Bobby Dalbec comes through with 2 clutch hits, Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers both homer as Red Sox come back to defeat Twins, 4-2, and pick up seventh straight win

An unexpected off-day on Monday and frigid, snowy conditions in Minneapolis on Tuesday could not halt the Red Sox’ early-season momentum, as the club extended its winning streak to seven consecutive games following a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Twins at Target Field.

Improving to 7-3 to start the 2021 campaign, the Sox become the first team since the 1991 Mariners to begin a season with a losing streak of three-plus games and follow it by winning seven-plus games in a row.

Tuesday’s win in Minnesota was not easy to come by. The Sox were held off the scoreboard until the fifth inning and did not plate the go-ahead run until their half of the eighth.

Bobby Dalbec was responsible for the two-most important Boston runs of the afternoon.

The 25-year-old slugger came into the week in the midst of a 3-for-25 slump to begin his first season in the majors, but came through in the clutch during his first visit to Target Field by driving in the tying and go-ahead runs on a pair of RBI doubles in the fifth and eighth innings.

Christian Arroyo was the one who scored on both of those two-base hits from Dalbec. The young second baseman enjoyed a successful day at the plate batting out of the eight-hole, as he he went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored.

Arroyo also turned a nifty double play in the sixth when he fielded a 105 mph scorcher off the bat of Andrelton Simmons while playing in a defensive shift behind second base.

Renfroe gets on the board while Devers stays hot

Before Dalbec’s heroics, the Red Sox first got on the board courtesy of Hunter Renfroe.

With two outs in the top half of the fifth, the right-handed power threat that is Renfroe took a 1-1 slider from Twins starter J.A. Happ 416 feet deep to dead center field for his first home run in a Sox uniform.

Fast forward to the ninth, after Boston had already taken a 3-2 lead over Minnesota, and Rafael Devers wrapped things up by extending his homer-streak to four consecutive games.

The 24-year-old deposited a 1-2, 89 mph slider from Twins reliever Jorge Alcala 404 feet over the left field wall — with an exit velocity of 108.4 mph off the bat — for his fifth big fly of the season.

Perez gets off to shaky start, but pulls through with five strong frames

Martin Perez’s second start of the year looked like it was going to be a short one, for the veteran southpaw allowed four of the first six hitters he faced on Tuesday to reach base.

Command issues for Perez resulted in the Twins jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first, but the Venezuelan-born hurler was able to settle in once he got more adjusted to the freezing temperatures.

That being the case because over his final four innings of work, Perez only faced more than four hitters in one frame on one occasion en route to keeping his former team off the board through the end of the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (49 strikes), Perez’s next start should come against the White Sox back at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Bullpen holds steady, preserves winning streak

Between Hirokazu Sawamura, Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Matt Barnes, the Red Sox bullpen combined to toss four scoreless, one-hit innings of relief on Wednesday afternoon.

Barnes, in particular, was sharp once again as the right-hander needed all of 14 pitches to retire the side in order in the ninth, pick up his first save of the season, and preserve his side’s 4-2 series-opening win.

Next up: Straight doubleheader on Wednesday

The Red Sox and Twins will be playing a straight doubleheader on Wednesday to make up for Monday’s game being postponed.

Each game of the twin-bill will be seven innings long with the second contest beginning approximately 30 minutes after the first one ends.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston in Game 1, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Kenta Maeda.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, meanwhile, will start Game 2 for the Sox. He will be opposed by Twins ace right-hander Jose Berrios.

First pitch of the first game Wednesday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their eighth straight win, and then their ninth if they come out on top in Game 1.

(Picture of Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox likely to call up pitching prospect Eduard Bazardo for Wednesday’s doubleheader against Twins

The Red Sox and Twins will play the middle two games of their four-game series at Target Field in a straight doubleheader on Wednesday. Each game will be seven innings long with the second one starting approximately 30 minutes after the first one ends (first pitch of the first game is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time).

Because of Wednesday’s twin-bill, both the Sox and Twins will be permitted to carry an extra player on their major-league roster for both games.

An official announcement has yet to be made by the Sox, but it would appear that right-handed pitching prospect Eduard Bazardo will be the 27th man for Boston on Wednesday.

Per his Instagram story, Bazardo, who began the season at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester, boarded a flight Tuesday morning from Boston to Nashville, then another one from Nashville to Minneapolis.

Additionally, Red Sox manager Alex Cora hinted that the team would call up a right-handed pitcher for Wednesday’s doubleheader when speaking with reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re talking about it. We’re going to go with a pitcher unless something weird happens today,” Cora said via Zoom when asked if a decision has been made as to who will be added to Boston’s roster. “But most likely we’ll add a pitcher.”

Minnesota boasts a right-handed heavy lineup that usually includes the likes of Nelson Cruz, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano, among others. Because of this, Boston seems keen on adding a right-hander to counter that potent offensive potential from the same side of the plate.

“We’re going to talk a little bit after this with [Dave Bush] and with Chaim [Bloom],” explained Cora. “And we’ll make the best decision for this team. [The Twins] are very right-handed. Their best hitters right now are right-handed hitters. So we’ll make decisions based on that.”

Bazardo, 25, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the 28th-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The Venezuelan hurler was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November on the strength of an impressive showing at the team’s fall instructional league in Fort Myers.

At fall instructs, Bazardo “was the most impressive arm” there, according to SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall.

“At Instructs, all of Bazardo’s stuff was improved, as he sat 93-97 mph and often pitched at 95-96 with, as one scout called it, a ‘silly’ curveball,'” Cundall wrote of the young righty back in November. “His curveball elicited some horrible swings, and its spin rate topped 3000 rpm, which is elite. His fastball is now a plus-to-better pitch, and his curveball is solidly a plus pitch as well. His control has always been good, but he showed improved command of both his fastball and curveball. Bazardo also mixed in an occasional fringy splitter, which gave hitters something else to think about and another pitch in a different velocity band to keep them honest.”

Originally signed by the Red Sox out of Venezuela for just $8,000 in 2014, Bazardo owns a lifetime 2.55 ERA and 1.04 WHIP over 100 total appearances (31 starts) and 310 innings of work across six minor-league levels since making his professional debut in June 2015.

This past spring, the 6-foot, 190 pound hurler allowed one earned run on two hits, two walks, and four strikeouts over four Grapefruit League appearances spanning five innings pitched.

If Bazardo is indeed called up on Wednesday, his stay with the Sox likely won’t last too long considering the fact the team’s roster will revert back to 26 players once the doubleheader is over.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra could prove to be underrated member of team’s 2021 international signing class

The Red Sox made a splash in the international free-agent market this winter by signing Dominican outfield prospect Miguel Bleis for $1.5 million back in January.

Appearing on the SoxProspects.com podcast with Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall in February, Red Sox executive vice president and assistant general manager Eddie Romero described Bleis as a “premium centerfield talent” who has “got all five tools” in addition to “surprising power” and “an absolute hose of an arm.”

While Bleis has stolen the headlines and has already shot up the prospect charts (Boston’s No. 22 prospect according to Baseball America), there is another 17-year-old outfielder the Sox signed out of the Dominican who deserves some attention as well.

That outfield prospect’s name? Armando Sierra, who hails from the same city as fellow outfielder Gilberto Jimenez and right-hander Denyi Reyes (San Cristobal).

In his review of what the Red Sox have done thus far during the 2021 international signing period, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as his ‘sleeper [to] watch.’

“Armando Sierra is a corner outfielder from the Dominican Republic with a chance to hit and hit for power,” Badler wrote of the right-handed hitter last week. “He’s a physically imposing 6-foot-3, 210 pounds with an advanced approach to hitting for his age, keeping the bat head in the hitting zone for a long time that helps him drive the ball with power to all fields. He’s a limited runner whose offensive game will drive his value.” 

Sierra, who signed with the Sox for a bonus of $150,000 on January 15, does not turn 18 until next January.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero recently told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.

“Since his signing, Sierra has lost close to 20 pounds while gaining muscle working out at our academy,” added Romero. “He continues to improve defensively and is also featuring an above average arm (which was not the case during his scouting trials).”

The young outfielder will likely begin the 2021 minor-league season with one of the Red Sox’ rookie-level, Dominican Summer League teams. In fact, as Romero indicated, he’s already training at the team’s Dominican academy in El Toro, a town just outside of Santo Domingo.

Other recent Red Sox international signees highlighted by Badler include catcher Enderso Lira, right-handers Alvaro Mejias and Jedixson Paez, and shortstops Luis Ravelo and Ahbram Liendo.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez named American League Player of the Week

Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez has been named American League Player of the Week for the week of April 5-11, Major League Baseball announced Monday.

Over the course of five games against the Rays and Orioles this past week, Martinez slashed a sizzling .458/.500/1.125 with four home runs and 13 RBI.

The 33-year-old slugger missed one of his team’s six games as a result of being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on Saturday, but that absence would wind up being very short.

Returning to Boston’s lineup for their series finale against Baltimore on Sunday, Martinez went 4-for-6 at the plate while clubbing three home runs, collecting four RBI, and scoring four times.

By capping off his weekend with that dominant performance at Camden Yards, the three-time All-Star became just the fifth player in major-league history to put together a three-homer game for three different teams (Tigers, Diamondbacks, Red Sox).

Taking this past weekend’s showing into consideration, Martinez now owns a slash line of .472/.500/1.083 to go along with five home runs and 16 RBI through his first eight games and 38 plate appearances of the young season.

“He’s locked in, you can tell,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Martinez’s torrid start. “He is walking around talking hitting. This is a guy I saw in ‘18 and ‘19, he has an idea of what he wants to do. He doesn’t deviate from his process. I know he talked about last year and he’s on a mission to prove people wrong, but it was only 60 games. He was one month away from getting his numbers right. Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is.”

For as dismal a 2020 campaign Martinez had (.680 OPS in 54 games), the first week-plus of the 2021 season has been encouraging to say the least.

Despite the record-setting start in which he has recorded an extra-base hit in eight straight games, though, Martinez himself tries not to pay too much attention to it.

“Honestly, for me, I don’t even notice it. I really try not to,” he said on Sunday. “You guys know how I am. I repeat the same things over and over to you guys. I think the moment you’re aware of it, you’re no longer in it. So I try to not be aware of it and just focus on the small tasks. Focus on my game plan off certain pitchers and what I’m trying to do. That’s how I kind of control the whole thing.”

Martinez taking home American League Player of the Week honors marks the first time a member of the Red Sox has done so since Rafael Devers in August 2019.

On the National League side of things, Padres right-hander Joe Musgrove was the recipient of Player of the Week honors after throwing the first no-hitter in franchise history against the Rangers on Friday.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Alex Cora on Monday’s Red Sox-Twins game getting postponed: ‘It was one of those that everybody understood the decision’

When the Red Sox arrived in Minnesota on Sunday following a two-hour flight from Baltimore, Sox manager Alex Cora went to bed not knowing if his team opening a four-game series against the Twins on Monday was a sure thing.

That being the case because on Sunday afternoon, Daunte Wright — a 20-year-old Black man — was fatally shot by a police officer at a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis that is just 10 miles north of Target Field.

The shooting, which has since been ruled “an accidental discharge” by Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon, comes at a time where much of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is already on edge due to the ongoing trial involving former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murdering George Floyd.

That trial, which is taking place in a Minneapolis courtroom, coinciding with Sunday’s tragic events led to state officials announcing a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting on Monday for much of the Twin Cities region.

Because of that curfew, the Twins moved the start times of all four of their games against the Red Sox to the afternoon.

It appeared as though Monday’s game between Boston and Minnesota was going to happen as scheduled, as uniformed players were on the field and both starting pitchers were playing catch in the outfield.

However, just a few minutes before first pitch, the Twins postponed the game and later announced that it would not be played “out of respect for the tragic events that occurred yesterday in Brooklyn Center.”

Twins president David St. Peter further explained the decision to postpone Monday’s contest when speaking with reporters shortly thereafter.

“Ultimately, there’s a lot of factors that go into the decision that we made here to not play, but I can assure you the decision was not made in a silo,” St. Peter said. “It was made after consultation with a variety of individuals and organizations, including local and state law enforcement, local and state leaders, Major League Baseball and the Boston Red Sox. At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that the right thing to do was for us to not play today rooted in respect for the Wright family but also rooted in our mind in the safety of all of those involved in today’s game against the Red Sox — our fans, our staff, our players and the broader community.”

By the time Cora was made available to the media shortly after 4 p.m. eastern time, the Sox skipper was already back in his hotel room. As previously mentioned, he thought Monday’s game might get postponed based off what happened Sunday night.

“I thought about it last night,” Cora said via Zoom. “But everything was normal this morning. We even took batting practice, you saw that. Obviously, you think about stuff like that and you saw what happened last year throughout the league. And I thought about it, but nobody mentioned anything in the morning. So we just kept it quote-unquote business as usual.”

Keeping it business as usual, Cora and the Red Sox arrived at Target Field on Monday morning and were making their typical gameday preparations.

About a half four before first pitch was scheduled to take place, Cora was already in the visitor’s dugout getting ready to go, then Twins manager Rocco Baldelli informed him that Monday’s game had been called.

“I get to the dugout for a 1:05 game at 12:30, so I was locked in with my game notes, going through videos, and all that stuff in the dugout,” Cora explained. “So it had to be at 12:40, I think. I was locked in on the game, to be honest with you.”

Upon getting the word from Baldelli and the Twins, the Sox held a meeting in the visitor’s clubhouse to go over everything that had happened and what could happen next.

“We got everyone in the clubhouse, we explained the situation, and we left the clubhouse around 2 o’clock,” Cora said. “The meeting was very simple. We don’t have too many details as far as everything. But it was one of those that everybody understood the decision.”

As far as what could happen next, Cora described the Red Sox as being in a “waiting pattern” as they await a decision from the Twins and Major League Baseball in regards to the status of the rest of this week’s games.

“I know Chaim [Bloom] has been in touch with the Twins, with the front office, with everybody that is involved with MLB,” said Cora. “So we just have to be patient and wait on what they decide for tomorrow and the upcoming days.”

Before he touched on anything relating to Monday’s decision, Cora took the time to send his thoughts and prayers to the Wright family.

“First things first, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wright family,” Cora said. “Obviously a very tough situation — sad situation. Especially in this area, it’s been tough the last 12 months with everything that is going on. So from that end, our thoughts and prayers.”

(Picture of Alex Cora: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Monday’s Red Sox-Twins game postponed

Monday afternoon’s game between the Red Sox and Twins at Target Field has been postponed. The decision was not weather-related, but was instead for safety purposes.

The Twins released the following statement as to why Monday’s contest was postponed.

(Picture of Target Field: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana ‘in a good place physically’ while recovering from foot infection, Alex Cora says

Danny Santana has recently returned to full baseball activities in Fort Myers, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Monday.

Santana, who signed a minor-league deal with the Sox last month, had been sidelined since the middle of March due to a right foot infection, which required a stay in the hospital.

“Danny started his whole baseball stuff like a week ago,” Cora said during his pregame media availability. “He’s down there in Fort Myers… He feels good. We’ve been texting a lot the last few days. He’s in a good place physically. Just going through his spring training. Hopefully, he can get some at-bats soon and see where he’s at.”

Prior to signing with Boston earlier this spring, Santana had spent the first seven years of his big-league career with the Twins, Braves, and Rangers.

Most recently with the Rangers, the 30-year-old utilityman mashed 28 home runs and collected 81 RBI while posting an .857 OPS in 2019, but struggled to the tune of a .511 OPS over 15 games last season.

Texas non-tendered and effectively made Santana a free-agent in December.

While he has proven to be inconsistent at times throughout his career, the Dominican native has also proven to be quite versatile, as he has major-league experience at every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

This aspect of his game, as well as the fact that he is a switch-hitter, likely made Santana appealing to the Sox. So much so that it appeared as though the 5-foot-11, 2013 pounder had the inside track on making Boston’s Opening Day roster prior to going down with that foot infection.

Now that Santana is working his way back to full strength, though, the Red Sox could consider a change in their roster construction sometime in the not so distant future.

Boston is currently carrying 14 pitchers and 12 position players on its 26-man major-league roster, but Cora seemed to leave the door open to carrying 13 pitchers and 13 position players somewhere down the line depending on how the starting rotation holds up.

“As of now, we feel comfortable with where we’re at having one extra arm, because it helps us” said the Sox skipper. “Having Garrett [Whitlock] and Matt [Andriese] that can give us multiple innings in high-leverage situations or close games is good for the staff. So we’ll talk about it. We’ll talk about it and see what we decide.”

(Picture of Danny Santana: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez hits 3 home runs against Orioles: ‘Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is,’ Alex Cora says

J.D. Martinez woke up in Baltimore on Sunday morning without knowing if he would be in the Red Sox lineup later that afternoon.

After coming down with cold-like symptoms on Saturday, Martinez was placed in Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocol, which forced him to miss that night’s contest against the Orioles.

The 33-year-old took a rapid and PCR test on Saturday and tested negative for COVID both times, which ultimately cleared him to return to action on Sunday.

Still, for Martinez, who is asthmatic and as a result is vulnerable to high pollen counts, the last two days or so have been frustrating to say the least.

“It’s human nature. You’re going to feel a little thing here and there,” Martinez said during his postgame media availability Sunday. “It’s kind of the world we’re living in right now where every little thing everyone thinks is COVID. So it was frustrating, obviously, not being able to play yesterday. But I know we did everything we could to have me back today.”

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “pollen is a common allergen that can cause allergic asthma.”

On Saturday, the pollen count in Baltimore was 9.7, which is regarded as a high count. On Sunday, the pollen count fell to 6.6, which is regarded as medium, per Pollen.com.

“With the allergies here, the pollen has been like ridiculously high the last few days,” said Martinez. “It’s like a 10 out of 10, which I think is really messing me up. And my lungs are just always sensitive to sudden changes and stuff just because I have pretty bad asthma. Besides that, I felt OK. Obviously it was still bugging me. Still is. Kind of ready to get on the plane and go somewhere else.”

Despite dealing with allergies, Martinez picked up where he left off on Friday by clubbing three home runs and collecting four RBI as part of a 4-6 effort at the plate while batting out of the three-hole Sunday.

The Red Sox topped the Orioles by a final score of 14-9 to complete the three-game sweep over their division rivals at Camden Yards.

The two times he did not reach base, Martinez struck out, once against Orioles starter Jorge Lopez in the top half of the first and again against O’s reliever Paul Fry in the ninth.

“After that first at-bat, I felt like everything sped up on me,” Martinez explained. “And then I went to the cage and was like, ‘All right, we need to dial this up. We need to get it going. Wake up.’ After that, I felt a lot more in-control and I felt pretty good.”

Martinez was indeed in control from that point forward, as the three home runs he hit off Lopez, Mac Scelorer, and Tyler Wells traveled 372 feet, 382 feet, and 430 feet, respectively.

By the time he came to the plate for his final at-bat of the afternoon, Martinez was gunning to put together his first four-homer game since 2017 and adopted an aggressive approach in order to do so. He wound up striking out on a 3-2 slider from Fry that was well below the strike zone.

“Yeah, pretty much,” responded Martinez when asked if he was swinging at that full-count pitch regardless of its location. “In that moment I was like, ‘I really don’t think he’s going to throw me a strike, but I have to take the chance, just to at least foul it off if it’s a really good pitch. Hopefully he hangs something.”

Fry did not wind up hanging something and Martinez wound up fanning as a result, but the right-handed hitter still managed to extend his extra-base hit streak to nine consecutive games well before doing so.

Through his first eight games of the season now, the three-time All-Star is slashing .472/.500/1.083 with a team-high five homers and 16 RBI over 38 plate appearances.

“He’s locked in. You can tell,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Martinez’s hot start to the 2021 campaign. “He is walking around talking hitting. This is a guy I saw in ‘18 and ‘19, he has an idea of what he wants to do. He doesn’t deviate from his process… He studies himself, he studies the opposition, and he’s in a good place.

“I know he talked about last year and he’s on a mission to prove people wrong, but it was only 60 games,” added Cora. “He was one month away from getting his numbers right. Right now, he’s locked in and I’m glad he’s swinging the bat the way he is.”

For Martinez, though, what he is doing at the plate right now is nothing out of the ordinary from his point of view.

“Honestly, for me, I don’t even notice it. I really try not to,” he said. “You guys know how I am. I repeat the same things over and over to you guys. I think the moment you’re aware of it, you’re no longer in it. So I try to not be aware of it and just focus on the small tasks. Focus on my game plan off certain pitchers and what I’m trying to do. That’s how I kind of control the whole thing.”

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers combine for 6 homers as Red Sox tee off on Orioles, 14-9, to complete sweep and pick up sixth straight win

In the span of a week, the Red Sox of have gone from getting swept by the Orioles in their ballpark to sweeping the Orioles in their own ballpark.

Following a 14-7 victory over Baltimore at Camden Yards on Sunday, Boston extended its winning streak to six consecutive games after sweeping the first leg of their seven-game road trip.

J.D. Martinez leads the way with three homers

After being held out of action on Saturday while in Major League Baseball’s COVID-19 protocol, J.D. Martinez made his return to the Red Sox lineup felt upon getting reinstated from the COVID-related injured list on Sunday.

The 33-year-old slugger went 4-for-6 with three home runs, four runs driven in, and four runs scored batting out of the three-hole.

The three homers, which came off Orioles starter Jorge Lopez and relievers Mac Sceroler and Taylor Wells, traveled 372 feet, 382 feet, and 430 feet, respectively.

Martinez’s first multi-homer game of the year and his first three-homer game as a member of the Red Sox brought the right-handed hitter’s season home run total up to five.

Devers homers twice, Verdugo once

While Martinez led the way for the Sox in the power department on Sunday, the three-time All-Star was not alone in regards to taking the ball out of the park.

That being the case because a pair of left-handed hitters — Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo — combined to go deep three times off O’s pitching to close out the weekend.

Devers, who came into the day having homered in each of his team’s first two games of the weekend, extended that personal streak to three games by clubbing a 424-foot two-run shot off Sceroler in the fifth.

The 24-year-old also crushed a solo homer 439 feet to deep center field off Orioles right-hander in the eighth to up his season total to four.

Verdugo, meanwhile, actually got the Sox on the board first when after Franchy Cordero and Enrique Hernandez led off the third with a pair of singles, the 24-year-old outfielder got revenge on Lopez after getting plunked in the leg in his first trip to the plate.

He got his revenge on Lopez by depositing a 400-foot three-run blast to the opposite field.

Verdugo’s first big fly of the 2021 campaign gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. Martinez would follow with his first of three homers on the day, and Boston would not have to look back from there.

Pivetta remains unbeaten

Nick Pivetta has yet to lose a start as a member of the Red Sox. That trend continued on Sunday when the 28-year-old allowed four earned runs on seven hits, three walks, and seven strikeouts over six innings of work.

To say things went smoothly for Pivetta in this one would be a stretch, but the right-hander was able to limit the damage by putting his body on the line and tagging Freddy Galvis out at home for the final out of the third inning.

From there, Pivetta seemed to be on his way to putting six innings of one-run ball but a former Phillies teammate of his had different plans.

With one out and runners on the corners in the sixth, Maikel Franco took Pivetta deep to left for a three-run shot.

That presumably left a sour taste in Pivetta’s mouth, but the 6-foot-5 hurler was able to finish the inning and later picked up his second winning decision of the season. His next start should come against the White Sox back at Fenway Park on Friday.

Bullpen bends, but does not break

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Brice walked the first two hitters he faced in the seventh before serving up a three-run blast to Trey Mancini.

Hirokazu Sawamura had to come on to finish the seventh, and the righty worked his way around a two-out walk over a scoreless frame of relief in the eighth as well.

Phillips Valdez wrapped things up, though he gave up two runs needed 36 pitches (21 strikes) to do so and preserve the 14-19 victory for his side.

Next up: Perez vs. Happ

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head to Minnesota to begin a four-game series against the dangerous Twins.

Monday’s series opener will include a starting pitching matchup that features two veteran left-handers, with Martin Perez getting the ball for Boston and J.A. Happ doing the same for Minnesota.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox will be going for their seventh straight win.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo, Franchy Cordero, and Enrique Hernandez: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rafael Devers turns impressive double play to get Red Sox out of early trouble Sunday

Hours after making a game-saving defensive play with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Saturday’s game against the Orioles, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was at it again with his glove on Sunday.

With Nick Pivetta on the mound for Boston, D.J. Stewart at first base following a leadoff single, and Maikel Franco at the plate with no outs in the bottom of the second, Devers’ quick reflexes were truly his ally on this particular play.

On a 1-1 slider at the top of the zone from Pivetta, Franco laced a line-drive that had an exit velocity of 103.6 mph and was destined to land in shallow left field were it not for Devers.

Already playing well behind the third-base bag, the 24-year-old — with his back facing home plate — quickly scurried to his left, snagged Franco’s screamer on the back-hand for a forceout, then had the intuition to turn, line up his feet, and make a cross-diamond throw over to first.

Stewart, having taken a few steps off of first, was now forced to retreat back to the bag, but he was unable to do so in a timely manner and was instead doubled up on Devers’ hurl and some fine footwork from first baseman Bobby Dalbec.

For the Red Sox, Devers’ improved play at the hot corner as of late is an encouraging sign given how he struggled out of the gate defensively.

“He’s been doing a good job the last few days,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the young third baseman Saturday night. “It was a rough start early on but he’s made better decisions and we’re very happy with the way he’s been playing.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)