Red Sox roster moves: Martín Pérez, Matt Barnes placed on COVID-19 related injured list, Phillips Valdez recalled from Triple-A Worcester, Raynel Espinal selected to 40-man

Before opening a pivotal four-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday night, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, relievers Martin Perez and Matt Barnes were both placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Secondly, right-handed reliever Phillips Valdez was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, while fellow righty Raynel Espinal had his contract selected from Worcester, the club announced earlier Monday evening.

Perez and Barnes become the the third and fourth Red Sox players to head to the COVID-related injured list within the last three days, as they join the likes of infielder/outfielder Enrique Hernandez and infielder Christian Arroyo, who tested positive on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose also tested positive on Sunday.

Perez, who opened the 2021 season in Boston’s starting rotation but was demoted to the bullpen earlier this month, tested positive for the virus on Monday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith).

“We found out not too long ago,” Cora said. “So we’re going through the process, through protocol, close contact, people getting tested and everything else.”

On that note, MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports that Barnes has indeed tested positive for COVID-19, meaning he will be forced into a mandatory quarantine and miss the next 10 days despite being vaccinated against the virus.

Regardless of his vaccination status, though, the All-Star closer will head to the COVID-related IL for a second time this season after spending one day there earlier this month.

With both Perez and Barnes out of action for the time being, the Sox have added two right-handed hurlers from Worcester in the form of Valdez and Espinal.

Valdez, 29, is back up with Boston for the third time this year after he was most recently sent down to the WooSox on August 12.

Espinal, meanwhile, was able to be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster without a corresponding move being made since players on the COVID-related injured list do not count against the 40-man.

Originally acquired from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, the 29-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has had a solid season for himself as a member of Worcester’s starting rotation.

In 18 appearances (16 starts) with the WooSox so far this year, Espinal has posted a 3.74 ERA and 4.09 FIP to go along with 89 strikeouts to 36 walks over 91 1/3 total innings of work.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Espinal — who is up at the major-league level for the first time in his professional career — operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball, an 83-86 mph slider, an 82-84 mph changeup, and a 77-79 mph curveball.

In addition to Espinal, who will wear the No. 80, and Valdez being added to the big-league roster, the Red Sox seem likely to activate recently-acquired right-hander Brad Peacock on Tuesday. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe leads the way with 2 homers as Red Sox hold on to defeat Twins, 11-9

Despite getting out-hit 14-11, the Red Sox were able to hold on to a series-opening, 11-9 victory over the Twins at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Tanner Houck, just recalled from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day, made his eighth start (10th overall appearance) of the season for the Sox, and he was not particularly sharp.

Over 4 2/3 innings of work, Houck allowed three runs — all of which were earned — on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts on the evening.

The Twins got to the right-hander right away on Tuesday, as he served up a leadoff triple to Max Kepler to begin things in the top half of the first that was quickly followed by a one-out RBI single off the bat of Jorge Polanco to put the Sox in an early 1-0 hole.

Houck was, however, able to settle in by keeping Minnesota off the board in the second and third innings, and the Boston bats rewarded him for that in their half of the third.

Matched up against Minnesota starter Griffin Jax, Travis Shaw picked up where he left off on Monday and belted a leadoff home run 413 feet into the bleachers, marking his second straight homer in as many swings of the bat.

Shaw’s solo shot pulled the Sox back even at one run apiece, but the Twins countered by getting to Houck for two more runs in the fourth, with Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon each reaching base and Miguel Sano driving both runners in on a two-run single back up the middle.

That put the Twins back up by two runs at 3-1, though the Red Sox did not let their second deficit last all that long with Rafael Devers drawing a leadoff walk and Alex Verdugo ripping a one-out double to left field to put a pair of runners in scoring position for Hunter Renfroe.

Renfroe got his productive day at the plate started by taking a hanging, 83 mph slider from Jax and depositing it 374 feet over the Green Monster for his first of two home runs on the night.

Even with Renfroe giving the Sox a 4-3 advantage with his three-run blast, Houck ran into a bit more trouble in the fifth when he plunked the first man he faced in Brent Rooker and allowed him to advance up to second base on a wild pitch.

After punching out Polanco and getting Josh Donaldson to pop out to third base, Houck’s outing came to an unceremonious end as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (54 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did raise his ERA on the season to 3.43.

In relief of Houck, Cora turned to Josh Taylor out of the Boston bullpen, and the left-hander — who ultimately earned his first win of the year — did his job by getting Arraez to ground out to second base to end the inning.

At the halfway point, the Red Sox were in possession of a 4-3 lead. With Jax still on the mound for the Twins, they made sure to pad said lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Enrique Hernandez, celebrating his 30th birthday on Tuesday, led off with a single and moved up to second base on a Minnesota fielding error.

Jax quickly recorded the first two outs of the frame, but Devers kept the rally alive by lacing a ground-rule, RBI double into the right field seats that brought in Hernandez from third to make it a 5-3 contest.

J.D. Martinez followed by drawing another walk, though he was quickly brought in on yet another double from Verdugo, which brought Renfroe to the plate in a prime run scoring spot.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Jax, another hanging slider, Renfroe took full advantage of that opportunity by crushing his second home run of the night — and 25th of the season — 420 feet over everything in left-center field.

Renfroe’s league-leading 10th homer in the month of August alone gave his side a commanding 9-3 lead, and at that point, it looked like the Sox were going to run away with another lopsided win over a last-place team.

That did not turn out to be the case, however, as Martin Perez struggled mightily in his relief appearance. After allowing one run on one hit and an RBI groundout in the top of the sixth, the lefty got rocked for two more runs in the seventh when he served up a two-run shot to Polanco.

Hirokazu Sawamura, working in relief of Perez, did not fare much better, as he walked one, gave up a single to another, and misdirected a wild pitch that allowed both runners to advance into scoring position with one out.

After fanning Mitch Garver, it appeared as though Sawamura was out of trouble when he got Nick Gordon to swing at a 93 mph splitter in the dirt.

Gordon, however, was able to just barely foul off the pitch to keep his at-bat alive, and he followed by lining a two-out, two-strike, and two-run single back up the middle to pull the Twins back to within one at 9-8.

Adam Ottavino, working in relief of Sawamura in the eighth, worked his way around a Jake Cave leadoff single (with the help of Christian Vazquez gunning Cave down at second base) and a two-out walk of Rooker in an otherwise clean inning.

Looking to add some insurance in their half of the eighth, the Red Sox offense got just that from Hernandez, who truly celebrated his birthday in style by following up a Vazquez leadoff single and clubbing a towering two-run shot over the Monster off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar.

Hernandez’s 16th home run of the year, which traveled 425 feet and left his bat at 108.6 mph, put the Sox ahead 11-8, which would prove extremely beneficial a half inning later with Matt Barnes on the hill in the ninth.

To put it simply, Barnes’ August woes continued, as the Boston closer served up a leadoff homer to Donaldson before walking two straight to bring the go-ahead run to the plate — all without recording a single out in the inning.

That ugly sequence resulted in Cora turning to Hansel Robles, who promptly saved the day — literally — in the process of punching out two and recording the third and final out when he got Cave to line out to end the game.

By securing the 11-9 victory for his side, Robles was able to notch his 11th save of the year (and first with the Red Sox) while also topping out at 99.4 mph with his high-octane four-seam fastball.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 72-55 on the season to increase their lead over the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot to two full games.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Ober

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the Twins and look to extend their winning streak to three consecutive games on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will look to bounce back as he gets the start for Boston, while fellow righty Bailey Ober will do the same for Minnesota.

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

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

Despite solid start from Eduardo Rodriguez and home runs from Rafael Devers and Hunter Renfroe, Red Sox blow late lead against Rays in disheartening 8-4 defeat

Lately, it seems as though the Red Sox have struggled to get out of their own way, and that was once again the case at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

Opening up a pivotal three-game series against the American League East-leading Rays, the reeling Sox failed to make a statement and fell to their division rivals in yet another soul-crushing 8-4 defeat.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 22nd start of the season for Boston, provided his side with what they needed out of the gate by putting together a solid outing on the mound.

Over 5 1/3 quality innings of work, the left-hander surrendered just two earned runs on four hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts — marking the fourth time in his last five starts in which he struck out at least eight batters.

After Rafael Devers lifted the Sox to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning by crushing his 28th home run of the year — a 390-foot solo shot that left his bat at 114 mph — to right field off Rays starter Luis Patino, Rodriguez followed suit by serving up a solo homer of his own to Brandon Lowe in the top half of the third.

That knotted things up at one run apiece, but the Boston bats struck again in their half of the fourth when Xander Bogaerts led things off with a single and later moved up to second on a two-out walk drawn by Kevin Plawecki.

Making Patino pay for issuing a walk with two outs, Hunter Renfroe punished a 2-2, 96 mph heater down the heart of the plate by depositing it 420 feet to dead center field for a towering three-run home run.

Renfroe’s 19th big fly of the season gave Rodriguez a 4-1 lead to work with, and he put together a scoreless fifth inning before running into a bit of trouble in the sixth.

There, a leadoff double ultimately did Rodriguez in, as he then issued a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz and an RBI single to rookie sensation Wander Franco, which in turn put runners at first and second and subsequently marked the end of the road for the southpaw as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (60 strikes), the 28-year-old did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 5.24.

In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and he escaped the top of sixth inning by sitting down the only two hitters he faced in consecutive order.

From there, Garrett Whitlock took over in the seventh, brought the potential go-ahead run to the plate by giving up back-to-back one-out hits, and then served up a game-tying two-run double to the pinch-hitting Ji-Man Choi.

Tampa Bay pulled themselves even with Boston at that moment, but the Sox nearly countered in their half of the seventh when matched up against right-handed reliever Andrew Kittredge.

With two outs in the frame, Jarren Duran put his speed on full display by reaching first base on an infield single and going from first to third on another single off the bat of Bogaerts. But Devers flew out to center field for the final out of the inning, thus stranding the potential go-ahead run in scoring position.

In the eighth, the combined efforts of Whitlock and lefty Josh Taylor were enough to keep the Rays off the scoreboard despite them loading the bases.

Again, the Red Sox offense showed some semblance of life in their half of the inning when Kevin Plawecki reached base via a one-out single. But both Renfroe and Christian Vazquez went down swinging against Kittredge to keep this one tied at 4-4 going into the ninth.

Red Sox closer Matt Barnes, despite being used three times in two days over the weekend in Toronto, was called upon for the ninth and was tasked with keeping that 4-4 stalemate intact.

Instead, Barnes’ August struggles continued, as he loaded the bases with two outs before yielding a bases-clearing, three-run single to Francisco Mejia that was aided by a Renfroe fielding error.

Regardless, the Sox went down 7-4 on that sequence, and fell behind by one more when Martin Perez allowed one of the runners he inherited from Barnes to score on another RBI single.

That put the Sox in an 8-4 hole, and Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez went down in order in the bottom of the ninth to mark Boston’s 10th defeat in its last 12 games.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 65-50 on the season and now sit five games behind the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Fleming

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the hill in the middle game of this three-game set on Wednesday as they look to right the ship.

The Rays will counter with left-hander Josh Fleming.

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

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Matt Barnes from COVID-19 related injured list, option Jonathan Araúz to Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Tigers in the second game of a three-game series at Comerica Park on Wednesday night, the Red Sox reinstated closer Matt Barnes from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, infielder Jonathan Arauz was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

Barnes’ stay on the COVID related injured list winds up being a short one, as the right-handed reliever only missed Tuesday’s contest after his PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test came back negative Tuesday night.

Upon arriving in Detroit earlier this week, Barnes — as well as one other unidentified player — were feeling under the weather and exhibiting symptoms that run consistent with the virus, resulting in the closer having to quarantine at the team hotel.

Barnes, who is vaccinated against COVID-19, must have woke up Wednesday morning in much better spirits, as he will be available to pitch in the middle game of this three-game set against Detroit.

“He’s here, he feels good and he’s available,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Barnes. “If we get the lead, we’ll give him the ball.”

In 43 appearances out of the Boston bullpen so far this season, the first-time All-Star has posted a 2.30 ERA and 2.14 FIP to go along with 66 strikeouts to just 11 walks over 43 innings of work in which he has converted 23 of a possible 27 save opportunities.

Arauz, meanwhile, sees his second big-league stint of the season come to a close as he was sent down to Worcester in order to make room for Barnes on the 26-man roster.

In his most recent stay with the Red Sox, the 23-year-old appeared in three games, going 2-for-6 (.333) at the plate with one walk and two strikeouts over seven trips to the plate while playing second base and serving as a pinch-runner.

As he makes his return to the WooSox, Arauz carries with him a batting line of .224/.315/.355 to go along with four doubles, one triple, six home runs, 27 RBI, 24 runs scored, two stolen bases, 26 walks, and 38 strikeouts over 55 games (213 plate appearances) at the Triple-A level so far this season.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox closer Matt Barnes tests negative for COVID-19, could be activated for Wednesday’s game against Tigers

After a scare earlier in the afternoon, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes tested negative for COVID-19 Tuesday night, manager Alex Cora announced.

Barnes, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Tigers in Detroit, had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day and — along with one other unnamed player — was also exhibiting symptoms that run consistent with the virus.

As a result, the right-handed reliever, who is vaccinated, was forced to quarantine at the team hotel, but he could now be activated off the COVID IL as soon as Wednesday depending on how he is feeling in the morning.

“He tested negative,” Cora said of Barnes following Boston’s 4-2 loss to Detroit. “We’ll check him throughout the night, how he feels and all that. But he did test negative, so hopefully everything goes well tonight and he’ll be with us tomorrow.”

Cora acknowledged that Barnes will likely have to take one more PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on Wednesday morning before being cleared to return to action.

“That’s the goal. Everything went well today,” Cora said on the possibility of having Barnes available for Wednesday’s contest against the Tigers at Comerica Park. “We’ll see how feels tonight, how he feels in the morning. Probably one more test or something like that. But as of now, that’s the goal.”

Barnes, who is currently in the midst of a career year that netted him his first-ever All-Star selection and a lucrative contract extension last month, had not appeared in a game for the Red Sox since Game 2 of last Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park before being placed on the COVID IL on Tuesday.

This is not the first time Barnes has dealt with COVID-related issues either, as the 31-year-old tested positive for the virus back in March but was cleared to return to the team after missing just two days because of subsequent test results.

When Boston placed Barnes on the COVID IL on Tuesday, they reinstated utility man Marwin Gonzalez from the 10-day injured list as a corresponding move, thus giving them 13 pitchers and 13 position players on their 26-man major-league roster.

Assuming Barnes is activated ahead of Wednesday’s matchup against the Tigers, it seems likely that infielder Jonathan Arauz would be optioned to Triple-A Worcester in order for the Red Sox to go back to carrying 14 pitchers and 12 position players. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Matt Barnes on COVID-19 related injured list, activate Marwin Gonzalez

Before opening up a three-game series against the Tigers in Detroit on Tuesday night, the Red Sox placed All-Star closer Matt Barnes on the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, veteran utility man Marwin Gonzalez was recalled from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester and reinstated from the 10-day injured list, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Barnes, who is vaccinated against COVID-19, has not tested positive for the virus, though he has displayed symptoms that have left him feeling under the weather and — as a result — is currently quarantining in the team hotel in Detroit, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotill0) prior to Tuesday’s contest against the Tigers that the Sox were tested as a group earlier in the day and every test result (excluding Barnes’) thus far has come back negative. That group includes an unnamed player who experienced symptoms similar to Barnes’, but wound up testing negative.

Because Barnes is currently in quarantine, the Red Sox will be without the 31-year-old right-hander for Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park, though he could be activated from the COVID IL at any time if his PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test does indeed come back negative.

If he tests positive however, Barnes will be required to remain on the COVID IL and will be placed in mandatory quarantine for at least 10 days, which, in turn, would result in the Red Sox triggering additional virus-related protocols, per Cotillo.

Barnes, who was named to his first All-Star team this summer and is in the midst of a career year, initially tested positive for COVID back in March, but was only sidelined for two days on account of subsequent test results.

While Barnes will be held out of action on Tuesday at the very least, the Red Sox will gain some position player flexibility by activating Gonzalez from the conventional injured list.

Gonzalez, 32, has been sidelined with a right hamstring strain he suffered while running out a ground ball in the second inning of a game against the Phillies at Fenway Park back on July 11.

Later placed on the 10-day IL on July 16, the switch-hitting infielder/outfielder was able to begin a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Friday.

In two games for the WooSox in which he played five innings of second base and seven innings of first base against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park over the weekend, Gonzalez went 2-for-6 (.333) with one home run, one RBI, one run scored, one walk, and one strikeout over seven plate appearances.

Gonzalez will be making his 28th start at second base this season for Boston while batting out of the seven-hole on Tuesday night.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Garrett Richards:

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

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo’s clutch two-run homer lifts Red Sox to 5-4 comeback victory over Blue Jays

Alex Verdugo certainly made his first home run since June 15 count on a hazy Monday night at Fenway Park.

With the Red Sox trailing the Blue Jays, 4-3, in the late stages of the eighth inning, Verdugo came to the plate representing the potential go-ahead run with one out and a runner on first in the form of Hunter Renfroe.

Matched up against Jays reliever Trevor Richards, the left-handed hitter got ahead in the count at 3-1 before taking the fifth pitch he saw — an 85 mph changeup over the outer half of the plate — and depositing it 414 feet over everything in right field.

Verdugo’s 10th homer of the season, which left his bat with an exit velocity of 101.1 mph, was quite a dramatic one, as it allowed Boston to pick up a 5-4 win over Toronto, marking the club’s 33rd comeback victory of the year.

Before Verdugo’s late-game heroics, it was Nick Pivetta who made his 20th start of the season for the Sox on Monday.

As has been the case since right before the All-Star break, Pivetta certainly was not at his best in this one. Over 4 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander surrendered four runs — all of which were earned on six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Pivetta was gifted an early two-run lead, as Verdugo and Michael Chavis got the Sox on the board first with an RBI single and RBI groundout off Blue Jays starter Thomas Hatch in the bottom of the second, but he gave up that lead by issuing back-to-back run-scoring base hits to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien a half inning later.

Rafael Devers pushed Boston back in front by a run by crushing his 27th big fly of the year — a 392-foot solo shot — off Hatch in the third, and Pivetta nearly got through five innings before running into some two-out trouble.

After giving up a leadoff ground-rule double to George Springer in the fifth, Pivetta responded by recording the first two outs of the inning rather quickly.

Just one out away from stranding a runner in scoring position, Pivetta served up a two-run homer to Bo Bichette on a 1-1, 89 mph changeup on the inner half of the plate that he sent over the Green Monster to put his side up a run at 4-3.

That would turn out be how Pivetta’s night came to a close, as Red Sox manager Alex Cora quickly exited the dugout to give him the hook. The 28-year-old finished with a final pitch count of 92 (59 strikes) in the process of raising his ERA on the season to 4.51.

In relief of Pivetta, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Boston bullpen and picked up where he left off on Friday by getting through the fifth, tossing a 1-2-3 sixth, and stranding a pair in a scoreless seventh inning to keep the deficit at just one run.

From there, Adam Ottavino maneuvered his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean eighth inning, setting up the Red Sox lineup to strike in their half of the frame.

By drawing a one-out walk off Richards, Renfroe broke up a string of nine straight Red Sox hitters to be retired by Blue Jays relievers, and Verdugo followed by delivering in the clutch with his two-run, go-ahead homer.

Given a one-run lead to protect all of the sudden, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes was deployed for the ninth and slammed the door on the Jays to notch his 22nd second save of the season as well as a 5-4 victory for his side.

With the win, the Sox improve to 62-39 on the year while also moving to 1 1/2 games up on the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Ray vs. Richards

Tuesday’s starting pitching matchup between the Blue Jays and Red Sox will feature a pair of veteran hurlers going at it, with left-hander Robbie Ray toeing the rubber for Toronto and right-hander Garrett Richards will be doing the same for Boston.

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

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández comes through in clutch as Red Sox come back to defeat Yankees, 5-4, in extras

The Red Sox were down to their final out in the ninth inning Thursday night, trailing the Yankees by a score of 3-1, and on the verge of dropping their third straight game to their division rivals.

With runners on first and second base, Kiké Hernández came to the plate having already driven in Boston’s lone run of the night. In front of him, Alex Verdugo was at second base, while Jarren Duran — pinch-running for Bobby Dalbec — represented the tying run on first base.

Matched up against Yankees reliever Chad Green, Hernández got ahead in the count at 1-0 before taking a 96 mph fastball down the heart of the plate and ripping a two-run double off the Green Monster.

Verdugo was able to easily score from second, while the speedy Duran came in all the way from first to knot things up at three runs apiece.

After Red Sox closer Matt Barnes allowed one unearned run to cross the plate in the top of the 10th despite tossing a 1-2-3 inning, Boston took advantage of a wild Brooks Kriske in their half of the frame.

The Yankees reliever began his night by throwing a pair of wild pitches that allowed Rafael Devers — who started the inning at second base — to score and tie it at 4-4 while Xander Bogaerts was at the plate.

Bogaerts himself walked, and he, too, moved up to third base on two more wild pitches from Kriske, which set up Hunter Renfroe to drive in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

With the 5-4 win, their 30th of the comeback variety this year, the Red Sox improve to 59-38 on the season while maintaining their one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Houck’s solid start shortened by rain

Well before all of Thursday night’s late-inning drama from Fenway Park, Tanner Houck made his third start of the season for the Red Sox, which was also his first major-league start in more than three months.

As he did out of the bullpen in the Bronx last weekend, Houck was fairly dominant against the Yankees this time around. The right-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before a pair of leadoff walks in the top of the fourth did him in, as Gleyber Torres brought in Brett Gardner on an RBI groundout to put New York ahead, 1-0, in that same inning.

Still, Houck got through the rest of the fourth unscathed and got the first two outs of the fifth before the volume of rain in the Fenway-area picked up and forced a 55-minute rain delay that would subsequently end his day prematurely.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (54 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wound up yielding just one unearned run on two hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 strong innings of work. His next start should come against the Blue Jays at Fenway next Wednesday.

After the rain delay

Following that lengthy rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on in relief of Houck, got out of the fifth inning, and tossed a clean sixth inning as well.

In the process of the Red Sox bullpen taking over for Houck, the Sox offense was struggling to get anything going against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.

The left-hander held the Boston bats in check throughout his 5 2/3 innings of work, but they were able to finally break through in the bottom of the seventh.

There, after Darwinzon Hernandez had punched out a pair in the top of the inning, two straight one-out singles from Verdugo and Dalbec off New York reliever Lucas Luetge set something in motion.

Michael Chavis proceeded to rip a hard-hit groundball to third base that looked as though it could have gone for a double play, but Tyler Wade bobbled the baseball, thus preventing that from happening.

With the bases now loaded as the Sox lineup turned back over, Hernández came through with his first heroic of the night in scoring Verdugo on a game-tying sacrifice fly.

A Devers infield single very well could have continued the rally, but Dalbec was thrown out at home by Torres after trying to score from second, and that ended the inning.

Former Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino ran into some trouble against his old team in the top of the eighth, as he allowed the go-ahead run — and an additional run — to score thanks in part to allowing two walks, a stolen base, one hit, and one sacrifice fly off the bat of Torres that saw the Yankees go up 3-1.

Fast forward to the ninth, with Green on the hill for New York, Hernández delivered once more with that aforementioned game-tying, two-run double to left field to send this one to extras.

In the top of the 10th, Barnes yielded an unearned run in an otherwise perfect inning of relief, and would later earn his fifth win of the season when Renfroe walked it off on his sacrifice fly a half inning later.

By completing their 30th come-from-behind victory this year, the Red Sox have extended their winning streak to three consecutive games. As was previously stated, they are now 59-38 on the season, which is good for the best record in the American League.

Next up: Cole vs. Rodriguez

Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees will feature left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston opposite ace right-hander Gerrit Cole for New York.

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

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox crush 5 homers en route to 7-4 win to finish off sweep of Blue Jays in Buffalo

An unplanned off day on account of inclement weather in the Buffalo-area could not halt the Red Sox from pouring it on against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

In the final major-league game to be played at Sahlen Field this season, Boston finished off their two-game sweep of Toronto with a 7-4 victory that was powered by five home runs from five different players.

Matched up against a tough opponent in Jays left-hander Robbie Ray, a right-handed heavy Sox lineup got things started in their half of the third after not recording a hit through the first two innings.

There, a hard-hit leadoff double from Bobby Dalbec set the stage as the lineup flipped back over, and a red-hot Kiké Hernández took full advantage of that by crushing a 434-foot two-run home run to left field off an 0-2, 95 mph fastball from Ray.

Hernández’s 14th homer of the season — and third of the series — gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead, but Rafael Devers tacked on another with his 24th big fly of the year to lead off the top half of the fourth.

While the Sox offense was getting it done by way of the long ball against Ray, Garrett Richards was in the midst of putting together one of his better outings of the season.

Making his 19th start of the year for Boston, Richards allowed just one base hit to the first 12 Blue Jays he faced, though Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took him deep to right-center field in the fourth inning to put an end to the shutout bid.

Michael Chavis was able to get one of those runs back with a solo shot off Ray in the top half of the fifth, while Christian Vazquez plated another on an RBI single that brought in J.D. Martinez an inning later.

With a 5-1 cushion to work with now, Richards appeared to be on his way to six clean innings as he recorded the first two outs of the sixth in simple fashion.

A two-out walk of Guerrero Jr. prevented that from happening, though, and the veteran right-hander faltered even further by serving up back-to-back homers to George Springer and Teoscar Hernandez, thus allowing the Blue Jays to trim their deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Having yielded home runs to the last two hitters he faced, Richards’ night came to an end with Red Sox manager Alex Cora giving him the hook in favor of Garrett Whitlock.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler wound up giving up four earned runs on four hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work.

Able to pick up the win to improve to 6-5 on the season despite raising his ERA to 4.99, Richards’ next start should come against these same Blue Jays back at Fenway Park next Tuesday.

In relief of Richards, Whitlock came on, got out of the sixth, and maneuvered his way around a two-out double in an otherwise perfect seventh inning.

From there, the Boston bats responded with back-to-back home runs of their own in their half of the eighth, with Martinez and Hunter Renfroe clubbing their 20th and 15th big flies of the year for some valuable insurance that gave their side a 7-4 edge.

Adam Ottavino followed by facing the minimum three batters in the bottom half of the eighth, and Matt Barnes — making his second half debut — shut the door on the Blue Jays in the ninth to secure the 7-4 victory and notch his 20th save of the campaign.

With the win — Alex Cora’s 250th with the team — the Red Sox improve to 58-38 on the season while maintaining a one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Santana suffers groin injury

Danny Santana was originally starting Wednesday’s contest in left field, but was forced to exit in the seventh inning because of a tight left groin he sustained while diving for a fly ball.

The 30-year-old was replaced by Alex Verdugo in left field and seems likely to be placed back on the injured list just two days after being activated from it.

Next up: Four against the Yankees at Fenway

The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park to open up a four-game weekend series against the Yankees that begins on Thursday night.

Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to start for Boston in the series opener, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery is in line to do the same for New York.

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

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

Red Sox at the All-Star Game: Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez combine for 3 hits; Nathan Eovaldi, Matt Barnes toss scoreless inning each in American League’s 5-2 win

The American League bested the National League by a final score of 5-2 in the 91st MLB All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver on Tuesday night, and the Red Sox’ five All-Star representatives played a significant role in making that happen.

Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts, making his second career All-Star Game start in his third overall appearance, got the start at shortstop for the American League while batting out of the three-hole.

The 28-year-old went 2-for-3 on the night with an RBI and a pair of singles, the second of which came off Marlins starter Trevor Rogers and drove in Orioles’ All-Star Cedric Mullins with two outs in the top of the fifth inning that gave the American League a 4-0 lead at the time it was hit.

Per Baseball Savant, Bogaerts’ two base hits had exit velocities of 109 mph and 92 mph respectively.

He also turned a nifty, unassisted double play to help fellow Sox All-Star Nathan Eovaldi to get out of the bottom of the fourth inning unscathed.

Rafael Devers

Devers, making his first career All-Star Game start in his first overall appearance, started alongside Bogaerts at third base as the two became the first pair of Red Sox teammates to start in the same Midsummer Classic on the left side of the infield.

Batting two spots behind Bogaerts out of the five-hole, the 24-year-old slugger followed a leadoff walk drawn by Aaron Judge in the top half of the second inning by lacing a 106.6 mph double off Brewers starter Corbin Burnes that advanced Judge up to third.

An RBI single courtesy of Blue Jays starter Marcus Semien brought in Judge from third, giving the American League their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Devers — matched up against Rockies All-Star German Marquez — grounded out to shortstop for the first out of the inning, but it was a grounder that left the left-handed hitter’s bat at a scorching 106.3 mph.

Devers, like Bogaerts, was pulled in the middle of the fifth inning.

J.D. Martinez

Martinez, making his fourth career All-Star appearance and his third with the Red Sox, replaced starting designated hitter Shohei Ohtani with no outs and runners in the corners in the fifth inning. He proceeded to strike out on three pitches against Rogers.

The 33-year-old also fanned on four pitches against Brewers All-Star Freddy Peralta in the top half of the seventh, so he finished the night going 0-for-2 with a pair of punchouts.

Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi, one of three first-time All-Stars the Red Sox sent to Denver along with Devers and closer Matt Barnes, got the call from his former manager Kevin Cash to take over for Rangers starter Kyle Gibson in the middle of the fourth.

Working on six days rest, the 31-year-old right-hander needed all of 10 pitches (8 strikes) to get through a scoreless frame of relief in which he faced the minimum three batters thanks to that aforementioned double play started by Bogaerts on a Nick Castellanos groundball.

Of the 10 pitches Eovaldi threw on Tuesday, three were splitters, three were four-seam fastballs, one was a curveball, and one was a cutter. The flame-throwing righty induced two total swings-and-misses while topping out at 99.2 mph with his heater. No 100+ mph heat from him.

Matt Barnes

Barnes, making his first career All-Star appearance, did not pitch in the ninth inning as he has primarily done for the Red Sox this season, but he was responsible for a bottom half of the eighth that had plenty of tension.

Fresh off inking a two-year extension to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future over the weekend, the 31-year-old entered with a 5-2 lead to protect, but proceeded to lad the bases on two singles and a walk in the process of recording the first two outs of the frame.

With one out to get, Barnes was matched up against a dangerous opponent in the form of the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, and he fell in behind in the count at 3-0 to make matters even worse.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, a 96 mph fastball on the outer half of the plate, the fiery right-hander got Bryant to lift a 296-foot lineout to Angels All-Star Jared Walsh in left field.

It was a lineout that required Walsh, who has never played left field at the major-league level, to make a superb sliding catch, but the out was recorded nonetheless to get Barnes and the American League out of the inning.

Of the 25 pitches (14 strikes) Barnes threw on Tuesday, 18 were four-seam fastballs and seven were curveballs. He topped out at 97.1 mph with his heater.

In tossing a scoreless eighth inning, Barnes wound up picking up the hold as White Sox closer Liam Hendriks shut the door on the National League in the ninth to notch the hold and secure a 5-2 victory victory for the American League.

With the win, the AL has now taken eight consecutive All-Star Games from the NL.

Blue Jays All-Star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, as he hit the 200th home run in All-Star Game history, which also happened to be a 468-foot blast that left his bat at 110.2 mph.

Guerrero Jr., 22, becomes the youngest player to be named All-Star Game MVP in the game’s history, which dates back to 1933.

(Picture of Matt Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez: Boston Red Sox)