Nick Pivetta impresses in first start back from bout with COVID-19, but Red Sox drop series finale to White Sox, 2-1, as Garrett Whitlock gives up walk-off home run

Nick Pivetta dazzled in his return to the mound on Sunday, but it was not enough to lift the Red Sox to a series-clinching victory over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Boston was limited to just four hits and were walked off on by Chicago, 2-1, marking the third straight one-run game between the two clubs and the Sox’ fifth loss in their last seven games.

Pivetta, making his first start since August 30 after being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Sunday, appeared to take advantage of the time he had off by putting together his best outing in more than two months.

Over 5 1/3 strong innings of work, the right-hander allowed just one unearned run on three hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he did deal with some traffic on the base paths early on, Pivetta did at one point retire 11 straight batters leading into the middle of the sixth of what was still a scoreless contest.

Chicago’s No. 8 hitter, Cesar Hernandez, led off the inning by reaching base on an Enrique Hernandez throwing error and promptly advanced into scoring position on a successful sacrifice bunt from Seby Zavala.

Luis Robert did not waste any time in scoring Hernandez from third, as the White Sox leadoff man ripped an RBI single to left field to push across the first run of the day.

That sequence marked the end of the line for Pivetta, who got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 28-year-old hurler finished his outing having thrown 79 pitches (59 strikes) while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.49.

In relief of Pivetta, Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Boston bullpen, and despite intentionally walking Jose Abreu, he escaped the sixth while stranding the lone runner he inherited.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in a scoreless seventh inning before Hansel Robles also walked one in an otherwise clean bottom of the eighth.

To that point, the Red Sox lineup had been held entirety in check by Chicago’s pitching staff, though they did have their opportunities.

After White Sox starter held the Sox to just two singles over five nearly-perfect innings on the hill, Jose Iglesias — who had one of those hits — led off the top of the sixth by drilling a leadoff single off lefty reliever Garrett Crochet.

Representing the potential go-ahead run in an 0-0 game, Iglesias attempted to move up to second when Hernandez lifted a 390-foot fly ball to deep center field, but was instead gunned down at second base by Robert for an 8-4 double play.

The White Sox quickly made the Red Sox pay for that base running blunder with Robert’s go-ahead single off Pivetta, while the Boston bats were unable to get anything else going against Crochet or Jose Ruiz, who recorded the final out of the seventh before tossing a 1-2-3 top of the eighth as well.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, the Red Sox were matched up against a familiar opponent in former closer Kimbrel, on for the third time in three days going back to Friday night.

Hernandez got the ninth inning started with a bang by lacing a 105.4 mph leadoff double off Kimbrel, and while Kyle Schwarber struck out, both Hunter Renfroe and Rafael Devers drew a pair of walks to load the bases for Alex Verdugo.

Verdugo, as he has done throughout the season, plated Hernandez on a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in the tying run, but Bobby Dalbec punched out on four pitches to get Kimbrel off the hook in what had become a 1-1 game.

Looking to send this one into extras for a second straight day, Garrett Whitlock quickly got the first two outs of the bottom of the ninth by fanning both Eloy Jimenez and Yasmani Grandal.

Whitlock proceeded to get ahead in the count against the next batter he faced in Leury Garcia and was just one more strike away from punching out the side.

On an 0-2, 97.7 mph fastball down the heart of the plate, however, Whitlock served up a 430-foot walk-off home run to Garcia to give the White Sox a 2-1 win while also being hit with his fourth loss of the year.

With the 2-1 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 81-64 on the season and move into a virtual tie with the Blue Jaus for the top American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: On to Seattle

The Red Sox will board a flight from Chicago to Seattle and open up a pivotal three-game series against the Mariners — who are also in the thick of the American League Wild Card race — at T-Mobile Park on Monday night.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the ball for Boston in the series opener, while rookie right-hander Logan Gilbert is in line to do the same for Seattle.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez remains out of Red Sox lineup due to back tightness; Xander Bogaerts gets day off in series finale against White Sox

The Red Sox will once again be without J.D. Martinez as they go for a series win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday afternoon.

Martinez, who has been dealing with back tightness throughout the weekend, had been scratched from Boston’s lineup each of the last two days before the same thing essentially happened on Sunday.

As was the case on Friday and Saturday, the veteran slugger went through batting practice earlier Sunday morning before being ruled out for the rubber match of this three-game weekend set.

Following Saturday night’s thrilling 9-8 win over the White Sox, Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed optimism that Martinez would be back at full strength ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Mariners in Seattle, telling reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that he rather lose the 34-year-old for three days as opposed to a whole week.

With Martinez out of the lineup, Travis Shaw — the hero of Saturday’s comeback win — will get the start at designated hitter while batting out of the seven-hole.

In addition to being without Martinez, the Sox will also be without shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who will be getting his first day off since returning from the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday.

Veteran infielder Jose Iglesias will start at shortstop in Bogaerts’ place batting ninth behind catcher Kevin Plawecki.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Nick Pivetta, who was just activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, as they go up against White Sox righty Lance Lynn to close out the weekend.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Ron Vesely/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Nick Pivetta from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Seabold to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty Connor Seabold was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday afternoon.

Pivetta will get the start in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox (first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time), as he had been held out of action since last week after testing positive for COVID-19 and being placed on the COVID-related injured list as a result.

Despite the positive test, the 28-year-old is vaccinated against the virus, meaning he did not have to quarantine for the typical 10 days so long as he did not exhibit any symptoms, which turns out to be the case.

Ace left-hander Chris Sale was originally slated to go up against his former team on Sunday, but was scratched from that outing earlier this weekend on account of testing positive for COVID-19 himself.

The Red Sox, in turn, will roll with Pivetta, who will be working on 11 days rest since making his last start against the Rays on August 30.

Through 26 starts in his first full season with Boston, the Canadian-born righty has posted a 4.67 ERA and 4.44 FIP to go along with 151 strikeouts to 62 walks over 135 total innings of work. Sunday will mark his first-ever outing at Guaranteed Rate Field.

With Pivetta getting activated, the Sox optioned Seabold back down to Worcester just hours after he made his major-league debut on Saturday night.

The 25-year-old hurler allowed two earned runs on three hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts in three innings pitched. 43 of the 27 pitches Seabold threw went for strikes, and he also averaged 90.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In regards to what the immediate future holds for Seabold, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that the righty is “going to go back to Worcester and he’s going to start down there.”

Seabold, who turns 26 in January, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta to make return from COVID-19 related injured list in Sunday’s series finale against White Sox

After a nearly two week-long hiatus, Nick Pivetta will make his return to the mound and start for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora confirmed that with Connor Seabold making his major-league debut and first career start on Saturday, Pivetta will get the start on Sunday.

Pivetta has been held out of action since the end of August, as he was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on September 5 before it was revealed that he became the ninth Boston player to test positive for coronavirus two days later.

Despite being vaccinated against the virus, the right-hander still tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss his scheduled start against the Indians last Sunday.

Because he is vaccinated and did not exhibit any symptoms, though, Pivetta did not have to quarantine for 10 days upon receiving his positive results, as he traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago and was seen playing catch in the outfield earlier Saturday afternoon.

While the 28-year-old will be making his first start since August 30 on Sunday, he will be doing so in place of Chris Sale.

Sale was initially lined up to square off against his former team in Sunday’s series finale, but instead tested positive for COVID-19 himself on Thursday and did not travel with the Red Sox to Chicago.

The ace left-hander became the 10th Red Sox player to test positive for the virus and the 13th player the club has had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since their outbreak began on August 27.

At this point, it is not yet known if Sale is vaccinated against COVID-19 considering he had a bout with the virus back in January. What is known, though, is that the Red Sox will be without the 32-year-old for the time being.

Having said that, Pivetta, again, will get the starting nod in Chicago on Sunday afternoon.

The 6-foot-5, 214 pound righty out of British Columbia owns an ERA of 4.67 ERA and FIP of 4.43 to go along with 151 strikeouts to 62 walks through his first 26 starts (135 innings pitched) of the season.

Pivetta has never pitched at Guaranteed Rate Field before over the course of his five-year major-league career, but he has posted a lifetime 2.70 ERA in three previous appearances (one start) against the White Sox.

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

Red Sox call up pitching prospect Connor Seabold for major-league debut Saturday; Brad Peacock returned to Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday night, the Red Sox recalled right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold from Triple-A Worcester.

In a corresponding move, fellow right-hander Brad Peacock was returned to Worcester to make room for Seabold on the active roster, the club announced earlier Saturday afternoon.

Seabold, 25, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander will make his major-league debut and first career start in Saturday’s contest against the White Sox, as he was one of four players who traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago as part of the team’s taxi squad.

Nick Pivetta was originally in line to get the start on Saturday, but has since had to be scratched from that outing on account of testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

That being said, Pivetta will be able to make his return to the mound and start in place of Chris Sale, who also recently tested positive for coronavirus, in the finale of this three-game weekend series on Sunday.

While Pivetta will take over for Sale on Sunday, Seabold will essentially take over for Pivetta on Sunday.

The Red Sox originally acquired Seabold and Pivetta from the Phillies in a trade that sent relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to the Phillies last August.

The 25-year-old was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft and was also invited to major-league camp earlier this spring, but had the start of his 2021 season pushed back by approximately 2 1/2 months due to right elbow inflammation.

After a brief rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League, Seabold made his debut for Worcester on July 23. He has posted a 3.67 ERA and 4.17 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks over eight starts spanning 41 2/3 innings of work for the WooSox since then.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, the California-born righty operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report.

Considering the fact that his most recent start for the WooSox came on September 4, it’s safe to assume that Seabold — who will be wearing the No. 67 — will be plenty stretched out for his big-league debut later Saturday night.

With the addition of Seabold to the major-league roster, the Red Sox returned a veteran in the form of Peacock to Worcester.

Boston picked up the 32-year-old in exchange for cash considerations in a minor trade made with the Indians late last month.

Peacock appeared in two games for the Sox, making his first start for the club in their bout against the Rays on August 31 and being used out of the bullpen exactly one week later.

As he makes his way to Worcester, Peacock will look to provide the Red Sox with experienced starting rotation and bullpen depth for the final few weeks of the regular season.

Prior to getting traded, Peacock put up a 7.68 ERA and 5.16 xFIP in addition to 38 strikeouts and 14 walks over 11 appearances (10 starts) and 34 innings pitched with Triple-A Columbus after signing a minor-league pact with Cleveland in June.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox pitching prospect Connor Seabold to make major-league debut, first career start against White Sox on Saturday

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to officially name a starter for Saturday night’s game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, though he did shed light on who the team is leaning towards rolling with.

Connor Seabold, one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system, will indeed get the starting nod for what will be his major-league debut on Saturday.

“Not yet,” Cora said when asked if the Sox had decided on a starter for Saturday following Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the White Sox. “We’re going to talk about it tonight, but there’s a good chance that it might be Seabold.”

Seabold was one of four players (along with Kaleb Ort, Jack Lopez, and Chris Herrmann) from Triple-A Worcester who traveled with the Red Sox to Chicago as part of the club’s taxi squad.

Nick Pivetta was originally in line to get the start for Boston in Saturday’s bout with Chicago, but has since been ruled out on account of testing positive for COVID-19.

While there still remains a chance that Pivetta could start in place of Chris Sale — who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on Friday after testing positive for the virus on Thursday — if he is cleared by Major League Baseball to return to action, that would still leave the Red Sox without a starter for Saturday.

This is where Seabold comes into play. The 25-year-old right-hander made his last start for Worcester on September 4, allowing just one hit and three walks while striking out four over six scoreless innings of work against the Rochester Red Wings.

After the start of his 2021 season was pushed back by approximately 2 1/2 months due to right elbow inflammation, Seabold has been impressive in his time with the WooSox, posting a 3.67 ERA and 4.17 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 13 walks over eight starts (41 2/3 innings pitched) dating back to July 23.

Originally acquired from the Phillies alongside Pivetta in exchange for relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree last August, Seabold is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization.

He was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-3, 195 pound hurler primarily operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, a deceptive 80-82 mph changeup, and an 83-85 mph slider.

Seabold, who does not turn 26 until January, would become the 10th different starting pitcher the Red Sox have used this season if he does indeed make his big-league debut this weekend.

The California native would also become the ninth Sox player to make their major-league debut this year, joining the likes of Connor Wong, Jack Lopez, Jarren Duran, and fellow pitchers such as Garrett Whitlock, Hirokazu Sawamura, Raynel Espinal, Kutter Crawford, and Eduard Bazardo.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox ace Chris Sale tests positive for COVID-19, will miss next scheduled start on Sunday

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale has tested positive for COVID-19, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Sale had been in line to make his next scheduled start for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but that will no longer be the case.

The 32-year-old becomes the 10th Boston player to test positive for COVID-19 since August 27 — exactly two weeks since Friday — and will ultimately become the 12th player the club has had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since that date.

While Enrique Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Danny Santana have all been activated recently, the likes of Christian Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Martin Perez, Hirokazu Sawamura, Jarren Duran, Xander Bogaerts, Yairo Munoz, and Nick Pivetta remain sidelined.

Though it appears likely that some of those aforementioned names could re-join the team for their upcoming series with Chicago, Boston’s starting rotation plans for this weekend still remain somewhat disarrayed.

That being the case because Tanner Houck — Friday’s starter — is now the only definitive starting pitcher the Red Sox have named for their next three games, as Pivetta’s next scheduled start would come on Saturday and Sale’s would come on Sunday.

As noted by Cotillo, right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold traveled with the Sox to Chicago as part of their taxi squad and is a candidate to start on either Saturday or Sunday. The same can be said for fellow righty Kutter Crawford, who is slated to start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday but could very well be scratched from that outing.

Pivetta, on the other hand, can’t be ruled out for Saturday quite yet since he is vaccinated against COVID-19. If he is asymptomatic and cleared by Major League Baseball to return to the action, the 28-year-old hurler could still start this weekend, per Cotillo.

Sale, who would have been making his sixth start of the year for the Red Sox on Sunday, has posted a 2.52 ERA and 3.92 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts to six walks through his first five outings (25 innings pitched) of the season since returning from Tommy John surgery last month.

At the moment, it is not yet known if Sale is vaccinated against COVID-19, though he did have a bout with the virus back in January. As Cotillo notes, “players who test positive for the virus have to miss a minimum of 10 days but there have been cases when vaccinated players return earlier than that timeframe.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

After weekend of uncertainty, Kutter Crawford makes major-league debut for Red Sox

Kutter Crawford had been in line to make his regularly scheduled start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday while the team was in Rochester, N.Y.

Rather than have him pitch, though, the Red Sox scratched Crawford from his start with Worcester so that he could join the big-league club in Boston in the event that they would need a starter while navigating through a COVID-19 outbreak.

The 25-year-old was to fly from Rochester to Boston on Friday night, but that required a layover in Charlotte. His connecting flight was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and head towards Logan International Airport at around 10:30 p.m. eastern time. It did not leave until the wee hours of Saturday morning.

“My connecting flight in Charlotte was supposed to leave at 10:30 (p.m.) and it didn’t leave until 1:45, 2 o’clock in the morning,” Crawford said earlier Sunday evening.

Crawford did not arrive in Boston until around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. At that time, he was told by the Red Sox to remain on standby without being given a specific date as to when his name could be called.

Later that night, the Sox found out that Nick Pivetta, who was slated to start Sunday’s series finale against the Indians, was going to need to be placed on the COVID-19 related injured list, meaning a spot in their starting rotation had just opened up.

“I got in at 4:30 yesterday morning,” Crawford said. “Kind of uncertain what the plan was with all the COVID stuff. I was told to be on standby, and after [Saturday night’s] game I was notified that I’d be starting today.”

Able to have some friends and family in attendance at Fenway Park on Sunday, Crawford’s major-league debut did not go according to plan, as the right-hander allowed five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two-plus innings of work and took the loss in an 11-5 defeat at the hands of the Indians.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t go as I wanted it to,” he said in regards to his first big-league start. “But, we live and we learn and we’re going to make adjustments to keep moving forward.”

While the box score may suggest otherwise, there were positive developments from Crawford’s outing. Of the 57 pitches he threw, 40 — or 70% of them — went for strikes.

He also induced nine total swings-and-misses while topping out at 96 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 26 times.

Crawford’s 57th and final pitch was ball four to Bobby Bradley, putting a runner on first base with no outs in the third inning of a 4-0 game and subsequently prompting Red Sox manager Alex Cora to hand things over to his bullpen.

Before officially taking the ball out of Crawford’s hands, though, Cora took the time to offer the rookie right-hander some “words of encouragement” as his first start in the majors came to an end.

“I wanted him to take a deep breath and enjoy the situation,” Cora said. “It’s Fenway Park on a Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing better than that. There’s only one MLB debut. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a good one or you struggle. It’s something you still dream about as a kid. And I wanted him to take a deep breath, look around, see the whole thing — because he probably didn’t do that before the game or during the game.”

Cora understands that Crawford himself may be disappointed with his own performance on the mound, but given the circumstances, he should still hold his head high.

“Obviously there were a lot of two-out hits but he filled up the strike zone with good stuff,” said Cora. “It’s not easy to come into a situation like this and maneuver a big-league lineup.”

Crawford, who was selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Before Sunday, the 6-foot-1, 209 pound hurler had made just six appearances (five starts) above the Double-A level after earning a promotion to Worcester earlier this simmer.

On short notice, and in his first in-game action since August 27, Crawford did not let the moment get to him, as he felt as though he was able to keep his emotions in check while working through the obvious nerves and anxieties that come with a major-league debut.

“I just didn’t execute some pitches when I needed to,” Crawford said. “I felt like I had pretty good control of my emotions. I didn’t feel like I got out of hand with some unfortunate hits and obviously giving up that home run to [Franmil] Reyes. But I felt like I had pretty good control of everything, I just didn’t execute pitches like I needed to, and they got me.”

Results aside, Cora seemed please with what he saw from Crawford on Sunday, as he praised the righty not only for his pitch arsenal, but for his demeanor as well.

“I can see it,” Cora said. “Stuff-wise, he’s really good. Like I told him on the mound, he’s a big-leaguer.”

As of now, it’s not particularly clear when Crawford will pitch again, though it seems likely that he would be returned to the WooSox once Pivetta can be activated from the COVID IL.

That being said Crawford can become eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time this winter, so the Red Sox would need to permanently add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to protect him from that, thus ensuring he remains in the organization moving forward.

“With time I know he will contribute,” Cora said of Crawford. “He’ll be part of this.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Nick Pivetta on COVID-19 related injured list, select Kutter Crawford from Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up their three-game series against the Indians on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nick Pivetta on the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow righty Kutter Crawford has been selected from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday morning.

Pivetta had been slated to start Sunday’s series finale against Cleveland, but that responsibility will now fall to Crawford.

At the moment, it’s unclear if Pivetta has tested positive for COVID-19 or if he is just exhibiting symptoms or was recently identified as a close contact, but it is worth mentioning that he did spend one day on the COVID-related injured list back in May due to side effects from the vaccine.

Regardless, the 28-year-old becomes the 10th player the Red Sox have had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since last Friday, joining the likes of Enrique Hernandez, Christian Arroyo, Martin Perez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, Xander Bogaerts, Yairo Munoz, and Jarren Duran.

Hernandez and Arroyo tested positive for the virus while the team was in Cleveland, Perez, Barnes, Sawamura, Bogaerts, and Munoz tested positive in St. Petersburg, and Duran tested positive in Boston on Friday.

On top of that, quality control coach Ramon Vazquez and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose have also returned positive results, while Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin are quarantining since they were identified as close contacts.

With Pivetta being forced to miss his scheduled start on Sunday afternoon, the Sox will now turn to Crawford in his place.

Crawford, 25, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

Boston originally selected the right-hander in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University, the same school ace left-hander Chris Sale attended.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and another elbow procedure last summer, Crawford began the 2021 season with Double-A Portland. He posted a 3.30 ERA and 2.81 xFIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to five walks across 10 starts (46 1/3 innings pitched) for the Sea Dogs before earning a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

Since that time, Crawford has pitched to the tune of a 5.52 ERA, but a much more encouraging 3.79 xFIP, in his six appearances (five starts) that span 29 1/3 innings of work with the WooSox.

He had been in line to make his sixth start for Worcester on Thursday, but was scratched from said start and added to the Red Sox’ taxi squad on account of the COVID-19 issues the club is currently navigating through.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, the 6-foot-1, 210 pound hurler operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 91-94 mph fastball, an 85-87 mph cutter, a 77-78 mph curveball, and an 83-85 mph changeup.

Sunday will mark Crawford’s major-league debut, and it certainly comes at an interesting time in which the Red Sox are looking to finish off a sweep of the Indians.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox muster just 6 hits in quiet 6-1 loss to Rays

After taking a steady amount of blows off the field leading up to the start of an important four-game series against their division rivals, the Red Sox were knocked down by the red-hot Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday night.

In the wake of adding two more players — relievers Martin Perez and Matt Barnes — to the COVID-19 related injured list, the Sox mustered all of six hits as they fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 6-1 to kick off the week.

Nick Pivetta, making his 26th start of the season for the Sox on Monday, was forced into a struggle right away when he served up a leadoff home run to Brandon Lowe on his very first pitch of the contest in the bottom of the first inning.

That homer proved to set the tone for what would be a grind of a night for Pivetta, as the right-hander allowed a total of four runs (all earned) on six hits and five walks to go along with six strikeouts over five-plus innings of work.

After falling behind early, though, the Red Sox lineup was able to answer back with a home run of their own in their half of the second. While matched up against Rays starter Luis Patino, Bobby Dalbec stayed hot by scorching a 397-foot solo shot to deep left field that left his bat at over 114 mph.

Dalbec’s 18th homer of the season — and seventh in his last 15 games — pulled Boston back even with Tampa Bay at one run apiece, but the Rays bats prevailed off Pivetta in the third and never had to look back as a result.

Following a leadoff walk of Lowe to begin things in the third inning and a wild pitch that allowed Lowe to advance to second base, Pivetta issued a two-out, run-scoring single to Austin Meadows, thus giving the Rays a brand-new, 2-1 lead.

In the fourth, Pivetta ran into some two-out trouble once again, this time giving up a hard-hit double to Kevin Kiermaier, but following that up by getting Mike Zunino to strike out on a slider in the dirt.

Zunino was, however, able to reach first base safely since said slider eluded Christian Vazquez behind the plate, and the inning continued. This, in turn, led to Lowe hitting an RBI infield single over the head of Dalbec that pushed across Kiermaier to make it a 3-1 game.

Pivetta did manage to work his way around a two-out double and intentional walk in the fifth and came back out for the sixth, but was unable to record an out after surrendering a leadoff single to Kiermaier that was followed by a walk of Zunino.

That sequence led to Pivetta getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, but the righty’s night was not officially done yet since he left a pair of runners on base for newly-inserted reliever Hansel Robles out of the Boston bullpen.

Robles proceeded to load the bases by issuing a walk of his own, then got Nelson Cruz to hit a soft grounder to Rafael Devers at third, but it was one in which Devers bobbled, which allowed Kiermaier to score from third to give his side a 4-1 edge.

With that, Pivetta’s night was done. The 28-year-old hurler finished his evening having thrown 108 pitches — 66 of which were strikes. He was also hit with his seventh loss of the season while raising his ERA on the year to 4.67.

Robles, to his credit, did manage to retire the next three battters — Wander Franco, Meadows, Yandy Diaz — in order to strand the bases loaded and keep the deficit at three runs.

That being said, the Red Sox offense could not do much against Patino, nor the Rays’ bullpen.

After Patino came out with two outs and a runner on in the sixth, J.P. Feyereisen came on, got Dalbec to fly out to right field to end the inning, then struck out a pair in a scoreless top half of the seventh.

Raynel Espinal, who was selected from Triple-A Worcester earlier in the day, made his major-league debut for the Sox in the bottom of the seventh. The 29-year-old rookie looked sharp in his first inning of work, a 1-2-3 frame at that, but surrendered a two-out, two-run single to Franco in the eighth that gave the Rays a commanding 6-1 lead.

On the other side of things, Pete Fairbanks punched out Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez in order in the top half of the eighth, while Adam Conley induced a game-ending double play off the bat of Vazquez that sealed a disappointing 6-1 defeat for the Sox.

With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 75-58 on the season and are now nine games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East with 29 games remaining in the regular season. They do, however, remain two games ahead of the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: TBD vs. Yarbrough

The Red Sox have yet to name a starter for the second game of this four-game series against the Rays on Tuesday, though it seems likely they could go with veteran right-hander Brad Peacock — who they acquired from the Indians in exchange for cash considerations on Monday.

The Rays, on the other hand, will turn to left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who has allowed a total of 19 runs (16 earned) in three outings (two starts) spanning 12 innings of work against the Red Sox so far this season. That’s good for an ERA of 12.00.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)