined since May 4 due to a left hamstring strain. The 27-year-old made one rehab appearance for the WooSox at Polar Park on Tuesday, allowing one run on three hits, zero walks, and four strikeouts over three innings of work.

In seven appearances (two starts) for Boston this season, Crawford has posted a 3.51 ERA and 4.32 FIP with 24 strikeouts to just three walks across 25 2/3 innings. When working out of the bullpen, the righty has pitched to a 1.08 ERA (3.60 FIP) with 12 punchouts to one walk in 16 2/3 frames.

As noted by Cotillo, Crawford will return to the multi-inning relief role he has thrived in to this point alongside the likes of Josh Winckowski and Nick Pivetta, who was removed from Boston’s starting rotation and subsequently demoted to the bullpen on Wednesday night.

Sherriff, meanwhile, had his contract selected from Worcester on Tuesday and tossed a scoreless inning in each of the last two games against Seattle. The lefty gave up one hit and one walk while recording one strikeout in his first major-league action since September 2021.

Sherriff, who turns 33 next week, signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox back in January. Prior to Tuesday’s call-up, the veteran southpaw had forged a 3.00 ERA (2.94 FIP) with 16 strikeouts to eight walks in 15 outings (15 innings) for the WooSox.

In 46 career appearances between the Cardinals (2017-2018), Rays (2020-2021), and Red Sox (2023), Sherriff now owns a lifetime 3.50 ERA over 46 1/3 innings at the big-league level.

(Picture of Ryan Sherriff: Nick Grace/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Garrett Whitlock, Kutter Crawford impress in rehab outings for Triple-A Worcester

Two prominent members of the Red Sox pitching staff looked sharp in their respective rehab outings for Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday night.

Garrett Whitlock got the start and Kutter Crawford came out of the bullpen for the WooSox in their series opener against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Polar Park. Whitlock allowed just on earned run on five hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over four innings of work.

After stranding a runner at third base in the top of the first, the right-hander retired the side in order in the second and then gave up a solo home run to Jake Cave with two outs in the third. He ended his outing by working his way around a two-out double in a scoreless fourth inning.

Finishing with 49 pitches (35 strikes), Whitlock induced eight swings-and-misses. The 26-year-old hurler also sat between 92-95 mph with his sinker, 80-84 mph with his changeup, and 76-80 mph with his slider, per Baseball Savant.

“It was good,” Whitlock told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison-O’Day). “I’m happy with the outing and everything, throwing a lot of strikes, no walks, so I’m happy about that.”

Whitlock was placed on the 15-day injured list with right elbow ulnar neuritis on April 25, just three days after he first felt his arm going numb from the elbow down “a couple of times” during his start against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

“For me it was when I got to full extension, everything kind of just went numb, that’s probably the best way to kind of describe it,” he explained on Tuesday. “But the nerves have calmed down, so we’re all good now. Everything felt normal tonight.”

Whitlock, who turns 26 next month, is on the injured list for the second time this season already. The righty began the year on the shelf as he continued to work his way back from right hip surgery last September. He is slated to make one more rehab start for the WooSox in their series finale against the IronPigs on Sunday.

Crawford, who is rehabbing a left hamstring strain he sustained on May 3, took over for Whitlock in the top of the fifth. Much like Whitlock, the right-hander yielded one earned run on three hits and zero walks with four strikeouts over three innings of relief.

After sitting down the first five batters he faced, Crawford served up a solo shot to Jordan Qsar with two outs in the sixth. He then maneuvered his way around a pair of hits in an otherwise clean seventh inning to ultimately pick up the winning decision in the WooSox’ 9-4 victory.

Crawford needed 41 pitches (26 strikes) to get through three innings of one-run ball. The 27-year-old induced eight whiffs while featuring a 92-96 mph four-seam fastball, an 86-88 mph cutter, an 81-84 mph slider, an 82-83 mph changeup, and a 78-81 mph curveball.

“Both had some balls that were hit good, but the wind was blowing out pretty firmly,” WooSox manager Chad Tracy said. “I thought Whitlock looked great, landed his breaking ball for strikes, got ahead in the count. Fastball was good. Kutter was the same way they, both looked really good.”

Because Crawford’s stint on the 15-day injured list was backdated to May 4, he is eligible to come off the injured list this Friday, when the Red Sox open a three-game weekend series against the Padres in San Diego. Barring a surprise, Crawford is expected to travel and be with the club for the start of their nine-game West Coast road trip.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kutter Crawford on 15-day injured list with left hamstring strain, recall Kaleb Ort from from Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have placed right-hander Kutter Crawford on the 15-day injured list with a left hamstring strain, the club announced prior to Friday’s series opener against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. In a corresponding move, fellow reliever Kaleb Ort was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Crawford strained his left hamstring in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 8-3 win over the Blue Jays. Perhaps it was due to pitching in wet and rainy conditions at Fenway Park, but the 27-year-old hurler appeared to be in visible discomfort after retiring Alejandro Kirk.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was optimistic that Crawford would be able to avoid a stint on the injured list but that is no longer the case. Crawford, who was in Boston’s Opening Day rotation to begin the year, has since emerged as a versatile multi-inning reliever alongside Josh Winckowski.

Including Wednesday’s injury-shortened outing, Crawford has posted a 1.08 ERA and 3.66 FIP with 12 strikeouts to just one walk in five relief appearances (16 2/3 innings) dating back to April 13. He currently ranks in the 95th percentile in walk rate (2.9 percent) and the 98th percentile in chase rate (39.5 percent), per Baseball Savant.

Because his stint on the injured list was backdated to May 4, Crawford will not be eligible to be activated until May 19 at the earliest. In the meantime, Cora and Co. will need to find a way to cover the innings he would have been responsible for out of the bullpen.

Ort, meanwhile, was optioned to Worcester this past Sunday as a corresponding move for the activation of Chris Martin. The 31-year-old did not appear in a game for the WooSox and is now back with the big-league club less than a week after getting sent down.

After making his first career Opening Day back in March, Ort got his 2023 season off a tough start by posting a 7.30 ERA and 6.28 FIP with 12 strikeouts to six walks in 12 relief appearances (12 1/3 innings). He surrendered five runs (four earned) to the Orioles on April 25. Opponents are now batting .308/.383/.577 against him.

As those numbers indicate, Ort has struggled when it comes to missing bats so far this year. According to Baseball Savant, the hard-throwing righty ranks in the second percentile of all big-league pitchers in whiff rate (15.7 percent), the 21st percentile in chase rate (24 percent), the 35th percentile in barrel rate (9.3 percent), and the 37th percentile in hard-hit rate (41.9 percent). Not ideal.

With that being said, the Red Sox still remain intrigued by Ort’s arsenal, which at present consists of a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a low-90s changeup. Pitching coach Dave Bush alluded to as much when speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) last weekend.

“A lot of it is command,” Bush said. “Being able to put the ball where he wants to. We do like the stuff. We still like it. The fastball quality’s there. The slider shape is good. At times, the changeup has been a really effective pitch for him. But the command has been off. Pitching behind in the count and putting too many guys on base.

“The message we sent to him is to get down and work on his delivery so he can throw the ball where he wants to,” added Bush. “Because we do like the stuff. The stuff is still big. He’s still a power guy. But he has to command the ball where he wants to and throw more strikes. That was the directive when he went down and there’s some things to work on in Worcester to get back to being the guy we know he can be.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Kutter Crawford day-to-day after leaving Wednesday’s game with left hamstring tightness

UPDATE: Prior to Thursday’s series finale, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) that Kutter Crawford is day-to-day with tightness in his left hamstring. The right-hander will avoid the injured list for now.

Red Sox reliever Kutter Crawford left the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s 8-3 win over the Blue Jays with left hamstring tightness, the club announced.

Crawford entered Wednesday’s contest in the top of the eighth. The right-hander yielded a two-out single and walk before getting Daulton Varsho to ground out to escape the jam. He then came back out for the ninth and got leadoff man Alejandro Kirk to ground out to second base on the 12th pitch of a lengthy at-bat.

After retiring Kirk, it became clear that Crawford — who was pitching in cold and rainy conditions at Fenway Park — was in discomfort as he flexed and grabbed at his left hamstring. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora and head athletic trainer Brandon Henry to emerge from the home dugout and check up on him.

Following a brief conference on the mound, Crawford departed with Henry and was replaced by Ryan Brasier, who recorded the final two outs of the game. When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) shortly thereafter, Cora indicated that the Red Sox would know more about Crawford’s condition on Thursday.

“We’ll know probably, tomorrow, what’s going on,” said Cora.

Crawford, 27, opened the 2023 season in Boston’s starting rotation but has since emerged as a valuable multi-inning reliever out of the bullpen alongside Josh Winckowski. After being called back up from Triple-A Worcester on April 13, the hard-throwing righty came into play Wednesday having posted a 1.17 ERA and 3.50 FIP with 12 strikeouts to zero walks over four relief appearances spanning 15 innings of work.

As noted by Cotillo, the Red Sox already have five pitchers on the injured list in Zack Kelly, Wyatt Mills, James Paxton, Joely Rodriguez, and Garrett Whitlock. All three of Paxton, Rodriguez, and Whitlock are on the verge of returning to action, though.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford and Brandon Henry: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta has another rough start as Red Sox drop opener to Guardians, 5-2

The Red Sox found themselves in an early hole and could never recover against the Guardians on Friday night. Boston fell to Cleveland by a final score of 5-2 in the opener of this three-game series at Fenway Park to drop back below .500 on the season at 13-14.

Nick Pivetta was unable to find his rhythm in his fifth start of the season for the Sox. The right-hander allowed four earned runs on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over five innings of work.

The Guardians got to Pivetta right away in their half of the first. Steven Kwan led off with a line-drive single and Jose Ramirez capped off a 12-pitch at-bat with a base hit of his own to put runners at the corners with one out. Josh Naylor then opened the scoring by driving in Kwan with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Ramirez advanced to second base on a wild pitch and then scored from second on an RBI double off the bat of Josh Bell to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead out of the gate. An inning later, Pivetta plunked Will Brennan with one out. Brennan then stole second and quickly scored on a Myles Straw RBI single to put the Guardians up, 3-0.

Boston got one of those runs back in the latter half of the second. With ace righty Shane Bieber starting for Cleveland, Triston Casas drew a one-out walk and Jarren Duran followed with a groundball double to put runners at second and third for Enrique Hernandez. Hernandez, in turn, cut into the deficit by plating Casas with a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield.

Hernandez’s base hit put runners on the corners for Reese McGuire, but the catcher grounded into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play to extinguish the threat. Pivetta then put up a zero in the third before running into more trouble in the fourth, when he served up a 346-foot solo shot over the Green Monster to Mike Zunino.

Zunino gave the Guardians a 4-1 lead with his towering blast. Pivetta, for his part, got through the rest of the inning unscathed and retired the final three batters he faced in a scoreless fifth. The 30-year-old hurler finished with exactly 100 pitches (73 strikes). He also induced a game-high 11 swings-and-misses, but was ultimately charged with the loss as his ERA on the season rose to 5.11.

With Pivetta’s night done, the Red Sox continued to try to chip away against Bieber. In the bottom of the fifth, Hernandez led off with a single and Enmanuel Valdez moved him up to third with a double. Alex Verdugo then brought in Hernandez with an RBI groundout, but Masataka Yoshida left Valdez at third base by grounding out to Bieber himself.

Fast forward to the seventh inning, Duran led off with yet another double off Bieber. But Hernandez popped out, McGuire struck out, and Valdez grounded out to leave Duran at second. In the eighth, Yoshida ripped a one-out double off reliever Trevor Stephan and Justin Turner followed with a single to put runners on the corners for Rafael Devers.

Following a mound visit from Guardians pitching coach Carl Willis, though, Stephan responded by fanning Devers on three straight strikes and getting Casas to ground out to squander yet another scoring opportunity for the Red Sox.

Still trailing 4-2 going into the ninth, Kutter Crawford had already tossed three scoreless innings of relief after taking over for Pivetta in the sixth. But with one out and the bases empty in the top half of the frame, Brennan took Crawford 351 deep to right field to make it a 5-2 contest in favor of Cleveland.

Guardians closer Enmanuel Clase came on for the last of the ninth and worked his way around a Duran leadoff ground-rule double by retiring Hernandez, McGuire, and Valdez to end it two hours and 25 minutes.

All told, the Red Sox went just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left seven runners on base as a team. Duran (3-for-4) accounted for three of Boston’s eight hits. His three doubles left his bat at 108.7 mph, 97.1 mph, and 61 mph, respectively. He is now batting .436 (17-39) in his first 11 games this season.

Next up: Plesac vs. Bello

The Red Sox will look to put an end to this two-game skid with a win over the Guardians on Saturday afternoon. Brayan Bello will get the start for Boston in place of the injured Garrett Whitlock. Fellow right-hander Zach Plesac is lined up to do the same for Cleveland.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chris Sale strikes out 11, Alex Verdugo comes through with wonky walk-off single to seal comeback as Red Sox defeat Twins, 5-4, in extras

The Red Sox came back to walk off the Twins in wonky fashion on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Minnesota by a final score of 5-4 in 10 innings at Fenway Park to get back to .500 and improve to 9-9 on the season.

With Sonny Gray starting for the Twins, the Sox quickly drew first blood in their half of the first. Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive double and then came into score the first run of the game on an RBI single from Rafael Devers.

Chris Sale, meanwhile, made his fourth start of the season for Boston. The veteran left-hander looked like his vintage self, as he allowed just one run on three hits, two walks, and two hit batsman to go along with 11 strikeouts over six strong innings of work.

After tossing four scoreless frames out of the gate, Sale ran into some trouble in the fifth. There, a walk, hit-by-pitch, and infield single filled the bases with no outs. Sale then struck out Donovan Solano, but Carlos Correa followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly to pull the Twins back even with the Red Sox at 1-1.

Sale avoided any further damage and ended his night by stranding former battery mate Christian Vazquez in an otherwise clean sixth inning. The 34-year-old southpaw finished with 94 pitches (63 strikes), inducing 19 swings-and-misses and topping out at 96.1 mph with his four-seam fastball.

With Sale’s day done, Josh Winckowski received the first call out of the bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in the seventh. Right away, Winckowski was greeted by Max Kepler, who took a 1-0, 85 mph slider on the inner half of the plate and deposited it 385 feet into the visitor’s bullpen to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.

That is where the score would remain as Winckowski held Minnesota at two runs through the middle of the eighth. The latter half of the inning is where things started to get interesting.

Enrique Hernandez led off with a line-drive single off new Twins reliever Griffin Jax. After Triston Casas struck out for a fourth time, the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire reached base on a catcher’s interference. Hernandez was able to go from first to third on the play since the ball was technically live when McGuire grounded to third.

That bizarre sequence put runners on the corners with one out for Jarren Duran, who proceeded to hit a chopper to second baseman Nick Gordon. With his momentum carrying him in that direction, Gordon attempted to throw out Hernandez at home. Gordon’s throw, however, was mishandled by Vazquez at the plate, which allowed Hernandez to score the tying run.

Closers Kenley Jansen and Jhoan Duran exchanged 1-2-3 innings in the ninth, sending this one into extras. In the top of the 10th, John Schreiber plunked Solano and walked Correa to fill the bases with no outs. The Twins then pushed across two runs on a Byron Buxton sacrifice fly and Jose Miranda RBI groundout.

Trailing 4-2 going into the bottom of the 10th, Kutter Crawford (the pitcher) entered the game as the ghost runner at second base for the Red Sox. With a short bench due to Christian Arroyo’s hamstring injury, Cora was forced to use Crawford (who pitched 6 1/3 innings of relief on Monday) as a pinch-runner after making a double switch and burning his designated hitter earlier in the game.

Representing the tying run, Hernandez led off the 10th by striking out, but he reached first safely as a result of a wild pitch on strike three from Jovani Moran. Crawford advanced to the third on the play and Casas followed by drawing a six-pitch walk to fill the bases for McGuire.

McGuire came through with a game-tying, two-run single, plating both Crawford and Hernandez by roping a 188-foot base hit to left field. Duran then re-loaded the bases by ripping a groundball single back up the middle, but Rob Refsnyder followed by grounding into a 5-3 double play.

Down to their final out in the 10th, the game was fittingly in Verdugo’s hands. Verdugo delivered by lifting a 300-foot single down the right field line. Out of the box, Verdugo thought it was foul, but the ball barely landed in fair territory as it bounced off the portion of the right field wall in front of the Pesky Pole.

After a lengthy umpire review, it was determined that the ball did indeed land in fair territory. As a result, Verdugo was credited with the sixth walk-off RBI of his career and the Red Sox went home winners despite going 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position and leaving 13 runners on base as a team.

Next up: Ryan vs. Kluber

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Twins on Wednesday night. Corey Kluber will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Joe Ryan will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and MLB Network.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kutter Crawford shines out of bullpen, but Red Sox come up just short in rain-filled 5-4 loss to Angels

On a chilly and rain-soaked Marathon Monday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were unable to complete a four-game sweep of the Angels. Boston fell to Los Angeles by a final score of 5-4 to drop back to under .500 on the season at 8-9.

After first pitch of the annual Patriots’ Day contest was pushed back from 11:10 a.m. to 12:06 p.m., Brayan Bello made his first start of the season for the Sox. The young right-hander showed signs of rust in his 2023 debut, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of work.

Bello ran into trouble right away in the top of the first. After yielding a one-out single to Shohei Ohtani and plunking Taylor Ward to put runners at first and second, the righty served up a 355-foot three-run homer to Hunter Renfroe that cleared the Green Monster and gave the Angels an early 3-0 lead.

The Red Sox were able to get one of those runs back in the latter half of the first. Matched up against Ohtani on the mound, Raimel Tapia drew a leadoff walk before taking second and third on a pair of wild pitches. He then scored from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Rob Refsnyder.

The Angels responded in the top of the second, though, as Bello gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before yielding a run-scoring groundout to Renfroe to make it a 5-1 game. Bello came back out for the third and recorded the first outs. The skies then began to open up as a one hour and 25 minute rain delay commenced.

Since the delay lasted that long, Bello’s season debut was shorter than expected. The 23-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (48 strikes) and induced 10 swings-and-misses. He also averaged 95.4 and topped out at 96.9 mph with his sinker.

Once the tarpaulin was removed from the field for a second time, Kutter Crawford came on to pitch in relief of Bello. Crawford got the final out of the third and took over in an effort to preserve the rest of the Red Sox bullpen. Over 6 1/3 scoreless frames, the 27-year-old gave up just one hit and no walks while striking out five of the 21 batters he faced.

While Crawford was in the process of shutting down Angels hitters, the Red Sox struggled to get anything going offensively on the other side of the delay. In the bottom of the fourth, for instance, Rafael Devers led off with a double and Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas filled the bases by drawing back-to-back one-out walks off lefty Tucker Davidson.

Davidson, however, did not give in. Instead, he got Enrique Hernandez to line out and Reese McGuire to fly out to escape the jam. An inning later, Jarren Duran reached base on a one-out double but was left at second after Tapia fanned and Devers grounded out to extinguish the threat.

After Crawford worked his way around a pair of throwing errors in the top of the sixth, Boston finally broke through in the bottom half of the inning. Refsnyder led off with a double and Casas ripped a one-out double off new Angels reliever Aaron Loup. Hernandez then plated Refsnyder on a sacrifice fly before McGuire drove in Casas by beating out an infield single on a feet-first slide into first base.

That sequence of events trimmed Los Angeles’ lead down to two runs at 5-3. In the seventh, Duran drew a leadoff walk off Matt Moore and immediately stole second base. Again, though, Duran was stranded in scoring position as Tapia, Devers, and Refsnyder were all retired.

Following two more scoreless innings from Crawford, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs and still trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth. With Carlos Estevez pitching for the Angels, Alex Verdugo came off the bench and led off with a pinch-hit single. A one-out walk from Tapia put runners at first and second for Devers, who scored Verdugo by lacing a 112.1 mph RBI single to right field.

Estevez then got Refsnyder to strike out and Yoshida to pop out to end the rally there. All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team in Monday’s 5-4 loss, which technically took five hours and 24 minutes to complete.

McGuire throws out base stealer

With one out and runners on the corners in the top of the sixth inning, Reese McGuire threw out Shohei Ohtani at second base for his first caught stealing in 16 attempts to begin the year.

Duran’s 2023 debut

While Brayan Bello’s 2023 debut did not go according to plan,the same cannot be said for Jarren Duran. Batting out of the nine-hole and starting in center field, the speedy left-handed hitter went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.

Next up: Gray vs. Sale

The Red Sox will welcome the first-place, 10-6 Twins into town for the first of a three-game series on Tuesday night. Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to get the start for Boston opposite Minnesota right-hander Sonny Gray.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

Red Sox overpowered, swept by Rays as 7-run inning leads to 9-3 loss

Despite all the struggles they endured this week, the Red Sox had a chance to secure a winning road trip with a victory over the Rays on Thursday. Boston instead fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 9-3 and were swept in four games as a result.

With the loss, their 13th straight at Tropicana Field, the Red Sox drop to 5-8 on the season. The unbeaten Rays, meanwhile, improve to a perfect 13-0, matching the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers for the best start to a season in major-league history.

Thursday’s series finale actually started in positive fashion for Boston. With old friend Jeffrey Springs starting for Tampa Bay, Rob Refsnyder gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead in the first inning by taking the lefty 409 feet deep to left field for his first home run of the year.

The Rays quickly responded, though, as Yandy Diaz crushed a leadoff home run off Red Sox starter Corey Kluber to begin things in the bottom of the first. Kluber would settle in, however, and Boston got back on the board in the top of the fourth.

After Springs was forced to exit with ulnar neuritis, Justin Turner greeted new Rays reliever Garrett Cleavinger by ripping a leadoff double to left field. Turner stole third base and then came into score on an Enrique Hernandez force out to put the Red Sox up 2-1. An inning later, Turner struck again, this time plating Christian Arroyo on an RBI single to make it a 3-1 game heading into the bottom of the fifth.

That is where things began to unravel for Boston. Kluber, who retired each of the last nine batters he had faced, yielded a leadoff double to Harold Ramirez. After issuing a one-out walk to Josh Lowe to put runners on the corners, Kluber gave up an RBI single to Francisco Mejia to cut the lead to one run at 3-2.

With two outs, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to pull Kluber for left-hander Richard Bleier. Bleier, in turn, allowed the then-game-tying run to cross the plate on an RBI single from Brandon Lowe that was just out of the reach of Arroyo. Randy Arozarena then gave the Rays their first lead of the afternoon with a groundball single of his own.

After plunking Wander Franco to fill the bases, the pinch-hitting Manuel Margot laid down a perfectly-executed bunt off Bleier to push across Lowe. Ramirez then broke it open with a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line to cap off a seven-run fifth inning and give the Rays a commanding 8-3 edge.

Kluber was charged with three of those seven runs. All together, the veteran right-hander surrendered four earned runs on four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. He was hit with the losing decision and is now 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA through three starts.

Bleier, on the other hand, was charged with the other four runs that crossed the plate in the fifth. Kutter Crawford, who was just recalled from Triple-A Worcester, took over the lefty and served up a solo homer to Brandon Lowe in the seventh. Besides that one blemish, the righty was effective in his three frames of relief.

Offensively, the Red Sox did not have a response for the Rays bullpen after the fifth inning. They went 1-2-3 against Kevin Kelly in the sixth, stranded a runner at scoring position in a hitless seventh inning, and then went down quietly against Braden Bristo in the eighth and ninth. In total, Boston had just four hits as a team while going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Casas’ 14-pitch walk

With one out and one runner on in the fourth inning, Triston Casas fouled off seven consecutive pitches in the process of working a 14-pitch walk off Rays reliever Garrett Cleavinger. Upon taking ball four, Casas flipped his bat and let out an emphatic yell towards the Red Sox dugout.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the last at-bat by a Red Sox hitter that lasted longer than 14 pitches came on April 25, 2012, when Adrian Gonzalez had a 15-pitch groundout against Liam Hendriks, who was then starting for the Twins.

Next up: Sandoval vs. Houck in first of four against Angels

On the heels of a 3-4 road trip, the Red Sox will head home and open a four-game weekend series against the Angels on Friday night. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener while left-hander Patrick Sandoval is expected to do the same for Los Angeles.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted exclusively on Apple TV+.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)