Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Aggressive Baserunning Style: ‘When You’re Sniffing a Hit, You’re Going to Do Whatever You’ve Got to Do to Get That Hit’

Going into Thursday night’s game against the Orioles, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has accrued a team-leading 62 hits so far this season. Out of those 62 knocks, at least three were infield singles where the 24-year-old found himself sliding head-first into first base.

That kind of approach is typically frowned upon due to the potentially painful consequences involved, but that has not prevented Verdugo from being aggressive coming out of the batter’s box. And because said approach is resulting in base hits, it has not been put to a halt by Sox manager Ron Roenicke, either.

“I know he plays all-out and some of that, he’s going to get banged up,” Roenicke said of Verdugo earlier Thursday. “The diving head-first into first. But, it’s hard to tell a guy not to do that. I mean, both times he’s done it lately he got base hits, so it’s hard to tell him not to do that. But, he’s going to get banged up because he plays hard. He prepares hard, he’s emotional, he’s got energy, he’s got all the things you like in a ballplayer that just loves to go out there and get dirty.”

In his first season with Boston, Verdugo has proven to be one of the more energetic players on the field at any given moment whether he is at the plate, on the base paths, or in the outfield. That is the kind of athlete he strives to be, and since that style has produced quality results thus far, the Arizona native is not planning on toning it down with his approach anytime soon.

“I don’t like scaling it back,” Verdugo said during his pregame media availability on Thursday. “I start scaling it back and I feel like I fall into the trend of what a lot of players do and that’s not running down the line hard. For me, I had my times where I did that and my parents would get on me and say that’s not the way to play the game. They’re right. They’re absolutely right. I just figured you got to bust your butt, you got to play hard. There are just times where the play is in front of you, and you feel like you can get there a little quicker diving and I do it. It’s just a natural habit.

“I’m very well aware of the injuries,” Verdugo added. “Your shoulder, jamming it, your thumb, anything like that. I also try not to hit the very front of the bag… I try to get the front part of the bag, but like on top so I slide right over it, so it’s not really like it’s that dangerous. Plus, I feel like I’m somewhat athletic enough to have body awareness and know how to get in there. When it’s out there right in front of you and you’re sniffing a hit, you’re going to do whatever you’ve got to do to get that hit.”

According to FanGraphs, Verdugo currently leads qualified Red Sox position players in runs scored (35), on-base percentage (.383), wOBA (.382), wRC+ (140), and fWAR (1.8). In other words, the former second-round pick has essentially been Boston’s most valuable player in an otherwise down year for the club. He also leads the majors in outfield assists (7) so far this season and could very well be in contention for his first Gold Glove Award.

Nick Pivetta Shows Promise, Offers Hope in Red Sox Debut

It had been well over a year, or 434 days to be more exact, since Nick Pivetta started a major-league game. In that July 17, 2019 contest against the Dodgers, the then-Phillies right-hander surrendered one earned run on no hits and four walks in just 2 1/3 innings of work, but was promptly demoted to the Philadelphia bullpen from that point forward.

Fast forward to Tuesday night and Pivetta, now a member of the Red Sox, got the chance to start in the majors once again against the Orioles at Fenway Park. The 27-year-old took full advantage of this opportunity, as he held Baltimore to one run on four hits and three walks to go along with eight punchouts over five strong innings of work.

That effort eventually netted Pivetta his first win of the year, and the native of British Columbia seemed quite pleased with the way things went in his Red Sox debut when speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame.

“Honestly, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity. It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to start in the big-leagues,” Pivetta said. “To be able to go out there, put up five pretty good innings, I was very elated.”

As elated as Pivetta may have been by the time his outing came to an end, how his evening began was rather shaky with three of the first five Orioles he faced reaching base on two walks and a single, resulting in that lone run crossing the plate on a D.J. Stewart RBI base knock.

With two outs in the top half of the first and runners on first and second, Pivetta found himself in a predicament where his goal was to limit the damage. He did just that by fanning Pedro Severino on four pitches, with the last strike coming on a nasty, swing-inducing 87 mph slider at the bottom of the zone. That proved to be a significant confidence booster for the righty.

“I would have liked to limit that damage a little bit more with some better fastball command,” said Pivetta. “But, getting out of that and moving into [cruise control] after that, getting my legs underneath me, get my confidence back, just relax and have some fun out there. I think that’s the biggest thing. When you get that first inning out of the way, you kind of just move into it and just go out there and compete.”

By the time he had recorded the final out of the fifth, Pivetta’s pitch count had reached 96. Out of those 96 pitches, the former Nationals prospect relied on his fastball 51% of the time, his slider 23% of the time, his curveball 21 % of the time, and his changeup 5% of the time. Relying on a healthy mix of these four pitches is something Pivetta worked to improve upon while in Pawtucket.

“Getting back as a starter, building back up, getting better command with all four of my pitches,” Pivetta continued. “That’s the pitcher that I am. You can’t go out there with two pitches, so being able to have a solid mix of four pitches, which I showcased tonight pretty well, that’s what we’ve been working on and it paid off tonight.”

Speaking of showcasing himself, Pivetta will get the starting nod in the Red Sox’ season finale against the Braves in Atlanta this coming Sunday. Two starts is obviously a small sample size, but that is no reason to believe that the 6-foot-5 hurler won’t be giving it everything he’s got as he heads towards the offseason.

“I think it’s huge,” he said. “I’m given two opportunities to showcase myself and do the best I possibly can. I’m looking forward to every opportunity I have and just moving on from that.”

Pivetta has made seven prior starts against the Braves at Truist Park. In those outings, he owns a lifetime 4.10 ERA and .731 OPS against over 37 1/3 total innings pitched. Sunday’s start in Atlanta will of course be Pivetta’s first outside of the Phillies organization.

Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr. Both Homer but Red Sox Fall Short of Comeback Win Against Orioles in 5-4 Defeat

After suffering their first extra-innings loss of the year on Saturday, the Red Sox had to settle for a series split in Baltimore on Sunday following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles.

Zack Godley made his fifth start and sixth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, and he had a tough time consistently finding the strike zone.

Over just 2 2/3 innings pitched, the right-hander was charged with three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits, five walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came with Godley off the mound, but right after the South Carolina native had walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third.

With his pitch count already at 70 (40 strikes), Godley got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of the recently recalled Jeffrey Springs.

So, in came the left-handed Springs with one out to get in the third and nowhere to put Rio Ruiz.

Ruiz, in turn, laced a two-run single to right-center field and Andrew Velazquez followed by dropping down a bunt and reaching base on another run-scoring base hit.

That unfortunate sequence for Boston put the O’s up 3-1, and it officially closed the book on Godley’s disappointing day.

Dropping to 0-3 on the year while bumping his ERA up to 7.29, Godley’s spot in the Sox’ starting rotation may be in jeopardy moving forward. If he were to get another start, it would likely come against the Nationals next weekend.

Going back to Springs now, the 27-year-old, managed to escape any further damage in the third by getting Cedric Mullins to pop out to second and then danced his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless bottom of the fourth.

In the fifth, Springs again gave up another two-base hit, but also recorded the first two outs of the frame before Phillips Valdez came on and retired the side with a 4-3 putout.

Valdez returned for the sixth as well and needed just 14 pitches to face the minimum three batters despite giving up a two-out single to Renato Nunez. Kevin Pillar’s arm was the main reason for that.

From there, Robert Stock surrendered two runs on three hits in the seventh to put his side in a 5-2 hole, and Ryan Weber kept that deficit at three with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

All in all, in relief of Godley, the Boston bullpen combined to allow two runs on eight hits, no walks, and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 total frames pitched. Not too shabby of an effort, although it really did not mean all that much in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar foe in veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc for the Orioles.

Kevin Pillar wasted no time in getting the Sox on the board on Sunday, as he greeted LeBlanc in the first by crushing his first career leadoff home run 401 feet to left-center field on the second pitch of the game.

In the sixth, Pillar struck again, this time leading off against Orioles reliever Miguel Castro, ripping a line-drive single to left, and coming around to score on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

The Sox cut Baltimore’s deficit to just one on Bogaerts’ 17th RBI of the year, and they could have even tacked on some more runs had J.D. Martinez not been gunned down at home on a Christian Vazquez fielder’s choice and Michael Chavis not punched out on five pitches to end the inning.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with the Red Sox trailing 5-2 and down to their final out, things got a tad bit interesting when Jackie Bradley Jr. clubbed a two-run homer, his second long ball in as many days, off left-hander Tanner Scott to make it a 5-4 game.

Jonathan Arauz followed with a single back up the middle to put the tying run on base as the Boston lineup flipped back over and Pillar was due to hit next.

Alas, the 31-year-old swung at the first pitch he saw once again, but instead of sending it out of the park, grounded it to short, resulting in an inning-ending force out at second as 5-4 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left six runners on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Next up for the 9-20 Red Sox, they will a day off on Monday for the first time since August 6, as this run of 17 games in 17 days has come to an end.

Following the off day, the Sox will open up a three-game series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo, the home of Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate, on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Boston took two out of three from the Jays in the only series between the two clubs thus far.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the starting nod for the Red Sox in the opener of that three-game set, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

Through his first two maj0r-league starts since getting called up on August 13, the 27-year-old southpaw has allowed nine runs (seven earned) on nine hits, seven walks, and nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 total innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Red Sox Waste Strong Start From Martín Pérez, See Three-Game Winning Streak Snapped in First Extra-Innings Loss of Season To Orioles

The Red Sox got their first taste of Major League Baseball’s new extra-innings rules for 2020 on Saturday and in doing so saw their winning streak snapped at three games following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles in 10 innings.

Martin Perez made his sixth start of the year for Boston in this one, and he put together what was without a doubt his most impressive outing as a member of the Red Sox thus far.

Over seven quality innings of work, the left-hander yielded just one earned run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with a season-best six strikeouts on the night.

That lone Baltimore tally came in the bottom of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Perez served up a solo homer to Pat Valaika off a 1-1, 85 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate.

Other than that one blip though, Perez really got into a groove with the help of a few nifty plays from Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar.

From the middle of the third up until the conclusion of the sixth, the Venezuelan southpaw sat down 11 of 13 Orioles before running into a bit of trouble in the seventh.

There, Perez put runners at first and second with one out, and then runners at second and third with two outs, prior to retiring Ryan Mountcastle and Bryan Holaday in consecutive order to end his evening on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (62 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler was more aggressive in his approach on Saturday, as he turned to his cut-fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.8 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 16 times.

Unable to pick up the winning decision to no fault of his own while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.45, Perez’s next start should come against the Nationals back at Fenway Park sometime next weekend.

In relief of Perez, fellow lefty Josh Taylor got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the eighth, and he allowed multiple runs in his second consecutive appearance after issuing a two-out walk to Hanser Alberto and getting taken deep to left field by Anthony Santander.

That rocket of a two-run home run saw Boston’s deficit get erased entirely, and Ryan Brasier had to come on to get his side out of the eighth with the 3-3 stalemate still intact thanks to the efforts of Christian Vazquez, who gunned down Andrew Velezquez at second base to end the inning.

From there, Brasier came back out for the ninth and danced his way around a two-out infield single and walk in an otherwise clean frame of work to send this one to extra innings.

In extras, Matt Barnes entered the 10th with his side up 5-4 and a runner, Rio Ruiz, already on second base, as the new rules for this season go.

Barnes, fresh off his first save in over a year on Friday, then yielded a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Cedric Mullins which Mitch Moreland fielded and unsuccessfully attempted to get Ruiz out at third.

With still no outs recorded and runners on the corners, Barnes proceeded to issue a wild pitch in the middle of his duel against Alberto, allowing Ruiz to score from third and knot things up at five runs apiece.

By reaching on an infield single to second, Alberto advanced Mullins 90 feet to third base, and an intentional walk of Santander filled the bases for Baltimore.

Because of that predicament, Boston brought in Jackie Bradley Jr. from center field and ran with a five-man infield from that point forward.

As cunning as that strategy may have been, it did not work out in the end, as Barnes got walked off on following a scorcher of a one-out, game-winning single from Pedro Severino.

Again, one night after picking up his first save of 2020, Barnes was charged with his second loss and second blown save of the year as the O’s took this one by a final score of 5-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Orioles veteran right-hander Alex Cobb, who held the Sox to one run in his season debut back on July 25.

This time around, the Boston bats were again held in check by Cobb, but only up until the fifth inning.

There, Bradley Jr. kicked off the scoring for his side by crushing his first home run of the year 402 feet to dead center field off a one-out, 2-1, 92 mph heater at the top of the zone from Cobb.

Jose Peraza followed that solo blast with a hard-hit, ground-rule double to left-center field that nearly left the park itself, and the second baseman was quickly driven in from second when the red-hot Alex Verdugo picked up his second extra-base hit of the contest on an RBI two-bagger that split the gap in right-center field.

An inning later, the middle portion of the Sox lineup got to new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, with Moreland and Vazquez reaching on a one-out walk and single, and Kevin Pillar plating Moreland from second on a softly-hit run-scoring infield single. Just like that, the Sox had themselves a two-run lead at 3-1.

Alas, that 3-1 edge would not prove to be enough in the end, as Baltimore tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, which resulted in Boston playing in their first extra-innings game this year.

In the 10th, with Verdugo already on second since he recorded the last out of the ninth, three straight one-out walks drawn by J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Moreland off of Cole Sulser allowed the Sox outfielder to score from third and make it a 4-3 game.

Despite having the bases loaded with two outs to work with in the 10th, the Red Sox could not make anything of that golden opportunity against right-hander Miguel Castro, and after the Orioles walked it off in their half of the frame, 5-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 runners on base as a team.

Alex Verdugo extended his season-best hitting streak to 13 consecutive games on Saturday. He also picked up his league-leading fifth outfield assist.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the 9-19 Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while left-hander Wade LeBlanc will do the same for Baltimore.

Godley has yet to face the Orioles this season. LeBlanc, meanwhile, surrendered four runs to the Red Sox in his 2020 debut back on July 26.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for the series win.

Red Sox Lineup: Mitch Moreland Returns as Boston Seeks Series Win Over Orioles

After stringing together their fist three-game winning streak of the season following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox will look to improve to 10-18 on the season with another win in Baltimore on Saturday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will make his sixth start of the year for Boston, and he will be opposed by veteran right-hander Alex Cobb for Baltimore.

The 29-year-old Perez is coming off a rain-shortened outing in his last time out against the Yankees in which he surrendered three earned runs over three innings of work.

On the season as a whole, the Venezuelan southpaw owns a 4.07 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, and a .665 OPS against through five outings and 24 1/3 total innings pitched.

In four prior starts at Camden Yards, Perez has yielded 14 runs (12 earned) on 24 hits and five walks over 25 total frames. That’s good for a 4.32 ERA.

Cobb, meanwhile, has made three of his five starts this season in Baltimore and owns an ERA of 4.60 and OPS against of .691 in those outings.

Back on July 25, the 32-year-old opposed Perez in his first outing of the year and held the Sox to just one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings on the mound.

Including that strong start, Cobb has posted a 3.73 ERA in 18 career outings against Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up against Cobb and behind Perez to begin things on Saturday:

Outside of the fact that Alex Verdugo has moved back up to the leadoff spot and Kevin Pillar has slipped down to the seven-hole, there really is not too much to point out here. Mitch Moreland is also back in the lineup with a right-hander on the mound for Baltimore.

Among these nine hitters, Moreland, Pillar, and J.D. Martinez have all taken Cobb deep once before in their careers, while Christian Vazquez has accrued 10 hits and collected two RBI in 14 prior at-bats against the Orioles righty.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win over the O’s as well as their fourth straight win overall.

Matt Barnes Not Only Reliever Who Could Close Out Games for Red Sox Following Brandon Workman Trade, Ron Roenicke Says

With Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman now Philadelphia Phillies, a couple late-inning spots just opened up in the back end of the Red Sox bullpen. More specifically, with Workman gone, the Sox do not exactly have a set closer at this point in time.

Right-hander Matt Barnes took charge of that responsibility in Boston’s 8-5 win over the Orioles on Friday and he looked good doing so, needing just 13 pitches to record his first save since last June.

Even with Barnes’ impressive importance fresh in his mind, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke didn’t really commit to the 30-year-old hurler as his set ninth-inning man moving forward.

“No doubt, I have faith in what he can do,” Roenicke said of Barnes during his postgame media availability. “I probably won’t do it the same way that we did with [Workman] because we had Barnes for the seventh or eighth or somebody and then going to [Workman]. This will be a little bit different, probably. I’m sure [Barnes] will get most of the opportunities, but if it matches up better with him in the eighth inning and another closer in the ninth, we’ll do that. I don’t think I’m just going to limit him to doing it for one inning.”

If it’s Barnes getting the call for the ninth, Roenicke named Austin Brice and Josh Taylor as relievers who could close out games if necassary.

“I think we have a couple guys that could do it,” the Sox skipper added. “I’m comfortable with all of them, so I think the match-ups will tell us what to do there.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who worked two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut on Friday after missing time on the COVID-19 related injured list, could be another candidate to close were it not for the plans the Red Sox have for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The only thing with Darwinzon is because we know he can give us two or three [innings], it may be more important to do that in the…sixth, seventh, or eighth, maybe,” said Roenicke. “I think he is more valuable in doing that than just keeping him to one inning. We’ll see as time goes on, but he was coming out [Friday] for the first time. He threw some nasty pitches. I know sometimes he may get a little wild, but his pitches, you see the swings they take and the bats that break and it’s just really good stuff.”

Out of the 40 pitches Hernandez threw in his first outing on Friday, the Venezuelan got the Orioles to swing and miss seven times. Because he accrued two innings of work against Baltimore, his next outing likely won’t come until the Red Sox’ next series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Powered by Home Runs From Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers, Red Sox Extend Winning Streak To Three Following 8-5 Victory Over Orioles

On a night they made their first move before the trade deadline, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to a season-best three consecutive games on Friday following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles.

Colten Brewer made his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he looked much better than he did in his first career start against the Yankees last week.

That being the case because over four strong innings of work, the right-hander held the O’s scoreless while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Brewer ran into came in the bottom of the first, when he yielded two straight two-out singles to Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino before getting out of the inning unscathed.

Other than that, Brewer proceeded to retire eight of the final 11 hitters he faced going into the end of the fourth, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (50 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of his outing, Brewer did manage to lower his ERA on the season to 3.50. If he gets another start, it will likely come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in what was his 2020 debut.

The 23-year-old southpaw faced eight batters over two scoreless frames of work, allowing one hit, walking another, and fanning three on his way to picking up his first career major-league victory.

From there, fellow lefty Josh Osich got lit up for five runs on three separate homers over 1 2/3 innings before Austin Brice had to come on and record the final out of the eighth.

And in the ninth, with Brandon Workman on his way to Philadelphia, Matt Barnes got the call to close this one out, and the right-hander did just that by maneuvering his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean inning to secure his first save and his team’s ninth win of the season in 8-5 fashion.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles ace left-hander John Means, who entered Friday with a 10.57 ERA through his first three starts of 2020.

After going down 1-2-3 in their half of the first, the Boston bats got it going in the second inning for a second straight night when a red-hot Xander Bogaerts led the frame off with a 412-foot solo shot to give his side an early one-run lead.

An inning later, the middle part of the Sox lineup struck once again, when after Kevin Pillar reached base on a one-out single, J.D. Martinez drove the outfielder and himself in on a 431-foot two-run blast to center field for his third homer of the year. 3-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the fifth, with reliever Jorge Lopez pitching for Baltimore, Rafael Devers put his power on display and had by far the best swing of the night.

With one out and runners at first and second, the 23-year-old took a 1-0, 85 mph changeup down the chute from the O’s right-hander and proceeded to deposit it 447 feet to dead center.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fourth big fly of the year had an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, which was the hardest hit ball of the evening for either side. It also put the Red Sox up 6-0.

In the sixth, Michael Chavis provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Lopez following back-to-back leadoff base knocks off the bats of Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo.

Chavis’ sixth and seventh RBI of the season put the Red Sox up 8-0, and 8-5 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

With two hits on Friday, Alex Verdugo has extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Rafael Devers has six hits in his last three games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

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

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Alex Cobb will do the same for Baltimore.

Perez surrendered five runs (four runs) to the O’s in his Red Sox debut back on July 25. The 29-year-old has made four career starts at Camden Yards and owns a 4.32 ERA and .698 OPS against in those outings.

Cobb, meanwhile, held the Sox to just one run in that same game Perez started in July. The 32-year-old, who was born in Boston, comes into the weekend with a 3.76 ERA and .634 OPS against through his first five starts and 26 1/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their fourth straight victory.

Red Sox Lineup: Colten Brewer Making Second Start of Season in Second of Four Against Orioles

After picking up their second straight victory on Thursday, the Red Sox will look to kick off the weekend with another win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will make his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by Orioles left-hander John Means.

In his first start of the year, Brewer surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings of work against the Yankees last Friday. Outside of that, the 27-year-old owns a 3.97 ERA and .756 OPS against as a reliever this season.

Upon completing anywhere from two to four innings against the O’s on Friday, Brewer will be followed by the recently-activated Darwinzon Hernandez out of the Boston bullpen.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, the plan for the 23-year-old southpaw, who was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Thursday, is to pitch one or two innings in his season debut.

As for Boston’s opposition, fellow southpaw John Means owns a lifetime 4.02 ERA and .704 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 31 1/3 total innings pitched against the Red Sox.

The 27-year-old, who was Baltimore’s lone All-Star last season, has posted a 10.57 ERA and 6.56 FIP through his first three starts of 2020.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Brewer and against Means to begin things on Friday:

With a left-hander on the mound for Baltimore, Kevin Pillar moves up to the leadoff spot while Alex Verdugo slips to the six-hole and Mitch Moreland takes a seat in favor of Michael Chavis at first base.

Among these nine hitters, Xander Bogaerts has by far seen Means the best, as the 27-year-old shortstop owns a lifetime .417/.429/.750 slash line with one home run in 12 career at-bats against the Orioles starter.

J.D. Martinez has also taken Means deep twice before.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third consecutive victory.

Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Seven Strong Innings, Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland Both Homer as Red Sox Open Series Against Orioles With 7-1 Victory

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Red Sox have won two consecutive games following a 3-1 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night.

Nathan Eovaldi made his sixth start of the season for Boston, and he put together a strong outing after getting rocked for eight runs in his last time out against the Yankees.

Working a season-best seven innings against Baltimore on Thursday, the right-hander yielded just one run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That lone O’s tally came in Eovaldi’s final inning of work when the hurler served up a leadoff homer to Pat Valaika to make it a 3-1 contest at the time.

Other than that one blip though, Eovaldi settled down after a rather rocky top half of the first in which he escaped a bases loaded jam by retiring 18 of the last 21 hitters he faced from the middle of the second up until the end of the seventh, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (64 strikes), the 30-year-old fireballer turned to his four-seam and cut fastball 68% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches while topping out at 99.2 mph with his heater.

Able to pick up his second winning decision and lower his ERA on the season down to 4.98, Eovaldi will look to build off this impressive performance in his next time out, which should come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom of the eighth, and he fanned a pair in a quick, painless, and scoreless frame of work.

From there, Phillips Valdez was dispatched in the ninth in what had turned out to be a runaway for Boston, and the right-hander tossed a 1-2-3 inning to lock down the 7-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, someone who had given the Sox trouble in the past.

This time around, Wojciechowski was not quite as effective, and the Boston bats put that to the test right away in their half of the second.

There, a Christian Vazquez leadoff single that likely could have been caught was followed by Kevin Pillar drawing a six-pitch walk.

That sequence brought Jose Peraza to the plate with one out and a runner in scoring position, and the second baseman capitalized fully on the scoring chance by driving in Vazquez on a blooper of an RBI single to shallow center field.

Alex Verdugo doubled his side’s early lead with a groundout to second that brought in Pillar from third, and just like that, the Red Sox were up 2-0.

An inning later, Xander Bogaerts added on to that lead by taking Wojciechowski 366 feet deep to left field off a 1-2, 84 mph changeup near his hands for his fifth long ball of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time ripping an RBI single off Miguel Castro to drive in Verdugo from third and make it a 3-1 contest.

With runners at first and second now, Mitch Moreland followed suit by putting this one to bed with a 402-foot three-run homer to deep center field off Castro.

Moreland’s team-leading seventh big fly of the year, as well as the Red Sox’ first three-run home run, put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Alex Verdugo’s streak of recording an extra-base hit may have ended at seven consecutive games, but he still has an 11-game hitting streak going.

Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-his-last-11 at the plate over his last three games.

The Red Sox’ 4-5-6 hitters (Bogaerts, Moreland, Vazquez) went a combined 7-for-14 with two homers and five RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game weekend set against the Orioles on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will serve as the opener for Boston, while left-hander John Means will get the traditional start for Baltimore.

Brewer opened for the Sox against the Yankees back on August 14 and he allowed two runs over 2 2/3 innings in that outing.

Means, meanwhile, owns a 10.57 ERA and 6.54 FIP through his first three starts and 7 2/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their third straight win.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Pace of Play in Major League Baseball: ‘We Like Action, So Let’s Have More Action’

Heading into their first series of the season in Baltimore this week, the Red Sox have played some of the longest games in baseball.

As a matter of fact, the Sox have needed an average time of 3 hours and 22 minutes to complete a game this year, which according to Baseball Reference is the second-highest mark in all of baseball behind only the Houston Astros.

If you have not guessed so already, this is indeed a problem, so much so that Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke even addressed it in his weekly segment with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Thursday afternoon.

“I think they need to speed this up. I don’t like it,” Roenicke said of the pace of play in today’s game. “I don’t like a pitcher taking time, catching a ball, and taking forever to get back on the mound and throwing. I think your rhythm is way better and you make the hitter way more uncomfortable as soon as he gets back in the box and you’re ready to throw at him. So, I would like everything to be quickened up and I think they can do it.”

How might Major League Baseball quicken up the pace of play? Perhaps through the implementation of pitch clocks, which were used during 2019 spring training games but not the regular season. The same goes for the 2020 regular season as well, but they could be beneficial in the long run.

“If we have to bring in a clock to speed guys up, then bring in a clock,” Roenicke added. “I just don’t see any reason why this thing should be four hours a night. It makes no sense to me. … We like action, so let’s have more action going on out there.”