Tanner Houck remains perfect in save opportunities as Red Sox hold on for 6-5 win over Cardinals

The Red Sox opened their three-game interleague series with the Cardinals on a nerve-racking, but positive note on Friday night. Boston held on for a 6-5 victory over to St. Louis to improve to 3-1 on the homestand and 35-30 on the season as a whole.

Michael Wacha, making his 11th start of the year, was solid against the team he began his professional career with. In his first time facing the Cardinals, the veteran right-hander allowed just one run on six hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

The lone run Wacha surrendered came with no outs in the second inning, as he served up a 403-foot solo shot to Nolan Arenado that left the third baseman’s bat at a blistering 108.6 mph.

From there, though, Wacha limited the damage by retiring 12 of the next 16 batters he faced before giving up a one-out single to Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the sixth that was followed by a four-pitch walk of Arenado. At that point, the righty was given the hook by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (54 strikes), Wacha relied on his four-seam fastball 36% of the time he was on the mound Friday and topped out at 96.3 mph with the pitch. The 30-year-old hurler also induced six swings-and-misses with his changeup, a pitch he threw 27 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 2.28.

By the time Wacha’s night had ended, the Red Sox lineup had pushed across three runs of their own. Matched up against Wacha’s mentor and former teammate in Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, Jarren Duran made his impact felt right away with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning.

Duran tripled on a 104.5 mph line drive off the center field wall. He then scored from third base when J.D. Martinez grounded into a run-scoring double play.

Fast forward to the fourth, Martinez led off with a single and immediately advanced to third on a line-drive double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Both runners scored when Trevor Story snuck a two-run single through the right side of the infield to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.

Picking things up in the top of the sixth, John Schreiber took over for Wacha and stranded the two runners he inherited by retiring Nolan Gorman and Tyler O’Neil. He then got the first two outs of the seventh before Matt Strahm came on to get the third.

In the bottom half of the frame, Franchy Cordero led off with a double and scored from second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single. After the pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec moved Bradley Jr. up to third on a hard-hit double, both runners scored on a two-run single courtesy of Rafael Devers.

Taking a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning, Strahm took care of business there before fellow left-hander Austin Davis was called upon in the top of the ninth. Davis got the first two outs rather easily, then allowed the next three Cardinals he faced to reach base on a double, an RBI triple, and a hit batsman.

That prompted Cora to turn to Tanner Houck, who proceeded to give up back-to-back doubles that plated three more St. Louis runs. With Brendan Donovan representing the tying run, Houck did not falter and instead punched out National League MVP candidate on eight pitches to slam the door on the Cardinals.

Houck is now 3-for-3 in save opportunities as he secured the 6-5 win for the Red Sox.

Next up: Crawford vs. Hudson

The Red Sox will go for another series victory on Saturday by sending right-hander Kutter Crawford to the mound for his second start of the season. The Cardinals will counter with fellow righty Dakota Hudson.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Michael Wacha tosses complete game shutout to lead Red Sox to 1-0 win over Angels

One run of support is all Michael Wacha needed to put together one of the best performances of his career on Monday night.

Wacha, making his ninth start of the season, threw a complete game shutout to lead the Red Sox to a 1-0 victory over the slumping Angels at Angel Stadium. The veteran right-hander dazzled by allowing just three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over nine dominant frames.

Boston’s lone run came in the top of the second inning, when Christian Vazquez drove in Alex Verdugo all the way from first base on an RBI single off Los Angeles starter Noah Syndegaard. Besides that, the Sox lineup went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base as a team.

That did not matter for Wacha, though, as he worked his way around two singles in the first inning with the help of a double play and at one point retired 15 straight batters before giving up a two-out double to Matt Duffy in the sixth.

Duffy, representing the potential tying run, was stranded at second base when Wacha reached back and struck out the dangerous Shohei Ohtani on a foul tip. His last two pitches to Ohtani — both fastballs — registered at 96.4 and 96.6 mph, respectively. They are his two fastest pitches of the season to date.

From there, Wacha maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in the seventh by inducing another twin killing before fanning two in a clean eighth and retiring the side in order in the ninth. He fittingly put an exclamation point on his outing by getting Ohtani to ground out to second for the third and final out.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (71 strikes), Wacha improved to 4-1 on the season while lowering his ERA down to 1.99. The 30-year-old hurler became the third Red Sox pitcher to toss a complete game this season, joining Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta. Boston currently leads all of baseball in complete games thrown.

With the win, the Red Sox extend their winning streak to five straight games to improve to 28-27 on the season. This is the first time since April 19 that they are over .500. The Angels, meanwhile, dropped their 12th straight game and are now 27-29, or 1/2 games back of the Sox in the American League Wild Card standings.

Next up: Whitlock on deck

The Red Sox will send right-hander Garrett Whitlock to the mound as they look to continue their winning ways on Tuesday night. The Angels, on the other hand, have yet to name a starter.

First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers commit costly errors as Red Sox squander late scoring chances in 2-1 loss to Reds

The Red Sox closed out their month of June by nearly getting shut out for the second straight night. They instead fell to the Cincinnati Reds by a final score of 2-1 to kick off a two-game interleague series at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

With the loss, Boston finishes the month having gone 14-14 and comes into June sporting a record of 23-27 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, allowed one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 solid innings of work.

The veteran right-hander retired each of the first 12 batters he faced, taking a bid for a perfect game into the fifth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Joey Votto that nearly left the yard. He then stranded Votto at third base, but ran into additional trouble in the sixth by yielding back-to-back singles to Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Reynolds.

Those two hits put runners at the corners with no outs for Aristedes Aquino, who grounded into a fielder’s choice that resulted in Almora getting tagged out between third and home. After retiring Brandon Drury, Wacha was just one out away from getting through sixth scoreless frames. He got Nick Senzel to hit a groundball to Rafael Devers at third, but Devers’ throw to Franchy Cordero was wide of the mark and allowed Reynolds to score all the way from second to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.

At that point, Wacha was given the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Austin Davis. The 30-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 72 (53 strikes) and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.43. Davis, meanwhile, got himself in and out of a bases-loaded jam before recording the first two outs of the seventh. He then made way for Tyler Danish, who ended things in the inning and gave up a 398-foot double to Votto in an otherwise clean top half of the eighth.

After Danish got the first out of the ninth, Cora turned to another left-hander in Jake Diekman. Diekman surrendered a one-out single to Mike Moustakas, who was pinch-ran for by Alejo Lopez. Lopez advanced to second on an Almora groundout. Diekman then got Almora to ground out, meaning he was one out away from keeping the Reds at one run.

That did not happen, though, as Diekman was able to get Reynolds to hit a grounder to Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts fielded the ball cleanly, but made a throw that Cordero was unable to come up with at first base. Bogaerts’ throwing error allowed Lopez to score from second to make it a 2-0 game in favor of the Reds.

Going into the latter half of the ninth, the Red Sox lineup had been thoroughly held in check by Cincinnati’s pitching staff. Luis Castillo led the way by striking out 10 over six dominant and scoreless innings.

After yielding a one-out single to Devers in the first, Castillo proceeded to sit down 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. In the bottom of the sixth, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Enrique Hernandez led off the frame by drawing back-to-back walks. Following what would turn out to be a well-timed mound visit, Devers grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and J.D. Martinez fanned on six pitches to extinguish the threat.

Fast forward to the ninth, the Sox were now matched up against Reds reliever Tony Santillan. A Hernandez single and Devers double to lead off the inning put runners at second and third with no outs. Martinez and Bogaerts were unable to push across a run, but Alex Verdugo came through with a two-out RBI single on a 101.7 mph grounder that got the best of Votto.

Devers advanced to third on the play. Santillan, however, rebounded by getting Trevor Story to strike out on three pitches and end the game with a final score of 2-1.

All told, the Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base as a team. They are now 2-4 on their seven-game homestand that ends on Wednesday.

Next up: Greene vs. Whitlock

On that note, the Red Sox will wrap up their quick two-game series against the Reds on Wednesday night. Boston will turn to righty Garrett Whitlock in the finale while Cincinnati will roll with rookie right-hander Hunter Greene.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rich Hill gets rocked for 6 runs as Red Sox muster just 4 hits in 10-0 loss to Orioles

The Red Sox were blown out by the Orioles at Fenway Park on Monday night. Playing in front of 24,809 to close out Memorial Day, Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 10-0 to drop to 23-26 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his ninth start of the year for the Sox, got roughed up for six earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over four-plus innings of work.

The veteran left-hander plunked the very first batter he faced — Austin Hays — in the first inning before giving up an RBI triple to Trey Mancini. Ryan Mountcastle followed by crushing a solo shot to left-center field that gave the O’s an early 2-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, Hill yielded a one-out single to Mountcastle and a two-run home run to Ramon Urias two batters later. In the fifth, Hill allowed both Mancini and Mountcastle to reach base on a walk and ground-rule double, which put runners at second and third for Anthony Santander.

At that moment, Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave Hill the hook in favor of Hirokazu Sawamura. The 42-year-old southpaw wound up throwing 92 pitches (59 strikes) while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 4.85. Sawamura, meanwhile, allowed both runners he inherited to score in the fifth before retiring the side in order in the sixth.

Already up six runs, the Orioles added a seventh in their half of the seventh off Ryan Brasier when Hays scored on a Mountcastle double play. Brasier then stranded two base runners in the eighth to make way in the ninth for Matt Barnes, who served up a booming three-run homer to Santander that gave Baltimore a commanding 10-0 lead.

On the other side of things, the Sox lineup was held in check by Orioles starter Tyler Wells. Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts were the only two who managed hits off the right-hander. Otherwise, Boston mustered a total of four hits while going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and leaving five runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have dropped four of their last seven games since winning six straight. They have lost a series for the first time May 11 and are now 7-14 when playing American League East opponents.

Next up: Reds vs. Red Sox

The Red Sox will welcome the Reds into town for the first time in eight years for a quick two-game interleague series that begins Tuesday night. In the opener, it will be right-hander Michael Wacha getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Luis Castillo doing the same for Cincinnati.

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

(Picture of Rich Hill: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Trevor Story homers again as Red Sox earn fourth straight series victory with convincing 16-7 win over White Sox

The Red Sox won their fourth straight series on Thursday with a 16-7 victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Boston ends its brief three-game road trip by improving to 21-23 on the season.

Matched up against Dallas Keuchel out of the gate, Enrique Hernandez kicked things off with yet another leadoff home run that gave the Sox a 1-0 lead right away in the first inning. A Rafael Devers double and J.D. Martinez single then put runners on the corners for Trevor Story, who got his productive night at the plate started with an RBI single. Alex Verdugo followed with a run-scoring double that plated Martinez and made it a 3-0 game before Chicago even had a chance to step up to the plate.

An inning later, another Devers double and walk drawn by Martinez put two runners on for Story, who proceeded to deposit a Keuchel cutter 363 feet over the left field fence for a three-run blast. Story’s ninth home run of the season, which had an exit velocity of 102.1 mph, put the Red Sox up 6-0 early on.

On the other side of things, Michael Wacha was making his seventh start of the season for Boston. The veteran right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced before running into some trouble in the bottom half of the third.

There, three straight singles to lead off the inning filled the bases for Andrew Vaughn, who came through with a three-run double off Wacha that cut the White Sox’ deficit in half.

Wacha got through the rest of the third unscathed and faced the minimum in the fourth. But after Boston got one of those runs back on a Verdugo RBI double in the top of the fifth, he gave up two more when he served up a two-run homer to Vaughn in the latter half. Vaughn would be the last batter Wacha would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (58 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler wound up allowing five earned runs on seven hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work. His ERA on the season rose from 1.76 to 2.83.

In relief of Wacha, John Schreiber got the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Schreiber ended things in the fifth before retiring the side in order in the sixth.

A half-inning later, the Red Sox pushed across two more runs on a pair of RBI singles from Christian Vazquez and Christian Arroyo. After Tyler Danish put up a zero in the latter half of the seventh, Boston continued its offensive onslaught in a five-run top of the eighth. Verdugo, Vazquez, and Bobby Dalbec each drove in a run on back-to-back-to-back RBI base hits. Vazquez and Dalbec scored themselves when Jackie Bradley Jr. (pinch-hitting for Arroyo) reached base on a fielding error.

Matt Barnes was dispatched for the bottom of the eighth and immediately struck out the first batter he faced in A.J. Pollock. The righty then walked four straight, thus allowing the White Sox to score another run, before being pulled in favor of Hirokazu Sawamura. Only nine of the 27 pitches Barnes threw went for strikes.

Sawamura, meanwhile, allowed one of the runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly from Leury Garcia before escaping the jam by fanning Adam Engel on four pitches.

Fast forward to the ninth, Kevin Plaweci, who previously replaced Story, crushed his first home run of the season — a two-run shot — off a position player in Josh Harrison. That it was Plawecki’s first homer of the year is interesting when you consider the fact that he has been the only position player to pitch for the Red Sox to this point.

From there, Austin Davis closed things out with a scoreless frame in the bottom of the ninth to secure a 16-7 blowout win for the Red Sox before they head back home.

All told, the Boston lineup went 10-for-24 with runners in scoring position on Thursday. Devers and Story each had two hits, Martinez and Vazquez had three, and Verdugo went 4-for-5 with three RBIs.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will board a flight back to Boston and open up a unique five-game series against the Orioles beginning Friday night. Garrett Whitlock is slated to get the ball in the opener opposite fellow right-hander Kyle Bradish. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on Apple TV+.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rich Hill takes no-hitter into 5th inning, but Red Sox leave 12 runners on base and see winning streak come to an end in 3-1 loss to White Sox

The Red Sox saw their six-game winning streak come to an end on Wednesday following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Not only does the loss put an end to Boston’s winning streak, it also drops them to 20-23 on the season.

After a 30-minute rain delay, the Red Sox lineup got to White Sox starter Lucas Giolito with two outs in the first inning. J.D. Martinez kept the inning alive with a single, advanced to second on an Alex Verdugo walk, and scored from second on a softly-hit RBI single off the bat of Alex Verdugo.

Boston appeared to have Giolito on the ropes the same way they had Dylan Cease on the ropes on Tuesday, but the savvy righty escaped any further damage by getting Trevor Story to ground out to Tim Anderson before settling in for the night.

Rich Hill, meanwhile, took a no-hit bid into the fifth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Jose Abreu. A.J. Pollock then reached base on a Rafael Devers throwing error, bringing Jake Burger to the plate with no outs and two runners on.

On the third pitch he saw from Hill, Burger demolished a 67 mph slider and deposited it 444 feet into the left-field seats to give the White Sox a 3-1 lead.

Hill retired the final three batters he faced to end his eighth start of the season on a more encouraging note. Over five innings, the veteran left-hander allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits, one walk, and one strikeout on 65 pitches — 49 of which were strikes.

In relief of Hill, Tanner Houck received the first and only call from manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen and impressed by scattering three hits, two walks, and three strikeouts across three scoreless frames. 34 of the 57 pitches he threw went for strikes.

While Houck was putting up zeroes, the Red Sox bats struggled to get anything going against Giolito and Co. After loading the bases off Kendall Graveman with two outs in the seventh, Verdugo grounded out to second to extinguish the threat.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth and matched up against White Sox closer Liam Hendriks, Enrique Hernandez and Martinez each drew a walk to ultimately put runners on the corners with two outs for Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts, however, popped out to shallow right field to end things there. When all was said and done on Wednesday, the Red Sox — despite out-hitting the White Sox 7-5 — went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base as a team.

Next up: Wacha vs. Keuchel in series finale

The Red Sox will go for the series win over the White Sox on Thursday night. Right-hander Michael Wacha will get the start for Boston while left-hander Dallas Keuchel will do the same for Chicago.

First pitch from Guaranteed Rate Field is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Red Sox officially activate Michael Wacha from injured list, option Ryan Brasier to Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Mariners at Fenway Park on Friday night, the Red Sox reinstated right-hander Michael Wacha from the 15-day injured list. In order to make room for Wacha on the major-league roster, fellow righty Ryan Brasier was unsurprisingly optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced.

Wacha returns from the injured list after being placed there on May 8 because of left intercostal irritation. Because his stint on the IL was backdated to May 5, though, the 30-year-old was eligible to be activated as soon as Friday.

As such, Wacha will take the mound against the Mariners to kick off the weekend, marking his first competitive outing since May 3. Through his first five starts of the season, the veteran hurler has posted a 1.38 ERA and 3.91 FIP to go along with 19 strikeouts to 11 walks over 26 innings of work.

Brasier, meanwhile, will head to Worcester after getting his 2022 campaign in Boston off to a rough start. After giving up a home run to Julio Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Thursday’s 12-6 win over Seattle, the 34-year-old reliever has now put up a 6.28 ERA and 6.03 FIP with 16 strikeouts to three walks across his first 18 appearances (13 1/3 innings) of the season.

Since he has one minor-league option remaining, the Red Sox are presumably optimistic that Brasier can find something in Worcester while working with WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott, as he did last September.

The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams was the first to report that Brasier would be optioned to Worcester to make room on the roster for Wacha.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Ryan Brasier to Triple-A Worcester to make room on roster for Michael Wacha, per report

The Red Sox optioned veteran reliever Ryan Brasier to Triple-A Worcester following Thursday night’s 12-6 win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, reports Julian McWilliams of The Boston Globe.

The move to send Brasier down to Worcester allows the Sox to create a spot on their 26-man roster for fellow right-hander Michael Wacha, who is expected to be activated from the 15-day injured list and start against the M’s on Friday night.

Brasier was an obvious candidate to be demoted since he is in his final season with a minor-league option. Thus far in 2022, the 34-year-old hurler has struggled to the tune of a 6.28 ERA with 16 strikeouts to three walks over 18 appearances (14 1/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen. He gave up his fifth home run of the year to Julio Rodriguez in the ninth inning of Thursday’s victory.

By sending him down to Triple-A, the Red Sox are presumably hopeful that Brasier can work on some things with WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott. The same sort of thing happened last year as well.

After returning from the 60-day injured list in September, Brasier produced a 10.09 FIP over his first five outings of 2021. Boston then optioned him to Worcester on September 17 and called him back up just four days later. From there, the righty did not allow a single run across his final eight appearances (7 2/3 innings) of the season.

Going back to the start of last September, no Red Sox reliever has made more regular season appearances than Brasier (31), so he is clearly someone manager Alex Cora likes to go to when he is on.

With that being said, perhaps Brasier can once again find something in Worcester and use that to turn his season around for the better.

(Picture of Ryan Brasier: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Barring setback, Red Sox’ Michael Wacha will return from injured list and start against Mariners on Friday

Barring any sort of setback, Michael Wacha will come off the injured list and start for the Red Sox on Friday, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) before Wednesday’s game against the Astros at Fenway Park.

Assuming Wacha does return from the injured list for Friday’s bout with the Mariners, it will be his first outing since May 3. The right-hander was slated to start against the White Sox on May 8, but was scratched shortly before first pitch and was later placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to May 5) due to left intercostal irritation.

In the time since then, Wacha has cleared the necessary hurdles to return to the mound, such as throwing a 35-pitch simulated game on Monday and a short bullpen session earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Wacha’s return to Boston’s starting rotation will be a welcomed one. The 30-year-old hurler has impressed so far this season by posting a 1.38 ERA and 3.89 FIP with 19 strikeouts to 11 walks over five starts spanning 26 innings of work. The Red Sox went 4-1 in those outings.

Wacha, who turns 31 in July, is slated to become a free-agent this winter after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Sox last November.

With Wacha more than likely coming back on Friday, the Red Sox will be rolling with Rich Hill, Wacha, Garrett Whitlock, and Nathan Eovaldi in their upcoming four-game series against the Mariners that begins Thursday night.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Michael Wacha will throw simulated game on Monday, is likely to return from injured list later this week

Injured Red Sox starter Michael Wacha threw a bullpen session at Globe Life Field on Saturday. The right-hander is now slated to throw a simulated game back at Fenway Park on Monday.

Wacha was slated to make his sixth start of the season for Boston against the White Sox last Sunday, but was scratched shortly before first pitch and was later placed on the 15-day injured list due to left intercostal irritation.

Since his stint on the injured list was backdated to May 5, the Red Sox are hopeful they can get Wacha back after the minimum 15 days are over. That would line up the 30-year-old to take the mound against the Mariners this coming Friday, May 20.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) earlier Sunday morning, Sox manager Alex Cora said Wacha “feels good” and added that “everything looks like he’ll be OK” in regards to his anticipated return date.

Through his first five outings of the year, Wacha has impressed in the back-end of Boston’s starting rotation. The veteran righty has posted a 1.38 ERA and 3.93 FIP to go along with 19 strikeouts to 11 walks over 26 innings of work.

Wacha, who turns 31 in July, signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Red Sox last November, so the 6-foot-6, 215-pound hurler can become a free-agent again this winter.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)