Jeter Downs to make major-league debut at third base as Red Sox go for sweep of Tigers

As expected, Jeter Downs will make his major-league debut for the Red Sox in Wednesday night’s series finale against the Tigers at Fenway Park.

Downs, who was called up from Triple-A Worcester on Monday, will bat ninth and start at third base for Boston as it goes for a three-game sweep of Detroit.

It will mark Downs’ first-ever professional appearance at third base. The 23-year-old has only been used as a second baseman or shortstop throughout his minor-league career, which began when he was selected by the Reds in the first round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Since then, Downs has for the most part maintained his status as one of the game’s top prospects despite being part of two blockbuster trades. In December 2018, the Colombia native was dealt to the Dodgers as part of a deal that sent the likes of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, and others to Cincinnati. A little more than a year later, he — as well as Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Mookie Betts and David Price in February 2020.

As the top prospect acquired in that deal, Downs began his career in the Red Sox organization with high expectations. He struggled to the tune of a .606 OPS in 99 games with the WooSox last season and has not fared much better this season.

At the time he was promoted, the right-handed hitting infielder was batting just .180/.297/.397 (86 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, 11 home runs, 21 RBIs, 35 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 53 games (222 plate appearances) for Worcester. As previously alluded to, Downs has been used exclusively at shortstop this season, though he does have plenty of experience at second base as well.

Downs, who turns 24 next month, will become the second player to make his big-league debut with the Red Sox this year and joins right-hander Josh Winckowski by doing so. The 5-foot-11, 195 pounder is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 7 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

With Downs starting at third base for Alex Cora and the Red Sox on Wednesday, Rafael Devers will receive the night off while Xander Bogaerts will start at short. On the mound, it will be righty Michael Wacha making his 12th start of the season for Boston opposite Detroit left-hander Tarik Skubal.

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

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo scratched from Red Sox lineup due to illness; Franchy Cordero starting in his place

Christian Arroyo was originally batting ninth and starting in right field for the Red Sox in their series opener against the Athletics at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

But shortly before first pitch, it was Franchy Cordero who ran out to take Arroyo’s spot in the field and in Boston’s lineup. In the bottom of the first inning, it was revealed that Arroyo was a late scratch because of illness, the team announced.

Following Tuesday’s 6-1 win over the Athletics, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) that Arroyo felt ill before the game and is currently going through COVID-19 protocols.

Coming into play on Tuesday, Arroyo was batting .187/.227/.319 with three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, three walks, and 17 strikeouts over 34 games (98 plate appearances) this season.

The versatile 27-year-old has also made appearances at first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and right field. More information regarding his status will likely become available on Wednesday.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Franchy Cordero batting leadoff for Red Sox in series finale against Reds

For the first time this season, Franchy Cordero will bat leadoff for the Red Sox as they go up against the Cincinnati Reds at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Boston has scored just one run over its last two games, both losses, so it would appear as though manager Alex Cora is shaking things up by having Cordero lead the charge offensively.

In addition to serving as the Sox’ leadoff hitter, Cordero will also start in right field on Wednesday. Since re-joining the big-league club in late April, the left-handed hitter has picked things up at the plate as of late. He is slashing a stout .314/.342/.600 with two doubles, one triple, two home runs, nine RBIs, eight runs scored, two walks, and 10 strikeouts over his last 12 games (38 plate appearances) dating back to May 20.

Cordero and the rest of Boston’s lineup will be opposed by rookie right-hander Hunter Greene to close out this quick two-game interleague series. Greene, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, has posted a 5.89 ERA and 6.70 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 24 walks over nine starts (44 1/3 innings) since debuting for Cincinnati on April 10. He has also given up a league-leading 15 home runs.

Against right-handed pitching this season, Cordero is batting .246/.317/.406 with one homer and 10 RBIs. For his career, the 27-year-old owns a lifetime 1.126 OPS across 36 plate appearances when hitting first. He has not started a game as a leadoff hitter since he was a member of the Padres in 2018.

Regardless, the Red Sox find themselves in need of an offensive spark before they head out to the west coast for one of their longest road trips of the season. Cordero will look to provide that spark ahead of Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Alex Verdugo, Trevor Story, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Bobby Dalbec.

On the other side of things, right-hander Garrett Whitlock will make his eighth start of the season for Boston opposite Greene. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Rob Refsnyder to make Red Sox debut on Saturday

Rob Refsnyder will make his Red Sox debut as they go up against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Saturday night. He will bat ninth while serving as Boston’s designated hitter.

The Red Sox selected Refsnyder from Triple-A Worcester and added him to the active roster this past Tuesday, the same day in which catcher Christian Vazquez and infielder Jonathan Arauz were placed on the COVID-19 related injured list after they both tested positive for the virus.

Refsnyder, 31, originally signed a minor-league deal with the Sox back in December. After being informed he would not be making the big-league club out of spring training, the veteran outfielder accepted an assignment to Worcester.

Prior to getting called up earlier this week, Refsnyder had been enjoying a nice start to his 2022 season with the WooSox. The right-handed hitter batted .400/.551/.600 to go along with four doubles, one home run, eight RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and eight strikeouts across his first 11 games (49 plate appearances) with the affiliate.

A former fifth-round draft pick of the Yankees in 2013, Refsnyder comes with plenty of major-league experience. He most-recently posted a .663 OPS in 51 games with the Twins last year while making appearances at all three outfield positions.

While he has proven to be more effective against left-handed pitching over the course of his career, Refsynder will be matched up against Rays right-hander J.P. Feyereisen to begin things on Saturday. J.D. Martinez remains out of Boston’s lineup as he continues to recover from left adductor tightness.

Tropicana Field should be a familiar venue for Refsnyder, who spent a good chunk of the 2018 campaign with the Rays. In 64 career plate appearances at the Trop, Refsnyder owns a lifetime .216/.365/.275 slash line with three doubles and one RBI.

As noted by Red Sox Stats on Twitter, Refsnyder will be the first Boston player to start at designated hitter and bat out of the nine-hole since Kevin Plawecki did so last April.

First pitch between the 7-7 Red Sox and 7-7 Rays on Saturday is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rob Refsnyder: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup vs. Astros: Hunter Renfroe drops down to eighth as Boston look to force Game 7 in ALCS

As he alluded to before heading to Houston on Thursday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora has not made any drastic changes to his starting lineup for Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros on Friday night.

Besides swapping Christian Vazquez for Kevin Plawecki, the most significant difference between Cora’s lineup for Game 5 and lineup for Game 6 would be Hunter Renfroe dropping down in the batting order.

Renfroe, who has primarily batted fifth, sixth, or seventh throughout the postseason for Boston, will be hitting out of the eight-hole ahead of Plawecki on Friday.

After posting a .741 OPS in 23 plate appearances between the Wild Card and division series rounds, the 29-year-old right fielder has collected just one hit (a double) over five games and 18 trips to the plate so far in this ALCS.

During the regular season, Renfroe hit eighth on 15 separate occasions — 13 of which were starts — for the Sox and slashed an impressive .327/.358/.551 to go along with two doubles, three home runs, 10 RBI, and nine runs scored across 53 plate appearances.

By moving Renfroe down to the eight-hole, designated hitter J.D. Martinez will be batting fifth for the third time in this best-of-seven series. He will be followed by left fielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Christian Arroyo, and Plawecki.

Plawecki, of course, will be catching Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi, as he has done for all three of the right-hander’s starts in these playoffs, including Game 2 against Houston at Minute Maid Park this past Saturday.

As was the case then, Eovaldi will be opposed by fellow righty Luis Garcia come Friday night. Garcia, a rookie, lasted just a little more than an inning in Game 2 due to a right knee strain but has since been cleared to return to the mound on normal rest.

The Red Sox will be looking to be stave off elimination on Friday and force a Game 7 against the Astros on Saturday, as Houston currently leads this series three-games-to-two after taking two out of three from Boston at Fenway Park.

With that being said, first pitch for Game 6 from Minute Maid Park is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup for Game 5 of ALCS vs. Astros: Kiké Hernández leading off, J.D. Martinez batting fifth

The Red Sox will look to bounce back from an unexpectedly lopsided 9-2 loss to the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday with a quick turnaround for Game 5 on Wednesday.

After Boston dropped Game 4 to Houston at Fenway Park, this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied up at two games apiece and has essentially turned into a best-of-three race.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as the series will definitely be heading back to Houston since it will be at least six games in length.

Wednesday’s clash between the Red Sox and Astros will feature a pair of left-handers getting the start for their respective clubs, with Chris Sale getting the ball for Boston and Framber Valdez doing the same for Houston in what will be a rematch of Game 1.

In Game 1 of this series at Minute Maid Park, Sale went just 2 2/3 innings while allowing one earned run on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on 61 pitches (37 strikes).

Valdez, meanwhile, did not last long either, as he surrendered three runs — two of which were earned — on six hits (one home run), three walks, and two strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of work.

Since a left-hander will be starting for the Astros, Sox manager Alex Cora has made some slight alterations to his lineup. For instance, the right-handed hitting Enrique Hernandez will be leading off in front of the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber.

J.D. Martinez, on the other hand, has been bumped up to fifth in the batting order, resulting in Alex Verdugo dropping down to the seven-hole behind Hunter Renfroe.

Christian Vazquez, who will be catching Sale, is batting ninth after second baseman Christian Arroyo. Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Sale:

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

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

Red Sox sticking with same lineup they used in Game 3 for Game 4 of ALCS vs. Astros

Why fix what isn’t broken?

After mashing their way to a 12-3 win over the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Monday, the Red Sox are running back the same exact starting lineup for Tuesday night’s Game 4 at Fenway Park.

With veteran right-hander Zack Greinke on the mound for Houston, Boston will have the opportunity to take a three-games-to-one lead in this best-of-seven series.

Kyle Schwarber, after belting a grand slam on Monday, will once again be leading off and starting at first base for the Sox on Tuesday. He will be followed by center fielder Enrique Hernandez, third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo batting fifth means designated hitter J.D. Martinez has dropped down to the six-hole once more, while right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo round out the lineup.

Vazquez will be catching righty Nick Pivetta, who Red Sox manager Alex Cora named as his Game 4 starter following Monday’s blowout victory.

Pivetta will be making his first career postseason start come Tuesday night after only being used as a reliever on two separate occasions during the American League Division Series against the Rays.

In those two outings, the 28-year-old hurler turned in a pair of solid performances in Games 1 and 3, posting a 3.12 ERA and 4.67 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to three walks over 8 2/3 total innings of work.

Over the course of the regular season, Pivetta faced off against the Astros only once, and that came in Houston back on June 2. He allowed two runs on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman and nine strikeouts in six innings during that outing at Minute Maid Park.

Greinke, on the other hand, last started a game for the Astros on September 19, as he was used out of their bullpen just once and tossed a scoreless fourth inning in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the White Sox on October 10.

Like Pivetta, Greinke made one start against his upcoming opponent during the regular season. On June 10 at Fenway Park, the soon-to-be 38-year-old surrendered four runs to the Red Sox on seven hits, one walk, and two strikeouts over three uninspiring innings.

With all that being said, first pitch from Fenway on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

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

Christian Vázquez catching Eduardo Rodriguez for Red Sox in Game 3 of ALCS vs. Astros

The Red Sox will look to celebrate manager Alex Cora’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

After splitting the first two games of this best-of-seven series in Houston over the weekend, the Sox have momentarily taken homefield advantage away from the Astros as the next three games of this ALCS will be played at Fenway Park.

In celebrating his birthday on Monday, Cora is rolling out a nearly-identical starting lineup to the one he used in Saturday’s Game 2 victory.

With another right-hander in Jose Urquidy getting the start for Houston in Game 3, Kyle Schwarber will once again be leading off and starting at first base for Boston on Monday. He will be followed by the red-hot Enrique Hernandez in center field.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo make up the 3-4-5 portion of the Sox’ batting order, meaning J.D. Martinez will bat sixth ahead of Hunter Renfroe, Christian Vazquez, and Christian Arroyo.

Vazquez is the only one of these nine players who did not start on Saturday since it was Kevin Plawecki who caught Nathan Eovaldi. This time around, however, the 31-year-old backstop will be catching Game 3 starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who was named by Cora as Boston’s Game 3 starter on Sunday, has posted a 5.40 ERA and 1.97 FIP to go along with seven strikeouts to two walks through his first two starts (6 2/3 innings pitched) of the postseason.

The left-hander is a week removed from his last outing against the Rays in which he allowed two earned runs on three hits, zero walks, and six strikeouts over five-plus solid innings of work in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on October 11.

Earlier this season, Rodriguez faced off against the Astros twice within an 11-day span from May 31 to June 10 — with the first start coming in Houston and the second in Boston.

In those two outings, the Venezuelan southpaw surrendered a total of 12 runs — all of which were earned — on 13 hits, five walks, and nine strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 11.57.

Urquidy, on the other hand, held the Red Sox to just one run on three hits, one walk, and nine punchouts over six innings of work in his lone start against them this year when he opposed Rodriguez at Minute Maid Park back in late May.

That being said, first pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

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

J.D. Martinez batting fifth for Red Sox in Game 1 of ALCS vs. Astros

The Red Sox have made some slight alterations to their starting lineup for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

After batting sixth for all three of his starts in the American League Division Series with the Rays, designated hitter J.D. Martinez has moved up to the No. 5 spot in the Sox’ lineup for Friday’s ALCS opener in Houston.

While still recuperating from a left ankle sprain that he sustained in Boston’s regular season finale against the Nationals on October 3, Martinez — after being held out of action in Game 1 — went 7-for-15 (.467) with one double, one home run, four RBI, one run scored, zero walks, and one strikeout in the final three games of the ALDS, all of which the Red Sox won.

With left-hander Framber Valdez getting the start for the Astros to kick off this best-of-seven series, Sox manager Alex Cora has gone with a primarily right-handed heavy lineup.

Enrique Hernandez, a former Astro, will lead off and get the start in center field, while Kyle Schwarber will bat second and start at first base. Schwarber starting at first base means the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec will start Game 1 on the Sox’ bench.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Martinez make up the most dangerous portion of Boston’s batting order.

Those three will be followed by the likes of right fielder Hunter Renfroe, left fielder Alex Verdugo, second baseman Christian Arroyo, and — last but not least — Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez, of course, will be catching Game 1 starter Chris Sale, who will be looking to bounce back from a rough outing against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the ALDS in which he surrendered five runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts in just one inning of work at Tropicana Field last week.

The roof will be closed at Minute Maid Park on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox rolling with Eduardo Rodriguez for Game 4 of ALDS vs. Rays

The Red Sox have an opportunity to advance to the American League Championship Series for the first time in three years on Monday night.

After walking off the Rays in dramatic fashion in a 13-inning thriller on Sunday, the Sox are now just one more victory away from taking this best-of-five American League Division Series.

With a two-games-to-one lead in hand, Boston will turn to Eduardo Rodriguez to try to put the finishing touches on this series in front of what is sure to be a packed house at Fenway Park to cap off a memorable Marathon Monday in the city.

Rodriguez struggled in his last time out, as the left-hander surrendered two runs (both earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout over just 1 2/3 innings of work Thursday’s 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 1 at Tropicana Field.

Opposing Rodriguez will be a familiar foe in Rays right-hander Collin McHugh, who — like his former teammate — took the loss in Game 2 by allowing three runs over 1 2/3 innings of relief in what would go down as a 14-6 win for the Red Sox on Friday.

In facing another righty on the mound to start things out on Monday, Sox manager Alex Cora has rolled out a nearly-identical lineup to the one he put out for Game 3.

Kyle Schwarber will once again lead off and start at first base while Enrique Hernandez will bat second and start in center field. Rafael Devers will bat third and start at third baset, leaving All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts to assume the role as cleanup hitter.

Left fielder Alex Verdugo and designated hitter J.D. Martinez make up the 5-6 portion of Boston’s lineup, while right fielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Christian Vazquez, and second baseman Christian Arroyo round things out.

Vazquez, who came off the bench to replace Kevin Plawecki in the sixth inning of Game 3 on Sunday, went 1-for-3 with the biggest hit of the night: a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th that sealed a 6-4 win for the Sox.

With that being said, first pitch for Game 4 is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1. The Red Sox will not be wearing their yellow City Connect uniforms and will instead go with their alternate red jerseys.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)