Sloppy Red Sox Commit Four Errors, Can’t Avoid Four-Game Sweep in 17-8 Loss to Rays

In a game that saw a drone delay, two position players pitch, and one utilityman catch, the Red Sox were on the wrong side of a 17-8 blowout against the Rays at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Kyle Hart made his major-league debut and his first career start for Boston to close out this series and, even without fans in the stands and his brother watching from the Bleacher Bar in center field, had a tough go of things.

That being the case because in just two-plus innings of work, the rookie left-hander yielded seven runs, five of which were earned, on seven hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top of the first, when after Mike Brosseau led off with a walk and Jose Martinez reached base on a fielding error committed by Jonathan Arauz, Hart gave up a pair of RBI singles to Yandy Diaz and Willy Adames to put his side in an early two-run hole.

A scoreless second inning made it appear as though Hart was beginning to figure it out on the mound, but even after getting a one-run lead to work with, things took a turn for the worse for the southpaw in the third.

There, a leadoff walk drawn by Diaz, followed by back-to-back home runs off the bats of Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe, as well as three more hits from Adames, Manuel Margot, and Yoshi Tsutsugo, resulted in the Rays jumping out to a 6-3 advantage before Hart got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke earlier than he would have liked to.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (44 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his sinker and slider a combined 56% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses with the slider alone. He also topped out at 91.2 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Charged with his first loss in his first career start, Hart’s status is up in the air, as Roenicke told reporters postgame that the Red Sox “are not exactly sure” if the hurler will get another start.

In relief of Hart, right-hander Phillips Valdez was dispatched with three outs to get in the third. And he got those outs, but not before allowing one of the runners he inherited to score on an RBI forceout.

From there, like Hart before him, Valdez was also the recipient of some shoddy defensive work from the infielders playing behind him.

Upon giving up leadoff single to Diaz, the lanky righty induced a soft grounder off the bat of Hunter Renfroe, which was promptly fielded by the charging Rafael Devers. Rather than make an apt throw over to second for the force out though, Devers airmailed the throw into right field, allowing Diaz to reach third and Renfroe to reach first safely.

The ever-dangerous Lowe took full advantage of that mishap, as the Rays second baseman laced a sharp RBI single through the middle of the infield to drive in Diaz and make it an 8-4 second.

Just a few moments later, Devers was once again tested when Margot batted another soft grounder towards the hot corner. Once more, the 23-year-old picked the ball with his bare hand cleanly, but rushed his throw to Mitch Moreland over at first and the ball wound up by the tarp in foul territory. That, of course, gave Renfroe plenty of time to score from second. 9-4.

Tsustgo increased his side’s advantage even more with a sacrifice fly to right field, and the Rays were up by six runs just like that to no fault of Valdez, really.

That point was emphasized again an inning later, when Valdez retired the only three hitters he faced in the fifth before making way for Marcus Walden in the sixth.

Similarly enough to Hart three innings prior, Walden could not record a single out in his sixth appearance of the season. He instead served up two home runs, one of which being an absolute bomb to Kenmore Square from Renfroe, one triple, two singles, and one walk to the six hitters he faced by the time he was replaced by Josh Osich.

The lefty entered in a 16-5 game, and he kept it that way by recording the final three outs of the sixth in 1-2-3 fashion before punching out the side in a scoreless top of the seventh.

Heath Hembree made his first appearance since last Saturday by coming on for the eighth, and he fanned a pair in another shutout inning of relief.

In the ninth, we got our first and second position player pitching sightings of the season for the Red Sox when Jose Peraza took the mound after starting the game at second base. The 26-year-old allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, but then to add insult to injury, took a 105 mph comebacker from Lowe off his right knee, which marked the end of his evening.

Having to turn to another position player, Kevin Plawecki took the mound while Tzu-Wei Lin, yes, Tzu-Wei Lin, was put behind the plate.

The veteran backstop walked one and recorded two outs thanks to some nifty glove work from Alex Verdugo in left field, but it was too little too late.

On the other side of things, a Xander Bogaerts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow to begin things on Thursday.

Down by a pair of runs before even getting the chance to take their first at-bats, the Boston offense quickly erased that deficit with an RBI single from Devers and a two-run double from Plawecki.

By the time this one had reached the midway point of the third, the Sox’ deficit had grown to five runs, but the red-hot Jonathan Arauz cut into that by lacing a two-out, two-run double to right field, bringing in J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to make it a 7-4 contest. The 22-year-old’s first career extra-base hit.

An inning later, Martinez picked up from where he left off on Wednesday with another run-scoring double off Glasnow. This one came with two outs in the fifth and brought in Peraza from second. 10-5.

As it would later turn out, five runs is the closest the Red Sox would get to the Rays from the start of the sixth inning on.

By the time Boston got on the board again in the ninth, Tampa Bay already had a 17-5 edge. But at least three straight two-out hits from Michael Chavis, Kevin Pillar, and Plawecki brought in three more runs to make the final score look a little bit closer at 17-8, right?

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

Michael Chavis has nine hits in his last seven games and has bumped his OPS on the season up to .892.

Kevin Plawecki is 9-for-19 (.474) with six RBI to begin his Red Sox career.

Jonathan Arauz has eight hits in his last four games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as the club is about to embark on a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx.

It will be a bullpen game for Boston in the series opener for Boston on Friday, while New York will turn to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.

 

 

 

Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland Received Extra Motivation From Ron Roenicke Prior to Walking off Blue Jays on Sunday

The Red Sox were one out away from playing in their first extra-inning game this season against the Blue Jays.

Instead, Mitch Moreland had other ideas in mind, as he took a first-pitch 86 mph slider from Toronto reliever Thomas Hatch and tattooed it 394 feet over everything in left field for his second home run of the day, with this one being good for two runs and a walk-off, 5-3 victory.

Going into that at-bat, the 34-year-old had an incentive to walk it off for his side thanks to this season’s rules for extra-inning games. That being, each team will begin each extra inning with a runner on second base.

With that in mind, had Moreland made the last out of the ninth inning, he would have hat to been that runner at second base to begin things in the bottom half of the tenth.

Fortunately for Moreland, who has a history of leg issues, and the Red Sox, that scenario never played out in real time, but the first baseman still joked about it during his postgame media availability on Sunday.

“I got a good pep talk from (Roenicke) right before I went up there,” said Moreland. “He said if I made the last out that I had to be the base runner the next inning at second. I knew I needed to make something happen.”

Indeed, the 2018 American League All-Star made something happen, as he launched his team-leading sixth home run in a crucial moment to close out the weekend and give the Red Sox their sixth win of the 2020 season.

Mitch Moreland Comes Through With Two Homers, Walks It off for Red Sox in Series-Clinching 5-3 Victory Over Blue Jays

For the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Red Sox have won a series at home following a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fourth start of the season for Boston to close out the weekend, and he had a nice bounce-back outing coming off a somewhat rough go of things in Tampa Bay last week.

Working six innings on Sunday, the right-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

All three Toronto tallies yielded by Eovaldi were driven in by the sons of former major-leaguers, with Cavan Biggio lifting a two-out solo shot in the third, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. plating Teoscar Hernandez on a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and Bo Bichette crushing a solo homer of his own to lead things off in the sixth.

Other than those mishaps, Eovaldi was fairly effective, missed plenty of bats, and escaped the top half of the sixth inning without giving anything else up to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old flamethrower turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 100.2 mph with the pitch.

Hit with the no-decision while raising his ERA on the year to 4.09, Eovaldi will look to build on this start in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Osich got the call to begin things in the seventh, and he got the first two outs of the frame before a two-out walk of Biggio resulted in Sox manager Ron Roenicke turning to Austin Brice with the dangerous Bichette due up next.

As Roenicke had intended, Brice got the Blue Jays shortstop to ground into an inning-ending forceout, and then proceeded to punch out the side in the eighth on 17 pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes kept a 3-3 tie intact during a two-strikeout top of the ninth, and he would later be credited with his first winning decision of 2020 because of it.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against yet another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in the form of ex-Angels hurler Matt Shoemaker.

Mitch Moreland, who had faced Shoemaker seven times in his career before Sunday, got the scoring started for Boston with a 414-foot solo home run with one out in the second inning.

In the third, the Sox took advantage of sloppy defense from Shoemaker when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a single, advanced to second on a Tzu-Wei Lin sacrifice bunt, and came around to score when the Toronto starter misfielded a soft grounder off the bat of Alex Verdugo. That bizarre sequence made it a 2-1 contest in favor of the home side.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, another left-handed hitter got the best of Shoemaker, this time with Rafael Devers busting out of a cold spell and tying this one up at three runs apiece with a 449-foot blast to dead center coming off a first-pitch, 92 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate. The 23-year-old’s first Fenway big fly of 2020.

And in the ninth, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts off Jays reliever Thomas Hatch brought Moreland to the plate for a fourth time. And with the chance to win this one, the 34-year-old did not waste anytime, as he swung at the first pitch he saw from the opposing right-hander and deposited an 86 mph slider well over the Green Monster to walk it off.

Moreland’s second long ball of the day and third of the weekend put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would of course go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this walk-off victory: 

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: 7-for-21 (.333) with four homers and nine RBI.

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

Red Sox pitchers faced 35 Blue Jays hitters on Sunday. They struck out 15 of them.

Look at Rafael Devers, man.

Now a quarter of the way through the truncated season, the Red Sox are a not-so-nice 6-9 on the season. The homestand rolls on with the first of four against the Rays on Monday night.

Ron Roenicke has yet to name a starter for the series opener, but Tampa Bay will go with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who surrendered five runs over five innings his last time out against Boston on August 5.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

Red Sox Held to Just One Run in Loss to Blue Jays as Offensive Struggles Continue for Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez

For the second time this season, the Red Sox had a chance to string together their first three-game winning streak of the year. And for the second time this season, that effory fell short, this time coming in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Zack Godley made his second start and third overall appearance of the year for Boston in this one, and unlike his last time out against the Yankees looked much more poised against his former club. That being the case because over four innings pitched, the right-hander kept Toronto off the scoreboard while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Godley ran into came in his final inning of work, when he served up back-to-back two-out singles to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to put runners, which at the time put the tying run in scoring position for Randal Grichuk.

Fortunately for Boston, Godley managed to get the Blue Jays outfielder to pop out to first to strand what would have been the tying run at second and end his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (41 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his cutter and curveball a combined 79% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six total swings-and-misses with the two pitches while topping out at 91 mph with that cut-fastball.

Hit with the no decision later on, Godley was at least able to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.97. He’ll look to bring that number down even more in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

In relief of Godley, left-hander Josh Osich got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the fifth, and he faced the minimum three batters thanks to an inning-ending double play courtesy of Mitch Moreland.

From there, Phillips Valdez nearly surrendered a run in the sixth by walking one and giving up two hits, but was bailed out by Kevin Pillar in right field, who corralled a two-out single off the bat of Guerrero Jr. and gunned down old friend Travis Shaw trying to score from second on play. A rough weekend for the former Sox infielder thus far.

In the seventh, Heath Hembree looked human for the first time this season in that he allowed the Blue Jays to tie this contest up at one run apiece on a Bo Bichette two-out, run-scoring double before a six-pitch walk of Shaw filled the bases for Toronto and resulted in the right-hander getting an early hook in favor of Brasier.

Braiser came into Saturday with a 9.82 ERA on the year, but to his credit, fanned Teoscar Hernandez on three straight strikes to escape the jam and keep the score tied.

Marcus Walden was responsible for the top half of the eighth, and he saw a 1-1 tie turn into a one-run deficit after yielding a leadoff walk to Gurriel Jr., a one-out single to Grichuk, and a run-scoring groundout to Rowdy Tellez. If there’s any consolation for Walden, it’s the fact that he got out of the inning without giving anything else up, although he was ultimately charged with his first loss of 2020.

And in the ninth, left-hander Jeffrey Springs put together his second consecutive scoreless appearance, retiring three of the four hitters he faced in a quick and painless top of the ninth to hold the Blue Jays at two runs.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that featured Alex Verdugo batting leadoff for the first time was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in ex-Brewers hurler Chase Anderson.

Kicking off the scoring in the second, the Boston bats made Anderson pay for walking Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland to begin the inning by driving one of those runners in thanks to a Christian Vazquez RBI single right back up the middle moments later.

Andrew Benintendi had a chance to keep the early rally going, but instead grounded into a 4-6-3 double play before Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to left field to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that second inning was it for the Sox in terms of meaningful offensive production on Saturday, with Anderson, as well as Blue Jays relievers Wilmer Font, Anthony Kay, Jordan Romano, and Anthony Bass keeping the home side in check the rest of the way en route to a 2-1 loss for Boston.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday and left seven men on base as a team.

Andrew Benintendi was pinch-hit for by Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the fourth inning after just one at-bat.

Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez went a combined 0-for-7 with one walk and two strikeouts. The former now has an OPS of .543, the latter now has an OPS of .639.

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Would have been interesting to see the new extra-inning rules come into play on Saturday night. Maybe another time.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set on Sunday night afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Matt Shoemaker will do the same for Toronto.

The Sox’ de facto ace surrendered four earned runs over five innings of work his last time out against the Rays. He owns a lifetime 4.22 ERA and .799 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 32 innings pitched against the Blue Jays.

Shoemaker, meanwhile, has allowed seven earned runs through his first two starts and 10 2/3 innings pitched of the 2020 campaign. The 33-year-old has made three career starts at Fenway Park and has yielded seven earned runs over 18 total innings. That’s god for an ERA of 3.50.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI, but as mentioned in Saturday’s broadcast, the game will shift over to NESN at the conclusion of the Bruins game.

 

 

Alex Verdugo Clubs Two Homers Over Green Monster, Takes One Back in Right Field as Red Sox Open Series Against Blue Jays With 5-3 Victory

For the second time this season, the Red Sox are on a winning streak, as they followed a 5-0 win over the Rays on Wednesday by opening up a seven-game homestand with a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.

Ryan Weber made his third start of the season for Boston in this one, coming off back-to-back losing decisions to kick off his 2020 campaign.

Working three-plus innings on Friday, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first of those two Toronto tallies off Weber came right away in the first inning, when after nearly striking out moments before, Cavan Biggio led things off with a 397-foot solo shot to left field coming off a 3-2, 89 mph sinker down the heart of the plate.

In the third, Biggio caused more trouble, this time leading off the frame with a line-drive single and coming around to score moments later on RBI double off the bat of Bo Bichette.

The sons of former players didn’t make things easy for Weber, but he did manage to strand Bichette by getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to retire the side in the third before a leadoff single from Travis Shaw in the fourth marked the end of his evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (39 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his sinker 48% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing one swing-and-miss and topping out at 89.6 mph with the pitch.

Able to halt his personal losing streak while lowering his ERA on the year to 9.90 despite getting hit with the no-decision, Weber’s next start, if he gets one that is, would likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays next Wednesday or Thursday.

In relief of Weber, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and managed to clean up his predecessor’s mess by getting Teoscar Hernandez to pop out to second before inducing a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play off the bat of Danny Jansen.

From there, Colten Brewer tossed a perfect top of the fifth, Ryan Brasier yielded one run on two hits and one walk in the sixth, Austin Brice danced his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean seventh, Matt Barnes walked a pair yet didn’t surrender anything in the eighth thanks to a 4-6-3 twin-killing started by Xander Bogaerts, and Brandon Workman, with the help of Alex Verdugo, worked a scoreless ninth to lock down the save and the 5-3 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Tanner Roark for Toronto, who had last pitched on July 28 due his team’s series against the Phillies last week getting postponed.

Perhaps a bit rusty because of all that time off, walked four of the first five Red Sox hitters he faced, allowing Mitch Moreland to pick up an RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the first.

A Christian Vazquez double-play extinguished any shot of doing more damage off Roark right away in this one, but the Boston bats were back at it again in the second.

There, on the very second pitch of the inning, Alex Verdugo crushed a 1-0, 77 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate from Roark and deposited it 366 feet into the Monster seats in left field. His second homer in as many games put the Sox up 2-1 early on.

An inning later, another left-handed hitter got to Roark, as Moreland followed a one-out Xander Bogaerts single with a first-pitch, 427-foot two-run blast over everything in right field to make it a 4-2 contest. His fourth home run of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Verdugo put this one to bed with a leadoff solo shot over the fence in left field, his second of the contest, off Rafael Dolis.

That 331-foot shot put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

Alex Verdugo has a .927 OPS now. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the leadoff spot soon, maybe even on Saturday.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this three-game set against the Jays on Saturday night.

Veteran right-hander and one-time Blue Jay Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Chase Anderson will do the same for Toronto.

Godley, 30, surrendered five earned runs in just over three innings of work in his first start with the Sox against the Yankees last weekend. He owns a lifetime 4.70 ERA and .691 OPS against in three career outings (one start) and 7 2/3 innings pitched against the Jays.

Anderson, meanwhile, will be making his 2020 debut on Saturday after starting the season on the injured list due to an oblique strain. The 32-year-old has never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his career.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put together their first three-game winning streak of the year.

Red Sox Lineup: Ryan Weber Looks to Bounce Back in First of Three Against Blue Jays

After an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox begin a stretch of 17 games in 17 days on Friday, starting with the first of three against the 4-6 Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will make his third start of the season to kick off the weekend for Boston, while veteran righty Tanner Roark will be doing the same for Toronto.

0-2 with an 11.57 ERA and 1.253 OPS against through his first two outings of 2020, Weber will look to rebound against the Jays, who he held to one run over six innings in his first start with the Red Sox last May.

Roark, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched since July 28 due to the Blue Jays’ series against the Phillies last weekend getting postponed. In his Toronto debut, the 33-year-old limited the Nationals to one run over five innings of work.

At Fenway Park, Roark has only made one career appearance as a reliever, which came back in April 2015. He yielded one run over 3 2/3 innings pitched in that outing.

More than five years later, here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up against Roark and behind Weber to begin things on Friday:

With the right-handed Roark on the mound for the opposition, the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are all back in Boston’s lineup after all three got Wednesday off.

Also worth noting, J.D. Martinez is batting out of the three-hole once again, Alex Verdugo is starting in right field, and Jose Peraza is starting at second base.

Among these nine hitters, Xander Bogaerts has seen Roark the best without taking sample size into consideration. The 27-year-old shortstop is 3-for-3 with one home run, three RBI, and one walk in his career against the Jays starter.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win over a divisional opponent.

Red Sox Lineup: Jose Peraza Gets First Start of Season in Left Field in Series Finale Against Rays

After stranding the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to wrap up their first road-trip of the season with a bounce-back win in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his third start of the year for Boston as he is coming off his first victory in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the Mets.

In five career outings (four starts) at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old Perez owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA and .927 OPS against the Rays over 24 2/3 total innings of work.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Rays’ starter Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday night:

Among the nine hitters in Boston’s lineup, J.D. Martinez has by far seen Yarbrough the best, as the 33-year-old owns a lifetime .636/.667/1.182 slash line in 11 career at-bats against the Rays southpaw.

Also worth noting here, Jose Peraza will be making his first start in left field with the Red Sox, a position he played 33 times while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With Peraza manning left field in this one, Andrew Benintendi will start the night on the bench, while the left-handed bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland will also sit with a left-hander on the mound for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 4 in game No. 12.

Nathan Eovaldi the Latest Victim of Tropicana Field’s Catwalks as Red Sox Fall to Rays to Mark Fourth Straight Loss

In a match-up featuring two American League East clubs riding lengthy losing streaks, the Red Sox fell to the Rays on Tuesday, dropping their fourth consecutive contest while Tampa Bay broke out of a five-game skid.

Nathan Eovaldi made his third start of the season for Boston to kick off this quick two-game set, and he was moving right along, retiring 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced before running into a bit of trouble in the latter stages of the fourth.

There, with two outs, the right-hander appeared to strike out Yoshi Tstutsugo on a 3-2, 96 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate that was not swung at. Instead, home plate umpire Randy Rosenberg ruled the pitch a ball, and the Rays third baseman took his base.

Perhaps that missed call irked Eovaldi a bit, because in the very next at-bat, he served up a line-drive single to Joey Wendle to put runners at second and first. That brought Hunter Renfroe to the plate, and the Rays outfielder proceeded to poke a pop fly to foul territory on the third base side that likely would have been caught by Rafael Devers in just about any other major-league ballpark. Instead, Renfroe’s fly ball made contact with one of the catwalks that line Tropicana Field’s roof, and it was ruled a foul ball.

Given another chance with a runner in scoring position, Renfore took full advantage just moments after the ruling, as he laced a two-run double to give his side a 2-1 lead.

 

Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up after that bizarre sequence, but the bottom of the fifth did not treat him much better seeing how Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe both drove in another pair of Rays runs to make it a 4-1 contest before the Sox starter put an end to things in what would be his final inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (54 strikes) while striking out six, walking one, and plunking another, Eovaldi relied on his vaunted four-seam fastball more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses and topping out at 98.5 mph with the pitch.

Hit with his first losing decision while seeing his ERA on the year rise to 3.94, the 30-year-old hurler will get the chance to bounce back this Sunday against the Blue Jays back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Eovaldi, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he was only able to record the first two outs of the inning while putting two runners on before getting the hook in favor of left-hander Josh Osich.

Osich, making his fifth appearance of the season, fanned Rays catcher Michael Perez on five pitches to retire the side in the sixth. He also recorded the first out of the seventh before yielding a single to Lowe, which resulted in Ryan Brasier entering this contest/

Brasier, on for his third appearance of 2020, allowed a single to the first man he faced in Yandy Diaz, which allowed Lowe to advance to third and subsequently score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ji-Man Choi. The Rays went up 5-1 on that sequence.

From there, southpaw Jeffrey Springs gave up some loud outs in a perfect eighth inning of work to keep the deficit at four runs, although it didn’t matter in the end since the Red Sox fell in this one by a final score of 5-1 anyway.

On the flip side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in Rays veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who had somewhat struggled through his first two outings of the new season.

That was not the case for Morton on Tuesday though, as the only run Boston got off the 36-year-old hurler came on a Mitch Moreland solo homer with one out in the second inning.

 

Per Statcast, Moreland’s third long ball of the 2020 campaign had an exit velocity of 96 mph and traveled 368 feet off the bat to the empty seats in right field. It also gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

An inning later, it appeared as though Boston was going to add on to that lead against Morton, as Jose Peraza led the frame off with a line-drive single and three batters later, J.D. Martinez ripped a double down the left field line that easily would have scored the runner from first had it not hopped over the fence.

Instead, Martinez settled for a ground-rule double, and Xander Bogaerts flew out to center to strand the two runners in scoring position.

Morton sat down eight of the next nine Red Sox hitters who came to the plate beginning in the fourth, and had the Rays known Michael Chavis was going to pinch-hit for Moreland beforehand, they likely would have kept the righty out there for one more batter.

Rather than that happening though, Tampa Bay brought in left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, and Sox manager Ron Roenicke countered by swapping Moreland for Chavis, who proceeded to ground out to short to put an end to the inning.

Fast forward to their last chance to push across anything in the ninth, and with one out and the bases loaded, Boston’s lineup was about to turn over once more as the Rays dispatched their closer Nick Anderson.

Anderson, a 29-year-old right-hander, is about as nasty as they come, and he showed that on Tuesday by first striking Peraza out looking on six pitches, and then doing the same with Andrew Benintendi in five.

Just like that, a golden opportunity for the Red Sox to claw back late in this one had gone for naught, and 5-1 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

 

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left nine men on base as a team.

In positive news, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with two hard-hit doubles off Charlie Morton, so perhaps he has found his swing once again.

Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. was at it again in center field.

 

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this quick two-game set against the Rays on Wednesday evening.

Left-hander Martin Perez will toe the rubber for Boston, while fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Perez is coming off his best outing in a Red Sox uniform thus far, working 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball against the Mets in a winning effort last Thursday. The 29-year-old owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) and 24 2/3 innings pitched at Tropicana Field.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has got his 2020 season off to a hot start as he has allowed just two runs through his first two starts and 11 2/3 innings of work this year. The 28-year-old out of Old Dominion University has appeared in nine career games against the Red Sox, three of which have been starts. In total, he owns a lifetime 4.84 ERA when pitching against Boston.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.

Red Sox Lineup: Andrew Benintendi Back in Leadoff Spot for Series Opener Against Rays

After their first off day of the season on Monday, the Red Sox will look to end their seven-game road trip on a high note in Tampa Bay.

Facing off against the 4-6 Rays, losers of five straight, for the first of two at Tropicana Field, the 3-7 Red Sox, losers of three straight, will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound on Tuesday night.

Through his first two starts of 2020, Eovaldi owns an ERA of 2.45, a WHIP of 1.36, and a FIP of 3.59 over 11 innings of work. The Red Sox are thus far unbeaten when the 30-year-old has taken the mound this season.

In his career at the Trop, the one-time Rays hurler has surrendered 24 runs (23 earned) over nine outings (eight starts) and 47 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 4.40.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Eovaldi, as they’ll be matched up against a familiar foe in Rays veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who owns a lifetime 4.09 ERA in nine career starts against Boston:

Among the nine hitters in Tuesday’s lineup, Xander Bogaerts has by far seen Morton the best, as he owns a career .385/.407/.615 slash line in 26 career at-bats against the Rays’ starter.

Also worth noting, Andrew Benintendi is batting leadoff and starting in left field, Alex Verdugo is back in the lineup, hitting seventh, and starting in right field, and Mitch Moreland is hitting fifth and starting at first base.

I may be a bit concerned about Verdugo’s back seeing how the Rays play on artificial turf inside a dome, but maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, first pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for win No. 4 in game No. 11.

Zack Godley Gets Taken Deep Twice, Red Sox Manage Just Two Runs in Second Straight Loss to Yankees

For a second consecutive night, a Red Sox starting pitcher only managed to pitch 3 1/3 innings in a loss at the hands of the New York Yankees. Ryan Weber did so on Friday, and newcomer Zack Godley followed by doing the same on Saturday in the Bronx.

More specifically, the veteran right-hander yielded five runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with just one strikeout over those 3 1/3 innings pitched.

All five of those runs for New York off Godley came by way of the home run ball, as Aaron Judge crushed a 455-foot solo shot off the 30-year-old with one out in the first, and Gio Urshela, after seeing Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, and Gary Sanchez reach base safely to lead off the second, clobbered a 412-foot grand slam over the center field wall. Just like that, the Yankees had themselves an early five-run edge.

If there’s any positives to take away from Godley’s first start with the Red Sox, it would be the fact that he retired seven of the next eight hitters he faced after serving up that grand slam, but two straight one-out walks of Urshela and Brett Gardner in the bottom of the fourth marked the conclusion of a rather disappointing outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of a not-so nice 69 (39 strikes), Godley primarily remained on his cutter and changeup in this one, turning to the combination of pitches 69% of the time he was on the mound Saturday. He also topped out at 91 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just three times.

Hit with his first loss of the year five days after tossing four scoreless innings of relief in his Red Sox debut this past Monday, Godley’s next start, assuming he gets another one, will likely come against the Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Godley, right-hander Chris Mazza got the first call out of the Boston bullpen with two outs in the fourth, and after escaping a bit of a jam in the inning to clean up Godley’s mess, the 30-year-old actually put together a solid performance in what was his Red Sox debut.

That being the case because Mazza, who was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December, surrendered just one hit while fanning three and scattering two walks over 2 2/3 scoreless frames of work to to hold the Yankees at five runs scored heading into the seventh inning.

From there, Ryan Brasier punched out a pair in a perfect bottom half of the seventh and left-hander Josh Osich worked his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean eighth.

All in all, Sox relievers held the Bronx Bombers scoreless 4 2/3 combined innings pitched, but it was not enough in the end in what would turn out to be a 5-2 defeat.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in the form of Yankees veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who was making his first official start of 2020 after sustaining a concussion in an intrasquad game last month.

With that in mind, Tanaka did not stick around very long in this one, but the Boston bats were able to get to the 31-year-old hurler prior to his early departure.

That came in the top half of the third inning, when after falling behind by five runs early on, the top of the Sox lineup got itself together for Tanaka’s second time through the order, as a one-out walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi followed by a Kevin Pillar single put runners at first and second.

Rafael Devers, the next man up, was unable to do anything with that seeing how he flew out to center for the second out of the inning, but Xander Bogaerts did not let a prime scoring opportunity go to waste, as he drilled a two-run double to the opposite field that was just a few feet shy of being a three-run homer.

Still, Bogaerts’ extra-base hit, which was later ruled just an RBI double on account of a missed catch error committed by Gleyber Torres, brought the Sox to within three runs of the Yankees at 5-2.

A las, just like the Boston bullpen, the New York bullpen didn’t give an inch in this one, either.

Tanaka was relieved by left-hander Luis Avilan after giving up that Bogaerts two-base hit, and the Yankees wouldn’t have to look back from there.

The only other time the Red Sox sent more than four batters to the plate the rest of the way came in the top half of the ninth, when Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tzu-Wei Lin reaching base with two outs in the inning off David Hale brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Benintendi.

With a skidding Benintendi at the dish in a rather huge spot, Sox manager Ron Roenicke had the option to go with J.D. Martinez off the bench. But, considering the fact he wanted the slugger to get the entire day off, he stuck with Benintendi, who proceeded to punch out on four straight strikes to kill the rally and this one with a final score of 5-2.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey:

The Red Sox are averaging just over three runs per game on this road trip. Poor pitching aside, that’s not going to get the job done most nights.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend series against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball.

Right-hander Austin Brice will get the start and likely serve as the opener for Boston, while left-hander James Paxton will do the same for New York.

Brice, 28, has never started a game at the major-level before in his career, but he does have 114 career minor-league starts under his belt.

Paxton, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 2.88 ERA and .604 OPS against in eight career starts against the Red Sox spanning 50 total innings pitched.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for win No. 4 in game No. 10 on the young season.