Josh Winckowski allows 6 runs as Red Sox manage just 5 hits, fail to finish off sweep of Pirates in 8-2 loss

The Red Sox were unable to complete a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. Boston fell to Pittsburgh by a final score of 4-2 at PNC Park, thus marking the end of its three-game winning streak.

Josh Winckowski made his 12th start of the season for the Sox after Nathan Eovaldi was scratched due to trap soreness. The rookie right-hander allowed six earned runs on seven hits and one walk to go along with just two strikeouts over five innings of work.

The Pirates got to Winckowski right away in the first inning. After Kevin Newman reached base on a one-out single, Bryan Renolds crushed a two-run home run to give his side an early 2-0 lead for the second night in a row.

Winckowski managed to retire the side in order in the second, but ran into more trouble in the third by giving up back-to-back two-out singles to Newman and Reynolds. Ben Gamel followed by lacing a two-run double over Tommy Pham’s glove in deep left field, scoring both Newman and Reynolds to make it a 4-0 ballgame.

The Newman-Reynolds combination got to Winckowski again in the fifth, as the former ripped a one-out single to center field before the latter clubbed another two-run home run. Reynolds’ 20th homer of the season gave Pittsburgh a commanding 6-0 lead. Winckowski’s night came to an end after he recorded the final out of the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (53 strikes), Winckowski managed to induce just six swings-and-misses while averaging 94.1 mph with his four-seam fastball. The 24-year-old hurler was ultimately charged with the loss and saw his ERA on the season rise to 5.19.

In relief of Winckowski, Austin Davis received the first and only call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The left-hander surrendered two runs, both of which came in the bottom of the sixth inning.

After issuing a one-out walk to Greg Allen, Davis gave up an RBI double to the pinch-hitting Michael Chavis (who he was traded for last July). Chavis proceeded to score from second on an RBI single off the bat of Tyler Heineman, which made it a 8-0 contest in favor of the Pirates.

It took until the seventh inning for the Sox to put a runner in scoring position. After being completely held in check by Pirates starter J.T. Brubaker, Alex Verdugo advanced to second base with one out in the seventh on a throwing error by shortstop Oneil Cruz.

Verdugo was stranded at second in the seventh, but the Boston bats finally got on the board in the eighth. Reese McGuire and Bobby Dalbec greeted new reliever Zach Thompson with back-to-back one-out singles. Jarren Duran then drew an eight-pitch walk to fill the bases for Pham, who plated McGuire on a chopper to third base.

Rafael Devers promptly drove in Dalbec on a sacrifice fly to center field before Xander Bogaerts re-loaded the bases by drawing another walk off Manny Banuelos. But Verdugo struck out on six pitches to extinguish the threat.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, J.D. Martinez, Christian Arroyo, and McGuire went down quietly against Colin Holderman to wrap up another lifeless defeat in which the Red Sox tallied just five hits. None of those hits went for extra-bases.

With the loss, Boston drops to 58-59 on the season and 8-10 in interleague play.

Next up: Baltimore awaits

The Red Sox will next travel to Balitmore to take on the Orioles in a three-game weekend series that concludes in Williamsport, Pa. with the annual Little League Classic on Sunday night. Kutter Crawford is slated to get the ball for Boston in Friday’s opener while fellow right-hander Jordan Lyles is expected to do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Christian Arroyo and Alex Verdugo combine for 6 hits as Red Sox get back to .500 with 8-3 victory over Pirates

The Red Sox once again took care of business against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 8-3 to take its third straight series and improve to 59-59 on the season.

Rich Hill made his 18th start of the season for the Sox and turned in a solid outing despite struggling out of the gate. The veteran left-hander allowed two runs on three hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over five innings of work.

Both of those Pirates runs came right away in the bottom of the first, when Hill followed a leadoff single from Kevin Newman by serving up a 416-foot two-run home run to Bryan Reynolds.

That put the Red Sox in an early 2-0 hole, but they quickly responded against opposing starter Roansy Contreras in the top of the second. Alex Verdugo led off with a single and J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. After Eric Hosmer flew out, Christian Arroyo stayed hot by ripping a two-run double to right-center field past a sprawling Reynolds. Arroyo’s ninth double of the season drove in both Verdugo and Martinez to knot things up at two runs apiece.

Reese McGuire kept the line moving with a one-out single that put runners on the corners for Enrique Hernandez, who collected his second RBI in as many games by plating Arroyo on a softly-hit single through the right side of the infield. Rafael Devers was intentionally walked with two outs to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts, who struck out on four pitches to end the inning, but not before Boston had taken its first lead of the night at 3-2.

Hill, meanwhile, settled in nicely by retiring nine straight batters from the middle of the second through the end of the fourth. He gave up a single to Rodolfo Castro in the fifth, but ended his night on a positive note by sitting down the final three Pirates he faced.

Finishing with an efficient pitch count of 57 (43 strikes), Hill induced three swings-and-misses with his four-seamer and three more with his slider. The 42-year-old hurler also picked up his fifth win of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.68.

Moments before Hill had recorded the final out of the fifth inning, the Red Sox tacked on additional run in the top half of the frame. Bogaerts, after reaching base via a one-out single off Contreras, scored all the way from first on an RBI double down the right field line off the bat of Verdugo.

Taking a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier punched out the side on 14 pitches before making way for Hirokazu Sawamura, who faced the minimum in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.

In the eighth, Verdugo led off another inning with a hard-hit single. Back-to-back one-out singles from Hosmer and Arroyo allowed Verdugo to move up to third base. The pinch-hitting Rob Refsnyder drove him in by drawing a bases-loaded walk off Pirates reliever Eric Stout, thus giving the Red Sox a 5-2 lead.

Sawamura picked up where he left off by retiring the side in order in the eighth. The same can be said for Arroyo, who knocked in his third run of the night on a bases-loaded single in the top of the ninth.

Kevin Plawecki, who took over behind the plate for McGuire, made the most of his first and only at-bat of the night by driving in a pair on a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field.

That sequence of events saw the Red Sox jump out to a commanding 8-2 advantage. It also afforded them the opportunity to have veteran reliever Jeurys Familia make his club debut. Signed to a minor-league deal earlier this month, Familia had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester on Saturday.

So it took four days for Familia to make his first appearance for Boston. The former All-Star closer surrendered hits to three of the first four Pirates he faced, including an RBI single from Ben Gamel.

Familia did not allow the Pirates to get any closer than that, though, as he got Kevin Padlo to ground out before punching out Castro on six pitches to secure an 8-3 victory for the Red Sox.

All told, Verdugo and Arroyo led the way offensively by combining for six hits (two doubles), four RBIs, four runs scored. Verdugo and Martinez combined to draw five walks as well.

Next up: Sox look to break out the brooms

The Red Sox will go for a three-game sweep over the Pirates on Thursday night. They last swept an opponent in a multi-game series on June 26, when they did so against the Guardians.

Rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski will get the ball for Boston after Thursday’s scheduled starter — Nathan Eovaldi — was scratched with a sore trap muscle. Fellow righty J.T. Brubaker is expected to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta allows just 1 hit over 7 scoreless innings as Red Sox hold on for 5-3 win over Pirates

The Red Sox scored four runs out of the gate and held on for a series-opening win over the Pirates at PNC Park on Tuesday night. Boston defeated Pittsburgh by a final score of 5-3 to improve to 58-59 on the season and 7-9 in interleague play.

Making their first trip to Pittsburgh in nearly seven years, the Sox received an early boost from the top half of their lineup. Matched up against Mitch Keller to begin things on Tuesday, Tommy Pham led off the first inning with a line-drive single.

Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez followed by drawing back-to-back walks to fill the bases for Alex Verdugo, who drove in his side’s first run on a groundball single to right field. Christian Arroyo and Eric Hosmer tacked on two more with run-scoring singles of their own, though Hosmer’s — a 214-foot fly ball — deflected off the glove of Pirates rookie Oneil Cruz before landing in left field.

With the bases still full, Enrique Hernandez came through in his first plate appearance in more than two months by lifting a 350-foot sacrifice fly to left field to plate Verdugo. An inning later, Pham reached base again on a one-out single. He moved up to second base when Martinez drew a walk and scored from there after Pirates centerfielder Bryan Reynolds failed to catch a 366-foot line drive off the bat of Verdugo.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a five-run lead, which was plenty big for Nick Pivetta. Making his 24th start of the season on Tuesday, Pivetta allowed just one hit and three walks to go along with six strikeouts over seven scoreless innings of work.

The one hit Pivetta surrendered came with two outs in the bottom of the first and put runners at first and second. The right-hander did not buckle, though, as he proceeded to get Kevin Padlo to ground out to himself to extinguish the threat.

From there, Pivetta settled in by retiring 18 of the next 20 batters he faced through the end of the seventh. Of the 99 pitches the 29-year-old threw on Tuesday, 63 went for strikes. He induced a total of eight swings-and-misses in the process of picking up his ninth win and lowering his ERA on the season to 4.28.

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Davis received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The left-hander made things interesting in the eighth by loading the bases with one out on two singles and a walk. That prompted Cora to turn to John Schreiber, who struck out Reynolds on a nasty slider and was one strike away from ending the inning.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Schreiber served up a bases-clearing, three-run double to Gamel on another slider at the bottom of the strike zone. All three of those runs were charged to Davis as the Pirates trimmed the deficit down to two runs at 5-3.

Matt Barnes was called upon to end it in the ninth. He did just that by punching out Cruz and Rodolfo Castro and retiring Greg Allen on 12 pitches to earn his third save of the season (and first since May 21) to secure the win.

So, despite going hitless from the second inning on, the Red Sox picked up their fourth win in their last five games. Pham led the way with two singles and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot while Verdugo, Arroyo, and Hosmer, had one hit and one RBI between them.

Next up: Hill vs. Contreras

The Red Sox will go for their third straight series victory in Wednesday’s contest against the Pirates. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston and rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski will follow out of the bullpen. Fellow righty Roansy Contreras is slated to take the mound for Pittsburgh.

First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games in Buffalo, Team Announces

The Blue Jays will play a majority of their home games this season in Buffalo, N.Y., the club officially announced Friday.

Per said statement, the Jays will be taking up residence at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons, the club’s Triple-A affiliate, play.

This news comes two days after Toronto’s initial plan to play the majority of its 2020 home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. fell through after the Pennsylvania Department of Health denied the club’s request to share the ballpark with the Pirates this year while citing the risks that would involve.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards, home of the Orioles, and Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, the Jays’ spring training home, had also been viewed as possible contingency plans for Toronto, but due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore County and Florida, those ideas were seemingly thrown out the window.

Instead, after the Canadian government ruled last week that the Blue Jays could not play at Rogers Centre this season, the country’s lone MLB team finally has a home for 2020.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to play the Red Sox 10 times during this truncated 60-game season, and three of those games will now take place in Buffalo from August 25 through August 27 if all goes according to plan.

Blue Jays Still Without a Home Ballpark for 2020 Season as Pittsburgh Plan Unravels

Contrary to what was posted on here earlier Wednesday, the Red Sox will not be traveling to Pittsburgh for their lone road series of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

That being the case because, according to The Associated Press’ Marc Levy, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will not allow the Jays to play their home games at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision from the PDH comes despite the fact that the Blue Jays and Pirates had already reached an agreement to share the ballpark for this truncated, 60-game season, which for Toronto begins this coming Friday.

With no home ballpark at this point, the Blue Jays have quite a bit of work to do before their “home” opener on July 29 against the Nationals. As a matter of fact, it looks like that series could take place at Nationals Park seeing how the two sides play two games against each other in the nation’s capital right before then.

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As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Mason, “It’s unclear where the Jays go from here. Hypothetically, they could play all 30 of their home games in road cities, but that would leave them at a massive disadvantage.”

Alternative venues the Blue Jays could use for their home games in 2020 include TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., the home of their spring training facility, and Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY., the home of their Triple-A affiliate that has been serving as the club’s alternate training site since Summer Camp began.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards has been thrown out there as well.

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games at PNC Park, Meaning Red Sox Will Travel to Pittsburgh Instead of Toronto in Late August

UPDATE: It looks like this could be falling apart as I am typing this, so there’s that.

The Red Sox were originally supposed to visit PNC Park earlier this month to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game, Independence Day weekend series.

Instead, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sox will be limited to just playing regional opponents this year, but they will still be making a trip to Pittsburgh after all.

That being the case because, as of Wednesday morning, it looks like the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing a majority of their 2020 home games in the Steel City, barring a few exceptions against the Nationals and Yankees.

This all comes as the Canadian government ruled over the weekend that the Blue Jays would not be permitted to play regular season games in Toronto due to the pandemic. From the Associated Press’ report:

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre, confirming what an official familiar with the matter had told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

Ahead of this truncated, 60-game season, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the Jays 10 times in 2020. Three of those games were supposed to take place at Rogers Centre from August 25 through August 27, but it now looks like they will now take place at PNC Park, a venue the Sox last visited in 2014.