Yairo Muñoz among Red Sox’ most impressive performers early on in spring training

In his first traditional spring training with the Red Sox, Yairo Munoz is off to a hot start.

Following a 1-for-3 performance against the Rays on Tuesday that was highlighted a hard-hit two-run home run to the opposite field, the 26-year-old came off the bench as a pinch-runner in Wednesday’s contest against the Twins and collected another RBI by lining a run-scoring single in his only trip to the plate in the sixth inning of an eventual 14-6 victory for the Sox.

Through his first four Grapefruit League games of the year, Munoz is 5-for-9 (.555) at the plate with that one homer, one double, and four RBI while playing left field and third base.

The Dominican native is coming into the spring without a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, meaning he is one of 33 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers.

The Sox outrighted Munoz off their 40-man roster in December. That decision was met with much surprise considering the fact that the utilityman impressed over the course of the final month of the 2020 campaign and the team had just signed him a one-year contract for the 2021 season.

After spending a healthy chunk of July and the entirety of August at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Munoz was called up by Boston on August 31 and made his team debut on September 1.

From that point forward, the right-handed hitter — listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 lbs. — slashed an impressive .333/.333/.511 to go along with one home run, five doubles, four RBI, and two stolen bases over 12 games played before a lower back strain prematurely ended his year on September 19.

Given the fact he performed well and proved more than capable of playing multiple defensive positions (was worth positive-4 defensive runs saved in left field), it, again, was somewhat shocking to see Munoz stripped of his 40-man roster spot three months ago.

Having said that, it might be even more shocking that the ex-St. Louis Cardinal managed to clear waivers without getting claimed by another organization beforehand.

At just 26 years old, Munoz is still relatively young, under team control through 2024, and has one minor-league option remaining. All while just a few years removed from being one of the top prospects in the Athletics’ farm system, which is the organization he originally signed with back in 2012.

In Chaim Bloom’s tenure as chief baseball officer thus far, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on bringing in — whether by trade, waiver claim, or free agency — versatile players who can be put to the test on the field. Christian Arroyo, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez are among those on the team’s projected Opening Day roster who fit that mold.

While Munoz may have taken a step back this offseason and still has some work to do in order to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, he seems to fit that mold, too.

At the end of the day, it’s as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith wrote earlier Wednesday: “The Red Sox are lucky Yairo Munoz remains in the organization.”

Smith also wrote that Munoz “is one of the top outfield depth options heading into 2021. He will play for Boston at some point this season.”

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland agrees to one-year deal with Athletics, per report

Former Red Sox first baseman has reportedly agreed to a one-year, major-league deal with the Athletics, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that Moreland will earn $2.25 million with Oakland with the chance to earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses.

The 35-year-old is coming off a 2020 season split between the Sox and Padres in which he slashed .265/.342/.551 to go along with 10 home runs and 29 RBI over 42 total games played.

Starting off the campaign as Boston’s primary first base option, Moreland enjoyed great success and got off to a hot start by clubbing eight homers and posting a 1.177 OPS through his first 22 contests of the year.

That strong showing surely helped the Sox flip Moreland to the Padres in exchange for infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario — both of whom are now on Boston’s 40-man roster and are regarded by MLB Pipeline as top-20 prospects within the club’s farm system — in late August.

Upon arriving in San Diego, though, Moreland cooled off significantly (.609 OPS in 73 plate appearances) and ultimately had his $3 million club option declined by the Friars in the fall, which led to him becoming a free agent in the first place.

While the Mississippi native was on the open market, Cotillo noted that the Sox ‘had some interest in a reunion’ with Moreland and even ‘engaged in talks with Moreland’s camp.’

Alas, the two sides could not reach an agreement on terms, and Boston ultimately went in the direction of agreeing to sign veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, to a one-year, $3.1 million pact for 2021 that includes up to $1.1 million in additional incentives.

As much as Moreland may have wanted to return to Boston, he now has an opportunity with Oakland to serve as the club’s primary designated hitter while also spelling fellow Gold Glover Matt Olson at first base when necessary.

In 53 career games at the Oakland Coliseum — a majority of which came when he was a member of the Texas Rangers from 2010-2016 — Moreland owns a lifetime .275/.340/.561 slash line to go along with 15 home runs and 36 RBI over 192 total plate appearances.

(Picture of Mitch Moreland: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox among clubs that have ‘been involved to some extent in negotiations’ with free-agent infielder Marcus Semien, per report

The Red Sox are among the clubs that have been “involved to some extent in negotiations with free-agent infielder Marcus Semien,” according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Bowden additionally reports that the Athletics, Philles, and Reds have also been negotiating in some capacity with Semien, while “there are probably more clubs interested due to his versatility, athleticism, and durability.”

Semien, 30, was projected by MLB Trade Rumors back in November to net himself a one-year, $14 million deal this offseason.

The Bay Area native is coming off a 2020 campaign with the Athletics in which he posted an underwhelming .223/.305/.374 slash line in the wake of finishing third in American League MVP voting in 2019. He clubbed just seven home runs and drove in 28 RBI over 53 games played this past season.

That said, Semien improved his stock in October, as he went 11-for-27 (.407) at the plate while putting up an OPS of 1.151 in seven games against the White Sox and Astros in the American League Wild Card and Divisional Series’.

Bowden notes that this “strong postseason helped him” in terms of garnering interest as a free agent in addition to his past reputation as one of the more solid middle infielders in the American League.

The Athletic’s Peter Gammons was the first to report Boston’s interest in Semien late last month, tweeting that the “Sox like him” and view him as a second baseman despite his experience at shortstop with the A’s.

Gammons added that while attending the University of California, Berkeley, Semien was roommates with Red Sox amateur scouting director and former Golden Bear Paul Toboni. So there is a connection there.

At the time of this tweet, Gammons reported that the Red Sox did not yet know how much money it would take to sign Semien, but perhaps that dollar figure is starting to become more clear as spring training quicky approaches.

As currently constructed, the Sox’ 40-man roster is somewhat lousy with infielders capable of playing second base, but none have established themselves of being able to play the position on an everyday basis in the major-leagues. Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis are among those in the organization that fit this description.

“We definitely have some options internally,” general manager Brian O’Halloran said in December in regards to Boston’s outlook at second base. “But we’re also open-minded. And this is not exclusive to second base. We’re open minded to different ways of improving the club.”

If they were to sign Semien, who has played 29 career games and has logged 236 2/3 career innings at second (none since 2014), to a short-term deal to primarily play that position, then perhaps the Red Sox’ plan would be for the former sixth-round draft pick to serve as somewhat of a bridge to top prospect Jeter Downs.

That all depends on what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the rest of Boston’s baseball operations department have in store, though.

ESPN’s Buster Olney did tweet on Tuesday night that the expectation around baseball was that the Red Sox are preparing to make a series of roster moves to upgrade the club’s roster for the 2021 season.

(Picture of Marcus Semien: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign former Athletics right-hander Daniel Gossett to minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Daniel Gossett to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Gossett, 28, was originally drafted by Boston out of high school in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to Clemson University as opposed to signing with the club.

Later drafted out of Clemson by the Athletics in the second of the 2014 amateur draft, the South Carolina native made 23 big-league starts with Oakland between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He posted a 5.91 ERA and 5.67 FIP over 115 2/3 total innings of work in those outings before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2018.

Since going under the knife, Gossett may have missed the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019, but he did make five starts for the Mesa Solar Sox in last year’s Arizona Fall League.

In those five starts, the 6-foot, 185 lb. hurler yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over 14 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.57 and .204 batting average against.

Following that impressive showing in the desert, Gossett opened up the shortened 2020 campaign on the Athletics’ 40-man roster and at the team’s alternate training site in San Jose. But, the once-highly touted pitching prospect was designated for assignment and subsequently released in late July.

According to The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard, Gossett “is healthy and ready for a full season in 2021.”

If anything, Gossett could provide intriguing starting rotation depth to a Red Sox team in need of it at the moment.

Working primarily with a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, and sinker, the former A’s righty owns a lifetime 3.36 ERA over 23 appearances (21 starts) and 128 2/3 innings spanning parts of three seasons, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

With that in mind, Gossett could begin the 2021 season in Triple-A Worcester’s rotation depending on how well he performs in spring training. We will have to wait and see on that.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed — Gossett included — or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett

Red Sox Acquire Right-Hander Dylan Covey in Trade With Rays

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander Dylan Covey from the Tampa Bay Rays, the club officially announced Tuesday.

By acquiring Covey and adding him to their player pool while removing left-hander Bobby Poyner, the Sox now have 59 players in said pool.

Covey, who turns 29 in August, was originally a fourth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2013 amateur draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 lbs., the University of San Diego product made his major-league debut with the White Sox in April 2017 after being taken by Chicago in the previous year’s Rule 5 draft.

Since that time, Covey has not had a simple time of things in the big-leagues, as he owns a career ERA of 6.54 and career FIP 5.56 through 63 outings, 45 of which were starts, and 250 1/3 innings pitched.

While he was consistently shuttled between the majors and Triple-A the past two seasons, Covey was ultimately designated for assignment by the ChiSox in January before he inked a minor-league pact with the Rays the very next month.

For what it’s worth, Covey was having a decent spring for Tampa Bay before things were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Through his first four Grapefruit League appearances of the spring, he had yielded just four runs (three earned) over 7 2/3 innings of work out of the Rays’ bullpen.

Per his Statcast page, Covey’s 2019 pitch mix included six pitches: a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a sinker, a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. He punched out 14.6% of the batters he faced last season.

With Covey, as well former Diamondbacks hurler Zack Godley, the Red Sox have added two intriguing rotation and/or bullpen options to their ranks in the past week.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the acquisition of Covey from the Rays marks the first time chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made a deal with his former employer in St. Petersburg.

Former Red Sox Ace Jon Lester Open to Reunion With Organization He Began Career With

Former Red Sox ace and current Cubs left-hander Jon Lester is open to a potential reunion with Boston this winter, he said in a radio interview with WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Lester, who turns 37 in January, is entering the final year of the six-year, $155 million deal he signed with Chicago back in December 14. That contract includes a $25 million vesting option for 2021 if Lester were to pitch 200 innings this year or 400 innings between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Even if those numbers wind up getting prorated due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown, it seems unlikely that he would reach that mark, thus making him a free agent later in the year.

“We’ve got a lot of what-if’s going on right now,” Lester told Bradford. “For me, I don’t know what is going to happen next year. I know I have the team option, the player option, that sort of thing. We’ll figure that out one way or the other. I will either be here or be a free agent. Obviously everything is open. I’m open-minded to anything.”

Drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Wa., Lester won two World Series titles and made two All-Star teams in his first go-around with the Red Sox.

As you may recall, Sox brass famously low-balled Lester in the spring of 2014 as he was nearing free agency and coming off a 2013 campaign in which he was an All-Star, helped Boston win another World Series, and finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

At that time, principal owner John Henry and Co. offered the lefty a four-year, $70 million extension, good for an average annual value of $15 million.

Even after publicly expressing that he’d be willing to take a discount to keep the Red Sox as competitive as possible, that offer was still downright disrespectful, to be blunt. Especially when Lester had just seen the Yankees sign international free agent Masahiro Tanaka, then 25, to a seven-year, $155 million contract that January.

So after botching those extension talks, the Red Sox wound up dealing Lester to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2014 trade deadline, and the Washington native went on to sign that aforementioned six-year deal with the Cubs a few months later.

As productive as Lester has been since joining the North Siders, his 2019 campaign was not the most memorable.

Starting 31 games, Lester posted a 4.46 ERA and 4.35 xFIP over 171 2/3 innings of work. Not terrible numbers by any means, but it certainly would appear that the southpaw is on the decline at this stage in his career.

Preferably, Lester would like to prove that last year was just a blip and not the way things are trending for him, but his chances to do that are growing slimmer and slimmer as each day passes with no plan for a 2020 season in place.

“On a personal level, this hurts me,” he said of the shutdown. “I’m not getting any younger and coming off a year like I had last year, this isn’t going to help me.”

Because of that uncertainty, I’m sure Lester has had more time to think about different things while waiting this pandemic out from his Georgia home, and it certainly seems like returning to Boston has crossed his mind more than once.

“Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started,” he said. “But, I’ve got a little time before I really have to sit down and weigh that decision, even if it’s something where they want me back. Hopefully, I’m still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people. We’ll see.”

We will have to wait and see. I mean, who knows what the market for a veteran 37-year-old left-hander with 2,500+ innings under his belt will look like come free agency? How much would Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom be willing to dish out for someone like that if he feels like Lester fits a team need? Both are unknowns at this point in time.

What If the Red Sox Traded for Sonny Gray in 2015?

Truth be told, I’m stealing this “What if” idea from The Athletic, whose various writers are ‘exploring what might have happened if things had gone differently at significant points in sports history.’

The Athletic’s Chad Jennings began by looking back as recently as the Mookie Betts and David Price trade, and in accordance with that, I thought it would be interesting to look back at a time in Red Sox history prior to the club signing Price to a then record-setting seven year, $217 million contract in December 2015.

Yes, this point in time was just a few months before that, in October to be more specific.

The Red Sox were coming off their second consecutive last place finish in the American League East, marking the first time they had done that since the 1929-1930 seasons.

Under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who was hired to replace Ben Cherington that August, the club was in desperate need of front-line starting pitching help coming off a 2015 campaign in which they ranked 13th in the American League in starters’ ERA (4.34).

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, before Dombrowski had even been hired, the former Tigers executive identified soon-to-be free agent left-hander David Price as a potential target to pursue that winter in an interview with Red Sox brass.

Potential trades for names such as the White Sox’ Chris Sale, the Indians’ Corey Kluber, and the Athletics’ Sonny Gray seemed possible as well.

Come October, per Speier, “the Red Sox tried to quantitatively compare the cost of a trade for an ace versus signing one in free agency. [Director of major league operations Zack] Scott oversaw the production of a sixteen-page memo, in this case exploring a hypothetical deal for the A’s Gray, in exchange for a five-prospect package of Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart, Manuel Margot, Henry Owens, and Javy Guerra.”

Based on the projections used in this memo, “the Red Sox considered such a trade a $230 million proposition, with the prospects carrying a projected future worth of $200 million on top of the roughly $30 million that the team anticipated it would have to pay Gray in salary over his remaining four years of team control.”

Gray, at the time, was entering his final year of being a pre-arbitration player.

The results of the assessment, however, did not sway the Sox to swing a trade for an ace, as they “believed it would cost less simply to sign a free-agent starter than it would to trade for a rotation solution.” That was especially the case in the event that including Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts in a trade for a starting pitcher became a must for another team, like the A’s.

In the end, Dombrowski and Co. chose giving up money over giving up prospects and wound up signing Price to that then-record-setting seven-year deal that December.

Although it does not appear that the Red Sox were all that close to acquiring Gray from Oakland, it is fascinating to look back and wonder what could have been.

Out of those five prospects listed above, Devers would be the one missed the most, as the major-league careers of Swihart, Margot, Owens, and Guerra haven’t really panned out to this point for various reasons.

It’s also compelling to look back because Gray in Boston would have been no sure thing. That much was made evident by a rather tumultuous 1 1/2 year tenure with the Yankees, although he has since bounced back nicely after being traded to the Reds in January 2019.

Price’s tenure with the Red Sox wasn’t picture-perfect either, but he did play an integral role in the club’s march to a historic World Series title in 2018 before getting traded to the Dodgers last month.

All in all, handing out massively lucrative contracts and involving top prospects in blockbuster trades both involve a great deal of risk. In the case of acquiring the services of a front-line starter when they most desperately needed one in Dombrowski’s first offseason as president of baseball operations, the Red Sox went with the former over the latter.

Note: If you haven’t already, you should read Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. This piece would not have been possible had it not been for the information provided in that terrific book about how the Red Sox built a World Series champion from the ground up.

Mitch Moreland and Christian Vazquez Homer as #RedSox Open up May by Completing Sweep of Athletics

After finishing off a forgettable April by clinching their first home series win of 2019 on Tuesday, the Red Sox went ahead and kicked off the new month by completing their three-game sweep over the Oakland Athletics with a 7-3 victory on Wednesday afternoon.

Making his fourth start and ninth overall appearance in this on was Hector Velazquez, who served more as the opener Wednesday after working out of the bullpen as recently as Monday.

Working just the first two innings, the right-hander surrendered one run on two hits, no walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the day.

That one Oakland run came around to score on a two out RBI single off the bat of Ramon Laureano in the second, and that would wind up being the second to last hitter Velazquez faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 43 (28 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just 9% of the time he was on the mound in this brief outing.

In relief of Velazquez, Marcus Walden was really the star of the show from the third inning on, as he ended up tossing three scoreless frames while also fanning three and allowing one of the 10 hitters he faced to reach base in that span.

An effort certainly worthy of the winning decision, which is exactly what the right-hander got for the fourth time this season. His ERA now stands at a miniscule 1.65 through 11 appearances so far.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially nails sans another rough ninth for Tyler Thornburg.

Brandon Workman struck out one in a clean sixth, Colten Brewer worked his way around a two out single from Chad Pinder in a shutout seventh, and Heath Hembree retired the only three hitters he faced in order in the eighth.

Entering the final frame with another sizable lead to protect, Thornburg nearly made something out of nothing for the second time in less than 24 hours by allowing the Athletics to trim their deficit down to four with run-scoring doubles from Khris Davis and Pinder.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, the ex-Brewer was able to hold his own enough to get the aforementioned Laureano to ground out to Tzu-Wei Lin for the third and final out, wrapping up the 7-3 win as well as the three-game sweep.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar opponent in Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers, who held Boston scoreless over six innings in his last start against them in early April. But, like I have mentioned before during this series, things were different this time around.

Kicking off the scoring in the second, Mitch Moreland got a productive day at the plate started by driving in Rafael Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to left field.

None of that would have been possible, however, had not it been for this crazy hop the ball took off the second base bag on a Michael Chavis single one at-bat prior, which allowed Devers to advance to third in the first place.

Fast forward to the fourth, Moreland struck again by continuing his run of dominating A’s pitching and launching his team-leading ninth home run over the Monster for his second dinger of the series. 399 feet and 103 MPH off the bat, per Statcast.

In the fifth, a Tzu-Wei Lin leadoff double would later result in Boston’s fifth run of the afternoon crossing the plate on another sac fly from Mookie Betts for his 16th RBI of the season. 3-1.

An inning later, with JB Wendelken now in for Oakland, back-to-back two out, bases loaded singles from Lin and Andrew Benintendi drove in three more Red Sox runs, with Lin accounting for one and Benintendi for two, to make it a 6-1 contest.

And in the eighth, Christian Vazquez put the finishing touches on this one by greeting new A’s reliever Ryan Dull with a 372 foot moonshot to left on the very first pitch of the inning for his fifth big fly of the year already.

That gave Boston a 7-1 advantage, and after a mini rally from the A’s in their half of the ninth, 7-3 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Somehow, some way, the Red Sox won the season series against the A’s 4-3.

Playing in six of those games, Mitch Moreland slashed .313/.400/.750 with two home runs and six RBI.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 19th, Marcus Walden owns a 0.00 ERA and a .111 batting average against over his last six appearances.

The Red Sox are 8-4 in their last 12 games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on the South Side in the first stop of a two-city road trip.

Left-hander David Price is set to get the ball in the opener for Boston, while right-hander Lucas Giolito will do the same for Chicago.

In his career at Guaranteed Rate Field, Price owns a lifetime 4.41 ERA over eight starts.

Giolito, meanwhile, has only started against the Red Sox once before in his young career. An outing last August in which he allowed one run over 6.1 innings in a losing effort.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.

 

 

Rick Porcello Twirls Eight Shutout Innings as #RedSox Win First Home Series of 2019

For the first time in five tries, the Red Sox have finally won their first home series of the 2019 season, wrapping up their April with a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night.

Making his sixth start of the year in the middle game of this series was Rick Porcello, who did not pitch in the Red Sox’ first series against the A’s out in Oakland earlier in the month.

Coming off his first quality outing in his last time out against the Detroit Tigers, the right-hander was even better in this one, holding the Athletics scoreless on just two hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over eight superb innings of work. It is the longest start for a Red Sox starting pitcher so far this season.

One of those two free passes came in the second inning, but nothing came of it. That final walk though, which came in the third against Robbie Grossman, put runners on first and second with two outs in a two-run game.

Porcello was able to get out of the jam by getting Matt Chapman to ground into an inning-ending force out at second, and that would turn out to be the only frame the righty allowed multiple runners to reach base.

Retiring 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced from the start of the fourth inning on, Porcello nearly lost the final batter he faced in Marcus Semien with two outs in the eighth, but ended up getting the Athletics shortstop to line out to Mookie Betts in right to retire the side, thus capping off the hurler’s fine night in emphatic fashion.

Finishing with a final season-high pitch count of 114 (78 strikes), Porcello relied heavily upon his slider with Sandy Leon behind the plate, as he turned to the pitch 36% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday and induced five swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 23 times.

Improving to 2-3 on the season and lowering his ERA from 7.43 down to 5.52, Porcello’s next start should come against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

In relief of the New Jersey native, Tyler Thornburg was the only Red Sox reliever used for the ninth, and despite giving up a home run to Robbie Grossman, managed to preserve his team’s 13th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in right-hander Aaron Brooks for Oakland.

Brooks, 29, tossed six innings of scoreless baseball in his previous start against Boston back on the first of April. This time around, things went a little more in the Red Sox’ favor.

Starting right away in the first inning, Mookie Betts stayed hot and got the Sox on the board almost immediately in this one, launching a one out, 396 foot solo shot off Brooks for his sixth home run of the season.

An inning later, the bottom of Boston’s lineup came through this time around, with Sandy Leon collecting his second RBI of the year on a two out single to score Michael Chavis, who reached base on a one out single himself, from third. 2-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Mitch Moreland followed up another one out single from Chavis and broke out of a little 1-for-20 slump by mashing his team-leading eighth big fly of the season on a 3-1 fastball from Brooks.

423 feet to dead center, 110 MPH off the bat, 4-0 Red Sox.

And in the fifth, after JD Martinez reached base on a fielding error and Xander Bogaerts was walked on six pitches, Rafael Devers wrapped up a solid night of solid offensive play by ripping a line drive RBI double down the right field line to plate Martinez and make it a 5-0 contest.

According to Statcast, that hit had an exit velocity of 105 MPH, and it all but provided the Red Sox with the protection they needed to pick up the 5-1 win Tuesday night.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

Rafael Devers accounted for three batted balls on Tuesday, one of which went for an RBI double. The three exit velocities of those batted balls are as follows: 104.7 MPH, 104.7 MPH, 110 MPH.

Finishing April with a 12-14 record, it was certainly a month to forget for the defending World Series champions, but with two straight wins to close things out, May could be the time to really get back on track in a tremendous way.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll go for the three-game sweep of the A’s Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park.

In a pitching matchup featuring two right-handers, it will be Mike Fiers going for Oakland, and Hector Velazquez going for Boston.

First pitch of the series finale Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.

#RedSox Come Back from Early Four-Run Deficit in Series Opening Win over Athletics

After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox bounced back in the opener of the last series of their homestand with a 9-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the week with two consecutive quality outings at Fenway Park under his belt.

This time around though, things it did not go as well for the left-hander, as he surrendered four earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts while pitching into the fifth inning of this one.

Right from the jump, it was pretty clear that the A’s had the advantage over Rodriguez in their second time seeing him already this season.

The first inning wasn’t all that bad, but when the lefty began his second frame of work by walking back-to-back hitters, both of whom were down in an 0-2 hole, that is where it got a bit ugly.

Plating four runs on two straight one out RBI singles from Jurickson Profar and Josh Phegley, as well as a two out run-scoring double off the bat of Matt Chapman to give the A’s the early advantage, it seemed as though Rodriguez’s night would be short-lived.

However, the 26-year-old did rebound after that second inning by retiring the next six batters he faced in order before running into more trouble in the fifth.

There, a Marcus Semien leadoff single was canceled out thanks in part to Rodriguez and rookie Michael Chavis, who was making his first career big league start at first base, on a pickoff attempt that ended with Tzu-Wei Lin getting the runner at second.

Following a Matt Chapman ground out moments after that successful pickoff attempt, Rodriguez was just one out away from getting through give full innings with his team in the lead, meaning he had the chance to earn his third winning decision of the year.

Instead, back-to-back two out singles from Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis prevented that from happening, and the Venezuela native’s night came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (63 strikes), Rodriguez relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch. His next start should come against the Chicago White Sox this coming weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Heath Hembree was released into the fire right away with one out to get, a two run lead to protect, and runners on first and second.

Known for his ability to succeed with inherited runners on for parts of the 2018 season, Hembree did just that this time around by getting Chad Pinder to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, Colten Brewer, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Matt Barnes combined to work the final four innings of this contest without yielding a single run.

Brewer faced the minimum three hitters despite a walk in a scoreless sixth, Workman walked the first two hitters he faced in the seventh and struck out the final two before making way for Brasier, who fanned Khris Davis to end the inning and also tossed a 1-2-3 eighth.

With the Red Sox up by a comfortable five runs, Hector Velazquez came on to begin the ninth, but inevitably allowed three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base to load the bases for the Athletics.

Needing to get outs quickly all of a sudden, Alex Cora turned to Matt Barnes to get out of the jam, and the right-hander needed just two pitches to pick up the final two outs and secure his second save of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander and former Boston international signee Frankie Montas for the A’s.

Having never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his young career, the Red Sox eventually got to Montas starting in their half of the third, after grounding into a pair of double-plays in their first two attempts at the plate.

Kicking off the scoring for Boston was Christian Vazquez, whose one out walk wound wind up being the catalyst for a six-run inning.

It all could have been avoided, really. Jurickson Profar could have made a quality throw over to Marcus Semien covering second on a grounder off the bat of Tzu-Wei Lin to both nab Vazquez and make the throw over at first to turn the DP, but Profar instead threw the ball into the dirt, meaning everyone was safe for the top of the Boston lineup.

Again, a dribbler from Andrew Benintendi could have resulted in another out for Oakland, but it turned out that Montas actually missed the bag with his left foot on the attempted put out, which in turn loaded the bases for Mookie Betts.

On a 2-2 heater from Montas, the reigning AL MVP lined an RBI single to right, plating Vazquez from third and putting the Red Sox on the board.

One batter later, after missing the weekend series against the Rays due to back spasms, JD Martinez made his presence felt by driving in Lin from third on another RBI single to make it a 4-2 game and keep the line moving.

That base knock was followed by a two-run double to center off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to tie this contest up, which only lasted briefly because Michael Chavis gave the Sox a 6-4 lead two batters later on a two out, two-run single of his own. And just like that, six runs had come around to score in an inning Boston sent 10 hitters to the plate. All six of those runs were unearned, by the way.

Fast forward to the fifth, after a Rafael Devers one out double, and Chavis was at it again, this time collecting his third RBI of the night on a pop fly single to right field to simultaneously score Devers and put an end to Montas’ outing.

Two innings later, Jackie Bradley Jr. broke out of a 3-for-19 skid with a one out RBI single off old friend Fernando Rodney to drive in Devers yet again, who led the seventh off by drawing a walk and stealing second base.

And in the eighth, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on this one by plating Boston’s ninth and final run of the night on an RBI sac fly, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third and giving his team a 9-4 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this one:

In his last seven games (six starts), Rafael Devers is slashing .409/.500/.500 with four RBI. The power has not been there yet, but the run the third-year infielder has been on at the plate has been exciting to see.

Including a three-hit performance Monday, Mookie Betts is slashing .423/.521/.692 with one home run and six RBI in his last seven games.

Through his first nine career big league games, Michael Chavis is sporting a .643 slugging percentage. Minimum 25 plate appearances, that is currently the 10th best SLG in the American League.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the A’s.

Right-hander Aaron Brooks is set to get the ball for Oakland, while fellow righty Rick Porcello will do the same for Boston.

Looking for just their second series win of the year, first pitch Tuesday is schedlued for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.