Red Sox’ Rafael Devers named to All-MLB Second Team

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team on Tuesday night, as revealed on MLB Network.

Devers was originally one of six Red Sox players selected as a finalist for the third annual All-MLB team earlier this month, joining teammates Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, and Garrett Whitlock.

While the other five were unable to land on one of the two All-MLB squads, Devers was recognized as the second team’s starting third baseman after Braves third baseman Austin Riley received first-team honors.

For Devers, this marks the first time in which he has been selected to an All-MLB team since the concept was introduced in 2019 to “give a more comprehensive honor that covered the full breadth of a big league season, complementing the All-Star Game selections that are awarded just past the season’s halfway point.” Voting was conducted by both fans and a panel of experts.

Being named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team is not all Devers has accomplished this off-season, as he also took home his first career Silver Slugger Award and finished 11th in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, the 25-year-old slashed .279/.352/.538 to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, a career-high 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Among qualified big-league third basemen this year, the left-handed hitting Devers ranked first in home runs, first in RBIs, second in runs scored, second in isolated power (.259), second in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, second in wOBA (.373), third in wRC+ (134), and second in fWAR (4.7), per FanGraphs.

Heading into the winter, Devers is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $11.1 million in 2022, which is a significant raise from the $4.575 he made this season.

With Devers under club control for the next two years, it is worth mentioning that his fellow infield partner in Bogaerts can opt out of the final three years of his contract at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

Taking those two situations into consideration, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked on Monday about where things stand in regards to extension talks with Bogaerts and Devers.

“As always with any type of contract talks with players in-house, we wouldn’t comment unless and until there’s something to announce,” Bloom said. “But you know where we stand on both guys. They are critical, critical parts of our organization. Huge parts of past success here and hopefully parts of future success for a long time.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Nathan Eovaldi all recognized in American League MVP voting

A trio of Red Sox teammates were recognized in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting on Thursday night, as revealed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network.

While Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani took home AL MVP honors unanimously, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers finished 11th, shortstop Xander Bogaerts finished 13th, and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi finished 15th.

Devers finished 11th in voting by receiving one fifth-place vote, two sixth-place votes, one seventh-place vote, and eighth 10th-place votes. In total, the 25-year-old netted himself 28 voting points.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Bogaerts finished 13th in voting after receiving a pair of ninth-place votes and three 10th-place votes, which translates to seven voting points in total. The 29-year-old Aruban was selected to his third career All-Star Game roster this summer.

Over 144 games in what was his ninth season with the Sox, Bogaerts batted .295/.370/.493 to go along with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBIs, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts in 603 total trips to the plate.

Both Devers and Bogaerts won their respective first and fourth career Silver Slugger Awards last week.

Eovaldi, on the other hand, just finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting on Tuesday and now further solidifies what was a breakout campaign in 2021 after receiving one seventh-place vote in the MVP race.

Like Devers, Eovaldi was named an All-Star for the first time in his career earlier this summer. The 31-year-old righty posted posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP with 195 strikeouts and 35 walks across 182 1/3 innings of work. Among qualified American League starters this year, he ranked ninth in strikeout rate (25.5%), first in walk rate (4.6%), first in FIP, third in xFIP (3.48), and first in fWAR (5.6), per FanGraphs.

The last Red Sox player to win American League MVP was Mookie Betts, who did so in 2018.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers named Silver Slugger Award winners

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers were each named Silver Slugger Award winners by Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball on Thursday night. The announcement was made on MLB Network.

Per MLB.com, “the Silver Slugger recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league. The winners are voted upon by Major League managers and coaches, who are unable to vote for players on their own teams.”

Bogaerts, who was named one of three finalists for American League shortstops last month, takes home his fourth career Silver Slugger Award after beating out Houston’s Carlos Correa, Chicago’s Tim Anderson, and Toronto’s Bo Bichette for the honors.

This past season, the 29-year-old was named to his third American League All-Star team while slashing an impressive .295/.370/.493 (130 wRC+) with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 144 games and 603 trips to the plate.

Among qualified American League shortstops, Bogaerts ranked fourth in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.368), and second in weighted runs created plus.

Devers, meanwhile, made his first American League All-Star team this season and he was just recognized as a Silver Slugger Award winner for the first time in his career on Thursday. He beat out Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez and Seattle’s Kyle Seager by doing so.

Regularly playing to the right of Bogaerts and manning third base for the Red Sox, Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 (134 wRC+) to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBI, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Among qualified third basemen in the junior circuit this year, the 25-year-old ranked first in home runs, first in RBI, second in runs scored, second in isolated power (.259), first in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.373), and second in weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs.

With Bogaerts and Devers taking home Silver Slugger Awards on Thursday, the pair of infielders become the fourth American League shortstop/third baseman teammates to win the award in the same season since its inception in 1980.

According to Red Sox senior manager of media relations and baseball information J.P. Long, Bogaerts becomes the fifth shortstop in major-league history to win at least four Silver Slugger Awards. He has now also won the fourth-most Silver Sluggers in team history behind only David Ortiz (7), Wade Boggs (6), and Manny Ramirez (6).

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

6 Red Sox players, including Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, selected as finalists for 2021 All-MLB team

Six different Red Sox players were selected as nominees to make Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-MLB team on Wednesday night.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Garrett Whitlock represent six of the 103 players with the opportunity to make the league’s third annual All-MLB team.

Of those on the Sox who made the cut, Bogaerts is one of 10 shortstops, Devers is one of seven third baseman, Hernandez and Schwarber are two of 18 outfielders, Martinez is one of five designated hitters, and Whitlock is one of 16 relievers.

With six nominees, the Red Sox have the fourth-highest total in the American League behind only the White Sox (nine finalists), Astros (seven finalists), and Blue Jays (seven finalists).

First introduced in 2019, the purpose of the All-MLB team is to recognize the best players at each position across both the American and National League while also splitting them into a First and Second Team.

Since its inception two years ago, only two Red Sox players have received All-MLB honors, as both Bogaerts and former Boston outfielder Mookie Betts were named to the inaugural first and second teams at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.

After not having a single player make it last year, the Sox will be well represented this time around. Bogaerts has a strong chance to make his second All-MLB team, while his five teammates (including Schwarber) will be going for their first All-MLB nods, respectively.

Voting for the All-MLB team runs through 5 p.m. eastern time on November 19. Fan voting, which can be done by following this link, accounts for 50% of the vote. The other 50% comes from a panel of experts.

The field of players who were announced as finalists on Wednesday will be whittled down to 32 — or two teams consisting of 16 players each — by the time voting ends next Friday.

Winners will then be announced on MLB Network on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 23. This was previously done during the Winter Meetings, which typically take place in December, but the impending work stoppage must have forced a change of plans.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Hunter Renfroe named Silver Slugger Award finalists

Three Red Sox hitters have been named as finalists for Silver Slugger Awards at their respective positions, Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Hunter Renfroe were each recognized for the seasons they put together at the plate, as “the Silver Slugger recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league.”

Devers, who is up for his first career Silver Slugger Award, is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he slashed .279/.352/.538 (134 wRC+) to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBI, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

The recently-turned 24-year-old third baseman was also named to his first career All-Star team over the summer and now finishes alongside the likes of Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.

Of those three, Devers ranked first in batting average, second in on-base percentage, tied for first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.373), and second in weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, is up for for his fourth career Silver Slugger Award as he, too, is just a few weeks removed from an All-Star season in which he posted an impressive .295/.370/.493 (130 wRC+) with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 144 games and 603 trips to the plate.

The 29-year-old shortstop was named a finalist on Monday along with Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, and Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette.

Among that quartet, Bogaerts ranked third in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.368), and second in weighted runs created plus.

Renfroe, on the other hand, is up for his first career Silver Slugger Award after enjoying a breakout campaign in his first year with the Red Sox.

Across 144 games, the 29-year-old hit a steady .259/.315/.501 (114 wRC+) to go along with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 96 runs driven in, 89 runs scored, one stolen base, 44 walks, and 130 strikeouts in 572 total plate appearances.

One of eight American League outfielders to be recognized as a finalist with Cedric Mullions of the Orioles, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. of the Blue Jays, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Kyle Tucker of the Astros, Mitch Haniger of the Mariners, and Randy Arozarena of the Rays, Renfroe ranked seventh among this group in batting average, eighth in slugging percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, sixth in weighted on-base average (.344), and seventh in weighted runs created plus.

While Boston finishing with three finalists means they have among the most in the American League, one could make the case that designated hitter J.D. Martinez was snubbed from the list.

Martinez would have ben going for his fourth career Silver Slugger Award, but instead missed the cut behind the likes of Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, Yankees mashers Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, and Rays veteran Nelson Cruz.

If you were to add Martinez to that group of five, though, the 34-year-old — who was also an All-Star this season — would actually rank first in batting average (.286), fourth in on-base percentage (.349), third in slugging percentage (.518), fourth in weighted on-base average (.364), and fourth in weighted runs created plus (128).

Per MLB.com, the winner for each Silver Slugger Award is voted on by major-league players and coaches “who are unable to vote for players on their own teams.”

The winners themselves will be revealed on MLB Network at 6 p.m. eastern time on November 11.

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ offensive struggles continue in 9-1 blowout loss to Astros in Game 5 of ALCS

Momentum can be a fickle thing, particularly when it comes to postseason baseball.

Two days ago, it appeared as though the Red Sox had all the momentum after taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

Less than 48 hours later, it is the Astros who now have all the momentum after they took their second straight game from the Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 9-1 in Game 5, which puts them in a three-games-to-two hole as this ALCS heads back to Houston.

Playing at Fenway Park for possibly the last time this year, the Red Sox got what they needed out of Chris Sale, though the left-hander’s final line may not reflect that.

Sale, making his third start of the postseason, allowed four runs — only two of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

After retiring the side in order to begin his day, Sale kicked off the top half of the second by serving up a towering solo shot to Yordan Alvarez on a first-pitch 94 mph heater that wasn’t in the strike zone.

Still, the Astros went up 1-0 on Alvarez’s home run, but Sale did not let that put a damper on things for him, as he rebounded and sat down the next seven batters he faced in order.

With one out in the fourth inning of what was still a one-run contest that favored Houston, Sale issued an eight-pitch walk to Alex Bregman that was followed by another hard-hit single from Alvarez that put runners at the corners.

Again, Sale did not back down and instead fanned Carlos Correa on three straight strikes before doing the very same to Kyle Tucker on four pitches to escape the jam.

Upon getting Tucker to fan on a 98.5 mph four-seam fastball — his fastest pitch of the night — that was up and out of the zone, an energetic Sale pumped his left fist, put his glove to his face, and let out a fiery scream while heading back to his dugout.

Sale’s evening was not done yet, however, as the lefty came back out for the fifth and put up another zero. At that point, Sale had gone through the dangerous Astros lineup twice and managed to avoid any serious damage aside from the Alvarez home run.

With his pitch count rising and Houston’s batting order flipping back over, Sale took the mound for the sixth and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve.

Michael Brantley then made matters worse when he reached base safely on a missed catch error committed by Kyle Schwarber at first base, which allowed Altuve to advance all the way up to third.

A groundout off the bat of Bregman moved Brantley up to second and kept the rally alive for Alvarez, who the Red Sox decided to pitch to despite first base being open.

Alvarez made Boston pay dearly for that mistake, as he proceeded to hit Sale hard yet again when he laced a two-run double down the left field line that plated both Altuve and Brantley.

Suddenly down 3-0, Sox manager Alex Cora quickly turned to his bullpen, giving Sale the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier. Brasier, in turn, yielded a two-out single to Tucker that put runners at the corners before Yuli Gurriel drove in another on an RBI double down the right field line.

Jose Siri made sure to keep it going by blooping a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field that gave the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead before the sixth inning mercifully came to an end.

By the time the third out of the sixth was recorded, the book was officially closed on Sale’s outing while Brasier himself was charged with two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

In the top of the seventh, Hansel Robles took over for Brasier, but was unable to get through the inning. The right-handed reliever yielded a leadoff single to Altuve and allowed the speedy second baseman to advance an additional 90 feet on a failed pickoff attempt.

Altuve then scored all the way from second on an RBI single off the bat of Brantley before Bregman grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that was followed by a pitching change that saw Darwinzon Hernandez replace Robles.

Hernandez did what he was called upon to do by punching out Alvarez on six pitches to set the Red Sox up in the bottom half of the frame.

To that point in the night, the Sox lineup had been held in check by Astros starter Framber Valdez in the process of squandering several scoring opportunities.

After going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s Game 4 loss to Houston, Boston had been no-hit by Valdez through four innings on Wednesday before Rafael Devers led off the bottom of the fifth with a sharply-hit single.

J.D. Martinez followed by taking a curveball off the knee that put runners at first and second for Hunter Renfroe, whose postseason struggles continued to drag on when he grounded into a soul-crushing 6-4-3 double play that ultimately stranded Martinez at third.

An inning later, the Sox had the chance to respond to the Astros’ five-run sixth when Christian Vazquez ripped a one-out double off Valdez. He, like Martinez, was left in scoring position after both Enrique Hernandez and Schwarber were sat down by the opposing left-hander.

This takes us to the aforementioned bottom half of the seventh. Shortly after Houston tacked on another run to their lead, Devers got that one run back immediately.

With one out and the bases empty, Devers stayed hot by unloading on a 1-0, 94 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate from Valdez and wrapped it 402 feet around Pesky’s Pole in right field.

Devers’ fifth homer of the postseason left the young slugger’s bat at a scorching 110.7 mph. It also trimmed Boston’s defecit down to six runs at 7-1.

Another walk drawn by Martinez kept the inning alive momentarily, but Renfroe followed by grounding into another twin killing that extinguished the threat.

In the eighth, after Hernandez and Hirokazu Sawamura somehow combined to toss a scoreless frame of relief, Valdez capped off his stellar day for Houston in the bottom half by sitting down the final three batters he faced in order.

Martin Perez then surrendered two additional runs to the Astros to begin the ninth, while Ryne Stanek retired the side in order to close this one out.

All in all, the Boston bats went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left two runners on base as a team in what will go down as a lopsided 9-1 defeat.

With this loss, which is their second straight, the Red Sox’ backs are now against the wall as they trail this best-of-seven ALCS, 3-2.

Next up: Eovaldi on top for Game 6 in Houston

The Red Sox will have Thursday off as they board a flight to Houston for the final leg of this championship series at Minute Maid Park.

On the brink of elimination, it will be right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston in Game 6 on Friday night. Houston, on the other hand, will turn to fellow righty Luis Garcia in what will be a rematch of Game 2 from last Sunday.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Friday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow late lead in process of falling to Astros, 9-2, in Game 4 of ALCS

The Red Sox were just a few innings away from potentially jumping out to a commanding three-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night … until they weren’t.

After holding on to a 2-1 lead for most of the night, Boston saw things unravel in the eighth inning of what would later go down as a 9-2 loss to Houston at Fenway Park, which means this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at two games apiece.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start and third overall appearance of the postseason for the Sox, was solid in his championship series debut. The right-hander limited the Astros to just one run while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

The lone run Pivetta surrendered to Houston came right away in the top half of the first, when he served up a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Despite that miscue, the Red Sox lineup picked up their starter right away in the bottom half of the frame.

Matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Zack Greinke to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk with two outs to set the stage for Xander Bogaerts.

After not collecting an RBI in Monday’s 12-3 thumping of Houston, Bogaerts unloaded on a 1-0, 84 mph slider from Greinke and deposited 413 feet into the Boston night and onto Lansdowne Street.

Bogaerts’ third homer of the postseason — a sizzling two-run blast that left his bat at 107.9 mph — allowed the Sox to snatch their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Given that fresh one-run advantage to work with, Pivetta took full advantage by stringing together four scoreless frames. He had to escape a bit of a jam he created for himself in the second, but followed by sitting down nine of the final 10 batters he faced leading into the middle of the fifth.

Even after the Astros lineup flipped over for a third time in that fifth inning, Pivetta responded by getting the dangerous Jose Altuve to ground out to third base to retire the side and end his night on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of just of 65 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler topped out at 96.5 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he turned to 38 times to complement both his slider and knuckle curveball.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he recorded the first two outs of the sixth before yielding a two-out single to Yordan Alvarez.

Adam Ottavino then came on for Taylor to finish the inning, and the veteran reliever did just that by emphatically punching out Carlos Correa on a 96 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

From there, Garrett Whitlock put up a zero in the seventh, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Houston pitching. Despite knocking Greinke out after just 1 1/3 innings, the Sox were stymied by the Astros bullpen, though they certainly had their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the second, for instance, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out, but neither Enrique Hernandez or Devers were able to come through and instead went down quietly.

Two innings later, Chritian Arroyo ripped a one-out triple off Cristian Javier, but was stranded there after both Kyle Schwarber and Hernandez were retired by the Astros reliever.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts laced a 106.9 mph double off Javier. He, too, was left there when Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez were sat down on a fly out and swinging strikeout, respectively.

Fast forward to the top half of the eighth, and the Astros promptly capitalized on the fact that the Red Sox had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base as a team up until then.

That being the case because on the very first pitch he saw from Whitlock, Altuve led off the eighth by crushing a game-tying solo home run 400 feet off the National Car Rental sign hovering above the Green Monster.

Altuve’s late-game heroics knotted things up at two runs apiece, and it also paved the way for Nathan Eovaldi to attempt to keep it that way in the ninth.

Having just started Game 2 of this series on Saturday, Eovaldi immediately gave up a leadoff double to Correa that was just out of the reach of Hunter Renfroe in right field. He then struck out Kyle Tucker and intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to face the pinch-hitting Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, fanned on five pitches, bringing Eovaldi to within one out of escaping a sticky situation. Jason Castro, however, had different plans.

Moments after it appeared as though Eovaldi had punched out Castro on a 1-2, 80 mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that was instead called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Astros backstop responded by drilling a go-ahead, run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Castro plated Correa on his clutch hit to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Houston, but the Astros were not done there. Not with Altuve drawing a walk that prompted Cora to go get Eovaldi.

With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Michael Brantley greeted the newly-inserted Martin Perez by drilling a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field that increased his side’s advantage to four runs at 6-2.

Perez’s struggles did not end there, as the lefty surrendered three more runs on three more hits before the top of the ninth inning mercifully came to a close with the Astros up, 9-2.

In total, Eovaldi was charged for four runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. He is slated to start Game 6 of this series in Houston on Friday.

Perez, on the other hand, was charged with three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

The Sox somewhat threatened in their half of the ninth, but ultimately went down quietly against Astros closer Ryan Pressly to secure a heart-breaking 9-2 defeat in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as they ensure that they will be heading back to Houston later this week since this ALCS is now tied up at 2-2 and will at least be six games in length.

Next up: Sale vs. Valdez to start off Game 5

The Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale to start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening, while the Astros will roll with fellow southpaw Framber Valdez.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber’s second-inning grand slam propels Red Sox to 12-3 victory over Astros in Game 3 of ALCS; Eduardo Rodriguez strikes out 7 over 6 solid innings

Have a happy birthday, Alex Cora.

The Red Sox celebrated their manager’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

Boston crushed Houston by a final score of 12-3 in Game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway Park to kick off the week, meaning they are now just two wins away from heading to their first World Series since 2018.

A travel day on Sunday could not stymie a red-hot Sox lineup, as they once again knocked out an Astros starter early while matched up against right-hander Jose Urquidy.

After going down in order to Urquidy in their half of the first inning, Alex Verdugo proved to be the catalyst for an explosive second inning by drawing a hard-fought, 11-pitch walk with one out.

J.D. Martinez advanced Verdugo up to third and put a pair of runners at scoring position with a line-drive double to center field, then Hunter Renfroe drew another walk off Urquidy to fill the bases for Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez got his productive night at the plate started by slapping an RBI single to the opposite field that plated Verdugo and re-loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo, who nearly grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Instead, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve once again mishandled another groundball hit in his direction, which allowed Arroyo to reach base safely and Martinez to cross home plate uncontested.

With the bases still full of Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber put the finishing touches on his side’s second-inning outburst by first getting ahead in a 3-0 count against Urquidy. He then took the fourth pitch he saw, a 93 mph heater on the outer half of the plate, and deposited it 430 feet into the night and into the right field seats.

Schwarber’s grand slam, which left his bat at 114 mph, gave the Sox a commanding 6-0 lead. It also made history since it was the third grand slam Boston has hit in this series alone, matching their total from the 162-game regular season.

While Boston’s six-run surge in the second inning forced Astros manager Dusty Baker to turn to his bullpen earlier than expected yet again, the Red Sox offense did not stop there, as they got to Houston reliever Yimi Garcia in their half of the third as well.

There, with one out and Renfroe at third base after reaching on a walk, stealing second, and moving up to third on a throwing error, Vazquez took advantage of the Astros’ infield positioning by blooping a 67.1 mph single to shallow left field.

Vazquez’s second run-scoring base knock of the evening made it a 7-0 contest in favor of Boston, though their lead only grew when Arroyo promptly uncorked a two-run home run 399 feet over the Green Monster off a first-pitch slider to give his side a 9-0 advantage.

To that point in the night, Eduardo Rodriguez had held the Astros in check, though he did eventually run into some trouble in the middle innings.

Rodriguez, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, came out firing, hovering around 94-96 mph with his four-seam fastball while striking out the side in the second in the process of retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.

The left-hander’s fortunes momentarily ran out in the top half of the fourth, however, and it began when he yielded a leadoff single to Michael Brantley.

A one-out single off the bat of Yordan Alvarez put runners at the corners for the dangerous Carlos Correa, who popped out to short to bring Rodriguez within one out of getting out of the jam.

Kyle Tucker prevented that from happening, though, as he took Rodriguez deep on a three-run blast hit 413 feet to right field that scored Brantley, Alvarez, and himself to cut the Astros’ deficit down to six runs at 9-3.

Despite that miscue, Rodriguez did manage to limit the damage. He got through the rest of the fourth unscathed before sitting down each of the final six hitters he faced in order. Correa was his final victim, as he got the star shortstop to ground out to second for the last out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (65 pitches), the 28-year-old hurler wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts over six quality frames of work.

Moments after Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, Martinez provided some two-out insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Following a Rafael Devers leadoff walk, the veteran slugger greeted newly-inserted Astros reliever Phil Maton by clubbing another two-run shot 395 feet over the Monster.

Martinez’s third homer of the postseason, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, put the Red Sox up over the Astros, 11-3. It subsequently set the stage for the Boston bullpen to take over for Rodriguez as well.

Hansel Robles, who got that first call from Cora out of the ‘pen, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk to face the minimum of three batters with the help of a double play in a clean seventh inning.

From there, Martin Perez did the exact same thing by inducing another twin killing in the top of the eighth before Devers made it a 12-3 game by tattooing a 372-foot solo into the Monster seats off Ryne Stanek in the bottom half.

That sequence paved the way for Hirokazu Sawamura to be dispatched in the ninth, and he slammed the door on the Astros with the help of a sliding, game-ending catch from Renfroe to secure a 12-3 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox find themselves up 2-1 in this best-of-seven ALCS with the Astros and inch ever closer to punching their ticket to the Fall Classic.

Next up: Pivetta likely for Game 4

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for Game 4 on Tuesday, though it seems likely that responsibility will fall to right-hander Nick Pivetta, who was available out of the bullpen on Monday but was not used.

Likewise, the Astros also have not named a starter for Tuesday’s contest. Fellow righty Zack Greinke could wind up getting the start for Houston opposite Pivetta.

Regardless, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora praises Rafael Devers for willingness to learn second language: ‘We know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform’

While Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers continues to show that he is one of baseball’s most electric stars under the bright lights of the postseason, he is also out to prove that he is capable of mastering a second language.

Devers, a native Spanish speaker out of the Dominican Republic, has been working on improving his English since last offseason and — per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham — “was proud to show it off when he reported to spring training.

As noted by Abraham, the 24-year-old was more than happy to converse in English in informal settings, but requested that a translator be present whenever he was taking part in a formal interview.

This continued to be the case throughout the regular season, as Devers was flanked by interpreters such as Bryan Almonte or Rey Fuentes whenever he would speak with the media over Zoom or on the field with NESN’s Jahmai Webster.

On Thursday, however, something was different. While the Red Sox partook in a team workout at Minute Maid Park on the eve of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, Devers was approached by WCVB’s Duke Castiglione.

With no one else by his side, Devers spoke directly with Castiglione, and part of their interview was featured in SportsCenter 5’s 1-Minute Drill later that day.

“I try to be better everyday and we’ll see what happens in this series,” Devers said, in English, when asked about his right forearm injury.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, with a voluntary workout taking place at Fenway Park, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about Devers’ growing list of postseason accomplishments and what the future might hold for the first time All-Star.

Devers, who turns 25 next week, clubbed a second-inning grand slam as part of a 1-for-4 showing at the plate for Boston in which he also drew a walk in Saturday’s 9-5 series-evening win over the Astros in Houston.

That performance raised his slash line this postseason to a sturdy .310/.412/.621 over seven games and 34 plate appearances. His three home runs in the playoffs rank second on the Red Sox behind only the red-hot Enrique Hernandez, while his 10 RBI lead the club. And he’s doing this while experiencing discomfort in his right forearm, remember.

When speaking with reporters on Sunday, Cora made sure to give Devers plenty of props for what he has done on the field throughout the month of October, but he credited the young infielder for what he has been doing off the field as well.

“His baseball IQ is amazing. He is a great person,” Cora said. “I was talking to Marly [Rivera of ESPN] yesterday about his willingness to learn a second language because we know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform. [Boston] is a city that has embraced a lot of Dominican players, a lot of Latin players. If you look at the Celtics with [Al] Horford, and you see David [Ortiz] and Pedro [Martinez], what they mean to the community and what they have done off the field because they learned that second language.

“And Raffy, if he keeps doing what he is doing, we’re going to be talking about him that way because he is very likable,” added Cora. “He is a good kid. He enjoys playing the game. He enjoys this atmosphere, and he is doing everything possible to get to that echelon.”

Outside of his quick conversation with WCVB last week, it does not appear as though Devers has done any interviews solely in English.

That could change relatively soon, as Devers made a deal with Abraham in the spring that he would give him his first English interview if the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They are now just three wins away from doing so.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers lead the way with pair of grand slams as Red Sox even ALCS with 9-5 win over Astros

After squandering multiple scoring opportunities in a Game 1 loss to kick off the American League Championship Series on Friday, the Red Sox bounced back in a tremendous way against the Astros in Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.

Boston mashed their way to a 9-5 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park, meaning this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at one game each as it heads back to Fenway Park.

Matched up against Astros rookie right-hander Luis Garcia to begin things on Saturday, a hungry Sox lineup kicked off the scoring right away in their half of the first inning.

Kyle Schwarber led off with a double, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo each drew a walk to fill the bases with two outs, then — following a brief mound visit — J.D. Martinez unloaded the bases on a 1-0, 94 mph fastball from Garcia and crushed it 363 feet over the right field wall.

Martinez’s grand slam, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, gave Boston an early 4-0 lead, but they were not done there.

That being the case because an inning later, the Red Sox threatened once more after Kevin Plawecki began the top half of the second by drawing a leadoff walk off Garcia.

To that point in the contest, Garcia had struggled with his command, with only 14 of his 33 pitches through one-plus innings going for strikes. As a result, he left the game with right knee discomfort and was replaced by Jake Odorizzi.

Odorizzi, a traditional starter, then went through his regular warmup routine on the field, which took quite a bit of time before he was ready to face Christian Arroyo with no outs and a runner on in the second.

Arroyo, coming off that long layoff, promptly ripped a single to right field before a one-out base hit of the bat of Enrique Hernandez filled the bases for Boston yet again.

Devers then followed in Martinez’s footsteps by clubbing the Sox’ second grand slam of the day, making them the first major-league team to ever hit two grand slams in a single postseason game.

While the long layoff caused by Garcia’s injury played into Boston’s favor on the offensive side of things, it also resulted in Nathan Eovaldi having to wait a while in between innings.

Eovaldi, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, got his day started against his hometown team by retiring six of the first seven Astros batters he faced. From the time he recorded the final out of the second inning, though, he had to wait a grand total of 41 minutes before throwing his first pitch of the third.

The veteran right-hander had a sizable 8-0 cushion to work with at that point, and that lead only increased after he got through another 1-2-3 frame.

In the top of the fourth, with Odorizzi still on the mound for Houston, a sizzling Hernandez stayed hot at the plate by tattooing yet another home run — a 395-foot solo shot into the Crawford Boxes.

By doing so, Hernandez became the first Red Sox player to ever hit five homers in a five-game span during the postseason. He also gave his side a commanding 9-0 lead.

While Eovaldi had been able to keep the Astros at bay in his first three innings on Saturday, he ran into some two-out trouble in the bottom of the fourth after issuing his first walk of the afternoon to Yordan Alvarez before giving up a hard-hit single to Carlos Correa.

Kyle Tucker then plated Houston’s first run of the contest with an opposite field RBI double, while Yuli Gurriel tacked on two more on a two-run single down the right field line.

That sequence cut Boston’s advantage down to six runs at 9-3, but Eovaldi countered by getting out of the fourth before tossing a scoreless fifth inning that included a visit from a team trainer.

An inning later, Eovaldi got the first out of the sixth on an Alex Bregman groundout before giving up a one-out single to Alvarez — at which point his afternoon came to a close as he got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora in favor of Adam Ottavino.

Ottavino proceeded to officially close the book on Eovaldi’s outing by stranding the lone runner he inherited while also maneuvering his way around a bit of a jam.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (53 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler (Eovaldi) wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Ottavino in a 9-3 game in the seventh, and he worked his way around a one-out walk of Jason Castro with some defensive help from Arroyo, who made a fine play while in the shift to get Michael Brantley at first base for the final out of the inning.

From there, Whitlock rolled on by sitting down the side in order in the eighth, thus paving the way for Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth.

Hernandez, making his first appearance of the postseason, served up a pair of solo solo home runs to Gurriel and Castro, which trimmed Houston’s deficit down to four runs.

Ryan Brasier was forced to come on for the second straight day in relief of Hernandez. He was able to slam the door on the Astros in order to secure a series-evening 9-5 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox even up this series at one game apiece while guaranteeing it will go at least five games. They have also taken homefield advantage away from the Astros for the time being.

Next up: Back to Boston for Games 3, 4, and 5

The Red Sox will board a flight to Boston and enjoy a well-deserved off day on Sunday before resuming the ALCS against the Astros at Fenway Park on Monday night.

Boston has yet to officially name a starter for Monday’s contest, while Houston will go with right-hander Jose Urquidy for Game 3.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Monday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of: J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)