Red Sox agree to one-year, $10 million deal with left-hander James Paxton, per report; contract includes two-year club option

The Red Sox are in agreement with free agent left-hander James Paxton on a one-year, $10 million contract for the 2022 season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a two-year club option and was first reported by Sportsnet 650’s Chad Dey.

Per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the total value of Paxton’s contract could reach $35 million if the Red Sox were to pick up his two-year option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Paxton, 33, underwent Tommy John surgery this past April after making just one start for the Mariners in which he allowed one earned run in 1 1/3 innings against the White Sox at T-Mobile Park.

The Canadian-born southpaw was originally selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky and later made his major-league debut for the Mariners in September 2013.

After spending the first six years of his big-league career with the M’s, however, Paxton was dealt to the Yankees in exchange for three players at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.

While donning the pinstripes, Paxton enjoyed a solid inaugural season with the Yankees in 2019, posting a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP to go along with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work.

The following year was a different story, though, as Paxton managed to make just six starts for New York before his season prematurely came to a close in late August due to a left flexor strain.

Despite signing a one-year deal to return to Seattle in February, the same discomfort Paxton experienced in his left elbow in 2020 clearly carried over into 2021 since it ultimately required season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Having undergone the elbow reconstruction procedure on April 14, Paxton likely won’t be able to return to in-game action until the later stages of the 2022 season at the earliest

Still, perhaps following a similar timeline they used with Chris Sale this year, the Sox elected to take a chance on Paxton. The veteran lefty operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Paxton — a native of British Columbia — is represented by the Boras Corporation and does not turn 34 until next November.

He also becomes the second significant starting pitching-related addition Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made via free agency in the last week. Over the weekend, the club announced that they had signed veteran right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million deal for 2022.

Once he passes his physical and his signing is made official, Paxton will bring the size of Boston’s 40-man roster up to 38 players.

(Picture of James Paxton: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Ex-Red Sox prospect Jhonathan Diaz has chance to help former team in second career start for Angels Saturday night

Former Red Sox prospect Jhonathan Diaz will be making his second career start for the Angels on Saturday night, and he has the opportunity to help out his old team in the process of doing so.

Diaz will get the ball for the Halos as they go up against the Mariners in the second game of a pivotal three-game set at T-Mobile Park with plenty of Wild Card implications at stake.

Los Angeles opened their series against Seattle with a tight 2-1 victory on Friday to drop the Mariners to 89-71 and push them one game back of the Red Sox for the second and final American League Wild Card spot coming into play on Saturday.

Jose Suarez picked up the win for the Angels in the opener of the three-game set, and a fellow left-hander in Diaz will look to do the same in the middle contest.

The 25-year-old originally signed with the Red Sox for $600,000 as an international free-agent out of Venezuela back in July 2013 — the same signing class that Boston landed Rafael Devers.

Signed by the likes of Eddie Romero and Angel Escobar at just 16, Diaz made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League the following summer. He did not pitch in 2015 on account of a knee injury, but made it as far as High-A by the time the 2019 minor-league season came to a close.

At that time, Diaz had put together a 2019 campaign in which he posted a 3.86 ERA and 3.98 xFIP with 118 strikeouts and 54 walks over 27 starts spanning 128 1/3 innings of work for Salem.

The Venezuelan southpaw also made eight appearances in the Arizona Fall League and was likely on track to begin the following season with Double-A Portland.

However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 minor-league season was eventually cancelled in June, leaving Diaz — who did not receive an invite to the Red Sox’ alternate training site — on his own.

With his minor-league contract set to expire, Diaz became a free-agent for the first time last fall, but bounced back on his feet quickly by inking a minors pact with the Angels in late November.

In his first season with a new organization, Diaz opened the 2021 season at Double-A Rocket City, pitched for his native Venezuela in Olympic qualifiers, and returned to Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on August 26.

Over the course of three starts for the Bees, the 6-foot, 170 pound hurler put up a 4.11 ERA, a 4.47 FIP, and a 14:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio before having his contract selected and earning his first big-league call-up on September 17.

Making his major-league debut that same day as a starter, Diaz allowed two runs on two hits, four walks, one hit batsman, and two strikeouts over 1 2/3 innings pitched in an eventual 5-4 loss to the Athletics in Anaheim.

Eight days later, Diaz was called upon to work out of the bullpen this time around against the Mariners. From the third inning on, the lefty tossed seven frames of one-run ball while scattering three hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts en route to picking up his first-ever major-league win in a 14-1 rout of Seattle.

Per Baseball Savant, Diaz operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a changeup, slider, sinker, curveball, and four-seam fastball. Opposing batters thus far are hitting just .200 off his changeup, .182 off his slider, and .125 off his sinker.

Diaz will be making his first start away from Angel Stadium on Saturday. If he replicates what he did against the Mariners in his last time out, he could be doing the team he began his professional career with a great service.

(Picture of Jhonathan Diaz: John McCoy/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose outfield prospect Marcus Wilson on waivers to Mariners

Red Sox outfield prospect Marcus Wilson has been claimed off waivers by the Mariners, the club announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Wilson, who turns 25 later this month, was initially designated for assignment by the Sox this past Friday so that the team could make room on its 40-man roster for newly-acquired reliever Hansel Robles.

After opening the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester, Wilson slashed .242/.370/.452 (121 wRC+) to go along with 10 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 30 RBI, 34 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 88 strikeouts over 64 games (265 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

The Red Sox originally acquired the right-handed hitting outfielder from the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Blake Swihart back in April 2019.

A former 2014 second-round draft pick of Arizona out of Junipero Serra High School (Gardena, Calif.), Wilson spent the remainder of the 2019 season between Double-A Portland and High-A Salem, as well as with the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League, before being added to Boston’s 40-man roster that November in order to avoid being eligible for that winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

While he was protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, Wilson — listed at 6-foot-2 and 199 pounds — was a late addition to the Sox’ alternate training site roster the following summer and was an early cut from big-league camp this spring.

Taking that into consideration, as well as the fact that he was not a highly-touted prospect in Boston’s farm system (’s No. 34 prospect), it becomes clear that Red Sox brass were more than willing to lose Wilson via a waiver claim if it meant creating space on the team’s 40-man roster to accommodate other moves.

With the Mariners, Wilson — who was optioned to the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma — will join a crowded outfield mix that consists of Mitch Haniger, Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Lewis, and Taylor Trammell, among others.

(Picture of Marcus Wilson: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox claim reliever Brandon Brennan off waivers from Mariners, place Ryan Brasier on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Brandon Brennan off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and optioned him to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Monday afternoon.

In order to make room for Brennan on the 40-man roster, fellow right-hander Ryan Brasier was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Brennan, 29, was designated for assignment by the Mariners last Wednesday after starting the season at the team’s alternate training site in Tacoma.

In two big-league seasons with Seattle (2019-2020), the California native posted a 4.45 ERA, a 4.73 FIP, and a 54:29 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 49 total relief appearances spanning 54 2/3 innings of work.

He was however limited to just five outings last year on account of suffering a left oblique strain in late July.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of Orange Coast College, Brennan originally joined the Mariners via the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 207 pound hurler works with a changeup, a sinker, a four-seam fastball, and a slider.

Among the 198 major-league relievers who compiled at least 50 innings pitched over the last two seasons, Brennan ranked 26th in terms of swinging strike percentage (15.3%), per FanGraphs.

Now that he has been added to Boston’s 40-man roster, Brennan — who has three minor-league options remaining — will look to provide right-handed bullpen depth for the Sox in Worcester. He will join the likes of Eduard Bazardo and Colten Brewer as WooSox relievers currently on the Sox’ 40-man.

Brasier, meanwhile, opened the 2021 season on the 10-day injured list for the Red Sox, so transferring him to the 60-day IL is more of a formality than anything.

As noted by’s Chris Cotillo, the 33-year-old “has dealt with two significant injured since the end of last season, as he fractured his pinky finger during an off-season workout and then strained his calf during a ‘B’ game during the last week of spring training.”

The earliest Brasier can be activated from the injured list now is May 28 after the start of his initial IL stint was backdated to March 29.

(Picture of Brandon Brennan: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Marwin played excellent shortstop,” Cora said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christian Arroyo hit by pitch: X-rays on Red Sox infielder’s left hand come back negative

In the first inning of the Red Sox’ 5-3 victory over the Mariners on Sunday, a scary moment arose with Christian Arroyo at the plate.

With one out and the bases loaded in a 4-1 game, Arroyo took a 1-2, 93.8 mph fastball from Drew Steckenrider off his left hand.

After pausing for a moment, the right-handed hitting infielder was clearly in pain as he shouted out and eventually went to a knee to assess the damage upon removing one of his batting gloves.

The fact Arroyo was experiencing that much discomfort prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora and assistant athletic trainer Masai Takahashi to pay him a visit on the field.

Arroyo was able to remain in the game at second base, but it was apparent his left hand was still bothering him throughout the afternoon given how often he looked at it and was flexing it to evaluate his situation.

As soon as Sunday’s contest came to a close, the 25-year-old got X-rays on his hand, and those X-rays have since come back negative.

“[It] hurt pretty bad. But he was able to play defense,” Cora said of Arroyo during his postgame media availability. “I told him just, ‘Don’t worry about your at-bats. If you can play defense, just grind it out.’ And he did.”

Arroyo, who the Sox claimed off waivers from the Indians last August, does have a history of hand issues.

In 2017, when he was still a top prospect in the Giants organization, the Florida native missed the final two months of the minor-league season after sustaining a fractured left hand on a hit-by-pitch.

Taking that point into consideration, the Red Sox will likely want to see how Arroyo is holding up on Monday (an off day), and again on Tuesday before determining if he will be available for Tuesday night’s series opener against the Mets in Flushing.

The former first-round draft pick has been solid in his first full season in Boston, slashing .296/.345/.426 with seven doubles and four RBI over 17 games while primarily playing second base.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Arroyo wasn’t even in Cora’s original starting lineup for Sunday’s finale against the Mariners.

Alex Verdugo was initially going to start in center while Enrique Hernandez was going to start at second, but due to wet conditions on a rainy day in the Fenway area, Verdugo was scratched approximately one hour before first pitch on account of the hamstring cramp he had sustained on Saturday.

“He was in the lineup but then obviously the conditions weren’t perfect,” said Cora in regards to Verdugo. “(Head trainer) Brad (Pearson) came down and talked to me a little bit about it. So I decided to scratch him.”

With Verdugo scratched, Hernandez moved to center, which led to Arroyo getting the unexpected start at second.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodríguez punches out 8, improves to 4-0 on season as Red Sox split series with Mariners following 5-3 win

On a day where it looked like it would be difficult for baseball to be played in the Boston area due to rainy conditions, the Red Sox closed out their longest homestand of the season on Sunday with a 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

Rodriguez fans eight over seven solid frames

Eduardo Rodriguez made his fourth start of the season for Boston in Sunday’s series finale and proved to be effective once again even without his best stuff.

Over seven steady innings of work, the left-hander yielded just three runs — all of which were earned — on six hits and and no walks to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he ultimately put together yet another strong outing, Rodriguez did not get off to the best starts Sunday by surrendering back-to-back doubles to Mitch Haniger and Ty France out of the gate in the top half of the first. That gave the Mariners an early 1-0 lead.

Rodriguez was able to settle into a groove from there, as he sat down 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced before running into some trouble in the fifth.

There, the bottom-third of the Mariners’ lineup got the best of the southpaw, with Sam Haggerty leading the inning off with a single before back-to-back run-scoring doubles off the bats of Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford cut Boston’s deficit down to two runs at 5-3.

Again faced with some adversity, Rodriguez did not back down and instead ended his day by retiring the final nine Mariners he faced in order leading into the middle of the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (71 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler threw 36 changeups, 34 four-seam fastballs, 12 cutters, eight sinkers, and eight sliders. He averaged just 91.1 mph with his heater, but still managed to induce seven swings-and-misses with it anyway.

Ultimately improving to 4-0 while raising his ERA on the year from 3.38 to 3.52, Rodriguez will look for win No. 5 in his next time out, which should come against the Rangers in Arlington on Saturday.

Ottavino gets some help from Gonzalez, Barnes notches save

In relief of Rodriguez, right-hander Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to work the eighth inning of what was a 5-3 game in favor of his side.

The veteran reliever issued a leadoff walk to Haniger to bring the tying run to the plate almost immediately, but then got some help from Marwin Gonzalez when he got Ty France to hit a grounder towards the left side of the infield.

Gonzalez, who started at shortstop on Sunday, fielded France’s softly-hit grounder on a hop with his glove and instead of transferring the ball to his throwing hand, flipped the ball to Christian Arroyo — who was covering second — to start an impactful 6-4-3 twin killing.

Ottavino then punched out Kyle Seager to retire the side, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to come on for the ninth.

After a rocky outing in his last time out on Friday, Barnes needed all of 16 pitches on Sunday to toss a 1-2-3 ninth inning, notch his fourth save of the season, and preserve a 5-3 victory for the Sox.

Walks lead to early scoring for Red Sox

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Nick Margevicius for the Mariners, who came into Sunday averaging 2.3 walks per nine innings through his first four appearances (two starts) of the season.

That being said, Margevicius walked four of the first seven Red Sox he faced in this one and could only record one out before getting the hook because of it.

Enrique Hernandez led things off with a single, moved up to second on a Rafael Devers walk, moved up to third on a J.D. Martinez walk, and scored on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

Hunter Renfroe plated Devers by drawing yet another free pass of the Mariners starter, and Gonzalez drove in Martinez by doing the very same.

Margevicius would then make way for reliever Drew Steckenrider, who plunked the very first hitter he faced — Arroyo — on the left wrist to bring in yet another Red Sox run.

In the second, walks came back to bite the Mariners once more, as Steckenrider put on Hernandez and Devers via ball four before Bogaerts drove in Hernandez on an RBI double to left field.

Bogaerts’ eighth double of the year put Boston up 5-1, which would prove to be enough in an eventual 5-3 win.

Some notes from this victory:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From Red Sox Stats:

The Red Sox wrap up their longest homestand of the season with a 5-5 record, which takes them to 13-9 on the year overall.

After an off day on Monday, the Sox will embark on a two-city, six-game road trip that starts with a two-game interleague tilt against the Mets in Flushing on Tuesday night.

Right-hander Garrett Richards is slated to get the start for Boston in Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field. He will be opposed by left-hander Drew Peterson for New York.

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

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo suffers leg cramp in loss to Mariners, but outfielder is OK

In the midst of the Red Sox falling to the Mariners by a final score of 8-2 on Saturday afternoon, a scary moment arose in the top half of the fourth inning.

With no outs and the bases empty, Mariners left fielder Sam Haggerty laced a 105.7 mph line drive off Nathan Eovaldi to center field.

Alex Verdugo was starting in center for Boston on Saturday. At the crack of Haggerty’s bat, the 24-year-old hustled to his right and made what was a pretty simple routine catch for the first out of the inning.

Upon catching the ball, though, Verdugo appeared to come up lame and with a winced expression on his face, reached towards the rear of his upper left leg while gingerly returning to his position before getting into a series of stretches.

Despite clear concern from the Red Sox medical staff, Verdugo remained in the game until its completion and even picked up a single and double as part of a 2-for-4 day at the plate.

While it initially looked as though the young outfielder had maybe suffered a left hamstring strain or something of the sort, it was later revealed that he had just been dealing with a cramp.

“He kind of cramped up,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Verdugo during his postgame media availability. “He cramped up at one point. But he was OK. Obviously, he has to be smart about it. But he put a good game. He put good at-bats. Obviously hobbled a little bit, but he’s OK.”

Verdugo himself confirmed as much, telling reporters Saturday afternoon that his left leg did cramp up a little bit, but he wanted to stay in the game even after suffering said cramp.

“It was actually a very weird play,” he recalled. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”

Following Saturday’s loss, the Red Sox dropped to 13-9 on the season and 4-6 over their last 10 games. They are slated to wrap up their four-game series against the Mariners on Sunday afternoon, though the forecast for the Fenway area around first pitch time does not look particularly promising.

Sunday’s series finale was going to lead into an off day for the Sox on Monday, but it now seems increasingly likely that the club will have two straight days off before embarking upon a six-game road trip that starts with a two-game interleague tilt against the Mets in Flushing on Tuesday.

“Every off day is huge,” Verdugo said when asked if his team would benefit from a day of rest. “We’re out here grinding. We had a tough schedule to start off this year. Lot of day games, then we had some doubleheaders run across. That’s no excuse, either. Because at the end of the day, we come out here and we come out to play.

“At any point, with the snap of the finger, our offense can get going, our pitchers can get on a roll,” he added. “It’s just one of those things. Today, the Mariners were better. But, as you said, that off day will be huge. We will use that to rest our bodies, rest our minds, and regroup and come back stronger for that New York series.”

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

Nathan Eovaldi allows 5 runs (4 earned) as listless Red Sox fall to Mariners, 8-2

If the Red Sox want to prove that they can be contenders this year, they need to play better at home. That is something manager Alex Cora has emphasized since spring training began in late February.

Following Saturday’s 8-2 loss at the hands of the Mariners, though, the Sox fell to 7-8 at Fenway Park and are now 13-9 on the season.

Eovaldi gets shelled for five runs

Nathan Eovaldi struggled in his fifth start of the season for the Red Sox in this one. The veteran right-hander came into Saturday’s contest sporting a respectable 3.04 ERA, but got lit up for five runs — four of which were earned — on seven hits, one walk, one hit batsman, and just three strikeouts over five innings of work.

The first four of those runs Eovaldi gave up came in the first two innings, with a seemingly red-hot Kyle Seager recording an RBI single in the top half of the first and a two-run triple in the top half of the second.

Alex Verdugo, starting in center field on Saturday, appeared to have a chance at making a play on Seager’s flyball, but instead got turned around and watched the ball bounce off the warning track in the center field triangle for a three-base hit.

The Mariners third baseman also scored from third on a wild pitch to give his side an early 3-0 edge.

Eovaldi did manage to settle down a little bit, at one point sitting down eight hitters in a row before serving up a one-out double to Seager in the fifth.

Another wild pitch from Eovaldi with two outs in the frame allowed Seager to advance to third, and he would come into score on a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Taylor Trammell that took a bad hop on Xander Bogaerts, who was playing in the shift.

Bogaerts was charged with a fielding error on the play, though it’s understandable to see why he struggled to come up with Trammell’s grounder cleanly once it hit the lip of the infield grass.

Eovaldi finished his day by getting Luis Torrens to pop out for the final out of the fifth, but the damage had already been done.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (56 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing just one swing-and-miss while topping out 99.1 mph with the pitch.

Falling to 3-2 on the year while inflating his ERA on the year to 3.77, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Rangers on Friday.

Bullpen gives up three additional runs

In relief of Eovaldi, Austin Brice got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning, allowed a leadoff double to Ty France in the seventh, then made way for a struggling Josh Taylor.

Taylor, to his credit, got out of the seventh without allowing the runner he inherited to score and nearly worked a scoreless top half of the eighth as well.

However, with two outs in the frame and Sam Haggerty at the plate, the lefty served up a solo shot to the Mariners left fielder that saw the Sox’ deficit grow to five runs at 6-1. Taylor’s ERA on the season now stands at 9.72.

Phillips Valdez surrendered two more runs to Seattle in the ninth, though the second run he gave up was certainly avoidable had he just gotten to first base quicker on a softly-hit grounder from Haggerty with two outs that went down as an RBI single.

Red Sox lineup outmatched by Flexen

A reeling Red Sox lineup managed all of four hits against Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen on Saturday. Only one of those hits resulted in a Boston run when Marwin Gonzalez drilled an RBI single back up the middle in the seventh.

Rafael Devers, who scored on that Gonzalez hit, collected an RBI of his own in the ninth by plating Alex Verdugo from second on his fourth double of the season.

That cur the Red Sox’ deficit to six runs at 8-2, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score. Boston went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the process of falling to Seattle for the second time in three days.

Cordero fans three times

Red Sox outfielder Franchy Cordero’s recent struggles at the plate ensued on Saturday.

Batting out of the eight-hole, the 26-year-old went 0-for-3 on the day with three swinging strikeouts. He saw all of 13 pitches in his three at-bats.

Following Saturday’s action, Cordero has now struck out 23 times in 49 plate appearances since the season began earlier this month.

Verdugo “cramped up”

There was a moment in the fourth inning where after fielding a lineout in the top of the fourth, Verdugo came up lame with a left hamstring issue of some sort.

Verdugo remained in the game and wound up finishing the day 2-for-4 with a double. Cora said during his postgame media availability that the 24-year-old “cramped up,” hence the reason for his hobbling around some.

Next up: Margevicius vs. Rodriguez

Sunday’s series finale between the Mariners and Red Sox (weather permitting) will feature another pitching matchup of two left-handers.

Eduardo Rodriguez will be getting the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by Nick Margevicius for Seattle.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN, though the forecast for the Boston area does not look promising.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo picks up third outfield assist of season in win over Mariners: ‘That throw was amazing,’ Alex Cora says

Alex Verdugo made a name for himself in his debut season with the Red Sox by leading the American League with seven outfield assists last year.

Just over three weeks into the 2021 campaign, and Verdugo is again showcasing not only his offensive talent, but his defensive ability as well.

The latest instance of the 24-year-old’s defensive prowess came in the fifth inning of the Sox’ eventual 6-5 victory over the Mariners on Friday night.

With two outs and one runner — Kyle Seager — on base in what at the time was a 3-2 game in favor of Boston, Mariners first baseman Evan White took a Hirokazu Sawamura splitter and scorched a 101 mph line drive off the Green Monster.

Starting in left field for Boston on Friday, Verdugo sprinted to his left at the crack of the bat, barehanded the ball on one hop, quickly turned, lined up his feet, and unleashed a missile to Rafael Devers at third that got there in plenty of time to snuff out a helpless Seager.

“That throw was amazing because probably he was feeling, ‘Let me go to second,'” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said during his postgame media availability. “But he had the presence of mind where he turned, he saw Seager right there, and he put it right on the money.”

What made the play even more impressive was that Verdugo could have just gone with a conservative approach and throw the ball back in to second base to prevent White from advancing into scoring position.

“He had the play right in front of him,” said Cora. “Sometimes runners take that for granted. But he saw it and he saw the window. I mean, it wasn’t a close play at third base. So he saw it, he trusts his arm, he’s very accurate, and he got him out.”

By nabbing Seager at third to preserve his side’s 3-2 lead, Verdugo picked up his third outfield assist of the season already.

He should have four based on what happened in the first inning Friday night, but just going back to the start of the 2020 season, no one in the American League has more outfield assists than Verdugo (10).

Verdugo, who has seen time at all three outfield spots this season, has stated before that he takes pride in his versatility and ability to play either of the three positions on any given night. He echoed that same sentiment again following Friday’s win when speaking with NESN’s Jahmai Webster.

“I pride myself with defense in all three outfield positions,” the Arizona native said. “I don’t feel like if I go to right, center, or left it’s any different. I feel like I play all three positions at a high level, and I take pride in that. I take pride in the versatility.

“Obviously, it would be nice to stick at one spot to maybe get some stuff, some awards, but at the end of the day, I do what my coach wants,” he added. “And he wants me bouncing around in the outfield, wants me at any of the three. Every day, it’s a blessing to have your name penciled in that lineup. I come out here to give it my all no matter what position, no matter where I’m at in the lineup.”

On the heels of a 3-for-5 showing at the plate in which he scored two runs on Friday, the left-handed hitting outfielder is now slashing .316/.365/.526 with three home runs, 13 RBI, and 16 runs scored through his first 20 games of the season.

Over his last seven games alone, Verdugo has posted a preposterous .440/.462/.640 slash line while primarily batting out of the two-hole.

“He’s gaining confidence in his game,” Cora said of Verdugo. “Offensively, you look up at the last at-bat, and he was up to .320, getting on base, hitting lefties… We like Alex, the way he’s playing. The fact that he can play all over the place and be really good, that’s a plus for us.”

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