Kyle Schwarber goes deep twice as Red Sox rout Mets, 12-5, to finish off sweep and extend winning streak

The magic of the yellow City Connect uniforms continued at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, as the Red Sox absolutely teed off on the Mets yet again.

Boston steamrolled New York, 12-5, to finish off another sweep and extend their winning streak to seven consecutive games.

Matched up against Mets starter Taijuan Walker to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox did not waste any time in getting on the board, as Kyle Schwarber got his productive night at the plate by crushing a 434-foot solo shot over the center field wall with one out in the first inning.

Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers followed by each reaching base to put runners at the corners for J.D. Martinez, who doubled the lead on a line-drive RBI single that plated Bogaers and made it a 2-0 game.

That early production gave Chris Sale a decent cushion to work with right out of the gate essentially, though the veteran left-hander was not particularly at his best on Wednesday.

Sale, in what his seventh start of the season and second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list, allowed two runs — both of which were earned — while scattering six hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over five full innings of work.

Despite being given a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Sale gave one of those runs right back to the Mets in the top of the second, as he issued a leadoff walk to Javier Baez, who stole second base with two outs and promptly scored on an RBI double off the bat of Jeff McNeil.

The Red Sox, however, responded immediately — and then some — in their half of the second, with Hunter Renfroe ripping a leadoff double and moving up to third on a Christian Vazquez lineout before Jose Iglesias drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on the corners once more.

As the Boston lineup flipped back over for Enrique Hernandez, the leadoff man stayed hot by lacing an RBI double down the left field line that brought in Renfroe and moved Iglesias up to third while giving the Sox a 3-1 lead.

With two runners still on base, Schwarber came through yet again, this time tattooing a high, 94.4 mph fastball from Walker that he sent flying over the visitor’s bullpen.

Schwarber’s second homer of the evening — and 31st of the year — was a booming three-run shot that left his bat at 105.8 mph. It also put the Sox up 6-1 after just two innings.

In the third, after Iglesias turned a slick, 4-6-3 inning-ending double play to help Sale escape a jam, back-to-back doubles from Martinez and Alex Verdugo pushed across another Boston run off newly-inserted Mets reliever Trevor Williams.

Verdugo advanced up to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield from Vazquez, then scored himself on a hard-hit triple that was stung to right field by Vazquez and deflected off the glove of old friend Kevin Pillar.

Center fielder Brandon Nimmo got the ball back into the infield quickly, but Baez, the second baseman, overthrew Jonathan Villar at third base, thus allowing Iglesias to easily score to cap off the little-league home run and make it a 9-1 contest.

After Schwarber blooped a leadoff double in the fourth and Bogaerts moved him up to third on a single, Devers plated his side’s 10th run of the night on a run-scoring double play.

Sale, meanwhile, ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth following a pair of scoreless frames in the third and fourth, as the lefty issued a leadoff walk to James McCann that was later followed by a scorcher of a run-scoring infield single courtesy of Francisco Lindor.

That cut New York’s deficit down to eight runs at 10-2, but Sale was able to rebound by fanning the final batter he faced in Baez to end his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes) the 32-year-old hurler ultimately picked up his fifth win of the year to improve to a perfect 5-0, though he did raise his ERA on the season from 2.40 to 2.57.

Iglesias got the final run Sale gave up back on an RBI groundout that scored Renfroe in the bottom half of the fifth, and the Red Sox bullpen took over from there — with Matt Barnes getting the first call from manager Alex Cora.

Barnes, like Sale, was making just his second appearance since returning from the COVID IL last Friday, and he only managed to get the first out of the sixth before loading the bases on a six-pitch walk of Pillar.

Ryan Brasier was then dispatched to get out of the mess Barnes had created, and he did just that while only allowing one of the runners he inherited to score by getting McCann to fly out to center field.

Villar attempted to advance to third while J.D. Davis tagged up and scored, but was instead thrown out there by Hernandez, who ended the inning by notching his eighth outfield assist of the season and his second in as many games.

From there, the Sox and Mets continued to exchange one-run innings, with Verdugo picking up another RBI on a groundout in the bottom of the sixth and the dangerous Pete Alonso taking Adam Ottavino deep on a solo shot to right field in the top half of the seventh that made it a 12-4 contest entering the late stages.

After the Boston bats failed to score a run in an inning for the first time all night in the bottom of the seventh, left-hander Josh Taylor put up another zero in the eighth, setting the stage for fellow southpaw Martin Perez in the ninth.

Perez, in turn, surrendered a run on two hits, but otherwise slammed the door on New York to secure a commanding 12-5 victory for the Sox to finish off a quick two-game sweep.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to seven straight games, but they also improve to 88-65 on the season. With the Yankees winning and the Blue Jays losing on Wednesday, Boston now holds a two-game lead over New York for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Huge weekend against the Yankees at Fenway

After an off-day on Thursday, the Red Sox will welcome the Yankees, who have won three straight, into town for a pivotal three-game weekend series that begins on Friday night.

Friday’s series opener will feature a star-studded pitching matchup, as right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston while fellow righty Gerrit Cole is in line to do the same for New York.

With plenty of Wild Card implications on the line, first pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec sits, Kyle Schwarber starts at first base as Chris Sale, Red Sox look to complete sweep of Mets

Bobby Dalbec is not in the Red Sox’ starting lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Despite slashing a scorching .368/.500/.842 with two home runs and five RBI over his last six games, Dalbec will sit in favor of Kyle Schwarber, who will get the start at first base as the Sox go up against Mets starter Taijuan Walker.

Walker, who did not pitch against Boston the last time these two teams matched up in April, was named an All-Star for the first time in his big-league career earlier this summer.

Since the All-Star break, though, the 29-year-old right-hander has struggled to the tune of a 7.04 ERA and 6.87 FIP over his last 11 starts and 55 innings pitched dating back to July 18. He does however own a lifetime 1.69 ERA in two career starts (10 2/3 innings) at Fenway Park.

In his career against Walker, Schwarber has fared quite well, going 3-for-8 (.375) with three home runs and a walk off the righty. Between the Nationals and Red Sox this season, the 28-year-old left-handed hitter has slashed .257/.352/.605 (149 wRC+) against right-handed pitchers.

Schwarber will be batting second in Boston’s lineup behind leadoff man Enrique Hernandez, who has reached base in each of his last four games and will be starting in center field on Wednesday. They will be followed by Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, Rafael Devers at third base, and J.D. Martinez at designated hitter.

Martinez, like Schwarber, has also got the best of Walker, as he is a lifetime .546 (6-for-11) off him.

Rounding out Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s lineup is Alex Verdugo in left field, Hunter Renfroe making his return in right field, Christian Vazquez behind the plate, and Jose Iglesias — who has three hits in eight career plate appearances against Walker — at second base.

Vazquez will be catching ace left-hander Chris Sale, who will be making his seventh start of the season for the Sox. The 32-year-old hurler last pitched on September 17, meaning he will be working on regular rest in just his second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list.

Since making his 2021 debut after returning from Tommy John surgery last month, Sale has put up a 2.40 ERA and 4.26 FIP to go along with 31 strikeouts to six walks in exactly 30 innings of work thus far. He owns a career 2.45 ERA in two prior outings against the Mets.

The Red Sox (87-65) on Wednesday will be going for the quick two-game sweep of the Mets while also extending their winning streak to seven consecutive games. They currently hold a 1 1/2 game lead over the Blue Jays (85-66) for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Boston will also be wearing their City Connect uniforms once again, for what it’s worth.

Taking that point into consideration, first pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox break out for 6 runs in 10th inning to run away with 9-4 victory over Mariners in extras

It took nearly four hours to see it through, but the Red Sox were able to cap off their road trip in style with a hard-fought victory over the Mariners in extra innings on Wednesday (Roberto Clemente Day) afternoon.

Boston broke out for six runs in the 10th inning to top Seattle by a final score of 9-4, marking their second straight win and their third in their last five games.

Matched up against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox struck early and often to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

Right out of the gate, Hunter Renfroe crushed a 414-foot solo shot — his 28th home run of the season — off Gonzales in the top half of the first inning. In the second, Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk and Bobby Dalbec followed by drilling a ground-rule double to left-center field, paving the way for Kevin Plawecki to drive in a run on an RBI groundout.

Having moved up to third on that play, Dalbec scored on an RBI double off the bat of a seemingly red-hot Jose Iglesias to put Boston up by three.

To that point, Tanner Houck — making his 12th start of the year — had been cruising along for the Red Sox, taking a no-hitter into the third inning before giving up a one-out single to fellow rookie Jarred Kelenic.

Houck proceeded to yield another single to Tom Murphy that should have put runners at the corners, but instead scored a run and put a runner at second base when Hunter Renfroe attempted to gun down Kelenic at third, though his throw eluded Rafael Devers and wound up going out of play.

Kelenic was able to score as a result of Renfroe’s miscue, while Houck walked J.P. Crawford on four pitches, spiked a wild pitch into the dirt that put runners at second and third. The right-hander did get the second out of the third, but could not end it before serving up a two-run double down the left field line to Kyle Seager.

The momentum had shifted going into the fourth with the Mariners battling back to knot things up at three runs apiece. Houck, however, rebounded by punching out the side in the bottom half of the fourth before falling victim to Kelenic once again in the fifth.

The Mariners outfielder led off the fifth inning with a single back up the middle and proceeded to steal second base to put the potential go-ahead run in scoring position. Houck then fanned Tom Murphy for the first out of the frame, and that is when his day came to a close with the Seattle lineup turning back over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (45 strikes), the 25-year-old wrapped up his outing having allowed three runs — all earned — on four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Josh Taylor got the first call out of the bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, and the left-hander officially closed the book on Houck’s start by stranding the lone runner he inherited while recording the last two outs of the fifth.

Garrett Richards took over for Taylor in the sixth and worked his way around a leadoff single by inducing a 6-5-3 double play and getting a strikeout. The veteran righty was nearly rewarded for his effort a half inning later when a walk from Dalbec and two-out single from Iglesias put runners at the corners.

Alex Verdugo came off the bench to pinch-hit for Enrique Hernandez in that spot against right-handed Mariners reliever Paul Sewald and proceeded to lace a 102 mph line drive to left field.

Verdugo’s screamer, which had an expected batting average of .850, was caught by M’s left fielder Luke Fraley, however, and that kept things tied up at 3-3.

Richards, again, faced the minimum three batters in the seventh with the help of a smooth, inning-ending double play started by Iglesias.

After both Devers and J.D. Martinez reached base with two outs off Sewald in the eighth, Schwarber had an opportunity to replicate his late-game heroics from the night before, but flew out to center field to strand the pair of runners.

In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Davis got the first two outs despite Mitch Haniger reaching base on a throwing error committed by Devers, but Adam Ottavino was able work around that by fanning Ty France on three straight strikes.

With former Rays reliever Diego Castillo entering this game for the Mariners in the ninth, neither Dalbec, Christian Vazquez (pinch-hitting for Plawecki), nor Travis Shaw (pinch-hitting for Iglesias) mounted anything resembling a rally, as they were sat down in order.

Ottavino, having needed just three pitches to finish off the eighth, came back out for the ninth. He got the first two outs of the inning rather easily before plunking the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers in the leg. Bauers then stole second base while Kelenic was at the plate, but Ottavino left him there by fanning the top prospect to send this one to extras.

Before Ottavino came through when it mattered most, Jack Lopez had taken over for Shaw at second base. And since Shaw recorded the final out of the ninth, that meant Lopez started the 10th inning as the runner at second base.

With Erik Swanson now on the mound for Seattle, Boston got an immediate boost when Verdugo sliced a single to shallow left field. Lopez, who advanced up to third on Verdugo’s base hit, proceeded to score from there on a passed ball — giving the Red Sox their first lead since the second inning at 4-3.

A walk drawn by Renfroe and bloop single from Bogaerts filled the bases with one out for Martinez, who greeted new Mariners reliever Justus Sheffield by ripping a 107 mph RBI single to the left side of the infield that deflected off Crawford’s glove and brought in Renfroe from third.

That made it a 5-3 contest, but the Sox were not done there, as Schwarber provided some much-needed insurance by lining a two-run single to right field that plated both Bogaerts and Devers and opened up a 7-3 lead for his side.

Vazquez pushed across two more on a two-run, bases-loaded double down the right field line, thus capping off a six-run inning in which Boston sent 10 batters to the plate to give themselves a commanding 9-3 advantage.

Martin Perez was dispatched in the bottom half of the 10th. The left-hander, making his first appearance since being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Tuesday, did just that.

Perez did allow one unearned run, but ultimately slammed the door on the Mariners to preserve a 9-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox secure their first series victory in Seattle since 2013 to finish off a 3-3 road trip and improve to 83-65 on the season. They also remain tied with the Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Welcoming in the Orioles to kick off the final homestand of 2021

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against the lowly Orioles at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Neither team has yet to name a starter for Friday’s series opener, but Boston is expected to activate ace left-hander Chris Sale from the COVID-19 related injured list — meaning that responsibility would fall to him.

Friday’s contest against the O’s will mark the beginning of the Sox’ final (eight-game) homestand of the season. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber bounces back with clutch 3-run double off bench as Red Sox top Mariners, 8-4

There was a point in time where it looked like a key defensive miscue would once again cost the Red Sox dearly in their matchup against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday, but they were able to overcome their mistakes this time around.

In what was a close contest for most of the night, Boston used a five-run eighth inning to best Seattle, 8-4, and put an end to their two-game losing streak.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox, put together yet another solid outing, as he has consistently been doing over the past month-plus.

Over five innings of work, Eovaldi surrendered just two runs — only one of which was earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

After issuing a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford to begin things in the first, the veteran right-hander proceeded to settle into a nice groove, retiring the next nine batters he faced in order going into the top of the fourth.

Things were still scoreless at that point in time, but Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez quickly changed that by clubbing a 414-foot solo shot off Mariners starter Tyler Anderson to give his side an early 1-0 lead on his 28th home run of the season.

That one-run lead did not last long, however, as the M’s answered with two runs of their own in their half of the fourth, though Eovaldi certainly cannot be dealt all the blame.

Following a softly-hit single from Mitch Haniger and an infield single from Kyle Seager, Ty France blooped a 228-foot RBI single to shallow center field that landed in front of Enrique Hernandez and brought in Haniger to tie things up at one run apiece.

Eovaldi then get Abraham Toro to lift a 358-foot fly ball to right field that should have gone for the second out of the inning, but was instead misplayed by Hunter Renfroe when the right fielder quite simply dropped the ball.

Seattle was able to load the bases on Renfroe’s 11th later of the year, and they took advantage of that by jumping out to a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Fraley.

Still, all things considered, Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up, and he ended his day by getting out of another jam in what would turn out to be a scoreless fifth inning as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 3.52.

As soon as Eovaldi’s evening had officially ended, the Red Sox made sure to het the All-Star off the hook, as Seattle-area native Bobby Dalbec greeted new Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz by crushing a game-tying, 367-foot solo homer off him with two outs in the sixth.

Dalbec’s 22nd big fly of the season made it a 2-2 game entering the later stages, and while Darwinzon Hernandez (1 2/3 scoreless innings) and Adam Ottavino (1/3 scoreless innings) proved effective out of the Boston bullpen, the bats broke this one open in the eighth.

Following a hard-hit leadoff triple from Xander Bogaerts that prompted the Mariners to turn to Drew Steckenrider out of their bullpen, Rafael Devers drew a hard-fought eight-pitch walk, Martinez advanced Devers into scoring position on a groundout, and then it was in the hands of the bench.

Even after Dalbec homered in his previous at-bat, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for him, and that move paid off since Shaw loaded the bases on a walk of his own.

Next up was Kyle Schwarber, pinch-hitting for Kevin Plawecki, and coming off one his more forgettable performances in his brief Red Sox career on Monday.

With redemption on his mind, Schwarber promptly unloaded the bases by drilling a 108 mph three-run double to the right-center field gap, allowing all three of Bogaerts, Devers, and Shaw to score to give the Sox their largest lead of the night at 5-2.

Schwarber’s heroics would not mark the end of the line for the Boston rally, though, as Alex Verdugo followed by mashing a two-run home run 348 feet over the left field fence to cap off a five-run inning and put his side ahead 7-2.

From there, Michael Feliz maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth and Martinez provided some much-needed insurance by ripping an RBI single off former teammate Matt Andriese in the top of the ninth.

Now working with an 8-2 lead, Hirokazu Sawamura was only able to record the first out of the bottom of the ninth while also loading the bases.

Austin Davis, meanwhile, took over for Sawamura, allowed two of the three base runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly and base hit, but ultimately closed things out to preserve an 8-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 82-65 on the season, but they also move into a virtual three-way tie with the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Houck vs. Gonzales

Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon as they look to secure a series victory over the Mariners, who will counter with left-hander Marco Gonzales.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Renfroe commit 2 costly errors as Red Sox fall to Mariners, 5-4

If the Red Sox were looking to make a statement in regards to how they should be viewed as a Wild Card contender on Monday, they certainly came up short of doing that against a team hot on their trail in the Mariners.

Boston fell to Seattle, 5-4, in the opening contest of a three-game series at T-Mobile Park, marking their sixth loss in their last eight games.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 28th start of the season for the Sox, bounced back from a rough outing in his last time out against the Rays by surrendering just two runs — only one of which was earned — on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That said, Rodriguez on Monday did not get off to the best starts, as he gave up a double and single to the first two batters he faced (J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger) before allowing the Mariners to take an early 1-0 lead on a run-scoring double play from Ty France in the first inning.

The left-hander had to battle his way through the bottom of the second as well, with Abraham Toro drawing a leadoff walk off him and Luis Torrens ripping a hard-hit single to right field as well as advancing up to second base when Hunter Renfroe booted the ball.

Tom Murphy then doubled his side’s advantage with an RBI groundout, but Rodriguez was ultimately able to settle in — and he did so while getting some help from the Red Sox lineup.

Mariners starter Logan Gilbert had nearly got through Boston’s batting order for the first time without giving up a hit before No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias altered those plans.

With one out and the bases empty in the top half of the third, Iglesias clubbed a 386-foot solo shot off Gilbert for his ninth home run of the season and his first in a Red Sox uniform in more than eight years.

Fast forward to the fifth, after Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez each laced a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with one out, Iglesias came through once more, this time by plating Verdugo on a blooper of an RBI single that knotted things up at two runs apiece.

While Iglesias and Co. were grinding away at the plate, Rodriguez was dealing on the mound, as he ended his day by retiring 12 of the final 16 batters he faced following a 32-pitch second inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), his second-highest pitch total of the year, the 28-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Monday, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 5.00.

In relief of Rodriguez, right-hander Ryan Brasier got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and it appeared he was well on his way to a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

After needing all of five pitches to record the first two outs of the seventh, Brasier induced a relatively-weak grounder off the bat of the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers that was hit in the direction of Kyle Schwarber at first base.

Schwarber, however, misplayed the ball and was charged with a fielding error, thus allowing Bauers to reach first base safely.

The Mariners made the Sox pay dearly for yet another defensive miscue, as Crawford singled to put runners at first and second before Haniger drilled a go-ahead three-run homer 363 feet to left field. Austin Davis had to get the last out of the seventh after his side had suddenly found themselves in a 5-2 hole.

Despite the three-run deficit, the Boston bats did not go away in the eighth, with both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers crushed a pair of back-to-back solo shots off Seattle reliever off Paul Sewald to make it a 5-4 game.

After Kaleb Ort (making his major-league debut) and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless eighth inning, though, Mariners closer Drew Steckenrider slammed the door shut on the Red Sox in the ninth.

Verdugo fanned on a foul tip into the catcher’s mitt, Renfroe was called out on strikes, and Vazquez flew out to center field for the third and final out, as 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score in favor of the Mariners.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 81-65 on the season while also relinquishing the top American League Wild Card spot to the red-hot Blue Jays and moving into a virtual tie with the Yankees for the second and final spot.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Anderson

The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on Tuesday as they look to put an end to this two-game skid. The Mariners will counter with left-hander Tyler Anderson.

First pitch Tuesday night is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Ryan Brasier: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe comes through with game-winning homer, 2 clutch outfield assists as Red Sox hang on for 2-1 victory over Rays

A pair of former Rays helped the Red Sox snap a three-game losing streak and avoid a sweep at the hands of their division rivals at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Powered by yet another strong outing from Nathan Eovaldi and Hunter Renfroe showing out on both sides of the ball, Boston was able to hold on to a 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay to close out the season series — which the Rays won 11-8 –between the two clubs.

Eovaldi, making his 28th start of the season for Boston, was stellar, as he kept the Rays off the board while scattering just three hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings of work.

The veteran right-hander seemed to struggle with his command early on considering that both of his walks came in the top of the third, but he was able to settle in.

Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot had made things a bit interesting by ripping a two-out single off Eovaldi in the fourth, but was ultimately gunned down by Renfroe at second base while trying to extend his single into a double — marking the right fielder’s first of two outfield assists on the evening.

From there, Eovaldi sat down nine of the final 10 batters he faced, and his night came to a close once he recorded the last out of the seventh with a pitch count of 98 (65 strikes).

Though the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Wednesday, he did lower his ERA on the season to 3.57 while also inducing 20 total swings-and-misses.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Boston bullpen from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, but he was only able to get the first two outs of the eighth before issuing a two-out single to Brandon Lowe.

That prompted Cora to turn to Garrett Richards, who walked Wander Franco on five pitches to advance Lowe into scoring position, then surrendered a go-ahead RBI single to Nelson Cruz to put the Sox in a 1-0 hole.

Boston headed into their half of the eighth trailing by one, but that deficit may have seemed more insurmountable at the time on account of the fact that they had been held to just four hits by Rays starter Shane McClanahan and two relievers (Andrew Kittredge and Pete Fairbanks) out of the Tampa Bay bullpen.

Cora, in turn, relied heavily on his bench in the eighth inning, as he had Alex Verdugo hit for Jose Iglesias and Kyle Schwarber hit for Jonathan Arauz at the bottom of the lineup.

Verdugo, matched up against Matt Wisler, ripped a leadoff single to right field. Schwarber, matched up against J.T. Chargois after Wisler left with an apparent injury, reached first base himself on a force out, and thus represented the tying run.

Enrique Hernandez was unable to come through as he lined out to center field, but Renfroe certainly made the most of his opportunity in the spotlight.

On the very first pitch he saw from Chargois, a hanging, 90 mph slider down the heart of the plate, Renfroe clobbered a go-ahead, two-run home run a whopping 415 feet over the Green Monster.

Renfroe’s 27th homer of the year gave his side their first lead of the night at 2-1, and it was one in which Hansel Robles was tasked with protecting in the ninth inning.

Robles swiftly fanned Ji-Man Choi and Margot for the first two outs of the frame, but then gave up a 311-foot fly ball to Joey Wendle that was headed for the gap in right-center field.

Danny Santana, who had shifted from left field to center field, made a diving attempt at the ball but came up short, leaving things in the hands of Renfroe.

Renfroe, backing up Santana on the play, quickly chased down the ball, gathered himself and threw out Wendle at third base on one hop as he attempted to extend a double into a triple.

Having notched his 16th outfield assist of the season at just the right time, Renfroe locked down the 2-1 victory for the Sox, while Robles picked up his 12th save of the year as well.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox break out of a three-game skid and improve to 80-62 on the season, but they also leapfrog the Yankees for the first American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Six-game road trip on deck

The Red Sox will enjoy an off day on Thursday as they depart for Chicago for the start of a six-game road trip and the start of a three-game weekend series against the American League Central-leading White Sox that begins on Friday night.

Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to get the ball for Boston in Friday’s series opener, while Chicago has yet to name a starter for the contest.

First pitch from Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Red Sox struggle with runners in scoring position, come up short, 11-5, in series finale against Indians

Despite a plethora of opportunities, the Red Sox were unable to finish off a series sweep and extend their winning streak to five consecutive games on Sunday afternoon, as they fell to the Indians by a final score of 11-5 at Fenway Park.

It was a day that started with uncertainty for the Sox, with Nick Pivetta being scratched from his start on account of being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Instead of Pivetta, Boston was forced to turn to pitching prospect Kutter Crawford, who had been on the club’s taxi squad after making just six appearances (five starts) above the Double-A level this season.

Crawford’s inexperience showed on Sunday, as the right-hander surrendered five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over just two-plus innings of work.

While he did not necessarily get shelled, Crawford did fall victim to some poor luck, as evidenced by his loading the bases with no outs in the top half of the first.

Cleveland did get to Crawford for two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies after loading the bases, and they got to him for an additional run an inning later when Owen Miller led off with a double and came around to score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Myles Straw.

In the third, Crawford served up a monstrous 419-foot solo shot to Franmil Reyes to lead off the inning, and the righty’s day quickly came to a close after issuing a six-pitch walk to Bobby Bradley.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (40 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler threw 26 four-seam fastballs, 15 cutters, 13 curveballs, two sinkers, and one changeup. He induced nine total swings-and-misses while averaging 93.8 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Crawford, John Schreiber got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s outing by giving up a hard-hit double to Harold Ramirez that was followed by a softly-hit two-run single from Bradley Zimmer to give Cleveland a commanding 6-0 lead.

Schreiber, to his credit, managed to escape the third inning without giving anything else up before stringing together two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth innings in what was his Red Sox debut.

At that point, the Sox, still trailing by six runs, finally got to Indians starter Zach Plesac, as Hunter Renfroe led off the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive double to center field.

Renfroe did not stay at second base for long, though, with J.D. Martinez getting his productive afternoon of the plate started with an RBI double to left field.

After an Alex Verdugo walk, Kevin Plawecki snuck a run-scoring single back up the middle to bring in Martinez, while Travis Shaw came up just inches short of a three-run homer, but settled for an RBI single that scored Verdugo and put runners at first and second with no outs.

Bobby Dalbec failed to advance either runner on a flyout to left field, and — at that moment — Red Sox manager Alex Cora got aggressive by dispatching Rafael Devers, who initially had the day off, to pinch-hit for Jack Lopez.

Devers, however, was unable to get the job done off the bench, as he punched out on seven pitches before Jonathan Arauz also struck out to leave two important runs at second and third base.

Still, after Schreiber and left-hander Stephen Gonsalves combined to put up a zero in the top of the sixth, the Boston bats kept things going against the Cleveland bullpen.

Matched up against Nick Wittgren, the Renfroe-Martinez combination struck once more, with the former reaching base via a one-out single and the latter clearing the bases on a 401-foot two-run home run into the Red Sox bullpen.

Martinez’s 25th homer of the season made cut the Sox’ deficit down to just one run at 6-5, and Verdugo kept the pressure on by ripping a line-drive double to put the potential tying run in scoring position.

Plawecki moved Verdugo up to third base on a softly-hit groundout, but Shaw was unable to bring him in and instead grounded out to first base to extinguish the threat.

From there, Ryan Brasier bounced back from a shaky 2021 debut on Friday by facing the minimum of three batters in the top of the seventh, and the Red Sox offense had another chance to pull even with the Indians in the bottom half.

Taylor Motter, who replaced Lopez at second base earlier in the contest, had drawn a one-out walk off Trevor Stephan and remained there when Arauz flew out to left field. With Kyle Schwarber at the plate, though, Motter was picked off at first base, thus ending the inning.

Hansel Robles kept Cleveland at six runs with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but this one got away from Boston when Phillips Valdez took the mound for the top half of the ninth.

After twirling two shutout frames on Saturday, Valdez got rocked for five runs on five hits on Sunday afternoon.

That meltdown of an inning allowed the Indians to jump out to an 11-5 lead, and that would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

In total, the Sox went 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base as a team on Sunday.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 79-60 on the season, though they remain just a 1/2 game back of the Yankees, who lost to the Orioles on Sunday, for the first American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Rays on deck

The Red Sox will celebrate the Labor Day holiday on Monday by welcoming in the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game series at Fenway Park.

Left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball for Boston in Monday’s series opener, while fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec and Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox mash 4 homers, hold on to 8-5 victory over Indians for third straight win

It was no simple task, but the Red Sox kicked off Labor Day weekend in style with a series-opening, 8-5 victory over the Indians at Fenway Park on Friday night to extend their winning streak to three consecutive games.

Matched up against Indians starter Cal Quantrill to begin things on Friday, the Sox received an immediate boost from leadoff man Kyle Schwarber, who crushed a 428-foot solo shot to dead center field on just the second pitch he saw in the bottom half of the first inning.

Schwarber’s 29th home run of the season, which left his bat at 106.8 mph, gave Boston an early 1-0 lead.

Kevin Plawecki doubled his side’s advantage an inning later, as he, too, took Quantrill deep by drilling a 390-foot solo homer over the Green Monster to make it a 2-0 contest.

Those two home runs took some off the pressure off Nathan Eovaldi out of the gate, and that proved to be quite beneficial.

Eovaldi, making his 27th start of the season for Boston, was — for the most part — exceptional on Friday night, allowing a total of three runs on six hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts over 6 1/3 solid innings of work.

The veteran right-hander began his evening by retiring nine of the first 11 Indians he faced, but saw his shutout bid come to an end when he served up a leadoff home run to the dangerous Jose Ramirez in the top of the fourth.

The Red Sox offense, however, returned the favor in the bottom half of the fourth, as Jonathan Arauz clubbed his second big fly of the year — both of which have come against the Indians — to right field off a Quantrill sinker, thus allowing his side to maintain its two-run lead.

After giving up the home run to Ramirez, Eovaldi responded by putting together another impressive run in which he strung together two more scoreless frames, but ran into some trouble with one out in the seventh.

At that point, Eovaldi had given up a one-out single to Bobby Bradley which was promptly followed by a game-tying, two-run blast off the bat of Austin Hedges moments later.

Having seen a 3-1 lead become a 3-3 stalemate, Eovaldi’s night came to a close after he yielded another base hit to Andres Gimenez, which led to him getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old did raise his ERA on the season to 3.73, though he did not factor into Friday’s decision.

In relief of Eovaldi, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and — after allowing Jimenez to steal second base — he stranded the lone runner he inherited by punching out Myles Straw and Amed Rosario back-to-back to end the inning.

While the Sox did lose hold of their lead over the Indians momentarily, they quickly got it back in their half of the seventh, and it all started when the pinch-hitting Travis Shaw drew a leadoff walk off Quantrill.

Arauz followed by lacing double to center field that put runners at second and third base with no outs for Schwarber, who greeted new Indians reliever Trevor Stephan by ripping a two-run double to the right-center field gap.

With an exit velocity of nearly 109 mph, Schwarber’s second run-scoring hit of the night put the Red Sox back in front at 5-3.

Stephan did manage to get the first two outs of the frame by punching out Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez, but Cleveland opted to intentionally walk the left-handed Alex Verdugo so that their right-handed reliever could face Hunter Renfroe.

The right-handed hitting Renfroe made the Tribe pay dearly for that decision, as he worked a nine-pitch at-bat and — on the ninth and final pitch he saw — deposited a 2-2, 84 mph slider on the outer half of the plate a nice 369 feet over everything in left field.

Renfroe’s 26th homer of the year gave the Sox a commanding 8-3 lead going into the eighth, and it gave Ryan Brasier a comfortable cushion to work with as well.

Brasier, making his 2021 debut on Friday after dealing with a plethora of injuries, got the first two outs of the eighth inning rather quickly, but allowed the next three batters he faced to reach base, with the third and final one — Bradley — lifting an RBI single to left field to cut Boston’s lead down to four runs.

That set the stage for rookie sensation Garrett Whitlock to come on in an attempt to get the final out of the eighth, and he did just that by getting Hedges to fly out to right field.

Coming back out for the ninth, Whitlock did surrender a run that made things even more interesting, but ultimately slammed the door on the Indians with two clutch strikeouts to notch his second save of the year while also securing an 8-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 78-59 on the season as their lead over the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot increases to three games.

Brasier’s 2021 debut

Of the 21 pitchers Brasier threw in his season debut on Friday, 11 went for strikes. The right-hander turned to his four-seam fastball 71% of the time he was on the mound in the eighth inning and averaged 94.4 mph with the pitch.

Lopez’s first major-league hit

Since making his big-league debut earlier this week, infielder Jack Lopez had been hitless in eight plate appearances leading into Friday. The 28-year-old rookie came through in the second inning, though, as he picked up his first career hit — a 370-foot double — with two outs in the frame.

A first for Devers at second

After Shaw pinch-hit for Lopez to lead off the seventh inning, Danny Santana was inserted as a pinch-runner once Shaw reached base upon drawing a six-pitch walk.

As a result of that substitution, Santana took over for Bobby Dalbec at first base and Dalbec slid over to third base, leading Devers to fill in for Lopez at second base.

That being said, Friday night marked Devers’ professional debut at second base, as he had never played the position at the minor- or major-league level beforehand.

Next up: Houck vs. Morgan

The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Tanner Houck as they go for the series win over the Indians on Saturday afternoon.

The Indians, meanwhile, will hand the ball to fellow rookie righty Eli Morgan as they look to prevent that from happening.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox rally comes up short in 8-5 loss to Rays as team’s COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow

The road trip from hell rolled on for the Red Sox at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.

In addition to having two more players — Hirokazu Sawamura and Xander Bogaerts — testing positive for COVID-19, the Sox committed two errors and fell to the Rays by a final score of 8-5, marking their third consecutive loss.

Matched up against Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough to begin things on Tuesday, Bogaerts actually got the Red Sox on the board first, as he followed up a two-out double from J.D. Martinez by ripping an RBI single to right field to give his side an early 1-0 lead.

Bogaerts was, however, removed from this contest in the middle of the second inning after his latest test came back positive, and it all started to go downhill for Boston from there.

That being the case because Brad Peacock, who was just acquired from the Indians on Mondy, got somewhat roughed up for five runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and zero strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings of work in his first start with the Red Sox.

After needing just seven pitches to get through a scoreless bottom of the first, Peacock served up a solo home run to Randy Arozarena with one out in the second inning, thus allowing the Rays to even things up at one run apiece.

The veteran right-hander did manage to get out of the second, but ran into some more trouble in the bottom half of the third when he issued a leadoff walk to Kevin Kiermaier and plunked Francisco Mejia.

A mental mistake and poor throw from Alex Verdugo on a fly ball to center field off the bat of Brandon Lowe allowed both of those runners to advance an additional 90 feet, and Peacock promptly loaded the bases with one out by walking Nelson Cruz.

Rookie sensation Wander Franco broke the 1-1 stalemate and brought in two of those runners on a hard-hit single to right field that was corralled by Hunter Renfroe, but Renfroe’s throw back to the infield got past Bobby Dalbec, which subsequently allowed both Kiermaier and Mejia to score as opposed to just Kiermaier. Dalbec was charged with a fielding error as the Rays went up on the Sox, 3-1.

Franco’s go-ahead hit also marked the end of the line for Peacock, who got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora while leaving runners at second and third base with one out in the third. The 33-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 48 — 25 of which were strikes.

In relief of Peacock, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, just selected from Triple-A Worcester, officially closed the book on Peackock’s night by allowing both runners he inherited to score on a wild pitch and Austin Meadows RBI single.

Gonsalves then plunked Arozarena to put runners at first and second, and Yandy Diaz took full advantage of that by blooping a softly-hit, 73.7 mph two-run double in between Yairo Munoz and Renfroe in right field.

Kiermaier proceeded to strike out on a foul tip to end the inning, but the damage had already been down since the Red Sox suddenly found themselves in a 7-1 hole.

To his credit, Gonsalves — in what was his first major-league outing in nearly three years — tossed two additional scoreless frames to keep the deficit at six runs through the end of the fifth.

Kyle Schwarber trimmed that deficit to five runs at 7-2 by crushing his 28th homer of the season off Yarbrough to lead off the top of the sixth, but Tampa Bay responded by getting that (unearned) run back off Phillips Valdez on an HBP, Dalbec fielding error, and sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the frame.

Valdez managed to keep the Rays off the scoreboard in the seventh and eighth innings, while Rafael Devers pushed across another run as he collected his 97th RBI of the year in the top half of the eighth.

Devers’ run-scoring single made it an 8-3 game in the eighth. In the ninth, after Schwarber and Martinez made things interesting with a pair of run-scoring singles, it came down to Devers.

Matched up against Rays closer Andrew Kittredge, Devers came up to the plate representing the tying run with two outs and runners at first and second. He fanned on four pitches to cut the rally short as 8-5 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 75-59 on the season while dropping 10 full games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East. Boston began the month of August trailing Tampa Bay by just 1/2 a game for the top spot in the division.

Tuesday’s defeat also wraps up a disappointing August in which the Sox went 12-16, marking the first time this season they finished a month with a losing record.

Next up: Sale vs. Rasmussen to begin September

The Red Sox will turn to ace left-hander Chris Sale on Wednesday night as they look to put an end to this three-game skid and start the month of September on a positive note. Rosters on Wednesday will expand from 26 players to 28 players for the remainder of the season.

Wednesday will mark Sale’s fourth start of the season since returning from Tommy John surgery on August 14. It also represents his toughest test thus far considering the opponent he will be going up against.

The Rays, meanwhile, will send right-hander Drew Rasmussen to the hill as they go for yet another series victory over their division rivals.

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

(Picture of Alex Cora: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Chris Sale tosses 5 scoreless innings in second start back as Red Sox blank Rangers, 6-0, to snap 3-game skid

The Red Sox remain unbeaten in games started by Chris Sale in 2021, as they took care of business in the first of a three-game set against the Rangers at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Boston came out on top over Texas by a final score of 6-0, with Sale leading the way by putting together his second straight solid outing after returning to the major-league mound for the first time in nearly two years last Saturday.

Sale, in what was his second start of the season for the Sox, kept the Rangers off the scoreboard while scattering just five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over his five innings of work.

Granted, he was going up against one of the worst lineups in the American League, but the veteran left-hander still strung together five scoreless frames despite dealing with his fair share of traffic on the base paths.

In the top of the first, Sale gave up a one-out double to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, but followed that with two straight strikeouts to get out of the inning. In the top of the second, he issued a one-out walk and single to Yohel Pozo and Yonny Hernandez, but countered that by getting a strikeout and flyout to retire the side. In the top of the fourth, he yielded back-to-back one-out base hits to Jonah Heim and Pozo that put runners on the corners, but that runner on third was stranded there.

That being the case because Sale got Hernandez to bunt into a force out at second base before getting Jason Martin to fly out to left field to end things in the fourth. He then maneuvered his way around a leadoff single in the fifth and capped off his night by sitting down the final two batters he faced in order thanks to a nifty 6-4-3 double play on a Brock Holt grounder.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (49 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler ultimately earned his second winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 1.80.

While Sale was in the process of weaving his way through the Rangers lineup, the Red Sox lineup was able to wake up to some degree after a sleepy series in the Bronx earlier this week.

Matched up against rookie right-hander Dane Dunning, the Boston bats got things started right away in their half of the first, and Enrique Hernandez proved to be the catalyst for that with a leadoff double.

After advancing up to third base on a passed ball, Hernandez came into score on an RBI single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts, who kicked off his productive night at the plate by giving his side an early 1-0 lead.

Christian Vazquez followed suit in the second, as he, too, ripped a leadoff double to right field, moved up to third on a Jarren Duran groundout, and was plated on a sharp line-drive RBI single from Hernandez to double Boston’s advantage to 2-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, right after Sale’s outing had come to a close, and the Red Sox did most of their damage off Dunning — all with two outs in the inning.

Following outs from Hernandez and Rafael Devers, Bogaerts drilled an 0-1, 84 mph changeup down the heart of the plate 371 feet down the left field line and over the Green Monster for his 20th home run of the season.

Kyle Schwarber followed by drawing a seven-pitch walk, while J.D. Martinez put runners at second and third for Alex Verdugo by lacing a two-out double to left field.

Verdugo took full advantage of that, as he tattooed a two-run double 101 mph off the Green Monster off the very first pitch he saw from Dunning.

That piece of impressive hitting gave the Sox a commanding 5-0 lead, though Hernandez tacked on one more to that an inning later when he plated Duran from third on another run-scoring groundout to make it a 6-0 contest.

Red Sox bullpen takes over for Sale

In relief of Sale, Hansel Robles got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the top half of the sixth, and he worked his way around a leadoff walk by sitting down the next three batters he faced in consecutive order.

From there, after Hernandez provided some insurance and made it a 6-0 game, Austin Davis tossed a scoreless seventh inning with some defensive help from Devers and Bogaerts, Hirokazu Sawamura punched out two in a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, and Matt Barnes — in a nonsave situation — shut the door on the Rangers in the ninth.

It was Barnes’ first relief appearance since last Sunday, and it was one in which he struck out the side en route to securing a 6-0 shutout victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 70-54 on the season to snap a three-game skid. They are — at the moment — six games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East and tied with the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Some assorted offensive notes from Friday’s win:

Enrique Hernandez went 2-for-5 with a double, one run scored, two RBI out of the leadoff spot.

Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI out of the No. 3 spot.

Kyle Schwarber went 2-for-2 with two walks and a run scored out of the cleanup spot.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Lyles

The Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the hill on Saturday night as they go for the series victory over the Rangers.

The Rangers, in turn, will counter with veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles as they look to even things up.

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

(Picture of Chris Sale: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)