Red Sox Rookie Tanner Houck Planning on Attacking Strike Zone Against Yankees in First Fenway Park Start

Red Sox rookie right-hander Tanner Houck is coming off a superb major-league debut against the Marlins last Tuesday in which he collected seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings en route to picking up his first career victory.

Following that impressive showing, a new challenge for Houck awaits on Sunday, as the 24-year-old hurler will be going up against a red-hot Yankees team in the finale of a three-game series at Fenway Park.

With a 6-5, 12-inning win over Boston on Friday, New York extended their current winning streak to a season-best nine consecutive games. Over that dominant stretch, which goes back to September 9, the Bronx Bombers are slashing an absurd .314/.401/.711 against opposing right-handed pitchers while clubbing 25 home runs and posting a 194 wRC+. These numbers are something Houck will have to keep in mind when he takes the Fenway Park mound for the first time.

“For me, nothing really changes,” Houck said of his mindset going into his first home start of the season. “As long as you go out there and attack the zone, I think good things happen. If you go right at people, get them on their heels early, it sets up a lot more. Typically, whenever you’re behind in the count, a lot of people become more dangerous. So, go out there, attack right away and I’ll definitely real confident.”

In his debut against Miami last Tuesday, Houck faced 19 batters. Among those 19 batters, the former first-round pick fell behind the count on several occasions, but he did manage to limit the opposition to just three walks while mixing in his four-seam and split-finger fastball as well as his sinker and slider.

Limiting traffic on the base paths could prove to be pivotal for the Illinois native on Sunday, as the Yankees have accrued the second-highest walk percentage in the American League (11.9%) going back to the start of their current winning streak.

To construct a proper game plan for a team as dangerous as New York, Houck will need to be diligent in his preparations. He does however have one tool that he did not have available to him in the minor-leagues: advanced analytics.

“It’s definitely got its new challenges with everything,” the Mizzou product said of his introduction to the majors. “There’s a lot more scouting report info to take in, which I love. Being able to go out there and know my opponent just a little bit more helps me set up a game plan a lot.”

On top of the insights he has received from the Red Sox’ analytics department, Houck has also gotten some helpful advice from fellow former Missouri Tigers in the majors, such as Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Rangers right-hander Kyle Gibson.

“Having guys like that reach out is truly an honor,” Houck added. “I’m truly blessed to be a part of that brotherhood. I’ve definitely gotten to talk to Gibson and Scherzer over the years having that Mizzou connection, and just kind of bouncing ideas off them is truly great. It’s more people to learn from and this is a game that you got to learn from your elders a little bit, see what they’ve done and just try to learn from that.”

Houck will get the ball against the Yankees and fellow rookie righty Deivi Garcia on Sunday afternoon.

Red Sox Serve up Four Home Runs in Yet Another Defeat To Yankees To Extend Losing Streak To Eight Consecutive Games

In their final game at Yankee Stadium in 2020, the Red Sox fell to the first-place Yankees by a final score of 6-3 on Monday, which extended their losing streak to a season-worst eight consecutive games.

Martin Perez made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he came into the week having made just one career start in the Bronx prior to Monday.

Only able to work the first three innings due to a 1 hour and 22 minute rain delay, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

All three of those New York tallies came in the bottom half of the second, when after plunking Tyler Wade, the Yanks’ No. 9 hitter, with two outs, Perez served up an RBI double to Aaron Hicks and followed that by serving up a 428-foot two-run to Luke Voit on a 2-2, 83 mph changeup right down the chute moments later.

Those three consecutive mistakes put Perez’s side in an early three-run hole, and his evening would unknowingly come to a close after a scoreless third inning due to that aforementioned inclement weather.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 58 (30 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his cutter and changeup a combined 58% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches while also topping out at 93 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 10 times.

Hit with his third losing decision of the year while also raising his ERA to 4.07, Perez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday.

In relief of Perez, left-hander Josh Osich got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen following that 83-minute rain delay, and he surrendered a pair of leadoff homers to Thairo Estrada and Voit in the bottom halves of the fourth and fifth innings.

From there, fellow southpaw Josh Taylor made his 2020 debut after getting activated from the injured list and needed just nine pitches to toss a scoreless bottom of the sixth, while Austin Brice gave up another solo shot to Aaron Hicks in the seventh and Heath Hembree fanned a pair in a perfect eighth inning.

Hembree’s impressive work kept Boston’s deficit at three runs, but it would prove to not be enough in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery, whose 2020 debut came against Boston back on July 31.

The 27-year-old had a no-hitter going through his first 3 2/3 innings on Monday, but a string of three straight two-out hits in the fourth from J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Christian Vazquez broke that up, with Vazquez plating Martinez on an RBI single that was just out of the reach of Gleyber Torres.

As it would almost immediately turn out, Vazquez’s 12th RBI of the season came at just the right time as the Yankees ground crew began to roll the tarp onto the field almost as soon as Vazquez had reached first base safely.

The Red Sox headed into a lengthy weather delay with two outs and runners on the corners in the fourth, but they could not do anything with that opportunity once the rain lifted.

That being the case because after Michael Chavis drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases, Alex Verdugo was the victim of a swinging strikeout at the hands of Luis Avilan to extinguish the threat and end the inning.

Verdugo did redeem himself in the top of the sixth, though, when with two outs and Vazquez at second, the outfielder drove the catcher in on a run-scoring double off reliever Michael King. 5-2 New York.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with the Yankees up 6-2, vaunted fireballer Aroldis Chapman made his first appearance of the season out of the New York bullpen. Perhaps taking advantage of some of Chapman’s expected rustiness, the Sox made somewhat of a comeback attempt with Jose Peraza ripping a one-out triple and Jonathan Arauz scoring him on an RBI double down the left field line.

That pushed the Red Sox’ deficit to three runs at 6-3, but alas, that would go on to be Monday’s final score after Kevin Pillar and Rafael Devers struck out back-to-back to end the game.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox have lost their last 11 games at Yankee Stadium.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Next up for the Red Sox, they will return to Fenway Park and open up a two-game interleague series against the Phillies beginning on Monday night.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Zach Eflin will do the same for Philadelphia.

In four career appearances (two starts) against the Phillies, the 30-year-old Godley owns a lifetime 1.53 ERA and .528 OPS against over 17 2/3 total innings pitched.

Eflin, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Red Sox and his first career start at Fenway Park.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to finally to put an end to this dreadful skid, maybe?

Red Sox Lineup: Martín Pérez Looks To Be Stopper for Boston in Series Finale Against Yankees

After being held to just two runs on five hits in yet another loss to the Yankees in the Bronx on Sunday, the Red Sox will finally look to put a halt to this seven-game losing streak in their final contest of the year at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he’ll be opposed by fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery, who will be making his fourth start of the season for New York.

Coming into the week with a 2.20 ERA and .583 OPS against over his last three outings and 16 1/3 innings pitched, Perez has only made one prior start at Yankee Stadium in which he surrendered seven runs on 11 hits in five innings of work back on August 12, 2018 when he was with the Rangers.

Montgomery, meanwhile, yielded just one run on five hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings pitched against the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 31. As you may have already guessed, the Yankees won that game.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Montgomery to begin things on Monday:

Not too much to talk about here except the fact that Jose Peraza is starting in left field for the second time this season, Kevin Pillar is once again leading off and starting in center, and Alex Verdugo is in right field while J.D. Martinez slides back into the DH role.

Also worth noting here, Christian Vazquez is back behind the plate and Michael Chavis is starting at first base with the left-hander on the mound for New York.

Among these nine hitters, Vazquez and Rafael Devers have both taken Montgomery deep before, while Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts are the only ones with two or more hits off him.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN-plus, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their first win in over a week.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo Picks up Team-Leading Fourth Outfield Assist in Sunday’s Loss To Yankees

The 2020 Major League Baseball season may just be 22 games young, but Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has already made quite the first impression with his new club.

After coming over in that blockbuster trade with the Dodgers in February, the 24-year-old is slashing .286/.342/.529 with seven extra-base hits, five of which being home runs, and eight RBI through his first 20 games with Boston.

More importantly, for this piece anyway, Verdugo leads the Red Sox in outfield assists and is actually in a three-way tie with the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier and the Pirates’ Bryan Reynolds for the most outfield assists in baseball with four on the year thus far.

That fourth assist for Verdugo came in Sunday night’s loss to the Yankees, when after fielding a softly-hit fly ball off the end of Mike Tauchman’s bat in the third inning while on the run, the left fielder worked against his momentum, spun 180 degrees, cocked back, and threw an absolute dart to Jonathan Arauz to get Tauchman at second base.

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s throw to second came out of his left hand at a whopping 81 mph and got back to the infield in just over two seconds.

The play, as fantastic as it was, may not have made too much of a difference by the end of Sunday’s contest, but it just goes to show how impressive Verdugo’s arm strength truly is, which makes sense when you consider the fact that he was a legitimate pitching prospect coming out of high school.

According to FanGraphs, Verdugo has been one of the better defensive outfielders in the American League so far this season, as the Arizona native ranks 11th among qualified AL outfielders in Defensive Runs Saved (6) and 14th in UZR/150 (4.7).

When asked about this highlight play during his postgame media availability Sunday night, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Verdugo’s throw was “outstanding.” Indeed it was.

Red Sox Held Team Meeting Prior to Sunday’s Loss to Yankees

The Red Sox dropped their seventh consecutive game in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, but before the game even started, a team meeting was held earlier this weekend.

In the meeting, which was called for by Red Sox leadership and held at an outdoor area at the team hotel, Kevin Pillar said the goal was to try to come together as one cohesive unit in the midst of a disastrous 6-16 start to the 2020 season.

“We got together. We talked about some things,” Pillar said during his postgame media availability via Zoom Sunday night. “We’ve got to to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got good leadership on this team. They called for [a meeting]. This season is going to happen whether we want it to happen or not. We’ve got 30-some-odd games. A lot can change.”

One of the struggles in organizing this meeting was finding the right venue to have it in. With proper social distancing protocols needing to be followed while the United States is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that was not the simplest thing to do. And that lack of intimacy has also had an effect on players’ abilities to jell so far this year.

“Especially for us, with the configurations we have at Fenway — not having the locker room dynamic — it’s been extremely difficult to get on the same page with a lot of people,” Pillar added. “We’ve got to find ways to stay together and find ways to make this fun.”

Currently on pace to win fewer than 17 games by the end of the season, the Red Sox certainly do not look like a team that has had a ton of fun on the field to this point. The procedures in place because of the aforementioned pandemic likely do not help that cause, which is kind of what Pillar alluded to on Sunday.

“Baseball is so difficult to begin with,” said the veteran outfielder. “When you have any sort of external or outside factor that takes away from the task at hand it makes it even more difficult.”

Pillar is a veteran of eight major-league seasons. From Toronto, to San Francisco, and now Boston, the 31-year-old has presumably been part of many team or player-only meetings in his day.

In this particular meeting held by Boston at the Lotte New York Palace in Manhattan, though, Pillar said “quite a few players talk” and the team “just wanted to open the floor up to everyone.”

What was specifically said in the Sox’ team meeting will probably never be fully disclosed to the general public, but Pillar’s closing statement to reporters on Sunday was quite intuitive.

“We’re our best teachers,” he said. “When things go wrong we lean on each other.”

 

Red Sox Manage to Hold Yankees to Just Four Runs but Can’t Get Offense Going in Seventh Consecutive Loss

For the first time since last Sunday, the Red Sox did not give up eight or more runs in a game, yet saw their season-worst skid grow to seven games following a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Yankees once again on Sunday.

Chris Mazza made his first career majoor-league start and second overall appearance for Boston in this one after gettting recalled from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket hours before the game.

Working the first three innings of Sunday’s contest, the right-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those New York tallies came on a pair of RBI hits from Mike Ford and Aaron Hicks in the bottom halves of the first and second. The other two came in the bottom half of the third, when Ford struck again by following up a Gleyber Torres one-out single by crushing a 2-0, 92 mph sinker from Mazza 429 feet to right-center field fot a two-run home run.

That gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead, and Mazza’s evening came to a close shortly thereafter once he retired the side in the third by getting Brett Gardner to fly out to center and Clint Frazier to fan on five pitches.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 66 (40 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 42% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing-and-miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.3 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 12 times.

Later hit with his first losing decision of the season while raising his ERA to 6.35, Mazza could still very well get another start for Boston despite this rough showing. If that happens, the Bay Area native could very well take the mound again against the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday.

In relief of Mazza, another pitcher who does not rely on his velocity got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the form of Ryan Weber.

Fresh off six one-run innings of relief against the Rays on Wednesday, the right-hander impressed once again on Sunday by sitting down eight of the 10 hitters he faced with the help of a double play over three scoreless frames from the middle of the fourth up until the end of the sixth.

From there, Ryan Brasier danced his way around a bases loaded jam and kept the Yankees off the board despite needing 30 pitches to do so in the eighth, while Marcus Walden bounced back from Thursday’s disastrous outing with a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran left-hander for the Yankees in 37-year-old J.A. Happ, whose last turn through the Yanks’ rotation was actually skipped partly due to his sluggish start to the 2020 season.

As it turns out, Happ was anything but sluggish on Sunday, as he held the opposition to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched.

That one Boston run came courtesy of Kevin Pillar, when with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the third, the Red Sox center fielder took a 1-1, 84 mph slider on the inner edge of the strike zone from the Yankees starter and deposited it 382 feet down the left field line for the solo shot.

At the time, Pillar’s second big fly of the season cut his side’s deficit in half at 2-1. However, that deficit would only grow while the Boston bats were held in check by Happ as well as Adam Ottavino and Chad Green out of the Yankees bullpen.

The Sox offense did make a bit of noise in the ninth though, when with Zack Britton on the hill for New York, the pinch-hitting Jose Peraza followed up a Christian Vazquez two-base hit and plated a run on a fielding error committed by the Yankees reliever.

That made it a 4-2 contest and brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Kevin Plawecki, but the veteran backstop whiffed on five pitches, and that was that in what would go down as a two-run defeat.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

Chris Mazza was the 11th different starting pitcher used by the Red Sox through the club’s first 22 games of the season. They are now 6-16 on the year.

The Red Sox allowed four or fewer runs in a game for the first time since August 9, which also happens to be the last time they won.

The Red Sox are 5-20 against the Yankees dating back to the start of the 2019 season. They have been outscored 44-20 by New York in six games this year.

The Red Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in this one and left six men on base as a team.

Kevin Pillar’s last seven games: 8-for-26 (.308) with one home run, four RBI, and two walks.

Alex Verdugo went 2-for-4 on Sunday with a hard-hit double, a stolen base, and an outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Perez is coming off an outing in which he allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings of work in a loss to the Rays. The 29-year-old has only made one career start at Yankee Stadium and it did not go too well, as he got shelled for seven runs on 11 hits in five innings pitched on August 12 of the 2018 season.

Montgomery, meanwhile, held Boston to just one run over 5 2/3 innings pitched in his 2020 debut back on July 31. The Red Sox wound up losing that contest by a final score of 5-1.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put a stop to this losing streak.

 

 

 

Red Sox Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket in Order to Make Room on Roster for Chris Mazza

Before making his first career major-league start on Sunday night, right-hander Chris Mazza needed to be added to the Red Sox’ active roster. In order to make that happen, the Sox optioned fellow righty Dylan Covey to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket prior to Sunday’s contest against the Yankees.

In his second stint with Boston after initially getting recalled from Pawtucket back on August 8, Covey, who just turned 29 on Friday, surrendered three earned runs on five hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over three relief appearances and 4 1/3 total innings pitched.

All three of those runs came in Friday’s loss to the Yankees, as the California native now owns a 7.11 ERA and .692 OPS against through his first four outings as a member of the Red Sox dating back to July 25. He will likely be up with the big-league club again before the end of the 2020 season.

As for Mazza, the 30-year-old will make his second appearance with the Red Sox a little more than two weeks after making his team debut at Yankee Stadium on August 1.

Mazza limited New York to just one hit and two walks while fanning three over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in that outing, and he will now get the chance to start a game for the first time as a major-leaguer.

Prior to coming over to the Sox in December, the Bay Area native made 13 starts for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse last season and posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 74 innings pitched.

That being said, expect Mazza to get anywhere between three to five innings of work in on Sunday depending on how he looks early on. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI.

Red Sox Lineup: J.D. Martinez Gets Start in Right Field in Sunday Night Contest Against Yankees

After allowing eight or more runs for a sixth consecutive game in an 11-5 loss at the hands of the Yankees on Saturday night, the Red Sox will look to put an end to their week-long skid on Sunday.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will make his first career major-league start and second overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one.

The 30-year-old held the Yankees scoreless over 2 2/3 innings innings of relief in his team debut at Yankee Stadium on August 1.

Mazza will be opposed by veteran left-hander J.A. Happ for New York, who will be making just his third start of 2020 after his last turn through the rotation was skipped. That being due to the fact the 37-year-old has surrendered eight earned runs over seven innings pitched thus far.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Mazza and against Happ to begin things on Sunday:

With the left-hander on the mound for the Yankees, the left-handed bats of Mitch Moreland and Jackie Bradley Jr. will start this one on the bench. Because of that, Michael Chavis makes his second consecutive start at first base, while J.D. Martinez makes his second start of the year in right field.

On account of Martinez manning right field on Sunday, Christian Vazquez will DH for the Red Sox and Kevin Plawecki will make his sixth start of the season behind the plate in his place.

Also worth noting here, Kevin Pillar is leading off once again, Alex Verdugo is starting in left, and Jonathan Arauz is batting out of the nine-hole and starting at second base.

Among these nine hitters, Rafael Devers, Vazquez, Chavis, and Martinez have all taken Happ deep at least once in their careers, while Vazquez is a lifetime .286/.348/.619 hitter off the Yankees starter.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI. The Red Sox still need to make some roster moves before this game starts, so stay tuned for that.

Nathan Eovaldi Surrenders Three Home Runs as Red Sox’ Struggles Against Yankees Continue in 11-5 Loss

Another night, another game allowing eight-plus runs, and another blowout loss for the Red Sox on Saturday. This one came in 11-5 fashion at the hands of the Yankees once again.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he had a tough time missing Yankees bats in his first go-around at the Stadium since last season.

That being the case because over 5 1/3 innings of work, the right-hander got shelled for eight runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and two walks to go along with just three strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those New York tallies came right away in their half of the first, when after retiring two of the first three hitters he faced, Eovaldi served up a two-run home run to Gio Urshela off a 1-0, 98 mph heater on the outer half of the plate. 2-0 Yankees.

After settling in a bit in the second and third innings, Eovaldi was again the victim of the two-run home run ball when Gary Sanchez took the fireballer deep to left off a 2-2, 90 mph splitter down the chute, which actually gave the Yankees the lead again at 4-3.

In the sixth, the long ball came back to bite Eovaldi once more. There, two straight hits from Gleyber Torres and Mike Tauchman to lead off the frame brought Clint Frazier to the plate with one out and runners in scoring position, and the Yankees outfielder took full advantage by crushing a three-run blast to right field off a first-pitch cutter to simultaneously give his side a 7-3 lead and put an end to Eovaldi’s outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (59 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his cut-fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 99.3 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 19 times.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 5.93, Eovaldi will look to bounce back in his next time out, which should come against the Orioles in Baltimore on Thursday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Heath Hembree came on for Eovaldi with two outs to get in the bottom of the sixth, closed the book on the starter’s night by allowing one inherited runner to score, and sat down the final two Yankees he faced.

From there, Matt Barnes had a tough time of things in the seventh considering he yielded three runs (two earned) on one hit, one walk, and one hit batsman in the frame, while Phillips Valdez tossed a perfect ninth inning to keep his side’s deficit at eight runs. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander James Paxton for the Yankees, who was coming off his best start of the season thus far in his last time out against the Rays.

Down by a pair after just one inning, the Boston bats got things going in the third starting with a leadoff walk drawn by Jose Peraza.

As the lineup flipped back over, Rafael Devers moved Peraza up to third on a one-out double, and the two infielders were subsequently driven in on a two-run single off the bat of J.D. Martinez that he tried to unsuccessfully turn into a double himself.

Xander Bogaerts followed by taking Paxton 380 feet to left-center field for his fourth big fly of the season. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-2 lead, which would actually only last 1 1/2 innings before the Yankees took this one over.

The only other offensive production the Sox were able to garner on Saturday came well after Paxton’s day had ended. In the top half of the ninth, Alex Verdugo deposited his fifth homer of 2020 433 feet deep into the right field seats, while Jose Peraza later scored off an RBI triple from Kevin Pillar.

Both run-producing hits from the pair of outfielders came off Luis Cessa, and they cut the Red Sox’ deficit down to six runs at 11-5, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Alex Verdugo’s OPS on the season is now .848. Michael Chavis’ is now .857. Both are currently riding multi-game hitting streaks.

On a night the pitching was rather dismal, Phillips Valdez continues to impress.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third-game of this four-game set on Sunday night.

Right-hander Chris Mazza will make his first career start for Boston, while left-hander J.A. Happ will get the ball for New York.

Mazza, 30, will need to be recalled on Sunday, a little over two weeks after tossing  2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief at Yankee Stadium in his Red Sox debut on August 1.

Happ, meanwhile, has allowed four earned runs in each of his first two starts of 2020 and was actually skipped his last time through the Yankees’ rotation. The 37-year-old veteran southpaw owns a lifetime 3.00 ERA and .676 OPS against in 25 career outings (24 starts) and 141 1/3 innings pitched against the Red Sox.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put an end to this six-game skid.

 

Right-Hander Chris Mazza to Make First Career Start for Red Sox on Sunday Night

Right-hander Chris Mazza will make his first career major-league start for the Red Sox in Sunday night’s game against the Yankees, manager Ron Roenicke announced Saturday.

Per Roenicke, Mazza’s last outing at Yankee Stadium, in which he tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief on August 1, factored into this decision.

The 30-year-old hurler allowed just one hit, walked two, and fanned three in what was his Red Sox debut earlier this month, but he was promptly optioned back to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket on August 6 when roster sizes across baseball had to be reduced from 30 to 28 players.

That being said, a roster move will have to be made in order to add Mazza back to the active roster, which is exactly what Roenicke said would happen earlier in the week.

Prior to being claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Mets back in December, Mazza made 17 total starts between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse last season. With Syracuse, the California native posted a 3.77 ERA and .234 batting average against over 13 starts and 74 innings of work.

By going with Mazza for Sunday night’s contest, Roenicke and Co. “are trying to be a little bit more specific” in terms of managing the club’s starting rotation. Through Boston’s first 20 games of the season, 10 different starting pitchers have already been used.

Following Mazza’s start on Sunday, the Red Sox will turn to left-hander Martin Perez on Monday to close out this series against New York before going with Zack Godley and rookie Kyle Hart in next week’s two-game set against the Phillies back at Fenway Park.

When asked about the struggles his pitching staff has endured so far this season, Roenicke acknowledged that it is certainly “more difficult to manage” when you don’t have five definitive starting pitchers and that the 2019 Red Sox “kind of went through the same thing.”

With that in mind, it’s Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for the Sox on Saturday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI.