Coming off solid 2022 season with Red Sox, Michael Wacha remains unsigned as spring training nears

Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to their respective spring training sites in Arizona and Florida in just a matter of days, yet Michael Wacha remains unsigned despite being the top free agent starting pitcher still on the market.

Wacha, 31, posted a 3.32 ERA and 1.12 WHIP with 104 strikeouts to 31 walks in 23 starts (127 1/3 innings pitched) for the Red Sox last season after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with Boston in November 2021.

While those surface-level numbers are certainly respectable, his 4.14 FIP and 20.2 percent strikeout rate are less encouraging. The veteran right-hander also ranked in the 27th percentile of all big-league pitchers in expected batting average (.254), the 13th percentile in expected slugging percentage (.446), the 14th percentile in barrel rate (9.6 percent), and the 12th percentile in whiff rate (20.7 percent), per Baseball Savant.

Though Wacha led all Red Sox pitchers in Baseball-Reference’s Wins Above Replacement metric last year (3.3 bWAR), he also missed time with injuries. Left intercostal irritation kept him sidelined from May 5-20 while right shoulder inflammation cost him more than a month (July 5-August 14) of action over the summer.

When the offseason first began in November, the Red Sox entertained the idea of extending Wacha a qualifying offer, which would have tied the righty to draft pick compensation. They elected not to go in that direction and instead issued qualifying offers to Xander Bogaerts and Nathan Eovaldi, who both left the club by signing with the Padres and Rangers in free agency.

Wacha, meanwhile, has not had much of a market to speak of. He has been loosely linked to the Angels, Orioles, and Twins this winter, though Baltimore and Minnesota have recently added starting pitching by acquiring Cole Irvin and Pablo Lopez, respectably, via trade.

Last month, Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported that Wacha was seeking a two-year deal. Bob Nightengale added on by relaying that the CAA Sports client was looking for a contract that would net him $15 million per year, or about $30 million altogether.

That Wacha prefers a multi-year offer is not all that surprising when you consider the fact that he has settled for one-year pacts with the Red Sox, Rays, and Mets in each of the last three offseasons. An additional, guaranteed year of security would be rewarding, but it seems as though teams are hesitant to go that far given Wacha’s recent health history and discouraging peripherals.

Wacha, who turns 32 in July, may have to settle for another one-year deal or a one-year deal with an option attached if he intends on signing with a club before Opening Day. At this point, a reunion with the Red Sox seems unlikely since already Boston has seven starters (Chris Sale, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Corey Kluber, James Paxton, Brayan Bello, and Tanner Houck) in its rotation mix heading into camp.

Of course, Wacha’s market could heat up if teams sustain rotation injuries over the course of spring training and find themselves in need of an established replacement leading up to the start of the season.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox rumors: Michael Wacha drawing interest from Orioles, per report

The Orioles are showing continued interest in Red Sox free agent Michael Wacha, according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi notes that Wacha’s market could move quickly now that fellow free agent starters Noah Syndergaard and Michael Lorenzen have reportedly agreed to deals with the Dodgers and Tigers, respectively.

Wacha, 31, enjoyed a productive season with the Red Sox after signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the club last November. In 23 starts for Boston, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.32 ERA and 4.14 FIP with 104 strikeouts to 31 walks over 127 2/3 innings of work.

While those numbers are undoubtedly solid, Wacha did land on the injured list twice because of left intercostal irritation in May and then because of right shoulder inflammation in early July. Upon returning from the IL for the second and final time in mid-August, Wacha pitched to a 4.11 ERA (4.36 FIP) in 10 starts (57 innings) to close out his season.

Over the course of the 2022 campaign, Wacha relied on a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball that averaged 93 mph, a changeup that averaged 84.3 mph, a cutter that averaged 88.8 mph, a sinker that averaged 92.6 mph, and a curveball that averaged 74.7 mph. The changeup was by far his most effective offering, as the 6-foot-6, 215-pound hurler held opposing hitters to a .176 expected batting average with it. According to Baseball Savant, Wacha stood out in two statistical categories this season. His 6.0 percent walk rate ranked in the 79th percentile of the league while his 35.4 percent hard-hit rate ranked in the 70th percentile.

A former first-round pick of the Cardinals who spent the first seven seasons of his major-league career in St. Louis, Wacha — a client of CAA Sports — is surely looking to cash in and land a multi-year deal this winter after having to settle for one-year pacts with the Mets, Rays, and Red Sox in each of the last three offseasons. The Texas A&M product is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a two-year, $16 million contract in free agency.

Coming off their first winning season since 2016, the Orioles appear to be a team on the rise in the American League East. So far this offseason, Baltimore — under general manager Mike Elias — has signed veteran starter Kyle Gibson to a one-year, $10 million deal. It also has top prospect Grayson Rodriguez waiting in the wings to join a rotation mix that should include Gibson, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells, Austin Voth, Mike Baumann, DL Hall, and the rehabbing John Means, among others.

Wacha, who does not turn 32 until July, would join Gibson in providing the Orioles with some stability and experience out of the rotation if he can stay healthy. The Red Sox did not extend Wacha a qualifying offer last month, meaning the righty is not attached to any sort of draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

Boston did, however, issue a qualifying offer to Nathan Eovaldi, who rejected it and is now drawing interest from another division rival in the Yankees. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at last week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego that he still looking to add a starter or two, so reunions with one or both of Eovaldi and Wacha certainly cannot be ruled out yet.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: G Fiume/Getty Images)

Red Sox end season series against Blue Jays by getting swept in Toronto

The Red Sox were swept by the Blue Jays in their final road series of the season. Boston fell to Toronto, 6-3, at Rogers Centre on Sunday to drop to 75-84 on the year. That includes a final record of 35-46 away from Fenway Park.

After getting shut out in the first two games of this series, The Sox actually jumped out to an early lead in Sunday’s finale. With Kevin Gausman starting for the Jays, J.D. Martinez led off the top half of the second inning with a sharply-hit single. Abraham Almonte followed with a one-out double that put runners at second and third for Bobby Dalbec.

Dalbec, who was starting at third base in place of Rafael Devers, came through by drilling a two-run single to center field. Martinez and Almonte both scored to get Boston on the board first.

That lead, however, did not last long, as Michael Wacha ended his first season with the Red Sox on a sour note. The veteran right-hander allowed five earned runs on six hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over just four innings of work.

All four of those Toronto runs were scored from the second through fourth innings. To lead off both the second and third, Wacha served up a pair of solo shots to Teoscar Hernandez and Whit Merrifield, respectively. The Blue Jays took the lead in the fourth. After Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drew a leadoff walk off Wacha, Hernandez went deep yet again to put his side up by two runs at 4-2.

Wacha then gave up a one-out double to Danny Jansen, who scored from second on a two-out double off the bat of Merrifield. The righty was able to strand Merrifield at second by getting former teammate to Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out to first base.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (48 strikes), Wacha induced just five swings-and-misses. The 31-year-old hurler wound up surrendering 11 runs in his final two starts, bringing his final ERA up to 3.32.

In relief of Wacha, Eduard Bazardo received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora and struck out two of the seven batters he faced across two scoreless frames. The Red Sox then got back to within two runs of the Blue Jays in the seventh when Dalbec crushed a 436-foot homer off reliever Anthony Bass.

Dalbec’s 12th home run of the season had an exit velocity of 108.8 mph and made it a 5-3 game in favor of Toronto. But the Jays answered with another run in their half of the seventh when Merrifield doubled off Kaleb Ort and later scored on a fielder’s choice.

From there, Franklin German put together the first scoreless outing of his major-league career in the bottom of the eighth. The Sox then went down quietly against Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano to seal a 6-3 defeat.

With Sunday’s loss, the Red Sox finish their season series against the Blue Jays having won just three of 19 games. Over the course of those 19 contests, they were outscored, 125-55.

Next up: Back to Boston for the final time this season

The Red Sox will fly back to Boston on Sunday night and open a three-game series against the Rays on Monday to close out their season. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill is slated to start for Boston while right-hander Tyler Glasnow is expected to do the same for Tampa Bay.

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

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Triston Casas homers again in first career 3-hit game as Red Sox snap skid with 13-9 win over Orioles

The Red Sox put an end to a six-game losing streak with a much-needed win over the Orioles on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 13-9 to improve to 73-81 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his 22nd start of the year for the Sox, did not pitch particularly well. The veteran right-hander surrendered six runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings of work.

The Orioles drew first blood in their half of the first inning. After getting the first two outs rather easily, Wacha gave up a two-out double to Anthony Santander that was followed by an RBI triple off the bat of Ryan Mountcastle.

An inning later, the Sox responded on one swing of the bat from Triston Casas. Following a leadoff single from J.D. Martinez, Casas cranked a two-run shot off Orioles starter Kyle Bradish for his fifth home run of the season. It had an exit velocity of 110.5 mph, traveled 421 feet over the Green Monster, and gave Boston a 2-1 lead.

That newfound lead did not last long, though, as Wacha served up back-to-back homers to Adley Rutschman and the red-hot Santander in the top of the third. In the bottom half, the Red Sox pulled back even with the O’s when Bradish plunked Rob Refsnyder while the bases were loaded. Connor Wong also drew a bases-loaded walk off Bradish before Tommy Pham (two-run single), Xander Bogaerts (bases-loaded walk), and Alex Verdugo (sacrifice fly) drove in three more runs to cap off a six-run frame.

Wacha, however, was still not able to settle in. The righty came back out for the fourth and immediately surrendered a leadoff homer to Ramon Urias. Rougned Odor followed with another single and promptly scored all the way from first on an RBI triple from Austin Hays. After striking out Kyle Stowers, Wacha was pulled for Matt Strahm.

Strahm officially closed the book on Wacha’s night by allowing the runner he inherited to score on an RBI single from Cedric Mullins. The lefty also allowed the Orioles to tie things up at 8-8 by giving up another (two-run) blast to Santander.

Wacha, who finished with 70 pitches (45 strikes), did not factor into Tuesday’s decision. The 31-year-old hurler induced 10 swings and misses as his ERA on the season rose to 3.06. Strahm, meanwhile, earned the win by settling in with a scoreless fifth inning.

Before that happened, the Red Sox lineup erupted for five more runs in their half of the fourth. With no outs and the bases loaded, Wong reached on a fielding error to push across Casas from third. Pham was then hit by a Jake Reed pitch, which brought in Refsnyder. Rafael Devers greeted new Orioles reliever D.L. Hall by blooping a two-run single to right field. Bogaerts capped off the scoring by reaching on a fielder’s choice that allowed Pham to come in all the way from second and make it a 13-8 game in favor of Boston.

From there, the Red Sox bullpen was able to keep the Orioles bats in check. Strahm, as previously mentioned, kept the O’s off the board in the fifth before Zack Kelly retired the side in order in the sixth. In the seventh, John Schreiber gave up one run on two hits before Ryan Brasier worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean top of the eighth.

Matt Barnes made things interesting in the ninth by bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. But he rallied by getting Hays to ground into a game-ending, 6-4-3 double play to secure the 13-9 victory.

All told, the Red Sox tallied 13 runs on 11 hits, eight walks, and two hit batsman. Rafael Devers went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk, Martinez went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored, and Casas put together the first three-hit game of his young career.

Next up: Hill vs. Kremer

The Red Sox will send veteran left-hander Rich Hill to the mound as they go for their second straight win on Wednesday night. The Orioles will counter with right-hander Dean Kremer.

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

(Picture of Triston Casas: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox give up 5 home runs in lopsided 14-8 loss to Orioles

On a rain-filled Monday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox gave up five home runs in a lopsided loss to the Orioles. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 14-8 to extend its losing streak to six and drop to 72-81 on the season.

Connor Seabold, making his fifth start of the year for the Sox, allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two rain-shortened innings of work.

After throwing a first-pitch strike to the very first batter he faced, Seabold promptly served up a leadoff home run to Cedric Mullins on a hanging slider. It only went downhill from there as the rookie right-hander surrendered four more in the second inning.

Rougned Odor led off with a ground-rule double and advanced to third on a Kyle Stowers single. Odor scored and Stowers went from first-to-third on a Jorge Mateo RBI double. Mullins plated two more on a sharply-hit triple over the head of Abraham Almonte in center field. The speedster then scored from third on a failed pickoff attempt from Reese McGuire that ended up in left field.

The Red Sox got two of those four runs back in their half of the second. Matched up against O’s starter Jordan Lyles, Martinez led off by cranking a solo shot 420 feet over the Green Monster for his 13th home run of the season. Triston Casas, Rob Refsnyder, and Almonte each reached base with one out to bring Enrique Hernandez to the plate. Hernandez delivered by ripping an RBI single to left field that brought in Casas and cut the Baltimore lead to three at 5-2.

The bases remained loaded for Rafael Devers, who grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The skies above Fenway then began to open up, prompting a rain delay that lasted exactly 100 minutes.

With that much time having passed, Seabold was done for the night and replaced by Tyler Danish when the game resumed at approximately 9:45 p.m. eastern time.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 54 (36 strikes), Seabold only managed to induce three swings-and-misses. The 26-year-old hurler was charged with his fourth losing decision of the season as his ERA rose to an unsightly 11.29.

Danish, meanwhile, yielded an RBI triple to Stowers in the third and kept the Orioles off the board in the fourth. The Red Sox made things interesting in the latter half of the frame after Baltimore had already swapped Lyles for Spenser Watkins.

With one out and the bases full, Hernandez scorched a two-run single down the left field line and advanced to second on. Devers then drove him in with a run-scoring single of his own to pull the Red Sox back to within one run at 6-5.

That is where the Orioles began to pull away. Danish issued a pair of walks and an infield single to begin things in the fifth. He was given the hook in favor of Zack Kelly, who gave up back-to-back run-scoring hits to Odor and Stowers to make it an 8-5 game. Kaleb Ort served up a pair of homers to Anthony Santander and Gunnar Henderson in the sixth, allowing the Orioles to re-establish a commanding 11-5 lead.

Frankin German got the first two outs of the seventh before issuing a walk and giving up the second home run of the night to Santander, who now has 31 on the year. Through three appearances to begin his career, German owns a 31.50 ERA.

In the bottom of the seventh, Martine and Casas each reached base before Rob Refsnyder took Logan Gillaspie 414 feet to dead center field for his sixth home run of the season. The 103.5 mph blast cut the deficit to five at 13-8.

But the Orioles tacked on another when Austin Hays took Eduard Bazardo deep in the eighth. Boston went down quietly from there as 14-8 would go on to be Monday’s final score.

All told, the Red Sox got multi-hit games from Hernandez, Devers, Refsnyder, and Almonte as they outhit the Orioles, 15-14. They also went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base as a team.

Next up: Wacha vs. Bradish

The Red Sox will send right-hander Michael Wacha to the mound as they look to put an end to their six-game losing streak on Saturday. The Orioles will counter with fellow righty Kyle Bradish.

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

(Picture of Reese McGuire and Anthony Santander: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez comes through with game-winning single as Red Sox come from behind to defeat Royals, 2-1

The Red Sox battled back for a series-opening win over the Royals on Friday night. Boston defeated Kansas City by a final score of 2-1 to improve to 70-74 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his 20th start of the year for the Sox, pitched well yet again. The veteran right-hander allowed just one run on seven hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over seven strong innings of work.

That lone Royals run came in the top half of the sixth. After giving up a leadoff triple to M.J. Melendez that got over the head of Enrique Hernandez in center field, Wacha yielded a one-out, opposite field RBI single to Salvador Perez that pushed across the first run of the contest.

Wacha then got Vinnie Pasquantino to ground into an inning-ending 6-5-3 double play. Michael Taylor led off the seventh inning with a single, but Wacha retired the next three batters he faced to end his night on a solid note. The 31-year-old hurler finished with 88 pitches (65 strikes) and induced 10 swings-and-misses. He did not factor into Friday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA to 2.61.

In relief of Wacha, Garrett Whitlock received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty worked his way around a two-out single in an otherwise clean inning of work.

To that point in the contest, a Trevor Story-less Red Sox lineup had been held in check by the Royals pitching staff despite having their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the fifth inning, for instance, Alex Verdugo and Triston Casas each drew a walk off Kansas City starter Jonathan Heasley while Christian Arroyo reached on a groundball single to fill the bases for Hernandez, who grounded into 6-4-3 double play to extinguish the threat.

Two innings later, J.D. Martinez and Casas drew a pair of two-out walks, bringing Arroyo to the plate to face off against Royals reliever Amir Garrett. With the potential tying run at second base, Arroyo fanned on four pitches to send things along to the eighth.

Following Whitlock’s scoreless frame, the Sox finally broke through in the latter half of the eighth. Hernandez led off by drawing a five-pitch walk off Dylan Coleman. Abraham Almonte, who was pinch-hitting for Kevin Plawecki, drew a free pass of his own to put runners at first and second.

After Tommy Pham popped out, Rafael Devers drew yet another walk off Scott Barlow to fill the bases. Xander Bogaerts struck out swinging, but Verdugo delivered by taking ball four to drive in the tying run (Hernandez) from third.

On the very next pitch from Barlow, Martinez dealt the finishing blow by ripping a game-winning RBI single through the left side of the infield to plate Almonte and give the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Taking a one-run lead into the ninth, Boston turned to Matt Strahm to close it out. The lefty issued a two-out walk to Michael Massey to put the tying run on base, but followed that up by getting Hunter Dozier to fly out to Hernandez in center.

Strahm picked up his fourth save of the season as the Red Sox put an end to their two-game losing streak. Whitlock earned the winning decision.

Next up: Hill vs. Singer

The Red Sox will go for a series win over the Royals on Saturday afternoon. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill is expected to start for Boston while right-hander Brady Singer is in line to do the same for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox commit 3 costly errors in 5-3 loss to Yankees

The Red Sox committed three errors and were swept by the Yankees on Wednesday night. Boston fell to New York by a final score of 5-3 at Fenway Park to drop to 69-74 on the season and 20-42 against American League East opponents.

Brayan Bello, making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, was the victim of poor defense behind him. The rookie right-hander immersed himself into the rivalry by allowing three unearned runs on six hits and just one walk to go along with six strikeouts over five solid innings of work.

All three of those runs came in the top of the fifth. Bello fanned Jose Trevino to begin the inning, but Aaron Hicks followed by reaching on a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts. Hicks moved up to second base on an Aaron Judge single before Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Gleyber Torres ripped a line drive to Alex Verdugo in right field. Verdugo attempted to gun down Hicks at home plate, but instead made an inaccurate throw that got past cutoff man Christian Arroyo and rolled to catcher Connor Wong.

As Hicks crossed the plate, Wong tried to get Torres caught in a rundown between first and second base. He instead made a poor throw that Arroyo had no chance of getting to and wound up in right field.

While Judge had already scored, Torres was on his horse and scored on a head-first slide to complete a Little League three-run home run that gave the Yankees a 3-0 plate.

Bello got through the rest of the fifth unscathed, but the damage had already been done. The 23-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 98 (59 strikes) and induced 14 swings-and-misses. He was the tough-luck loser on Wednesday, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 5.10.

Shortly after Bello’s night came to an end, the Red Sox got one of those three runs back in their half of the fifth. Rob Refsnyder led off with a hard-hit single off Yankees starter Nestor Cortes. He then scored all the way from first on a two-out RBI double from Wong.

Trailing by two runs going into the sixth inning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora called upon Zack Kelly out of the Boston bullpen. Kelly issued a leadoff walk to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who promptly stole second base and scored from second on an RBI double off the bat of Trevino.

Following shutdown innings from Kaleb Ort and Eduard Bazardo, the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire led off the bottom of the eighth with a groundball single off Jonathan Loaisiga. Tommy Pham followed with a single of his own to put runners at first and second for Verdugo.

Verdugo grounded into a force out at third base, but Bogaerts filled the bases by blooping a single to right field. Pham then scored from third on a Rafael Devers groundball that got through the legs of Yankees first baseman Marwin Gonzalez.

The bases were still loaded with one out for J.D. Martinez, who seemingly drove in Verdugo by beating out a 6-4-3 double play. New York challenged the ruling on the field, however, and it turns out Martinez’s left foot missed the first-bag completely. The call on the field was overturned, meaning the inning ended without Boston tacking on additional run.

Ryan Brasier allowed one unearned run in the ninth on an Abraham Almonte fielding error in center field. Almonte, who had pinch-hit for Refsnyder in the seventh, led off the bottom of the inning with a line-drive double. He moved up to third and then scored on an Enrique Hernandez groundout. McGuire struck out against Clay Holmes to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and left six men on base as a team.

Next up: A weekend with the Royals

The Red Sox will have the day off on Thursday before welcoming the Royals into town for a three-game weekend series. Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha will get the start for Boston in Friday’s opener while fellow righty Jonathan Heasley will take the mound for Kansas City.

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

(Picture of Connor Wong: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers crushes grand slam as Red Sox rack up season-high 21 hits in 17-4 romping of Orioles

The Red Sox put an end to their four-game losing streak on Saturday with a commanding win over the Orioles. Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 17-4 to even the three-game series and improve to 68-72 on the season.

With Jordan Lyles on the mound for the O’s, the Sox did not waste any time in jumping out to an early lead. After Tommy Pham drew a leadoff walk, Alex Verdugo singled, and Xander Bogaerts was plunked by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs in the first inning for Rafael Devers.

Devers, who had not homered in his last 21 games, got ahead in the count at 2-0 and promptly cranked a 425-foot grand slam into the Red Sox bullpen in deep left-center field. The 26th home run of the season for Devers had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph and put Boston up, 4-0.

Michael Wacha, making his 19th start of the season for the Sox, already had a four-run lead to work with when he took the mound for the first time on Saturday. The veteran right-hander put together yet another quality outing, allowing three earned runs on six hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over six innings.

The first of those three runs came in the bottom of the third, when Wacha served up a solo shot to Cedric Mullins. The Red Sox lineup, however, responded by putting up another four-spot in their half of the fourth.

After Enrique Hernandez and Kevin Plawecki traded places on back-to-back one-out doubles, Verdugo plated Plawecki on a line-drive single to right field. Verdugo moved up to second base on a Bogaerts single and then scored from there when Devers greeted new Orioles reliever Keegan Akin by ripping a run-scoring base hit to left-center field. Trevor Story capped the four-run inning off with another RBI single that drove in Bogaerts left his bat at 99.6 mph.

An inning later, J.D. Martinez led off with a softly-hit double and was immediately driven in when Christian Arroyo clubbed a two-run homer 396 feet over the left field wall for his sixth big fly of the year.

Wacha, meanwhile, ran into some more trouble in the bottom of the fifth. After Gunnar Henderson reached on a leadoff single and moved up to third on a Ramon Urias double, Wacha yielded a sacrifice fly to Jorge Mateo that scored Henderson. Urias, who advanced to third on the play, came into score on an RBI single from Mullins.

Though he was charged with both of those runs, Wacha stranded Mullins by punching out Adley Rutschman before retiring three of the final four batters he faced in the sixth. The 31-year-old hurler wound up throwing 82 pitches (60 strikes) while inducing a total of swings-and-misses. He picked up his 11th winning decision of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.69.

Following a scoreless seventh inning from Ryan Brasier, Boston tacked on additional run off Baltimore reliever Yennier Cano in the top of the eighth. Abraham Almonte led off with a single, marking his first hit in a Red Sox uniform. Almonte went from first to third on a two-out single from Devers and then came into score on a 100.7 mph base hit from Story.

Taking a sizable 11-3 lead into the latter half of the eighth, Matt Strahm took over for Brasier. The left-hander got the first two outs of the inning and was well on his way to getting his third, but Story misplayed a 197-foot flyball off the bat of the pinch-hitting Ryan McKenna and was charged with a fielding error. McKenna was able to take second as a result, and then scored from second on a Ryan Mountcastle RBI single.

In the top of the ninth, Almonte provided some late scoring with an RBI single that pushed across Hernandez from second base. Connor Wong, who came off the bench to pinch-hit for Devers, followed with an infield single that brought in Plawecki and kept the bases loaded for Story, who drew a four-pitch walk to plate Almonte.

That prompted an Orioles pitching change, as McKenna — the right fielder — took over for Cano. Martinez, Arroyo, and Hernandez kept the line moving by driving in three more runs before Plawecki grounded out to mercifully end the inning. Eduard Bazardo closed it out with a scoreless bottom of the ninth to secure a one-sided 17-4 victory.

All told, the Red Sox went 11-for-17 with runners in scoring position on Saturday while racking up a season-high 17 runs on a season-high 21 hits. Almonte, Verdugo, Story, Martinez, Arroyo, and Plawecki each had two hits. Devers went 3-for-5 with five RBIs and Hernandez went 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Pham exits with left shin contusion

Tommy Pham exited Saturday’s game in the middle of the fourth inning because of a left knee shin contusion he sustained in the top of the first. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and run scored prior to getting pulled and is considered day-to-day. In his place, Abraham Almonte went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Next up: Hill vs. Bradish in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to close out a series win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will start the finale for Boston while right-hander Kyle Bradish will do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo homers and Michael Wacha deals, but Red Sox blow late lead in 4-3 loss to Rays

The Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Rays on Monday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field by a final score of 4-3 to drop to 67-69 on the season.

Alex Verdugo got the Sox on the board right away in the first inning. With one out and the bases empty, Verdugo clubbed a 368-foot solo shot to right field off Rays starter Luis Patino for his ninth home run of the year. It left his bat at a blistering 106.5 mph.

Michael Wacha, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, gave that run right back in the latter half of the first. Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot led off with a line-drive single. He then went from first to third on a David Peralta base hit and scored on a blooper of an RBI single from Harold Ramirez to tie things up at one run apiece.

That stalemate did not last long, though, as the Red Sox responded with two more runs in the third. With two outs and runners on first and second after Tommy Pham and Verdugo each drew a walk, Rafael Devers and Trevor Story went back-to-back on a pair of run-scoring hits. Devers advanced to third base on Story’s 22nd double of the year, but was stranded there after Triston Casas popped out to end the inning.

Wacha, meanwhile, settled in and spun three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the fifth. After reaching base on a leadoff single, Jose Siri scored all the way from first on a 358-foot double off the bat of Randy Arozarena.

Franchy Cordero had been tracking that fly ball in left field, but he went down awkwardly after colliding with and getting his right cleat caught in the wall’s padding. Cordero remained on the ground in visible pain before manager Alex Cora and team trainers came out to check on him. Unable to put any weight on his right foot, Cordero was carted off and replaced in left field by Rob Refsnyder. He was later diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

With Siri scoring on Arozarena’s double, Tampa Bay had cut the deficit down to one run at 3-2. But Wacha did not buckle and wound up retiring the final five batters he faced through the end of the sixth. The veteran right-hander gave up just the two runs on seven hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

While Wacha did not factor into Monday’s decision, he did reach a personal milestone. By punching out Taylor Walls to end the sixth, the 31-year-old recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his major-league career.

In relief of Wacha, Jeurys Familia received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from Cora. With the likes of Garrett Whitlock and John Schreiber unavailable after a busy weekend, Familia struggled in a high-leverage spot in the seventh.

After a questionable hit-by-pitch of the pinch-hitting Vidal Brujan, who stole second base and moved up to third on a groundout, Familia surrendered a game-tying double to Margot. He was then pulled in favor of Zack Kelly, who got the second out of the inning but could not escape before allowing the go-ahead run to score on a Peralta RBI double down the right field line.

Kelly bounced back by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving the Red Sox a chance to tie it in the ninth. With two outs and Verdugo at second base representing the tying run, Xander Bogaerts got ahead in the count at 2-0 before striking out looking on a 99 mph heater at the bottom of the zone.

Despite coming up short there, Bogaerts made history by going 2-for-5, thus extending his multi-game hitting streak to nine consecutive games. He becomes the fourth player in Red Sox history to accomplish the feat, joining the likes of Kevin Youkilis (2009), Jim Rice (1978), and Roy Johnson (1934).

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. With Monday’s loss, they are now 4-10 against the Rays this season and 18-37 against divisional opponents.

Next up: Hill vs. Rasmussen

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston while right-hander Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts crushes grand slam, drives in 5 runs to power Red Sox to 6-5 win over Twins

The Red Sox avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins on Wednesday night. Boston held on for a 6-5 win over Minnesota at Target Field to end a three-game losing streak and improve to 63-68 on the season.

Matched up against Twins rookie starter Joe Ryan to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox drew first blood in their half of the third inning. Following a pair of back-to-back singles from Kevin Plawecki and Tommy Pham, Alex Verdugo reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs for Xander Bogaerts.

Bogaerts, who walked in his first plate appearance, took a first-pitch strike from Ryan and then unloaded on a hanging slider by lacing it 392 feet over the left field wall for a grand slam. The ball left his bat at a blistering 113 mph (his hardest-hit ball of 2022) and cleared the fence in just 3.6 second. It was also good for his 12th home run of the season and gave the Red Sox an early 4-0 lead.

After Rafael Devers flew out, J.D. Martinez went deep for the 11th time this year by depositing another slider from Ryan 394 feet into the left field bleachers. Martinez’s second big fly in his last four games made it a 5-0 contest in favor of Boston.

To that point, Michael Wacha had yet to allow a run two innings into his 17th start of the season. That changed in the third, as the veteran right-hander recorded two quick outs before giving up a softly-hit single to No. 9 hitter Sandy Leon. Moments later, Luis Arraeez made Wacha pay for extending the inning by cranking a three-run homer to right that trimmed Boston’s lead down to three runs at 5-2.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the Sox got one of those two runs back. Kevin Plawecki greeted new Twins reliever Jovani Moran by roping a leadoff double to right field. After Pham and Verdugo each struck out, Bogaerts came through yet again with an RBI single that would prove to be more important than it seemed at the time.

Wacha, who ended his night by escaping a jam in which Minnesota had runners at second third with only out, wound up yielding just two earned runs on four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over six strong innings of work. The 31-year-old hurler threw 98 pitches (64 strikes) and induced eight swings-and-misses en route to picking up his 10th winning decision of the year.

In relief of Wacha, Garrett Whitlock received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Whitlock was not as sharp as he usually is, as he began the seventh inning by giving up a leadoff double to Nick Gordon. Gordon advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Arraez. Whitlock’s struggles extended into the eighth inning, as a pair of singles put runners on the corners with two outs for Gordon.

Gordon proceeded to rip a two-run double to right field that he attempted to extend into a triple. But Verdugo tracked the ball and, with his momentum carrying him towards the field, made a nice throw to gun down Gordon at third base and limit the damage to two runs.

Verdugo’s sixth outfield of the season allowed Matt Barnes to take the mound in the ninth with a 6-5 lead to protect. Barnes, in turn, made things interesting by putting the first two batters he faced on base before retiring Arraez and getting Carlos Correa to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. By doing so, Barnes notched his fourth save of the year while securing a one-run victory.

With the win, the Red Sox finish the month of August with a 12-16 record. Coming into September, they still trail the Blue Jays by eight games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Bogaerts’ third-inning slam was the first from a Red Sox hitter since May 22nd. It was also the sixth of Bogaerts’ career, which moves him into sole possession of first place for most among shortstops in Red Sox history. He was previously in a three-way tie with Nomar Garciaparra and Vern Stephens, who each hit five over the course of their respective careers.

Plawecki, meanwhile, went 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored out of the nine-hole on Wednesday. He is now 11-for-21 (.524) over his last seven games dating back to Aug. 20.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will return home and open a four-game weekend series against the Rangers on Thursday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill, fresh off striking out a season-high of 11 across seven scoreless innings in his last time out, will start the series opener for Boston. On the opposite side of the spectrum, rookie right-hander Glenn Otto will take the mound for Texas.

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

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: David Berding/Getty Images)