Red Sox Reliever Phillips Valdez Pitching Himself ‘Into Bigger Role,’ Ron Roenicke Says

One week into the 2020 season, Red Sox relievers own the 15th-best ERA (4.54), the 15th-best FIP (4.21), and the 20th-best fWAR (0.0) in baseball. Put simply, the Boston bullpen has been rather mediocre to begin things this year, which is understandable given the current state the starting rotation is in.

Despite that ‘mediocire’ notion, there have been a handful of Sox relievers who have stuck out in a positive way thus far, and one of them worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Friday night. His name? Phillips Valdez.

Yes, the right-hander scattered three hits and struck out three batters in relief of Ryan Weber in Friday’s series-opening loss to New York. With that outing in mind, Valdez has yet to give up a run through his first three appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox.

Originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Seattle Mariners back in February, the 29-year-old hurler has struck out more than 27% of the 22 hitters he has faced so far this season while holding them to a .200 clip.

Because of his strong first impression, Valdez could find himself in more high-leverage spots out of the Red Sox bullpen in the near future. His manager, Ron Roenicke, said as much when speaking with reporters Friday night.

“He’s pitching himself maybe into a bigger role,” Roenicke explained. “That’s why we stuck with him today because he’s been throwing the ball well when he starts going through some of these really good hitters and getting them out.”

Some of those “really good hitters” Valdez has gotten out thus far include Aaron Judge and Luke Voit, who both fell victim to 84 mph changeups from the Dominican Republic national on Friday.

Signed by the Indians as a 17-year-old out of the DR back in 2008, Valdez made his major-league debut with the Texas Rangers last June and is under team control with Boston through the end of the 2025 season.

Per Statcast, the slender 6-foot-2, 160 lb. righty primarily works with a changeup and sinker, while his slider and four-seam fastball lean more towards secondary pitches.

At the time he joined the Sox during the first version of spring training earlier this year, Valdez seemed like a long shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster. But, coming out of the pandemic-induced layoff, the club obviously liked what they saw during Summer Camp and he was in there pitching against the Orioles last Friday.

Now, after getting off to a hot start with his new team, Valdez could become a legitimate weapon out of the Red Sox bullpen if he continues to prove that he can handle tougher situations as a reliever.

Red Sox Claim Right-Hander Phillips Valdez off Waivers From Mariners, Place Dustin Pedroia on 60-Day Injured List

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, the club announced Sunday. In order to make room for Valdez on Boston’s 40-man roster, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Valdez, 28, was claimed off waivers by Seattle back in November and designated for assignment on Friday.

The Dominican Republic native spent the 2019 campaign with the Texas Rangers organization, where he made his major-league debut in June and posted an ERA of 3.94 and xFIP of 4.64 over 11 relief appearances and 16 innings of work.

While in the minors in 2019, Valdez worked as both a starter and reliever, and owned an ERA of 4.92 over 26 outings (14 starts) for the Rangers’ Triple-A club in Nashville.

An original international signee of the Indians back in 2009, Valdez’s pitch mix includes a sinker, changeup, slider, and four-seam fastball, per Statcast.

The Red Sox will be Valdez’s sixth organization, as the righty rounds out Boston’s 40-man roster for the time being.

As for Pedroia, the 36-year-old veteran suffered a setback with his surgically-repaired left knee last month and has yet to report to big-league camp.

The move to put him on the 60-day injured list is probably more of a formality than anything at this point, but it is still not great nonetheless.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox should have 67 players at major-league camp once Valdez and outfielder Cesar Puello arrive. That clubhouse is going to be crowded.

 

Red Sox Trade Sam Travis to Rangers for Reliever Jeffrey Springs, Designate Bobby Poyner for Assignment

On a busy Wednesday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox made their first series of roster moves of the post-Alex Cora era, acquiring left-hander Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis.

In order to make room for Springs on Boston’s 40-man roster, fellow left-hander Bobby Poyner was designated for assignment. The club made the transactions official earlier Wednesday.

The move to trade Travis comes nearly two weeks after the 26-year-old was designated for assignment in order to make room for then-newly-signed catcher Kevin Plawecki on the Sox’ 40-man roster. Travis was then subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket last week after going unclaimed on waivers.

The former 2014 second-round pick posted a .215/.274/.382 slash line to go along with six home runs and 16 RBI over a career-high 59 games played in 2019. He’ll look to catch on with the Rangers in the spring, although he is without any more minor-league options.

As for the hurler the Red Sox acquired in this deal, the 27-year-old Springs posted an ERA of 6.40 and FIP of 4.98 over 25 relief appearances and 32 1/3 innings of work. He was designated by Texas on the same day he was traded.

Per Statcast, Springs, a former 30th-round pick out of Appalachian State University in 2015, threw his slider 58% of the time he was on the mound in 2019. His pitch arsenal also includes a changeup and slider.

Springs now joins an interesting group of major-league relievers that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has acquired this offseason in Austin Brice, Chris Mazza, and Josh Osich.

Poyner, meanwhile, was a 40-man casualty even though he still has one minor-league option remaining. Like Travis earlier in the month, the 27-year-old lefty will either be released, traded, or waived by this time next week.

Looking Back at Adrian Beltre’s Time With the Red Sox

10 years ago Wednesday, the Red Sox formally introduced third baseman Adrian Beltre to the media at Fenway Park four days after agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal with the then-30-year-old infielder.

In his brief stint donning a Sox uniform, Beltre was productive, slashing .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI, and an American League-leading 49 doubles over 154 games played. Impressive enough to earn his first All-Star nod, his second career Silver Slugger Award, and a top-nine finish in AL MVP voting.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not as impressive as a whole that season, as the club finished 89-73, good for third place in a competitive American League East, and failed to qualify for postseason play.

Come that following January, Beltre had done well to re-establish his value as one of the better third baseman in baseball after turbulent times in Los Angeles and Seattle, eventually cashing in by agreeing to a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $96 million, or $16 million per season.

Because the Red Sox offered the Dominican Republic native a qualifying offer prior to his departure to Texas, the club was rewarded with two compensation picks in that year’s amateur draft. Two picks that fell in the top 40.

So, after selecting University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes with their first and own pick at No. 19, Theo Epstein and Co. made the choice to go with a promising high school catcher out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico in Blake Swihart with their first of the two Beltre compensation picks at No. 26.

This move may have raised eyebrows at the time, as Swihart was locked in on playing college baseball at the University of Texas at Austin, but by offering a signing bonus of $2.5 million, they convinced the 19-year-old to sign.

Fast forward to later in the first round, with high school southpaw Henry Owens already drafted with the 36th overall pick, and the Sox made a statement with their second and final Beltre pick.

Yes, with the 40th overall selection, Boston selected University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Both Bradley Jr. and Swihart experienced their growing pains upon their promotions to the majors in April 2013 and May 2015 respectively, but to land the quality of prospects the Red Sox did for losing to Beltre to free agency was quite the accomplishment.

Think about it like this: for one season of Beltre, the Red Sox in turn received one of the best catching prospects in the game in Swihart, and one of the best outfield prospects in Bradley Jr.

Currently, it’s more like Boston acquired one of the best defensive center fielders in the American League in Bradley Jr. and, after trading Swihart to Arizona last April, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

That may sound a bit confusing, but in short, it was not a terrible trade-off despite Beltre going on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Rangers.

Also, I highly recommend reading Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier if you haven’t already. A quality read for any baseball fan.

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Signs Minor-League Deal With Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart has signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, per the club’s executive vice president of communications John Blake. The contract also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Swihart opened the 2019 season with Boston, where he was the team’s second catcher behind Christian Vazquez up until April 16th.

At that point in time, the Sox sported a record of 6-11 and owned the third-worst team ERA in the American League at 5.93.

Offensively speaking, Swihart was not lighting the world on fire, as he was slashing .231/.310/.385 with one home run and four RBI through his first 12 games.

Given the struggles all the way around, as well as the fact that Sandy Leon was stashed away in Triple-A Pawtucket, Dave Dombrowski and Co. made the decision to go with Leon over Swihart from that point forward, ultimately designating the latter for assignment on the 16th and trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks three days later.

Out of that deal, Boston also parted ways with international amateur signing bonus pool space, but they also gained outfield prospect Marcus Wilson, who has worked his way up to become the 18th-ranked prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

Arizona, meanwhile, did not get much production out of Swihart following the completed trade, as the 27-year-old went on to slash .136/.186/.273 with three home runs and nine RBI over just 31 games due to two right oblique strain-related stints on the injured list.

Eventually designated again by old friend Mike Hazen on August 12th and spending the rest of the year at the Triple-A level, Swihart opted for free agency in late September.

It is not known if the Red Sox had any interest in a potential reunion with Swihart. Given how Vazquez is currently the only backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster, bringing back Swihart might not have been the worst idea.

Once committed to the University of Texas at Austin, Swihart will have the chance to compete for a role with a resurgent Rangers club come the spring. If he makes the team’s Opening Day roster, he’ll also have the chance to play in the same division as his longtime friend and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, both of whom grew up in New Mexico.

This news comes a day after Swihart and his wife Shelby announced that they are expecting their first child together, so congratulations to them on that.

Red Sox Reinstate Steven Wright, Option Josh Smith to Triple-A Pawtucket, and Transfer Nathan Eovaldi to 60-Day Injured List

Before taking on the Chicago White Sox in the second of a three-game series on Tuesday, the Red Sox reinstated right-hander Steven Wright from the restricted list. In order to make room for Wright on Boston’s 40-man roster, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was transferred to the 60-day injured list. And in order to make room for Wright on the 25-man roster, right-hander Josh Smith was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transactions official earlier Tuesday.

Suspended the first 80 games of the 2019 season back in March after testing positive for human growth hormone, Wright would be ineligible for the postseason.

The knuckleballer was sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on June 9th, where he allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over five appearances (one start) and 9 2/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.86 and batting average against of .176.

Although he would not be able to pitch in October, the addition of Wright should still provide a boost to a Red Sox bullpen that appears to need one at the moment.

In 16 outings as a reliever last season before being shelved with inflammation in his left knee, Wright posted a 1.52 ERA and .618 OPS against over 25 2/3 frames of work.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has already come out and said Wright will be strictly used as a reliever, which makes sense given the knee issues he had last year.

On October 6th, the 34-year-old was placed on the injured list because of that left knee, and that kept him out of Boston’s World Series run. A month later, Wright underwent successful left knee surgery in New York, where he received an arthroscopy and debridement on the joint.

Now, coming off his second suspension in as many seasons, Wright will look to give his team a different kind of look out of the bullpen.

Smith, meanwhile, appeared in two contests against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend in his fourth stint with Boston, allowing one run over four innings of relief.

On the 2019 season as a whole, the 31-year-old hurler owns a 5.40 ERA and .289 batting average against through 10 outings, two of which have been starts. He also picked up his first big league save on June 13th in a 7-6 win over the Texas Rangers.

As for Eovaldi, the move to the 60-day injured list has no effect on when he will be back, since the 29-year-old has already missed more than 60 days after being shelved back in April and undergoing successful surgery on his right elbow that same week.

Xander Bogaerts Leads Power Surge for Red Sox in 7-6 Comeback Win over Rangers for Series Split

In a game that took well over four hours to complete, the Red Sox stormed all the way back to a four-game split against the Texas Rangers with a 7-6 win on Thursday night to close out a 3-5 homestand.

Making his 12th start of the season for Boston in the series finale was David Price, fresh off six quality one-run innings in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

This time around though, the left-hander struggled mightily against a team he has a rough history with, as he yielded six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the short-lived night.

The issues for Price were present right from the get-go, that much was clear by how he hit the first man he faced in Shin-Soo Choo, and proceeded to walk the next in Delino Deshields, which in turn led to Texas plating their first two runs on an Elvis Andrus RBI single and Hunter Pence RBI double that nearly left the yard, but bounced off the top of the short wall in right field and landed back in play.

Price escaped the first after surrendering another pair of runs on two-out, two RBI double from Logan Forsythe, but more trouble arose an inning later, and it was once again started by beaning Choo with one out on a 1-2 changeup.

A double from Deshields put both runners on base in scoring position for Andrus, who capitalized on a 1-0 changeup from the Tennessee native and grounded another two-run hit through the left side of the infield to make it a 6-0 game. That was how Price’s evening came to a disappointing close, less than an hour after it had began.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 49 (27 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 92.3 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

When asked about his performance, Price simply said, “I sucked. That’s it.” With his ERA jumping up by 8/10 of a run up to 3.52 on the season, he’ll look for better results in his next time out against the Minnesota Twins next Tuesday.

In relief of Price, Sox manager Alex Cora turned to every reliever in his bullpen sans Heath Hembree, who later said he wasn’t available to pitch due to right forearm tightness.

Mike Shawaryn, Colten Brewer, and Travis Lakins, all of whom have been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket in the last few weeks, set the groundwork by working a combined four scoreless, no-hit frames of relief, scattering five walks along the way to set up the more high-leverage arms.

Entering the sixth with the score at 6-6, Marcus Walden bounced back from a two-run outing this past Saturday by working his way around two two-out singles in an otherwise clean frame with some help from Andrew Benintendi.

Another tightrope was walked in the seventh, when, still in a tie game, Brandon Workman walked the bases loaded with two outs, took Deshields to a full count after falling behind 3-0, and came through with a huge punchout on an 82 MPH slider to strand the go-ahead run at third.

In the eighth, after his side had plated what would turn out to be the winning run in their half of the inning, Matt Barnes also bounced back from what has been a subpar month of June so far by fanning the final two Rangers he faced to leave Hunter Pence at second following a one-out double.

And in the ninth, with Heath Hembree unavailable, Josh Smith, yes, Josh Smith came on for his first ever big league save opportunity.

It didn’t look great when he hit the first batter he faced, but the 31-year-old got Rougned Odor to ground into a force out at second to keep the tying run out of scoring position before the Rangers second baseman stole the base anyway, and he also struck out pinch-hitter Nomar Mazara seven pitches later.

With one out still to get, this contest nearly ended on a pick-off move made by Smith on a retreating Odor as he was sliding back to second.

Xander Bogaerts was confident he had the runner on the tag, but second base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled him safe, and that ruling was upheld despite a Red Sox challenge.

The man who was at the plate while that transpired, Choo, was intentionally walked, and Smith succeeded against his next opponent in Deshields, as he got the speedy outfielder to fly out to center, thus securing his first career save and completing the comeback.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rangers right-hander Adrian Sampson, who hadn’t pitched against the Sox nor at Fenway Park since his rookie year in 2016, when he was with the Seattle Mariners.

Starting the scoring for Boston in this one was JD Martinez in the first inning, mashing his 13th home run of the year on a 418 foot solo shot to center to cut the early deficit to three runs.

An inning later, that deficit would be trimmed down even further to two thanks to back-to-back leadoff singles from Bogaerts and Vazquez and a 403 foor three-run dinger off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr., his sixth of the year.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Michael Chavis came alive and made it a one-run game by depositing his first homer since the 22nd of May into the third row of Monster Seats down the left field line. 6-5.

Rafael Devers joined the home run party in the fifth, tying this wild one up by absolutely crushing an 0-2 hanging slider from Sampson and sending it 443 feet over everything in center field. Per Statcast, the 22-year-old’s 10th big fly of 2019 had an exit velocity of 110 MPH.

Finally, in the seventh, down to their final out of the inning with right-hander Peter Fairbanks in for Texas, Xander Bogaerts gave the Sox their first lead of the night, collecting his 14th home run of the season on an 0-1 slider, one that the budding shortstop mashed 386 feet over the Monster.

That put the Red Sox ahead 7-6 after trailing by as many as five runs, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox had nine hits Thursday. Five were home runs.

Jackie Bradley Jr. in June: .257/.366/.514 with two home runs, three doubles, and seven RBI.

Xander Bogaerts in June: .304/.382/.630 with three doubles, four home runs, and seven RBI.

The Red Sox bullpen Thursday: 7 1/3 innings pitched, four hits, one HBP, eight walks, nine strikeouts, ZERO earned runs.

So, after going down two games in a four-game series, the Red Sox respond by taking the next two for the split. That’s encouraging to see, especially with a three-game weekend series against the lowly Baltimore Orioles set to begin on Friday.

The starters for that series go as follows: Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, TBD (Could be Brian Johnson).

Meanwhile, for Baltimore, they have yet to announce a starter for either Friday or Sunday. Right-hander Dylan Bundy will be matched up against Sale on Saturday.

The Sox took two out of three from the O’s in their first trip to Baltimore back in May. A sweep this time around seems more ideal.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

 

 

 

Red Sox Snap Three-Game Skid, Top Rangers 4-3 on Mookie Betts’ Walk-Off Walk

The Red Sox entered Wednesday losers of their last three and 1-5 on their current eight-game homestand. They had fallen eight games off the pace for first place in the American League East and three games back of the second wild card spot. It’s only June 12th, but I don’t think it’s an understatement to say they needed this 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers, especially after blowing another late lead and bouncing back from it.

Making his 14th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who came into this one having given up nine earned runs over his last 10 2/3 innings going back to the beginning of the month.

Working his way into the seventh inning this time around, the right-hander limited the Rangers to just two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the evening.

Both of those Rangers tallies came right away in the first, when after recording the first two outs of the frame in pretty seamless fashion, three straight hits from Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, and Hunter Pence, who drove in both runners on base with a two-run double, put the Red Sox down a pair early.

From there though, Porcello certainly recovered nicely, stringing together 15 consecutive outs before yielding a two-out double to Andrus in the sixth. Nothing came out of that.

In what would turn out to be his final inning, the New Jersey native was only one pitch away from retiring the side by fanning Rougned Odor on five pitches, but the Rangers second baseman won the battle, ripped a single to center, and that is how Porcello’s outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 39% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 93.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 23 times while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.

Hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season dipped down to a nice 4.69, Porcello will look to build on his first quality outing of June in his next time out, which should come against the Minnesota Twins.

In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman came on with one out to get in the seventh and stranded the inherited runner at first by punching out Ronald Guzman on four pitches.

The eighth inning for Workman though, well, that was a different story, and it started by him plunking Choo with one out in the inning.

A successful sacrifice bunt off the bat of the speedy Delino Deshields Jr. that was misplayed by Christian Vazquez on a poor throw to first put runners in scoring position for Texas.

A sacrifice fly from Andrus two pitches later allowed Choo to score from third, and this contest was knotted up at three runs a piece.

Fortunately for Boston, unlike some recent nights have gone, Workman escaped the eighth with the tie still intact, and that would turn out to be the last run surrendered by a Red Sox pitcher.

That being the case because Matt Barnes maneuvered his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean ninth to set up the walk-off shortly thereafter.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn, who came into Wednesday with a solid track record in three prior appearances at Fenway Park.

Staring the scoring for Boston following a two-run first for Texas was Rafael Devers, whose two-out RBI single plated Andrew Benintendi from second to cut that deficit in half immediately.

Fast forward to the third, a leadoff walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. almost went in vain before Andrew Benintendi drove him in with his second of three extra base hits on the day, this one a two-out RBI triple to pull his team even with the Rangers at two runs each.

In the fifth, it was more of the same from Benintendi, as the Sox outfielder worked some more two-out magic and drilled an RBI single on the first pitch he saw from Lynn, an 80 MPH curveball on the lower half of the strike zone, to advance Michael Chavis from first all the way to home to pull ahead of the Rangers by one run at 3-2.

And in the ninth, after Texas plated their third run in their half of the eighth, it was down to the bottom of the Sox order against right-hander Jesse Chavez.

Christian Vazquez kicked off the late push by lacing a leadoff ground-rule double into Boston’s bullpen, and he was subbed out for the quicker Marco Hernandez as a pinch-runner.

One Bradley Jr. bloop single to move Hernandez up to third and Michael Chavis walk later, Mookie Betts came to the plate with the chance to send his side home victorious with the winning run just 90 feet away.

With nine previous meetings against Chavez under his belt, Betts hardly had to do anything in this particular at-bat, taking four straight balls following a first pitch foul to draw the walk and plate Hernandez from third.

Red Sox walk it off in anticlimactic fashion and snap their three-game skid with a 4-3 win.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi in June: .333/.378/.571 with five doubles, one triple, one home run, and five RBI.

JD Martinez struck out four times Wednesday, the first time he’s done that in a game since the 2015 season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game series Thursday night before the team embarks on a two-city, six-game road trip.

Left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston in the fourth and final contest, while right-hander Adrian Sampson will do the same for Texas.

Both starters have been stellar for their respective clubs recently, with Price posting a 1.13 ERA over his last five starts and Sampson posting an ERA of 1.99 over that same span, including a complete game four-hitter in his last time out against the Oakland Athletics.

In 15 career starts against the Rangers, Price is 4-6 with a 5.63 ERA over 84.2 total innings pitched.

Sampson, meanwhile, has not faced the Red Sox since he made his big league debut with the Seattle Mariners back on June 18th, 2016, where he allowed four runs in less than five innings in a losing effort at Fenway Park.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the split.

Go Bruins.

 

 

 

Darwinzon Hernandez Struggles in First Start, Alex Cora and Andrew Benintendi Get Tossed as Red Sox Fall Back to .500 in 9-5 Loss to Rangers

After blowing a late lead to open up a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Monday, the Red Sox fell behind early Tuesday and could never really recover, as they dropped their third straight contest to fall back to .500 on the season in a 9-5 loss.

Making his first career start and second appearance for Boston was top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez, who was recalled from Double-A Pawtucket earlier Tuesday.

Last working as a reliever in his first stint with the club back in April, the left-hander surrendered four runs, three of which were earned, on three hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

Despite fanning 77% of the nine hitters he faced, control remained Hernandez’s biggest issue in this one, as it has been in his time with the Sea Dogs.

From the jump, the Venezuela native dazzled, punching out the side in the first while also leading off the second with his fourth K.

The trouble began with a one-out, seven-pitch walk of Hunter Pence, which was followed with a four-pitch walk of Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Rangers their first two baserunners.

Two pitches later, Rougned Odor drove in his team’s first run by ripping an RBI ground-rule double over Mookie Betts’ head in right field, which came at the benefit of the Red Sox with Cabrera being held up at third.

In the third, the free pass bit Hernandez yet again, this time with three of the first five Rangers hitters to come to the plate in the inning reaching base by way of the BB, loading the bases for Cabrera.

After falling behind 3-0 and battling back to fill the count, Cabrera ultimately won his second battle against the young southpaw, as he made it a 3-1 contest with a two-run single to center.

Hernandez would fan Odor for his seventh and final strikeout, and proceeded to allow the first two Rangers he faced to reach in the fourth with the help of a Rafael Devers fielding error before getting the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (42 strikes), the 22-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 76% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing seven swings and misses while also topping out at 97.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

It’s never been a question about Hernandez’s stuff, that is certainly there. It’s the control that’s the issue, and for whatever reason, he just folded after recording the first out of the second inning.

Can’t say for sure that Hernandez will make another start, but if he does, it will most likely come against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

In relief of Hernandez, Colten Brewer came on in that fourth inning, yielded a six-pitch walk to the first man he saw to fill the bases, and officially closed the book on Hernandez’s first big league start by giving up a sacrifice fly to Danny Santana to make it a 4-3 game.

From there, after Brewer escaped the fourth with back-to-back punchouts, Bobby Poyner came on for his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, and he, at the very least, ate some innings.

To put it bluntly, the left-hander entered with his team trailing by one run, and left with them down by six, with those last two runs coming on a two-run inside-the-park home run off the bat of Hunter Pence that was just out of Brock Holt’s reach in the top half of the sixth.

And finally, Mike Shawaryn continued to impress out of the bullpen by fanning four Rangers in two perfect frames of relief to wrap up what was another underwhelming night from Red Sox pitching.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, who had never pitched against Boston nor at Fenway Park before Tuesday.

Already down a run by the middle of the second, Xander Bogaerts answered back and got his side on the board by blasting his 13th home run of the season, this one a 422 foot shot over the Green Monster.

An inning later and trailing by a pair this time, Rafael Devers erased that deficit quickly, following by back-to-back two-out walks with a two-run triple off Jurado to break out of an 0-for-20 slump. He was stranded at third.

Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth, and some drama arose when Andrew Benintendi had a few choice words for home plate umpire Angel Hernandez following a groundout to short.

The thing was, Hernandez couldn’t hear Benintendi’s words, but first base umpire Vic Carapazza could, and without giving a warning, ejected the Red Sox outfielder as he was heading back towards his dugout.

That led to even more pandemonium, and ultimately resulted in Cora’s ejection and more colorful language from Benintendi.

Once all was settled, the Sox still trailed by three runs going into the sixth, and that deficit did not shrink.

A Michael Chavis leadoff double in the seventh off new Rangers reliever Jose LeClerc, followed by an RBI two-bagger from JD Martinez two outs later gave Boston their fourth run of the night.

And in the ninth, Mookie Betts swung at the very first pitch he saw from right-hander Chris Martin, and came away with his 11th dinger of the year, although it didn’t make much of a difference in what would go down as a 9-5 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are 34-34 on the season and 5-6 in June.

Mike Shawaryn is averaging 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

JD Martinez’s last two games since returning from back spasms: 4-for-7, two doubles, one run scored, one RBI.

Andrew Benintendi on his ejection:

Alex Cora on his:

Brock Holt, who was in right field because of the Benintendi ejection, on what happened on the inside-the-park homer:

It was a bizarre night, really. Both managers got ejected, the Red Sox didn’t use one pitcher who appeared in a big league game before the start of the 2018 season, and Mookie Betts had himself a rough time of things in center field.

Next up for the Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game set, which was moved up three hours from its original start time because of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Right-hander Rick Porcello, will be getting the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Lance Lynn will be doing the same for Texas.

In his career against the Rangers, Porcello (4-6, 4.86 ERA) owns a lifetime 5.16 ERA over 12 prior starts and 68 total innings pitched.

Lynn (7-4, 4.39 ERA), meanwhile, has posted a career 2.40 ERA in three previous appearances (two starts) and 15 innings of work at Fenway Park.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox need to wake up.

 

 

 

Red Sox Squander Another Fine Start from Chris Sale as Bullpen Falls Apart in 4-3 Extra Innings Loss to Rangers

After dropping three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox got the second leg of their eight-game homestand off to a less than promising start, as they fell in their first of four against the Texas Rangers in 11 innings Monday by a final score of 4-3.

Making his 14th start and coming off his best outing of the season for Boston Was Chris Sale, who fanned 12 to the tune of a complete game shutout against the Kansas City Royals this past Wednesday.

This time around, the left-hander put together yet another solid performance, limiting the Rangers to just one unearned run while scattering three hits and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts in seven quality innings of work Monday.

That lone run came in Texas’ half of the sixth, when a leadoff walk to Rougned Odor, followed by back-to-back punchouts and a successful stolen base attempt on a subpar throw from Sandy Leon that allowed Odor to move up to third, came in to score on a Danny Santana RBI single.

The thing is, Sale may have gotten Santana to whiff on the fifth pitch of the at-bat in a 2-2 count, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt appealed to Angel Hernandez at first, and he ruled that the batter held up his swing in time.

And on the very next pitch from the Boston starter, an 83 MPH slider down the heart of the plate, Santana capitalized and plated his team’s first run of the night.

Other than that one mishap though, Sale maintained the dominant form we have been accustomed to seeing from him since about the beginning of May.

He took a perfect game into the fourth, retired 14 of the first 16 hitters he faced, got some help from Sandy Leon,…

….and capped off his outing after a rough sixth inning by retiring the side in order in the seventh with that 10th and final strikeout, marking three straight starts with double-digit K’s.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 39% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 35 times and got five swings and misses on, with Leon behind the plate.

Hit with another tough luck no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.52, Sale will look to build on what’s been a strong start to June in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles this weekend.

In relief of Sale, Brandon Workman came on in the eighth with a 2-1 lead to protect, and he did just that by sitting down the only three Rangers hitters he faced in order to make way for Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Going for his fifth save of the season, Barnes got the first out of the inning fairly quickly on one pitch, but melted down from there, as he yielded back-to-back hits to Santana and Andrus before allowing the then go-ahead run to score on a 3-1 two-run single from Nomar Mazara to make it a 3-2 contest.

The UCONN product would strikeout and intentionally walk the next two hitters faced, and in came Heath Hembree attempting to keep the deficit at one.

All the sudden rising to a key component of Alex Cora’s bullpen, Hembree succeeded in punching out the lone hitter he faced in the ninth before also working a 1-2-3 10th after his team tied things up the inning prior to send it to extras in the first place.

In the 11th, still trying to keep this one knotted at three runs a piece, Ryan Brasier, like Barnes, was dealt a less than favorable blow from Santana and Andrus yet again, with the former leading the frame off with a line drive double and the latter driving him in on an RBI single to give the Rangers a 4-3 advantage, which would turn out to be all they would need.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander Mike Minor, who has quietly put together an impressive campaign in his second season with Texas. That much was evident Monday.

Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for Boston right away in the first inning, scoring Mookie Betts as well as himself on his seventh home run of the season, this one a two-run, 420 foot shot to put his side on the board first.

That blast came on Minor’s seventh pitch of the contest, and it would wind up being all the damage done against him.

They had additional chances to add on to those two runs, but could not take advantage of those opportunities.

Such was the case when Mookie Betts reached second with one out in the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to leadoff the fifth, and JD Martinez did the same an inning later. All appeared to set Boston up in a prime spot to score, and nothing came out of it.

Once Minor’s night finally came to a close after eight strong innings of work, the Red Sox came to the plate in their half of the ninth down a run with Rangers reliever Shawn Kelley on the hill.

Consecutive base hits from Martinez, who Michael Chavis pinch-ran for, and Xander Bogaerts to leadoff the frame placed the tying-run in scoring position, and a GIDP off the bat of Rafael Devers advanced said tying-run up to third.

Down to their last out, Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bench with Sam Travis’ spot in the order due up, and Brock Holt came through in the clutch big time by blooping an opposite field RBI single to left on a 1-1 four-seamer from Kelley, plating Chavis from third to pull his team even.

Holt nearly scored the winning run as well four pitches later on a pinch-hit RBI double from Marco Hernandez, but instead ran through a stop sign from interim third base coach and current assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett and was out by a mile at home, thus sending this one into extras.

There, in the 10th, a one-out single and walk from Leon and Betts, followed up by a two-out free pass drawn by Chavis, filled the bases with Red Sox for Xander Bogaerts against Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez.

Having faced Chavez 12 times in his career before Monday, Bogaerts took the first three pitches he saw, with two being hittable-looking pitches down the heart of the plate, and the other being a ball.

On the fourth pitch he saw from the Rangers right-hander, Bogaerts hacked at an 87 MPH slider outside the strike zone and lined out to center, sending this one to the 11th.

In that 11th, after going down by a run in the top half of the frame, Chris Martin discarded Devers, Holt, and Hernandez in order, and another frustrating night for the Red Sox came to a close in a 4-3 loss.

Some notes from this loss: 

JD Martinez went 2-for-3 with a walk in his first start since June 6th after dealing with back spasms.

Rafael Devers is 0-for-his-last-17.

Matt Barnes in June: Five games, 4.2 innings pitched, 11.57 ERA, .300 batting average against.

Heath Hembree in June: Five games, 3.2 innings pitched, 0.00 ERA, .000 batting average against.

Red Sox with Runners in Scoring Position Monday: 1-for-8. Seven men were left on base. Both are not great!

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to bounce back in the second of this four-game set Tuesday night.

The club’s top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez is expected to make his first big league start for Boston, while right-hander Ariel Jurado will get the ball for Texas.

This will mark Hernandez’s third stint with the Sox this season. So far, the 22-year-old left-hander has only made one relief appearance while in the majors, although he has made nine starts with Double-A Portland in 2019.

Jurado, meanwhile, currently sports a 2.78 ERA through 13 appearances (four starts) with the Rangers this season. He has never faced the Red Sox nor pitched at Fenway Park before in his young career.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox need to get back on track.