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.

Jonathan Arauz’s Three-Hit Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Come up Short in 8-7 Loss to Rays

In a back-and-forth nine-inning contest that took nearly four-and-a-half hours to complete, the Red Sox came up just short in an 8-7 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

Ryan Brasier served as the opener for Boston in this one, and in doing so made his first career major-league start. The right-hander stranded two base runners and recorded one strikeout in a scoreless first inning. That was it for him.

From there, Colten Brewer was dispatched as the “bulk inning” guy out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin things in the second, and he surrendered three runs, two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the night.

The first of those three Tampa Bay tallies scored off Brewer came on a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single in the top of the second that could have been a double had it not been for Kevin Pillar gunning the speedster down at second base in the same sequence. The other two runs were pushed across with one out in the fourth, when Brewer served up a two-run single to Michael Perez. Again, the damage could have been even worse since Perez himself nearly scored moments later, but was instead nabbed at the plate off an Austin Meadows double.

Marcus Walden was next up for the start of the fifth, and he managed to only record two outs while walking a pair and yielding one run on a Joey Wendle RBI triple.

Upon giving old friend Manuel Margot a free pass on four straight balls, the righty was given the hook by Sox manager Ron Roenicke in favor of left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

Springs, coming off back-to-back scoreless outings out of the Boston bullpen, regressed a bit on Monday in that he escaped the fifth inning unscathed, yet conceded three runs while only being able to record three more outs on 51 total pitches (34 strikes) before Roenicke had finally seen enough.

With no outs in the seventh, a runner on second, and his side in a 7-5 hole, the Sox skipper turned to Phillips Valdez, who was able to get out of that mess before allowing a run of his own to score on three straight two-out hits and a walk in the eighth.

That all set up the recently-recalled Dylan Covey for the top of the ninth, and in what was now an 8-7 contest, the right-hander faced the minimum three batters to keep the deficit at one run. Not like it mattered much in the end, but still a somewhat positive development.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar face in the form of Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who had just started against Boston back on August 5 at Tropicana Field.

This time around, the Sox bats got to Yarbrough early once more, with Xander Bogaerts, Michael Chavis, and Kevin Plawecki all coming through with back-to-back-to-back run-scoring plays in their half of the first. That early rally resulted in a 3-0 advantage for the home side.

In the third, J.D. Martinez, who had scored one of those runs in the first, followed an Alex Verdugo groundout by taking a 2-2, 84 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Yarbrough and crushing it 425 feet over everything in left field for his long-awaited first home run of the 2020 season. The solo shot put the Red Sox up 4-1 headed into the fourth.

Flash forward all the way to the sixth, after the Rays had bounced back to take a 5-4 lead, Chavis led things off against tight-hander Chaz Roe by lacing a double down the left field line and was promptly driven in by Plawecki on an RBI single. 5-5.

That stalemate did not last long though, as Tampa Bay jumped out to an 8-5 lead in their half of the eighth, which meant the Sox had more work to do on the offensive side of the ball. And that they did.

Down to their final two outs in the bottom half of the eighth inning, Jonathan Arauz came to the plate, already with the first and second hits of his major-league career under his belt, with the bases loaded and Jose Alvarado on the mound for the Rays.

After watching the first two pitches go by, the 22-year-old took a 97 mph slider on the outer half of the plate and ripped what would turn out to be a two-run single to an empty patch of grass in left-center field.

Arauz’s third hit of the night brought his team within one run of the Rays at 8-7. Alas, any shot at another rally fell short in the ninth, and 8-7 would go on to be Monday’s final score. What a doozy.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

J.D. Martinez went 3-for-4 with that home run and one RBI on Monday. Kevin Plawecki also went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set against the Rays on Tuesday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while Andrew Kittredge, who picked up the save for the Rays on Monday, will open for Tampa Bay.

Perez put together five solid shutout innings in his last time out against the Rays at Tropicana Field on August 5. He’ll be going for his first home win of the season.

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

Red Sox Lineup: Ryan Brasier Set to Serve as Opener for Boston in First of Four Against Rays

As the Red Sox open up a four-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park to begin the week, Ryan Brasier will be making the first career start of his major-league career on Monday night, the club announced.

Brasier, who turns 33 later this month, will serve as the opener for the Sox against the Rays to kick off the new week before making way for Colten Brewer, who will serve as the “bulk inning guy.”

The right-hander out of Wichita Falls, Texas owns an ERA of 9.00 and an xFIP of 3.84 through his first five appearances and four innings pitched of the 2020 campaign.

As previously mentioned, Brasier has never made a start at the major-league level before, but he does have 38 career minor-league starts under his belt. Although, his most recent start came all the way back in 2015.

In his career against Tampa Bay, the former sixth-round pick of the Angels has yet to surrender a run over 12 outings and 12 1/3 innings of work, all while holding opponents to a .481 OPS against.

By rolling with Brasier here, the Red Sox will have already used eight different starting pitchers just 16 games into the season.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will line up behind Brasier and against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who got shelled for five runs over five innings pitched in his last time out against Boston on August 5:

Note how the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers are all absent here in favor of Kevin Pillar, who will be starting in right, Michael Chavis, and Jonathan Arauz, who is a switch-hitter.

Also worth mentioning, Kevin Plawecki is making his fourth start of the season behind the plate in favor of Christian Vazquez.

Among these nine hitters, J.D. Martinez has seen Yarbrough the best, as the Sox DH is a lifetime .636 (7-for-11) hitter off the Rays southpaw to go along with one home run and two RBI.

On top of that, both Chavis and Alex Verdugo took Yarbrough deep at Tropicana Field last Wednesday.

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

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 Option Ryan Weber to Pawtucket, Call up Dylan Covey

Before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox swapped one right-handed pitcher for another, as the club recalled Dylan Covey from their alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned Ryan Weber.

Covey, who turns 29 next week, will be making his second stint with the Sox after allowing two runs over two innings of relief in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on July 25. The California native was sent down to Pawtucket shortly after his team debut with the goal of getting him stretched out in mind, manager Ron Roenicke said at the time.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 21, Covey came into the 2020 season with a career 6.54 ERA and 5.56 FIP over 63 outings (45 starts) and 250 1/3 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox from 2017 through 2019.

Weber, meanwhile, entered the 2020 campaign as the Sox’ No. 3 starter but struggled in that role, most recently surrendering two runs in just three innings of work against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Through three starts at the big-league level thus far in 2020, the soon-to-be-30-year-old hurler has posted an ERA of 9.90 and OPS against of 1.220 over 10 total innings pitched.

With Weber off the major-league roster for the time being, it will be fascinating to see how the Red Sox approach the vacancy in their starting rotation. Roenicke will likely have more to say about that later Saturday.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo on Crushing First Home Run of Season With New Team: ‘To Finally Be Able to Help Out and Get a Couple Runs for Us, It’s Huge’

Going into Wednesday night, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was without a home run or RBI through his first nine games and 30 plate appearances with his new team.

That all changed against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough in the fourth inning of an eventual 5-0 win for Boston at Tropicana Field to close out a seven-game road trip.

After striking out on eight pitches in his first at-bat against the Rays starter, Verdugo come to the plate for a second time with two outs and a runner on first following a Michael Chavis single.

On the second pitch he saw in his second at-bat against Yarbrough, which was nearly identical to the first’s location, the 24-year-old unloaded on an 0-1, 71 mph curveball at the bottom of the zone and deposited it 352 feet to the right field seats for his first home run of 2020 and his first in a Red Sox uniform. It also gave his side an early two-run lead.

“It felt amazing, man,” Verdugo said of his homer during his postgame media availability. “It’s pretty obvious a lot of us are going through it right now trying to find our swings. There’s a lot of new things in baseball, not being able to see the videos until after the games and all that. Usually, the in-game adjustments have been hard. It felt really good to finally be able to stay on one, to stay through it and get one out.”

Per Statcast, Verdugo’s two-run blast had an Expected Batting Average (xBA) of .220, so it wasn’t exactly barreled, per se, but it was still encouraging to see him make relatively hard contact nonetheless. His manager, Ron Roenicke felt that way as well.

“He was pretty happy, I’ll tell you that, when he came to the dugout,” said the Sox skipper. “It was huge. At the time, it was huge. I thought Yarbrough was throwing the ball fantastic and the next thing you know, we’ve got two runs on the board. The players know it, they feel what’s going on. To get that lead, I’m sure Dugie felt pretty good about that.”

Indeed, Verdugo did feel pretty good about getting his first one out of here since coming over from the Dodgers in February. More importantly, he was happy it contributed to a victory.

“I think the biggest thing for me was just to help the team out,” Verdugo said. “It was a tie game, so just to get up there and give us a 2-0 lead, give the pitcher and everybody a little breath. Like, ‘Hey, alright, we’ve got some room to work.’ That was my biggest part. I came here to contribute. I’ve played the game hard and I want to contribute in everything that I do. To finally be able to help out and get a couple runs for us, it’s huge.”

Following Wednesday’s impressive performance, Verdugo is showing why he should be starting more against left-handed starters, especially when the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. are mired in slumps.

While with Los Angeles for parts of the previous three seasons, the left-handed hitting Arizona native slashed .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers, earning the reputation of being a “reverse splits” guy.

Thus far with the Red Sox, Verdugo now owns an OPS of 1.009 through his first 16 plate appearances against southpaws this year, again proving that he should be playing more. Even still, the outfielder understands that finding playing time for everyone is no easy task.

“I always mess around with that,” Verdugo said with a smile. “When I’m not in there against a lefty, I’m like, ‘Hey, Ron, just so you know, man, I can hit ‘em.’ I think he knows it, too. I think he also knows when players are pressing. He’s doing his job, he’s doing what he has to do. I take a lot of pride against lefties.”

Also, it’s probably about time Verdugo moves up in the lineup, too. Just a thought.

 

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.

Red Sox Lineup: Jose Peraza Gets First Start of Season in Left Field in Series Finale Against Rays

After stranding the bases loaded in the ninth inning of a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox will look to wrap up their first road-trip of the season with a bounce-back win in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his third start of the year for Boston as he is coming off his first victory in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the Mets.

In five career outings (four starts) at Tropicana Field, the 29-year-old Perez owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA and .927 OPS against the Rays over 24 2/3 total innings of work.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Rays’ starter Ryan Yarbrough on Wednesday night:

Among the nine hitters in Boston’s lineup, J.D. Martinez has by far seen Yarbrough the best, as the 33-year-old owns a lifetime .636/.667/1.182 slash line in 11 career at-bats against the Rays southpaw.

Also worth noting here, Jose Peraza will be making his first start in left field with the Red Sox, a position he played 33 times while a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

With Peraza manning left field in this one, Andrew Benintendi will start the night on the bench, while the left-handed bats of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mitch Moreland will also sit with a left-hander on the mound for Tampa Bay.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 4 in game No. 12.

Nathan Eovaldi the Latest Victim of Tropicana Field’s Catwalks as Red Sox Fall to Rays to Mark Fourth Straight Loss

In a match-up featuring two American League East clubs riding lengthy losing streaks, the Red Sox fell to the Rays on Tuesday, dropping their fourth consecutive contest while Tampa Bay broke out of a five-game skid.

Nathan Eovaldi made his third start of the season for Boston to kick off this quick two-game set, and he was moving right along, retiring 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced before running into a bit of trouble in the latter stages of the fourth.

There, with two outs, the right-hander appeared to strike out Yoshi Tstutsugo on a 3-2, 96 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate that was not swung at. Instead, home plate umpire Randy Rosenberg ruled the pitch a ball, and the Rays third baseman took his base.

Perhaps that missed call irked Eovaldi a bit, because in the very next at-bat, he served up a line-drive single to Joey Wendle to put runners at second and first. That brought Hunter Renfroe to the plate, and the Rays outfielder proceeded to poke a pop fly to foul territory on the third base side that likely would have been caught by Rafael Devers in just about any other major-league ballpark. Instead, Renfroe’s fly ball made contact with one of the catwalks that line Tropicana Field’s roof, and it was ruled a foul ball.

Given another chance with a runner in scoring position, Renfore took full advantage just moments after the ruling, as he laced a two-run double to give his side a 2-1 lead.

 

Eovaldi did manage to escape the fourth without giving anything else up after that bizarre sequence, but the bottom of the fifth did not treat him much better seeing how Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe both drove in another pair of Rays runs to make it a 4-1 contest before the Sox starter put an end to things in what would be his final inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 85 (54 strikes) while striking out six, walking one, and plunking another, Eovaldi relied on his vaunted four-seam fastball more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses and topping out at 98.5 mph with the pitch.

Hit with his first losing decision while seeing his ERA on the year rise to 3.94, the 30-year-old hurler will get the chance to bounce back this Sunday against the Blue Jays back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Eovaldi, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he was only able to record the first two outs of the inning while putting two runners on before getting the hook in favor of left-hander Josh Osich.

Osich, making his fifth appearance of the season, fanned Rays catcher Michael Perez on five pitches to retire the side in the sixth. He also recorded the first out of the seventh before yielding a single to Lowe, which resulted in Ryan Brasier entering this contest/

Brasier, on for his third appearance of 2020, allowed a single to the first man he faced in Yandy Diaz, which allowed Lowe to advance to third and subsequently score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ji-Man Choi. The Rays went up 5-1 on that sequence.

From there, southpaw Jeffrey Springs gave up some loud outs in a perfect eighth inning of work to keep the deficit at four runs, although it didn’t matter in the end since the Red Sox fell in this one by a final score of 5-1 anyway.

On the flip side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in Rays veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who had somewhat struggled through his first two outings of the new season.

That was not the case for Morton on Tuesday though, as the only run Boston got off the 36-year-old hurler came on a Mitch Moreland solo homer with one out in the second inning.

 

Per Statcast, Moreland’s third long ball of the 2020 campaign had an exit velocity of 96 mph and traveled 368 feet off the bat to the empty seats in right field. It also gave the Sox an early 1-0 lead.

An inning later, it appeared as though Boston was going to add on to that lead against Morton, as Jose Peraza led the frame off with a line-drive single and three batters later, J.D. Martinez ripped a double down the left field line that easily would have scored the runner from first had it not hopped over the fence.

Instead, Martinez settled for a ground-rule double, and Xander Bogaerts flew out to center to strand the two runners in scoring position.

Morton sat down eight of the next nine Red Sox hitters who came to the plate beginning in the fourth, and had the Rays known Michael Chavis was going to pinch-hit for Moreland beforehand, they likely would have kept the righty out there for one more batter.

Rather than that happening though, Tampa Bay brought in left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, and Sox manager Ron Roenicke countered by swapping Moreland for Chavis, who proceeded to ground out to short to put an end to the inning.

Fast forward to their last chance to push across anything in the ninth, and with one out and the bases loaded, Boston’s lineup was about to turn over once more as the Rays dispatched their closer Nick Anderson.

Anderson, a 29-year-old right-hander, is about as nasty as they come, and he showed that on Tuesday by first striking Peraza out looking on six pitches, and then doing the same with Andrew Benintendi in five.

Just like that, a golden opportunity for the Red Sox to claw back late in this one had gone for naught, and 5-1 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

 

 

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

 

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left nine men on base as a team.

In positive news, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with two hard-hit doubles off Charlie Morton, so perhaps he has found his swing once again.

Also, Jackie Bradley Jr. was at it again in center field.

 

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this quick two-game set against the Rays on Wednesday evening.

Left-hander Martin Perez will toe the rubber for Boston, while fellow lefty Ryan Yarbrough will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Perez is coming off his best outing in a Red Sox uniform thus far, working 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball against the Mets in a winning effort last Thursday. The 29-year-old owns a lifetime 8.39 ERA in five career appearances (four starts) and 24 2/3 innings pitched at Tropicana Field.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has got his 2020 season off to a hot start as he has allowed just two runs through his first two starts and 11 2/3 innings of work this year. The 28-year-old out of Old Dominion University has appeared in nine career games against the Red Sox, three of which have been starts. In total, he owns a lifetime 4.84 ERA when pitching against Boston.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to snap a four-game skid.