Rule 5 picks Tyreque Reed (1.166 OPS at High-A), Kaleb Ort (0.00 ERA at Triple-A) among early Red Sox minor-league standouts

Back in December, the Red Sox selected right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

Since arriving in Fort Myers for the start of spring training in February, Whitlock has done nothing but impress in his time in a Red Sox uniform to this point.

Through his first 10 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen this season, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA of 1.77 and an xFIP of 2.92 in addition to 21 strikeouts to just three walks over 20 1/3 innings of work.

To say that Whitlock — who had not pitched above Double-A and underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 before joining the Red Sox — has been one of the club’s biggest and brightest surprises this year would be an understatement.

Having said that, though, Whitlock is not the only player the Sox selected in last December’s Rule 5 Draft that has gotten his 2021 campaign off to an impressive start.

In addition to taking Whitlock, Boston also selected first baseman Tyreque Reed from the Rangers and right-hander Kaleb Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the draft.

Reed, who turns 24 next month, is a former 2017 eighth-round draft pick who played for three Texas affiliates over three seasons before joining the Red Sox organization over the winter.

Known for his power, Reed — listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds — has been crushing the ball with High-A Greenville so far this spring.

Over his first eight games with the Drive, the right-handed hitter is slashing .240/.406/760 with four home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, and five walks in 32 trips to the plate.

His latest home run was a walk-off piece that gave Greenville a 10-9 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones at Fluor Field on Sunday.

Among the top hitters in the High-A East (formerly the South Atlantic League), Reed ranks second in homers, 10th in RBI, 11th in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and second in OPS (1.166).

The Mississippi native has also struck out in 25% of his plate appearances, which he has shown the tendency to do. But by getting on-base at a solid .406 clip, Reed has proven to be effective at the plate thus far, as evidenced by his early 207 wRC+.

“Power bat,” Red Sox vice president of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum said of Reed this past December. “Big, physical right-handed hitting first baseman with big, big power that you see not only with the scout’s naked eye but also with the batted ball data. There’s a propensity from some strikeouts. We know he’s not immune to that. We really believe in the power potential. We’re really excited to bring him into the organization.”

Kaleb Ort, meanwhile, was selected by the Red Sox in the minor-league portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the previous four seasons as a member of the Yankees organization.

Unlike Reed, Ort was not drafted out of college and instead began his professional career in the Frontier League (independent) before signing as an undrafted free-agent with the Diamondbacks in 2016.

After being cut by Arizona the following spring, the Michigan native returned to the Frontier League before signing with New York in May 2017.

While with the Yankees, Ort appeared in a total of 90 games across five levels between 2017-2019 prior to getting scooped up by the Red Sox in December.

After receiving an invite to big-league camp in February, the 6-foot-4, 233 pound hurler opened the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site and later Triple-A Worcester.

In six appearances out of the WooSox’ bullpen thus far, the 29-year-old has been lights out, as he has allowed just one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with nine strikeouts over six innings pitched. He has also converted four of a possible four save opportunities in the process of emerging as Worcester’s primary closer.

“Kaleb Ort is a guy who has really stood out to me, he took the closer role and ran with it,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott recently told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “He’s come in and slammed the door without really any threat of a hiccup at all. He’s throwing strikes, aggressive, and he’s been impressive.”

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Ort works with a two-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that can top out at 98 mph and a slider.

That two-pitch mix has proven to be a potent combination for the righty reliever thus far, as he is holding opponents to a .150 batting average against while boasting a 40.9% strikeout rate, a 0.89 FIP, and a 2.20 xFIP.

What Ort has been doing in Worcester has caught the attention of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who got to first know him earlier this year during spring training.

“He’s a good one,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays . “His stuff plays. I really like what I saw. Velocity got better in spring training and he was throwing the ball well down there. He’s a guy we’re looking at, obviously, for the right reasons. We’re very excited with what he’s doing, what he did in spring training and what he can do, probably, in the future.”

With that, it sounds as though Ort could garner big-league consideration at some point this season if he continues to turn heads while closing out games for the WooSox.

Because the 2021 minor-league season is less than two full weeks old, it’s no sure thing that either one of Reed or Ort will be able to keep up with the level at which they are performing at at the moment.

Still, what these two Red Sox minor-league Rule 5 picks have done in their first month with their new organization has been eye-opening to say the least. If they can keep it up over the course of the summer will be something worth monitoring for sure.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana to continue rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday, Alex Cora says

Danny Santana will take the next step in his rehab assignment this week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced before Monday’s game against the Orioles in Baltimore.

Per Cora, Santana will continue his rehab with the club’s Triple-A affiliate in Worcester after beginning the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Greenville.

“Danny is in Worcester now,” Cora said during his pregame media availability. “He’s doing protocol, the intake… He’s supposed to play Tuesday in Worcester.”

The WooSox will host the Syracuse Mets in their home opener at Polar Park on Tuesday afternoon. Santana is expected to be in Worcester’s starting lineup.

In three games with Greenville this past week, the 30-year-old went 4-for-10 with one double, one home run, and two RBI over 12 plate appearances. He played second base, shortstop, and centerfield in that brief stretch.

Santana originally signed a minor-league deal with the Sox back in March but missed an extended period of time in spring training due to a right foot infection that required a stay in the hospital. He also underwent an ulnar collateral ligament repair and augmentation procedure last September.

Before signing with Boston, the switch-hitter had spent the previous two seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

In 2019, he clubbed 28 home runs, collected 81 RBI, and stole 21 bases en route to being named the Rangers’ Player of the Year.

After being limited to just 15 games last year due to multiple stints on the injured list, Santana was non-tendered by Texas in November, which made him available for the Red Sox to sign in the first place.

The expectation seems to be that once Santana is fully ready to go, he will be added to the Sox’ major-league roster, which would also require him to be added to the cub’s 40-man roster.

Until then, how Santana performs with Worcester should be something to monitor these next few days/weeks.

As an added bonus, the WooSox’ home opener on Tuesday will be broadcast on NESN. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. eastern time.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Danny Santana goes 1-for-3 with single in first game of rehab assignment with High-A Greenville

While the Red Sox were in the process of losing a dramatic, extra-innings game to the Tigers at Fenway Park Wednesday night, an encouraging development transpired more than 900 miles away in Greenville, S.C.: Danny Santana began his rehab assignment.

The Greenville Drive, now the High-A minor-league affiliate of the Red Sox, were originally slated to open their 2021 season against the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Tuesday, but that game got postponed due to inclement weather.

So the Drive held their Opening Day ceremonies on Wednesday evening, and those ceremonies included the introduction of Santana to the Red Sox organization.

In a game started by top pitching prospect Jay Groome, Santana got the start at second base and batted out of the two-hole. He went 1-for-3 with a first-inning single, a popout, and a groundout before his night came to an end after five innings.

The 30-year-old utilityman originally signed a minor-league deal with the Sox back in March, but was hospitalized shortly thereafter due to a right foot infection. He also underwent an ulnar collateral ligament repair and augmentation procedure last September, as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Prior to signing with Boston, Santana had spent the previous two seasons with the Texas Rangers, where he clubbed 28 home runs and collected 81 RBI in 2019 while playing every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

In regards to the Dominican native’s rehab, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated over the weekend that Santana will need a decent amount of time to get re-acclimated to the speed of the game.

“He needs at-bats,” Cora said on Saturday. “He needs a lot of at-bats. But I can’t tell you how many games. It’s more than two weeks.”

How Santana progresses from the UCL procedure he underwent last fall will factor into his timetable as well.

“I think he starts playing in the infield first and then he’ll move to the outfield obviously because of the arm,” said Cora. “But he’s in a good spot. He’s a full-go. It’s just a matter of the progression to do it right so we don’t push him too hard.”

Upon inking a minor-league pact with Boston earlier this spring, Santana originally had until April 30 to opt out of of his contract if he was not called up to the majors.

That opt-out date has since been pushed back to sometime in mid-May, according to The Boston’s Globe Alex Speier.

With that in mind, it should be interesting to monitor just how quickly Santana can work his way back to the point where he is potentially knocking on the Red Sox’ door.

Given the fact that he is versatile and hits from both sides of the plate, it goes without saying that Santana could provide the Sox with some much-needed bench depth once he is back in the full swing of things.

Of course, Santana being called up at any point would also require him to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster, so there would be some hurdles that would need to be cleared on that front.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Will Newton/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers out of Red Sox’ lineup for Tuesday’s game against Tigers due to sore shoulder

As the Red Sox prepare to open up a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, they will be without third baseman Rafael Devers for the series opener.

The reason for Devers being out is due to what transpired in Texas over the weekend.

In the ninth inning of Saturday’s 8-6 loss to the Rangers, the 24-year-old took a violent swing at a 93 mph fastball from Ian Kennedy, but came up empty and immediately appeared to be in pain after dropping his bat and indicating to Red Sox manager Alex Cora and a team trainer that he had done something to his right shoulder.

Devers was able to remain in the game and finish his at-bat, and he even played the entirety of Sunday’s contest as well, though there was a moment in the third inning where you could tell he was still experiencing some discomfort.

After fielding a grounder off the bat of Jonah Heim, Devers made a relatively routine throw to first to record the first out of the third. Upon making the play, however, he could be seen briefly stretching and massaging that same right shoulder.

Devers finished Sunday’s contest by going 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and strikeout.

He was one of a handful of Red Sox players who went to Fenway during the team’s off day on Monday to receive treatment on his shoulder. The decision was later made that a second straight day of rest would de most beneficial for the young infielder.

“We’re going to give him one more day,” Cora said on Tuesday when asked why Devers was not in his starting lineup. “He came in for treatment yesterday for his shoulder, but felt like one more day was going to benefit him. So he’s not starting today.

Devers, who came into the week having played in 27 of Boston’s first 29 games this season, is currently slashing .283/.368/.566 with seven home runs and 21 RBI over 114 plate appearances.

Marwin Gonzalez will be making his third start of the year at third base in Devers’ place.

Here is how the rest of the 17-12 Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Nick Pivetta for Tuesday’s game against fellow righty Michael Fulmer and the 8-21 Tigers.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Garrett Whitlock finally gives up first run of season after tossing 13 1/3 scoreless innings to begin career: ‘He’s only human, man,’ Alex Cora says

It was bound to happen eventually, but Garrett Whitlock finally gave up his first major-league run as a member of the Red Sox in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers.

The right-hander came into the weekend having tossed 13 1/3 scoreless innings over six outings to begin his big-league career. The Rangers got to him for one run on two hits and a strikeout on Sunday.

Working in relief of Garrett Richards and Darwinzon Hernandez, Whitlock got the call to work the seventh inning of what at the time was a 3-1 game in favor of Boston.

Matched up against the bottom third of Texas’ lineup, Whitlock served up a leadoff home run to the first man he faced in Isiah Kiner-Falefa on a 1-1, 83 mph changeup down the heart of the plate.

Prior to making his first career appearance at Globe Life Field, the 24-year-old hurler had yet to allow a hit on his changeup this season, as opponents were 0-for-12 with six strikeouts against it.

So not only did Sunday mark the first time this season the righty had given up a run, it also marked the first time the opposition had reached base off of it.

Whitlock did allow a one-out single following the home run to Kiner-Falefa, but he retired the final two hitters he faced in order to end the seventh inning, preserve a 3-2 lead, and lower his ERA back down to 0.63 while picking up his fourth hold of the season.

Of the 15 pitches the Georgia native threw on Sunday, 12 were sinkers, two were changeups, and one was a slider, per Baseball Savant. He induced two swing-and-misses and topped out at 98.1 mph with his sinker.

Immediately after giving up the home run, the very next pitch Whitlock threw was a 96.4 mph sinker at the top of the zone that induced a flyout off the bat of Brock Holt.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora liked that aggressive approach, and he did not seem all that concerned about Whitlock’s ERA no longer being spotless.

“I mean, he’s only human, man,” Cora said with a chuckle during his postgame media availability. “The fact that he gave up the home run [and] the next pitch was 96 mph right down the middle, it tells you a lot about him. So, we’ll keep running him out there and he should be OK.”

Through seven appearances now in what his rookie season, the 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick has put up an 0.67 ERA and a .157 batting average against to go along with two walks and 19 strikeouts over 14 1/3 total innings of work.

As noted by Red Sox Stats on Twitter, Sunday marked the third time this season that Whitlock has been used on three days rest. He has been used on four days rest on two occasions and on five days of rest just once.

For Whitlock, who before joining the Red Sox over the winter was primarily a starting pitcher in three seasons in the Yankees organization, it’s probably safe to assume that some adjustments have needed to be made as he acclimates to his new role.

But after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2019, he really is just someone who is happy to be pitching in the majors.

“I just try to be a good rookie,” Whitlock said on Friday. “Everyone’s got a role to play on the team. So I told (bench coach) Will (Venable) when I first showed up, I said, ‘Shoot. I’ll be the janitor on this team if that means I get to be in the big-leagues.’ Whatever the job is that I can do to possibly help the team out, that’s what I’m glad to be doing.”

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Red Sox close out road trip by blowing another lead in 5-3 loss to Brock Holt’s Rangers

Despite strong efforts from Garrett Richards on the mound and Xander Bogaerts at the plate, the Red Sox squandered yet another lead in the process of dropping another winnable game to the Rangers by a final score of 5-3 on Sunday.

After getting a quality outing from Richards and a scoreless sixth inning from Darwinzon Hernandez, the Sox turned things over to Garrett Whitlock with a 3-1 lead to work with in the seventh.

Whitlock, who had not surrendered a run through his six big-league appearances, served up a solo home run to the first man he faced in Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Whitlock gave up the homer to Kiner-Falefa on an 83 mph changeup, marking the first time he had given up a hit on that particular pitch this seaason.

Adam Ottavino was responsible for the eighth, and he walked the first batter he faced — Nate Lowe– to put the tying run on base.

Lowe stole second base to advance into scoring position, then scored from second on an RBI single from David Dahl, which knotted things up at three runs a piece.

Another walk from Ottavino resulted in the righty getting the hook in favor of Matt Barnes for a rare eighth inning appearance.

With one out to get and runners at first and second in the eighth, Barnes was greeted by old friend Brock Holt, who gave the Rangers their first lead of the afternoon by lacing a hard-hit single to center field that Alex Verdugo could not come up with cleanly.

One run was already going to score regardless, but Verdugo’s miscue — which was ruled a fielding error — allowed another runner to cross the plate for Texas to put them up 5-3 going into the ninth.

Richards allows one run over five innings

Richards, making his sixth start of the season for Boston, allowed just one earned run on four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over five solid innings of work on Sunday.

The lone Rangers run the right-hander gave up came in the bottom half of the fourth, when Joey Gallo led things off with a double, advanced to third on a flyout, and scored on a groundout.

Outside of that, it’s fair to say Richards was not as efficient as he was in his last time out against the Mets, but he was still effective nonetheless.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (63 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 48% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing five swings-and-misses and topping out at 96.4 mph with the pitch.

Hit with the no decision in this one, Richards’ next start should come against the Orioles in Baltimore next weekend.

Renfroe and Bogaerts give Red Sox early two-run lead

Matched up against right-hander Mike Foltynewicz for the Rangers, the Red Sox jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top half of the second when Bogaerts led off with a single and came around to score on a Hunter Renfroe RBI groundout later in the inning.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time taking Foltynewicz 435 feet to deep center field for his fifth home run of the season.

Bogaerts’ big fly, which had an exit velocity of 103.7 mph, to lead off the top of the fourth gave Boston a 2-0 advantage.

After Texas tacked on a run of their own, Enrique Hernandez provided what at the time looked to be an important insurance run in the seventh when he drove in Renfroe on an RBI single, but it would not prove to be enough in the end.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left five runners on base as a team.

Per Baseball Savant, the Red Sox had a 70% chance to win this game at the midway point of the eighth inning.

Next up: Off day

After closing out a 3-3 six-game road trip, the 17-12 Red Sox will have a day off on Monday before opening up a three-game series against the Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston. Detroit has yet to name a starter.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe homers, but Red Sox squander scoring chances while Eduardo Rodriguez allows 4 runs over 5 innings in 8-6 loss to Rangers

The Red Sox lost a game they very well could have won against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Saturday night.

In the fifth inning of what at the time was a 3-3 game, the first five Red Sox hitters to come to the plate reached base, resulting in two more runs crossing the plate on back-to-back RBI singles from J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts.

Now up 5-3, Boston had the chance to really blow this one open as Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk to re-load the bases for the bottom of the lineup.

Matched up against hard-throwing left-hander Taylor Hearn for Texas, Christian Vazquez grounded into a 5-2 force out at home plate while both Bobby Dalbec and Hunter Renfroe struck out on foul tips to retire the side.

Even while adding two runs in their half of the fifth, the Red Sox could have done more to put this game out of reach. They later paid for their inability to do much with runners in scoring position when the Rangers came back to secure an 8-6 win for themselves.

Rodriguez allows four runs in five innings

Eduardo Rodriguez made his fifth start of the season for the Sox on Saturday, but was unable to improve to 5-0.

Over five innings of work, the left-hander yielded a season-high four earned runs on eight hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The Rangers first got to Rodriguez for three runs in the third inning on a run-scoring base hit from Nick Solak and a two-run knock from Nate Lowe.

They got to him once more in the fifth inning when Isiah Kiner-Falefa led things off by belting a booming solo shot to left field, which at the time broke a 4-4 deadlock.

Rodriguez then sat down the final three hitters he faced in order, but his outing came to an end relatively quickly when considering the fact he only threw 67 pitches — 46 of which were strikes.

Of those 67 pitches, the 28-year-old hurler mixed in a healthy diet of 19 cutters, 14 sinkers, 14 changeups, 12 four-seam fastballs, and eight sliders. He topped out at 93.4 mph with his four-seamer.

Andriese, Sawamura struggle out of bullpen

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Andriese got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Facing off against the bottom half of the Rangers’ lineup, the veteran right-hander allowed Jose Trevino to reach base on a one-out single before serving up a two-run blast to Willie Calhoun that put Texas ahead by one run at 6-5.

Andriese walked the next man he faced in Charlie Culberson, who came around to score on a two-out RBI triple off the bat of Kiner-Falefa moments later.

Josh Taylor managed to stop the bleeding by working a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, but Hirokazu Sawamura’s struggles in the Lone Star State continued as he allowed the Rangers to score what would prove to be an important insurance run on an RBI double from Culberson in the eighth.

Renfroe homers to give Red Sox early lead

Before any of Saturday’s mid-inning drama took place, Hunter Renfroe gave the Sox an early 2-0 lead when he crushed his second home run of the season: a towering 417-foot two-run blast to deep left field off Rangers starter Jordan Lyles in the top of the second.

There was a moment in the sixth inning where Renfroe had the opportunity to perhaps prevent Kiner-Falefa’s RBI triple from ever happening, but he could not come up with the hard-hit groundball that wound up rolling all the way to the right-center field wall.

Late comeback attempt falls short

After the Rangers took a 7-5 lead in the sixth, the Sox attempted to get back into it in the seventh with a leadoff double courtesy of Bogaerts.

The star shortstop moved up an additional 90 feet by swiping third base, then scored on a Vazquez sacrifice fly to make it a 7-6 game.

In the eighth, Bogaerts essentially had the game in his hands when with two outs, the Rangers intentionally walked Martinez to fill the bases for Boston’s No. 4 hitter.

On an 0-1, 89 mph changeup from Joely Rodriguez, Bogaerts laced a sharply-hit ground ball to the left side of the infield, but it was one that could be fielded by Culberson at third base and went down as an inning-ending 5-3 groundout.

Rangers closer Ian Kennedy struck out the side in order in the top of the ninth to pick up the save.

Some notes from this loss:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up: Richards vs. Foltynewicz

The 17-11 Red Sox will look to wrap up their six-game road trip on a positive note in Sunday afternoon’s series finale against the Rangers.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be getting the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Mike Foltynewicz for Texas.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez and Co.: Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez has struck out 6 of the last 7 hitters he has faced: ‘The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit,’ Alex Cora says

There was a stretch between April 16-28 where Darwinzon Hernandez appeared in a grand total of one game for the Red Sox.

In that one game, which came against the Mariners on April 22, the left-handed reliever gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout in the 10th inning of what would go down as a 7-3 loss for Boston. Three of those runs came on a three-run home run off the bat of Mitch Haniger.

“That home run he gave up against Seattle, I don’t want to say it was a wake-up call,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday. “But it was kind of like, ‘I need to attack hitters differently.'”

For a full week after that implosion, which raised his ERA on the year to an unsightly 5.14, Hernandez was not used for the remainder of the Sox’ series against the Mariners, nor was he used in their two-game set against the Mets in New York.

It was not until this past Thursday night that the 24-year-old was called upon again, as he took responsibility for the eighth inning in a game the Red Sox were trailing by three runs to the Rangers.

Matched up against Texas’ 3,4, and 5 hitters — Joey Gallo, Adolis Garcia, and Nate Lowe — Hernandez needed just 13 pitches (nine strikes) to punch out the side in order. He induced seven swings-and-misses in the process of getting all three of Gallo, Garcia, and Lowe to strike out swinging.

On Friday, Hernandez was once again deployed in the eighth inning against the Rangers, though this time his side had a five-run lead to work with.

Even with that lofty cushion, the Venezuelan hurler stayed on the aggressive side of things by thoroughly attacking the strike zone in the process of punching out three more batters.

He very well could have struck out the side in yet another perfect inning of relief, but an 0-2 fastball to Lowe with two outs that was very clearly a strike was ruled a ball by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Lowe wound up reaching base on an infield single moments later.

So although he could not notch the 1-2-3 inning, Hernandez punched out the very next hitter he faced in Garcia on three straight strikes to retire the side.

“We talk about his fastball up in the zone,” Cora said. “Yesterday, he did it. He did it again today. He made a great pitch to the lefty that got a hit at the end (Lowe). It was a good pitch in the zone. It was called a ball. But, he’s slowing down now. The slider is playing. The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit.”

Following Friday’s showing, Hernandez lowered his ERA on the season to 4.00 through his first 10 outings and nine innings pitches of 2021.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-2, 244 pound southpaw currently ranks in the 99th percentile in whiff rate (44.8%). And as noted by Red Sox Stats, he is getting hitters to swing-and-miss at his fastball a major-league-best 50% of the time.

“If that guy throws the ball the way he did,” said Cora, “it’s going to put us in a great place with the bullpen.”

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez enjoys multi-homer game against Rangers even while dealing with migraine symptoms: ‘He’s on a mission,’ Alex Cora says

J.D. Martinez really wasn’t supposed to be in the Red Sox’ starting lineup for their game against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Friday night.

After the team arrived in Arlington in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, Martinez’s head did not hit the pillow of his hotel room bed until about 4 a.m. local time.

Shortly after falling asleep, the 33-year-old awoke four hours later to what he described as “a crazy migraine” that prevented him from going back to bed.

“It’s some muscle or something that tightens up,” he said. “I don’t know why it happens, but it just tightens up and then I get this crazy migraine.”

Even while dealing with the migraine and the neck pain that came along with it, Martinez — with the help of the team’s athletic trainers — started at designated hitter for the Red Sox on Thursday and made it to the eighth inning before more symptoms arose.

“Right before my third at-bat, I was in the cage swinging, getting loose, and it just hit me,” Martinez recalled on Friday. “I was feeling terrible. Everything was so bright… It got to the point where I felt a little dizzy.”

Martinez wound up being pinch-hit for by Christian Arroyo in the eighth inning of Thursday’s loss and was on track to get a day off on Friday. But he started to feel better later on after getting some more work done on his neck, which led to him negotiating with Red Sox manager Alex Cora in order to be in the lineup come game time on Friday.

“I felt a lot better,” Martinez said. “So when I was leaving, Alex was just like, ‘Hey, I’m going to give you tomorrow.’ I was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. I’ll be fine.’ He was like, ‘No, take a day.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m in. I’ll be fine. I’ll let you know tomorrow if anything.'”

Martinez woke up Friday morning still experiencing some discomfort, and after receiving more treatment from trainers, he made sure to let Cora know he was good to go.

“In that situation, it’s either you feel OK or you don’t,” Cora said in regards to Martinez. “Physically, he doesn’t need [a day off], so you got to trust him. He came into the office, he told me last night he should be OK. This morning, he texted me right away, ‘I’m good to go.’ And he was good to go.”

The Red Sox benefitted from having Martinez in their lineup on Friday, and the trust between player and manager was a catalyst for that.

“Alex always has a good feel with all that stuff,” said Martinez. “He knows I want to be in there everyday as much as I can.”

In his 25th start of the season on Friday, the Sox slugger broke out of a 2-for-14 rut by going 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs, four RBI, and two runs scored, marking his second multi-homer game of the season already as part of a 6-1 win over the Rangers.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, Martinez is now slashing an impressive .351/.430/.745 with a league-leading nine home runs and 25 RBI through his first 107 plate appearances of the year.

The fact that Martinez is off to this hot a start is certainly encouraging after the down season he had in 2020, but Cora was hesitant to pin all those struggles last year on the lack of access to video alone.

“I think it’s more about his routine, what he can do,” said Cora. “This is a guy that it’s an all-day process with his swing. He feels better physically. He’s in a better place with his mechanics… Now, he’s in a good place, he’s doing a great job. It’s not only on the field what he’s doing, it’s in the cage, talking to players.”

Cora also implied that Martinez is out to prove that his 2020 was a fluke and he is still indeed one of the best hitters in baseball. One month into the season, and Martinez is doing just that.

“He’s on a mission,” Cora said. “He’s on a mission.”

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez crushes 2 homers; Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers each go deep once as Red Sox bounce back with 6-1 win over Rangers

After managing to score just four total runs over their last three games, the Red Sox broke out of their offensive slump in a big way on Friday with a 6-1 win over the Rangers at Globe Life Field.

All six runs Boston scored came by way of the home run ball, with J.D. Martinez hitting a three-run homer and Xander Bogaerts crushing a solo homer in the first inning, and Martinez and Rafael Devers clubbing a pair of solo shots in the fourth.

Nathan Eovaldi improved to 4-2 for the Sox, while Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Austin Brice closed things out out of the bullpen.

Martinez goes yard twice, Bogaerts and Devers once

Matched up against Japanese right-hander Kohei Arihara, for the Rangers, a leadoff walk drawn by Christian Arroyo in the top half of the first proved to be the catalyst for an explosive inning.

That being the case because Alex Verdugo followed by drawing yet another free pass to put runners at first and second for Martinez.

On the very first pitch he saw from Arihara, the Sox slugger crushed a three-run homer to left-center field to give his side an early 3-0 lead.

Xander Bogaerts followed by mashing his fourth home run of the season — a 405-foot bullet to left field — off Arihara to make it a 4-0 game.

Fast forward to the third, and Martinez struck once more, this time depositing an Arihara splitter a whopping 440 feet to dead center for his second big fly of the night and his major-league leading ninth big fly of the season. 5-0.

Devers tacked on one more run by collecting his seventh homer of the season later inning, and that would prove to be all the scoring the Red Sox would need to secure the victory.

Eovaldi eclipses 1,000 innings plateau

Coming into his start on Friday with 994 2/3 career innings pitched under his belt, Eovaldi would need to go at least 5 1/3 innings deep against the Rangers to reach the 1,000-inning mark.

In his home state of Texas, the veteran right-hander did just that — and more– by providing the Sox with six strong innings of work in which he yielded just one earned run on four hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The lone Rangers run Eovaldi surrendered came in the bottom half of the second, when he plunked Adolis Garcia with a pitch and allowed him to score on a two-out RBI single off the bat of old friend Brock Holt moments later.

Outside of that, the 33-year-old was able to keep things in check, retired nine of the last 12 hitters he faced, and finished with a final pitch count of 91 (59 strikes). His next start should come against the Tigers back at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Arroyo makes impressive throw while on the move

In Eovaldi’s final inning of work, Garcia tapped a sharply-hit groundball towards the middle side of the infield.

Christian Arroyo, who started at second base for Boston on Friday, managed to corral the ball with a slide and, while on his knees, made a quality throw to first base in order to get the runner out.

Next up: Rodriguez vs. Lyles

After wrapping up the month of April at 17-10, the Red Sox will hand the ball to Eduardo Rodriguez to kick off the month of May on Saturday night. The left-hander will be matched up against Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)