Red Sox rally late, but fall short of comeback in 9-8 loss to Reds

They certainly made things interesting in the end, but the Red Sox could not overcome an eight-run deficit and pull off a come-from-behind win over the Reds on Tuesday night. Boston instead got to within one run in the ninth inning before falling to Cincinnati by a final score of 9-8 at Fenway Park to drop to 28-26 on the season.

With Brayan Bello making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, the Reds opened the scoring in the top half of the second. After giving up back-to-back one-out singles to Will Benson and Stuart Fairchild, Bello yielded an RBI groundout to T.J. Friedl, who beat out a would-be inning-ending double play.

The Red Sox had a golden opportunity to respond against Reds starter Ben Lively in the bottom of the second. Masataka Yoshida drew a leadoff walk and immediately went from first to third base on a line-drive double from Jarren Duran. Enrique Hernandez then drew another walk to fill the bases with one out. But Lively escaped the jam by fanning Enmanuel Valdez and getting Reese McGuire to line out to reigning National League Player of the Week Matt McClain.

Bello proceeded to grind through a scoreless third inning before surrendering a leadoff triple to Will Benson to begin things in the fourth. The right-hander was able to strand Benson at third base by retiring Fairchild and striking out the final two batters he faced.

Because he needed 97 pitches (61 strikes) to get through four innings, Bello’s night came to a close sooner than expected. The 24-year-old hurler wound up allowing just the one earned run on five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts. He induced six swings-and-misses and was ultimately charged with his third losing decision of the year.

In relief of Bello, Justin Garza received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The righty ran into immediate trouble in the fifth by giving up a leadoff single to Jonathan India, which was immediately followed by a run-scoring double off the bat of Jake Fraley to put Cincinnati up, 2-0, at the midway point.

Again, the Red Sox had a chance to get to Lively in their half of the fifth. With two outs and one runner on first following a leadoff single from Hernandez, Raimel Tapia laced a 103.5 mph double off the Green Monster. Hernandez, who was waved in by third base coach Carlos Febles, attempted to score all the way from first on the play, but he was instead gunned down at home plate on a perfectly-executed relay started by Reds center fielder Jose Barrero.

Hernandez was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons in the sixth inning as well. After issuing a leadoff single to Benson and one-out walk to Barrero, Garza got McClain to hit a grounder to Hernandez at shortstop. Hernandez fielded the ball cleanly, but — in an attempt to start an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play — he then made a poor throw to the awaiting Valdez at second base.

As a result of Hernandez’s second error of the night and his 11th of the season, Benson scored his side’s third run while Barrero and McClain each advanced an additional 90 feet. Joely Rodriguez then came on to record the final out of the sixth on a five-pitch punchout, but the lefty was not nearly as sharp in the seventh.

Rodriguez walked two of the first four batters he faced in the inning in the process of filling the bases with one out. He followed that by sequence by issuing a bases-loaded free pass to Fairchild, which brought in Kevin Newman from third to give the Reds a 4-0 advantage. Barrero then doubled that lead on one swing of the bat, as he clobbered a 421-foot grand slam off the leftmost light standard above the Green Monster.

Trailing by eight runs going into the latter half of the seventh, the Red Sox finally got on the board. After Lively went 5 2/3 scoreless frames and Alex Young got the final out of the sixth, Fernando Cruz put up a three-spot on the other side of the stretch. With two outs, Valdez singles off Cruz and then scored all the way from first on an RBI double from McGuire. Back-to-back run-scoring triples from Tapia and Rafael Devers cut the deficit to five at 8-3.

Cincinnati got one of those runs back in the eighth, as Tyler Stephenson belted a one-out triple to deep center field before scoring on a Spencer Steer sacrifice fly that came off Ryan Sherriff. After poor base running from Yoshida led to Triston Casas lining lining out to an inning-ending double play a half-inning later, it appeared as if Boston was headed towards a rather ugly loss to kick off the homestand.

That changed in the ninth, though. With Eduardo Salazar on the mound for the Reds, Valdez drew a one-out walk and McGuire followed with another double to put runners at second and third. Tapia, Devers, and Justin Turner then strung together three straight run-scoring hits to trim Cincinnati’s lead to three runs and force manager David Bell to turn to his closer in Alexis Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, served up an RBI double to Yoshida, who was pinch ran for by Pablo Reyes. With runners at second and third, Duran pushed across Turner and allowed Reyes to move up to third with an RBI groundout. Just like that, the tying run was only 90 feet from home plate.

Down to their final out, Casas fell behind in a 1-2 count before whiffing at an 89.7 mph sinker at the knees to end it. Casas finished the night having gone 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. The Red Sox, as a team, left seven runners on base altogether.

At three hours and 12 minutes, Tuesday’s loss marked Boston’s second-longest nine-inning game of the season. Only an 8-3 win over the Blue Jays back on May 3 (three hours and 10 minutes) took longer.

Devers reaches milestone

With his run-scoring single in the seventh inning, Devers notched the 500th RBI of his big-league career. The 26-year-old is the 35th player to record 500 RBIs for the Red Sox and is the fourth-youngest player to do so behind only Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.

Tapia finishes homer shy of cycle

By putting together his first three-hit game as a member of the Red Sox on Tuesday, Tapia finished a home run shy of the cycle. The 29-year-old outfielder doubled in the fifth inning, tripled in the seventh inning, and singled in the ninth inning. He is now batting .364/.417/.500 over his last seven games.

Next up: Weaver vs. Paxton

The Red Sox will look to snap this two-game skid in the second game of this three-game set against the Reds on Wednesday night. Left-hander James Paxton will get the start for Boston while Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Luke Weaver.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Raimel Tapia: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)


Rafael Devers crushes grand slam, solo homer as Red Sox rout Tigers, 14-5

The Red Sox got back to .500 with a series-clinching win over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Boston blew out Detroit by a final score of 14-5 at Comerica Park to improve to 4-4 on the season.

Matched up against Tigers starter Joey Wentz out of the gate, the Sox broke out for six runs in their half of the second inning. After loading the bases with two outs, Wentz issued back-to-back bases-loaded walks to the final two batters he would face in Connor Wong and Rob Refsnyder. Wentz was then given the hook in favor of right-hander Garrett Hill.

With a 2-0 lead already in hand, Rafael Devers greeted the new Tigers reliever by crushing a 356-foot opposite-field grand slam. The ball barely cleared the left-field fence as it left Devers’ bat at 102 mph and extended Boston’s lead to 6-0.

An inning later, the Red Sox again took advantage of ball four when Masataka Yoshida drew a leadoff walk off Hill. A red-hot Adam Duvall followed by unloading on a hanging sinker and depositing it 423 feet into the left field seats for his fourth home run of the season already. The two-run blast had an exit velocity of 109.8 mph and put Boston up, 8-0.

That is where the score would remain through 3 1/2 innings. Up until that point in the contest, Red Sox starter Tanner Houck had retired 8 of the first 10 batters he had faced. But the right-hander began to run into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth.

There, Houck yielded a leadoff walk to Riley Greene and a one-out single to Kerry Greene to put runners on the corners. Nick Maton then put the Tigers on the board with an RBI double to right field that plated Greene. Spencer Torkelson followed by driving in Carpenter on a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to six runs at 8-2.

Houck, for his part, got through the rest of the fourth unscathed and then sat down the side in order in the fifth to end his afternoon on a strong note. The 26-year-old hurler wound up allowing just the two earned runs on three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five full innings of work. He threw 74 pitches (45 strikes), induced eight swings-and-misses, and was ultimately credited with the winning decision — his second in as many tries.

With Houck’s day done, Zack Kelly got the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Kelly, in turn, stranded two base runners in the sixth and tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh. In between Kelly’s first and second frame of relief, Devers went deep for a second time off Tyler Alexander to make it a 9-2 game in the top of the seventh. Devers’ second big fly of the day and fourth of the season had an exit velocity of 110.3 mph and travelled 395 feet over the right field wall.

In the eighth, Alex Verdugo, Wong, and Refsnyder, tacked on three more runs to the Sox’ advantage with a trio of RBI singles. Following another scoreless inning of relief from Michigan native Kaleb Ort, Raimel Tapia hit a pinch-hit, two-run home run off Tigers second baseman Zack McKinstry in the top of the ninth.

Tapia’s first homer in a Red Sox uniform gave his side a commanding 14-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Ryan Brasier surrendered three runs (two earned) on two hits, one walk, and an Enrique Hernandez throwing error before recording the third and final out to secure a 14-5 victory.

Duvall’s dominance continues

With two more RBIs on Saturday, Adam Duvall now has 14 through his first seven games of the season. Those 14 RBIs are the most ever by a player in their first seven games as a member of the Red Sox.

Duvall’s 10 extra-base hits are the most through seven game with Boston, surpassing Jose Offerman’s mark of nine in 1999.

Devers records first multi-homer game of season

By hitting two home runs on Saturday, Rafael Devers registered the 13th multi-homer game of his career. He now moves into a two-way tie with Vern Stephens for the 12th most multi-homer games in Red Sox history.

Next up: Crawford starts as Sox go for sweep

The Red Sox will go for a three-game sweep over the Tigers in Sunday’s series finale. Right-hander Kutter Crawford will take the mound for Boston while veteran left-hander Matthew Boyd will get the ball for Detroit.

First pitch from Comerica Park is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Red Sox option Jarren Duran to Triple-A Worcester, clearing way for Raimel Tapia to make team

The Red Sox have optioned outfielder Jarren Duran to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced following Tuesday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Braves at JetBlue Park.

By optioning Duran, the Red Sox have effectively cleared the way for non-roster invitee Raimel Tapia to make the team as a fifth outfielder. Tapia, however, is not yet on Boston’s 40-man roster, which is currently at full capacity. And so the club still needs to clear a spot in order to officially add the 29-year-old outfielder to the mix.

Duran and Tapia were essentially competing for a reserve outfield spot behind the likes of Masataka Yoshida, Adam Duvall, Alex Verdugo, and Rob Refsnyder on Boston’s Opening Day roster. Whoever came out on top would be in line to serve as a left-handed hitting complement to the right-handed hitting Refsnyder off the bench.

In just nine games with the Red Sox this spring, Duran went 6-for-18 (.333) at the plate with three doubles, one home run, one RBI, five runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and three strikeouts. The 26-year-old was away from the team for a little more than two weeks earlier this month to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. But he was used sparingly in that time and only accrued five plate appearances.

Tapia, meanwhile, signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox in January and proved to be one of the club’s top offensive performers this spring. In Grapefruit League games, he batted .326/.383/.605 with six doubles, two homers, five RBIs, seven runs scored, three stolen bases, three walks, and six strikeouts across 47 trips to the plate.

According to’s Chris Cotillo, Tapia had the ability to opt out of his deal on Monday, but he elected to remain with the Red Sox through their final game of the spring and went 1-for-2 with a double and run scored in Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to the Braves.

With Duran optioned and Tapia set to make the team, the Red Sox are now tasked with creating an opening for the latter. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, it appears as though the club will accomplish this by placing infielder Adalberto Mondesi (ACL rehab) on the 60-day injured list to begin the season.

The Red Sox have just one roster-related decision remaining, and it pertains to the final spot in the bullpen. It will either go to Kaleb Ort, who is already on the 40-man roster but has struggled mightily this spring, Oddanier Mosqueda, Ryan Sherriff or an external option is not yet with the club.

If one of Mosqueda or Sherriff — who were in camp as non-roster invitees — or an outside addition gets the job, another 40-man roster spot would need to be cleared. In that scenario, Ort could very well wind up getting designated for assignment.

All things considered, the Red Sox must finalize their initial 26-man roster to start the season before their Opening Day matchup against the Orioles at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Raimel Tapia and Rob Refsnyder both homer, Nick Pivetta tosses 4 strong innings as Red Sox fall to Tigers, 6-2

The Red Sox squandered a late lead against the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon and wound up paying for it. Boston fell to Detroit by a final score of 6-2 at Joker Marchant Stadium to drop to 9-5-4 in Grapefruit League play.

Matched up against Michael Lorenzen out of the gate, the Red Sox got off to quick start right away in the first inning. Raimel Tapia took the eighth pitch he saw from Lorenzen (a 3-2, 84.5 mph changeup at the knees) and promptly crushed a 402-foot leadoff home run to deep right field.

Tapia’s second homer of the spring left his bat at 101.1 mph and gave Boston an early 1-0 lead over Detroit. It also provided Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta with a one-run cushion before he even took the mound on Tuesday.

Pivetta, making his third start of the spring, was solid. The right-hander allowed just one earned run on four hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over four innings of work.

After Pivetta went the first three frames without surrendering a hit, the Red Sox doubled their lead in the top half of the fourth. With Lorenzen still pitching for the Tigers, Rob Refsnyder broke out of an 0-for-21 rut by clubbing a 384-foot solo shot to right field for his very first hit of the spring. Ronaldo Hernandez and Greg Allen also reached base in the inning, but they were both thrown out on the base paths.

Pivetta, meanwhile, gave up his first hit of the day on a leadoff single off the bat of Zack Short in the latter half of the fourth. Short, however, was thrown out at second while trying to extend his single into a double. Ryan Kreider followed by ripping a one-out triple down the right field line and was driven in moments later on a Riley Greene RBI single. Pivetta then yielded a two-out single to Austin Meadows, but he managed to strand both Greene and Meadows by fanning the last batter he would face in Nick Maton.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 54 (36 strikes), Pivetta topped out at 96.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 37 times. The 30-year-old hurler also induced nine swings-and-misses altogether, per Baseball Savant.

In relief of Pivetta, fellow righty John Schreiber received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Schreiber was able to get out of a jam in the fifth inning and got the first two outs of the sixth, who stranded the lone runner he inherited by punching out Colt Keith on five pitches. Left-hander Oddanier Mosqueda followed suit by recording two more strikeouts in a scoreless bottom of the seventh.

The eighth inning is where things began to get away. Chase Shugart entered with a one-run lead to protect, but he walked two of the first three batters he faced before giving up a go-ahead, two-run single to Jake Holton. Holton then moved up to second on a Brendon Davis base hit and scored from second on an RBI single off the bat of Keith.

Shugart left the game with runners on the corners and two outs still to get in the eighth. Luis Guerrero, who took over for Shugart, immediately gave up a sacrifice fly to Luis Guerrero. Not only did Davis score from the third on the play, but Keith was able to come in all the way from first after minor-league shortstop Luis Ravelo committed a fielding error.

Just like that, a 2-1 lead became a 6-2 deficit. Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Allan Castro, Ravelo, and Caleb Hamilton all went down quietly against Tigers reliever Mason Englert, who was credited with the winning decision after tossing two scoreless innings. Shugart, on the other hand, was charged with the loss.

Other worthwhile observations:

Triston Casas went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. The 23-year-old saw 27 pitches in his four plate appearances and is now sporting a .441 on-base percentage this spring.

Christian Arroyo also doubled. Tapia, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 with his first-inning homer and is now batting .417 (10-for-24) in nine Grapefruit League games.

Guerrero, a 17th-round draft pick in 2021, threw nine pitches on Tuesday. Only two of them went for strikes, but the 22-year-old was consistently in the upper-90s and even hit triple-digits with his fastball.

Next up: Whitlock makes spring debut against Rays

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers to host the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. While Corey Kluber is in line to start for Boston, Garrett Whitlock will also be making his spring debut, as the right-hander is slated to throw two innings out of the bullpen. On the other side, fellow righty Evan McKendry will be starting for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox fall to Blue Jays, 2-0, for first loss of spring

The Red Sox suffered their first loss of the spring and were shut out by the Blue Jays on Friday afternoon. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 2-0 at JetBlue Park to drop to 9-1-3 in Grapefruit League play.

Corey Kluber, making his third start of the spring for the Sox, was tagged with the losing decision. The veteran right-hander allowed two earned runs on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over three-plus innings of work.

In both the first and second innings, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base. Each time, however, he was able to escape the jam by striking out the side in the first and inducing three straight fly outs in the second.

The third inning was a different story. There, Kluber allowed the first two batters he faced (Orelvis Martinez and Zach Britton) to reach on a double and single, respectively. Rather than get out of the jam this time around, the righty instead surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wynton Bernard.

A similar situation arose in the fourth, as the Blue Jays doubled their lead when Cam Eden led off with a single and promptly scored all the way from first on a Rainer Nunez RBI double that split the gap in right-center field. Nunez proved to be the last Toronto hitter Kluber would face.

The 36-year-old hurler had already thrown 69 pitches to that point, and he was given the hook in favor of Cam Booser out of the Red Sox bullpen. Booser, in turn, prevented any further damage thanks to Caleb Hamilton picking off Nunez at third base. The minor-league left-hander then made way for Ryan Brasier, who made quick work of Toronto in the fifth.

In the sixth, Wyatt Mills was able to maneuver his way around a bases-loaded jam when Rob Refsnyder made a nice sliding, inning-ending catch down the left field line. Oddanier Mosqueda followed by hurling two more scoreless frames before Jake Faria stranded a pair of runners with the help of an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play in the top of the ninth.

To that point in the contest, four different Blue Jays pitchers had combined to hold the Red Sox lineup to just four hits (all singles) through eighth innings. Jimmy Robbins, who had given up a single and a walk in the bottom of the eighth, was also responsible for the latter half of the ninth inning.

Tyler McDonough, who had replaced Refsnyder in left field, reached base on a one-out single off the faux Green Monster. That brought Bobby Dalbec to the plate representing the tying run. Dalbec, however, lined out to second baseman Davis Schneider, who was able to get the ball back to first baseman Cullen Large in time to double up McDonough and thus end the game.

Following Friday’s loss, which took all of two hours and 24 minutes, Boston is now 11-1-3 in all competitions this spring.

Other worthwhile observations:

Raimel Tapia was one of five Red Sox hitters to record a hit on Friday. The 29-year-old went 1-for-2 with a stolen base and is now batting .421 (8-for-19) through seven Grapefruit League contests.

With a fourth-inning single, Adam Duvall broke out of an 0-for-11 slump to begin his Red Sox tenure. Following a 1-for-3 showing on Friday, the center fielder is now batting .071 (1-for-14) this spring.

In three appearances out of the bullpen this spring, Ryan Brasier has allowed one run on one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of relief. That is good for an ERA of 2.45 and a WHIP of 0.82. The righty is also holding opposing hitters to an .083 (1-for-12) batting average against.

Next up: Sale Day

The Red Sox will remain in Fort Myers on Saturday and take on the Twins in Game 3 of the 2023 Chairman’s Cup. Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston while right-hander Tyler Mahle is scheduled to start for Minnesota.

With a two-games-to-none lead already in hand, the Red Sox can take home the Chairman’s Cup with another win on Saturday afternoon. First pitch from Hammond Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Chris Sale hurls two scoreless innings in spring debut as Red Sox roll past Tigers in 7-1 win

Powered by a four-run first inning, the Red Sox continued their winning ways this spring by taking care of business against the Tigers on Monday. Boston defeated Detroit by a final score of 7-1 at JetBlue Park to remain unbeaten and improve to 7-0-3 in Grapefruit League play.

Despite the strong showing from the lineup out of the gate, Chris Sale was undoubtedly the headliner in Monday’s win. Making his first start of the spring and his first start of any kind since last July, the veteran left-hander scattered two hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts over two scoreless innings of work.

Sale began his day by giving up a leadoff single to Matt Vierling to begin things in the top of the first. He then got Riley Greene to ground into a force out at second base before getting Javier Baez to fly out to center field. Greene successfully stole second to put a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Sale stranded him there by fanning Eric Haase.

In the bottom of the first, the first three Red Sox hitters to face Tigers starter Matt Manning all reached to fill the bases with no outs. Adam Duvall then plated his side’s first run on a sacrifice fly to center and Raimel Tapia followed by lacing an RBI ground-rule double into the triangle. Jorge Alfaro capped off the four-run frame by scoring both Niko Kavadas and Tapia on a two-run single that was misplayed by Greene in right.

Taking a 4-0 lead into the second, Sale picked up where he left off by nonchalantly recording the first two outs of the inning. He then gave up a two-out single to Zach Short, but ended the frame himself by getting Nick Maton to ground out to him in front of the pitcher’s mound.

All told, 24 of the 31 pitches Sale threw on Monday went for strikes. The 33-year-old southpaw retired six of the eight batters he faced and reached 95-96 mph with his fastball, according to the JetBlue Park radar gun.

In relief of Sale, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Boston bullpen and worked his way around a one-out walk of Vierling in the top of the third. The Red Sox then added to their lead in the latter half of the inning when Tapia took Tigers reliever Brendan White deep to right field for his first home run of the spring.

After Brasier got the first two outs of the fourth, Taylor Broadway took over and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of his own through the middle of the fifth. Zack Kelly saw the shutout bid come to an end when he served up a leadoff homer to Greene in the sixth, but the Red Sox quickly responded by pushing across two more runs.

Niko Goodrum reached base on a two-out single off Mason Englert and promptly scored all the way from first on an RBI double off the bat of Kavadas. Fellow 2021 draftee Tyler McDonough followed that up by driving in Kavadas and simultaneously displaying his speed on a run-scoring triple off the center field wall.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a commanding 7-1 lead going into the seventh. Three different relievers kept the score that way as Jake Faria struck out two of the three Tigers he faced, Durbin Feltman maneuvered his way around a two-out walk, in an otherwise clean eighth inning, and Norwith Gudino stranded two runners by punching out the side in the ninth.

Turner’s scare:

Before the Red Sox mounted their four-run rally in the first inning, a scary moment arose while Justin Turner was at the plate for his first at-bat of the afternoon. On the first pitch he saw from Manning, Turner took a fastball to the face and fell down immediately with blood spewing from his mouth.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora and head athletic trainer Brandon Henry immediately tended to Turner, who was conscious and left the field under his own power while holding a towel to his face. The 38-year-old was transported to a local hospital in Fort Myers and was replaced at first base by Kavadas.

Other observations:

Alfaro and Tapia combined to go 5-for-5 with four RBIs and two runs scored in Monday’s contest, which took two hours and 31 minutes to complete. The two non-roster invitees are hitting .700 (7-for-10) and .412 (7-for-17) this spring, respectively.

Next up: Houck looks to rebound

The Red Sox will travel to North Port to take on the Braves at CoolToday Park on Tuesday evening. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to make his second start of the spring for Boston while left-hander Jared Shuster will take the mound for Atlanta.

First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Kenley Jansen works scoreless third inning in spring debut as Red Sox, Astros once again play to 4-4 tie

For the second time in four days, the Red Sox and Astros played to a 4-4 tie in Grapefruit League action. After it happened in West Palm Beach on Wednesday, a winner could once again not be determined in Saturday afternoon’s contest at JetBlue Park.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start of the spring for Boston, lasted just 1 1/3 innings against Houston. The right-hander came into camp still on the mend from a recent bout with COVID-19 and displayed his rustiness on Saturday by allowing three earned runs on five hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts.

After retiring the first two batters he faced in the top of the first, Pivetta gave up a groundball single to Jake Meyers and followed that up by serving up a two-run home run to Corey Julks. He got through the rest of the inning unscathed but ran into more trouble in the second by surrendering three straight singles to lead things off.

Pivetta struck out the next two batters to keep the bases loaded, but he then balked to bring in Rylan Bannon from third and issued a walk to Chas McCormick to refill the bases. Jake Faria came in for Pivetta and managed to escape any further damage by getting Jake Meyers to ground out to Rafael Devers at third.

Still, it was not a productive day for Pivetta, who needed 43 pitches to record five outs. That being said, the Red Sox lineup promptly came to life in their half of the second inning by putting up a three-spot against Astros starter Shawn Dubin.

Triston Casas led off with a single and Jorge Alfaro followed with a double. Jarren Duran then drew a walk to fill the bases for Rob Refsnyder, who plated Casas and moved Alfaro and Duran up an additional 90 feet with an RBI groundout. With one out and runners at second and third, Raimel Tapia came through with a game-tying, two-run double to left field that pulled Boston back even with Houston at three runs apiece.

The Red Sox and Astros then traded zeroes for the next five innings. Kenley Jansen made quick work of Houston in his spring debut by retiring the side in order in the top half of the third. The veteran closer did not commit a single pitch clock violation, either. Fellow free agent addition Chris Martin was responsible for the fourth inning. He worked his way around two walks and struck out one in a scoreless frame.

Josh Winckowski took over for Martin in the fifth and collected four strikeouts while scattering two hits and two walks to the 12 batters he faced across three more scoreless innings. Oddanier Mosqueda saw Boston’s run of five consecutive shutout frames come to an end when he surrendered a two-out RBI single to Zach Daniels in the top of the eighth.

Shortly after that go-ahead run crossed the plate for the Astros, though, the Red Sox quickly responded in their half of the inning. Niko Goodrum and Enmanuel Valdez each singled with one out to put runners on the corners for Daniel Palka. Palka, in turn, drove in the tying run (Goodrum) with a sacrifice fly to right field.

In the ninth inning of a 4-4 contest, Cam Booser faced the minimum in the top half for Boston and Cesar Gomez did the same for Houston in the bottom half. That is how the game, which ultimately took two hours and 36 minutes to complete, ended.

Other notable numbers:

Duran, who drew two walks and scored one run, was the only member of the Red Sox lineup to take ball four on Saturday.

By going 1-for-2 with that two-run double on Saturday, Tapia is now batting .357 (5-for-14) with four doubles in five Grapefruit League games this spring. He is currently tied for the team lead in doubles and is tied for third with nine total bases.

Next up: Kluber vs. Rogers

At 5-0-3, the Red Sox will close out the first weekend of March by hosting the Marlins in Fort Myers on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to start for Boston opposite Miami left-hander Trevor Rogers. This is the same pitching matchup we saw in Jupiter last Tuesday.

First pitch from JetBlue Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Wyatt Mills records three strikeouts as Red Sox tie Astros, 4-4, in Grapefruit League action

The Red Sox remained unbeaten in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday as their contest against the Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches ended in a 4-4 tie.

Matched up against Houston’s top pitching prospect, Hunter Brown, to begin things, Boston got off to a quick start in the top of the first inning. With two outs and runners on first and second, Reese McGuire reached base via catcher’s interference. Brown then issued a bases-loaded walk to Niko Goodrum before plunking fellow non-roster invitee Greg Allen to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

On the other side of things, Richard Bleier served as an opener in what was a bullpen game for the Boston pitching staff. The veteran left-hander allowed one run on two hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with one strikeout over two innings of work.

After stranding Jose Altuve at second base in a scoreless bottom of the first, Bleier issued a leadoff walk to Kennedy Corona to kick off the second. Corona moved up to second on a J.J. Matijevic single and to third on a 6-4-3 double play before scoring his side’s first run on an RBI single off the bat of of Quincy Hamilton. Bleier then retired the final batter he faced to limit the damage to one run.

From there, Boston and Houston exchanged zeroes over the next three innings. Wyatt Mills struck out three across two scoreless frames before Kaleb Ort kept the Astros off the board in the fifth. To kick off the top half of the sixth inning, the speedy Ceddanne Rafaela led off by reaching base on a pop-up single and advancing to second on a Mauricio Dubon throwing error. A Wilyer Abreu walk and Enmanuel Valdez single loaded the bases with one out for Triston Casas, who plated Rafaela with an RBI groundout to third base. Abreu then scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-1 game in favor of Boston.

Taking a three-run lead into the latter half of the sixth, Ort issued a leadoff walk to Migeul Palma before recording the first two outs of the inning. Rather than getting out of the frame unscathed, though, the righty served up a two-run home run to 2022 second-round draft pick Jacob Melton, which brought the Astros back to within one run at 4-3.

Joe Jacques could not preserve that slim one-run lead in the seventh. The lefty was greeted by back-to-back hits from Marty Costes and Dubon to put runners at second and third with no outs for Houston. Palma then drove in Costes from third on a game-tying sacrifice fly to center field.

That is where the score would remain. While the Red Sox lineup could not muster anything else offensively, Rio Gomez and Luis Guerrero each sat down the side in order in the eighth and ninth. As such, this contest ended in a 4-4 draw that took two hours and 23 hours to complete.

Other notable numbers:

Through two appearances this spring, Mills has yet to allow a run or hit in the process of striking out five of the 10 batters he has faced over three scoreless innings of relief.

McGuire and Raimel Tapia (2-for-3) accounted for both of Boston’s extra-base hits on Wednesday. Valdez, who went 1-for-2 with a walk, was thrown out at home plate to end the top of the second while trying to score on a Christian Arroyo single.

Next up: Back to Fort Myers

At 3-0-2, the Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Thursday afternoon to take on the reigning National League champion Phillies. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to make his first start of the spring for Boston opposite Philadelphia left-hander Bailey Falter.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of Wyatt Mills: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Bobby Dalbec homers, Raimel Tapia doubles twice as Red Sox’ Grapefruit League opener against Braves ends in 6-6 tie

The Red Sox opened Grapefruit League play with a 6-6 tie against the Braves at CoolToday Park in Northport, Fla. on Saturday afternoon.

Half of Boston’s six runs came within the first three innings of this contest. In the top of the second, Bobby Dalbec led off with a double and promptly moved up to third base on a Narciso Crook groundout. He then scored from third on an RBI single off the bat of Caleb Hamilton that got the Sox on the board first.

An inning later, Dalbec struck again. With two outs and a runner at second following a Raimel Tapia double, the slugging first baseman cranked a two-run shot to right field off veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez for his first home run of the spring.

The Braves, however, quickly responded in their half of the third by getting those two runs back. After left-handers Matt Dermody and Richard Bleier each tossed a scoreless frame to begin things for the Red Sox pitching staff, Kaleb Ort ran into some trouble. The hard-throwing righty yielded a leadoff single to Ronald Ocuna Jr. and followed that up by serving up a blistering two-run blast to Matt Olson, which brought Atlanta back to within one run at 3-2.

Following a scoreless fourth inning from Wyatt Mills, Ryan Sherriff surrendered the tying run to Eli White in the bottom of the fifth. Eddie Rosario reached base on a fielding error committed by Niko Goodrum and then scored all the way from first on a double from White (who was pinch-hitting for Ozzie Albies) that split the gap in right-center field.

Jake Faria took over for Sherriff in the sixth and worked his way around a leadoff walk before Norwith Gudino faced the minimum in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Wilyer Abreu ignited a three-run rally by ripping a one-out triple to center field. Ryan Fitzgerald broke the 3-3 stalemate by plating Abreu from third on a hard-hit double.

A wild pitch from Braves reliever Victor Vodnik allowed Fitzgerald to take third base. He then scored from third on a two-out double from the pinch-hitting Tyler McDonough. Ronaldo Hernandez followed by pushing across McDonough on an RBI single through the right side of the infield, which gave Boston a 6-3 advantage going into the late stages.

While Sterling Sharp was able to keep Atlanta in check in the eighth, the same cannot be said for Joey Stock in the ninth. The 25-year-old hurler gave up back-to-back hits with one out before yielding a run-scoring single to Magneuris Sierra. Stock then issued three consecutive walks, the latter two of which came with the bases loaded, allowing the Braves to knot things back up at six runs apiece.

Stock was given the hook in favor of Robert Kwiatkowski, who struck out the first batter he faced in Tyler Tolve. He then fell behind in a 3-2 count against Cal Conley before the Braves second baseman was called out on strikes by home plate umpire John Libka for not being set in the batter’s box with eight seconds left on the newly-implemented pitch clock.

The pitch clock was brought in by Major League Baseball in an effort to speed up games and hasten pace of play. Saturday’s bout between the Red Sox and Braves, which included 12 runs, 19 hits, and 17 runners left on base, lasted two hours and 39 minutes.

Other notable numbers:

Dalbec went 2-for-2 with that two-run homer and two runs scored. The 27-year-old is now batting .273/.362/.578 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in 70 career Grapefruit League games.

Tapia, who is competing for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster, went 2-for-3 with two opposite-field doubles and one run scored. He and infield prospect Matthew Lugo also had automatic strikes called on them for not being set in the batter’s box in time.

Next up: Winckowski and a plethora of pitching prospects

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Sunday to host the Rays in their Grapefruit League home opener. Right-hander Josh Winckowski is slated to start for Boston while Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, and Bryan Mata are expected to follow. Left-hander Taj Bradley, one of the game’s top pitching prospects, will get the start for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to minor-league deal with former Blue Jays outfielder Raimel Tapia

The Red Sox and Raimel Tapia have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract for the 2023 season, as was first reported by the free agent outfielder himself on Instagram. Jon Heyman of the New York Post later confirmed it was a minors pact that presumably comes with an invite to major-league spring training.

Tapia, who turns 29 next month, spent the 2022 season with the Blue Jays. The left-handed hitter batted .265/.292/.380 with 20 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 52 RBIs, 47 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 16 walks, and 81 strikeouts over 128 games (433 plate appearances) for Toronto. He was projected to earn a $5.2 million salary in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility in 2023, but was instead non-tendered in November.

In six games against the Red Sox at Fenway Park last year, Tapia went 9-for-30 (.300) with one double, one triple, two home runs, and 12 RBIs. He most notably hit an inside-the-park grand slam that center fielder Jarren Duran lost in the lights in the third inning of Boston’s historic 28-5 blowout loss to Toronto on July 22.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Tapia originally signed with the Rockies as an international free agent coming out of San Pedro de Macoris in November 2010. He broke in with Colorado in 2016 and spent the first six years of his big-league career there before being dealt to the Blue Jays in exchange for fellow outfielder Randal Grichuk last March.

So, for his career, Tapia is a lifetime .277/.318/.392 hitter with 91 doubles, 15 triples, 26 homers, 188 runs driven in, 233 runs scored, 53 stolen bases, 103 walks, and 343 strikeouts in 567 games (1,858 plate appearances) between the Rockies and Blue Jays over seven major-league seasons. He stole a career-high 20 stolen bases while with Colorado in 2021.

Defensively, Tapia has prior experience at all three outfield positions. Last year in particular, the 6-foot-3, 175-pounder logged 459 innings in left, 249 2/3 innings in center, and 226 2/3 innings in right. He tallied four outfield assists altogether and ranked in the 83rd percentile in arm strength (averaged 90.1 mph on his throws), per Baseball Savant.

Tapia should have the chance to compete for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster as a left-handed hitting bench option once spring training begins next month. The Red Sox already have an outfield mix that includes Masataka Yoshida, Alex Verdugo, Rob Refsnyder, and Jarren Duran. With Enrique Hernandez expected to move back to the middle infield to cover for the injured Trevor Story, the newly-signed Adam Duvall is slated to take over in center field. Add in other non-roster invitees such as Narciso Crook and Greg Allen, and the Sox’ outfield picture suddenly becomes quite crowded.

(Picture of Raimel Tapia: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)