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)

Red Sox claim Ralph Garza off waivers from Twins, designate Kyle Tyler for assignment

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Ralph Garza off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, the club announced on Thursday afternoon. In order to make room for Garza on the 40-man roster, fellow righty Kyle Tyler was designated for assignment.

Garza, who turns 28 next month, had been designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday so that Minnesota could accommodate the addition of star free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa.

The 27-year-old was originally selected by the Astros in the 26th round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Houston and broke in with Houston just last year.

Just nine outings into his Astros career, though, Garza was designated for assignment on August 1 and was subsequently scooped up by the Twins three days later.

After spending a little more than a week with Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate, Garza was recalled by the big-league club on Aug. 14. He closed out the year with the Twins by posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.88 FIP to go along with 15 strikeouts to seven walks over 18 relief appearances spanning 19 1/3 innings of work.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, Garza — a Texas native — operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a slider, sinker, four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, curveball. His slider was his most-used pitch last year (31.1%) and opponents hit just .118 off it, per Baseball Savant.

Boston has already optioned Garza to Triple-A Worcester, so he should provide the Sox with some additional bullpen depth who has minor-league options remaining.

Tyler, on the other hand, loses his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster just two days after getting claimed off waivers from the Angels earlier this week. The 25-year debuted with Los Angeles last season and yielded a 2.92 ERA (5.20 FIP) in five appearances out of the Halos’ bullpen.

The Red Sox will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Tyler. It’s certainly possible that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are optimistic they can sneak the Oklahoman through waivers and keep him in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.

(Picture of Ralph Garza: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox suffer first loss of spring despite 4 scoreless innings from Nathan Eovaldi and homers from Rafael Devers, Ryan Fitzgerald

The Red Sox suffered their first loss of the spring on Wednesday afternoon when they fell to the Twins by a final score of 10-4 at JetBlue Park.

Despite dropping to 6-1 in Grapefruit League play, there were still plenty of positives to take away from Wednesday’s contest. For starters, Nathan Eovaldi looked as dominant as ever in his second start of the spring.

The veteran right-hander plunked the very first man he faced in Byron Buxton, but that was negated immediately when Christian Vazquez threw out the speedy outfielder as he attempted to steal second base. Eovaldi then retired the next 11 batters he faced in order while striking out six and walking none over four scoreless, no-hit innings.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 52, Eovaldi is in line to make three more starts this spring before Opening Day on April 7. The 32-year-old hurler has allowed a total of two runs through his first two outings of the year.

In relief of Eovaldi, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen beginning in the fifth inning. Things did not go as well for Brasier as they did for Eovaldi, as the righty reliever gave up four straight hits (including an RBI single to Ryan Jeffers and three-run home run to Trevor Larnach to put his side in a 4-0 hole.

Brasier at the very least recorded the first two outs of the inning before making way for Franklin German, who punched out the only batter he faced in Buxton to retire the side.

The sixth inning belonged to Rafael Devers. One day after agreeing to a $11.2 million salary for the 2022 season, the All-Star third baseman guided Jay Groome through a perfect top half by robbing Miguel Sano of a potential one-out double down the left field line. He then led off the bottom half by clubbing a solo home run off Twins reliever Jake Faria.

Devers’ first big fly of the spring cut Minnesota’s lead down to three runs at 4-1. Following a 1-2-3 top of the seventh from Michael Feliz, Ryan Fitzgerald made things even more interesting by crushing a game-tying, three-run homer to right field off of Faria.

Fitzgerald’s team-leading third home run of the spring knotted things up at four runs apiece heading into the eighth inning for Connor Seabold.

Seabold, who is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 21 prospect in Boston’s farm system, struggled with his command in his 2022 debut. The 26-year-old right-hander walked the first two Twins he faced before yielding an RBI double to Dennis Ortega and a two-run single to Nick Gordon. He then walked Aaron Sabato to put runners at first and second with no outs, which prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to turn to Tyler Danish.

Danish proceeded to loaded the bases before allowing three additional two runs (two inherited) to score on a sacrifice fly and two-run double. That sequence gave the Twins a commanding 10-4 lead, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Christian Arroyo was originally slated to start at second base for the Red Sox on Wednesday but was scratched from the lineup due to a right thumb contusion. It is not believed to be a serious injury.

Coming into Wednesday, Red Sox pitchers this spring had allowed a total of 11 runs in six Grapefruit League games. They gave up 10 runs as a team on Wednesday.

All four runs the Red Sox scored on Wednesday came from the No.2 spot in the lineup. Devers got things started with his solo home run in the sixth and Fitzgerald, who came on as a defensive replacement for Devers at third base, followed suit with his three-run blast in the seventh.

Fitzgerald has appeared in all seven of Boston’s spring training games and is currently batting .364/.462/1.182 with three home runs, seven RBIs, three runs scored, one stolen base, two walks, and two strikeouts across 13 trips to the plate.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Zimmermanm

The Red Sox will travel to Sarasota on Thursday evening to take on the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Nick Pivetta is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston after striking out five in his 2022 debut last Saturday. The right-hander will be opposed by Baltimore left-hander Bruce Zimmermann.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised, but only on MASN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Ryan Fitzgerald lifts Red Sox to 1-0 win over Twins as Boston remains perfect in Grapefruit League play

The Red Sox continued their winning ways on Saturday afternoon by improving to 3-0 in Grapefruit League play. They defeated the Twins by a final score of 1-0 at Hammond Stadium.

Nick Pivetta made his first start of the spring for Boston. The right-hander did not allow a single hit, walk, or run while striking out five in his three perfect innings of work. Of the 38 pitches he threw, 28 went for strikes. He also induced four total swings-and-misses and averaged 93.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Davis got the first call out of the Sox bullpen beginning in the middle of the fourth inning. The left-hander gave up back-to-back singles to begin the frame but escaped the jam before making way for Phillips Valdez, who stranded one runner in an otherwise clean bottom of the fifth.

From there, Zack Kelly found himself in immediate trouble when he yielded a leadoff single to Derek Fisher. Connor Wong, however, negated that almost instantly by gunning Fisher at second down on a failed stolen base attempt, ultimately allowing Kelly to get through the bottom of the sixth unscathed.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been held in check by three different Twins pitchers. With one out in the top of the seventh, Ryan Fitzgerald changed that by crushing a one-out solo shot off Minnesota reliever Cody Stashak.

Fitzgerald’s first home run of the spring provided Boston with their first lead of the day at 1-0. Darin Gillies kept it that way in the latter half of the seventh, while Thomas Pannone did so in the eighth.

Pannone came back out for the ninth looking to preserve the shutout, but instead loaded the bases with two outs. The former Blue Jays lefty did manage to get old friend Cole Sturgeon to pop out to center field for the final out of the ninth, though, thus preserving a 1-0 victory for the Red Sox.

All told, Boston pitchers (Pivetta, Davis, Valdez, Kelly, Gillies, and Pannone) combined to allow just six hits and two walks while punching out 13 in the combined shutout bid.

On the injury front, Jonathan Arauz originally started Saturday’s contest at second base. The 23-year-old was forced to leave in the bottom of the fifth inning after colliding with Twins shortstop Nick Gordon and was replaced by Christian Koss.

Next up: Houck vs. Reyes

Tanner Houck is next in line to make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox as he gets the start against the Orioles on Sunday. The right-hander will be opposed by fellow righty Denyi Reyes, who spent the first seven years of his professional career with Boston before signing a minor-league deal with Baltimore last November.

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

(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox see 9-game winning streak come to an end in 4-3 walk-off loss to Twins

It turns out winning 10 consecutive Major League Baseball games is actually a difficult task. The Red Sox found that out themselves on Thursday when their nine-game winning streak came to an end following a 4-3, walk-off loss at the hands of the Twins at Target Field.

Matched up against veteran right-hander Michael Pineda, the Sox lineup struggled to get anything going offensively, as they were limited to no runs on two hits in the seven innings the ex-Yankees hurler was on the mound.

Alex Verdugo, the star of Wednesday’s doubleheader sweep, was able to finally get his side on the board in the top half of the eighth.

There, with two outs and the bases loaded, the left-handed hitter greeted recently-inserted Twins reliever Taylor Rogers by putting together what might go down as the best at-bat of any Red Sox hitter this season.

After fouling off a plethora of sinkers and sliders, Verdugo — on the 10th pitch of the at-bat — laced a line-drive, bases-clearing double down the left field line to knot things up at three runs apiece.

Alas, Verdugo’s triumphant three-run double would not turn out to be enough in the end, as the Twins bounced back to walk things off an inning and a half later.

Richards solid once again

While Boston’s winning streak may have been halted at nine games, Garrett Richards became the 10th straight Sox starter to go at least five innings into his start.

Over those five innings of work, Richards held the Twins to two runs on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both runs the right-hander surrendered wound up being unearned, as a walk and a throwing error committed by Bobby Dalbec in the second would later result in the Twins plating their first two runs of the day on a two-run single off the bat of Luis Arraez.

From there, though, Richards was able to settle in and actually retired 10 of the final 13 hitters he faced in this one.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes) while lowering his ERA on the year to 6.00, the 32-year-old’s next start should come against the Mariners back at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Bullpen gives up two runs over four innings

In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom of the sixth, and he gave up his first run of the season by serving up a towering 404-foot solo shot to Miguel Sano.

From there, Josh Taylor tossed a scoreless seventh inning and Matt Andriese and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to work their way around traffic in a scoreless bottom half of the eighth after the Sox had battled back to tie things up at 3-3.

After nearly plating a fourth run when Christian Arroyo reached base on a one-out double — and was stranded at second — in the top of the ninth, that set the stage for Adam Ottavino to come on for the bottom half of the frame.

The righty reliever put the first two Twins he faced on base via a leadoff single and HBP, which put a runner in scoring position with one out for Max Kepler, who proceeded to hit a walk-off single on a jam shot of a flyball to center field to win it for Minnesota, 4-3.

Some notes from this loss:

Red Sox manager Alex Cora was ejected from this game in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Andriese appeared to punch out Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers on a swinging strike in the dirt, home plate umpire Jordan Baker ruled that Jeffers had fouled the pitch off, though it was abundantly clear the ball had missed the bat entirely.

Cora came out to argue that was indeed the case, but after convening with the other umpires, Baker upheld the non-reviewable call and the Sox skipper was tossed as a result of his continuous arguing.

For what it’s worth, Andriese fanned Jeffers on the very next pitch.

There was also a siren delay that lasted approximately five minutes during the top half of the fifth inning.

Next up: 10-game homestand

Coming off a 6-1 road trip despite falling to 9-4 on Thursday, the Red Sox will head back to Boston to begin their longest homestand of the season on Friday night.

Welcoming in the White Sox for the first of four to kick off Patriots’ Day weekend, the Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta for Friday’s series opener. He will be opposed by fellow righty Dylan Cease.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN, though the weather does not look particularly promising.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Eduard Bazardo tosses scoreless inning, picks up first career strikeout in major-league debut for Red Sox: ‘For us to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish, he will be a factor during the season,’ Alex Cora says

Lost in the shuffle of the Red Sox sweeping their doubleheader against the Twins and extending their winning streak to nine consecutive games on Wednesday was Eduard Bazardo making his major-league debut.

The 25-year-old right-hander was called up by Boston from the alternate training site to serve as the team’s 27th man in Wednesday’s twin bill.

After not making an appearance in Game 1, Bazardo was called upon to work the seventh and final inning — a point in which the Sox already had a 7-1 lead, making for a low-leverage, low-pressure outing — of Game 2.

Bazardo, donning rec specs, high socks, and the No. 83, faced five Twins hitters in total; walking two, striking out one, and getting two more to ground out.

All in all, the Venezuelan hurler needed 24 pitches — 15 of which were strikes — to work a scoreless bottom half of the seventh and lock down the 7-1 victory for his side.

Of those 24 pitches, 11 were sliders, nine were four-seam fastballs, and four were curveballs. He induced four swings-and-misses with his slider while also sitting at 93-95 mph with his heater.

Though Bazardo was ultimately and unsurprisingly sent back down to the alternate training site in Worcester following Wednesday’s action, Red Sox manager Alex Cora seemed optimistic that this will not be the last time he sees the 6-foot, 190 pound hurler pitching for the Sox this season.

“I think throughout the season, this guy, he’ll help us,” Cora said of the young righty Wednesday morning. “Good fastball. The best breaking ball. Everybody talks about it in the organization, right? A strike thrower. A strike-throwing machine. He’s not afraid. He attacks the strike zone with good stuff. He impressed a lot of people last year. He impressed me in spring training. … For us to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish, he will be a factor during the season.”

Bazardo, who does not turn 26 until September, was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November on the strength of an impressive showing at the team’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

He is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 28th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo had a feeling he would make game-saving catch against Twins moments before it happened: ‘It’s one of those plays that you think about right before it happens’

Before making the defensive play of the day in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s Game 1 victory over the Twins, Alex Verdugo had a feeling the ball was going to come his way.

With two outs in the final inning of the day cap of Wednesday’s doubleheader, the Twins had put the tying run on base when Jake Cave drew a leadoff walk off Red Sox closer Matt Barnes.

Cave also managed to steal second, which put the tying run in a 3-2 contest in scoring position as leadoff man Luis Arraez was due to hit for Minnesota.

The left-handed hitting Arraez had already hit two balls to the left side of the field, which gave Verdugo — who had shifted from center to left field in the sixth — something to think about.

On a 3-1, 86 mph curveball from Barnes, the Twins third baseman swatted a screaming line-drive with an exit velocity of 95.5 mph in Verdugo’s direction.

Verdugo had been playing relatively deep in left field at that moment, so he was forced to charge towards the ball, which was dying quickly and on the verge of landing on a soft patch of grass.

In a matter of seconds, the 24-year-old left his feet, dove head-first, made the proper adjustments, and snagged Arraez’s liner with his Mexican flag-inspired glove all before the ball hit the ground.

Per Baseball Savant, Verdugo had just a 29% chance of making that clutch, game-sealing catch, but he made it look relatively simple all things considered.

One reason behind that would be because Verdugo anticipated making that highlight play well before it actually happened.

“It was actually weird because it’s one of those plays that you think about right before it happens,” Verdugo explained when speaking with reporters Wednesday night. “And it just so happens that it was exactly what I had thought about. I knew the hitter, I knew that he’s been hitting line drives that way and likes to go oppo. So I was kind of already on edge knowing that Barnesy’s throwing hard and going to get after him.

“It was just one of those ones, man,” he continued. “It kind of manifested into my mind, and it came out. We made the play and held onto it. Any game we get a W and clinch one and don’t have to go to extras or waste any more arms, it’s a huge day.”

The diving catch Verdugo made at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon was reminiscent of the one former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi one made at Minute Maid Park to seal a Game 4 victory for Boston in the 2018 ALCS.

What was at stake in the games these catches were made in differs drastically, obviously, but the catches themselves were similar to one person who saw both of them up-close in Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“Of course,” Cora said when asked if Verdugo’s grab on Wednesday reminded him of Benintendi’s now-famous catch. “That was a great play by Alex.”

The fact that Verdugo was in left field to make that play in the first place was Cora’s doing. As previously mentioned, the Arizona native started out in center field in Game 1 and eventually moved over to left after Kiké Hernández pinch-hit for Franchy Cordero in the sixth.

“That’s why we talk about our defense in the outfield,” said the Sox skipper. “You guys talk about moving guys around late in games. We pinch-hit with Enrique (Hernández) for Franchy and our defense is still good. Alex had a great jump and made the right decision and he caught the ball.”

By the time Wednesday’s doubleheader had ended and the Sox had wrapped up their ninth consecutive win, Verdugo had played all three outfield positions in one day, as he started Game 2 in right field.

It was not too long ago when it looked like Verdugo would be Boston’s everyday centerfielder in 2021, but he has now played every outfield position at least four times since the season began earlier this month.

For Verdugo, not having an everyday position comes as a welcome challenge as he is showing that he can play left, center, and right field at a high level regardless of the opponent or ballpark.

“I feel like at this point now, there shouldn’t really be any questions about versatility or playing any of the different positions at a lower level,” Verdugo said. “I feel like I hold myself to a high standard out there, and I hold it to a high standard in right, center, and left with making plays and throwing people out. So I don’t see any difference with the position.”

(Picture of Matt Barnes and Alex Verdugo: AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

Powered by strong performances from Alex Verdugo and Eduardo Rodriguez, Red Sox extend winning streak to 9 consecutive games with 7-1 victory over Twins to sweep doubleheader

A half-hour intermission between games during Wednesday’s doubleheader at Target Field could not slow Alex Verdugo down, as the outfielder once again played a key role in the Red Sox’ 7-1 victory over the Twins in Game 2 of the twin bill.

After making a game-saving catch for the final out of the day cap, Verdugo picked up where he left off by going 3-for-4 at the plate in the night cap.

Matched up against another tough opponent in Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, it took the Sox offense as a whole some time to get going on Wednesday, but they eventually broke through in the fifth.

There, already trailing by a run, a one-out single off the bat of Bobby Dalbec filled the bases for Franchy Cordero, who proceeded to draw a four-pitch walk to drive in his side’s first run of the night.

The Twins then pulled Berrios for Tyler Duffey, though the stalemate they had put themselves in did not last all that long.

That being the case because with two outs in the frame and the bases still loaded, Verdugo drilled a two-run, go-ahead single to right field to give the Sox their first lead of the night.

A wild pitch from Duffey allowed Cordero to score from third to make it a 4-1 contest, and two more walks once again filled the bases for Rafael Devers.

Devers, who led off the top of the fifth with a double, greeted new Twins left-handed reliever Caleb Thielbar by lacing a two-run single to right, which gave the Red Sox a 6-1 edge in the late stages.

Verdugo provided some insurance in the seventh by taking Thielbar deep to right field on a a down-and-in fastball for his second home run of the season.

The 24-year-old’s 406-foot blast put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Rodriguez pulls it together for 5 strong frames

Another game, another Red Sox starter providing five solid innings of work on Wednesday.

This time around, it was Eduardo Rodriguez’s time to shine, as the left-hander held the Twins to just one run on five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts in his second start of the young season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (51 strikes), the 28-year-old ultimately improved to 2-0 following Wednesday’s impressive showing. His next start should come against the Mariners on Tuesday.

Pair of rookies wrap things up

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock came on for his first appearance in six days and needed all of 10 pitches to retire the three hitters he faced in order in the sixth.

From there, another rookie reliever — Eduard Bazardo — got the call for the seventh inning in what was his big-league debut.

The 25-year-old righty out of Venezuela was called up from Boston’s alternate training site to serve as the club’s 27th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader.

He worked his way around two walks and picked up his first major-league strikeout en route to preserving the 7-1 victory for the Sox.

Next up: Last game of road trip

After sweeping Wednesday’s twin bill and extending their winning streak to nine consecutive games, the Red Sox will go for the four-game sweep over the reeling Twins on Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be getting the ball for Boston in the series finale, and he will be matched up against fellow righty Michael Pineda.

First pitch Thursday (also Jackie Robinson Day) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their 10th straight win.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)