Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez both homer, Michael Wacha tosses 5 2/3 scoreless innings as Red Sox open homestand with 4-0 victory over Angels

Coming off a brutal 3-7 road trip and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox opened their first homestand of May with a much-needed win over the Angels at Fenway Park. Boston defeated Los Angeles by a final score of 2-0 on Tuesday to improve to 10-14 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his fifth start of the year for the Sox, impressed by scattering just three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of work. The veteran right-hander took a perfect game into the third before issuing a pair of two-out walks to Andrew Velazquez and Taylor Ward. He got out of that jam by fanning the dangerous Mike Trout on six pitches.

In the fourth, a leadoff single off the bat of Shohei Ohtani broke up Wacha’s no-hit bid, but the righty did not falter as he got Anthony Rendon to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and Jared Walsh to pop out to Rafael Devers in foul territory.

Moments after making the inning-ending catch, Devers led off the bottom of the fourth by taking Angels starter Noah Syndergaard 437 feet deep to dead center field for his fourth home run of the season. The solo blast left Devers’ bat at a blistering 110.7 mph and gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 1-0.

Xander Bogaerts followed by drawing a seven-pitch walk off Syndergaard, advancing to second base on a J.D. Martinez single, and to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout. He then scored on another groundout from Enrique Hernandez that doubled Boston’s advantage.

Given a two-run lead to work with now, Wacha picked up where he left off by inducing another double play in the fifth and recording the first two outs of the sixth. He gave up a two-out single to Trout, who advanced to second on a Devers throwing error and proved to be the last batter Wacha would face.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (42 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler threw 21 four-seam fastballs, 15 changeups, nine cutters, eight sinkers, and seven curveballs. He also lowered his ERA on the season down to 1.38 while improving to 3-0 on the year.

In relief of Wacha, Jake Diekman got the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora to face Ohtani, who he got to line out to Verdugo in left to retire the side. The lefty came back out for the seventh and maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean frame.

A half-inning later, Story nearly hit his first home run as a member of the Red Sox, but instead settled for a sacrifice fly off Syndergaard that brought in Franchy Cordero to make it a 3-0 game in favor of the Sox.

After Ryan Brasier struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect top of the eighth, Martinez mashed his second home run in as many games as he took Halos reliever Elvis Peguro 402 feet over the Green Monster for his third big fly of the season.

Martinez’s 107 mph laser put Boston up 4-0 heading into the ninth. There, Hirokazu Sawamura — with some defensive help from Bogaerts and Bobby Dalbec — slammed the door on Los Angeles to secure the shutout victory.

Next up: Detmers vs. Whitlock

As planned, right-hander Garrett Whitlock will make his third start of the year for the Red Sox as they go for a series win over the Angels on Wednesday night. The Angels will counter with rookie left-hander Reid Detmers.

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

(Picture of J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Jarren Duran drawing praise from manager Mike Scioscia, veteran teammates during Team USA training camp

Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia managed the best player in baseball for eight years (2011-2018) in the form of Mike Trout.

Trout, a three-time American League MVP, eight-time All-Star, and eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner, is without a doubt the textbook definition of a five-tool player, and has been for quite some time.

So when Scioscia, who is currently managing Team USA ahead of an Olympic qualifying event in Florida, describes one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system as a five-tool player, that is saying something.

Who is that Red Sox prospect exactly? None other than outfielder Jarren Duran, of course.

Duran, like fellow top Sox prospect Triston Casas, is one of 13 major-league prospects currently taking part in Team USA’s training camp down in southwest Florida.

As of now, Team USA’s roster — which also consists of a plethora of big-league veterans — is made up of 28 players, but will be whittled down to 26 by Sunday (May 30).

Since the training camp began earlier this week, Team USA has played a total of three exhibition games as of Friday. In those three games, Duran is the only player on the team who his hit a home run to this point.

“Looking at video ever since he was selected for our club, you just see the talent jump off the screen,” Scioscia recently told Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser. “Seeing him in person, his first step is incredible everywhere, whether he’s trying to steal a base or he’s in center field. He’s a five-tool player. When you call a guy a five-tool player you’re saying that he’s special. He’s in an elite group. I think that Jarren has that that skill set that can make him an impact player very quickly in the major-leagues.”

Duran, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, which ranks tops among outfielders in the organization.

After turning heads last summer at the alternate training site, over the winter in Puerto Rico, and in Fort Myers during spring training, the 6-foot-2, 202 pound left-handed hitter opened the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Worcester.

Prior to heading down to Florida to join Team USA, Duran was carrying with him a .278/.366/.625 slash line to go along with four doubles, seven home runs, 12 RBI, 14 runs scored, 10 walks, 21 strikeouts, and four stolen bases through 18 games played (82 plate appearances) for the WooSox.

Per Glaser, “USA Baseball identified Duran as a player it wanted last spring for the qualifier that was originally scheduled to take place in March 2020,” but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed everything back by a year.

Even with that delay, Team USA still took interest in Duran, as general manager Eric Campbell explained to Glaser.

“He makes you stop and watch,” Campbell said. “He’s a great player.”

The manager and general manager of Team USA are not the only ones who have been impressed with what they have seen from Duran, as longtime big-league third baseman has also been awestruck by the young outfielder.

“This kid Duran from the Red Sox has opened my eyes,” said Frazier. “I talk about work ethic with these kids. I mean, head and shoulders way above where I was at that age.”

Assuming both Duran and Casas — who was playing for Double-A Portland — make the 26-man roster, Team USA will open this upcoming qualifying tournament for the summer games against Nicaragua in Port St. Lucie on Monday.

Jeter Downs, Boston’s No. 2 prospect according to Baseball America, is also slated to play for his home country of Colombia in the same ‘ 2021 Baseball Americas Qualification Event.’

“It’s a good learning experience,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said last weekend in regards to Casas and Duran playing for Team USA. “Obviously, to play for your country is an honor. It’s a great opportunity for them to learn from some guys who were very successful at this level. I hope for them that they can contribute and do the job.

“I think it’s a great experience,” added Cora. “Being around (Scioscia)… what an honor. He’s going to help them to be better. … This is part of, actually, player development. You’re going to be around some guys who have done it at the highest level of competition — one of the highest levels. It will be great for them.”

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

#RedSox’ Mookie Betts Not Thinking About Contract Extension, Prefers to Wait Until Free Agency to Sign Next Deal

One day after Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he rather wait to test free agency than sign an extension of his own.

“I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent,’ Betts said.

The 26-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Betts rejected a seven-year, $200 million extension from Boston after the 2017 season, which would have netted him approximately $28.6 million per year over the lifetime of that pact.

But now that the game’s best position player, Trout, is off the board with a contract that will net the Angels outfielder nearly $36 million per season, it appears that Betts may have the right idea heading into the winter of 2020/2021.

Red Sox executives have made it abundantly clear that they have reached out to Betts this offseason in hopes of reaching agreement on a long-term extension, but as Sherman reports, “the Betts camp (has) not even made a counter-proposal.”

If the year-to-year game is the one Betts wants to play, so be it. He’s already going to make $20 million during the 2019 season, the most for any player in their second year of arbitration eligibility.

This isn’t to say that the Tennessee native is as good as gone come the conclusion of the 2020 season, he said that himself.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

He doesn’t want to sell himself short of his value, which essentially sounds like any thought of taking a hometown discount is out the window.

Like the great philosopher David Price once said, Mookie Betts pretty much “holds the cards now.” It’s his decision to make and his alone.

If he wants to remain with the Red Sox and the Red sox want him to stay as well, then the club better be ready to pony up on a mega-deal of Trout-like proportions when the time comes in 2020.

If they aren’t willing to commit long-term to the reigning American League MVP, well, I rather not think about that right now.

Mike Trout and Angels Reportedly Agree to 12-Year, $430 Million Deal

The best player in baseball is about to become the highest paid player in baseball, as Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth more than $340 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This would be the largest contract in the history of professional sports.

If the details are indeed accurate, this contract will net Trout approximately $35.8 million per season over the next 12 years.

The two-time American League MVP, now entering his age 27 season with Los Angeles, has consistently been a five-tool phenom since his big league debut in 2011.

Since the start of his first full season in 2012, Trout leads all of baseball in fWAR (64.2) by a wide margin. He’s also finished top three in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he missed a significant amount of time due to a left thumb injury.

This past season, Trout slashed .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs, 79 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 140 games.

There was some speculation fueled by the Bryce Harper signing that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be in on Trout when he was supposed to hit free agency following the 2020 season. But, the New Jersey native ultimately decided to remain with the organization he has seemingly grown up with, at least for the forseeable future anyway.

Now that names such as Trout, Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado have all gotten their record paydays, all eyes turn to the Red Sox’ own Mookie Betts, who like Trout before Tuesday, is set to hit free agency in 2020.

The 2018 AL MVP has gone on record this spring indicating that he’s in no rush to sign an extension before hitting the open market.

“Contracts and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market and how those things kind of roll,” Betts said back in February. “But I will say I love my teammates and my coaches and everybody who’s around and have a great deal of respect for the front office. We’ll just leave it at that.”

With Trout now set to earn more than $35 million per season when his new contract begins, one would have to guess that Betts probably will be seeking a deal with an AAV in that range as well.

Higher-ups in the Red Sox organization like John Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have made it clear that they would like Betts to remain with the club past 2020, but that all depends on the player’s willingness to sign an extension.

If  you were Mookie Betts, would you rather take the money and security now on a lucrative long-term deal, or wait until you reach free agency and test the waters then?

Betts, exactly 10 months younger than Trout, slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 30 stolen bases in 136 games played this past season on his way to his first MVP award.

In January, the two sides, that being Betts and the Red Sox, reached an agreement on a record-setting one-year, $20 million deal for the Tennessee native’s second year of arbitration eligibility.

Mookie Betts Is Named 2018 American League MVP.

For the first time in his career, Mookie Betts is an MVP, as announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Thursday evening.

He finished second in voting in 2016, sixth in voting in 2017, but now, the 26-year-old can finally add a Most Valuable Player trophy to his impressive collection.

Coming into the 2018 season as one of the more established outfielders in all of baseball alongside Angels center fielder Mike Trout, the three-time All-Star got his MVP campaign off to a scorching start that he would not have to look back from.

Ending his fourth full year in the bigs with a gaudy .346/.438/.640 slash line to go along with a career-high 32 home runs, 80 RBI and a league-leading 129 runs scored over 136 games, Betts officially received 28 of the 30 first place votes.

Already the recipient of his second Silver Slugger and third Gold Glove Award earlier in the month, the Tennessee native has had himself quite the offseason.

A World Series champion for the first time…

A father for the first time…

And now, an MVP for the first time…

So, congratulations to Mookie Betts, someone who worked his way from a fifth round pick out of high school in the 2011 amateur draft all the way to one of the best all-around players in the American League. Perhaps a hefty contract extension is in order sometime in the coming months?

Betts’ teammate, JD Martinez, who was not listed as one of the three finalists on the American League ballot, officially finished fourth in AL MVP voting.