Red Sox’ Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Nathan Eovaldi all recognized in American League MVP voting

A trio of Red Sox teammates were recognized in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting on Thursday night, as revealed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network.

While Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani took home AL MVP honors unanimously, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers finished 11th, shortstop Xander Bogaerts finished 13th, and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi finished 15th.

Devers finished 11th in voting by receiving one fifth-place vote, two sixth-place votes, one seventh-place vote, and eighth 10th-place votes. In total, the 25-year-old netted himself 28 voting points.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Bogaerts finished 13th in voting after receiving a pair of ninth-place votes and three 10th-place votes, which translates to seven voting points in total. The 29-year-old Aruban was selected to his third career All-Star Game roster this summer.

Over 144 games in what was his ninth season with the Sox, Bogaerts batted .295/.370/.493 to go along with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBIs, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts in 603 total trips to the plate.

Both Devers and Bogaerts won their respective first and fourth career Silver Slugger Awards last week.

Eovaldi, on the other hand, just finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting on Tuesday and now further solidifies what was a breakout campaign in 2021 after receiving one seventh-place vote in the MVP race.

Like Devers, Eovaldi was named an All-Star for the first time in his career earlier this summer. The 31-year-old righty posted posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP with 195 strikeouts and 35 walks across 182 1/3 innings of work. Among qualified American League starters this year, he ranked ninth in strikeout rate (25.5%), first in walk rate (4.6%), first in FIP, third in xFIP (3.48), and first in fWAR (5.6), per FanGraphs.

The last Red Sox player to win American League MVP was Mookie Betts, who did so in 2018.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi finishes 4th in American League Cy Young voting

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting on Wednesday night, as revealed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network.

Eovaldi, who was not named a finalist for the award last week, appeared on 19 of the 30 ballots while receiving eight third-place votes, six fourth-place votes, and five fifth-place votes.

Blue Jays left-hander ultimately won his first career Cy Young Award on Wednesday by receiving 29 of 30 first-place votes and finishing with 207 total voting points. Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole finished in second-place after receiving 123 points, White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn finished in third-place after receiving 48 points, Eovaldi finished in fourth-place after receiving 41 points, and White Sox left-hander Carlos Rodon finished in fifth-place after receiving 34 points.

From there, Athletics right-hander and former Red Sox prospect Frankie Montas placed sixth (21 points), Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. placed seventh (14 points), White Sox closer Liam Hendriks placed eighth (10 points), Blue Jays right-hander Jose Berrios placed ninth (8 points), Athletics right-hander Chris Bassit placed 10th (2 points), and White Sox righty Lucas Giolito and Angels closer Raisel Iglesias placed 11th and 12th by receiving one point each.

For Eovaldi, this marks the first time that he has received Cy Young votes of any kind over the course of his 10-year big-league career.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, the 31-year-old stepped up and emerged as Boston’s true ace while Chris Sale was still recovering from Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez was struggling to find his rhythm.

Over a team-high 32 starts, Eovaldi posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP to go along with 195 strikeouts and 35 walks across 182 1/3 innings of work. Among qualified American League starters this year, the hard-throwing righty ranked ninth in strikeout rate (25.5%), first in walk rate (4.6%), first in FIP, third in xFIP (3.48), and first in fWAR (5.6), per FanGraphs.

Since helping the Red Sox win a World Series title in 2018 and signing a four-year, $68 million contract that winter to remain in Boston, Eovaldi has risen to the occasion on and off the field as he also serves as the club’s Jimmy Fund captain.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Eovaldi is the highest Red Sox finisher in Cy Young voting since Sale finished fourth in 2018. The last Boston hurler to win the award was right-hander Rick Porcello, who did so following an exceptional 2016 campaign.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Was Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi snubbed in American League Cy Young Award race?

The three finalists for the American League Cy Young Award were unveiled by the Baseball Writers Association of America on MLB Network on Monday night. Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was not one of them.

Instead, Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole, White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn, and Blue Jays left-hander Robbie Ray were announced as the three finalists for the award. The winner will be revealed on November 17 at 6 p.m. eastern time.

While Cole, Lynn, and Ray are each up for their first career Cy Young Awards, Eovaldi would have been as well — and rightfully so.

2021 marked Eovaldi’s third full season with the Sox after coming over in a July 2018 trade with the Rays and signing a lucrative four-year, $68 million contract extension later that winter to remain in Boston.

Across 32 starts this year, the 31-year-old righty posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP to go along with 195 strikeouts to 35 walks over 182 1/3 total innings of work while emerging as Boston’s true ace.

Among qualified American League pitchers this season, Eovaldi ranked fourth in innings pitched, first in walks per nine innings (1.73), first in walk rate (4.6%), eighth in ERA, first in FIP (2.79), third in xFIP (3.48), fourth in SIERA (3.60), third in xERA (3.37), and first in fWAR (5.6), per FanGraphs.

Still, despite putting up those positive results, Eovaldi was seemingly snubbed from the American League Cy Young race without making it to the final group of three that consists of Cole, Lynn, and Ray.

If you were to include Eovaldi in there and make it a group of four, the fireballer would lead the pack in several categories including fWAR, FIP, walks per nine innings, and walk rate.

That being said, Eovaldi also produced the highest ERA and BABIP (.326), or batting average on balls in play, of the group. This can mainly be attributed to bad luck and poor defense being played behind him. The Red Sox did lead the American League in errors (108), after all.

Even while taking all those points into consideration, Eovaldi — who turns 32 in February — was not named a Cy Young finalist at the end of the day. He will still appear on plenty of ballots come next Tuesday, but may have ultimately deserved more recognition for the impressive 2021 campaign he just put together.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ offensive struggles continue in 9-1 blowout loss to Astros in Game 5 of ALCS

Momentum can be a fickle thing, particularly when it comes to postseason baseball.

Two days ago, it appeared as though the Red Sox had all the momentum after taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

Less than 48 hours later, it is the Astros who now have all the momentum after they took their second straight game from the Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 9-1 in Game 5, which puts them in a three-games-to-two hole as this ALCS heads back to Houston.

Playing at Fenway Park for possibly the last time this year, the Red Sox got what they needed out of Chris Sale, though the left-hander’s final line may not reflect that.

Sale, making his third start of the postseason, allowed four runs — only two of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

After retiring the side in order to begin his day, Sale kicked off the top half of the second by serving up a towering solo shot to Yordan Alvarez on a first-pitch 94 mph heater that wasn’t in the strike zone.

Still, the Astros went up 1-0 on Alvarez’s home run, but Sale did not let that put a damper on things for him, as he rebounded and sat down the next seven batters he faced in order.

With one out in the fourth inning of what was still a one-run contest that favored Houston, Sale issued an eight-pitch walk to Alex Bregman that was followed by another hard-hit single from Alvarez that put runners at the corners.

Again, Sale did not back down and instead fanned Carlos Correa on three straight strikes before doing the very same to Kyle Tucker on four pitches to escape the jam.

Upon getting Tucker to fan on a 98.5 mph four-seam fastball — his fastest pitch of the night — that was up and out of the zone, an energetic Sale pumped his left fist, put his glove to his face, and let out a fiery scream while heading back to his dugout.

Sale’s evening was not done yet, however, as the lefty came back out for the fifth and put up another zero. At that point, Sale had gone through the dangerous Astros lineup twice and managed to avoid any serious damage aside from the Alvarez home run.

With his pitch count rising and Houston’s batting order flipping back over, Sale took the mound for the sixth and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve.

Michael Brantley then made matters worse when he reached base safely on a missed catch error committed by Kyle Schwarber at first base, which allowed Altuve to advance all the way up to third.

A groundout off the bat of Bregman moved Brantley up to second and kept the rally alive for Alvarez, who the Red Sox decided to pitch to despite first base being open.

Alvarez made Boston pay dearly for that mistake, as he proceeded to hit Sale hard yet again when he laced a two-run double down the left field line that plated both Altuve and Brantley.

Suddenly down 3-0, Sox manager Alex Cora quickly turned to his bullpen, giving Sale the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier. Brasier, in turn, yielded a two-out single to Tucker that put runners at the corners before Yuli Gurriel drove in another on an RBI double down the right field line.

Jose Siri made sure to keep it going by blooping a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field that gave the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead before the sixth inning mercifully came to an end.

By the time the third out of the sixth was recorded, the book was officially closed on Sale’s outing while Brasier himself was charged with two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

In the top of the seventh, Hansel Robles took over for Brasier, but was unable to get through the inning. The right-handed reliever yielded a leadoff single to Altuve and allowed the speedy second baseman to advance an additional 90 feet on a failed pickoff attempt.

Altuve then scored all the way from second on an RBI single off the bat of Brantley before Bregman grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that was followed by a pitching change that saw Darwinzon Hernandez replace Robles.

Hernandez did what he was called upon to do by punching out Alvarez on six pitches to set the Red Sox up in the bottom half of the frame.

To that point in the night, the Sox lineup had been held in check by Astros starter Framber Valdez in the process of squandering several scoring opportunities.

After going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s Game 4 loss to Houston, Boston had been no-hit by Valdez through four innings on Wednesday before Rafael Devers led off the bottom of the fifth with a sharply-hit single.

J.D. Martinez followed by taking a curveball off the knee that put runners at first and second for Hunter Renfroe, whose postseason struggles continued to drag on when he grounded into a soul-crushing 6-4-3 double play that ultimately stranded Martinez at third.

An inning later, the Sox had the chance to respond to the Astros’ five-run sixth when Christian Vazquez ripped a one-out double off Valdez. He, like Martinez, was left in scoring position after both Enrique Hernandez and Schwarber were sat down by the opposing left-hander.

This takes us to the aforementioned bottom half of the seventh. Shortly after Houston tacked on another run to their lead, Devers got that one run back immediately.

With one out and the bases empty, Devers stayed hot by unloading on a 1-0, 94 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate from Valdez and wrapped it 402 feet around Pesky’s Pole in right field.

Devers’ fifth homer of the postseason left the young slugger’s bat at a scorching 110.7 mph. It also trimmed Boston’s defecit down to six runs at 7-1.

Another walk drawn by Martinez kept the inning alive momentarily, but Renfroe followed by grounding into another twin killing that extinguished the threat.

In the eighth, after Hernandez and Hirokazu Sawamura somehow combined to toss a scoreless frame of relief, Valdez capped off his stellar day for Houston in the bottom half by sitting down the final three batters he faced in order.

Martin Perez then surrendered two additional runs to the Astros to begin the ninth, while Ryne Stanek retired the side in order to close this one out.

All in all, the Boston bats went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left two runners on base as a team in what will go down as a lopsided 9-1 defeat.

With this loss, which is their second straight, the Red Sox’ backs are now against the wall as they trail this best-of-seven ALCS, 3-2.

Next up: Eovaldi on top for Game 6 in Houston

The Red Sox will have Thursday off as they board a flight to Houston for the final leg of this championship series at Minute Maid Park.

On the brink of elimination, it will be right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston in Game 6 on Friday night. Houston, on the other hand, will turn to fellow righty Luis Garcia in what will be a rematch of Game 2 from last Sunday.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Friday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow late lead in process of falling to Astros, 9-2, in Game 4 of ALCS

The Red Sox were just a few innings away from potentially jumping out to a commanding three-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night … until they weren’t.

After holding on to a 2-1 lead for most of the night, Boston saw things unravel in the eighth inning of what would later go down as a 9-2 loss to Houston at Fenway Park, which means this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at two games apiece.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start and third overall appearance of the postseason for the Sox, was solid in his championship series debut. The right-hander limited the Astros to just one run while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

The lone run Pivetta surrendered to Houston came right away in the top half of the first, when he served up a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Despite that miscue, the Red Sox lineup picked up their starter right away in the bottom half of the frame.

Matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Zack Greinke to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk with two outs to set the stage for Xander Bogaerts.

After not collecting an RBI in Monday’s 12-3 thumping of Houston, Bogaerts unloaded on a 1-0, 84 mph slider from Greinke and deposited 413 feet into the Boston night and onto Lansdowne Street.

Bogaerts’ third homer of the postseason — a sizzling two-run blast that left his bat at 107.9 mph — allowed the Sox to snatch their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Given that fresh one-run advantage to work with, Pivetta took full advantage by stringing together four scoreless frames. He had to escape a bit of a jam he created for himself in the second, but followed by sitting down nine of the final 10 batters he faced leading into the middle of the fifth.

Even after the Astros lineup flipped over for a third time in that fifth inning, Pivetta responded by getting the dangerous Jose Altuve to ground out to third base to retire the side and end his night on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of just of 65 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler topped out at 96.5 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he turned to 38 times to complement both his slider and knuckle curveball.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he recorded the first two outs of the sixth before yielding a two-out single to Yordan Alvarez.

Adam Ottavino then came on for Taylor to finish the inning, and the veteran reliever did just that by emphatically punching out Carlos Correa on a 96 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

From there, Garrett Whitlock put up a zero in the seventh, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Houston pitching. Despite knocking Greinke out after just 1 1/3 innings, the Sox were stymied by the Astros bullpen, though they certainly had their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the second, for instance, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out, but neither Enrique Hernandez or Devers were able to come through and instead went down quietly.

Two innings later, Chritian Arroyo ripped a one-out triple off Cristian Javier, but was stranded there after both Kyle Schwarber and Hernandez were retired by the Astros reliever.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts laced a 106.9 mph double off Javier. He, too, was left there when Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez were sat down on a fly out and swinging strikeout, respectively.

Fast forward to the top half of the eighth, and the Astros promptly capitalized on the fact that the Red Sox had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base as a team up until then.

That being the case because on the very first pitch he saw from Whitlock, Altuve led off the eighth by crushing a game-tying solo home run 400 feet off the National Car Rental sign hovering above the Green Monster.

Altuve’s late-game heroics knotted things up at two runs apiece, and it also paved the way for Nathan Eovaldi to attempt to keep it that way in the ninth.

Having just started Game 2 of this series on Saturday, Eovaldi immediately gave up a leadoff double to Correa that was just out of the reach of Hunter Renfroe in right field. He then struck out Kyle Tucker and intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to face the pinch-hitting Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, fanned on five pitches, bringing Eovaldi to within one out of escaping a sticky situation. Jason Castro, however, had different plans.

Moments after it appeared as though Eovaldi had punched out Castro on a 1-2, 80 mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that was instead called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Astros backstop responded by drilling a go-ahead, run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Castro plated Correa on his clutch hit to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Houston, but the Astros were not done there. Not with Altuve drawing a walk that prompted Cora to go get Eovaldi.

With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Michael Brantley greeted the newly-inserted Martin Perez by drilling a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field that increased his side’s advantage to four runs at 6-2.

Perez’s struggles did not end there, as the lefty surrendered three more runs on three more hits before the top of the ninth inning mercifully came to a close with the Astros up, 9-2.

In total, Eovaldi was charged for four runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. He is slated to start Game 6 of this series in Houston on Friday.

Perez, on the other hand, was charged with three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

The Sox somewhat threatened in their half of the ninth, but ultimately went down quietly against Astros closer Ryan Pressly to secure a heart-breaking 9-2 defeat in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as they ensure that they will be heading back to Houston later this week since this ALCS is now tied up at 2-2 and will at least be six games in length.

Next up: Sale vs. Valdez to start off Game 5

The Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale to start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening, while the Astros will roll with fellow southpaw Framber Valdez.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber leading off for Red Sox in Game 2 of ALCS vs. Astros

After falling to the Astros, 5-4, in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox will look to bounce back and even this best-of-seven series in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday afternoon.

With rookie right-hander Luis Garcia getting the start for the Astros, Sox manager Alex Cora has gone with a starting lineup similar to the one used Friday night, though some alterations have been made.

Kyle Schwarber, a left-handed hitter, will bat leadoff and get the start at first base. He will be followed by Enrique Hernandez, who homered twice in Game 1 and will be starting in center field once more in Game 2 of the ALCS.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo make up the 3-4-5 portion of Boston’s batting order, while J.D. Martinez will slide down to the six-hole, where he is slashing .467/.467/.733 so far this postseason.

Those four will be followed by the likes of Hunter Renfroe, Kevin Plawecki, and Christian Arroyo.

Plawecki, of course, will be catching Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who will be working on five days rest after starting Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays last Sunday.

Including that outing, Eovaldi has posted a 2.61 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 16 strikeouts to just one walk over two starts spanning 10 1/3 total innings of work so far this postseason.

In his lone appearance against the Astros this year, the Houston-area native allowed five runs — all of which were earned — on 11 hits, three walks, and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings at Fenway Park back on June 9.

If the Red Sox want to head back home to Boston having split the first two games of this ALCS, they will likely need Eovaldi to step up and provide some length.

That being said, first pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox squander lead, let scoring opportunities go to waste in 5-4 loss to Astros in Game 1 of ALCS

The Red Sox certainly had their opportunities, but were ultimately unable to come away with a come-from-behind win over the Astros in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 5-4 at Minute Maid Park on Friday night, meaning they now trail in this best-of-seven ALCS by one game to none.

Chris Sale, making his second start of the postseason for the Sox, saw his October struggles continue after a poor showing in last week’s American League Division Series against the Rays, though there were some signs of encouragement.

Over just 2 2/3 innings of work on Friday, Sale allowed one run on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Sale surrendered came in the bottom half of the first, when — after the Red Sox left the bases loaded in their half of the inning — the veteran left-hander issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve that was followed by a one-out single from Alex Bregman.

A wild pitch from Sale allowed both of those runners to advance an additional 90 feet, and the Astros took full advantage of that miscue when Yordan Alvarez drove in the first run of the contest on a sacrifice fly to left field.

While the Sox may have fallen behind early, their potent lineup eventually got to Astros starter Framber Valdez the second time through the order beginning in the third inning.

There, moments after he bailed out Sale by making a sprawling grab in center field to escape a bases-loaded jam, Enrique Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by cranking a 448-foot leadoff home run off Valdez.

Hernandez’s solo shot knotted things up at one run apiece, while a one-out walk from Xander Bogaerts that was followed by a line-drive single off the bat of Rafael Devers put runners at first and second base for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez, a former Astro like Hernandez, nearly grounded into another double play that would have ended the inning, but his grounder was instead booted by Altuve at second base, which allowed Bogaerts to score all the way from second to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 2-1.

Hunter Renfroe kept the rally going with a hard-hit RBI double to left field that plated Devers and moved Martinez up to second, though neither runner was able to score after Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo both struck out swinging.

Given a two-run lead to work with going into the bottom of the third, Sale retired Bregman before Alvarez and the dangerous Carlos Correa ripped back-to-back one-out singles off him. The lefty then fanned Kyle Tucker on five pitches for the second out, but that would mark the end of his night with the right-handed hitting Yuli Gurriel looming in the on-deck circle for Houston.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (37 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied heavily upon his four-seam fastball (57% usage) and slider (33% usage), as he only threw four changeups and two sinkers. He did, however, top out at 97.5 mph with his four-seamer.

In relief of Sale, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora, and he officially closed the book on Sale’s outing by getting Gurriel to ground out to second before retiring the side in order in the fourth as well.

From there, while the Boston bats continued to struggle against the Houston bullpen, Josh Taylor recorded the first two outs of the fifth inning before Ryan Brasier was deployed to finish it in the process of stranding a pair of runners.

Fellow right-hander Tanner Houck took over for Brasier in the sixth, and he saw his side’s 3-1 advantage wiped off the board when he yielded a one-out single to Chas McCormick that was followed by a game-tying, two-run home run to Altuve that traveled 382 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left-center field.

More two-out trouble came back to bite the Sox an inning later, with Hansel Robles serving up a go-ahead 350-foot blast to Correa that allowed the Astros to retake a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Renfroe was pinch-hit for by Danny Santana, who led things off against Kendall Graveman by striking out swinging on nine pitches. Verdugo then flew out to center field, but Arroyo kept the inning alive by drilling a 106.8 mph single to left field.

That sequence prompted Cora to turn to his bench, as he had the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for the right-handed hitting Christian Vazquez in that spot.

Shaw, representing the potential go-ahead run himself, proceeded to lift a 335-foot flyball to right field off Graveman, but it was one that was caught by Tucker at the warning track, thus extinguishing the threat.

Hirokazu Sawamura, meanwhile, was responsible for the bottom of the eighth, and in his first action of the postseason, struggled to find his command of the strike zone.

The righty loaded the bases with no outs by issuing a leadoff walk and a single before plunking Martin Maldonado. He then allowed the Astros to tack on a very important insurance run when he gave up a sacrifice fly to Altuve that Gurriel was able to score on to make it a 5-3 game.

Martin Perez had to come on to get the final two outs of the eighth, and he did that by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of a hobbled Michael Brantley.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth while opposed by Astros closer Ryan Pressly, Hernandez led things off by clubbing his second home run of the night and one that cut the Sox’ deficit down to one run at 5-4.

Pressly did recover, however, as he got Kyle Schwarber, Bogaerts, and Devers to each ground out to seal a 5-4 defeat for Boston in which they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine runners on base as a team.

With the loss, not only do the Red Sox see their three-game postseason winning streak come to an end, but they also find themselves in a 1-0 hole in regards to this ALCS.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Garcia

The Red Sox will send Houston-area native Nathan Eovaldi to the mound as they look to even up this best-of-seven series against the Astros on Saturday afternoon.

The Astros will counter with fellow right-hander Luis Garcia, who held the Sox to one run over seven impressive innings during his June 1 start against them at Fenway Park.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Saturday is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez and Carlos Correa: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chris Sale to start Game 1 of ALCS for Red Sox; Nathan Eovaldi will start Game 2 vs. Astros

The Red Sox have set their starting rotation for the first two games of their American League Series clash against the Astros in Houston.

Chris Sale has been named Boston’s Game 1 starter, while Nathan Eovaldi has been named Boston’s Game 2 starter, Sox manager Alex Cora announced when speaking with reporters from Minute Maid Park on Thursday evening.

Sale will get the ball opposite Astros left-hander Framber Valdez on Friday night to open up this best-of-seven ALCS while working on six days rest. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

The 32-year-old lefty had made just one start so far this postseason, as he got rocked for five runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and two strikeouts in just one inning of work against the Rays in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field last Friday.

While the Red Sox ultimately came back to trounce the Rays by a final score of 14-6, Sale’s struggles are still concerning considering the fact that they are prolonged in that he’s pitched a total of 3 1/3 innings in his last two starts dating back to October 3.

Still, if the situation had arisen, the veteran southpaw was available to pitch out of the Boston bullpen in Game 4 of the ALDS on Monday, but it did not.

That being said, Cora reiterated on Thursday that Sale will not be used as an opener, but rather as a traditional starter on Friday. Eduardo Rodriguez, on the other hand, will be in the bullpen for Game 1.

Following Sale on Friday will be Eovaldi on Saturday night. Eovaldi, who will be working on five days rest, will be opposed by Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia. First pitch for Game 2 is scheduled for 4:20 p.m. eastern time on FOX and FS1.

Through his first two starts of the postseason, the 31-year-old righty has posted a 2.61 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, and .559 OPS against to go along with 16 strikeouts to just one walk over 10 1/3 innings pitched.

The first of those two outings came against the Yankees in last Tuesday’s Wild Card Game at Fenway Park. The second came against the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS in Boston on Sunday, meaning he Red Sox won both of those contests.

Among the 13 pitchers who have taken the mound for the Sox since the postseason began, Eovaldi leads the pack in innings pitched and strikeouts, cementing his status as the de facto ace of Boston’s pitching staff.

Over the course of a successful regular season in which he was selected to his first All-Star team and reached 10 years of major-league service time, Eovaldi only faced off against the Astros once. He gave up five runs — all of which were earned — on a season-high 11 hits, three walks, and five strikeouts to them at Fenway Park back on June 9.

Saturday will not mark Eovaldi’s first exposure to Minute Maid Park in a postseason environment, however, as the Houston-area native appeared in two games there for the Sox in the 2018 ALCS. The veteran hurler allowed a total of two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings pitched across those two outings (one start, one relief appearances) three years ago.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

After starting Game 3, Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi told Alex Cora he’s available to pitch an inning in Game 4 of ALDS vs. Rays

Nathan Eovaldi may be less than a full day removed his most-recent start for the Red Sox, but that does not mean he wants to take any time off.

Coming off a solid performance in which he surrendered just two runs on three hits, eight strikeouts, and one walk over five innings of work in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Rays at Fenway Park on Sunday, Eovaldi has apparently made himself available for Game 4.

When speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) ahead of Monday night’s contest with the Rays, Sox manager Alex Cora said the veteran right-hander volunteered to pitch an inning of relief if needed.

In tossing five strong innings in his latest start on Sunday, Eovaldi needed 85 pitches — 58 of which were strikes. Between last Tuesday’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees and Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays, the flame-throwing 31-year-old has posted a 2.61 ERA and 2.88 FIP to go along with 16 strikeouts to one walk over 10 1/3 total innings pitched.

Eovaldi’s postseason legend, of course, dates back to Game 3 of the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. On just one day of rest, he provided Boston with six impressive innings of relief before giving up a walk-off home run to Max Muncy in the bottom of the 18th inning.

While he was lauded for his effort and preserving the Sox bullpen for the remainder of the series, Eovaldi — having just thrown 97 pitches — came up to Cora the following morning and told him he was ‘ready to go’ for Game 4.

At that time, Eovaldi was on the cusp of free agency, leading Cora to respond to him by saying, ‘Your agent is going to kill me.’

Despite his request, Eovaldi was not used again in the World Series following the conclusion of Game 3. It’s unlikely he will be used in Game 4 of this year’s ALDS as well.

That being said, Cora did mention on Monday that the likes of Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck would be available out of the bullpen, while Adam Ottavino could be used to record more than three outs.

Eduardo Rodriguez will start for the Red Sox opposite Rays right-hander Collin McHugh to begin things on Monday. With a two-games-to one lead in this best-of-five series, Boston has a chance to punch their ticket to the ALCS with a win.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)