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.

 

 

 

Late Rally for Red Sox Falls Short in Yet Another Loss to Rays at Fenway Park

On a night they found themselves in an eight-run hole and rallied to score five runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth, the Red Sox still could not get past the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, as they dropped their third straight to their division rivals by a final score of 9-5.

Zack Godley made his third start and fourth overall appearance of the season for Boston in this one and, unlike his last time out on August 8 when he tossed four scoreless innings against the Blue Jays, struggled mightily against another American League East foe.

That being the case because, in just three-plus innings pitched, the right-hander got shelled for eight runs, all of which were earned, on 10 hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top of the first, when after loading the bases with one out, Godley induced a potential inning-ending grounder off the bat of Joey Wendle.

Michael Chavis fielded the ground ball, but as he prepared to throw the ball for the force out at home, it got wedged in the webbing of the first baseman’s glove and he had to settle for the force out at first while Brandon Lowe scored from third. 1-0.

In the second, Godley was again a victim of some tough luck and hard contact. Lots of hard contact, like when Willy Adames led the frame off by taking the righty deep to the opposite field off an 0-1, 90 mph sinker down the heart of the plate.

Moments later, after recording the first two outs of the inning on back-to-back strikeouts, Godley got the dangerous Austin Meadows to hit a soft pop fly to right field for what probably should have been the final out of the second. Instead, Kevin Pillar had lost sight of the ball as soon as it left Meadows’ bat, and it wound up falling between the right fielder and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center.

As a result of that slight mishap, the Rays were able to extend the inning, and they took full advantage of that when Brandon Lowe laced a two-run blast to the seats in right field off a first-pitch cutter on the inner half of the plate from Godley. 4-0.

Coming back out for the third, the Sox starter served up another hard-hit, two-run shot to Yoshi Tsutsugo to make it a 6-0 game and in the fourth, allowed a seventh run to cross the plate on a Yandy Diaz RBI single before his evening ultimately came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 74 (45 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his curveball 47% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings-and-misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.3 mph with his cutter, a pitch he threw 28 times.

Hit with his second losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 8.16, Godley’s rotation spot could be in jeopardy, but if it’s not, his next start could come against the Yankees next Monday.

In relief of Godley, the recently-recalled Ryan Weber got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and after closing the book on Godley’s night by allowing an inherited runner to score in the fourth, the right-hander put together an impressive performance working in a mop-up kind of role up until the top of the ninth.

You see, when the Sox were trailing by eight runs, Weber kept the Rays off the scoreboard over four solid innings of work. However, as soon as his side had stormed back to make it a three-run game in their half of the eighth, the 30-year-old gave up a solo homer to Austin Meadows to lead off the very next inning.

It may not have been a back-breaker seeing how the Red Sox dropped this contest by a final score of 9-5, but it was still less than ideal for sure. At least Weber kept the deficit at four from there, although as previously stated, it didn’t matter all that much in the end.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a former Cy Young Award winner in Rays left-hander Blake Snell, who had only pitched eight total innings through his first three starts of the season while working his way back from an elbow injury.

With Snell’s pitch limit set at 75 for Wednesday’s contest, the Boston bats were in for one heck of a night, and in not in a positive way. That’s for sure.

While the Rays ace was on the bump, Sox hitters managed to reach second base just two times; once on a Michael Chavis stolen base following a two-out single in the second, and again on a J.D. Martinez dropped strike three and Xander Bogaerts single in the fourth.

Other than that, it was nothing but tough sledding against Snell, but things started to turn around for the better in the eighth.

There, four straight hits off reliever Aaron Slegers to lead off the inning resulted in Boston’s first run of the night coming around to score on an RBI single off the bat of the red-hot Jonathan Arauz. 8-1.

Following a brief Tampa Bay mound vist, Martinez wasted no time in introducing himself to Slegers, as he took a first-pitch, 83 mph slider on the inner half and deposited it well over everything in left field for his second dinger and first grand slam of the season.

Despite all that late success, a Rays pitching change that saw nasty right-hander Nick Anderson take over for Slegers impeded any chance of the Red Sox’ rally going any further. In other words, Anderson held things in check in relief of Slegers in the eighth, while fellow righty Pete Fairbanks closed things out with a scoreless ninth inning. And after all was said and done, the Red Sox fell to 6-12 on the season following their third straight loss.

Some notes and observations from this defeat:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

The Red Sox are 1-12 against the Rays in the clubs’ last 13 games at Fenway Park.

Kevin Pillar went 4-for-4 with four singles on Wednesday.

Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts left Wednesday’s game early and Jonathan Arauz picked up another hit and RBI in place of Devers in the eighth inning.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series on Thursday evening.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start and in the process will be making his major-league debut for Boston, while Tyler Glasnow will be making his fourth start of the season for Tampa Bay.

Hart spoke at length about what Thursday will mean for him in the most recent episode of MassLive.com’s Fenway Rundown podcast, so I highly suggest listening to that if you want to learn more about the 27-year-old southpaw.

Glasnow, meanwhile, owns a 5.56 ERA and 5.24 FIP through his first 11 1/3 innings pitched of the 2020 campaign. He owns a lifetime 4.05 ERA and .668 OPS against in two career starts at Fenway Park.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to end the homestand on a positive note before hopping on a flight to Newark.

 

Red Sox Lineup: Rafael Devers Back at Third Base Against Rays After Missing Last Two Games Due to Sore Left Ankle

After being held to just two runs in another disappointing loss to the Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, the Red Sox will look to bounce back on Wednesday by sending right-hander Zack Godley to the mound for his third start and fourth overall appearance of the season.

Since joining the Sox late lost month, the 30-year-old has posted a 3.97 ERA and 4.44 FIP through his first 11 1/3 innings pitched this year. In his last time out at Fenway on August 8, Godley kept the Blue Jays off the scoreboard over four solid frames of work in a contest Boston dropped by a final score of 2-1.

Godley has yet to face Tampa Bay this season, and he’s only faced them twice before in his six-year major-league career. Both of those appearances came last May at Tropicana Field, when as a member of the Diamondbacks bullpen, the South Carolina native allowed three runs over four total innings and even picked up his second career save.

Opposite Godley on Wednesday will be no easy opponent for the Red Sox, as 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell will get the ball for the Rays.

Coming into the week with a 3.38 ERA and 4.28 FIP through his first three starts and eight innings pitched of the 2020 campaign as he works his way back from a left elbow injury, Snell could be able to ramp up his workload to five innings against Boston.

In his career at Fenway Park, the 27-year-old hurler owns a lifetime 3.75 ERA and .683 OPS against over four starts and 24 total innings pitched.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up against Snell and behind Godley on Wednesday. Note that with a southpaw on the mound for Tampa Bay, Mitch Moreland is the only left-handed bat starting this one on the bench for Boston, as Andrew Benintendi was just placed on the injured list due to a right rib cage strain.

Among these nine hitters, Kevin Pillar has seen Snell the best. He has five hits and one RBI in 14 career at-bats against the Rays starter.

Also worth noting here, Rafael Devers is back after missing the last two games on account of a sore left ankle. Encouraging to see.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 7 in game No. 18.

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Making First Start of Season at Second Base, Jonathan Araúz Starting in Place of Rafael Devers Once Again in Second of Four Against Rays

Michael Chavis will be making his first start of the season at second base for the Red Sox against the Rays on Tuesday night.

The just-turned 25-year-old (Happy Birthday) had seen all his playing time come at first base, but with right-hander Andrew Kittredge opening for the Rays in the second of this four-game set, Mitch Moreland will get the start at first, Chavis will get the start at second, and Jose Peraza will start the night on the bench.

Through his first nine games of the 2020 campaign, Chavis has gotten off to a rather slow start, slashing .233/.258/.467 with two home runs and four RBI over his first 31 plate appearances.

That being said, the Georgia native has looked more comfortable at the plate in recent outings, as he is 4-for-his-last-9 going back to August 5.

Chavis has only faced Kittredge one time before in his career, which actually came in Monday’s loss where he struck out for the final out of the contest, but he does own a lifetime .879 OPS in 48 career plate appearances against Rays pitching thus far.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up against Kittredge and behind left-hander Martin Perez, who will be working on six days rest after tossing five scoreless frames against this same Rays squad at Tropicana Field last Wednesday. Note that Jonathan Arauz is starting in place of Rafael Devers, who is dealing with a sore left ankle, once again.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 7 in game No. 17.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke Impressed With What He Has Seen From Rookie Jonathan Araúz Thus Far

Going into Monday night, Red Sox infielder Jonathan Arauz was 0-for-9 at the plate to begin his major-league career and had only made two starts for his new club.

That all changed in the first of four against the Rays at Fenway Park though, as the recently-turned 22-year-old got the start at third base in place of Rafael Devers, collected three hits in four at-bats, and drove in a pair of runs.

The third and final hit of Arauz’s breakout night was without a doubt the biggest, when with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, the Panama native laced a two-run single to left-center field off Rays reliever Jose Alvarado to cut his side’s deficit to just one run at 8-7.

Boston may have gone on to lose to Tampa Bay in disappointing fashion on Monday, but Sox manager Ron Roenicke couldn’t help but be impressed with what he saw from the young infielder.

“With him, I tell you, he continues to not act like he’s out of A-ball,” Roenicke said of Arauz during his postgame media availability. “He’s calm, he’s good from both sides of the plate, does a great job, made a nice play defensively. He’s doing a great job.”

Prior to being selected by Boston in last December’s Rule 5 draft from the Astros’ organization, Arauz had played in 406 minor-league games since originally signing with the Phillies back in August 2014. Only 28 of those games, or 7%, had been above the Single-A level.

Because he was taken in the major-league portion of last year’s Rule 5 draft, Arauz has to stay up with the Red Sox for the remainder of the 2020 season. If that’s not possible, the club would have to offer him back to Houston.

Of course, the roster flexibility the truncated 2020 season has created has certainly be useful to the Red Sox seeing how they can carry 28 players for the rest of the year. But, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier notes, Arauz has “certainly shown enough in his all-around abilities to suggest that he might have stayed up regardless of the expanded roster.”

With Devers likely to miss a second straight day due to a sore left ankle, it will be interesting to see if the switch-hitting Arauz is back in the Sox’ lineup on Tuesday.

Even with the performance he put together on Monday though, Arauz would have liked to see things go differently for his side.

“Obviously, my goal today was just to help the team win,” he said through team translator Bryan Almonte. “Three hits is good to have, but I wish we would have gotten the win instead.”

We will see if the Red Sox can bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN+ and WEEI.

Mitch Moreland Comes Through With Two Homers, Walks It off for Red Sox in Series-Clinching 5-3 Victory Over Blue Jays

For the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Red Sox have won a series at home following a 4-3, walk-off victory over the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Nathan Eovaldi made his fourth start of the season for Boston to close out the weekend, and he had a nice bounce-back outing coming off a somewhat rough go of things in Tampa Bay last week.

Working six innings on Sunday, the right-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and zero walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the afternoon to tie a career-high.

All three Toronto tallies yielded by Eovaldi were driven in by the sons of former major-leaguers, with Cavan Biggio lifting a two-out solo shot in the third, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. plating Teoscar Hernandez on a two-out RBI single in the fourth, and Bo Bichette crushing a solo homer of his own to lead things off in the sixth.

Other than those mishaps, Eovaldi was fairly effective, missed plenty of bats, and escaped the top half of the sixth inning without giving anything else up to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old flamethrower turned to his vaunted four-seam fastball 40% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 100.2 mph with the pitch.

Hit with the no-decision while raising his ERA on the year to 4.09, Eovaldi will look to build on this start in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees in the Bronx this coming Friday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Osich got the call to begin things in the seventh, and he got the first two outs of the frame before a two-out walk of Biggio resulted in Sox manager Ron Roenicke turning to Austin Brice with the dangerous Bichette due up next.

As Roenicke had intended, Brice got the Blue Jays shortstop to ground into an inning-ending forceout, and then proceeded to punch out the side in the eighth on 17 pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes kept a 3-3 tie intact during a two-strikeout top of the ninth, and he would later be credited with his first winning decision of 2020 because of it.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against yet another veteran right-hander for the Blue Jays in the form of ex-Angels hurler Matt Shoemaker.

Mitch Moreland, who had faced Shoemaker seven times in his career before Sunday, got the scoring started for Boston with a 414-foot solo home run with one out in the second inning.

In the third, the Sox took advantage of sloppy defense from Shoemaker when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the inning off with a single, advanced to second on a Tzu-Wei Lin sacrifice bunt, and came around to score when the Toronto starter misfielded a soft grounder off the bat of Alex Verdugo. That bizarre sequence made it a 2-1 contest in favor of the home side.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, another left-handed hitter got the best of Shoemaker, this time with Rafael Devers busting out of a cold spell and tying this one up at three runs apiece with a 449-foot blast to dead center coming off a first-pitch, 92 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate. The 23-year-old’s first Fenway big fly of 2020.

And in the ninth, a two-out walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts off Jays reliever Thomas Hatch brought Moreland to the plate for a fourth time. And with the chance to win this one, the 34-year-old did not waste anytime, as he swung at the first pitch he saw from the opposing right-hander and deposited an 86 mph slider well over the Green Monster to walk it off.

Moreland’s second long ball of the day and third of the weekend put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would of course go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this walk-off victory: 

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: 7-for-21 (.333) with four homers and nine RBI.

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

Red Sox pitchers faced 35 Blue Jays hitters on Sunday. They struck out 15 of them.

Look at Rafael Devers, man.

Now a quarter of the way through the truncated season, the Red Sox are a not-so-nice 6-9 on the season. The homestand rolls on with the first of four against the Rays on Monday night.

Ron Roenicke has yet to name a starter for the series opener, but Tampa Bay will go with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who surrendered five runs over five innings his last time out against Boston on August 5.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

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.

 

 

Alex Verdugo Clubs Two Homers Over Green Monster, Takes One Back in Right Field as Red Sox Open Series Against Blue Jays With 5-3 Victory

For the second time this season, the Red Sox are on a winning streak, as they followed a 5-0 win over the Rays on Wednesday by opening up a seven-game homestand with a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.

Ryan Weber made his third start of the season for Boston in this one, coming off back-to-back losing decisions to kick off his 2020 campaign.

Working three-plus innings on Friday, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The first of those two Toronto tallies off Weber came right away in the first inning, when after nearly striking out moments before, Cavan Biggio led things off with a 397-foot solo shot to left field coming off a 3-2, 89 mph sinker down the heart of the plate.

In the third, Biggio caused more trouble, this time leading off the frame with a line-drive single and coming around to score moments later on RBI double off the bat of Bo Bichette.

The sons of former players didn’t make things easy for Weber, but he did manage to strand Bichette by getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to ground out to retire the side in the third before a leadoff single from Travis Shaw in the fourth marked the end of his evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (39 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his sinker 48% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing one swing-and-miss and topping out at 89.6 mph with the pitch.

Able to halt his personal losing streak while lowering his ERA on the year to 9.90 despite getting hit with the no-decision, Weber’s next start, if he gets one that is, would likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays next Wednesday or Thursday.

In relief of Weber, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen and managed to clean up his predecessor’s mess by getting Teoscar Hernandez to pop out to second before inducing a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play off the bat of Danny Jansen.

From there, Colten Brewer tossed a perfect top of the fifth, Ryan Brasier yielded one run on two hits and one walk in the sixth, Austin Brice danced his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean seventh, Matt Barnes walked a pair yet didn’t surrender anything in the eighth thanks to a 4-6-3 twin-killing started by Xander Bogaerts, and Brandon Workman, with the help of Alex Verdugo, worked a scoreless ninth to lock down the save and the 5-3 victory for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Tanner Roark for Toronto, who had last pitched on July 28 due his team’s series against the Phillies last week getting postponed.

Perhaps a bit rusty because of all that time off, walked four of the first five Red Sox hitters he faced, allowing Mitch Moreland to pick up an RBI by drawing a bases-loaded walk with one out in the bottom of the first.

A Christian Vazquez double-play extinguished any shot of doing more damage off Roark right away in this one, but the Boston bats were back at it again in the second.

There, on the very second pitch of the inning, Alex Verdugo crushed a 1-0, 77 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate from Roark and deposited it 366 feet into the Monster seats in left field. His second homer in as many games put the Sox up 2-1 early on.

An inning later, another left-handed hitter got to Roark, as Moreland followed a one-out Xander Bogaerts single with a first-pitch, 427-foot two-run blast over everything in right field to make it a 4-2 contest. His fourth home run of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Verdugo put this one to bed with a leadoff solo shot over the fence in left field, his second of the contest, off Rafael Dolis.

That 331-foot shot put the Red Sox up 5-3, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this win:

Alex Verdugo has a .927 OPS now. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the leadoff spot soon, maybe even on Saturday.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this three-game set against the Jays on Saturday night.

Veteran right-hander and one-time Blue Jay Zack Godley will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Chase Anderson will do the same for Toronto.

Godley, 30, surrendered five earned runs in just over three innings of work in his first start with the Sox against the Yankees last weekend. He owns a lifetime 4.70 ERA and .691 OPS against in three career outings (one start) and 7 2/3 innings pitched against the Jays.

Anderson, meanwhile, will be making his 2020 debut on Saturday after starting the season on the injured list due to an oblique strain. The 32-year-old has never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his career.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to put together their first three-game winning streak of the year.

Michael Chavis, Alex Verdugo Both Homer While Martin Perez Tosses Five Scoreless Innings Against Rays as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak at Four

The Red Sox capped off their first road trip of the season on a positve note on Wednesday night, topping the Rays by a final score of 5-0 to put an end to their four-game losing streak.

Martin Perez made his third start of the year for Boston in this one, and he picked up where he left against the Mets with another solid outing on Wednesday.

Working five scoreless innings, the left-hander worked a bit of a tight-rope act, but still managed to keep Tampa Bay off the board while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Part of the reason Perez was able to avoid any real damage was his ability to induce soft contact on Wednesday, as he got the Rays to ground into a double-play on two separate occasions.

On top of that, the Sox starter also did an adequate job of dealing with traffic on the base-paths. Among the 20 batters he faced, Perez allowed seven to reach base, yet none of them scored thanks in part to the Rays going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with the last of those chances coming with two outs in the fifth.

There, Yandy Diaz reached base on a line-drive double off Perez, but the 29-year-old countered by getting the dangerous Austin Meadows to fly out to right and that was that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91, only 48 of which were strikes, Perez relied on his cutter and changeup a combined 53% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses with the pair of pitches while also topping out at 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 20 times en route to picking up his second consecutive winning decision.

With that, Perez is now 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. His next start will also come against the Rays, this time at Fenway Park, sometime next week, likely on Tuesday.

In relief of Perez, Colten Brewer got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect inning of work.

From there, Austin Brice tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Matt Barnes bounced back with a quick and painless bottom of the eighth, and Brandon Workman closed things out and preserved the shutout by striking out the side in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, absent the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., was matched up against Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to kick things off on Wednesday.

As it turned out, Boston’s first runs of the night were driven in by a left-handed bat. That hitter’s name? Alex Verdugo.

Yes, it took until the fourth inning, but after Michael Chavis reached base on a two-out double, the 24-year-old outfielder followed by crushing a 0-1, 71 mph curveball from Yarbrough just over the fence in right field for his first Red Sox home run.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis was in the offensive spotlight once more, this time coming to the plate against Yarbrough with no outs and a runner on first following a Christian Vazquez RBI single that brought in Xander Bogaerts.

On the sixth pitch he saw from the Rays starter, Chavis unloaded on a 3-2, 78 mph changeup down the heart of the plate and deposited it 421 feet to the seats in left field, right off a cardboard cutout.

Chavis’ second big fly of 2020 and his second within the last five days put his side up 5-0, which as previously mentioned, would be all the Red Sox would need to pick up their fourth win of the season in this one.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis on Wednesday: 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. His first multi-hit game of the season, and he also looked really sharp at first base.

Since giving up five runs (four earned) in his first two innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox back on July 25, Martin Perez has yielded just two earned runs over his last 13 2/3 innings of work.

Xander Bogaerts over the course of this seven-game road trip: 10-for-23 (.435) with two homers and four RBI.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a happy flight back home to Boston, another off day on Thursday, and the first of three against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park to kick off the weekend on Friday.

As things currently stand, the Sox will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber on Friday, right-hander Zack Godley on Saturday, and an opener on Sunday. The Jays have yet to name any of their starters for the three-game set.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Before that though, major-league rosters across baseball have to go from 30 players down to 28 by Thursday morning, so stay tuned for that.

Even After Tough Loss, Red Sox Stars Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers Remain Optimistic

In what appeared to be a soul-crushing 9-7 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, the Red Sox might actually have some positives to take away from a rather disappointing weekend in the Bronx.

Despite blowing a late lead to close out the weekend, Boston enjoyed some decent success on the offensive side of the ball, especially from the likes of Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts. The trio combined to go 7-for-13 at the plate with three home runs, six RBI, and 17 total bases between them on Sunday.

It may not have been enough for the Sox to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals, but it could be a sign of better things to come.

“We fought back, man,” Bogaerts said via Zoom in regards to his team’s effort-level on Sunday. “This is one of the games we can take a lot of positives out. Haven’t been (many) games like this. It sucks that we lost but it was pretty fun, honestly. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth. … This game was a nice fight from us.”

Already a sixth of the way through this truncated season, the Red Sox are 3-7, good for last place in the American League East, and are getting outscored by more than one run per game.

That being said, Sunday’s loss to the first-place Yankees offered a glimpse of hope for Boston, according to Bogaerts.

“Coming into today, the energy level was different before the game,” the two-time All-Star added. “Me and (Christian) Vazquez and (Rafael) Devers were talking about that. I don’t know why. But it was just different.”

Speaking of Devers, the 23-year-old echoed the same sentiment Bogaerts did in his postgame Zoom call with reporters Sunday night, saying that, “It was fun out there. I came out there today just a bit more motivated. There was an extra fire from all of us, not just myself. We just continue to just play hard and try to get the results we wanted, but obviously we just couldn’t get it today.”

After their first off day of the season on Monday, the Red Sox will open up a two-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field beginning on Tuesday night. Perhaps some of that optimism shared by Bogaerts and Devers can carry over to the rest of the team during the final leg of this seven-game road trip.