Red Sox Relievers Combine To Toss 6 2/3 Scoreless Innings en Route To 5-3 Victory Over Nationals

The Red Sox bounced back from an ugly 10-2 loss on Friday and were carried by their bullpen en route to a 5-3 victory over the defending World Series champion Nationals on Saturday.

Chris Mazza made his second start and third overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, as he was recalled from Pawtucket on Saturday in a roster move that saw Nathan Eovaldi placed on the injured list.

Working 2 1/3 innings while facing the Nationals for the first time in his career, the right-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Washington tallies came in the top half of the third, when after retiring six of the first nine hitters he faced, Mazza struggled to record a single out and instead allowed three runs to cross the plate on four hits and a walk before fanning Kurt Suzuki on five pitches, which actually marked the end of his outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (46 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider and cutter a combined 70% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 10 swings-and-misses with the two pitches. He also topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 11 times.

Hit with the no-decision due to the length of this outing, Mazza could be a candidate to get another start next time through the rotation, which would likely come against the Blue Jays late next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

In relief of Mazza, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was dispatched with runners on first and second and two outs to get in the top of the third, and he got those outs while dancing around a bases-loaded jam in between two swinging strikeouts.

From there, Phillips Valdez stranded two runners and punched out the side in a scoreless fourth inning, and he also put two more runners on and recorded two more outs in the fifth before Austin Brice came on and ended the frame with the help of Alex Verdugo’s seventh outfield assist of the season.

Brice got the call for the start of the sixth as well and kept the Nationals off the board while leaving another two base runners stranded.

Josh Osich, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes followed suit by combining to toss three shutout frames the rest of the way, with Barnes picking up his third save of the year courtesy of a seven-pitch groundout off the bat of Eric Thames to close out the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke used six different relievers on Saturday — Hernandez, Valdez, Brice, Osich, Brasier, and Barnes — and the six combined to twirl 6 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen. Not too shabby.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Nationals in Anibal Sanchez. This time around, though, the Boston bats had an easier time of getting runs on the board, and it started right from the jump in the bottom of the first.

There, an Alex Verdugo leadoff single and one-out double from J.D. Martinez put runners in scoring position for Xander Bogaerts, who took full advantage of that opportunity by swinging away at the first pitch he saw from Sanchez, an 89 mph four-seamer above the strike zone, and crushing a 440-foot three-run home run to left-center field.

Bogaerts’ seventh big fly of the season, which had an exit velocity of 106.3 mph off the bat, gave his side an early three-run advantage.

An inning later, the bottom of the lineup got it done this time, as Kevin Pillar led the second off with a hard-hit triple and came into score moments later on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI groundout. 4-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, after the Nationals had stormed back to make things interesting at 4-3, Pillar struck once more, collecting his second extra-base hit of the night off an 0-1, 89 mph fastball from Sanchez at the top of the zone. It just so happens that this extra-base knock was hit 435 feet over the Monster and was good for Pillar’s fourth big fly of 2020.

That solo blast gave the Red Sox a two-run edge at 5-3, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Zack Godley will get the starting nod for Boston, while fellow righty Austin Voth will do the same for Washington.

Under normal circumstances, Godley’s rotation spot may be in jeopardy here seeing how the 30-year-old owns an ERA of 11.17 over his last three starts going back to August 12. However, Godley may be safe regardless of how he performs on Sunday since the Red Sox do not have a great deal of starting pitching options at the moment.

In nine career outings (five starts) against the Nationals, the South Carolina native has posted a lifetime 5.53 ERA and .884 OPS against over 40 2/3 total innings pitched.

Voth, meanwhile, is coming off a start in which he surrendered six runs in less than four innings of work at home against the Marlins on August 24.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his career, but he does own a lifetime 3.52 ERA in six prior interleague outings that span 30 2/3 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series win to close out the weekend.

Six-Run Sixth Inning Propels Red Sox To 9-7 Victory Over Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since 1917, the Red Sox played a game in Buffalo, NY on Tuesday and were able to halt a mini two-game losing streak with a 9-7 victory over the Blue Jays to improve to 10-20 on the year.

Kyle Hart made his third start of the season for Boston since being recalled on August 13, and unlike his last time out against the Phillies, he took a step back in this one.

That being the case because over just 3 1/3 innings pitched, the rookie left-hander was charged with six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first four of those Toronto tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after filling the bases with three of the first four hitters he faced, Hart yielded a two-run double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Moments later, Danny Jansen followed suit by ripping a two-run single off the Sox starter to left field, but wound up getting gunned down at second base by Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

After dancing his way around some danger in the second and third, Hart ran into more trouble in the bottom half of the fourth, a frame he would not be able to finish.

There, Hart put runners on first and second with a one-out single and walk, which in turn marked the end of his outing and made way for Phillips Valdez to enter.

Making his 12th appearance of the year, Valdez inherited those two runners and allowed both of them to score on a two-run base knock off the bat of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., thus closing the book on Hart’s evening. Fortunately, the 28-year-old was able to escape the fourth without giving anything else up while also working a scoreless bottom of the fifth.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez stranded a total of three base runners over two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, while Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 eighth and Matt Barnes served up a solo shot to Teoscar Hernandez in the ninth but held on to notch the save and the 9-7 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Blue Jays right-hander Chase Anderson, someone they could only push across one run against back on August 8.

This time around, the Boston bats got to Anderson starting in their half of the second when Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit double up the middle and Mitch Moreland drove him in on an RBI single to center field.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the Bogaerts-Moreland combination struck once more as the former led the inning off with a single this time and the latter followed with a run-scoring double off of Anderson.

A passed ball later in the inning allowed Moreland to move up 90 feet to third base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. took full advantage of that mistake committed by the Blue Jays by plating the first baseman on an infield single.

Toronto did manage to tack on two runs of their own in the fourth to re-take the three-run lead they previously had, but that did not stop the Sox offense from erupting in the sixth.

It started with a leadoff walk drawn by Moreland, which would result in the Jays making a pitching change that saw Wilmer Font take over for Anderson.

Christian Vazquez greeted the new reliever by lacing a sharply-hit double over Teoscar Hernandez’s head in deep center field to advance Moreland up to third.

With one out and two runners in scoring position, Bradley Jr. followed Vazquez’s lead and drove in Moreland on an RBI single.

As the lineup was about to flip back over, Jose Peraza took a 95 mph fastball from Font off his wrist and the bases were full for leadoff man Alex Verdugo.

Having already extending his hitting streak to 14 games, Verdugo proceeded to rip a run-scoring single to right field to score Vazquez and keep the bases loaded for Rafael Devers.

Devers, up against new Blue Jays reliever A.J. Cole, did not waste too much time in clearing the bases, as the 23-year-old took a 3-2, 82 mph slider from the right-hander and absolutely tattooed a three-run triple down the right field line.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fifth career triple had an exit velocity of 110.2 mph off the bat. It also put the Red Sox up 8-6, and J.D. Martinez made it a 9-6 contest with a sacrifice fly.

By the time the final out of the top of the sixth was recorded, the Red Sox had plated six runs and sent 10 hitters to the plate.

As it would later turn out, that sixth inning would be all the Red Sox would need to top the Blue Jays on Tuesday, with 9-7 going on to be your final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

It’s tough to see Kyle Hart getting another start the next time through the rotation given his numbers in the majors thus far, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham points out:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will get the start for Boston in place of Nathan Eovaldi, who is dealing with a calf cramp, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

In his last time out against the Orioles last Friday, Brewer put together four scoreless innings of work in his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season.

With the PawSox last year, the 27-year-old actually made two appearances at Sahlen Field right and tossed 1 1/3 total total shutout innings of relief. He also pitched a perfect fifth inning against the Blue Jays back on August 7.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to start the second half of the season on a positive note.

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 Falter in Sixth Inning, Fall To Phillies 13-6 as Losing Streak Grows To Nine Consecutive Games

Another night, another venue, another opponent, and another loss for the Red Sox on Tuesday. This one came in 13-6 fashion at the hands of the Phillies at Fenway Park, marking the Sox’ ninth consecutive defeat to drop them to 6-18 on the year.

Zack Godley made his fourth start and fifth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one, and he looked significantly better than he did in his last time out against the Rays on Wednesday.

That being the case because over four innings of work, the right-hander held the Phillies to just one run on four hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Philadelphia’s lone run off Godley came in a laborious top half of the fourth, when with one out in the frame the Sox starter allowed three straight base runners to reach, with the last of those three, Jay Bruce, plating Didi Gregorius on an RBI single to right field.

Fortunately, Godley was able to dance his way around any more trouble, as he retired the final two hitters he faced to end his outing on a somewhat more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84, 49 of which were strikes, the 30-year-old hurler turned to his cutter and curveball 83% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches. He also topped out at 91.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to just three times.

Hit with the no-decision on account while lowering his ERA on the season to 6.87, Godley likely did enough here to earn himself another start, which would presumably come against the Orioles on Sunday.

In relief of Godley, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the fifth, and he served up a solo homer to Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins in an otherwise clean frame of work.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor made his second appearance in as many days after getting activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Monday, and he was only able to record the first two outs of the inning while allowing the Phillies to come back and knot this contest up at four runs apiece.

With that, Heath Hembree was dispatched to get out of the mess Taylor had created, but the right-hander was only able to dig a bigger hole for his side by serving up a 409-foot three-run blast to Bryce Harper and a run-scoring base hit to Gregorius before getting the hook in favor of Colten Brewer.

Brewer did manage to end things in the sixth without yielding anything else, but he did give up a leadoff home run to Phil Gosselin in the seventh, which put the Phillies up 10-4 an inning after they had been trailing 4-2.

Marcus Walden did not fare much better in the eighth, as he could not sneak a two-out, 1-1, 91 mph cutter past Jay Bruce, who deposited that pitch just over the wall in center field for another three-run home run. 13-5.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, faced five hitters in the ninth but did not give anything up to keep the deficit for his side at eight runs. It did not make all that much of a difference in the end, but still.

All in all, the Boston bullpen combined to allow 12 earned runs on 12 hits (four home runs), and two walks over five innings pitched on Tuesday. Not exactly what you want.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup absent of Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. was matched up against someone making his first ever start at Fenway Park in the form of Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin.

Getting the scoring right away on Tuesday, Rafael Devers got a nice day at the plate started with a one-out single off Eflin in the first and was almost immediately driven in by Xander Bogaerts moments later. 1-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the third, and the top portion of the Sox lineup struck once more, as Alex Verdugo led things off with a wall-ball double to left, and Devers plated him on an RBI double of his own.

J.D. Martinez proceeded with yet another run-scoring two-base hit, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-0 lead.

In the fifth, after the Phillies had tacked on two runs of their own, Bogaerts provided what looked to be important insurance at the time with a sacrifice fly off new reliever Blake Barker that brought in Verdugo from third.

Bogaerts’ second RBI of the night put the Sox up 4-2, but as it would later turn out, that would be the last lead they held on Tuesday as the Philadelphia offense went off the rest of the way.

Mitch Moreland got a run back on a run-scoring single in the seventh, and another on a run-scoring double in the ninth, but it would not be enough as 13-6 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

J.D. Martinez was removed from this game in the fifth inning due to dehydration.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Michael Chavis struck out five times in his five plate appearances on Tuesday.

Next up for the Red Sox, they will close out this brief two-game interleague series and homestand against the Phillies on Wednesday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will make his second start of the season for Boston, while veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta will get the ball for Philadelphia.

Hart, 27, is coming off a rough major-league debut against the Rays at Fenway last Thursday in which he surrendered five earned runs on seven hits and four walks in just two-plus innings pitched in an eventual loss.

The Red Sox are sticking with the rookie southpaw for at least one more start despite that shaky debut though, so perhaps that will give him a boost ahead of his first career interleague outing.

Arrieta, meanwhile, has posted a 4.02 ERA and 3.37 FIP through his first three starts and 15 2/3 innings of the 2020 season.

In six career appearances (five starts) at Fenway Park, the 34-year-old owns a lifetime 4.45 ERA and .755 OPS against over 30 1/3 total innings pitched.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN, MLB Network, and WEEI. Red Sox looking to avoid extending their losing streak to double digits.

Nathan Eovaldi Surrenders Three Home Runs as Red Sox’ Struggles Against Yankees Continue in 11-5 Loss

Another night, another game allowing eight-plus runs, and another blowout loss for the Red Sox on Saturday. This one came in 11-5 fashion at the hands of the Yankees once again.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he had a tough time missing Yankees bats in his first go-around at the Stadium since last season.

That being the case because over 5 1/3 innings of work, the right-hander got shelled for eight runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and two walks to go along with just three strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those New York tallies came right away in their half of the first, when after retiring two of the first three hitters he faced, Eovaldi served up a two-run home run to Gio Urshela off a 1-0, 98 mph heater on the outer half of the plate. 2-0 Yankees.

After settling in a bit in the second and third innings, Eovaldi was again the victim of the two-run home run ball when Gary Sanchez took the fireballer deep to left off a 2-2, 90 mph splitter down the chute, which actually gave the Yankees the lead again at 4-3.

In the sixth, the long ball came back to bite Eovaldi once more. There, two straight hits from Gleyber Torres and Mike Tauchman to lead off the frame brought Clint Frazier to the plate with one out and runners in scoring position, and the Yankees outfielder took full advantage by crushing a three-run blast to right field off a first-pitch cutter to simultaneously give his side a 7-3 lead and put an end to Eovaldi’s outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (59 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his cut-fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 99.3 mph with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 19 times.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 5.93, Eovaldi will look to bounce back in his next time out, which should come against the Orioles in Baltimore on Thursday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Heath Hembree came on for Eovaldi with two outs to get in the bottom of the sixth, closed the book on the starter’s night by allowing one inherited runner to score, and sat down the final two Yankees he faced.

From there, Matt Barnes had a tough time of things in the seventh considering he yielded three runs (two earned) on one hit, one walk, and one hit batsman in the frame, while Phillips Valdez tossed a perfect ninth inning to keep his side’s deficit at eight runs. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander James Paxton for the Yankees, who was coming off his best start of the season thus far in his last time out against the Rays.

Down by a pair after just one inning, the Boston bats got things going in the third starting with a leadoff walk drawn by Jose Peraza.

As the lineup flipped back over, Rafael Devers moved Peraza up to third on a one-out double, and the two infielders were subsequently driven in on a two-run single off the bat of J.D. Martinez that he tried to unsuccessfully turn into a double himself.

Xander Bogaerts followed by taking Paxton 380 feet to left-center field for his fourth big fly of the season. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-2 lead, which would actually only last 1 1/2 innings before the Yankees took this one over.

The only other offensive production the Sox were able to garner on Saturday came well after Paxton’s day had ended. In the top half of the ninth, Alex Verdugo deposited his fifth homer of 2020 433 feet deep into the right field seats, while Jose Peraza later scored off an RBI triple from Kevin Pillar.

Both run-producing hits from the pair of outfielders came off Luis Cessa, and they cut the Red Sox’ deficit down to six runs at 11-5, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Alex Verdugo’s OPS on the season is now .848. Michael Chavis’ is now .857. Both are currently riding multi-game hitting streaks.

On a night the pitching was rather dismal, Phillips Valdez continues to impress.

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

Right-hander Chris Mazza will make his first career start for Boston, while left-hander J.A. Happ will get the ball for New York.

Mazza, 30, will need to be recalled on Sunday, a little over two weeks after tossing  2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief at Yankee Stadium in his Red Sox debut on August 1.

Happ, meanwhile, has allowed four earned runs in each of his first two starts of 2020 and was actually skipped his last time through the Yankees’ rotation. The 37-year-old veteran southpaw owns a lifetime 3.00 ERA and .676 OPS against in 25 career outings (24 starts) and 141 1/3 innings pitched against the Red Sox.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put an end to this six-game skid.

 

Sloppy Red Sox Commit Four Errors, Can’t Avoid Four-Game Sweep in 17-8 Loss to Rays

In a game that saw a drone delay, two position players pitch, and one utilityman catch, the Red Sox were on the wrong side of a 17-8 blowout against the Rays at Fenway Park on Thursday night.

Kyle Hart made his major-league debut and his first career start for Boston to close out this series and, even without fans in the stands and his brother watching from the Bleacher Bar in center field, had a tough go of things.

That being the case because in just two-plus innings of work, the rookie left-hander yielded seven runs, five of which were earned, on seven hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The first two of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top of the first, when after Mike Brosseau led off with a walk and Jose Martinez reached base on a fielding error committed by Jonathan Arauz, Hart gave up a pair of RBI singles to Yandy Diaz and Willy Adames to put his side in an early two-run hole.

A scoreless second inning made it appear as though Hart was beginning to figure it out on the mound, but even after getting a one-run lead to work with, things took a turn for the worse for the southpaw in the third.

There, a leadoff walk drawn by Diaz, followed by back-to-back home runs off the bats of Hunter Renfroe and Brandon Lowe, as well as three more hits from Adames, Manuel Margot, and Yoshi Tsutsugo, resulted in the Rays jumping out to a 6-3 advantage before Hart got the hook from Sox manager Ron Roenicke earlier than he would have liked to.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (44 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his sinker and slider a combined 56% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses with the slider alone. He also topped out at 91.2 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

Charged with his first loss in his first career start, Hart’s status is up in the air, as Roenicke told reporters postgame that the Red Sox “are not exactly sure” if the hurler will get another start.

In relief of Hart, right-hander Phillips Valdez was dispatched with three outs to get in the third. And he got those outs, but not before allowing one of the runners he inherited to score on an RBI forceout.

From there, like Hart before him, Valdez was also the recipient of some shoddy defensive work from the infielders playing behind him.

Upon giving up leadoff single to Diaz, the lanky righty induced a soft grounder off the bat of Hunter Renfroe, which was promptly fielded by the charging Rafael Devers. Rather than make an apt throw over to second for the force out though, Devers airmailed the throw into right field, allowing Diaz to reach third and Renfroe to reach first safely.

The ever-dangerous Lowe took full advantage of that mishap, as the Rays second baseman laced a sharp RBI single through the middle of the infield to drive in Diaz and make it an 8-4 second.

Just a few moments later, Devers was once again tested when Margot batted another soft grounder towards the hot corner. Once more, the 23-year-old picked the ball with his bare hand cleanly, but rushed his throw to Mitch Moreland over at first and the ball wound up by the tarp in foul territory. That, of course, gave Renfroe plenty of time to score from second. 9-4.

Tsustgo increased his side’s advantage even more with a sacrifice fly to right field, and the Rays were up by six runs just like that to no fault of Valdez, really.

That point was emphasized again an inning later, when Valdez retired the only three hitters he faced in the fifth before making way for Marcus Walden in the sixth.

Similarly enough to Hart three innings prior, Walden could not record a single out in his sixth appearance of the season. He instead served up two home runs, one of which being an absolute bomb to Kenmore Square from Renfroe, one triple, two singles, and one walk to the six hitters he faced by the time he was replaced by Josh Osich.

The lefty entered in a 16-5 game, and he kept it that way by recording the final three outs of the sixth in 1-2-3 fashion before punching out the side in a scoreless top of the seventh.

Heath Hembree made his first appearance since last Saturday by coming on for the eighth, and he fanned a pair in another shutout inning of relief.

In the ninth, we got our first and second position player pitching sightings of the season for the Red Sox when Jose Peraza took the mound after starting the game at second base. The 26-year-old allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, but then to add insult to injury, took a 105 mph comebacker from Lowe off his right knee, which marked the end of his evening.

Having to turn to another position player, Kevin Plawecki took the mound while Tzu-Wei Lin, yes, Tzu-Wei Lin, was put behind the plate.

The veteran backstop walked one and recorded two outs thanks to some nifty glove work from Alex Verdugo in left field, but it was too little too late.

On the other side of things, a Xander Bogaerts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow to begin things on Thursday.

Down by a pair of runs before even getting the chance to take their first at-bats, the Boston offense quickly erased that deficit with an RBI single from Devers and a two-run double from Plawecki.

By the time this one had reached the midway point of the third, the Sox’ deficit had grown to five runs, but the red-hot Jonathan Arauz cut into that by lacing a two-out, two-run double to right field, bringing in J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to make it a 7-4 contest. The 22-year-old’s first career extra-base hit.

An inning later, Martinez picked up from where he left off on Wednesday with another run-scoring double off Glasnow. This one came with two outs in the fifth and brought in Peraza from second. 10-5.

As it would later turn out, five runs is the closest the Red Sox would get to the Rays from the start of the sixth inning on.

By the time Boston got on the board again in the ninth, Tampa Bay already had a 17-5 edge. But at least three straight two-out hits from Michael Chavis, Kevin Pillar, and Plawecki brought in three more runs to make the final score look a little bit closer at 17-8, right?

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

Michael Chavis has nine hits in his last seven games and has bumped his OPS on the season up to .892.

Kevin Plawecki is 9-for-19 (.474) with six RBI to begin his Red Sox career.

Jonathan Arauz has eight hits in his last four games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as the club is about to embark on a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx.

It will be a bullpen game for Boston in the series opener for Boston on Friday, while New York will turn to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.

 

 

 

Red Sox Held to Just One Run in Loss to Blue Jays as Offensive Struggles Continue for Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez

For the second time this season, the Red Sox had a chance to string together their first three-game winning streak of the year. And for the second time this season, that effory fell short, this time coming in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Zack Godley made his second start and third overall appearance of the year for Boston in this one, and unlike his last time out against the Yankees looked much more poised against his former club. That being the case because over four innings pitched, the right-hander kept Toronto off the scoreboard while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Godley ran into came in his final inning of work, when he served up back-to-back two-out singles to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to put runners, which at the time put the tying run in scoring position for Randal Grichuk.

Fortunately for Boston, Godley managed to get the Blue Jays outfielder to pop out to first to strand what would have been the tying run at second and end his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (41 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his cutter and curveball a combined 79% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing six total swings-and-misses with the two pitches while topping out at 91 mph with that cut-fastball.

Hit with the no decision later on, Godley was at least able to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.97. He’ll look to bring that number down even more in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

In relief of Godley, left-hander Josh Osich got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the fifth, and he faced the minimum three batters thanks to an inning-ending double play courtesy of Mitch Moreland.

From there, Phillips Valdez nearly surrendered a run in the sixth by walking one and giving up two hits, but was bailed out by Kevin Pillar in right field, who corralled a two-out single off the bat of Guerrero Jr. and gunned down old friend Travis Shaw trying to score from second on play. A rough weekend for the former Sox infielder thus far.

In the seventh, Heath Hembree looked human for the first time this season in that he allowed the Blue Jays to tie this contest up at one run apiece on a Bo Bichette two-out, run-scoring double before a six-pitch walk of Shaw filled the bases for Toronto and resulted in the right-hander getting an early hook in favor of Brasier.

Braiser came into Saturday with a 9.82 ERA on the year, but to his credit, fanned Teoscar Hernandez on three straight strikes to escape the jam and keep the score tied.

Marcus Walden was responsible for the top half of the eighth, and he saw a 1-1 tie turn into a one-run deficit after yielding a leadoff walk to Gurriel Jr., a one-out single to Grichuk, and a run-scoring groundout to Rowdy Tellez. If there’s any consolation for Walden, it’s the fact that he got out of the inning without giving anything else up, although he was ultimately charged with his first loss of 2020.

And in the ninth, left-hander Jeffrey Springs put together his second consecutive scoreless appearance, retiring three of the four hitters he faced in a quick and painless top of the ninth to hold the Blue Jays at two runs.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that featured Alex Verdugo batting leadoff for the first time was matched up against another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in ex-Brewers hurler Chase Anderson.

Kicking off the scoring in the second, the Boston bats made Anderson pay for walking Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland to begin the inning by driving one of those runners in thanks to a Christian Vazquez RBI single right back up the middle moments later.

Andrew Benintendi had a chance to keep the early rally going, but instead grounded into a 4-6-3 double play before Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to left field to extinguish the threat.

As it would later turn out, that second inning was it for the Sox in terms of meaningful offensive production on Saturday, with Anderson, as well as Blue Jays relievers Wilmer Font, Anthony Kay, Jordan Romano, and Anthony Bass keeping the home side in check the rest of the way en route to a 2-1 loss for Boston.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

The Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday and left seven men on base as a team.

Andrew Benintendi was pinch-hit for by Kevin Pillar in the bottom of the fourth inning after just one at-bat.

Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez went a combined 0-for-7 with one walk and two strikeouts. The former now has an OPS of .543, the latter now has an OPS of .639.

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Would have been interesting to see the new extra-inning rules come into play on Saturday night. Maybe another time.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set on Sunday night afternoon.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Matt Shoemaker will do the same for Toronto.

The Sox’ de facto ace surrendered four earned runs over five innings of work his last time out against the Rays. He owns a lifetime 4.22 ERA and .799 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 32 innings pitched against the Blue Jays.

Shoemaker, meanwhile, has allowed seven earned runs through his first two starts and 10 2/3 innings pitched of the 2020 campaign. The 33-year-old has made three career starts at Fenway Park and has yielded seven earned runs over 18 total innings. That’s god for an ERA of 3.50.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI, but as mentioned in Saturday’s broadcast, the game will shift over to NESN at the conclusion of the Bruins game.

 

 

Red Sox Reliever Phillips Valdez Pitching Himself ‘Into Bigger Role,’ Ron Roenicke Says

One week into the 2020 season, Red Sox relievers own the 15th-best ERA (4.54), the 15th-best FIP (4.21), and the 20th-best fWAR (0.0) in baseball. Put simply, the Boston bullpen has been rather mediocre to begin things this year, which is understandable given the current state the starting rotation is in.

Despite that ‘mediocire’ notion, there have been a handful of Sox relievers who have stuck out in a positive way thus far, and one of them worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Friday night. His name? Phillips Valdez.

Yes, the right-hander scattered three hits and struck out three batters in relief of Ryan Weber in Friday’s series-opening loss to New York. With that outing in mind, Valdez has yet to give up a run through his first three appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox.

Originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Seattle Mariners back in February, the 29-year-old hurler has struck out more than 27% of the 22 hitters he has faced so far this season while holding them to a .200 clip.

Because of his strong first impression, Valdez could find himself in more high-leverage spots out of the Red Sox bullpen in the near future. His manager, Ron Roenicke, said as much when speaking with reporters Friday night.

“He’s pitching himself maybe into a bigger role,” Roenicke explained. “That’s why we stuck with him today because he’s been throwing the ball well when he starts going through some of these really good hitters and getting them out.”

Some of those “really good hitters” Valdez has gotten out thus far include Aaron Judge and Luke Voit, who both fell victim to 84 mph changeups from the Dominican Republic national on Friday.

Signed by the Indians as a 17-year-old out of the DR back in 2008, Valdez made his major-league debut with the Texas Rangers last June and is under team control with Boston through the end of the 2025 season.

Per Statcast, the slender 6-foot-2, 160 lb. righty primarily works with a changeup and sinker, while his slider and four-seam fastball lean more towards secondary pitches.

At the time he joined the Sox during the first version of spring training earlier this year, Valdez seemed like a long shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster. But, coming out of the pandemic-induced layoff, the club obviously liked what they saw during Summer Camp and he was in there pitching against the Orioles last Friday.

Now, after getting off to a hot start with his new team, Valdez could become a legitimate weapon out of the Red Sox bullpen if he continues to prove that he can handle tougher situations as a reliever.

Ryan Weber’s Struggles Continue as Red Sox Muster Just One Run in Series-Opening Loss to Yankees

In what could potentially be the final weekend of Major League Baseball this year, the Red Sox saw their mini two-game winning streak come to a close on Friday night in a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Yankees in the Bronx.

Ryan Weber got the start for Boston in this one, and like his 2020 debut last Sunday, he was unable to make it through four full innings, instead going 3 1/3 while surrendering three runs, all of which were earned, on four hits and four walks to go along with zero strikeouts on the night.

All three runs yielded by the right-hander to the Bronx Bombers came by way of the home run ball, with Aaron Judge following up a D.J. LeMahieu leadoff single in the third with a two-run blast just barely over the wall in left field, and Gio Urshela doing nearly the same thing on a leadoff homer an inning later.

Just like that, the Red Sox’ one-run lead had turned into a two-run deficit, and Weber’s evening came to a close rather quickly after he gave up that solo shot to Urshela, walked Brett Gardner, and got Kyle Higashioka to ground into a force out at second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 74 (43 strikes), the 29-year-old turned to his sinker more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing just one swing and miss while topping out at 90.3 mph with the pitch.

Hit with his second consecutive losing decision to start the new season, Weber’s spot in Boston’s rotation could very well be in jeopardy seeing how he has pitched seven total innings thus far without even striking out a single batter. I’m sure Sox manager Ron Roenicke will have more to say about that soon.

Anyway, in relief of Weber, right-hander Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, escaped the bottom of the fourth unscathed, and proceeded to toss two more scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth.

From there, Austin Brice faced the minimum three hitters in the seventh thanks to an inning-ending strike ’em out, throw em’out twin killing, and Colten Brewer served up a two-run bomb to Gardner in the eighth, which put the Yankees up 5-1 and would go on to be Friday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who was making his 2020 debut for New York.

After going down in order in the first and second innings against the southpaw, Michael Chavis, fresh off a two-hit game on Thursday, led the top half of the third off by taking Montgomery deep to left field off a 1-0, 91 mph heater on the inner half of the plate for his first big fly of the season.

Back-to-back one-out singles off the bats of Jose Peraza and Kevin Pillar in the same inning made it seem as though the Sox were going to add on to their early one-run lead, but a J.D. Martinez lineout to right ended any hopes of that happening since Pillar was doubled up at first base to end the inning in disappointing fashion.

In the fourth, Chavis had a chance to do even more damage as he came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded against Montgomery, but instead of going deep for a second time, the 24-year-old grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to extinguish the threat.

Other than that, the Boston bats really never challenged the Yankees again the rest of the way, as Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, and Jonathan Holder came out of the New York bullpen and combined to toss 3 1/3 scoreless frames in relief of Montgomery.

Holder recorded the final out of the night by getting Alex Verdugo to ground out to short, and that was that as the Red Sox dropped their first game of the season against the Yankees by a final score of 5-1.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts had a fine day at shortstop by flashing the leather and showing off his arm on Friday.

Michael Chavis’ first home run of the season traveled 410 feet.

Phillips Valdez has yet to give up a run since making his Red Sox debut on Opening Day.

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to bounce back against these same Yankees on Saturday night.

Right-hander Zack Godley will be making his first start of the year for Boston, while veteran righty Masahiro Tanaka will be getting the ball got New York.

In his Red Sox debut against the Mets on Monday, the 30-year-old twirled four scoreless innings of relief. He has only made one career appearance against the Yankees in which he gave up three runs in three innings as a reliever.

Tanaka, meanwhile, will also be making his first start of the season after sustaining a concussion in an intrasquad game earlier this month. In 21 career starts against the Sox, the 31-year-old hurler owns a lifetime 5.76 ERA and .278 batting average against over 11 5 2/3 innings of work.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox looking to improve to 4-5 on the season.

 

Zack Godley Just About Lone Bright Spot for Red Sox in 7-4 Loss to Mets

After a disappointing start to their season over the weekend, the Red Sox saw their losing streak grow to three games on Monday night in a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the Mets at Fenway Park.

Josh Osich got the start for Boston to kick off this two-game interleague series, and he was far from perfect in his first experience as an opener. That being the case because over two innings of work, the left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout on the night.

Both of those Mets runs scored against Osich came off the bat of Michael Conforto, who made the veteran southpaw pay for a leadoff walk of J.D. Davis in the second inning by crushing a two-run home run into the right field bleachers moments later. Once again, the Red Sox found themselves in an early hole, and that hole only got deeper as the Sox turned to another lefty, Jeffrey Springs, to start things out in the third.

Springs, acquired from the Rangers in January, did not fare much better than Osich. In fact, you can even say he had a tougher time of things considering the fact that he served up an absolute missile of a two-run homer to Pete Alonso in the third and a three-run blast to Dominic Smith in the fourth.

The 27-year-old did manage to retire the last man he faced in Brandon Nimmo, but the damage had already been done seeing how his side was down by seven runs. Heath Hembree came on with one out in the top half of the fourth and finished the inning.

From there, things actually got better for the Red Sox pitching staff thanks in large part to the recently-signed Zack Godley, who was slated to be the “bulk inning guy” for Boston in this one.

In what was his long-awaited Red Sox debut, Godley served that role well by working four scoreless frames while scattering four hits and no walks to go along with seven punchouts against the 16 Mets hitters he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 53 (36 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied mostly on his cutter and knuckle curveball while inducing 15 total swings and misses with the combination of pitches. He also topped out at 90.5 mph with that cutter.

Seeing how the Sox’ starting rotation is basically in shambles, Godley should be a candidate to start for Boston when they face off against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Saturday.

In relief of Godley, right-hander Phillips Valdez wrapped things up by tossing a scoreless ninth inning to hold the Mets at seven runs. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still encouraging to see from someone who is not well-known like Valdez.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Michael Wacha for the Mets, who made his first in-game appearance at Fenway Park since pitching in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series.

Contrary to that outing in which he gave up six runs in fewer than four innings of work, the now-29-year-old Wacha was much more effective in his Mets debut. It also didn’t help that the Sox found themselves down by four runs before this game was even a third of the way over.

Back to Wacha, the only Boston run that was scored off the ex-Cardinal came courtesy of a two-out solo home run from Mitch Moreland in the bottom half of the fourth. Moreland’s first big fly of 2020 put his side on the board and made it a 7-1 game in favor of New York.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Xander Bogaerts greeted new Mets reliever Chasen Shreve by taking the left-hander deep to the opposite field on a one-out, 1-1 92 MPH heater right down the heart of the plate. That made it a 7-2 contest.

In the eighth, Moreland and Bogaerts struck once more, this time combining to plate another pair of runs on an RBI groundout and single off Jeurys Familia to make things a little more interesting at 7-4.

A las, nothing more came of that, as Seth Lugo entered for the Mets, fanned Christian Vazquez on seven pitches, and tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to secure a three-run victory for his side and a third straight loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

The Red Sox have been outscored 21-10 since Friday’s Opening Day win over the Orioles.

Andrew Benintendi got his first hit of the season on Monday, albeit it came on a bunt single. Rafael Devers also collected his second hit of the year, an opposite field double off the base of the Green Monster.

The Braves designated right-hander and 2018 National League All-Star Mike Foltynewicz on Monday. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox should be in on that all things considered.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of the first leg of this home-at-home bout against the Mets.

Left-hander Matt Hall will get the start for Boston, while New York has yet to name a starter.

According to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hall, who will be making his first career major-league start, “could go four or five [innings]” since he’s been stretched out.

“I think if he’s pitching well, he’ll be in there for a few innings hopefully,” Roenicke said of Hall on Sunday. “And then we’ll piece together the end of it.”

Hall, who turned 27 years old last week, impressed the Sox during Summer Camp, nearly six month after the southpaw was initially acquired in a trade with the Tigers.

In 21 career relief appearances with Detroit dating back to 2018, the Missouri State product owns a 9.48 ERA and 5.15 FIP over 31 1/3 innings pitched. He has also made 85 career starts in the minors since being taken in the sixth round of the 2015 draft.