Red Sox officially sign Michael Wacha to one-year deal; veteran right-hander will earn $7 million in 2022

The Red Sox have officially signed free agent right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year contract for the 2022 season, the club announced earlier Saturday morning.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Friday that the two sides were finalizing a contract that was pending a physical, which Wacha has since passed.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the one-year deal is worth $7 million in value and does not include any options or incentives. The $7 million Wacha will earn in 2022 represents a significant raise from the $3 million he received with the Mets in 2020 and Rays in 2021.

This past season with Tampa Bay, the 30-year-old posted an unspectacular 5.05 ERA and 4.47 FIP to go along with 121 strikeouts to 31 walks over 29 appearances (23 starts) spanning 124 2/3 innings of work.

While Wacha may have struggled at times this year, he did put up a respectable 3.91 xFIP and career-best chase rate of 32.6%, which ranked in the 92nd percentile among major-league pitchers according to Baseball Savant.

From August 28 through the end of the regular season, Wacha appeared in seven games and made a total of six starts for the Rays. In that stretch, he pitched to the tune of a 2.88 ERA and 3.29 FIP while limiting opponents to a .167/.217/.300 slash line against and striking out 27.9% of the batters he faced.

For most of the 2021 campaign, Wacha had relied on his cutter as one of his most frequently-used pitches. But it got hit hard, so he ditched it later on the year in favor of throwing more four-seam fastballs (his primary pitch) and changeups as well as slightly more curveballs and sinkers.

Via Baseball Savant

A former first-round draft selection of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M University in 2012, Wacha spent the first seven years of his big-league career in St. Louis. The 6-foot-6, 215 pound righty was named MVP of the National League Championship Series in 2013 and earned his first and only All-Star selection to date in 2015.

After making more than 150 starts in a Cardinals uniform, Wacha inked a one-year pact with the Mets and spent the compressed 2020 season in Queens before joining the Rays on another one-year deal.

With the Red Sox, Wacha, who turns 31 next July, is now on his third team in three seasons. As of now, the veteran hurler is slated to join a starting rotation in Boston that includes the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, and Nick Pivetta with Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in the mix as well.

That being said, Speier reports that when the offseason began, the Red Sox “intended to add starting pitching depth, and will continue to explore ways of doing so by both trade and free agency.”

Wacha does, however, have experience working out of the bullpen, and so the Sox could elect to have him undertake a multi-inning reliever role if they feel that is where he would best be used to start things out in 2022.

On another note, Wacha — who is represented by CAA Sports — will wear the No. 52 with the Red Sox.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have expressed interest’ in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, per report

The Red Sox have expressed interest in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Familia, 32, became a free agent earlier this month after wrapping up a three-year, $30 million deal with the Mets he originally signed in December 2018.

First signed out of the Dominican Republic by New York as an international free agent in July 2007, Familia made his major-league debut in September 2012 and has since spent the vast majority of his 10-year career with the Mets.

Ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, the Mets dealt Familia to the Athletics, but quickly brought him back on that aforementioned three-year pact just a few months later.

This past season, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.40 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to two walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 59 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Familia operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, slider, four-seam fastball, and split-finger fastball. His four-seamer, which averaged 97.2 mph this year, may just be his best pitch considering the fact that opposing hitters batted just .073 against it in 2021.

A one-time All-Star, Familia does have plenty of experience when it comes to closing out games, as he registered 43 saves for New York in 2015 and a major-league best 51 saves in 2016.

That said, the 6-foot-3, 240 pound righty has recorded a grand total of one save since re-joining the Mets behind Edwin Diaz in 2019, though he did hold opponents to a 3.83 ERA when pitching in the seventh inning or later this season.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox would benefit from making some additions to their bullpen that is at the moment without Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards, and Hansel Robles — all of whom are free agents.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Red Sox made ‘competitive’ offer to Andrew Heaney before left-hander signed with Dodgers, per report

Before Andrew Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Dodgers last Wednesday, the Red Sox were reportedly among the many teams interested in the then-free agent left-hander.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Sox initially made Heaney an offer that would include one guaranteed year and a team option that would add on a second, which is similar to the deals the club signed Garrett Richards and Martin Perez to last winter.

That said, Speier noted that Boston was willing to up the ante by making a straight one-year offer to Heaney “that was competitive with” what the Dodgers were offering him, but the 30-year-old ultimately chose to sign with Los Angeles.

A former first-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2012 out of Oklahoma State University, Heaney was traded to the Dodgers along with Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and current Red Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez in December 2014.

The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, and the lefty spent the next six-plus seasons with the Halos before being dealt to the Yankees over the summer.

While splitting the 2021 campaign between the Angels and Yankees, Heaney struggled for the most part, posting a 5.83 ERA and 4.85 FIP to go along with 150 strikeouts to 41 walks over 30 appearances (23 starts) spanning 129 2/3 total innings of work with both clubs.

Upon arriving in the Bronx in late July, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw was originally a member of the Yankees’ starting rotation, but was demoted to the bullpen towards the end of August.

As a reliever, Heaney did not fare much better by putting up a 10.24 ERA and 7.10 FIP across seven outings and 9 2/3 innings pitched before being designated for assignment in early October and being made a free agent as a result.

For as ugly as a season Heaney had as far as ERA and FIP goes, Speier notes that his struggles “were little deterrent to teams drawn to his swing-and-miss stuff.”

Of the 31 left-handers who pitched at least 125 innings in the majors this year, Heaney ranked sixth among them in regards to strikeout rate (26.9%), 19th in walk rate (7.3%), and 17th in xFIP (4.12), per FanGraphs.

Put another way, teams such as the Red Sox were intrigued by Heaney — who works with a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup — for reasons that go beyond the box score.

Because of his eye-opening peripherals, Heaney is viewed by some evaluators as someone who can bounce back in 2022 the same way fellow left-hander Robbie Ray did on his way to winning the American League Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2021.

The Red Sox, as Speier highlights, are “trying to shore up” their starting rotation in the wake of Eduardo Rodriguez signing a five-year contract with the Tigers last week.

It may have been an unconventional way of going about addressing a need, but it would seem that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were looking to maximize Heaney’s potential were he to choose the Red Sox over the Dodgers.

Heaney, who does not turn 31 until next June and is represented by Icon Sports Management, instead opted to join the Dodgers as he will surely be striving to reestablish his value in 2022 and test the free agency waters again next winter.

(Picture of Andrew Heaney: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

With acquisition of Tim Locastro, Red Sox gain speed and athleticism, Chaim Bloom says

New Red Sox outfielder Tim Locastro has — and quite frankly always has had — elite speed in the field and on the base paths.

As a junior at Ithaca College in 2013, Locastro stole 40 bases in 41 attempts, setting the single-season program record in stolen bases as well as runs scored (71).

Upon being selected by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Locastro swiped 32 bags in his first full professional season with Low-A Vancouver in 2014 and was only caught four times.

As a prospect, Locastro was well-known for his “plus-plus speed” and was traded from the Blue Jays to the Dodgers in July 2015. With Los Angeles, the right-handed hitter’s speed was highly coveted leading up to his major-league debut in late September of the 2017 campaign.

Locastro appeared in just 21 total games for the Dodgers, however, as he was dealt to the Yankees at the conclusion of the 2018 season before ultimately winding up with the Diamondbacks that following January.

In his debut season with Arizona in 2019, Locastro put his speed on full display by recording 17 stolen bases without getting caught once. He led all of Major League Baseball with a sprint speed of 30.8 feet per second and finished tied for second in bolts (61), or any run with a speed of at least 30 feet per second.

While his stolen base numbers took a dip in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Locastro did enjoy a career year at the plate in which he slashed .290/.395/.464 (134 wRC+) across 33 games and 82 plate appearances. In the process of putting up those impressive numbers, he was perfect in stolen base attempts (4-for-4) while again putting up an MLB-best sprint speed of 30.7 feet per second.

Coming into 2021, Locastro had yet to be caught stealing (26-for-26) for his big-league career. He picked up stolen base No. 28 at Chase Field on April 13 to set the MLB record for most successful stolen bases to start a career, passing Hall of Famer Tim Raines in the process of doing so.

Just four days after breaking Raines’ record, though, Locastro was finally caught stealing for the first time, as he was picked off at second base by then-Nationals catcher Yan Gomes at Nationals Park on April 17.

Locastro stole two more bases and was caught two more times in a Diamondbacks uniform before he was traded back to the Yankees in exchange for pitching prospect Keegan Curtis at the start of July.

New York re-acquired Locastro in order to inject more speed into a station-to-station lineup that was in desperate need of a boost. Just nine games into his Yankees tenure, though, the Auburn, N.Y. native suffered a season-ending injury in a game against the Red Sox.

Manning left field for the Yankees in the first inning of a July 17 contest against the Sox in the Bronx, Locastro leaped to catch an Alex Verdugo fly ball in foul territory, but landed awkwardly and could be seen grabbing at his right knee after crashing into the wall down the left field line.

As a result of said play, Locastro came up gimpy and was later replaced in left field by Tyler Wade before being diagnosed with an ACL tear that same night.

The Yankees placed the 29-year-old on the 10-day injured list the following day and transferred him to the 60-day injured list a week later. At the end of the season, they must have felt that it was not worth it to add Locastro back to their 40-man roster and instead placed him on waivers.

This gave other clubs the opportunity to put a claim in for the 6-foot-1, 190 pound speedster, which is exactly what the Red Sox did last Friday.

Now a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, which currently sits at 33 players, Locastro was expected to begin running again sometime this fall after undergoing knee surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City back in late July.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom essentially confirmed as much in a recent conversation with BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Tim’s on track for a full recovery from his injury,” Bloom said via email. “With his speed and athleticism, he’s great depth for us to add at the beginning of the off-season.”

Locastro, who does not turn 30 until next July, certainly fits the profile of player the Red Sox have added since Bloom took over two years ago in that there is little risk and plenty to gain from it.

As previously mentioned, Locastro is extremely fast and is dangerous on the base paths, which is something Alex Cora’s Red Sox were lacking this past season. Not only that, but he plays all three outfield positions as well and has been a plus-defender in right field (positive-3 defensive runs saved, positive-2.1 ultimate zone rating in 207 1/3 innings) throughout his career.

Additionally, Locastro comes with club control, as he is slated to become eligible for salary arbitration for just the first time next season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $700,000 in 2022.

There is, of course, risk involved in acquiring someone like Locastro considering the fact that he is a player who primarily relies on their speed and is coming off a major ACL injury.

Still, the addition of Locastro — should he prove to have recovered from his injury — does provide the Red Sox with experienced outfield depth. It could also make some for some interesting positional battles come spring training.

That being said, spring training is still a long ways away and there is still plenty of off-season ahead. As Bloom put it, “We’ll see how things play out from here.”

(Picture of Tim Locastro: Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox claim speedy outfielder Tim Locastro off waivers from Yankees

The Red Sox have claimed outfielder Tim Locastro off waivers from the Yankees, the club announced Friday afternoon.

Locastro, 29, must have been designated for assignment by the Yankees recently for him to be available on waivers and eventually claimed by the Red Sox.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Sox have made a habit of plucking players away from the Yankees, with Locastro being just the latest instance of that.

Boston acquired right-hander Garrett Whitlock from New York via last winter’s Rule 5 Draft before adding both veteran reliever Adam Ottavino and right-handed pitching prospect Frank German in a January trade with the Bronx Bombers.

A native of New York himself, Locastro was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 13th round of the 2013 amateur draft out of Ithaca College. He was traded to the Dodgers along with left-hander Chase De Jong for two international bonus slots two years later and made his major-league debut for Los Angeles in September 2017.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Dodgers dealt Locastro to the Yankees, who then traded him to the Diamondbacks prior to the start of spring training in 2019. He spent the entirety of the 2019 and 2020 campaigns with Arizona before getting traded to New York again for right-hander Keegan Curtis this past July.

With the Diamondbacks this year, Locastro slashed .178/.271/.220 with two doubles, one home run, five RBI, 11 runs scored, five stolen bases, six walks, and 26 strikeouts over 55 games spanning 133 plate appearances. Following the trade, the right-handed hitter appeared in just nine games with the Yankees before tearing his ACL in a game against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 17.

On July 21, Locastro underwent season-ending knee surgery, which was performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Last month, MLB.com reported that Locastro “could begin running in October or November and he is expected to be active by the beginning of the 2022 season.”

Known for his elite speed and versatility, Locastro, who does not turn 30 until next July, has stolen 31 bases on 34 attempts across 209 major-league games between the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Yankees while seeing time at all three outfield positions.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Locastro has been added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which now sits at 35 players. He is slated to become eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in his career next season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $700,000 in 2022.

(Picture of Tim Locastro: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Garrett Whitlock closing out Wild Card Game win for Red Sox a fitting way for Yankees’ season to end

At this time one year ago, Garrett Whitlock was still a member of the Yankees organization.

While still recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent the previous July, Whitlock — then a prospect — was left off the Yankees’ 40-man roster as the November 20 deadline to add eligible minor-leaguers came and went.

As a result, Whitlock was to be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft the following month. And despite only having pitched 70 1 /3 innings above the High-A level since being drafted in 2017, the right-hander was scooped up by the Red Sox in said draft on December 10.

Fast forward 10 month later, and Whitlock was presented with the opportunity to end his former team’s 2021 season on the biggest of stages under the bright lights at Fenway Park.

After putting together a fantastic rookie season in which he posted a 1.96 ERA, 2.84 FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 81-17 over 46 relief appearances spanning 73 1/3 frames of work, Whitlock was called upon in the ninth inning of Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees.

Having just been activated from the 10-day injured list two days prior, the 25-year-old hurler was tasked by Red Sox manager Alex Cora to record the final three outs of the night.

Working with a five-run lead to protect while taking over for Hansel Robles, Whitlock got the first batter he faced in Aaron Judge to ground out to Xander Bogaerts at shortstop.

He then yielded a solo shot to Giancarlo Stanton that cut New York’s deficit to four runs, but bounced back by retiring Joey Gallo and Gleyber Torres in order to put the finishing touches on a 6-2 Wild Card victory for the Red Sox.

In closing things out on just eight pitches (seven strikes) in the top of the ninth, not only did Whitlock send the Sox to the American League Division Series; he eliminated the Yankees from the postseason as well.

For as humble as he is, it’s unlikely Whitlock would say anything about Tuesday’s win meaning more since it sent his former team home packing. Still, as a competitor, there has to be some level of gratification upon successfully dashing the hopes of the organization that essentially gave up on you not too long ago.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo expected to start at second base for Red Sox in Wild Card Game against Yankees

From the time he was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on September 21 until the regular season ended on Sunday, Christian Arroyo appeared in a grand total of four games for the Red Sox.

Over those four games (one start), Arroyo accrued all of six plate appearances, as he went 1-for-6 with a single, walk, and three strikeouts during the final stretch of the 2021 campaign.

Despite that limited playing time, Arroyo will get the start at second base in Tuesday night’s Wild Card Game against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed as much when speaking to reporters on Monday.

In Arroyo’s absence, Boston had primarily relied on veteran infielder Jose Iglesias to fill the void at second base. Iglesias performed valiantly in that role, slashing .356/.406/.508 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBI, and eight runs over 23 games and 64 plate appearances.

Because he signed with the Sox on September 6, though, Iglesias was deemed ineligible by Major League Baseball to play in the postseason since he joined a new organization after the August 31 deadline.

With that rule in mind, the Red Sox essentially have no choice but to roll with Arroyo — whose last start came on September 26 — in Tuesday’s contest against the Yankees.

Arroyo’s 2021 season marked his first full year with Boston, and it was also one that marked by three separate stints on the injured list (not including the COVID-related IL) on account of a left hand contusion, right knee contusion, and left hamstring strain.

Those injuries — as well as a bout with COVID — limited the 26-year-old to just 57 games this season, though he did prove to be effective when healthy by hitting .262/.324/.445 (106 wRC+) with 12 doubles, six homers, 25 RBI, 22 runs scored, one stolen base, eight walks, and 44 strikeouts over 181 trips to the plate.

Additionally, Arroyo provided the Sox with solid defense at second base, as he posted positive-five defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating of 2.2. across 387 innings at the position, per FanGraphs.

Taking that point into consideration, Arroyo’s ability to handle things at second base could prove useful on Tuesday, as the Yankees this season put up the fourth-highest groundball rate in the American League (43.4%) while also hitting into a league-leading 154 double plays.

On the flip of side that, the right-handed hitting Arroyo may not have had the best season against right-handed pitchers (.213/.302/.383), but he is 1-for-2 with an RBI single and strikeout in his career against Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, who will be starting for New York on Tuesday.

Although it’s unclear at this point where in the Red Sox lineup Arroyo will be hitting come Tuesday night, he has fared well against fastballs this season (.290 batting average, .505 slugging percentage). This, too, could prove beneficial since Cole relies heavily upon his four-seam fastball (47% of the time this season).

All that being said, Arroyo will be playing in his first career postseason game at the big-league level on Tuesday, so it’s safe to assume he is looking forward to that.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: 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)

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)

Nick Pivetta lasts just 1 2/3 innings as Red Sox get swept by Yankees after comeback attempt falls short in 5-2 loss

Nick Pivetta’s introduction to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night certainly did not go as planned in what would turn out to be his shortest outing of the year.

In what was his first career start against the Yankees as a member of the Red Sox, Pivetta got rocked for four runs — all of which were earned — on four hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout over just 1 2/3 innings of work.

Boston ultimately fell to New York by a final score of 5-2, as they were unable to avoid getting swept in three games by their division rivals in Wednesday’s series finale.

While the Sox’ offensive woes continued to drag on, the visitors actually struck first right away in their half of the first inning.

Matched up against Yankees left-hander Andrew Heaney, who came into the day having posted a 9.00 ERA through his first three starts with New York, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started by crushing a two-out, 379-foot solo shot to the second deck in left field.

Bogaerts’ 19th home run of the season gave Boston the early 1-0 lead, but Pivetta ran into quite a bit of trouble in the second inning after retiring three of the first four batters he faced in the first.

There, the right-hander issued a leadoff single to Giancarlo Stanton that was followed by a seven-pitch walk of Rougned Odor. Gary Sanchez then lifted a softly-hit fly ball to shallow right field, but it was one that was just out of the reach of right fielder J.D. Martinez.

Odor, who initially retreated back to first base after he initially thought Martinez had made the tough catch, managed to advance to second, loading the bases with no outs for Brett Gardner.

Gardner drove in the tying run — Stanton — from third on a sacrifice fly to center field before New York’s No. 9 hitter, Andrew Velazquez, plated the go-ahead run on an RBI single through the right side of the infield.

That gave the Yankees their first lead of the night at 2-1, and after he stole second base and Rafael Devers made a fantastic play at third for the second out of the inning, Anthony Rizzo delivered with the back-breaker.

Just activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, Rizzo — down in the count at 0-2 — laced a line drive off Pivetta that deflected off the glove of Bobby Dalbec and rolled into foul territory in right field.

Rizzo’s base hit pushed across both Sanchez and Velazquez to make it a 4-1 contest, and it promptly marked the end of the line for Pivetta after he walked Stanton and got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler wound up getting hit with his sixth loss of the season while seeing his ERA on the year inflate to 4.43.

The Red Sox bullpen, to its credit, was fairly effective in relief of Pivetta, as Garrett Richards, Martin Perez, and Adam Ottavino combined to toss 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball before Josh Taylor surrendered a run on two hits in the bottom of the eighth.

Still, just because the bullpen held the opposition at five runs to keep things relatively close at 5-1, that does not mean the offense was able to take advantage.

After Bogaerts got the Red Sox on the board with his solo home run in the first inning, Heaney countered by putting together his best outing in Pinstripes to date by allowing a total of one out and two walks the rest of the way.

From the start of the second inning through the middle of the seventh, the Sox did not send more than four batters to the plate, though they did have scarce opportunities to score more than one run.

In the top of the fourth, Bogaerts reached base on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and moved up to third on a Devers groundout, but was stranded there by Heaney when Martinez grounded out to end the inning.

In both the fifth and sixth innings, Boston led things off with a runner reaching base, though neither made it further than second on account of a flyout, a lineout, pop out, fly out, and 5-4-3 double play.

So, Heaney capped off his stellar night by retiring all the final five Red Sox hitters he faced to make way for the Yankees bullpen to take over in the eighth.

Fellow lefty Zack Britton followed suit by tossing a perfect frame in that eighth inning, but closer Aroldis Chapman certainly made things interesting in the ninth.

On a 2-1, 97 mph heater on the inner half of the plate, Renfroe turned a 5-1 game into a 5-2 game by sending his 22nd home run of the season 456 feet to deep right field.

A one-out walk from Bogaerts and two-out single off the bat of Martinez brought the tying run to the plate in Kevin Plawecki, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone countered by going back into his bullpen.

Matched up against Lucas Luetge now, Plawecki worked a full count and on the eighth pitch he saw from the lefty, ripped a grounder to the left side of the infield.

It took a Herculean effort from the shortstop in Velazquez, but the Bronx native was able to make a sprawling grab and get to his feet in time to gun down Plawecki at first for the final out of the contest.

That in turn, secured a 5-2 victory for the Yankees and 5-2 defeat for the Red Sox as they wind up getting swept out of Yankee Stadium.

With the loss, Boston falls to 69-54 and they are now six full games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Next up: Off day on Thursday, then a weekend series against the Rangers

The Red Sox will travel back to Boston on Wednesday night, enjoy an off day on Thursday, and welcome the lowly Rangers into town for the start of a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park on Friday.

Left-hander Chris Sale will make his second start of the season for Boston in Friday’s series opener, while Texas will turn to right-hander Dane Dunning.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)