Franchy Cordero’s late-game heroics go for naught as Red Sox fall to Orioles, 5-3, in Little League Classic

After splitting the first two games of this weekend series in Baltimore, the Red Sox and Orioles traveled to Williamsport, Pa. for the fifth annual Little League Classic. With both teams playing at Historic Bowman Field for the first time, Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 5-3 to drop to 60-62 on the season.

Nick Pivetta, who started the game for the Phillies in 2018, did so again for the Sox on Sunday. In what was his 25th start of the season, the right-hander allowed two earned runs on six hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 strong innings of work.

Both of those Baltimore runs came right away in the first inning, as Pivetta gave up singles to each of the three batters he faced. Anthony Santander drove in Cedric Mullins with his base hit before Ramon Urias pushed across Adley Rutschman on an RBI single back up the middle.

Despite that rocky start, Pivetta settled in nicely. The Red Sox also got one of those two runs back in their half of the second. Rafael Devers led off with a single against O’s starter Dean Kremer, eventually advanced to third base with two outs, and scored from third on a 100.6 mph single off the bat of Enrique Hernandez.

Pivetta, meanwhile, struck out the side in order in the second while in the process of retiring 12 of 15 hitters through the end of the fifth. In the sixth, the righty recorded his eighth and ninth punchouts of the night before issuing a two-out walk to Austin Hays, who would prove to be the final batter he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (67 strikes), Pivetta induced a game-high 17 swings-and-misses, nine of which came on his four-seam fastball. The 29-year-old hurler did not factor into Sunday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.24.

Matt Strahm, who received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora, officially closed the book on Pivetta’s outing by getting through the rest of the sixth unscathed. The lefty also got the first out of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes, who recorded the final two.

Still trailing 2-1 after being held in check by Kremer, the Sox received a boost from their bench to begin things in the eighth. With right-handed reliever Dillon Tate on the mound for Baltimore, Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Franchy Cordero pinch-hit for Bobby Dalbec.

Cordero, serving as Boston’s 27th man for this contest, promptly made the most of his opportunity by clubbing a game-tying, 358 foot home run to left field. It left his bat at a blistering 104.9 mph to knot things up at two runs apiece. All five of Cordero’s homers this season have come on a Sunday.

While it felt as though the tides may have been turning in the Red Sox’ favor, that quickly changed in the latter half of the eighth. After issuing a one-out walk to Urias, Barnes was given the hook in favor of John Schreiber.

Schreiber, in turn, hit and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases with still only one out in the inning. Schreiber then received a visit from pitching coach Dave Bush, but that ultimately did not pan out as Jorge Mateo proceeded to lace a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line.

Ryan McKenna, Hays, and Rougned Odor all scored on Mateo’s clutch hit, thus giving the Orioles a commanding 5-2 lead. Schreiber was charged with two of those three runs, meaning he has now given up at least one run in back-to-back relief appearances for the first time this year. Austin Davis registered the final two outs of the eighth.

Xander Bogaerts made things interesting in the ninth by crushing a leadoff home run off Orioles closer Felix Bautista. But Bautista held on by sitting down J.D. Martinez, Christian Arroyo, and Devers in order to secure a series-clinching win for Baltimore.

With the loss, the Red Sox snapped their streak for consecutive series wins at three. At 60-62, they now trail the Mariners by six games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will have Monday off as they travel back to Boston for a six-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays that begins on Tuesday.

Nathan Eovaldi was originally slated to start Tuesday’s series opener against Toronto but has since been scratched due to prolonged trap muscle soreness. It seems likely that rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski could start in his place, but that would require Eovaldi (or another player) to be placed on the injured list since Winckowski was just optioned to Triple-A Worcester on Friday.

Regardless of that, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Franchy Cordero to serve as 27th man for Red Sox in Sunday’s MLB Little League Classic

Franchy Cordero will serve as the Red Sox’ 27th man for Sunday’s Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa., manager Alex Cora announced following Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Orioles in Baltimore.

Cordero was removed from Triple-A Worcester’s game against the Rochester Red Wings in the sixth inning at Polar Park on Saturday afternoon. Prior to being pulled, he had gone 0-for-2 with an RBI in the form of a sacrifice fly.

The Red Sox most-recently optioned Cordero to Worcester on August 2. Since then, the left-handed hitting 27-year-old has batted .370 (17-for-46) with two doubles, four home runs, 12 RBIs, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, five walks, and 19 strikeouts in his last 12 games with the WooSox.

At the big-league level this season, Cordero has slashed .219/.298/.363 (85 wRC+) to go along with 17 doubles, one triple, four homers, 24 runs driven in, 31 runs scored, four stolen bases, 24 walks, and 78 strikeouts over 72 games (244 plate appearances).

Capable of playing first base and the outfield, Cordero could be needed for Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles since Eric Hosmer left Saturday’s game early due to back spasms.

Considering that he will be serving as the Sox’ 27th man, it seems likely that Cordero will be returned to Worcester once Sunday’s contest concludes.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Billie Weiss/Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández homers, Michael Wacha tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Red Sox hold on for 4-3 win over Orioles

The Red Sox held on for a one-run over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 4-3 to improve to 60-61 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his 15th start of the season for the Sox, kept the O’s off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over 5 2/3 strong innings of work.

There were not too many dramatic moments to be had for Wacha, who retired 11 of the first 14 batters he faced leading into the top half of the fifth inning. To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish.

Kevin Plawecki reached base via a one-out single. Christian Arroyo followed with a base hit of his own to put runners on the corners for Alex Verdugo, who promptly roped another single to right field to drive in Plawecki.

An inning later, J.D. Martinez led off against Bradish with a sharply-hit single. After Bobby Dalbec struck out for the first out of the sixth, Enrique Hernandez came through by depositing a 373-foot two-run home run down the left field line.

Hernandez’s fifth home run of the season was the first from any Red Sox hitter since last Sunday. It also gave Boston a 3-0 lead. Wacha, meanwhile, continued to impress before giving up a one-out single to Austin Hays and issuing a two-out walk to Anthony Santander in the bottom of the sixth.

At that point, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to turn to his bullpen. John Schreiber came on in relief of Wacha and officially closed the book on the righty’s outing by stranding both of the runners he inherited with a three-pitch strikeout of Ryan Mountcastle.

Wacha finished with a final pitch count of 79 (52 strikes), inducing seven total swings-and-misses while mixing a four-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, sinker, and curveball. The 31-year-old hurler improved to 8-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 2.28. He has yet to allow a run since returning from the injured list on August 14.

Schreiber came back out for the seventh and immediately surrendered a leadoff single to Ramon Urias. Jorge Mateo followed with another single to right field, but Jarren Duran made a poor throw back to the infield and missed the cutoff man, which allowed both runners to advance an additional 90 feet.

With runners at second and third for the Orioles now, the pinch-hitting Kyle Stowers plated Urias on a groundout to second base. Mateo then scored on a two-out wild pitch to trim Boston’s advantage down to one run at 3-2.

After Garrett Whitlock worked his way around a one-out single in a scoreless eighth inning, Duran was able to redeem himself in the ninth by reaching on a one-out bunt single off Bryan Baker. With the hit-and-run on, Duran went from first to third on a Plawecki single. He then scored from third on Arroyo’s third hit of the day — an 86.7 mph double to left field.

Arroyo’s RBI double would prove to be an important moment in this game. That being the case because Whitlock yielded a one-out triple to Mateo in the bottom of the ninth. Mateo scored on another Stowers groundout, but Whitlock held it down by getting Rougned Odor to line out to center field to end it.

Whitlock picked up his fifth save of the season while the Red Sox secured a 4-3 victory. Arroyo led the way offensively with three hits while Verdugo, Martinez, and Plawecki all enjoyed two-hit games.

Next up: 2022 Little League Classic on deck

The Red Sox and Orioles will wrap up this three-game weekend series in Williamsport, Pa. on Sunday night. In the fifth annual MLB Little League Classic, right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while fellow righty Dean Kremer will do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch from Muncy Bank Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Greg Flume/Getty Images)

Red Sox to take on Orioles in 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport

The Red Sox will take on the Orioles in the 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. next summer, Major League Baseball announced on Sunday evening.

The 2022 Little League Classic, which will take place at Bowman Field (the home of the MLB Draft League’s Williamsport Crosscutters) and be centered around the Little League World Series, will serve as the finale of a three-game weekend series between the Sox and O’s that will begin at Camden Yards on Friday, August 19 before moving over to Williamsport on the night of Sunday, August 21.

Boston and Baltimore were originally slated to become the first two American League clubs to face off in the Little League Classic last summer, but that wound up getting cancelled along with the 2020 Little League World Series on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that cancellation, the Angels and Indians will become the first American League teams to play one another in the fourth installment of the Little League Classic on Sunday night, though the Red Sox and Orioles will get their chance next year.

Originally beginning in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals, the Little League Classic has become a hallmark event on the league’s calendar that “reinforces MLB’s commitment to youth baseball and its young fans throughout the world” while also being “part of a larger initiative that launched five years ago with the introduction of MLB’s signature Play Ball initiative,” per MLB.com.

While the 2022 Little League Classic is still nearly a full year away, it should be interesting to see how the Red Sox and Orioles make alterations to their uniforms for that particular contest. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Bowman Field: Elsa/Getty Images)

Little League International Cancels 2020 World Series, 2020 MLB Little League Classic Due to Coronavirus Pandemic

One day after the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum cancelled its 2020 induction weekend this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Little League International announced on Thursday afternoon that its World Series and regional tournaments later this year have also been cancelled for the same reason.

Per an official release, Little League president and CEO Stephen D. Keener said, “This is a heartbreaking decision for everyone at Little League International, but more so for those millions of Little Leaguers who have dreamt of one day playing in one of our seven World Series events. After exhausting all possible options, we came to the conclusion that because of the significant public health uncertainty that will still exist several months from now, and with direction from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, as well as senior public health officials and government leaders from locations where our other six World Series are held, as well as the their qualifying regional tournaments, it will not be possible to proceed with our tournaments as we’ve hosted them for nearly 75 years.”

In total, seven Little League World Series events and 82 corresponding regional qualifying tournaments have all been cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has effectively shut down American sports since March.

The Red Sox this season were supposed to take on the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth-annual MLB Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark in Williamsport, Pa. on August 23rd. That event, which allows players on both sides to spend time and make memories for hundreds of little-leaguers, has also been cancelled as part of Thursday’s announcement from Little League International, although MLB has already committed to returning to Williamsport in 2021.

Since its inception in 1947, the Little League World Series has never before had to be cancelled until now.

“Delivering this news comes with a very heavy heart. We have never had to cancel our World Series tournaments, but, right now, as our world comes together, we must do everything we can to help stem the spread of this deadly virus,” said Little League board of directors chairman Hugh E. Tanner. “While we take this pause from the World Series and Regional Tournaments this summer, we are committed to working with our volunteers and staff to continue to provide an unparalleled youth sports experience to all children and be back stronger than ever in 2021.”