After missing out on Tommy Kahnle, could Red Sox pursue former Blue Jays closer Ken Giles in free agency?

Before signing a two-year deal with the Dodgers late last month, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle nearly agreed to a contract with the Red Sox. So much so that “the Red Sox were considered the runner-up” for the 31-year-old’s services, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Kahnle, who officially signed a two-year, $4.75 million pact with Los Angeles on December 29, will likely miss the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. So, the Dodgers will essentially be paying the veteran hurler to rehab his elbow in his first year with the club in hopes that he will be a quality contributor out of the their bullpen in 2022.

That being said, the Red Sox presumably had this same plan in mind in their pursuit of Kahnle as well. And as noted by Cotillo, their pursuit of the righty “suggests that the club is looking at a wide variety of options to improve its pitching depth, including arms that won’t help in 2021.”

One of those arms available that won’t be immediately ready to help in 2021 would be former Phillies, Astros, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Giles “figures to sign the type of two-year deal that teams frequently award pitchers recovering from an elbow reconstruction.” And he “might appeal to clubs that plan to be more competitive and/or financially flexible in ’22, as well as those that might lose their closer to free agency.” 

The 30-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on September 30 after making just four appearances out of the Toronto bullpen in 2020.

The year before, his first full season with the Jays, Giles put together a solid 2019 campaign, posting a 1.87 ERA and .574 OPS against over 53 appearances and 53 innings of work while converting 23 of a possible 24 save opportunities.

Right elbow inflammation did cost Giles a decent chunk of time in July, which ultimately prevented the Blue Jays from trading the former seventh-round pick ahead of the 2019 trade deadline.

Around that same time, the Red Sox were reportedly one of several teams in the mix for potentially acquiring Giles.

Nothing may have happened then, and Boston’s baseball operations department may be under new leadership now, but there certainly is a potential match to be made here.

For starters, fellow righty Matt Barnes, who at the moment is slated to be the Sox’ closer this coming season, is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter.

Though Barnes has publicly stated that he is interested in signing an extension with Boston, bringing in Giles on a two-year deal could prove to be an effective contingency plan for 2022.

On top of that, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in an interview with WEEI last week that “there’s a lot of players” on his list of potential offseason additions.

“Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of ways we can improve. Part of that is how we’re looking to improve,” explained Bloom. “In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us and fit us. Pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different players we can bring in to help us. We also don’t want to take our eye off of the ball that, at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes. We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently year in and year out. That means we have to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not be just about 2021. I think we have enough talent here that we should be able to compete and win along the way there. But there are some things we’ve explored and some things we’ve kicked around that might be able to impact us even more in future years than they might be in 2021.”

Bringing in Giles would appear to fit the description of a move “that might not just be about 2021” for the Red Sox since, as mentioned before, he will miss all of this year while recovering and rehabbing from Tommy John.

Again, this is just a mere suggestion. I am not implying that the Red Sox will sign or even have any serious interest in signing Giles at some point this winter. We will have to wait and see what happens on that front.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Padres have reportedly traded speedy outfielder Greg Allen to the Yankees, so he will remain on another club’s 40-man roster for the time being.

(Photo of Ken Giles: Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox, Matt Barnes talked contract extension earlier this year prior to COVID-19 shutdown

Before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced Major League Baseball to shut down in March, the Red Sox and right-handed reliever Matt Barnes apparently talked about a potential contract extension.

Speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the 30-year-old hurler expressed his desire to remain with the organization he began his professional career with back in 2011.

“I’ve expressed my interest to the front office and ownership of wanting to stay in Boston for the rest of my career,” Barnes said. “We had some conversations about a longer relationship moving forward. And then COVID hit and there were so many things going on with the season shut down and the health and safety, things kind of got put on hold a little bit.”

The only member of the Sox’ 2011 draft class who is still currently with the club, the former first-round pick is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he posted a 4.30 ERA and 4.01 xFIP over 24 appearances and 23 innings pitched.

On the surface, those are not exactly spectacular results. But, upon closer inspection, Barnes turned things around for the better in September by allowing just three runs over 10 innings of work spanning his final 11 outings of the year. He did that while limiting opposing hitters to a .556 OPS against while striking out nearly 37% of the batters he faced.

With those improved numbers in mind, the Sox signed Barnes to a $4.5 million contract earlier this week for the upcoming 2021 season, the UCONN product’s final season under team control before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

“There had been some discussions on trying to make something work moving forward beyond next season,” Barnes told Speier. “We’ll see if there’s more dialogue going forward. We’re not going to force anything, but some discussions have been had.”

A client of ISE Baseball, Barnes has been one of the more durable relievers in the American League in his time with the Red Sox, appearing in 62 or more games for three straight seasons (2016-2019).

Despite his shortcomings, such as untimely control issues which leads to in uptick in walks at times, the flamethrower has without a doubt proven he has the “ability to go out there and be able to take the ball every single day.”

That being said, if Barnes puts together another solid effort in 2021, he will presumably have a fair number of suitors in need of bullpen help come this time next year.

As things currently stand, Barnes, as noted by Speier, is on the cusp of surpassing the likes of Cy Young, Ellis Kinder, Roger Clemens, and Derek Lowe in all-time appearances with the Red Sox (325).

Barnes would have the chance to move up that list even more if he stayed in Boston beyond in 2020, which, of course, is something he would be more than happy to do.

“It’s the only place where I’ve played,” said Barnes. “It’s a first-class organization. I’d love to spend the rest of my career here.”

Red Sox sign Matt Barnes, 6 others to one-year deals, tender contract to Rafael Devers

UPDATE: As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox also signed right-hander Chris Mazza and outfielder Yairo Munoz to one-year deals on Wednesday.

The non-tender deadline came and went Wednesday night without the Red Sox cutting a single arbitration or pre-arbitration eligible player from its 40-man roster.

Per a team release, the Sox agreed to one-year contracts with the likes of right-handers Austin Brice, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Chris Mazza, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, and catcher Kevin Plawecki.

Additionally, Boston will tender one-year contracts for the 2021 season to 25 players who remain unsigned, with third baseman Rafael Devers being the most notable of those individuals after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a deal.

The 24-year-old will have until January 15 to come to terms on a contract with the Sox or he will otherwise be headed for salary arbitration for the first time in his career come February.

As for the other players involved here, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the details on how much Barnes, Brasier, Brice, Mazza, Munoz, Plawecki, and Rodriguez will be earning next season:

Barnes: $4.5 million salary for 2021
Brasier: $1.25 million salary for 2021
Brice: $870,000 salary for 2021
Mazza: $576,000
Munoz: $582,500
Plawecki: $1.6 million salary for 2021
Rodriguez $8.3 million salary for 2021

All in all, the Red Sox owe this group listed above more than $17.5 million headed into the upcoming season.

Barnes, 30, and Rodriguez, 27, are the only two players who were entering their final year of arbitration eligibility, meaning they will become free agents for the first time in their respective careers next winter barring any extension talks.

On account of them not making any sort of cuts or subtractions on Wednesday, Boston’s 40-man roster is still at full capacity. That is likely to change now that this offseason’s free agency class has increased in size due to other clubs non-tendering a staggering amount of their eligible players in order to save money.

Diving Into 2021 Arbitration Salary Projections for Nine Eligible Red Sox Players

MLB Trade Rumors released their annual arbitration salary projections for the 2021 season earlier Thursday.

Unlike past years, projecting arbitration salaries for 2021 has become even more confounding than usual due to the financial circumstances the pandemic-induced, 60-game 2020 Major League Baseball season created for its clubs.

With that in mind, MLBTR’s Matt Swartz has put together three different projection models for this exercise in salary arbitration. The first of these three models directly uses statistics from the 2020 season, while the second model “extrapolates all counting stats to would-be 162-game totals,” and the third, which only applies to non-first-time arbitration eligible players, gives players 37% of the raise they would have received if the 2020 season was 162 games long. That being the case because 60 divided by 162 is equal to 37%.

It is somewhat confusing, but here is how those projections would apply to the nine members of the Red Sox who are currently eligible for salary arbitration this winter, again courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

PlayerModel 1Model 2Model 3
Matt Barnes$3.7MM$5.7MM$4.1MM
Ryan Brasier$1.00MM$1.6MM$1.0MM
Austin Brice$700K$900K$700K
Rafael Devers$3.4MM$6.3MM$3.4MM
Zack Godley$800K$1.1MM$800K
Jose Peraza$2.9MM$3.2MM$3.0MM
Kevin Plawecki$1.6MM$2.0MM$1.3MM
Eduardo Rodriguez$8.3MM$8.3MM$8.3MM
Ryan Weber$900K$1.5M$900K

Among these nine players, Matt Barnes and Eduardo Rodriguez are both entering their final seasons of arbitration eligibility before reaching free agency for the first time next November.

Other names listed above, such as Zack Godley and Jose Peraza, could very well be non-tendered by Boston by December 2, which would make them free agents.

Even if a record number of non-tenders are expected between now and early December, this projection model is certainly still helpful. And if we take the projected salaries of the players listed above and use the third and most-likeliest model to be used in this scenario, the total amount of arbitration salaries would add up to approximately $23.5 million.

Take that total and add it to the salaries of players who are under contract or have options for 2021, which would be approximately $155 million, and you arrive at the Sox’ projected payroll for next season, $178.5 million as noted by @RedSoxPayroll.

Of course, this does not take into consideration any players the Red Sox could add over the course of what is sure to be another busy winter for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co, so that projected payroll number is likely to change relatively soon.

I hope this piece was insightful as Major League Baseball prepares to embark on an offseason unlike any before in recent memory. Should be intriguing to monitor to say the least.

Red Sox Relievers Combine To Toss 6 2/3 Scoreless Innings en Route To 5-3 Victory Over Nationals

The Red Sox bounced back from an ugly 10-2 loss on Friday and were carried by their bullpen en route to a 5-3 victory over the defending World Series champion Nationals on Saturday.

Chris Mazza made his second start and third overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was recalled from Pawtucket on Saturday in a roster move that saw Nathan Eovaldi placed on the injured list.

Working 2 1/3 innings while facing the Nationals for the first time in his career, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Washington tallies came in the top half of the third, when after retiring six of the first nine hitters he faced, Mazza struggled to record a single out and instead allowed three runs to cross the plate on four hits and a walk before fanning Kurt Suzuki on five pitches, which actually marked the end of his outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (46 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider and cutter a combined 70% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 10 swings-and-misses with the two pitches. He also topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Hit with the no-decision due to the length of this outing, Mazza could be a candidate to get another start next time through the rotation, which would likely come against the Blue Jays late next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

In relief of Mazza, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was dispatched with runners on first and second and two outs to get in the top of the third, and he got those outs while dancing around a bases-loaded jam in between two swinging strikeouts.

From there, Phillips Valdez stranded two runners and punched out the side in a scoreless fourth inning, and he also put two more runners on and recorded two more outs in the fifth before Austin Brice came on and ended the frame with the help of Alex Verdugo’s seventh outfield assist of the season.

Brice got the call for the start of the sixth as well and kept the Nationals off the board while leaving another two base runners stranded.

Josh Osich, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes followed suit by combining to toss three shutout frames the rest of the way, with Barnes picking up his third save of the year courtesy of a seven-pitch groundout off the bat of Eric Thames to close out the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke used six different relievers on Saturday — Hernandez, Valdez, Brice, Osich, Brasier, and Barnes — and the six combined to twirl 6 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen. Not too shabby.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Nationals in Anibal Sanchez. This time around, though, the Boston bats had an easier time of getting runs on the board, and it started right from the jump in the bottom of the first.

There, an Alex Verdugo leadoff single and one-out double from J.D. Martinez put runners in scoring position for Xander Bogaerts, who took full advantage of that opportunity by swinging away at the first pitch he saw from Sanchez, an 89 mph four-seamer above the strike zone, and crushing a 440-foot three-run home run to left-center field.

Bogaerts’ seventh big fly of the season, which had an exit velocity of 106.3 mph off the bat, gave his side an early three-run advantage.

An inning later, the bottom of the lineup got it done this time, as Kevin Pillar led the second off with a hard-hit triple and came into score moments later on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI groundout. 4-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, after the Nationals had stormed back to make things interesting at 4-3, Pillar struck once more, collecting his second extra-base hit of the night off an 0-1, 89 mph fastball from Sanchez at the top of the zone. It just so happens that this extra-base knock was hit 435 feet over the Monster and was good for Pillar’s fourth big fly of 2020.

That solo blast gave the Red Sox a two-run edge at 5-3, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the starting nod for Boston, while fellow righty Austin Voth will do the same for Washington.

Under normal circumstances, Godley’s rotation spot may be in jeopardy here seeing how the 30-year-old owns an ERA of 11.17 over his last three starts going back to August 12. However, Godley may be safe regardless of how he performs on Sunday since the Red Sox do not have a great deal of starting pitching options at the moment.

In nine career outings (five starts) against the Nationals, the South Carolina native has posted a lifetime 5.53 ERA and .884 OPS against over 40 2/3 total innings pitched.

Voth, meanwhile, is coming off a start in which he surrendered six runs in less than four innings of work at home against the Marlins on August 24.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his career, but he does own a lifetime 3.52 ERA in six prior interleague outings that span 30 2/3 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win to close out the weekend.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Astros Have Inquired About Matt Barnes, Rays Have Interest in Christian Vazquez as Monday’s Deadline Looms

The 2020 Major League Baseball season has reached its final weekend leading up until the August 31 trade deadline. With that, a few key contributors on the Red Sox popped up in trade rumors on Friday.

According to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli, the Astros have “inquired” on right-hander Matt Barnes, while the Rays “have interest” in catcher Christian Vazquez “with early discussions centering around Tampa’s pitching prospects.”

Barnes and Vazquez, who are both 30 years old, are under club control through the end of the 2021 season, with Vazquez having a $7 million team option for 2022.

Coming into Friday with the second-worst record in the American League at 10-21, the Sox seem primed to be sellers between now and Monday afternoon. They made that much apparent last week by dealing both Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies.

Barnes, who is good friends with both Hembree and Workman, could be the next Boston reliever to get moved.

Through his first 12 appearances of the year, the UCONN product has struggled thus far, posting a 6.00 ERA and 6.65 FIP over 12 innings of work. Still, Barnes was among the nastiest relievers in the American League in 2019, and a pitching-savvy club such as the Astros, led by renowned pitching coach Brent Strom, may be able to unlock something in the fireballer.

Vazquez, meanwhile, has a case to be made that he is more valuable to the Red Sox than Barnes is seeing how he anchors an ever-changing pitching staff.

Coming off a career year last season, the Puerto Rico native entered the weekend owning a .260/.295/.430 slash line to go along with four home runs and 12 RBI through 28 games and 105 plate appearances.

Just recently, Vazquez expressed his desire to end his career with the Red Sox, the organization he was originally drafted by 12 years ago.

“I think it’s going to be sad if I left Boston because all my career we’re here,” he said this past Tuesday. “From (2008), a young kid, I’ve been here. Only one organization. And my goal is retire here. That’s my goal in my career. Be part of one organization, have one jersey on my chest all my career. But we don’t control that.”

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who used to work for the Rays, were to entertain trading Vazquez to Tampa Bay, who have the top farm system in baseball according to Baseball America, not only could the Sox possibly get a quality pitching prospect back, but they could also open the door to sign free agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto this winter if the Phillies don’t re-sign the All-Star backstop first.

That is just a distinct possibility, however, and Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy even classified Vazquez as someone “we want in Boston” when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron on Wednesday.

With less than 72 hours to go until the trade deadline, Bloom and Co. are certainly on the clock. Even with all that has transpired over the past few days, it would be quite surprising to see the Red Sox not make any additional moves by Monday.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

Former Red Sox Closer Brandon Workman Suffers Blown Save, Loss in Phillies Debut

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman had a tough night in his debut for the Phillies on Saturday.

One day after getting dealt from Boston to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree, cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold, the 32-year-old was dispatched by Phils manager Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a 4-3 game against the Braves in Atlanta.

With his new team up a run with two outs to record in the eighth, Workman was put on the spot right away, and he immediately served up a two-run double to Matt Adams on his very first pitch, an 80 mph curveball on the outer half of the plate, in a Phillies uniform.

Atlanta went up 5-4 on Adams’ two-run two-base hit, but Workman was at least able to escape the inning without giving up any further damage on a fielder’s choice and four-pitch strikeout of Johan Camargo.

Despite that small bit of success, the Texas native’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in the bottom half of the ninth even after the Phillies offense had knotted things back up at five runs each.

That being the case because after Workman allowed three of the first five Braves he faced in the frame to reach, the bases were full with two outs and nowhere to put Adam Duvall.

Entering Saturday, Workman had never faced the Braves outfielder before in his career, and he initially fell behind in the count at 2-1.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, the right-hander could not sneak a 77 mph curveball past Duvall, and the ex-Red laced it to center field for the walk-off single.

As a result of that game-winning base hit, Workman was simultaneously charged with the loss and blown save in his first appearance as a Phillie.

“It’s not the first impression I’m trying to make, obviously,” Workman said during his postgame media availability. “That’s not what I do on the mound. I need to execute pitches better than I did tonight. There’s no excuse for that, I just need to do a better job of getting my job done.”

It just so happens that Workman’s old bullpen mate, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes, also took home the loss and blown save in Boston’s 5-4, extra-innings loss to the Orioles on Saturday. I’m sure those two will have a somewhat comical, self-depreciating exchange between one another before night’s end.

Red Sox Waste Strong Start From Martín Pérez, See Three-Game Winning Streak Snapped in First Extra-Innings Loss of Season To Orioles

The Red Sox got their first taste of Major League Baseball’s new extra-innings rules for 2020 on Saturday and in doing so saw their winning streak snapped at three games following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles in 10 innings.

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the year for Boston in this one, and he put together what was without a doubt his most impressive outing as a member of the Red Sox thus far.

Over seven quality innings of work, the left-hander yielded just one earned run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with a season-best six strikeouts on the night.

That lone Baltimore tally came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Perez served up a solo homer to Pat Valaika off a 1-1, 85 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

Other than that one blip though, Perez really got into a groove with the help of a few nifty plays from Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar.

From the middle of the third up until the conclusion of the sixth, the Venezuelan southpaw sat down 11 of 13 Orioles before running into a bit of trouble in the seventh.

There, Perez put runners at first and second with one out, and then runners at second and third with two outs, prior to retiring Ryan Mountcastle and Bryan Holaday in consecutive order to end his evening on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (62 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler was more aggressive in his approach on Saturday, as he turned to his cut-fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.8 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 16 times.

Unable to pick up the winning decision to no fault of his own while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.45, Perez’s next start should come against the Nationals back at Fenway Park sometime next weekend.

In relief of Perez, fellow lefty Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the eighth, and he allowed multiple runs in his second consecutive appearance after issuing a two-out walk to Hanser Alberto and getting taken deep to left field by Anthony Santander.

That rocket of a two-run home run saw Boston’s deficit get erased entirely, and Ryan Brasier had to come on to get his side out of the eighth with the 3-3 stalemate still intact thanks to the efforts of Christian Vazquez, who gunned down Andrew Velezquez at second base to end the inning.

From there, Brasier came back out for the ninth and danced his way around a two-out infield single and walk in an otherwise clean frame of work to send this one to extra innings.

In extras, Matt Barnes entered the 10th with his side up 5-4 and a runner, Rio Ruiz, already on second base, as the new rules for this season go.

Barnes, fresh off his first save in over a year on Friday, then yielded a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Cedric Mullins which Mitch Moreland fielded and unsuccessfully attempted to get Ruiz out at third.

With still no outs recorded and runners on the corners, Barnes proceeded to issue a wild pitch in the middle of his duel against Alberto, allowing Ruiz to score from third and knot things up at five runs apiece.

By reaching on an infield single to second, Alberto advanced Mullins 90 feet to third base, and an intentional walk of Santander filled the bases for Baltimore.

Because of that predicament, Boston brought in Jackie Bradley Jr. from center field and ran with a five-man infield from that point forward.

As cunning as that strategy may have been, it did not work out in the end, as Barnes got walked off on following a scorcher of a one-out, game-winning single from Pedro Severino.

Again, one night after picking up his first save of 2020, Barnes was charged with his second loss and second blown save of the year as the O’s took this one by a final score of 5-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Orioles veteran right-hander Alex Cobb, who held the Sox to one run in his season debut back on July 25.

This time around, the Boston bats were again held in check by Cobb, but only up until the fifth inning.

There, Bradley Jr. kicked off the scoring for his side by crushing his first home run of the year 402 feet to dead center field off a one-out, 2-1, 92 mph heater at the top of the zone from Cobb.

Jose Peraza followed that solo blast with a hard-hit, ground-rule double to left-center field that nearly left the park itself, and the second baseman was quickly driven in from second when the red-hot Alex Verdugo picked up his second extra-base hit of the contest on an RBI two-bagger that split the gap in right-center field.

An inning later, the middle portion of the Sox lineup got to new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, with Moreland and Vazquez reaching on a one-out walk and single, and Kevin Pillar plating Moreland from second on a softly-hit run-scoring infield single. Just like that, the Sox had themselves a two-run lead at 3-1.

Alas, that 3-1 edge would not prove to be enough in the end, as Baltimore tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, which resulted in Boston playing in their first extra-innings game this year.

In the 10th, with Verdugo already on second since he recorded the last out of the ninth, three straight one-out walks drawn by J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Moreland off of Cole Sulser allowed the Sox outfielder to score from third and make it a 4-3 game.

Despite having the bases loaded with two outs to work with in the 10th, the Red Sox could not make anything of that golden opportunity against right-hander Miguel Castro, and after the Orioles walked it off in their half of the frame, 5-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 runners on base as a team.

Alex Verdugo extended his season-best hitting streak to 13 consecutive games on Saturday. He also picked up his league-leading fifth outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the 9-19 Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while left-hander Wade LeBlanc will do the same for Baltimore.

Godley has yet to face the Orioles this season. LeBlanc, meanwhile, surrendered four runs to the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 26.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for the series win.

Matt Barnes Not Only Reliever Who Could Close Out Games for Red Sox Following Brandon Workman Trade, Ron Roenicke Says

With Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman now Philadelphia Phillies, a couple late-inning spots just opened up in the back end of the Red Sox bullpen. More specifically, with Workman gone, the Sox do not exactly have a set closer at this point in time.

Right-hander Matt Barnes took charge of that responsibility in Boston’s 8-5 win over the Orioles on Friday and he looked good doing so, needing just 13 pitches to record his first save since last June.

Even with Barnes’ impressive importance fresh in his mind, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke didn’t really commit to the 30-year-old hurler as his set ninth-inning man moving forward.

“No doubt, I have faith in what he can do,” Roenicke said of Barnes during his postgame media availability. “I probably won’t do it the same way that we did with [Workman] because we had Barnes for the seventh or eighth or somebody and then going to [Workman]. This will be a little bit different, probably. I’m sure [Barnes] will get most of the opportunities, but if it matches up better with him in the eighth inning and another closer in the ninth, we’ll do that. I don’t think I’m just going to limit him to doing it for one inning.”

If it’s Barnes getting the call for the ninth, Roenicke named Austin Brice and Josh Taylor as relievers who could close out games if necassary.

“I think we have a couple guys that could do it,” the Sox skipper added. “I’m comfortable with all of them, so I think the match-ups will tell us what to do there.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who worked two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut on Friday after missing time on the COVID-19 related injured list, could be another candidate to close were it not for the plans the Red Sox have for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The only thing with Darwinzon is because we know he can give us two or three [innings], it may be more important to do that in the…sixth, seventh, or eighth, maybe,” said Roenicke. “I think he is more valuable in doing that than just keeping him to one inning. We’ll see as time goes on, but he was coming out [Friday] for the first time. He threw some nasty pitches. I know sometimes he may get a little wild, but his pitches, you see the swings they take and the bats that break and it’s just really good stuff.”

Out of the 40 pitches Hernandez threw in his first outing on Friday, the Venezuelan got the Orioles to swing and miss seven times. Because he accrued two innings of work against Baltimore, his next outing likely won’t come until the Red Sox’ next series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.