Heath Hembree Proving to Be Valuable Member of Red Sox Bullpen When Healthy

It’s way too early in the season for a legitimate evaluation, but I can’t help myself in saying that I’ve been impressed with what Heath Hembree has done out of the Red Sox bullpen thus far in 2020

In four appearances, the right-hander has yet to allow a run or walk while surrendering just one hit and striking out four over 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Over those four outings dating back to Opening Day, Hembree has faced 11 batters and thrown 46 total pitches, 32 of which have been strikes. In terms of pitch breakdown, the 31-year-old has thrown 26 four-seam fastballs (56.5%), 18 sliders (39.1%), and two curveballs (4.3%). One of those two curveballs thrown went for a hit against the Mets on Thursday, but it was just a harmless single.

Hitters thus far a slashing a measly .091/.091/.091 off Hembree while swinging and missing more than 15% of the time and striking out more than 36% of the time.

Per Statcast, Hembree’s xERA, or expected ERA, this season is 0.72, which ranks in the 98th percentile of major-league pitchers this season. In other words, the South Carolina native has been great. That much is also evident when you consider the fact that Hembree has accrued 0.2 fWAR so far this year, which is already higher than his 2018 and 2019 totals, according to FanGraphs.

Again, this is all within a very small sample size and some regression is likely to come, but after an injury-hampered 2019 campaign, seeing Hembree get off to this hot start out of the Red Sox bullpen sure is encouraging. It just goes to show that when healthy, the veteran righty is an extremely valuable member of Boston’s relief corps for manager Ron Roenicke. He’s proving that much right now.

Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez Emerging as One of Baseball’s Best Catchers

As the Red Sox have put together their first winning streak of the 2020 season over the past two games, Christian Vazquez has emerged as one of the more daunting figures in Boston’s everyday lineup.

In their last two victories over the New York Mets, the Sox have plated 10 total runs. Vazquez, by himself, is responsible for exactly 60% of that offensive production.

While playing at Citi Field for the first time in his major-league career, the 29-year-old went 4-for-8 (.500) with three home runs, six RBI, and three runs scored.

It’s a small sample size, sure, but when taking into consideration what he did at the plate last season and what he’s doing at the plate thus far in 2020, it’s becoming more and more apparent that Vazquez is emerging as one of the backstops in all of baseball. His manager Ron Roenicke said as much earlier this week..

“As a catcher, he’s really got to be up there at the top at what they do and the offensive part,” Roenicke said in regards to Vazquez via Zoom on Wednesday. “I know (Buster) Posey has always been one of those guys and (J.T.) Realmuto is one of those guys. And it used to be (Yadier) Molina. So Vazquez has put himself in a category with the best catchers. Defensively we know he does a good job. Offensively, last year, I thought he really stepped it up, showed us what he can do and he’s looking right now like he’s going to be that type of player again. So great for him.”

Vazquez himself has an adequate reason for upping his offensive game. Following a two-homer performance against the Metropolitans on Thursday, the Puerto Rican national recalled how he was once viewed as a defense-first catcher and how he wanted to prove that stereotype wrong beginning last year.

“I was tired of hitting ninth,” said Vazquez. “I want to be a different player. I want to feel like I’m helping the team both ways, hitting and catching. I’m trying to do my best.”

In addition to crushing two big flies off Mets starter Steven Matz on Thursday, Vazquez also helped Red Sox starter Martin Perez out by nabbing Michael Conforto at second on a failed stolen base attempt in the second inning. That play, as well as calling a fairly good game behind the plate, also got the attention of Roenicke.

“He’s doing both things,” the Sox skipper said Thursday. “Called a really nice game, blocked well, the throw from his knees to throw out the baserunner and obviously, the offense. We’ll keep him out there. As long as he’s catching like this and he’s feeling strong, we’ll keep putting him out there.”

According to FanGraphs‘ 2020 leaderboards, Vazquez leads all major-league catchers in fWAR (0.7) just about a full week into the new season. Again, it’s a small sample size and it’s also early, but it just goes to show that Vazquez could be among baseball’s elite behind the plate. Only time will tell if he is able to keep it up.

Christian Vazquez Comes Through With Two Homers as Red Sox Sweep First Part of Road Trip Against Mets

For the first time this season, the Red Sox have strung together consecutive victories, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 4-2 on Thursday night to sweep the mini two-game series at Citi Field.

Martin Perez got the start for Boston in this one, and contrary to his team debut at Fenway Park over the weekend, the left-hander was much more impressive in his first start of the year away from home. That being the case because over 5 2/3 innings of work, Perez yielded just two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits, four walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

Both of those Mets tallies scored off Perez came in the bottom half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, the 29-year-old single to Jeff McNeil, which at the time put New York up 2-1.

Fortunately for the Sox, Perez was able to avoid any further damage in the frame and proceeded to sit down seven of the final nine hitters he faced from the middle of the fourth up until when there were two outs in the bottom of the fifth, the point in which his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (49 strikes), the Venezuelan southpaw relied on his changeup more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing nine swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.5 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Red Sox, Perez will look to carry this momentum into his next start, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

In relief of Perez, Heath Hembree came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that out by fanning Yoenis Cespedes on seven pitches, and proceeded to toss a scoreless seventh inning as well.

From there, Matt Barnes labored in the eighth with a one-run lead to protect, but despite dealing with runners on the corners with one out and the bases loaded with two, the flame-throwing right-hander escaped the inning unscathed by getting Mets rookie Andres Gimenez to ground out to first.

In the ninth, Brandon Workman appeared in a game for a third consecutive day, struck out the final two hitters he faced, and secured his second save and the Red Sox’ third victory of the season as 4-2 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an unfamiliar opponent in the form of Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who was making his first career start against Boston in this one.

A scoreless first inning against Matz didn’t damper the Sox’ mood too much, as Christian Vazquez led off the top of the second by crushing a 2-1, 85 mph changeup down the heart of the plate 411 feet to left-center field to give his side an early lead.

Later on in the fourth, the red-hot Boston backstop struck once more, this time following up a Xander Bogaerts leadoff single with a 373-foot two-run blast off an 0-2, 94 MPH sinker from Matz. That put the Sox up by one once again at 3-2.

Flash forward all the way to the ninth, with the score still 3-2, and the Red Sox took advantage of a Mets reliever struggling with his command, as Alex Verdugo, Michael Chavis, and Andrew Benintendi all reached base off Edwin Diaz with no outs in the inning.

Rafael Devers punched out while pinch-hitting for Jonathan Arauz, but by taking a 90 mph slider off his elbow a few moments later, Jose Peraza was able to drive in a very important insurance run from third in the form of Verdugo.

That put the Red Sox up 4-2, which as previously mentioned, would go on to be the final score in Boston’s second straight win.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-9 slump to to start the season by going 2-for-4 on Thursday.

Christian Vazquez’s OPS on the season is now up to 1.555.

From NESN’s Tom Caron:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll open a three-game weekend series against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Jordan Montgomery will do the same for New York.

Weber, 29, will be looking to rebound from a tough start against the Orioles last Sunday in which he surrendered six earned runs over 3 2/3 innings pitched. In three career outings against the Yankees, all of which have come in relief, the St. Petersburg native owns a lifetime 2.84 ERA and .182 batting average against over 6 1/3 total innings of work.

Montgomery, meanwhile, will be making his first appearance of the 2020 season for New York. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.40 ERA over three starts and 14 1/3 innings pitched against Boston.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

 

Red Sox Lineup: Jonathan Arauz Set to Make First Big-League Start in Series Finale Against Mets

After barely holding on for their second win of the season on Wednesday, the Red Sox will look to put together their first winning streak of the year on Thursday against Steven Matz and the New York Mets.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start in a Red Sox uniform and his first away from Fenway Park. The 29-year-old surrendered five runs (four earned) over fine innings of his work in his team debut against Baltimore last Saturday, but he did end his outing by twirling three scoreless consecutive frames en route to picking up the losing decision.

In two career appearances (one start) at Citi Field, Perez owns a 3.60 ERA and .171 batting average against over 10 total innings pitched. Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind the Venezuelan southpaw.

With the left-handed Matz getting the ball for New York in this one, the left-handed bats of Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr. Mitch Moreland will start Thursday’s contest on the bench.

Taking that into consideration, Jose Peraza will be making just his sixth career start at third base in place of Devers while batting out of the leadoff spot, Kevin Pillar will be making his first start at center field as a member of the Red Sox in place of Bradley Jr. while batting out of the five-hole, and Michael Chavis, who is off to a 0-for-9 start at the plate, will be getting the start at first in place of Moreland while batting out of the seven-hole.

Alex Verdugo and Andrew Benintendi, who collected his 500th career hit Wednesday, are the only two primary left-handed hitters in Boston’s starting lineup Thursday.

Rookie infielder and 2019 Rule 5 Draft selection Jonathan Arauz will be making his first career major-league start at second base. The 21-year-old out of Panama, who will be batting out of the No. 9 spot, can hit from both sides of the plate and is still looking for his first big-league knock.

Other than that, J.D. Martinez has been dropped to the No. 3 spot after starting his team’s first six games in the two-hole, Xander Bogaerts is back in the cleanup spot after being limited to pinch-hitting duties on Wednesday, and Christian Vazquez, fresh off clobbering his second homer of the season, will be catching Perez while hitting out of the five-hole.

That just about covers everything as the Red Sox look to split this four-game, home-at-home series with the Metropolitans. First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI.

Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland Combine to Drive in Five Runs as Red Sox Hold on for 6-5 Win Over Mets

It was far from easy, but for the first time since last Friday, the Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 6-5 on Wednesday night in their first road game of the season at Citi Field.

Making his second start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, fresh off tossing six quality frames in his last time out against the Orioles, which also happened to be his first career Opening Day start as you may remember.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander certainly wasn’t as dominant as he was against Baltimore, but he still got the job done by holding the Mets to just two runs, both earned, on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Those two Mets tallies came in Eovaldi’s first and final innings of work, with Dominic Smith grounding into a bases-loaded forceout in the first and Brandon Nimmo crushing a one-out solo home run in the fifth.

Seeing how the bases were loaded for Eovaldi almost right away in the bottom half of the first, it was certainly encouraging that he was able to get himself out of that early mess with just one run on the board for the opposition.

As for the Nimmo home run in the fifth, that was a result of a 3-1, 93 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Eovaldi that the Mets outfielder took 414 feet to right-center field. All things considered, the bottom of the fifth could have been even worse for Boston, but after serving up that solo blast, walking Pete Alonso, and putting Jeff McNeil on first on a one-out single, Eovaldi again evaded any serious damage by getting the dangerous Michael Conforto to ground into an inning-ending 4-3 double play.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (57 strikes), Eovaldi relied on his four-seam and cut-fastball a combined 74% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing nine total swings and misses with the two pitches while topping out with 98.4 with the heater.

Hit with the no decision, the 30-year-old flamethrower will look for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth, got the first two outs of the inning pretty easily, but then gave up back-to-back hits to Robinson Cano and Andres Gimenez, with the latter driving in the former on an RBI triple to make it a 3-2 game in favor of New York.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich allowed two of the first four Mets he faced in the seventh to reach base, which led to Ron Roenicke dispatching Heath Hembree, who got out of the two-out jam in a tied game by fanning J.D. Davis on three straight fastballs.

That tie turned into a 6-3 advantage for Boston following a three-run top of the eighth, which we’ll touch on later, but Matt Barnes allowed that lead to shrink to two in the bottom half  by surrendering a leadoff solo shot to old friend Yoenis Cespedes in an otherwise scoreless inning of relief thanks to a nifty twin-killing started by Jose Peraza and turned by Jonathan Arauz.

The ninth inning is where things got really dicey, as Red Sox closer Brandon Workman came in with his side up 6-4 while looking for his first save of 2020. It took quite a while to get there, but after loading the bases with no outs, allowing Davis to drive in a run on an infield single to third that was well-played by Rafael Devers, and punching out Cespedes on five pitches, the right-hander got Cano to lift a pop fly to Peraza in shallow center field and that was that. Workman gets his first save and the Red Sox get their second win of the season in one-run fashion as 6-5 is your final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the best pitcher in the National League in two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom for the Mets, who like Eovaldi pitched on Opening Day.

It took until their half of the fourth inning, but the Boston bats finally got to deGrom courtesy of back-to-back one-out doubles from Devers and Mitch Moreland, with the first baseman plating the third baseman for the Sox’ first run of the evening.

Two wild pitches from deGrom allowed Moreland to advance to third with Christian Vazquez at the plate and to score from third with Alex Verdugo at the plate. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves their first lead in nearly five days at 2-1.

Fast forward to the seventh, with Seth Lugo in for deGrom, and Vazquez continued his hot start to the 2020 season by taking the Mets reliever 396 feet deep to left field off a one-out, 3-2 80 mph curveball that was essentially down Broadway. 3-1 Boston.

An inning later, Roenicke dove into his bench while the Mets turned to left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. Kevin Pillar, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., led the eighth off with a single to left, while Xander Bogaerts, pinch-hitting for Lin, drew a four-pitch walk and was immediately replaced by Arauz at first.

Andrew Benintendi advanced both Pillar and Arauz into scoring position with a beautifully-executed sacrifice bunt down the first base line, and an intentional walk of J.D. Martinez filled the bases for Devers.

Devers only managed to strike out on five pitches, but Moreland and Vazquez made the most of their opportunities with two outs in the inning by lacing consecutive run-scoring singles off Wilson to ultimately drive in all three of Pillar, Arauz, and Martinez to make it a 6-3 contest.

As it turns out, that would end up being much-needed insurance with the Red Sox just barely holding onto this one in 6-5 fashion to lock down their second win of the 2020 campaign.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

It’s still early in the season, obviously, but Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez and Kevin Pillar have OPS’ of 1.214, 1.304, and 1.571, respectively.

Rafael Devers has collected four doubles and one single over his last four games.

With a two-out double in the ninth inning, Andrew Benintendi collected the 500th hit of his major-league career. Congratulations to him on that.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Alex Verdugo make more hard contact soon.

The Red Sox are unbeaten in games away from Fenway Park this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game, home-at-home series against the Mets on Thursday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start of the season for Boston, while fellow southpaw Steven Matz will be doing the same for New York.

Perez struggles for the most part in his Red Sox debut on Saturday, but he did end his outing with three consecutive scoreless innings, so perhaps he can carry that momentum over into this start against the Metropolitans.

Matz, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series-split.

 

 

Red Sox Lineup: Xander Bogaerts Sits, Tzu-Wei Lin Gets Start at Shortstop in Series Opener Against Mets

As the Red Sox look for their first victory in five days, they will be without arguably their best all-around player in Xander Bogaerts against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

According to manager Ron Roenicke, Bogaerts is still sore from the play he made in the first inning of Monday’s loss to New York when he dove to tag out Amed Rosario in between second and third base.

On said play, Bogaerts said postgame that he jammed his back, neck, and hips. Despite getting that roughed up so early on, he still managed to hit a home run in the sixth inning on Monday and also played Tuesday’s game in its entirety.

Fortunately, Bogaerts’ absence is only expected to last one game. Tzu-Wei Lin will start at shortstop in his place and bat out of the nine-hole against Jacob deGrom and the Mets on Wednesday. Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox are lining up behind right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Andrew Benintendi is back in the leadoff spot and Kevin Pillar is sitting:

In two career starts against the Sox, deGrom, who was won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards, is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA and a .188 batting average against over 13 innings pitched.

Among the hitters in Wednesday’s Red Sox lineup, Jose Peraza is the only one who has ever faced the Mets ace before and is 4-for-14 off him lifetime.

As for Eovaldi, the owner of Boston’s lone winning decision thus far has made four career starts at Citi Field and owns a lifetime 3.05 ERA at the venue over 20 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Looking forward to watching J.D. Martinez serve as designated hitter in a National League ballpark.

 

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?

Matt Hall Struggles in First Career Start as Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight

For the fourth right in a row, the Red Sox gave up seven-plus runs while scoring four or fewer runs in an 8-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Mets at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Matt Hall made his first career big-league start for Boston in this one, and unlike originally planned, he did not pitch five full innings. Instead, the 27-year-old only made it into the third while giving up three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Mets tallies scored off Hall came in his second inning of work when the former Tigers hurler served up a one-out RBI double to Robinson Cano and moments later, a two-out, two-run single to Amed Rosario. Just like that, the Sox found themselves in an early hole.

Hall did manage to escape the second without yielding anything else and also recorded the first two outs of the third, but a four-pitch walk of Michael Conforto put an end to his evening as manager Ron Roenicke gave him the hook in favor of Austin Brice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51 (32 strikes), Hall relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 51% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing one swing and miss while topping out at 89.8 mph with the pitch. If the Missouri State product does get another start, it would likely come against the Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Hall, as previously mentioned, the right-handed Brice entered with two outs in the third and fanned old friend Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches to retire the side. From there, the ex-Marlins reliever proceeded to sit down four of the next five Mets he faced, but a one-out single off the bat of Jeff McNeil in the fifth put an end to that impressive run.

J.D. Davis followed McNeil’s single with a cheap Fenway Park two-run homer off of Pesky’s Pole, which inflated the Sox’ deficit to four runs at 5-1.

With that, in came Colten Brewer for Boston, and he impressed with four punchouts over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief headed into the middle of the seventh. Unfortunately, Brewer’s admirable effort did not rub off on Ryan Brasier, as the 32-year-old got walloped for three runs on three hits and a walk in the eighth, which put his side in an even deeper hole at 8-2.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman came on for his 2020 debut, and he worked his way around a leadoff single while facing the minimum three batters thanks to a 5-4-3 double play that came off a Cespedes grounder.

A las, as nice as it was to see Workman in a regular season game for the first time since last September, his effort was not enough for the Red Sox to mount a comeback in this one, as 8-3 would go on to be your final.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another hurler making his first career major-league start in the form of Mets left-hander David Peterson, who was actually drafted by Boston in 2014 but instead opted to attend the University of Oregon.

Once again trailing by multiple runs early on, the Sox’ first run of the night off Peterson came in rather confusing fashion in the bottom half of the third.

There, with one out and the bases loaded, Rafael Devers grounded out to Robsinson Cano at second base, although to the naked eye, it almost looked like he lined out. Keeping that in mind, Andrew Benintendi, who was at second, saw Cano flip the ball to Amed Rosario for the force out at second, then proceeded to take off for third and wound up in the middle of a rundown while Kevin Plawecki, who was at third, scored his side’s first run of the night in the midst of all the madness.

All in all, what looked to be a promising inning for the Boston bats came to a premature conclusion, but not before one run was able to cross the plate at least.

Fast forward to the sixth, and a pair of two-base hits from Devers and Kevin Pillar off Peterson cut the Sox’ deficit to three at the time as the former drove in the latter with two outs in the frame.

Nothing more came of that opportunity, though, and the only other run Boston pushed across the plate was essentially one of the garbage time variety in the ninth, when with one out and Hunter Strickland on the mound for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. scored Pillar from third on an RBI groundout.

That made it an 8-3 game in favor of the Mets, and that was that.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers has four hits in his last three games so that is definitely a step in the right direction.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as this home-at-home bout against the Mets shifts to Queens. That being the case because back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom will be getting the start for New York in Wednesday’s series opener.

Fortunately enough, Boston will be countering with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who through one turn through the rotation has put together the best outing of any Red Sox starter in the team’s lone win of the year thus far.

The Red Sox are 1-4. The season is already more than 8% of the way over. It’s time to turn things around. First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

 

Red Sox to Stay in Same Hotel, Use Six Buses While in New York for Series Against Mets and Yankees

Adding on to Monday’s story about the Red Sox’ upcoming seven-game road trip, the club has put an adequate plan in place for their stay in New York City, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

Upon the completion of their two-game series against the Mets at Fenway Park on Tuesday, the Sox will depart from Logan Airport early Wednesday morning and arrive at Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey at around 1:00 a.m. eastern time if all goes according to plan.

From there, the team will travel by bus from the airport to their hotel, the Lotte New York Palace in Midtown, where they will be spending the next five days for both of their series against the Mets and Yankees going into the weekend.

Per Roenicke, who spoke with reporters via Zoom prior to Tuesday’s contest with the Metropolitans, the Red Sox have “reserved a large ballroom [in their hotel] for meals and training staff.”

In regards to getting around the city, the club will utilize six buses when traveling between their hotel and both New York ballparks — Citi Field and Yankee Stadium — to ensure that proper social distancing protocols are followed through the use of assigned seating.

Despite all that’s gone on around baseball the past 24 hours, with the Phillies and Marlins pausing their seasons and all that, Roenicke still doesn’t seem too worried about traveling amid an ongoing pandemic, saying that “I still don’t have those concerns (about traveling). The more things happen, the more you hear about it, probably the more that it’s on my mind.”

After Tuesday, the Red Sox will not be back in Boston until the morning of August 6. A lot could change between now and then, and Roenicke, a former player himself, is definitely aware of that when keeping today’s players in mind.

If we get to the point where the players really feel at risk,” he said, “I know MLB will step in and do something.” 

Here’s to hoping the league doesn’t have to step in unless it is absolutely necessary.

Red Sox Lineup: Andrew Benintendi Batting Ninth in Series Finale Against Mets

For the first time since his debut season in 2016, Andrew Benintendi is batting ninth for the Red Sox in Tuesday night’s game against the Mets at Fenway Park. This is likely the case because New York will be rolling with 24-year-old rookie left-hander David Peterson as their starting pitcher to close out this short two-game series.

Outside of the 2016 season, the only other time Benintendi has been in the nine-hole has been as a pinch-hitter. In 95 career plate appearances as a No. 9 hitter, the 26-year-old is slashing .329/.372/.553 with two home runs, 11 doubles, and 13 RBI.

Narrowing that sample size down, Benintendi is a lifetime .222/.211/.222 hitter in 20 career plate appearances against southpaws when batting out of the nine-hole.

That second set of data may not be as encouraging as the first, but perhaps moving Benintendi down in the Sox’ batting order is what the former first-round pick needs in order to clear his head a little bit seeing how he is off to a 1-for-14 start at the plate four games into the 2020 season.

Before Monday’s game against the Mets, Benintendi didn’t seem too concerned about his slow start. At the time, he had yet to record a hit, but as previously mentioned, he picked up his first knock of the season later that same day on an infield bunt single.

“I’m usually a slow starter,” Benintendi said when speaking to reporters via Zoom. “I’m not panicking. So hopefully I’ll get that first one tonight and then roll from there.”

Out of the nine-hole on Tuesday, Benintendi certainly has the opportunity to get on a roll. Just like everyone else in the Red Sox lineup, he has never faced Peterson before at the major-league level.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind left-hander Matt Hall, who will be making his first career big-league start in this one.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Last game in Boston for the Sox before they spend five straight days in New York City.