Chris Sale fans 5 over 3 scoreless innings as Red Sox come up short in 4-3 loss to Twins

For the first time this spring, the Red Sox have lost back-to-back games. After coming up short against the Blue Jays on Friday, Boston fell to the Twins by a final score of 4-3 at Hammond Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Sale pitched well for the Red Sox in his second start of the spring. The veteran left-hander allowed just one hit and no walks to go along with five strikeouts over three scoreless innings of work.

That lone hit came in the form of a two-out single from Donovan Solano in the bottom of the first inning. From there, Sale retired the next seven batters he faced through the end of the third, which is where his day would come to a close. The 33-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 32 (24 strikes) while topping out at 95.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also induced seven swings-and-misses, per Baseball Savant.

While Sale was in the midst of a strong effort on the mound, the Red Sox put up a three-spot off Twins starter Tyler Mahle in the top half of the second. Bobby Dalbec led off the inning by lacing a 109.5 mph double to right field. He then moved up to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on an RBI single off the bat of Reese McGuire.

McGuire was able to tag up to second on a Niko Goodrum flyout and then scored from there on a David Hamilton single. Hamilton, ever the speedster, proceeded to steal second base and take third on a throwing error committed by Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers. He remained at third before Adam Duvall plated him on a two-out bloop single that landed in the infield grass.

Taking a 3-0 lead into the fourth inning, Kenley Jansen got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Sale. Jansen, making his first in-game appearance since last Saturday, struck out two of the three batters he faced in the fourth. He also came back out for the fifth and, after recording the first out, served up a 351-foot solo homer to Jeffers for Minnesota’s first run of the day.

Jansen was then relieved by minor-leaguer Brendan Cellucci, who issued a one-out walk to Max Kepler before allowing Kepler to score on a Michael A. Taylor RBI single. The left-handed Cellucci minimized the damage, though, as he got Andrew Bechtold to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

The Red Sox had an opportunity to build their lead back up in the top of the sixth after Hamilton, Greg Allen, and Adam Duvall all reached base. With two outs in the inning, however, Twins reliever Cole Sands was able to prevent the floodgates from opening by fanning the pinch-hitting Eddinson Paulino on four pitches.

The Twins capitalized on Boston’s inability to score in the following half-inning. Joely Rodriguez, the third lefty of the day for the Red Sox, yielded back-to-back doubles to Yoyner Fajardo and Jose Miranda to lead off the sixth. Miranda, who tied the game with his two-base hit, then scored what would prove to be the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kyle Farmer.

From that point forward, the Red Sox lineup was not able to do much offensively. After Rodriguez got the first out of the seventh and John Schreiber sat down all five batters he faced through the end of the eighth, Boston went down quietly against Blayne Enlow in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a 4-3 defeat.

With the loss, which took two hours and 22 minutes to complete, the Red Sox drop to 9-2-3 in Grapefruit League play and 11-2-3 in all competitions this spring. They will have to wait until March 22, when they next take on the Twins, for their next shot at taking home the 2023 Chairman’s Cup.

Other worthwhile observations:

Christian Arroyo went 2-for-3 with two singles on Saturday. The 27-year-old is now batting .360 (9-for-25) in nine games this spring.

Dalbec, McGuire, and Hamilton recorded multiple hits as well. Allen, who reached base twice by drawing two walks, and Hamilton combined for five stolen bases.

Next up: Split-squad action

The Red Sox will have a split squad on Sunday as they host the Yankees at JetBlue Park and travel to Sarasota to take on the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.

At home, Tanner Houck will get the start for Boston opposite fellow right-hander Yoendrys Gomez for New York. On the road, Kutter Crawford will take the mound for Boston while fellow righty Grayson Rodriguez, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will toe the rubber for Baltimore.

First pitch for each contest is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game taking place at JetBlue Park will be broadcasted on NESN+.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Reese McGuire and Triston Casas both homer, James Paxton leaves first start of spring early as Red Sox defeat Twins, 9-4

The Red Sox remained unbeaten this spring after taking Game 2 of the 2023 Chairman’s Cup from the Twins on Friday afternoon. Boston defeated Minnesota, 9-4, at Hammond Stadium to improve to 5-0-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Matched up against Sonny Gray to begin things on Friday, the Red Sox lineup got off to a quick start by putting up a three-spot in the top half of the first inning. After reaching base on a one-out single and advancing 90 feet on a pickoff error, Alex Verdugo scored his side’s first run on an RBI single off the bat of Justin Turner.

Turner himself moved up to second on a Minnesota fielding error that allowed Triston Casas to reach base before scoring on a two-out single from Bobby Dalbec. Casas, who advanced to third on that play, then came in to score when Reese McGuire reached on yet another fielding error committed by the Twins.

That sequence gave Boston an early 3-0 lead right out of the gate, but Minnesota was able to get two of those runs back an inning later. James Paxton, who retired the side in order in his first inning of work this spring, recorded the first two outs of the second before exiting the game with a right hamstring injury. He was replaced by fellow left-hander Rio Gomez, who issued a five-pitch walk to Joey Gallo before serving up a two-run home run to Kyle Farmer.

Despite seeing their three-run advantage shrink to one-run, the Red Sox continued to capitalize on Twins mistakes in their half of the third. After Turner and Casas each reached with no outs and Dalbec loaded the bases with a one-out single, McGuire came through by crushing a 395-foot grand slam off reliever Emilio Pagan to make it a 7-2 contest in favor of Boston.

Again, though, Minnesota retaliated. John Schreiber took over for Gomez in the bottom of the third and filled the bases with one out before spiking a wild pitch that allowed Eliot Soto to come in from third. Michael A. Taylor then grounded out to to Enmanuel Valdez at second base, which gave old friend Christian Vazquez more than enough time to score from third and trim the Twins’ deficit down to three runs at 7-4.

Following a scoreless fourth inning from Ryan Sherriff, Casas picked up where he left off by leading off the fifth with a 400-foot solo blast to deep right field for his second home run of the spring. Brandon Walter then came out of the bullpen for Boston and struck out three over two scoreless frames of relief. Fellow southpaw Chris Murphy followed that up by stranding two base runners and punching out the side in the seventh.

In the eighth, former Twins catcher Caleb Hamilton took Brock Stewart 438 feet deep over the berm in left field for his first big fly in a Red Sox uniform. Taking a 9-4 lead into the latter half of the frame, Murphy got the first two outs before loading the bases on a single and back-to-back walks. Norwith Gudino came in and promptly escaped the jam by fanning Soto on three consecutive sliders.

With three more outs to get in the ninth, Gudino picked up two more punchouts to slam the door on the Twins and record the save in doing so.

More on Paxton’s start:

Prior to leaving the game with a trainer, Paxton had already retired the first five batters he had faced on Friday. The 34-year-old southpaw struck out one over 1 2/3 innings of work while throwing 20 pitches (12 strikes). His fastball topped out at 94.7 mph, per Baseball Savant.

Next up: Pivetta makes spring debut

The Red Sox will return to JetBlue Park to host the Astros on Saturday afternoon. Nick Pivetta, who came into camp still on the mend following a recent bout with COVID-19, will make his first start of the year for Boston. Fellow right-hander Shawn Dubin is slated to start for Houston.

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

(Picture of Reese McGuire: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former Red Sox catcher Christian Vázquez agrees to three-year, $30 million deal with Twins, per report

Former Red Sox catcher has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Twins, as first reported by The New York Post’s Jon Heyman. The deal, which is pending a physical, comes with $30 million in guaranteed money, according to Twins Daily’s Ted Schwerzler.

Vazquez, 32, was Minnesota’s top free agent catching target, per The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman. The native Puerto Rican split the 2022 season between the Red Sox and Astros and batted .274/.315/.399 with 23 doubles, nine home runs, 52 RBIs, 41 runs scored, one stolen base, 22 walks, and 69 strikeouts over 119 games spanning 426 trips to the plate.

After the Red Sox picked up his $7 million club option last offseason, Vazquez opened the 2022 campaign as Boston’s No. 1 catcher. The right-handed hitter slashed a stout .282/.327/.432 with eight homers and 42 RBIs in his first 84 games (318 plate appearances) of the year before emerging as a trade candidate in late July.

On August 1, while they were already in Houston, the Red Sox dealt Vazquez to the Astros in exchange for prospects Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez. Abreu and Valdez spent the rest of the season in the minor-leagues and have since been added to Boston’s 40-man roster. Vazquez, on the other hand, split time behind the plate with fellow Puerto Rican Martin Maldonado and produced a meager .250/.278/.308 slash line in 35 regular season games (108 plate appearances) with the Astros.

During Houston’s run to its second World Series title in six seasons, Vazquez had some memorable moments. He caught 12 innings of scoreless baseball against the Mariners in Game 3 of the American League Division Series, caught nine more scoreless frames against the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, and then caught a combined no-hitter in Game 4 of the World Series against the Phillies.

Vazquez reached free agency for the first time in his career last month. He drew interest from several teams, including the Cardinals, Cubs, and Red Sox. At last week’s winter meetings in San Diego, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom expressed interest in a reunion with the two-time World Series champion.

Instead of reuniting with the team he spent the first 14 years of his professional career with, though, Vazquez elected to sign with the Twins, who — like the Red Sox — make their spring training home in Fort Myers, Fla.

Vazquez, who does not turn 33 until next August, should provide Minnesota with a reliable veteran presence to pair alongside 25-year-old backstop Ryan Jeffers. In addition to what he does offensively, Vazquez has proven to be solid from behind the plate as well. This past season, the 5-foot-9, 205-pounder threw out 19 of 70 possible base stealers and accrued 11 defensive runs saved across 870 innings at catcher.

With Vazquez agreeing to sign elsewhere, the Red Sox will need to look in another direction if they intend on bolstering their catching depth this winter. As things stand now, Reese McGuire and Connor Wong are the only two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster. Last week,’s Chris Cotillo reported that the Sox were “actively pursuing” backstops who could be had in free agency or via trade.

“There have been some talks. We’re in on the guys that we like,” Bloom said of the catching market when speaking with reporters (including Cotillo) in San Diego. “There’s some guys that we like but, forever reason, aren’t the right fits for us. We’re trying to be selective with who we pursue.”

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Caleb Hamilton to Triple-A Worcester after catcher clears waivers

Red Sox catcher Caleb Hamilton has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, according to’s Chris Cotillo.

Hamilton and reliever Jake Reed were both designated for assignment on Tuesday so that the Red Sox could create space on their 40-man roster for the additions of Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and David Hamilton. Those five prospects needed to be added in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

While Reed was claimed by the Dodgers on Friday, Hamilton cleared waivers and was sent outright to Worcester. The 27-year-old backstop did not have the ability to refuse the assignment since he only made his major-league debut for the Twins this past July.

Minnesota originally selected Hamilton in the 23rd-round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. The Washington state native spent parts of seven seasons in the minor-leagues before finally breaking in with the Twins over the summer.

In 22 games with Minnesota, the right-handed hitting Hamilton went just 1-for-18 (.056) at the plate with one home run, one RBI, five runs scored, four walks, and 14 strikeouts. The 6-foot, 185-pounder appeared in six games as a first baseman in addition to 11 games at catcher.

At the Triple-A level this year, Reed batted .233/.367/.442 with 10 doubles, 11 homers, 43 runs driven in, 34 runs scored, one stolen base, 43 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 62 games (251 plate appearances) with the St. Paul Saints. He also threw out six of 32 base stealers from behind the plate.

While catcher has served as his primary position in pro ball, Hamilton came up as a utility player of sorts in college and has past experience at every defensive position in both the infield and outfield.

It is unclear when the Twins removed Hamilton from their 40-man roster, but the Red Sox claimed him off waivers from Minnesota on October 11. His run on Boston’s 40-man roster lasted a little more than a month.

Hamilton, who turns 28 in February, should now provide the Sox with upper-minors catching depth in Worcester alongside Ronaldo Hernandez and Kole Cottam, among others.

(Picture of Caleb Hamilton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose Austin Davis on waivers to Twins

Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have lost left-hander Austin Davis on waivers to the Twins, according to’s Chris Cotillo.

Davis and fellow reliever Hirokazu Sawamura were both officially designated for assignment on Monday, allowing Boston to call up right-handers Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort from Triple-A Worcester in order to bolster a struggling bullpen.

The Red Sox originally acquired Davis from the Pirates in exchange for infielder Michael Chavis ahead of last July’s trade deadline. The 29-year-old southpaw made 19 relief appearances for Boston down the stretch last season and unsurprisingly made the Opening Day roster earlier this spring.

To begin his first full season with the Sox, Davis got off to a promising start by posting a 2.16 ERA and 3.45 FIP with 36 strikeouts to 16 walks over 31 outings (two starts) spanning 33 1/3 innings of work through July 7. He put up those numbers while holding opposing hitters to a .202/.309/.294 slash line against.

From that point forward, however, Davis’ season took a turn for the worst. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty struggled to the tune of a 10.71 ERA and 4.74 FIP to go along with 25 strikeouts to 13 walks across his next 19 appearances (one start) and 21 innings pitched. Not even shaving his beard could prevent him from surrendering four runs (two earned) to the Rays in Sunday’s 12-4 loss at Fenway Park.

That would prove to be Davis’ final appearance in a Red Sox uniform. The Arizona native is out of minor-league options, meaning the club had no choice but to designate him for assignment in order to remove him from the roster. Teams have until 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Wednesday to add postseason-eligible players to their roster, so it now appears as though Davis could be part of Minnesota’s October plans if the Twins make it that far.

With that being said, it should be interesting to see if Davis makes his Twins debut in Wednesday’s series finale against the Red Sox at Target Field.

(Picture of Austin Davis: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Kutter Crawford, Ryan Brasier combine to give up 7 runs as Red Sox fall to Twins, 10-5

The Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins on Tuesday night. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 10-5 at Target Field despite having a 4-3 lead at one point.

Kutter Crawford, making his 12th start and 21st overall appearance of the season for the Sox, surrendered five runs — four of which were earned — on four hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Three of those runs came within the first two innings. Crawford retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first before issuing a pair of two-out walks to Max Kepler and Jose Miranda. The rookie right-hander then gave up a two-run double to Nick Gordon that got the Twins on the board first.

An inning later, Jake Cave led off the bottom of the second by taking Crawford 400 feet deep to left-center field for just his third home run of the season. Crawford put together his first scoreless frame of the night in the third and did it again in the fourth.

The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, finally broke through against Twins starter Chris Archer in their half of the fourth. An Alex Verdugo leadoff single and Xander Bogaerts double put runners at second and third with no outs for Rafael Devers. Devers drove in Verdugo with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game in favor of Minnesota. J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a six-pitch walk, but Trevor Story grounded into an inning-ending double play to extinguish the threat.

In the fifth, however, the Sox were able to mount a rally. With Enrique Hernandez and Reese McGuire on the corners following a pair of one-out singles, Tommy Pham trimmed Boston’s deficit to one with a run-scoring base hit through the right side of the infield. That knocked Archer out of the game in favor of Caleb Thielbar.

McGuire moved up to third base when Verdugo grounded into a force out at second. With runners at the corners yet again, Bogaerts greeted the new Twins reliever by blooping a 241-foot game-tying single to left field to push across McGuire and move Verdugo to third. Devers then drew a bases-filling walk, prompting another Minnesota pitching change.

Michael Fulmer was dispatched to face Martinez, but he first airmailed a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed Verdugo to score the go-ahead run on a feet-first slide. The Red Sox had a chance to add to their newfound 4-3 lead, but Martinez struck out against his former teammate to leave things there.

Crawford came back out for the fifth and got Luis Arraez to fly out to Pham for the first out of the inning. It appeared as though Crawford was going to get the second out when he got Carlos Correa to lift a 318-foot flyball to Verdugo in right field.

Verdugo failed to make a clean catch, though, as the ball deflected off his glove, allowing Correa to reach first base safely. Correa then issued another walk to Kepler, which is how his night would come to an end as Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled the righty for Ryan Brasier.

Brasier, in turn, made a sticky situation even worse by plunking the first batter he faced in Jose Miranda to load the bases. Gordon, already in the midst of a productive evening at the plate, took full advantage of the spot he was in by unloading the bases with a 416-foot grand slam over everything in right field.

Gordon’s sixth homer of the season officially closed the book on Crawford, who finished with a final pitch count of 76 (43 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler managed to induce just seven swings-and-misses while raising his ERA on the season to 5.47 (7.58 ERA in August). He was also hit with his sixth losing decision of the year.

Brasier, on the other hand, was tagged for two runs after getting through the rest of the fifth inning unscathed. The recently-turned 35-year-old has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) to cross the plate in 14 relief appearances (12 innings) this month. That is good for an ERA of 9.75.

Boston’s bullpen struggled continued into the sixth inning, as Jeurys Familia served up a solo shot to Gary Sanchez. The Red Sox got that run back in the top of the seventh, when Verdugo plated Pham all the way from first base on a 410-foot RBI double to right-center field that would have been a home run in 16 of 30 MLB ballparks.

Verdugo’s second hit of the contest brought the Sox back to within three runs of the Twins at 8-5. Bogaerts moved Verdugo up to third base on a groundout, but Devers stranded him there by striking out.

Following a 1-2-3 seventh inning from Zack Kelly in his second big-league appearance, a resurgent Matt Barnes ran into more trouble in the eighth by walking one and giving up three straight hits to Sanchez, Arraez, and Correa. Arreaz and Correa each drove in runs with their singles, which gave the Twins a commanding 10-5 lead going into the ninth.

Down to their final three outs, Hernandez led off with a walk, but McGuire, Pham, and Verdugo went down quietly against Emilio Pagan to seal another defeat.

With the loss, the seventh in their last nine games, the Red Sox drop to 62-68 on the season. The Blue Jays won on Tuesday, so Boston now sits nine games back of Toronto for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Wacha vs. Ryan in series finale

The Red Sox will look to salvage something out of this series with the Twins on Wednesday night. Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston. Fellow right-hander Joe Ryan is expected to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: David Berding/Getty Images)

Brayan Bello runs out of gas in fifth inning as Red Sox drop opener to Twins, 4-2

The Red Sox opened a three-game series against the Twins on Monday by losing their second straight game. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 4-2 at Target Field to drop to 62-67 on the season.

Matched up against Dylan Bunday to begin things on Monday, the Sox got on the board first in their half of the third inning. Tommy Pham reached base via a one-out single and promptly scored all the way from first on an Alex Verdugo RBI double that traveled 341 feet to left field.

Verdugo moved up to third on a Xander Bogaerts single and had the chance to tag up when Rafael Devers lined out to Max Kepler in right field. But he remained at third base and was stranded there after J.D. Martinez struck out swinging.

An inning later, Trevor Story drew a leadoff walk off Bundy and quickly went from first to third on a Franchy Cordero single that had an exit velocity of 112.7 mph. Cordero, like Story, moved up to third on another one-out double from Reese McGuire. But Pham grounded out Verdugo punched out, meaning the Sox would have to settle for one run yet again.

That would prove to be costly for Brayan Bello, who was making his fifth start and seventh overall appearance of the season for Boston. The rookie right-hander pitched well out of the gate, tossing three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth.

Bello put himself in a tough spot when he allowed each of the first three batters he faced in the inning to reach base. He then gave up a sacrifice fly to Jake Cave, but managed to limit the damage in the fourth to just the one run despite throwing 29 pitches.

The same cannot be said about the fifth inning. After the Sox left runners on the corners in the top half, Bello issued back-to-back walks to begin the bottom half. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to give Bello the hook in favor of Matt Strahm.

Strahm, in turn, got Kepler to ground out to McGuire before yielding a bases-filling walk to Jose Miranda and striking out the pinch-hitting Kyle Garlick on six pitches. With the right-handed hitting Gio Urshela due to hit next for Minnesota, Cora swapped Strahm for John Schreiber.

Urshela won the righty-on-righty battle, as he connected on a 3-2, 83.1 mph slider from Schreiber and roped a bases-clearing, three-run double to the right field corner. That gave the Twins their first lead of the night at 4-2 and that is where the score would stay.

Bello was charged with three of those runs while Strahm was tagged for one. For Bello, the 23-year-old wound up allowing three earned runs on five hits, three walks, and two strikeouts over four-plus innings of work. He threw 84 pitches (51 strikes) in the process of raising his ERA on the season to 7.27. The Red Sox have yet to win a game he has pitched in.

Following that disastrous fifth inning, the Twins bullpen took over by limiting Red Sox hitters to one hit — a single — over the final 4 1/3 frames of Monday’s loss.

On the flip side, the two relievers Boston called up to take the place of Austin Davis and Hirokazu Sawamura pitched relatively well. Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort have grown accustomed to following one another out of the bullpen in Worcester. On Monday, they got to experience that for the first time at the major-league level.

Kelly, making his big-league debut, needed just 18 pitches (10 strikes) to face the minimum in a scoreless sixth inning. The 27-year-old struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Luis Arraez. But that was quicky negated after Arraez was gunned down at second base by McGuire.

Ort, meanwhile, scattered two walks and two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work to keep the deficit at two runs. It proved to be for naught, though, as Twins closer Jorge Lopez made quick work of the Sox in the ninth to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. At 62-67, they now sit eight games back of the Blue Jays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Crawford vs. Archer

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Twins on Tuesday night. Kutter Crawford is expected to start for Boston while fellow right-hander Chris Archer is slated to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: David Berding/Getty Images)

3-run eighth inning not enough as Red Sox fall to Twins, 8-4, in home opener at Fenway Park

The Red Sox opened the home slate of their 2022 schedule with an 8-4 loss at the hands of the Twins at Fenway Park on Friday afternoon. Boston’s two-game winning streak has come to an end and they have fallen to 3-4 on the young season.

Nick Pivetta, making his second start of the year for the Sox, lasted just two innings and allowed four runs (all earned) on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts. The right-hander ran into trouble right out of the gate when Alex Verdugo lost a ball off the bat of Byron Buxton in the sun that would go down as a leadoff double.

Luis Arraez drove in the first run of the day on a line-drive RBI single, and Minnesota was on the board without yet recording an out in the top of the first. An inning later, Pivetta gave up three additional runs by serving up a two-run home run to Twins slugger Miguel Sano and RBI double to Arraez that put Boston in an early 4-0 hole.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 54 (32 strikes), Pivetta threw his four-seam fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound Friday. The 29-year-old hurler averaged 92.5 mph with the pitch, down 2.3 mph from where he was sitting with it last week.

Shortly after Pivetta’s day came to a close, the Red Sox lineup got something going against Twins rookie starter Joe Ryan. With one out and the bases empty in the bottom of the second, Alex Verdugo launched a 410-foot solo shot to the right field bleachers on the very first pitch he saw: a 94 mph heater down the heart of the plate.

Verdugo’s second homer of the season left the outfielder’s bat at 109.6 mph and trimmed the Sox’ deficit down to three runs at 4-1 heading into the third. Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Boston bullpen in relief of Pivetta and turned in a quality outing by fanning four of the eight batters he faced over two scoreless frames of work.

In the fifth, Hirokazu Sawamura came on for Valdez and immediately issued a leadoff walk to Carlos Correa. Jorge Polanco followed by ripping a ground-rule double to right field to put runners at second and third with no outs. Former Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez plated both runs on a two-run single that got past a sprawling Xander Bogaerts.

Now trailing 6-1, Sawamura managed to get through the rest of the fifth and faced the minimum in the sixth after Christian Vazquez gunned down Arraez (who reached base via a two-out walk) at second base to end the inning.

Ryan Brasier was next up for the seventh, and he needed 18 pitches to punch out the side. Austin Davis stranded one runner in an otherwise clean eighth inning.

Offensively, the Red Sox were limited in what they could do against Ryan on Friday. After Verdugo homered in the second, Boston failed to push across another run.

Their best chance to score off Ryan came in the bottom of the fourth, when Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez reached base on a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with one out. Verdugo, however, grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the fifth, Trevor Stroy notched his first hit at home as a member of the Red Sox and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed with a bunt single of his own that put runners at first and second with one out. Once more, though, Vazquez flew out and leadoff man Enrique Hernandez flew out to extinguish the threat.

After Ryan completed his six innings of one-run ball, the Boston got back on track against Minnesota’s bullpen. Jhoan Duran, equipped with a 101-102 mph fastball, made quick work of Verdugo, Story, and Bobby Dalbec in the seventh, but yielded a leadoff double to Bradley Jr. to begin the eighth.

Vazquez was unable to advance Bradley Jr., but Hernandez did by lacing an RBI double down the left field line to plate Bradley Jr. and make it a 6-2 game. Devers made things more interesting by golfing a 1-1, down-and-in fastball that wasn’t even a strike 363 feet to right field.

Devers’ two-run shot — his second big fly of the season — had an exit velocity of over 103 mph and pulled the Red Sox to within two runs of the Twins at 6-4. Duran got through the rest of the eighth by punching out Bogaerts and Martinez.

After pushing across three runs to make it a two-run game, Matt Barnes struggled with is command of the strike zone in the ninth. The veteran reliever issued two straight one-out walks before surrendering a back-breaking RBI single to Max Kepler.

Barnes then plunked Sanchez in the wrist to load the bases before Trevor Larnach scored Polanco from third on a softly-hit groundout to first base. That increased the Twins’ lead to four runs at 8-4.

Down to their final three outs and now trailing by four in their half of the ninth, the Sox went down quietly against Emilio Pagan. Verdugo flew out and Story and Dalbec both struck out to kill any shot of a rally.

Some notes from this loss on Jackie Robinson Day:

Six different Red Sox pitchers (Pivetta, Valdez, Sawamura, Brasier, Davis, and Barnes) combined to walk eight and plunk two Twins batters on Friday.

The Red Sox went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left three runners on base as a team.

Next up: Gray vs. Houck

The Red Sox, wearing their Boston Marathon-inspired City Connect uniforms, will look to even this four-game series at 1-1 on Saturday afternoon. Tanner Houck is slated to get the ball for Boston and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Sonny Gray for Minnesota.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Bobby Dalbec and Rafael Devers stay hot as Red Sox hold off Twins in 4-3 win

The Red Sox improved to 9-5 in Grapefruit League on Thursday with a 4-3 win over the Twins at JetBlue Park. Boston now leads Minnesota three games to two in the race for the 2022 Chairman’s Cup.

Matched up against Twins starter Dylan Bundy to begin things on Thursday afternoon, the Sox got on the board almost immediately. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Rafael Devers crushed a booming solo shot over everything in right-center field.

Devers’ team-leading fifth home run of the spring gave Boston an early 1-0 lead. Bobby Dalbec doubled it an inning later by taking Bundy deep to left field on a solo homer of his own. His third of the spring made it a 2-0 game.

Those two home runs provided Red Sox starter Michael Wacha with a comfortable cushion to work with out of the gate. Making his third start of the spring, the veteran right-hander retired six of the first seven batters he faced before running into some trouble in the top half of the third.

There, a one-out double off the bat of Jake Cave put a runner in scoring position for Luis Arraez, who ripped a groundball single off Wacha to plate his side’s first run of the day.

An inning later, Alex Kirilloff led things off with a line-drive single that deflected off Wacha. After striking out Miguel Sano for the first out of the frame, the righty served up a two-run blast to Ryan Jeffers to give Minnesota their first lead of the afternoon at 3-2.

Wacha did bounce back and end his outing on a positive note by sitting down the final two Twins he faced. All told, the 30-year-old hurler allowed three earned runs on five hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over four innings of work.

In relief of Wacha, Oddanier Mosqueda received the first call out of the Boston bullpen beginning in the fifth. The young left-hander loaded the bases with two outs, but escaped the jam by fanning Sano.

Shortly after Mosqueda ended the top of the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. led off the bottom of the inning with a hard-hit single off newly-inserted Twins reliever Jharel Cotton.

Bradley Jr. advanced to second before Enrique Hernandez drew a one-out walk. Travis Shaw then came on to pinch-hit for Dalbec, and he delivered with his first hit of the spring: an RBI single to right field that scored Bradley Jr. and knotted things up at three runs apiece.

From there, John Schreiber retired the side in order in the sixth and then made way for Derek Holland in the seventh. Holland, making his spring debut after signing a minor-league deal with the Sox on March 21, impressed by tossing a pair of scoreless, 1-2-3 frames.

That paved the way for Boston to attempt to break the tie in the bottom of the eighth. With Cody Laweryson on the mound for Minnesota, Shaw — representing the potential go-ahead run — began the inning with a flyball double.

A single from Yolmer Sanchez allowed Shaw to advance to third and a walk drawn by Elih Marrero filled the bases with no outs for Alex Verdugo. Verdugo, in turn, came through with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought in Shaw from third.

Verdugo’s late RBI put the Red Sox up, 4-3, heading into the ninth. There, Phillips Valdez was dispatched from the bullpen and immediately walked the first batter he faced in Edouard Julien.

Valdez then punched out Mark Contreras before Marrero gunned down Julien at second base from behind home plate. With one out to get, Valdez put the tying run on again by plunking Stevie Berman, but rebounded by getting Roy Morales to ground out to Nick Sogard at second base to secure the save.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers this spring is batting .421/.455/1.211 with five home runs, nine RBIs, and seven runs scored through eight games and 22 plate appearances.

Bobby Dalbec this spring is batting .370/.414/.815 with three home runs, nine RBIs, and five runs scored over 10 games and 29 plate appearances.

John Schreiber has yet to allow a run in three appearances (five innings) this spring. The right-hander has struck out seven of the 17 batters he has faced.

Derek Holland, in his 2022 debut on Thursday: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, and the winning decision.

Next up: Hill vs. Yarbrough

Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Rays in Port Charlotte will feature a pair of left-handers going at it, with Rich Hill getting the ball for Boston and Ryan Yarbrough doing the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Charlotte Sports Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

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

Garrett Whitlock tosses 3 scoreless innings in first start of spring, but Red Sox fall to Twins, 6-3

The Red Sox fell to 7-4 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a 6-3 loss to the Twins at Hammond Stadium. The race for the 2022 Chairman’s Cup is now tied at two games apiece.

Garrett Whitlock made his first-ever start for Boston in his second appearance of the spring on Sunday. The right-hander allowed just one hit and one walk to go along with two strikeouts over three scoreless innings of work.

Of the 47 pitches Whitlock threw, 33 went for strikes. The 25-year-old hurler also sat around 95.1 mph with his four-seam fastball while topping out at 95.5 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Whitlock, Jake Diekman received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Coming off a rough spring debut last week, the veteran left-hander’s struggles continued on Sunday. Despite recording the first two outs of the fourth rather easily, Diekman proceeded to load the bases on one hit and two walks before walking in a run by issuing another free pass to Gio Urshela.

That sequence gave the Twins their first lead of the day at 1-0, and it also promoted Sox manager Alex Cora to give Diekman the hook in favor of Darin Gillies, who punched out the lone batter he faced to retire the side in the fourth.

Rich Hill took over for Gillies beginning in the middle of the fifth. Like Whitlock, the seasoned southpaw turned in a solid three-inning outing in which he kept Minnesota off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit, no walks, and three strikeouts on 42 pitches (27 strikes).

The Boston bats picked up Hill in their half of the sixth, with Jonathan Arauz ripping a leadoff single off Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar to kick off the inning. Arauz then advanced all the way to third base when center fielder Derek Fisher was unable to come up with a sharply-hit flyball off the bat of Enrique Hernandez.

Hernandez took second base because of the error and was pinch-ran for by the speedy Jarren Duran, who showed off his elite speed immediately when Rafael Devers lifted a 376-foot fly ball to center field. Fisher was able to come up with the ball this time around, but his momentum carried him away from the infield, which subsequently allowed Arauz to score from third and Duran to score all the way from second.

Devers’ rare, two-run sacrifice fly put the Sox up 2-1 as Hill continued to impress through the end of the seventh before being replaced by Hirokazu Sawamura an inning later.

Sawamura, on the other hand, struggled to find the strike zone on Sunday with only 16 of his 30 pitches going for strikes. The Japanese-born righty issued a leadoff walk to Daniel Robertson, which preceded a hard-hit double from Curtis Terry and RBI single for Jose Godoy to tie things back up at 2-2.

Another walk for Sawamura led to more runs crossing the plate, as Jose Miranda plated Terry on a softly-hit groundout and Trevor Larnach scored everyone by depositing a three-run home run 400 feet to give his side a commanding 6-2 lead.

After surrendering that towering shot, Sawamura was given the hook in favor of Brandon Nail, who got Fisher to fly out to Christian Arroyo — yes, Christian Arrouo — in right field for the final out of the frame.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Rob Refsnyder made things somewhat interesting by crushing his first home run of the spring off Twins reliever Jorge Alcala.

That cut Minnesota’s lead down to three runs at 6-3, but that would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Christian Arroyo played three innings of right field on Sunday after coming on as a defensive replacement for Jackie Bradley Jr. in the middle of the sixth inning.

Red Sox pitchers were responsible for 50 of the 51 hardest-thrown pitches on Sunday, per Baseball Savant.

Next up: A day off

The Red Sox will enjoy their first off day of the spring on Monday. They will then travel to Bradenton to take on the Pirates at LECOM Park on Tuesday afternoon.

Boston has yet to name a starter for that contest, though right-hander Mitch Keller is slated to get the starting nod for Pittsburgh.

First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised, but only on AT&T SportsNet.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)