Former Red Sox lefty Jeffrey Springs signs lucrative extension with Rays

Former Red Sox left-hander Jeffrey Springs has signed a four-year, $31 million contract extension with the Rays, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal, which runs through the 2026 season and includes a club option for 2027, can max out at $65.75 million over five years if incentives are reached and the option is exercised.

Springs spent one season with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Rangers for first baseman Sam Travis in January 2020. The former 30th-round draft selection posted a 7.08 ERA and 4.81 FIP with 28 strikeouts to seven walks over 16 relief appearances (20 1/3 innings) for Boston during the COVID-shortened campaign.

While those numbers were far from encouraging, Springs did pitch better in the second half. From August 31 through the end of the season, the lefty pitched to a 3.86 ERA (3.62 FIP) with a 35 percent strikeout rate and a 9.8 percent walk rate across 10 outings spanning 11 2/3 innings of relief.

Despite the improved results down the stretch, Springs lost his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster the following February. He and right-hander Chris Mazza were then traded to Tampa Bay for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and minor-league infielder Nick Sogard.

In his first season with the Rays, Springs forged a 3.43 ERA (3.91 FIP) with 63 strikeouts to 14 walks over 43 relief appearances (44 2/3 innings) before suffering a season-ending right knee injury against the Red Sox in late July. Last year, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound southpaw worked primarily as a starter for the first time in his big-league career. He produced a 2.46 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 135 1/3 innings over 33 appearances, 25 of which were starts.

Springs, who turned 30 in September, was under club control for two more seasons heading into the winter. He now figures to be a key member of the Rays’ starting rotation for the foreseeable future since he could feasibly remain in Tampa Bay through 2027.

(Picture of Jeffrey Springs: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to one-year deal with two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent right-hander Corey Kluber, as was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, which is pending a physical, comes with a club option for 2024 as well.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Kluber will earn $10 million in 2023. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the option is worth $11 million and the deal includes additional incentive bonuses.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Kluber’s 2023 salary can increase to $10.5 million if he makes 20 starts, $11.25 million if he makes 25 starts, and $12 million if he makes 30 or more starts next season. The value of his option for 2024, which does not come with a buyout, increases to $11.5 million if he makes 20 starts, $12.25 million if he makes 25 starts, and $13 million if he makes 30 starts.

“The contract then stipulates that those bonuses carry over to 2024 if the option is exercised,” Cotillo wrote on Wednesday. “Kluber would be due the same bonuses based on games started in 2024 (maxing out at $2 million).”

All told, Kluber’s deal with the Red Sox can max out at $27 million over two years ($12 million in 2023 and $15 million in 2024) if he makes 30-plus starts in 2023, has his option picked up, and then makes 30 or more starts again in 2024.

Kluber, who turns 37 in April, spent the 2022 season with the Rays after signing a one-year, $8 million pact with the club last December. In 31 starts for Tampa Bay, the veteran righty posted a 4.34 ERA — but much more respectable 3.57 FIP — with 139 strikeouts to 21 walks over 164 innings of work.

The Red Sox have been interested in signing Kluber in each of the last two offseasons but were ultimately unable to secure his services. Prior to his one season with the Rays, Kluber spent the 2021 campaign with the Yankees. This time around, however, Boston was able to land one of its top targets one day after fellow starters Nathan Eovaldi and Rich Hill agreed to deals with the Rangers and Pirates, respectively.

Kluber, who lives in Winchester, Mass. (where his wife, Amanda, is from) during the winter, is now slated to join a starting rotation mix in Boston that already consists of Brayan Bello, Chris Sale, Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, Nick Pivetta, and possibly even Tanner Houck heading into the 2023 season. While the Red Sox were unable to bring back Eovaldi, they were previously interested in a reunion with Michael Wacha, though the addition of Kluber may have altered those plans.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Padres coming out of Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.) in 2007, Kluber was traded to the Guardians in 2010 and first broke in with Cleveland the following September. As part of a nine-year tenure with that franchise, Kluber made three All-Star teams and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and 2017.

The Guardians traded Kluber to the Rangers in Dec. 2019. He was limited to just one start with Texas during the COVID-shortened 2020 season due to a tear in his right teres muscle. Kluber left the Rangers for the Yankees last January and has since forged a 4.17 ERA (3.66 FIP) over 47 starts (244 innings) in his short stays in the Bronx and St. Petersburg.

For his big-league career, which spans 12 seasons and four teams (Cleveland, Texas, New York, and Tampa Bay), Kluber owns a lifetime 3.31 ERA and 3.09 FIP to go along with 1,683 strikeouts to 347 walks across 256 appearances (251 starts) spanning 1,586 2/3 innings pitched. He has also produced a 4.02 ERA in 47 career postseason innings.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Kluber operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a mid-80s cutter, a low-80s curveball, a high-80s sinker, a low-80s changeup, and a high-80s four-seam fastball. This past season, he ranked in the 99th percentile of the league in walk rate (3.1 percent) and the 96th percentile in chase rate (35.7 percent), per Baseball Savant.

Kluber becomes the sixth major-league free agent the Red Sox have signed so far this winter, joining the likes of relievers Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, and Joely Rodriguez, outfielder Masataka Yoshida, and infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner. As noted by Cotillo, Kluber, Jansen, Martin, and Turner are all 35 years of age or older.

As things stand now, Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity. The signings of Kluber and Turner have yet to be made official, so chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will need to clear at least two spots before those announcements can be made.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reportedly made attempt to sign Zach Eflin before right-hander agreed to three-year, $40 million deal with Rays

The Red Sox reportedly made an attempt to sign Zach Eflin before the free agent right-hander agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the division rival Rays on Thursday.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Boston offered Eflin the same three-year, $40 million deal he received from Tampa Bay. But Eflin — a native of nearby Orlando — ultimately decided to sign closer to home.

On that note, The Athletic’s Chad Jennings reports that the Red Sox were actually the highest bidder for Eflin, but the Rays were given the opportunity to match the offer and that is exactly what they did.

“The Red Sox were not given an opportunity to raise their bid,” Jennings wrote late Thursday. “They also didn’t know until the deal was done that the Rays were going to have the final opportunity to match.”

Eflin, who turns 29 in April, is slated to earn $11 million in each of the next two seasons and will then see his salary increase to $18 million in 2025, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. The $40 million in guaranteed money represents the largest free agent contract the Rays have ever given out.

A former first-round draft pick of the Padres out of high school in 2012, Eflin was dealt to the Dodgers — who then traded him to the Phillies — in December 2014. The righty broke in with Philadelphia in 2016 and spent the last seven seasons with the club before becoming a free agent for the first time last month.

Eflin has traditionally been used as a starter throughout his big-league career and that was once again the case to kick off the 2022 campaign. He posted a 4.37 ERA and 3.83 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 15 walks in his first 13 starts (68 innings) of the season before suffering a right knee contusion towards the end of May. That led to him being sidelined nor nearly two months, and so the Phillies elected to bring Eflin back as a reliever once he was healthy to pitch again in September.

In that role, Eflin pitched to a 1.17 ERA with nine punchouts to zero walks over seven appearances (7 2/3 innings) out of the bullpen. He was also the Phillies’ second-most used reliever (10 outings) in the postseason and walked just two of the 45 batters he faced during their run to the National League pennant.

While he may have enjoyed some success as a reliever, Eflin is expected to join a Rays starting rotation that includes the likes of Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen, among others. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have been in the market for starting pitching this offseason. They remain engaged with Nathan Eovaldi and have had conversations with Corey Kluber, who made 31 starts for Tampa Bay this past season.

With that being said, the Red Sox being interested in and making a contract offer to Eflin should come as no surprise. While his strikeout numbers and whiff rates do not jump off the page, Eflin was extremely effective this year when it came to limiting both hard contact and walks. Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound hurler ranked in the 96th percentile in the league in average exit velocity (85.3 mph), the 94th percentile in hard-hit rate (31.3 percent), and the 91st percentile in walk rate (4.8 percent).

Even with a somewhat concerning injury history, the Rays opted to take a gamble on Eflin in order to fortify their starting rotation depth heading into 2023. The Red Sox, on the other hand, will have to look elsewhere if they are keen on addressing that area of need in free agency.

This is not the first time this offseason Boston has lost out on a free agent they were interested in. Earlier this week, veteran slugger Jose Abreu inked a three-year, $58.5 million deal with the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros. Shortly after that news broke, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported that Abreu was the Sox’ “No. 1 outside target” and relayed that the club met with him as soon as free agency opened.

In similar fashion to Abreu choosing the Astros, the Rays may have represented a more attractive destination for Eflin. Pitching closer to home is one thing, but Eflin will also be able to see more of his record-setting salary than he would in other places since there is no state income tax in Florida.

Either way, the Red Sox failed to sign a free agent who would have helped in filling an area of need for a team coming off a last-place finish in the American League East. For team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, who spoke with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at Fenway Park on Wednesday, what takes place between now and Opening Day will go a long way in improving for 2023.

“There’s a lot of different irons in the fire,” said Kennedy, who acknowledged that things could pick up when the Winter Meetings begin in San Diego next week. “It’s Chaim [Bloom] and [Brian O’Halloran] and their team’s job to uncover every opportunity. That’s what’s great about hot stove season. Things could go in any number of directions.

“I think we’re going to build a club this city is going to be proud of,” he added. “There’s definitely a chip on everybody’s shoulder. Last year was disappointing and frustrating. People are fired up.”

(Picture of Zach Eflin: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox open roster spot by trading Easton McGee to Mariners for cash considerations

The Red Sox have traded right-hander Easton McGee to the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

McGee, who turns 25 next month, was claimed off waivers from the Rays on the final day of the regular season. The 24-year-old righty had just made his major-league debut against the Astros on October 2, but was designated for assignment the following day.

In his lone big-league relief appearance of the year, McGee allowed one unearned run on four hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over three innings of work in a losing effort at Minute Maid Park. He threw 46 pitches (31 strikes) while mixing in 19 sliders, 15 sinkers, six cutters, three changeups, two curveballs, and one 91.5 mph four-seam fastball, per Baseball Savant.

The Rays originally selected McGee in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Hopkinsville High School in Kentucky. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound hurler posted a 5.43 ERA and 5.72 FIP with 82 strikeouts to 20 walks across 27 appearances (22 starts) and 107 2/3 innings pitched at Triple-A Durham this season. His 4.3 percent walk rate ranked second among International League pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this year and he was recognized by Triple-A managers for having the best control in that league as a result.

In McGee, the Mariners acquire a controllable pitcher who is not arbitration-eligible until 2026 and has three minor-league options remaining. By trading McGee away to Seattle, the Red Sox have cleared a spot on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 32 players officially.

Tommy Pham, who reportedly had his mutual option declined on Monday, still counts towards that total. If you take him away, Boston has 31 players on its 40-man roster. That does not include the five players (Tanner Houck, James Paxton, Chris Sale, Josh Taylor, and Franchy Cordero) who are currently listed on the 60-day injured list.

The Red Sox have until next Tuesday to activate these players, at which point they will count against the 40-man roster. November 15 is also the deadline for clubs to protect eligible minor-leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man.

In theory, the Sox could create additional space on their 40-man roster by exploring more trades. They also have the option of not tendering contracts to certain arbitration and pre-arbitration eligible players by next Friday’s non-tender deadline. Those players would then become free agents and would therefore not count against Boston’s big-league roster.

To put it simply, the Red Sox have some interesting decisions to make in the coming days and weeks. Dealing McGee to the Mariners could just be the tip of the iceberg in that regard.

(Picture of Easton McGee: Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Red Sox claim Easton McGee off waivers from Rays

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Easton McGee off waivers from the Rays, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. They did not need to make a corresponding move since they had a vacancy on their 40-man roster.

McGee, 24, was designated for assignment by the Rays on Monday after making his major-league debut against the Astros on Sunday. The native Kentuckian allowed one unearned run on four hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over three innings of relief in a losing effort at Minute Maid Park.

Despite that relatively strong performance, McGee lost his spot on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster when fellow righty Kevin Herget had his contract selected from Triple-A Durham earlier this week. Herget has since been designated for assignment himself.

The Rays originally selected McGee in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Hopkinsville High School. He forwent his commitment to the University of Kentucky by signing with Tampa Bay for $673,700. At that time, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom served as the Rays’ vice president of baseball operations, so there could be a connection there.

Before debuting for the Rays on Monday, McGee had spent the entirety of the 2022 minor-league season with Durham. In 27 appearances (22 starts) for the Bulls, he posted a 5.43 ERA and 5.72 FIP with 82 strikeouts to 20 walks across 107 2/3 innings of work. His 4.3% walk rate ranked second among International League pitchers who accrued at least 100 innings this year, per FanGraphs.

In a “Best Scouting Tools” survey conducted by Baseball America in late August, McGee was recognized by Triple-A managers for having the best control in the International League.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, McGee works with a slider, a sinker, a cutter, a changeup, a curveball, and a four-seam fastball. Against the Astros on Sunday, he induced all three of his swings-and-misses with his slider — a pitch he threw 19 times — and topped out at 93.9 mph with his sinker — a pitch he threw 15 times.

McGee, who turns 25 in December, comes with club control since he has three minor-league option years remaining. It should be interesting to see what the Red Sox do with him this off-season, as they could designate him again in hopes that he clears waivers and can be retained as a non-40-man player.

(Picture of Easton McGee: Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam powers Red Sox to rain-shortened 6-0 win over Rays

On a misty Tuesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox secured a series victory over the Rays in their penultimate game of the season. Boston defeated Tampa Bay, 6-0, in a rain-shortened five innings to improve to 77-84 on the year.

With old friend Jeffrey Springs on the mound for the Rays, the Sox jumped out to an early lead in the second inning. Alex Verdugo drew a leadoff walk off the left-hander and moved up to second base on a two-out single from Eric Hosmer.

Christian Arroyo followed that sequence by taking the first pitch he saw from Springs and lifting a 169-foot single to shallow right field to drive in Verdugo for the first run of the night.

Fast forward to the fifth, with Springs already out of the game, and the Sox struck again off Colin Poche. Arroyo led off with a single and immediately moved up to third on a line-drive double from Connor Wong. As the lineup turned back over, Rafael Devers drew a one-out walk to bring Xander Bogaerts to the plate with the bases loaded.

Bogaerts came through by unloading on a hanging curveball from Poche and depositing it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his 15th home run of the season. The grand slam was the seventh from a Boston hitter this year and the seventh of Bogaerts’ career. It had an exit velocity of 110.6 mph and gave the Red Sox a 5-0 lead, though they were not done there.

After Poche left the game with an apparent injury, Brooks Raley came on for the Rays and walked two of the first three batters he faced. He then got Hosmer to hit a grounder towards Isaac Paredes at first base. Paredes fielded the ball cleanly, but Raley could not corral his underhanded toss as he attempted to cover the bag.

As a result of Raley’s misses catch error, J.D. Martinez was able to score all the way from second to make it a 6-0 contest in favor of the Sox. Moments after Martinez scored, the grounds crew took the field with the tarpaulin in tow and this game entered a delay at around 8:58 p.m. eastern time. Fifty-two minutes later, it was officially called.

Although the fifth inning was not played in full, the Red Sox were still credited with a 6-0 win since they were ahead in the bottom of the fifth. Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, was credited with a complete game shutout.

Making his final start of the season and perhaps his last start in a Red Sox uniform, Eovaldi allowed just two hits on two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

The veteran right-hander took a no-hitter into the third before giving up a two-out single to Jose Siri. He then stranded Siri by fanning Yandy Diaz on five pitches.

In the fourth, Eovaldi issued back-to-back walks to Wander Franco and Ji-Man Choi to lead off the inning. Franco moved up to third on an Isaac Paredes flyout, but Eovaldi escaped the jam by getting Jonathan Aranda to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play that was started by Bogaerts.

From there, Eovaldi worked his way around a two-out double from Taylor Walls in the fifth to ultimately notch his sixth winning decision of the season. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 64 pitches (40 strikes) while lowering his final ERA to 3.87.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Fleming in Game No. 162

The Red Sox will look to end the regular season by completing a three-game sweep over the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while left-hander Josh Fleming will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

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

Rafael Devers collects 3 hits, drives in winning run as Red Sox battle back for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox battled back to earn a series-opening win over the Rays on Monday night. Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 4-3 to put an end to a three-game losing streak and improve to 76-84 on the season.

Pending free-agent Rich Hill ended his season on a strong note. Making his 26th and final start of the year for the Sox, the veteran left-hander allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

All three of those Rays runs came by way of the long ball. After recording the first two outs of the first, Hill served up a solo shot to Wander Franco to get Tampa Bay on the board first. He proceeded to retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.

With two outs in the fourth, Hill got Harold Ramirez to hit a groundball in the direction of Rafael Devers at third base. Devers fielded the ball cleanly, but he made a poor throw to first base that forced Triston Casas off the bag. Ramirez reached safely as a result and former Boston farmhand Manuel Margot followed by cranking a two-run blast over the Green Monster off a first-pitch cutter from Hill.

Margot’s fourth homer of the season gave the Rays a 3-0 lead through four innings. Hill, for his part, settled back into a groove by sitting down seven of the last eight hitters he faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with 80 pitches (60 strikes) and induced 12 swings-and-misses. Though he did not factor into the decision, Hill brought his final ERA on the season down to 4.27.

Moments after Hill ended things in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox lineup finally got going in the bottom half of the inning. After being held in check by Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, Devers led off the sixth with a hard-hit double off Kevin Herget. Devers moved up to third base on a one-out single from Alex Verdugo. Both runners then scored when Christian Arroyo roped a two-run double down the left field line to cut the deficit to one.

Representing the possible tying run, Arroyo advanced to third on a Casas groundout and scored on an RBI double from Hernandez. The bats got back to work after John Schreiber took over for Hill out of the bullpen and faced the minimum in the top of the seventh.

To lead off the bottom half of the inning, Reese McGuire laced a ground-rule double down the right field line. McGuire moved up an additional 90 feet on a Tommy Pham groundout. Devers then came through with a sacrifice fly that was hit deep enough to left field to plate McGuire and give the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 4-3.

From there, Ryan Brasier made quick work of the Rays in the eighth before Matt Barnes avoided disaster in the ninth. After yielding a one-out triple to Franco, Barnes got Ramirez to hit a grounder towards Devers. Franco took off from third in an attempt to score the tying run, but he was instead caught in a rundown and tagged out by Yu Chang, who had come on as a defensive replacement.

Ramirez was able to advance to scoring position on the play, but Barnes got Margot to ground out to second to end it. Barnes was credited with his seventh save of the season while Schreiber picked up the win.

Offensively, Devers led the way by going 3-for-4 with his 42nd double of the year. Hernandez also went 2-for-4 with an RBI. As a team, the Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Springs

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory on Tuesday by sending right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for the final time this season. The Rays will counter with an old friend in left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

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

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

Red Sox waste scoring chances, muster just 6 hits in 1-0 shutout loss to Rays

The Red Sox were unable to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays on Wednesday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay a final score of 1-0 at Tropicana Field to drop to 67-71 on the season.

Nick Pivetta was anything but crisp in his 28th start of the year for the Sox. While showing no ill effects from the left calf contusion he sustained in his last time out, the right-hander grinded through five innings in which he allowed one run on two hits, three walks, and three strikeouts.

After taking a no-hit bid into the fifth inning, Pivetta surrendered a leadoff double to Francisco Mejia. Mejia then advanced to third on a Ji-Man Choi groundout before Taylor Walls drove him in on a softly-hit infield single.

That would prove to be all the scoring the Rays would need. Pivetta, who threw 101 pitches (54 strikes), faced 20 batters on Wednesday; 12 of them worked the count full. The 29-year-old hurler was charged with his 11th loss of the season, though he did lower his ERA to 4.29.

In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber, Matt Strahm, and Zack Kelly combined for three scoreless frames out of the bullpen to give the Red Sox one last chance going into the top half of the ninth.

To that point in the contest, a Boston lineup that did not feature Xander Bogaerts or Rafael Devers had already blown its fair share of scoring opportunities.

Enrique Hernandez, for instance, began the game with a leadoff double off Rays starter Jeffrey Springs. He was stranded at second base. Three innings later, Trevor Story reached base via a one-out single off Yonny Chirinos. He moved up to second after J.D. Martinez drew a six-pitch walk but was stranded there after Christian Arroyo and Rob Refsnyder both punched out.

In the fifth, back-to-back singles from Hernandez and Tommy Pham put runners at first and second with two outs for Alex Verdugo, who grounded out to shortstop. Arroyo reached scoring position with a two-out double in the sixth, but Refsnyder followed by striking out for a second time.

Boston’s best chance undoubtedly came in the eighth inning, when Pham singled and Verdugo drew a four-pitch walk to lead things off against Jason Adam. Pham moved up to third base when Story grounded into a fielder’s choice. Story then stole second base, putting the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

With only one out in the inning, Adam battled back by getting Martinez to fly out and Arroyo to ground out to extinguish the threat. Pete Fairbanks then fanned two and worked his way around a Triston Casas walk in the ninth to seal a 1-0 defeat for the Red Sox.

All told, Boston went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and left 10 men on base as a team. Hernandez and Pham accounted for four of their side’s six hits. Story and Arroyo were responsible for the other two.

Wednesday’s loss marks the first time the Red Sox have been shut out since May 30, when the Orioles blanked them, 10-0 at Fenway Park. So they went 87 straight games without getting shut out, which had been the longest active streak in Major League baseball.

The Red Sox are now 4-12 against the Rays and 18-39 against divisional opponents this season. They lost their final nine games at Tropicana Field after first beating Tampa Bay on their own turf on April 22.

Next up: On to Baltimore

The Red Sox will have an off day on Thursday as they travel to Baltimore ahead of a three-game weekend series against the Orioles. Rookie right-hander Brayan Bello is slated to start Friday’s series opener for Boston while fellow righty Austin Voth is lined up to do the same for Baltimore.

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

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Triston Casas’ first career homer not enough as Red Sox drop second straight to Rays, 8-4

The Red Sox’ season-long struggles against the Rays continued on Tuesday night. Boston dropped its second straight to Tampa Bay by a final score of 7-2 to fall to 67-70 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 21st start of the year for the Sox, could not replicate the same kind of performance he enjoyed the last time he faced the Rays at Fenway Park. This time around, the veteran left-hander got rocked for five runs on nine hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over four innings of work.

Tampa Bay got to Hill before he could even record an out. Yandy Diaz led off the first inning with a hard-hit double and Manuel Margot followed with a line-drive single. With runners on the corners, Randy Arozarena clobbered a 419-foot home run to dead center field to give the Rays a 3-0 lead out of the gate.

Boston responded with two runs in the top of the second. After Rays opener J.T. Chargois yielded a two-out single to Christian Arroyo. That brought Triston Casas to the plate, and the top prospect came through by crushing the first home run of his big-league career.

On a 3-2, 95 mph four-seamer from Chargois that was up and in, Casas deposited a 371-foot two-run blast into the right field seats. The milestone homer left his bat at 96.7 mph.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the third inning as the Rays lineup turned over for the second time. Margot led off with a bunt single and then went from first to third on an Arozarena double. Harold Ramirez followed by plating both runners on a single to left field, though he was thrown out between first and second base. Hill gave up two more hits in the inning, but he did not allow either run to score. He then ended his night by retiring the side in order in the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (46 strikes), Hill managed to induce just eight swings-and-misses. The 42-year-old southpaw was charged with his sixth loss of the season while raising hie ERA to 4.79.

In relief of Hill, Eduard Bazardo received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. The hard-throwing righty punched out a pair in a scoreless fifth inning, but served up back-to-back solo shots to Christian Bethancourt and Yu Chang in the sixth. Tyler Danish also surrendered an RBI double to Francisco Mejia in the seventh.

In the eighth, Reese McGuire drew a one-out walk off old friend Jalen Beeks. Moments after McGuire reached first base, Tommy Pham clubbed a 421-foot home run to left-center field. His fifth big fly in a Red Sox uniform had an exit velocity of 106 mph and cut the Rays’ lead to four runs.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth following a scoreless bottom of the eighth from Ryan Brasier, the Sox went down quietly against Jason Adam. Trevor Story struck out, Arroyo popped out into foul territory, and Casas fanned to seal an 8-4 defeat.

With the loss, the Red Sox are now 4-11 against the Rays this season and 18-38 against divisional opponents.

Bogaerts leaves early due to back spasms as multi-hit streak ends

Xander Bogaerts was pulled in the middle of the seventh inning with back spasms. He had grounded into a double play in the top of the sixth and appeared to be in some discomfort while running towards first base. Enrique Hernandez replaced Bogaerts at shortstop while Rob Refsnyder took over in center field.

Prior to being pulled, Bogaerts had gone 0-for-3 with a strikeout. So his nine-game multi-hit streak has come to an end. He will not play on Wednesday.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Springs in finale

The Red Sox will look to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays on Wednesday night. Despite leaving his last start early because of a left calf contusion, right-hander Nick Pivetta will take the mound for Boston. On the other side, it will be left-hander Jeffrey Springs toeing the rubber for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo homers and Michael Wacha deals, but Red Sox blow late lead in 4-3 loss to Rays

The Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of the Rays on Monday night. Boston fell to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field by a final score of 4-3 to drop to 67-69 on the season.

Alex Verdugo got the Sox on the board right away in the first inning. With one out and the bases empty, Verdugo clubbed a 368-foot solo shot to right field off Rays starter Luis Patino for his ninth home run of the year. It left his bat at a blistering 106.5 mph.

Michael Wacha, making his 18th start of the year for Boston, gave that run right back in the latter half of the first. Former Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot led off with a line-drive single. He then went from first to third on a David Peralta base hit and scored on a blooper of an RBI single from Harold Ramirez to tie things up at one run apiece.

That stalemate did not last long, though, as the Red Sox responded with two more runs in the third. With two outs and runners on first and second after Tommy Pham and Verdugo each drew a walk, Rafael Devers and Trevor Story went back-to-back on a pair of run-scoring hits. Devers advanced to third base on Story’s 22nd double of the year, but was stranded there after Triston Casas popped out to end the inning.

Wacha, meanwhile, settled in and spun three consecutive scoreless frames before running into some trouble in the fifth. After reaching base on a leadoff single, Jose Siri scored all the way from first on a 358-foot double off the bat of Randy Arozarena.

Franchy Cordero had been tracking that fly ball in left field, but he went down awkwardly after colliding with and getting his right cleat caught in the wall’s padding. Cordero remained on the ground in visible pain before manager Alex Cora and team trainers came out to check on him. Unable to put any weight on his right foot, Cordero was carted off and replaced in left field by Rob Refsnyder. He was later diagnosed with a right ankle sprain and will undergo an MRI on Tuesday.

With Siri scoring on Arozarena’s double, Tampa Bay had cut the deficit down to one run at 3-2. But Wacha did not buckle and wound up retiring the final five batters he faced through the end of the sixth. The veteran right-hander gave up just the two runs on seven hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

While Wacha did not factor into Monday’s decision, he did reach a personal milestone. By punching out Taylor Walls to end the sixth, the 31-year-old recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his major-league career.

In relief of Wacha, Jeurys Familia received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from Cora. With the likes of Garrett Whitlock and John Schreiber unavailable after a busy weekend, Familia struggled in a high-leverage spot in the seventh.

After a questionable hit-by-pitch of the pinch-hitting Vidal Brujan, who stole second base and moved up to third on a groundout, Familia surrendered a game-tying double to Margot. He was then pulled in favor of Zack Kelly, who got the second out of the inning but could not escape before allowing the go-ahead run to score on a Peralta RBI double down the right field line.

Kelly bounced back by tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning, giving the Red Sox a chance to tie it in the ninth. With two outs and Verdugo at second base representing the tying run, Xander Bogaerts got ahead in the count at 2-0 before striking out looking on a 99 mph heater at the bottom of the zone.

Despite coming up short there, Bogaerts made history by going 2-for-5, thus extending his multi-game hitting streak to nine consecutive games. He becomes the fourth player in Red Sox history to accomplish the feat, joining the likes of Kevin Youkilis (2009), Jim Rice (1978), and Roy Johnson (1934).

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team. With Monday’s loss, they are now 4-10 against the Rays this season and 18-37 against divisional opponents.

Next up: Hill vs. Rasmussen

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will get the start for Boston while right-hander Drew Rasmussen will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)