Nick Pivetta strikes out 10, Trevor Story and Christian Vázquez both homer as Red Sox take series from Cardinals with 6-4 win

The Red Sox won the rubber match of their three-game series against the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon. Boston yet again held on for a 6-4 victory over St. Louis at Fenway Park to improve to 36-31 on the season and 13-4 in the month of June.

Nick Pivetta, making his 14th start of the year for the Sox, dazzled by limiting the Cards to one run on four hits and four walks to go along with 10 strikeouts over seven strong innings of work.

All four walks Pivetta gave up came within the first three innings of Sunday’s contest. The one run came on a two-out RBI single from Harrison Bader in the top of the fourth.

From there, though, Pivetta stranded Bader at third base by getting Ivan Herrera to strike out on six pitches. The right-hander then retired eight of the final 10 batters he faced and emphatically ended his outing by punching out the side in the top of the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 108 (65 strikes), Pivetta wound up throwing 60 four-seam fastballs, 35 knuckle-curveballs, and 13 sliders. The 29-year-old induced eight of his 12 swings-and-misses with the four-seamer while averaging 93.3 mph and topping out at 95.1 mph with the pitch.

Following Sunday’s performance, Pivetta now owns a 1.77 ERA in his last nine starts dating back to May 7. The Red Sox are 7-2 in those games.

By the time Pivetta’s afternoon had come to an end, the Sox lineup had already compiled a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals and rookie starter Andre Pallante. Trevor Story got Boston on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning.

With two outs and the bases empty, Story crushed his 10th home run of the season and first since May 26 on a 3-1, 95 mph heater down the heart of the plate from Pallante. The ball left his bat at 104.4 mph and traveled 397 feet to right field.

Three innings later, Alex Verdugo led off the bottom of the fifth with a groundball single to center field. A wild pitch allowed Verdugo to move up to second base, and Jackie Bradley Jr. proceeded to drive him in on a two-out RBI single through the right side of the infield.

Bradley Jr., who is now batting .313/.353/.479 in 31 games at Fenway Park this season, put the Red Sox up 2-1 with his 22nd RBI of the year.

Shortly after Pivetta recorded the final out in the top of the seventh, Christian Vazquez led off the bottom half of the frame with a line-drive double before advancing to third on a Bradley Jr. groundout. Rob Refsnyder then plated Vazquez on a run-scoring base hit off Genesis Cabrera that made it a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.

In relief of Pivetta, John Schreiber struck out the only three batters he faced in a perfect eighth inning. In the latter half of the frame, Vazquez struck again after Verdugo and Story both reached base with one out.

On a 2-1, 94.3 mph sinker from Drew VerHagen that was down in and, Vazquez clobbered a three-run home run 407 feet over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a commanding 6-1 advantage.

Vazquez’s third big fly of the season would prove to be important given the trouble Tyler Danish ran into in the ninth. Danish allowed two runners to reach base while recording the first two outs of the inning. Rather than slam the door on the Cardinals, though, the righty served up a 114.4 mph, three-run blast to Juan Yepez that cut Boston’s lead down to two runs at 6-4.

Not taking any chances, Red Sox manager Alex Cora gave Danish the hook in favor of Tanner Houck, who gave up a single but rebounded by fanning Brendan Donovan on eight pitches to pick up his fourth save of the season in as many opportunities.

Next up: The Tigers come to town

The Red Sox will kick off the final leg of their homestand by welcoming the 26-40 Tigers into town for a three-game set. Monday’s series opener will feature a pair of rookie right-handers going at it as Josh Winckowski will start for Boston and Alex Faedo will do the same for Detroit.

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

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Hansel Robles and Hirokazu Sawamura combine to give up 6 runs in sixth inning as Red Sox fall to Cardinals, 11-2

The Red Sox fell to the Cardinals by a final score of 11-2 at Fenway Park on Saturday night. With the loss, Boston drops to 35-31 on the season.

Kutter Crawford, making his second start of the season for the Sox, did not pitch as effectively as he did in his last time out against the Mariners. This time around, the rookie right-hander surrendered four runs on six hits and no walks to go along with three strikeouts over four innings of work.

Two of the six hits Crawford gave up were home runs. With two outs and a runner on in the top of the first, Nolan Arenado crushed a two-run shot 382 feet over the Green Monster to give St. Louis an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, Tyler O’Neill led off with a groundball single and scored all the way from first base on a line-drive double to right field off the bat of Dylan Carlson.

Already trailing by three runs going into the bottom of the second, Xander Bogaerts provided a spark with a leadoff single of his own off Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson. Franchy Cordero then drew a one-out walk to put runners at first and second for Bobby Dalbec, who drove in Bogaerts and moved Cordero up to third on an RBI single. With runners on the corners and the chance to cut further into the deficit, Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Crawford and Hudson each traded zeroes in the third inning, but Crawford ran into more trouble in the fourth when he served up a booming 440-foot leadoff homer to Nolan Gorman. The ball left Gorman’s bat at 106.7 mph and gave St. Louis a 4-1 lead.

The fourth inning would prove to be Crawford’s last frame. The 26-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 85 (53 strikes) and topped out at 96.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 37 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 6.41.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox lineup took advantage of Hudson’s apparent lack of command, but only got one run out of it. Trevor Story singled and Dalbec and Bradley Jr. drew a pair of two-out walks to fill the bases for Kevin Plawecki, who took ball four himself to plate Story. As the lineup flipped back over, though, Jarren Duran extinguished the threat by grounding out to Arenado.

With Boston’s bullpen taking over for Crawford beginning in the fifth, it was Ryan Brasier who got the first call from manager Alex Cora. Brasier made relative quick work of the St. Louis bats in a scoreless inning of relief. The same cannot be said for Hansel Robles in the sixth.

After fanning Gorman on five pitches for the first out of the frame, Robles proceeded to give up a first-pitch, 410-foot solo shot to O’Neill to put the Cardinals up 5-2. Robles’ troubles did not end there, as the righty loaded the bases on one single and two walks before getting pulled for Hirokazu Sawamura.

Robles, for what it’s worth, averaged 94 mph with his four-seamer on Saturday. He came into the night averaging 96 mph with his most-frequently used pitch. Sawamura, meanwhile, inherited a bases-loaded jam and immediately gave up a two-run single to Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt tacked on an additional two runs and Arenado capped off the six-run sixth inning with another RBI single.

From there, Austin Davis tossed three one-run innings of relief while setting a new career high in pitches thrown in a game with 54.

Down to their final three outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox went down quietly to seal an 11-2 defeat and their fourth loss in the month of June.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Pallante in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to close out the weekend with a series win over the Cardinals on Father’s Day. Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston and will be opposed by fellow right-hander Andre Pallante for St. Louis.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Hansel Robles: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck remains perfect in save opportunities as Red Sox hold on for 6-5 win over Cardinals

The Red Sox opened their three-game interleague series with the Cardinals on a nerve-racking, but positive note on Friday night. Boston held on for a 6-5 victory over to St. Louis to improve to 3-1 on the homestand and 35-30 on the season as a whole.

Michael Wacha, making his 11th start of the year, was solid against the team he began his professional career with. In his first time facing the Cardinals, the veteran right-hander allowed just one run on six hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

The lone run Wacha surrendered came with no outs in the second inning, as he served up a 403-foot solo shot to Nolan Arenado that left the third baseman’s bat at a blistering 108.6 mph.

From there, though, Wacha limited the damage by retiring 12 of the next 16 batters he faced before giving up a one-out single to Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the sixth that was followed by a four-pitch walk of Arenado. At that point, the righty was given the hook by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (54 strikes), Wacha relied on his four-seam fastball 36% of the time he was on the mound Friday and topped out at 96.3 mph with the pitch. The 30-year-old hurler also induced six swings-and-misses with his changeup, a pitch he threw 27 times. His ERA on the season now sits at 2.28.

By the time Wacha’s night had ended, the Red Sox lineup had pushed across three runs of their own. Matched up against Wacha’s mentor and former teammate in Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, Jarren Duran made his impact felt right away with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first inning.

Duran tripled on a 104.5 mph line drive off the center field wall. He then scored from third base when J.D. Martinez grounded into a run-scoring double play.

Fast forward to the fourth, Martinez led off with a single and immediately advanced to third on a line-drive double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. Both runners scored when Trevor Story snuck a two-run single through the right side of the infield to give the Sox a 3-1 lead.

Picking things up in the top of the sixth, John Schreiber took over for Wacha and stranded the two runners he inherited by retiring Nolan Gorman and Tyler O’Neil. He then got the first two outs of the seventh before Matt Strahm came on to get the third.

In the bottom half of the frame, Franchy Cordero led off with a double and scored from second on a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single. After the pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec moved Bradley Jr. up to third on a hard-hit double, both runners scored on a two-run single courtesy of Rafael Devers.

Taking a 6-1 lead into the eighth inning, Strahm took care of business there before fellow left-hander Austin Davis was called upon in the top of the ninth. Davis got the first two outs rather easily, then allowed the next three Cardinals he faced to reach base on a double, an RBI triple, and a hit batsman.

That prompted Cora to turn to Tanner Houck, who proceeded to give up back-to-back doubles that plated three more St. Louis runs. With Brendan Donovan representing the tying run, Houck did not falter and instead punched out National League MVP candidate on eight pitches to slam the door on the Cardinals.

Houck is now 3-for-3 in save opportunities as he secured the 6-5 win for the Red Sox.

Next up: Crawford vs. Hudson

The Red Sox will go for another series victory on Saturday by sending right-hander Kutter Crawford to the mound for his second start of the season. The Cardinals will counter with fellow righty Dakota Hudson.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign former Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martínez to minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Carlos Martinez to a minor-league contract, according to the team’s transaction log on MLB.com. He has been assigned to Triple-A Worcester. SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield was the first to bring this news to the forefront.

Martinez, 30, began the 2022 season in the Giants organization after signing a minors pact with San Francisco in late March. He did not appear in a game at any level before being released by the club on April 28.

As an article XX(B) free agent, Martinez had the ability to opt out of his deal by May 1 and informed the Giants he would be doing so beforehand, per The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Martinez originally signed with the Red Sox as a shortstop in February 2009. His contract was voided by Major League Baseball, though, and he ultimately signed with the Cardinals the following year.

After debuting with St. Louis in 2013 and pitching against Boston in the World Series that fall, Martinez spent the first nine years of his major-league career with the Cardinals and was used as both a starter and reliever.

Most recently, the two-time All-Star opened the 2021 campaign in St. Louis’ starting rotation and posted a 6.23 ERA and 4.76 FIP to go along with 57 strikeouts to 36 walks over 16 starts spanning 82 1/3 innings of work. His season ended in early July after suffering a torn ligament in his right thumb that required surgery.

Five months after going under the knife, Martinez began throwing again and started two games for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League, allowing a total of four runs over three innings in those two outings.

Listed at 6-feet and 200 pounds, Martinez pre-surgery worked with a six-pitch arsenal that consisted of a four-seam fastball, slider, cutter, sinker, changeup, and curveball.

Considering that he is only 30 and does not turn 31 until September, Martinez may not be who he once was in his peak years with the Cardinals, but the righty should still provide the Red Sox with some experienced and versatile rotation/bullpen depth in Worcester.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Martinez will start for the WooSox in their series finale against the Toledo Mud Hens on Sunday afternoon.

(Picture of Carlos Martinez: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘made competitive offer’ to Steven Matz before lefty reached agreement with Cardinals, per report

The Red Sox have lost out on Steven Matz, as the free agent left-hander has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the Cardinals that includes an additional $4 million in potential incentives, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

While Boston may have come up short in the bidding war for Matz, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reports that the Sox were “involved in the sweepstakes for the lefty until the bitter end” and “made a competitive offer” before he ultimately chose the Cardinals.

After a down 2020 season with the Mets, Matz was dealt to the Blue Jays in January and flourished in his first year with Toronto. In 29 starts for the Jays, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.79 FIP to go along with 144 strikeouts to 43 walks over 150 2/3 innings pitched in 2021.

Because of the strong season he had, as well as the fact that he was not extended a qualifying offer, Matz drew plenty of interest on the open market. Per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Angels, Blue Jays, Cubs, Giants, Mets, and Tigers — in addition to the Cardinals and Red Sox — all made offers to Matz.

With Matz ultimately landing in St. Louis, though, Boston will have to look elsewhere when it comes to filling the void in their starting rotation left behind by Eduardo Rodriguez, who signed a five-year, $77 million deal with Detroit last week.

When speaking with reporters (including Cotillo) earlier this week, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom discussed just how involved the club has been in free agency as notable starters such as Max Scherzer, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Gausman, and Robbie Ray remain unsigned.

“We don’t have anything teed up that I would say is close but we’re very active in conversations with a few different guys,” Bloom said. “We’ve touched base with a wide variety of players. Just about everybody who is on the market and it’s gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.

“I don’t know right now if that’s going to lead to anything or when,” he added. “I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. But who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”

It is also worth mentioning that the Sox may be more aggressive when it comes to pursuing free agents or potential trade targets in the coming days since the collective bargaining agreement expires next Wednesday and will likely trigger a work stoppage.

(Picture of Steven Matz: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)

Yairo Muñoz among Red Sox’ most impressive performers early on in spring training

In his first traditional spring training with the Red Sox, Yairo Munoz is off to a hot start.

Following a 1-for-3 performance against the Rays on Tuesday that was highlighted a hard-hit two-run home run to the opposite field, the 26-year-old came off the bench as a pinch-runner in Wednesday’s contest against the Twins and collected another RBI by lining a run-scoring single in his only trip to the plate in the sixth inning of an eventual 14-6 victory for the Sox.

Through his first four Grapefruit League games of the year, Munoz is 5-for-9 (.555) at the plate with that one homer, one double, and four RBI while playing left field and third base.

The Dominican native is coming into the spring without a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, meaning he is one of 33 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers.

The Sox outrighted Munoz off their 40-man roster in December. That decision was met with much surprise considering the fact that the utilityman impressed over the course of the final month of the 2020 campaign and the team had just signed him a one-year contract for the 2021 season.

After spending a healthy chunk of July and the entirety of August at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Munoz was called up by Boston on August 31 and made his team debut on September 1.

From that point forward, the right-handed hitter — listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 lbs. — slashed an impressive .333/.333/.511 to go along with one home run, five doubles, four RBI, and two stolen bases over 12 games played before a lower back strain prematurely ended his year on September 19.

Given the fact he performed well and proved more than capable of playing multiple defensive positions (was worth positive-4 defensive runs saved in left field), it, again, was somewhat shocking to see Munoz stripped of his 40-man roster spot three months ago.

Having said that, it might be even more shocking that the ex-St. Louis Cardinal managed to clear waivers without getting claimed by another organization beforehand.

At just 26 years old, Munoz is still relatively young, under team control through 2024, and has one minor-league option remaining. All while just a few years removed from being one of the top prospects in the Athletics’ farm system, which is the organization he originally signed with back in 2012.

In Chaim Bloom’s tenure as chief baseball officer thus far, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on bringing in — whether by trade, waiver claim, or free agency — versatile players who can be put to the test on the field. Christian Arroyo, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez are among those on the team’s projected Opening Day roster who fit that mold.

While Munoz may have taken a step back this offseason and still has some work to do in order to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, he seems to fit that mold, too.

At the end of the day, it’s as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith wrote earlier Wednesday: “The Red Sox are lucky Yairo Munoz remains in the organization.”

Smith also wrote that Munoz “is one of the top outfield depth options heading into 2021. He will play for Boston at some point this season.”

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)