Red Sox unveil lineup for Wild Card Game vs. Yankees: Kyle Schwarber leads off while Bobby Dalbec starts at first base

For the first time since its inception in 2012, the Red Sox are hosting the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.

It took until the final day of the regular season on Sunday, but the Sox finished ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card standings despite both clubs having identical records (92-70) on account of winning the season series against their division rivals, 10-9.

Because of this, the 2021 installment of the American League Wild Card Game will be taking place in Boston as opposed to New York, meaning the Red Sox will have home-field advantage.

With ace right-hander Gerrit Cole starting for the Yankees, the left-handed hitting Kyle Schwarber will serve as the Sox manager Alex Cora’s leadoff leadoff hitter Tuesday night. He will be doing so while serving as the club’s designated hitter, as J.D. Martinez was left off Boston’s Wild Card roster due to a left ankle sprain.

Enrique Hernandez will start in center field and bat behind Schwarber, marking the first time all year the 30-year-old has started a game as the Sox’ No. 2 hitter after primarily batting leadoff throughout the regular season.

On account of Martinez’s absence from the roster, it will be third baseman Rafael Devers, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and left fielder Alex Verdugo comprising the Nos. 3, 4, and 5 spots.

Hunter Renfroe rounds out the outfield and the middle third of Boston’s lineup, as the strong-armed 29-year-old gets the start in right field while batting sixth behind Verdugo and ahead of Kevin Plawecki.

Plawecki will be catching right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Tuesday. Over the course of the regular season, Eovaldi posted a 3.28 ERA and .644 OPS against in 17 starts (96 innings pitched) with Plawecki behind the plate as opposed to a 4.77 ERA and .766 OPS against in 13 starts (66 innings pitched) with Christian Vazquez doing the same.

After Plawecki, Bobby Dalbec will be getting the start at first base and batting eighth, while Christian Arroyo will be getting the start at second base and batting ninth.

Of these nine hitters, Bogaerts, Devers, Hernandez, Schwarber, Shaw, and Verdugo have all homered off Cole at least one time in either the regular or postseason.

Hernandez specifically is 5-for-11 (.455) in his career against Cole, as he took the Yankees ace deep back in June.

Additionally, the Red Sox will have the likes of Jonathan Arauz, Jarren Duran, Travis Shaw, and Connor Wong available off the bench if needed.

First pitch from Fenway Park Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Kevin Plawecki expected to start over Christian Vázquez, catch Nathan Eovaldi in Tuesday’s Wild Card Game vs. Yankees

When the Red Sox take the field at Fenway Park for Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees, it will most likely be Kevin Plawecki — not Christian Vazquez — catching starter Nathan Eovaldi.

While Vazquez clearly established himself as the Sox’ top catcher this season by leading all major-league backstops in innings caught (1,051 1/3), Plawecki forged a better repertoire with Eovaldi over the course of the 2021 campaign.

Of the team-leading 32 starts Eovaldi made for Boston this year, 17 came with Plawecki behind the plate and 13 came with Vazquez catching him. With Plawecki, the right-hander posted a 3.28 ERA and .644 OPS against over 96 innings of work. With Vazquez, on the other hand, he put up a significantly higher 4.77 ERA and .766 OPS against in 66 innings.

“Those two have done an amazing job together,” Red Sox manager Cora said Monday in regards to the Eovaldi-Plawecki battery. “Nothing against Christian, but they have been good. I think that’s just the answer. You know, offensively, I think both have done a good job lately. You know, Kevin can catch up with the fastball, too. We know that.”

Though Cora did mention that Vazquez will be ready in the event that he is needed Tuesday, the decision to start Plawecki speaks to the level of confidence the Sox have in their backup.

Despite some defensive concerns, the 30-year-old veteran enjoyed another productive season at the plate in which he slashed .287/.349/.389 (102 wRC+) with seven doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI, 15 runs scored, 12 walks, and 26 strikeouts over 64 games (173 plate appearances) in limited playing time.

As Cora alluded to, Plawecki did have success against the fastball this season, as he hit .280 and slugged .410 while clubbing all three of his homers off that particular pitch.

Plawecki’s ability to handle the fastball should come in handy on Tuesday with ace right-hander Gerrit Cole on the mound for New York to start things off. Per Baseball Savant, Cole relied on his four-seam fastball more than any other pitch this season by turning to it more than 47% of the time.

In seven games — four of which were starts — against the Yankees this year, the right-handed hitting Plawecki slashed an impressive .313/.389/.563 across 18 trips to the plate.

Against Cole specifically, Plawecki is 1-for-3 with a single and strikeout, though all three of those plate appearances came back in 2015 — when Plawecki was a rookie with the Mets and Cole was still with the Pirates.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki and Nathan Eovaldi: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers crushes 2 homers as Red Sox come back to clinch Wild Card berth with 7-5 win over Nationals

It was no simple task, but the Red Sox secured a spot in the American League Wild Card Game by finishing off a three-game weekend sweep of the Nationals on Sunday.

Boston held on to top Washington by a final score of 7-5 at Nationals Park, which ensures that they will not have to play in a tiebreaker on Monday.

Chris Sale, making his ninth and final start of the regular season for the Sox, was unable provide length in his first-ever appearance against the Nationals.

After getting off to a solid start in which he struck out the side in the bottom of the first, the veteran left-hander ran into some trouble in the second when he gave up a leadoff double to Josh Bell. Jordy Mercer followed by ripping another double off Sale that brought in Bell and gave Washington their first lead of the day at 1-0.

The Nationals doubled their advantage an inning later, as Sale loaded the bases with one out on a walk and a pair of singles before issuing another free pass to Ryan Zimmerman that plated Lane Thomas from third to make it a 2-0 contest.

Despite throwing just 62 pitches (37 strikes), Sale’s afternoon came to a close right then and there, with Red Sox manager Alex Cora forced to turn to his bullpen far earlier than expected.

Hirokazu Sawamura was the one who got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and despite inheriting a mess, he officially closed the book on Sale’s outing by getting Mercer to ground into a huge inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

To that point, the Red Sox lineup had been stymied by Nationals starter Joan Adon, managing all of one hit off the right-hander making his first career big-league start on Sunday.

Rafael Devers changed that quickly, though, as he led off the fourth inning by clubbing a 432-foot solo blast to deep center field off a 1-2, 95 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate from Adon.

Devers’ 37th home run of the season cut Boston’s deficit in half at 2-1, but that was all they got in the fourth after J.D. Martinez struck out, Alex Verdugo unsuccessfully tried to turn a one-out single into a one-out double, and Hunter Renfroe fanned on three straight pitches.

Sawamura continued to keep the Nationals off the board in the bottom of the fourth, presenting the Sox with the opportunity to get something going in the top of the fifth after the pinch-hitting Christian Arroyo and Enrique Hernandez reached base with one out on a walk and base hit.

A wild pitch from Adon allowed both runners to advance into scoring position, but Boston could not capitalize — as Kyle Schwarber and a struggling Bogaerts rolled over back-to-back groundouts to extinguish the threat.

Perhaps taking advantage of the Sox’ inability to score, the Nats jumped on the newly-inserted Garrett Richards in their half of the fifth. Richards yielded a leadoff double to Alcides Escobar and intentionally put the dangerous Juan Soto on base.

A passed ball from Richards moved Escobar and Soto up to second base for Bell, who drew a five-pitch walk himself to fill the bases once again. Richards recorded the first out of the inning, but allowed Escobar to score from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Mercer before serving up a two-run double down the right field line to Alex Avila.

Avila, playing in his final major-league game on Sunday, put Washington up 5-1, though is counterpart in Christian Vazquez got one of those runs back in the sixth when he drove in Jose Iglesias on an RBI single off Nationals reliever Patrick Murphy — thus making it a 5-2 ballgame.

Iglesias came into the game as a pinch-hitter for Martinez, who suffered a left ankle sprain after tripping on the second-base bag while running out to right field in the middle of the fifth inning. He was replaced in right field by Renfroe, while Iglesias took over at second base and Hernandez shifted to center field.

Following all that defensive shifting, Martin Perez took over for Richards in the bottom of the sixth inning. The left-hander maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean frame of work.

A half-inning later, the Boston bats continued to chip away at the deficit in front of them while matched up against Erick Fedde.

Schwarber ignited the rally with a one-out single that was followed by another base hit courtesy of Bogaerts. Devers then plated Schwarber from second on an RBI single to trim Washington’s lead down to two runs. He also moved Bogaerts up to third base.

Iglesias may have popped out to foul territory for the second out of the seventh, but Verdugo did not let a prime scoring opportunity go to waste.

Making up for his earlier base-running gaffe, Verdugo laced a game-tying, two-run double to the gap in right-center field, driving in Bogaerts from third and Devers all the way from first.

Verdugo’s clutch double knotted things up at five runs apiece, and Garrett Whitlock — who was activated from the injured list on Sunday after a two-week absence — kept it that way going into the eighth by fanning two in a scoreless bottom half of the seventh.

Bobby Dalbec pinch-hit for Whitlock in the top half of the eighth, which paved the way for Eduardo Rodriguez to take over for the right-hander. Rodriguez, who threw 93 pitches in his start on Friday, needed all of eight pitches — six of which were strikes — to retire the Nats in order in the latter half of the eighth.

Potentially down to their final three outs in the ninth, Schwarber led off against Kyle Finnegan by reaching base on a fielding error committed by Mercer, which would prove to be costly for Washington.

That being the case because after Bogaerts struck out, Devers came through with the hit of the night — if not the season.

On a 2-1, 87 mph splitter on the outer half of the plate from Finnegan, Devers obliterated his second home run of the day, with this one leaving his bat at a scorching 113.4 mph and traveling a whopping 447 feet over the center-field wall.

By going yard for the 38th time this season, the 24-year-old slugger not only came through for the Sox yet again, but he also gave them their first lead of the day at 7-5.

Nick Pivetta, who made his most-recent start on Thursday, was called upon to end things in the bottom of the ninth. The right-hander did just that by slamming the door on the Nationals to preserve the 7-5 victory for the Sox and notch his second career big-league save.

With the win, the Red Sox finish the regular season with a record of 92-70. They also punched their ticket to the postseason, as they will be hosting the Yankees, who defeated the Rays on Sunday, in the American League Wild Card Game at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Boston will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi for that all-important contest, while New York will roll with fellow righty Gerrit Cole.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

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

J.D. Martinez homers, drives in 3 runs as Red Sox bounce back with 6-0 victory over Orioles

The Red Sox put their four-game losing streak in the rearview mirror and bounced back with a 6-0 shutout victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday.

J.D. Martinez came into play Wednesday having gone 4-for-20 (.200) at the plate over his last six games, but quickly made up for that while going up against Baltimore starter Zac Lowther.

In his first plate appearance of the night with one out in the top half of the second inning, Martinez took a 2-1, 85 mph changeup down the heart of the plate from Lowther and deposited it a whopping 444 feet off the batter’s eye in deep center field.

Martinez’s 28th home run of the season — a solo shot that left his bat at a scorching 109.6 mph — gave Boston an early 1-0 lead, though the slugger was not done there.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, with reliever Eric Hanhold now in the game for the O’s, and Martinez took advantage of one crucial mistake from the opposition.

After Rafael Devers led off the inning off Lowther with a broken-bat single, Xander Bogaerts proceeded to greet Hanhold by ripping a groundball in the direction of third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez.

It looked as though the Sox were about to ground into yet another double play, but Bogaerts’ grounder deflected off Gutierrez’s glove and rolled into foul territory, thus allowing both runners to reach base safely.

Rather than coming to the plate with two outs and nobody on, Martinez had no outs and two runners on, and he capitalized on that by plating both Devers and Bogaerts on a two-run double down the left field line.

That sequence put Boston up 3-0 over Baltimore at a point in which Nathan Eovaldi had been dominating.

Eovaldi, making his 32nd start of the season for the Red Sox, was coming off his worst outing of the year in his last time out against the Yankees, but looked much more in command this time around.

Through his first five innings of work, the veteran right-hander retired 15 of the first 18 batters he faced while facing no more than four hitters in a single frame.

After being given a three-run cushion going into the middle of the sixth, Eovaldi did run into a bit of trouble when he issued a leadoff double to Cedric Mullins that was followed by a seven-pitch walk of Ryan Mountcastle.

Despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate with no outs, Eovaldi managed to escape the jam he created by getting Austin Hays to fly out, Trey Mancini to punch out, and Pedro Severino to fly out for the third and final out of the inning that ended his evening on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (62 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler wound up stringing together six scoreless innings while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the night. He also lowered his ERA on the season down to 3.75 while picking up his 11th win of the year.

In relief of Eovaldi, Ryan Brasier got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he promptly worked his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect bottom half of the seventh.

In the eighth, while matched up against former Boston minor-leaguer Konner Wade, back-to-back one-out singles from Bogaerts and Martinez — followed by a two-out walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Travis Shaw — filled the bases for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo came through in that spot by providing some much-needed insurance, as he slapped a two-run single to the opposite field that brought in Bogaerts and Martinez to make it a 5-0 game in favor of the Sox.

Though Shaw was tagged out between second and third base to end the inning, the Red Sox bullpen took care of things from there.

Hansel Robles tossed a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom half of the eighth, while Hunter Renfroe extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games by clubbing a solo shot off Spenser Watkins with two outs in the top half of the ninth.

Renfroe’s 30th big fly of 2021 gave Boston a commanding six-run advantage, allowing Matt Barnes to preserve a 6-0 shutout victory by slamming the door on Baltimore in the bottom of the ninth.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox snap their four-game skid to improve to 89-69 on the season, they also move back to within a game of the Yankees — who fell to the Blue Jays on Wednesday — for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Wells

The Red Sox will send right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound as they go for the series victory over the last-place Orioles on Thursday night. The O’s will counter with another left-hander in Alexander Wells.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

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

Red Sox muster just 3 hits in 4-2 loss to lowly Orioles, extend losing streak to 4 straight games

The Red Sox opened a crucial stretch of their season with an unexpected loss at the hands of the lowly Orioles on Tuesday.

Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 4-2 at Camden Yards, marking their fourth straight loss and one that will certainly have plenty of Wild Card implications.

While managing just two runs off an O’s pitching staff that came into play sporting a 5.81 ERA as a team, the Sox actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of solo shots from Kyle Schwarber and Hunter Renfroe.

Schwarber got Boston on the board by taking Baltimore starter Bruce Zimmermann 411 feet deep to dead center field in the second inning for his 32nd home run of the season, while Renfroe doubled his side’s advantage by leading off the sixth with a 372-foot blast off Marcos Diplan.

Chris Sale, meanwhile, was cruising right along having been given just those two runs of support — until he wasn’t.

Sale, making his eighth start of the season for the Red Sox, began his outing by facing no more than four batters in each of his first five frames of work before running into some trouble in the sixth.

There, shortly after Renfroe went deep to make it a 2-0 ballgame, the veteran left-hander issued a leadoff, infield single that traveled all of three feet off the bat of Kelvin Gutierrez.

He then got the dangerous Cedric Mullins to fly out to left field, but proceeded to serve up a booming two-run home run to Ryan Mountcastle off a first-pitch, 88 mph changeup down the heart of the plate that allowed the Orioles to tie things back up at two runs apiece.

Visibly frustrated by what had just transpired, Sale followed by giving up a line-drive single to Austin Hays, who would prove to be the last batter he faced as he promptly got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

In relief of Sale, Hansel Robles got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and he allowed the lone runner he inherited to score on an RBI single from Pedro Severino, though it was a groundball base hit to left field that should have been fielded — or at the very least knocked down — by third baseman Rafael Devers.

Regardless, the O’s went up 3-2 on Severino’s go-ahead single, meaning Sale’s final line has him allowing three runs (all earned) on four hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (54 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler sat at 94.1 with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he threw 36 times — while topping out at 97.6 mph with it. He was also charged with his first loss of the season (5-1) while raising his ERA on the year to 2.90.

Robles proceeded to end the sixth inning before making way for Tanner Houck, who maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in the seventh before yielding two straight two-out singles in the eighth that was followed by a blooper of a run-scoring single off the bat of New Hampshire Ryan McKenna.

That gave Baltimore a 4-2 advantage, and Cole Susler successfully protected that by retiring Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez — who laced a 106.4 mph lineout to McKenna in left field — in order to put the finishing touches on yet another defeat for the Sox.

All in all, the Boston lineup on Tuesday recorded a grand total of three hits, two of which belonged to Renfroe. They did not send a single runner to scoring position and left just three runners on base as a team.

With the loss, not only do the Red Sox extend their losing streak to four consecutive games to fall to 88-69 on the season, they also inflict some damage in regards to their pursuit of a Wild Card spot.

The Yankees took the opener of their three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, which results in Boston dropping two games back of New York for the top spot while maintaining a one-game lead over Toronto for the second and final spot.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Lowther

As they look to put a halt to this four-game skid, the Red Sox will send right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound on Wednesday, while the Orioles will counter with another left-hander in Zac Lowther.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Connor Seabold scratched from start for Triple-A Worcester in event Red Sox need length in coming days

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold was slated to make his 10th start of the season for Triple-A Worcester at Polar Park on Saturday afternoon, but was scratched shortly before the start of the WooSox’ game against the Rochester Red Wings.

While not injury-related, Seabold was replaced on the mound by left-hander Kyle Hart, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained why that was the case before Saturday’s contest against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

“Obviously, we used some guys yesterday,” Cora said. “Just in case something happens today, he can give us length [in the coming days]. So, just thinking ahead just in case something happens.”

In Friday night’s 8-3 loss to New York, Boston got just 2 2/3 innings from Nathan Eovaldi, who allowed seven runs (all earned) on seven hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts in what was undoubtedly his worst start of the season to date.

Eovaldi’s short outing resulted in Cora turning to his bullpen earlier than expected, though he was able to squeeze 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball out of Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Barnes, and Martin Perez.

Still, in the event that either Nick Pivetta (Saturday’s starter) or Eduardo Rodriguez (Sunday’s starter) are unable to provide the Sox with length in their respective starts this weekend, that could force the club to look Seabold’s way.

The 25-year-old right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

Earlier this month, the Red Sox scratched both Seabold and fellow righty Kutter Crawford from their starts with Worcester while navigating through a COVID-19 outbreak at the big-league level.

Crawford wound up making his first career major-league start for Boston in place of Pivetta on September 5, and Seabold did the very same in Chicago six days later.

Over exactly three innings of work against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sept. 11, Seabold allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts on 43 pitches (27 strikes) in what would turn out to be a 9-8 victory for the Red Sox in extra innings.

Per Baseball Savant, the California native threw 27 four-seam fastballs, nine sliders, five changeups, and two curveballs in his big-league debut. He induced two swings-and-misses — one with his fastball and one with his slider.

With Pivetta coming off the COVID-19 related injured list the following day, Seabold was promptly optioned back down to Worcester. He has made one start for the WooSox since then, tossing five scoreless frames to go along with five strikeouts to just one walk against the Syracuse Mets last Saturday.

Taking that point into consideration, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound hurler should be plenty well rested for when his name is called upon next. Whether that comes with Worcester or Boston has yet to be determined.

On that note, though, the WooSox have six games remaining on their schedule while the Red Sox have seven games remaining on their schedule before their respective regular seasons come to a close on Oct. 3.

Seabold, who was originally added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November, would be eligible for the postseason, so there is that to consider as well.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi gets shelled for 7 runs as Red Sox drop opener of pivotal series to Yankees, 8-3

For the first time in more than five months, the Red Sox lost while wearing their yellow City Connect uniforms in Friday’s series opener against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Boston was walloped by New York and fell to their division rivals by a final score of 8-3, marking the end of their impressive seven-game winning streak.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his 31st start of the season, was far from sharp while going up against his former team and actually put together one of his worst outings of the year to date.

In just 2 2/3 innings of work, Eovaldi got rocked for seven runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

Right from the jump, it was apparent that the veteran right-hander did not have everything going for him on Friday, as evidenced by him striking out none of the 17 batters he faced.

The Yankees got to Eovaldi for three early on, with D.J. LeMahieu and Anthony Rizzo ripping a pair of singles to lead off the top half of the first before Aaron Judge plated LeMahieu on a hard-hit RBI double to left-center field that also put runners at second and third base.

Giancarlo Stanton got his productive night at the plate by bringing in Rizzo on a run-scoring groundout, while Gleyber Torres scored Judge on an RBI single back up the middle that gave New York a 3-0 lead.

After retiring the side in order in the second, Eovaldi ran into more trouble in the third, when he yielded a leadoff double to Rizzo, issued a four-pitch walk to Judge, then served up a booming, 386-foot three-run blast that found its way into the Red Sox bullpen.

Eovaldi allowed another single before recording the first two outs of the third, but a seven-pitch walk of Brett Gardner would unofficially mark the end of his evening as he got the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 59 (37 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler induced a total of three swings-and-misses while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 3.88.

Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he promptly got the first batter he faced, Kyle Higashioka to lift a 63-foot flyball to the right side of the pitcher’s mound that should have gone for the final out of the inning.

It instead went for an RBI infield single, as first baseman Kyle Schwarber failed to catch the ball and Joey Gallo scored all the way from second and Higashioka reached first safely as a result. That blunder officially closed the book on Eovaldi’s night while putting the Yankees up 7-0.

Sawamura got through the rest of the third inning unscathed, though, and he also put up a pair of zeroes in the fourth and fifth to put the finishing touches on his longest outing of the year (2 1/3 innings).

Matt Barnes followed suit by stranding one runner at second base while striking out a pair in a scoreless top half of the sixth, and that set the stage for the Red Sox lineup to finally get something going offensively in the bottom half.

To that point, the Boston bats had been held in check by Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, managing just two hits off the ace right-hander through the first five innings of Friday’s contest.

Their fortunes changed in the sixth, however, and it started when Enrique Hernandez laced a single to right field that was followed by another single from Schwarber to lead things off.

Rafael Devers, coming to the plate with one out, runners at the corners, and a chance to do some damage did just that. The left-handed slugger crushed a 1-0, 89 mph changeup from Cole and sent it 373 feet down the right field line to finally get his side on the board courtesy of the three-run shot.

Devers’ 35th home run of the season trimmed the deficit down to four runs at 7-3, but any momentum the Sox may have garnered was quickly dashed when New York got one of those runs back , as Torres went deep off newly-inserted Boston reliever Martin Perez to lead off the seventh and make it an 8-3 game.

Perez, despite giving up his fair share of hard contact, managed to keep the Yankees lineup at bay from there, but it was not enough to mount a rally on the other side.

Bobby Dalbec, pinch-hitting for Schwarber with two outs in the seventh, punched out to strand a pair of runners in the bottom half of the inning.

Alex Verdugo grounded out to end the eighth inning with a runner on base, while Hunter Renfroe, the pinch-hitting Travis Shaw, and Hernandez went down in the ninth to seal an 8-3 defeat for the Sox.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 88-66 on the season as their seven-game winning streak is snapped. They now hold just a one-game lead over the Yankees for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Cortes

The Red Sox will look to bounce back and even up this three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon by sending right-hander Nick Pivetta to the mound.

The Yankees will counter by turning to left-hander Nestor Cortes, who has yet to start against the Red Sox this season but has seen them twice as a reliever back in June and July.

With the pressure now squarely on the Red Sox, first pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network. It’s safe to assume that Boston will go back to wearing their traditional home uniforms.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber goes deep twice as Red Sox rout Mets, 12-5, to finish off sweep and extend winning streak

The magic of the yellow City Connect uniforms continued at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, as the Red Sox absolutely teed off on the Mets yet again.

Boston steamrolled New York, 12-5, to finish off another sweep and extend their winning streak to seven consecutive games.

Matched up against Mets starter Taijuan Walker to begin things on Wednesday, the Sox did not waste any time in getting on the board, as Kyle Schwarber got his productive night at the plate by crushing a 434-foot solo shot over the center field wall with one out in the first inning.

Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers followed by each reaching base to put runners at the corners for J.D. Martinez, who doubled the lead on a line-drive RBI single that plated Bogaers and made it a 2-0 game.

That early production gave Chris Sale a decent cushion to work with right out of the gate essentially, though the veteran left-hander was not particularly at his best on Wednesday.

Sale, in what his seventh start of the season and second start back from the COVID-19 related injured list, allowed two runs — both of which were earned — while scattering six hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over five full innings of work.

Despite being given a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Sale gave one of those runs right back to the Mets in the top of the second, as he issued a leadoff walk to Javier Baez, who stole second base with two outs and promptly scored on an RBI double off the bat of Jeff McNeil.

The Red Sox, however, responded immediately — and then some — in their half of the second, with Hunter Renfroe ripping a leadoff double and moving up to third on a Christian Vazquez lineout before Jose Iglesias drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on the corners once more.

As the Boston lineup flipped back over for Enrique Hernandez, the leadoff man stayed hot by lacing an RBI double down the left field line that brought in Renfroe and moved Iglesias up to third while giving the Sox a 3-1 lead.

With two runners still on base, Schwarber came through yet again, this time tattooing a high, 94.4 mph fastball from Walker that he sent flying over the visitor’s bullpen.

Schwarber’s second homer of the evening — and 31st of the year — was a booming three-run shot that left his bat at 105.8 mph. It also put the Sox up 6-1 after just two innings.

In the third, after Iglesias turned a slick, 4-6-3 inning-ending double play to help Sale escape a jam, back-to-back doubles from Martinez and Alex Verdugo pushed across another Boston run off newly-inserted Mets reliever Trevor Williams.

Verdugo advanced up to third on a groundout to the right side of the infield from Vazquez, then scored himself on a hard-hit triple that was stung to right field by Vazquez and deflected off the glove of old friend Kevin Pillar.

Center fielder Brandon Nimmo got the ball back into the infield quickly, but Baez, the second baseman, overthrew Jonathan Villar at third base, thus allowing Iglesias to easily score to cap off the little-league home run and make it a 9-1 contest.

After Schwarber blooped a leadoff double in the fourth and Bogaerts moved him up to third on a single, Devers plated his side’s 10th run of the night on a run-scoring double play.

Sale, meanwhile, ran into a bit of trouble in the fifth following a pair of scoreless frames in the third and fourth, as the lefty issued a leadoff walk to James McCann that was later followed by a scorcher of a run-scoring infield single courtesy of Francisco Lindor.

That cut New York’s deficit down to eight runs at 10-2, but Sale was able to rebound by fanning the final batter he faced in Baez to end his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes) the 32-year-old hurler ultimately picked up his fifth win of the year to improve to a perfect 5-0, though he did raise his ERA on the season from 2.40 to 2.57.

Iglesias got the final run Sale gave up back on an RBI groundout that scored Renfroe in the bottom half of the fifth, and the Red Sox bullpen took over from there — with Matt Barnes getting the first call from manager Alex Cora.

Barnes, like Sale, was making just his second appearance since returning from the COVID IL last Friday, and he only managed to get the first out of the sixth before loading the bases on a six-pitch walk of Pillar.

Ryan Brasier was then dispatched to get out of the mess Barnes had created, and he did just that while only allowing one of the runners he inherited to score by getting McCann to fly out to center field.

Villar attempted to advance to third while J.D. Davis tagged up and scored, but was instead thrown out there by Hernandez, who ended the inning by notching his eighth outfield assist of the season and his second in as many games.

From there, the Sox and Mets continued to exchange one-run innings, with Verdugo picking up another RBI on a groundout in the bottom of the sixth and the dangerous Pete Alonso taking Adam Ottavino deep on a solo shot to right field in the top half of the seventh that made it a 12-4 contest entering the late stages.

After the Boston bats failed to score a run in an inning for the first time all night in the bottom of the seventh, left-hander Josh Taylor put up another zero in the eighth, setting the stage for fellow southpaw Martin Perez in the ninth.

Perez, in turn, surrendered a run on two hits, but otherwise slammed the door on New York to secure a commanding 12-5 victory for the Sox to finish off a quick two-game sweep.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to seven straight games, but they also improve to 88-65 on the season. With the Yankees winning and the Blue Jays losing on Wednesday, Boston now holds a two-game lead over New York for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Huge weekend against the Yankees at Fenway

After an off-day on Thursday, the Red Sox will welcome the Yankees, who have won three straight, into town for a pivotal three-game weekend series that begins on Friday night.

Friday’s series opener will feature a star-studded pitching matchup, as right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston while fellow righty Gerrit Cole is in line to do the same for New York.

With plenty of Wild Card implications on the line, first pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber bounces back with clutch 3-run double off bench as Red Sox top Mariners, 8-4

There was a point in time where it looked like a key defensive miscue would once again cost the Red Sox dearly in their matchup against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park on Tuesday, but they were able to overcome their mistakes this time around.

In what was a close contest for most of the night, Boston used a five-run eighth inning to best Seattle, 8-4, and put an end to their two-game losing streak.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his 29th start of the season for the Sox, put together yet another solid outing, as he has consistently been doing over the past month-plus.

Over five innings of work, Eovaldi surrendered just two runs — only one of which was earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

After issuing a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford to begin things in the first, the veteran right-hander proceeded to settle into a nice groove, retiring the next nine batters he faced in order going into the top of the fourth.

Things were still scoreless at that point in time, but Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez quickly changed that by clubbing a 414-foot solo shot off Mariners starter Tyler Anderson to give his side an early 1-0 lead on his 28th home run of the season.

That one-run lead did not last long, however, as the M’s answered with two runs of their own in their half of the fourth, though Eovaldi certainly cannot be dealt all the blame.

Following a softly-hit single from Mitch Haniger and an infield single from Kyle Seager, Ty France blooped a 228-foot RBI single to shallow center field that landed in front of Enrique Hernandez and brought in Haniger to tie things up at one run apiece.

Eovaldi then get Abraham Toro to lift a 358-foot fly ball to right field that should have gone for the second out of the inning, but was instead misplayed by Hunter Renfroe when the right fielder quite simply dropped the ball.

Seattle was able to load the bases on Renfroe’s 11th later of the year, and they took advantage of that by jumping out to a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Fraley.

Still, all things considered, Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up, and he ended his day by getting out of another jam in what would turn out to be a scoreless fifth inning as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (66 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler did not factor into Tuesday’s decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 3.52.

As soon as Eovaldi’s evening had officially ended, the Red Sox made sure to het the All-Star off the hook, as Seattle-area native Bobby Dalbec greeted new Mariners reliever Anthony Misiewicz by crushing a game-tying, 367-foot solo homer off him with two outs in the sixth.

Dalbec’s 22nd big fly of the season made it a 2-2 game entering the later stages, and while Darwinzon Hernandez (1 2/3 scoreless innings) and Adam Ottavino (1/3 scoreless innings) proved effective out of the Boston bullpen, the bats broke this one open in the eighth.

Following a hard-hit leadoff triple from Xander Bogaerts that prompted the Mariners to turn to Drew Steckenrider out of their bullpen, Rafael Devers drew a hard-fought eight-pitch walk, Martinez advanced Devers into scoring position on a groundout, and then it was in the hands of the bench.

Even after Dalbec homered in his previous at-bat, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to have the left-handed hitting Travis Shaw pinch-hit for him, and that move paid off since Shaw loaded the bases on a walk of his own.

Next up was Kyle Schwarber, pinch-hitting for Kevin Plawecki, and coming off one his more forgettable performances in his brief Red Sox career on Monday.

With redemption on his mind, Schwarber promptly unloaded the bases by drilling a 108 mph three-run double to the right-center field gap, allowing all three of Bogaerts, Devers, and Shaw to score to give the Sox their largest lead of the night at 5-2.

Schwarber’s heroics would not mark the end of the line for the Boston rally, though, as Alex Verdugo followed by mashing a two-run home run 348 feet over the left field fence to cap off a five-run inning and put his side ahead 7-2.

From there, Michael Feliz maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth and Martinez provided some much-needed insurance by ripping an RBI single off former teammate Matt Andriese in the top of the ninth.

Now working with an 8-2 lead, Hirokazu Sawamura was only able to record the first out of the bottom of the ninth while also loading the bases.

Austin Davis, meanwhile, took over for Sawamura, allowed two of the three base runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly and base hit, but ultimately closed things out to preserve an 8-4 victory for the Sox.

With the win, not only do the Red Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 82-65 on the season, but they also move into a virtual three-way tie with the Yankees and Blue Jays for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Houck vs. Gonzales

Right-hander Tanner Houck will get the ball for the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon as they look to secure a series victory over the Mariners, who will counter with left-hander Marco Gonzales.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber, Hunter Renfroe commit 2 costly errors as Red Sox fall to Mariners, 5-4

If the Red Sox were looking to make a statement in regards to how they should be viewed as a Wild Card contender on Monday, they certainly came up short of doing that against a team hot on their trail in the Mariners.

Boston fell to Seattle, 5-4, in the opening contest of a three-game series at T-Mobile Park, marking their sixth loss in their last eight games.

Eduardo Rodriguez, making his 28th start of the season for the Sox, bounced back from a rough outing in his last time out against the Rays by surrendering just two runs — only one of which was earned — on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That said, Rodriguez on Monday did not get off to the best starts, as he gave up a double and single to the first two batters he faced (J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger) before allowing the Mariners to take an early 1-0 lead on a run-scoring double play from Ty France in the first inning.

The left-hander had to battle his way through the bottom of the second as well, with Abraham Toro drawing a leadoff walk off him and Luis Torrens ripping a hard-hit single to right field as well as advancing up to second base when Hunter Renfroe booted the ball.

Tom Murphy then doubled his side’s advantage with an RBI groundout, but Rodriguez was ultimately able to settle in — and he did so while getting some help from the Red Sox lineup.

Mariners starter Logan Gilbert had nearly got through Boston’s batting order for the first time without giving up a hit before No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias altered those plans.

With one out and the bases empty in the top half of the third, Iglesias clubbed a 386-foot solo shot off Gilbert for his ninth home run of the season and his first in a Red Sox uniform in more than eight years.

Fast forward to the fifth, after Alex Verdugo and Christian Vazquez each laced a pair of singles to put runners at the corners with one out, Iglesias came through once more, this time by plating Verdugo on a blooper of an RBI single that knotted things up at two runs apiece.

While Iglesias and Co. were grinding away at the plate, Rodriguez was dealing on the mound, as he ended his day by retiring 12 of the final 16 batters he faced following a 32-pitch second inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), his second-highest pitch total of the year, the 28-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Monday, though he did lower his ERA on the season to 5.00.

In relief of Rodriguez, right-hander Ryan Brasier got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and it appeared he was well on his way to a 1-2-3 seventh inning.

After needing all of five pitches to record the first two outs of the seventh, Brasier induced a relatively-weak grounder off the bat of the pinch-hitting Jake Bauers that was hit in the direction of Kyle Schwarber at first base.

Schwarber, however, misplayed the ball and was charged with a fielding error, thus allowing Bauers to reach first base safely.

The Mariners made the Sox pay dearly for yet another defensive miscue, as Crawford singled to put runners at first and second before Haniger drilled a go-ahead three-run homer 363 feet to left field. Austin Davis had to get the last out of the seventh after his side had suddenly found themselves in a 5-2 hole.

Despite the three-run deficit, the Boston bats did not go away in the eighth, with both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers crushed a pair of back-to-back solo shots off Seattle reliever off Paul Sewald to make it a 5-4 game.

After Kaleb Ort (making his major-league debut) and Josh Taylor combined to toss a scoreless eighth inning, though, Mariners closer Drew Steckenrider slammed the door shut on the Red Sox in the ninth.

Verdugo fanned on a foul tip into the catcher’s mitt, Renfroe was called out on strikes, and Vazquez flew out to center field for the third and final out, as 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score in favor of the Mariners.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 81-65 on the season while also relinquishing the top American League Wild Card spot to the red-hot Blue Jays and moving into a virtual tie with the Yankees for the second and final spot.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Anderson

The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on Tuesday as they look to put an end to this two-game skid. The Mariners will counter with left-hander Tyler Anderson.

First pitch Tuesday night is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Ryan Brasier: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)