Lack of News Surrounding Red Sox’ Managerial Search Suggests Alex Cora Is Favorite To Return To Boston

With the World Series between the Dodgers and Rays set to begin Tuesday night, we now know the 2020 Major League Baseball season will end within the next 5-9 days. And by the time this year’s Fall Classic comes to a close, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s one-year suspension will be over.

Cora, who turned 45 on Sunday, was handed down a one-year ban by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred back in April for the role he played in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal while serving as the club’s bench coach under A.J. Hinch. That punishment did not have to do with his actions as Red Sox manager in 2018.

That being said, Cora could be the top candidate to return to his old post by the end of this month or the beginning of November.

Think about it like this: The Red Sox announced on September 27 that Ron Roenicke would not return as manager for the 2021 season. Since that time, there have been no real legitimate rumors; no real legitimate leaks to go off of in the club’s search for a new manager.

Plenty of candidates have been thrown out there, some who even interviewed for the job earlier this year like Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay or Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta, but none have been closely linked to the opening.

When Boston parted ways with Roenicke last month, the club released a statement that read in part: “A search for a new manager will begin immediately.”

It’s been just over four weeks since the Sox’ search for a new manager began, and we have yet to really hear how said search is going. This could potentially mean one of two things. First, it could mean the Red Sox are putting forth their best effort to prevent any leaks and keep everything in-house, which would be commendable if it were the case. Second, it could mean that they are waiting until the World Series ends, when they can officially speak with Cora.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith touched upon this in the most recent installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast earlier this month, and among the bevy of quality points that were made, one that stuck out pertained to the lack of leaks.

“It’s been nothing. There’s not even a ‘The Red Sox are assembling a list,'” Cotillo said. “In contrast, you look up at Detroit and Al Avila, their GM, said ‘Alex Cora and A.J. Hinch are on my list’, which means they aren’t going to make their hires until they can talk to these guys.

“If the Red Sox managerial search was heating up at this point, it would point to Alex Cora not being the guy,” Cotillo added. “There’s zero indication through 10 days that they’ve really done any groundwork. Every day that passes with little news, you can give [chief baseball officer] Chaim [Bloom] and his crew, as Ron Roenicke liked to say, a lot of credit for keeping it close to the vest. And maybe they’re making progress, but to me, it says they’re not going to really dive into this thing until they can talk to Cora.”

This was also mentioned on the podcast, which I highly suggest listening to, but it carries a lot of weight in that Cora is the perfect candidate for this job for one simple reason: He’s already done it.

“There are plenty of guys who aren’t even being talked about that could be similar to Alex Cora’s personality,” Smith said.

“But, if you’re going to bring in someone similar, why not bring in the guy that everybody knows and everybody wants, is familiar with and knows how to win in this market, and knows how to deal with the media and all the scrutiny?,” asked Cotillo in response to that.

It’s true. Because of what he has already accomplished as the manager of the Red Sox, Cora should be the favorite to return to Boston just months after his dismissal.

The decision to bring Cora back might not be the most popular around the sport given his past actions, but considering how he seemingly gets the most out of his players, like Rafael Devers and Eduardo Rodriguez, while also having established a solid relationship with Bloom already, it might just be the best one to make from the Red Sox’ point of view.

Whether Bloom and the rest of the Sox brass agree with that notion will presumably depend on how things unfold in the days following the Rays’ or Dodgers’ World Series victory.

Red Sox Make Series of Roster Moves, Option Chris Mazza and Matt Hall to Pawtucket

As roster sizes across Major League Baseball shrink from 30 to 28 players on Thursday, the Red Sox made a series of moves following Wednesday night’s win over the Rays, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Matt Hall to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

By sending down the two hurlers, the Sox now have 28 players on their active roster, as will be the case for the remainder of the 2020 season. The only difference now being that clubs can carry 29 players on days they will be playing double-headers while taxi-squad capacity for road trips has increased from three players to five.

As for the two pitchers Boston sent down, let’s start with Hall. The 27-year-old southpaw has got off to a tough start with the Sox, allowing eight earned runs over his first two appearances (one start) and 4 2/3 innings pitched this season.

Originally acquired from the Tigers back in January, Hall served as an opener for the Red Sox against the Mets on July 28 and was then used after the opener, Austin Brice in this case, in two innings of relief against the Yankees on August 2. As previously mentioned, the Missouri native did not pitch particularly well in either outing.

Mazza, meanwhile, impressed in his Red Sox debut in New York on August 1, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief while scattering one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts in an eventual 5-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees.

The 30-year-old out of the Bay Area was first called up by Boston on July 29 in a transaction that also saw veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy get designated for assignment.

Despite Hall and Mazza both getting demoted, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either hurler back up with the Sox at some point later in the season. For now, they will report to the club’s alternate training site at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.

Reintroducing Red Sox Left-Hander Matt Hall

You probably haven’t heard much about Matt Hall since the Red Sox acquired him from the Tigers in January, but the left-hander has a chance to be a key cog in Boston’s bullpen this season.

After Hall finished his three innings of work while striking out five in Monday morning’s intrasquad game which was more of a simulated game/live batting practice session, Sox manager Ron Roenicke seemed pleased with the 26-year-old’s efforts when speaking to reporters via Zoom.

“Matt Hall,” Roenicke said. “Matt is one of those guys… He looked really good today.”

On what he specifically liked about Hall’s outing, Roenicke mentioned the lefty’s curveball, which Hall himself has said is his best pitch.

“We know he’s got a good curveball, and he showed that today,” said the Sox skipper. “Talking to our hitters commenting on the curveball, that is a real nice weapon he has. And he threw the fastball well. He kind of cuts it in on right-handers. I was really impressed with him today.”

As noted by The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch, “Hall’s high fastball and curveball start in the same tunnel – up and away from right-handers, high and tight to left-handers – and appear capable of causing some confusion if he commands them,” which can somewhat be seen in the accompanying video:

Roenicke added that the Red Sox view Hall, a product of Missouri State, as someone who could provide the club with multiple innings out of the bullpen, and he seems best suited for the “bulk-inning guy” role, or the pitcher who comes in after the opener, which Boston will likely employ seeing how thin their starting rotation currently is. Colten Brewer and Marcus Walden are among the candidates for that particular role.

As for Hall, the six-foot, 200 lb. southpaw was originally drafted by Detroit in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft. The Tigers designated him for assignment over the winter after a disappointing 2019 campaign in which he posted 7.71 ERA over 16 appearances and 23 1/3 innings pitched.

On January 17, Hall was dealt to Boston in exchange for minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez.

Flash forward nearly six months later, and Matt Hall should certainly be someone to keep an eye on as the 2020 season nears.

Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez Both Homer as Pitching Struggles Continue for Red Sox in 13-9 Loss to Tigers

After allowing nine runs in a 9-1 loss against the Yankees on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell to 4-7-2 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 13-9 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and third overall appearance of the spring for Boston was Jeffrey Springs, coming off a scoreless inning of relief in his last time out against the Yankees this past Sunday.

Working just the first inning of this one, the left-hander got hit hard for five runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts of the afternoon.

All five of those early Tigers tallies came courtesy of the long ball, with C.J. Cron whalloping a three-run homer off of Springs, and Frank Schwindel following that up with a two-run shot a few moments later.

It was a laborious task, but Springs was able to at least retire the final two of the eight hitters he faced in order to retire the side without giving anything else up.

From there, Eduard Bazardo walked one and struck out another in a scoreless top half of the second, Ryan Brasier bounced back from a tough spring debut with a pair of perfect frames, Heath Hembree followed by serving up two home runs, a solo shot in the fifth plus a two-run shot in the sixth, over two innings of relief, Yoan Aybar worked around a leadoff walk and one-out HBP in an otherwise clean seventh, Mike Shawaryn fanned three in the eighth, and left-hander Matthew Kent got bombarded for five runs, although none of them were earned, in the ninth before Matthew Gorst came on and recorded the final out on a punchout.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender 13 runs (eight earned) on 15 hits, five of which were home runs, and two walks to go along with 10 total strikeouts over nine innings of work.

Since the calendars flipped to March, Red Sox pitching has allowed 35 runs over their last four games.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Christian Vazquez, Jonathan Arauz, Josh Ockimey, Jantzen Witte, and Jeter Downs was matched up against veteran right-hander Ivan Nova to begin things on Wednesday.

Despite going down by five before even taking their first at-bats, the Boston bats responded swiftly in their half of the first, as Pillar and Bradley Jr. greeted Nova with a leadoff single and double to put runners in scoring position with one out for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez didn’t waste anytime, either, as he took the second pitch he saw from the Tigers starter and deposited deep to left field for a three-run shot. His second homer of the spring cut the deficit to two at 5-3.

An inning later, it was the bottom half of the lineup getting it done, with Ockimey leading the frame off with a double and Downs, the organization’s top prospect, driving him in on a one-out, run-scoring single to left. 5-4.

In addition to his first inning double, Bradley Jr. capitalized in his second plate appearance against Nova in the third, as he ripped a leadoff homer over the left field wall to knot things up at five runs apiece. His second big fly of the spring.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh, after Detroit had jumped out to an 8-5 edge, Chad De La Guerra brought his side back to within two runs on another solo shot off Tigers reliever Rony Garcia.

And in the ninth, in what had suddenly turned into a runaway for the Tigers, Roldani Baldwin came to the plate with two outs and the bases full, and he promptly unloaded them on a three-run double off Jose Cisnero.

That three RBI knock made it a 13-9 contest, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score after Nolan Blackwood got Ryder Jones to line out to short.

Some observations from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts, in his spring debut at designated hitter: 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.

This game was not televised, but the fact that Heath Hembree has a 10.13 ERA through his first two appearances of the spring is far from promising. His roster spot could be in jeopardy if he continues to struggle.

Nice to see Ryan Brasier bounce back with two scoreless innings of relief Wednesday. Probably the highlight of the day pitching-wise.

Kevin Plawecki walked in his lone plate appearance of the afternoon after replacing Christian Vazquez behind the plate in the fifth. Jonathan Lucroy did not play.

Rusney Castillo hit a triple.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Houston Astros at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Josh James will do the same for Houston.

As mentioned before, Hart is one of several candidates vying for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation. He owns an ERA of 9.00 through two appearances (one start) this spring.

The Astros have been subject to plenty of boos from opposing crowds this spring, so it will be interesting to see, or hear about, how the JetBlue Park crowd handles things given the fact that the 2018 Red Sox are still under investigation by the league.

Anyway, first pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

 

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Set to Make Spring Debut Against Tigers

For the first time this spring, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is set to make a Grapefruit League start.

Yes, after being sidelined with a sore left ankle since reporting to camp last month, the 27-year-old will serve as designated hitter and bat out of the three-hole for Boston against the Tigers at JetBlue Park on Wednesday.

Bogaerts initially suffered the injury while partaking in offseason workouts in his home country of Aruba back in early February, but he has progressed nicely over the past week or so.

“He’s pretty close to getting in a game,” interim manager Ron Roenicke said of Bogaerts Tuesday. “We’ll probably start him at DH. I guess he’s made a lot of progress over the last couple days.”

Lo and behold, Bogaerts is starting at DH for the Sox on Wednesday. He’ll probably get anywhere between two to three plate appearances.

And despite this setback, Bogaerts is still expected to be ready for Opening Day on March 26th.

Former Red Sox Second Baseman Ian Kinsler Retires From Baseball

In case you missed it, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler retired from baseball on Friday night after spending the 2019 season with the San Diego Padres. He will however remain with the Padres in a front office capacity, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Kinsler, 37, finishes a 14-year big-league career between the Rangers, Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, and Padres with 1,999 career hits, 257 career home runs, 909 career RBI, four career All-Star nods, two career Gold Glove Awards, and one career World Series championship, which he won with Boston in 2018.

The Sox acquired Kinsler from the Angels in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez the day before the trade deadline in 2018.

Brought in to stabilize Boston’s infield defense at second base, the Arizona native slashed .242/.294/.311 with one homer and 16 RBI over 37 games while ranking 11th among American League second baseman in FanGraphs’ Defense metric (0.8) in that span.

Appearing in 11 of the Sox’ 14 postseason contests that October, Kinsler went 7-for-34 (.206) with three runs driven in.

“Obviously, Detroit was a great experience for me,” Kinsler told The Athletic. “Dave Dombrowski traded for me twice. He traded for me in Detroit, then for that magical run in Boston. I was able to be a part of a world-championship team. Those are the two things that really stand out in my head.”

Kinsler also added that, “The run in Boston, being just a small part of that was incredible.”

After winning his first World Series title with the Red Sox, Kinsler inked a two-year, $8 million deal with San Diego prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, but a herniated cervical disk held him out from August 12th on and was the ultimate deciding factor in his deciison to step away from playing baseball.

Kinsler may have only been with the Red Sox for a brief three months, but he definitely made his time in Boston worth it.

Former Red Sox Right-Hander Rick Porcello Signs One-Year, $10 Million Deal with Mets

Former Red Sox right-hander has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the New York Mets, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to Heyman, Porcello had a three-year deal on the table as of Wednesday night but ultimately opted for the one-year pact to reset his value for next winter.

There were some rumors that the Sox and Porcello were interested in a reunion, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will now have to look elsewhere for starting rotation depth.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and relievers Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier back in December 2014, Porcello spent a total of five seasons with the Sox after inking a four-year, $82.5 million extension with the club under general manager Ben Cherington in April 2015.

In that time, the soon-to-be 31-year-old hurler posted a 4.43 ERA and 4.15 FIP over 159 total starts and 964 innings pitched. That includes a 5.52 ERA over 32 starts and 174 1/3 innings this past season.

In postseason play, the former first-round pick owned an ERA of 4.94 and batting average against of .277 in eight total October appearances (five starts) while with the Red Sox.

Porcello’s only start in the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers came in Game 3, the longest game in the history of the fall classic.

There were plenty of ups and downs in Porcello’s tenure with Boston, such as winning his first Cy Young Award in 2016 and following that up by leading the American League in losses (17) in 2017.  Still, he could be relied on to pitch deep into games when needed.

Outside of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, Porcello is the only Sox hurler to win a Cy Young Award in the last 50 years.

With the Mets, the New Jersey native will look to put himself in a better spot to cash in around next year’s Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Thanks for everything, Rick.

Christian Vazquez Blasts 14th Homer, David Price Goes Five Strong as Red Sox Finish off Sweep of Tigers and Head into All-Star Break Winners of Four Straight

After another rain-filled 10-6 win over the Tigers on Saturday, the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep and wrapped up the first half of their season with a 6-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday to improve to 49-41 on the year.

Making his 16th start of the season for Boston to cap off the weekend was David Price, who entered the day with a 2.65 ERA over his last three outings dating back to June 18th.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one Detroit run came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after walking the leadoff man in Victor Reyes, the one-time Tiger gave up an RBI double to former teammate Nicholas Castellanos on a 1-0, 83 MPH changeup.

Other than that one blip and despite putting his team in an early hole, Price recovered nicely, retiring 15 of the next 19 hitters he faced leading to the end of the sixth, which is the point where his outing came to a close due to a high pitch count.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (66 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing a pair of swings and misses and topping out at 93.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Able to pick up his seventh winning decision to reach 150 wins for his career while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.24, Price’s first half numbers look like this: 7-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 83 1/3 innings pitched, 95 punchouts.

In relief of Price, left-hander Josh Taylor came on with a four-run lead to protect, and he racked up four strikeouts over two perfect frames of work, making way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.

There, Brasier could not get through the inning, as he served up a two-out, two-run home run to Brandon Dixon, cutting Boston’s advantage down to three before walking his second man and getting the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Workman escaped the potential jam, leaving the tying run on deck and retiring the side by getting Niko Goodrum to ground out to Michael Chavis at first.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree maneuvered his way around a one-out John Hicks single and notched his second save of the season with an eight-pitch strikeout of Reyes.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Gregory Soto, who was last used as a reliever for Detroit in the first game of this series on Friday.

Serving as the opener in this one, the Boston bats got to Soto beginning in the top half of the second inning, when after falling behind one early, Christian Vazquez erased that deficit and gave his team a one-run lead by blasting a one-out, two-run homer 376 feet over the right field wall for his 14th of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, with lefty Nick Ramirez on the mound, and Xander Bogaerts came through with two outs and runners at first and second, as he plated both Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts on a two-run double to left for his 64th and 65th RBI of the year.

Two batters later, after J.D. Martinez reached on an intentional walk and Bogaerts advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch from Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi picked up where he left off Saturday by sneaking an RBI single through the left side of the infield, driving in Bogaerts and giving his team the 5-1 edge.

And in the eighth, Martinez led things off against new Tigers reliever Eduardo Jiminez with a line-drive double to center, moved up to third on a Benintendi flyout, and came in to score from third thanks to a wild pitch with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate.

That put the Red Sox ahead 6-1, and after the Tigers rallied with two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, 6-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers’ 10-game hitting streak has come to an end.

J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday. Over that span, he is hitting .347 to go along with two home runs and six RBI.

Christian Vazquez’s last seven games: .387/.394/.871 with four homers and 10 runs driven in.

The Red Sox are eight games over .500 for the first time this season.

So, that’s it for the first half of the season. The Red Sox head into the All-Star break winners of four straight and five of their last six. They are currently nine games off the pace for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot.

Coming out of the four-day break, the Sox will begin a seven-game homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

For now, it’s on to Cleveland, where we have Jarren Duran and the Futures Game Sunday night, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the 90th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.

The Red Sox will be represented by Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, while Alex Cora will be managing the American League squad.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 PM EDT on FOX.

 

Andrew Benintendi Celebrates 25th Birthday with Four Hits, Finishes Home Run Shy of Cycle as Red Sox Take Series from Tigers with 10-6 Victory

After waiting out a four-hour-and-five-minute rain delay, the Red Sox rattled off their third straight win on Saturday, clinching their series against the Detroit Tigers with a closer-than-the-scoreboard-indicated 10-6 victory.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who picked up the win the last time he faced off against his old club back on April 25th

Coming off one of the worst starts of his career in his last time out against the New York Yankees in London, the right-hander’s struggles continued in this one, as he surrendered six runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Tigers tallies came in the fourth, when with no outs and a runner on first, Jeimer Candelario got his team on the board with a 398-foot, two-run shot to right field.

It looked as though that would be Porcello’s lone mistake leading into the sixth, but Candelario struck again, mashing his second big fly of the evening to cut into Boston’s lead even further at 7-3.

Able to get the second out of the inning on a force out at second, a single from Gordon Beckham, as well as a wild pitch to the next man he faced in Bobby Wilson, put runners at second and third for the Tigers backstop, and he drove in both runs while simultaneously ending Porcello’s night on a two-run single to left.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 92.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 6-7 despite another poor performance that bumped his ERA on the season up to 5.33, Porcello will look to put a forgettable first half of the 2019 campaign behind him in his next time out, which should come against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Toronto Blue Jays after the All-Star break.

In relief of Porcello, Colten Brewer came on with one runner on and one out to get in the sixth, and he officially closed the book on the Boston starter’s outing by allowing that sixth run to score on a Victor Reyes RBI triple before ending the inning.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor loaded the bases with three of the first five hitters he faced in the bottom half of the seventh, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to enter with the go-ahead run at first.

Appearing in his third straight game going back to July 4th, Barnes did not falter this time around, punching out Gordon Beckham on three straight curveballs to escape the jam with the lead still intact.

Brandon Workman retired the only three hitters he faced in a scoreless eighth, and Steven Wright locked down the 10-6 win for the Sox with a shutout frame in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers, who opposed Porcello at Fenway Park back on April 25th and took the loss in that contest.

Starting the scoring for Boston right away in the first inning of this one was Rafael Devers, plating Mookie Betts from third following a leadoff triple on a simple RBI groundout to first.

Two batters later, Andrew Benintendi made his return to the Sox lineup after two days off in triumphant fashion, ripping another three-bagger off Zimmermann and coming in to score on a Michael Chavis bloop RBI single.

In the second, back-to-back singles from Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez to lead off the inning, followed by a successful Sandy Leon sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position for Betts.

Betts took advantage of the situation in front of him, this time lining a double off Zimmermann to plate both Holt and Hernandez.

Christian Vazquez came through with two outs in the same frame, scoring Betts from second on a hard-hit RBI back up the middle to put his team up 5-0 early.

Fast forward to the fourth, and hits from Devers and Vazquez to lead off the inning brought Andrew Benintendi with runners at second and third, and the birthday boy delivered with an RBI double to left that probably should have been caught by Tigers outfielder Christin Stweart. But, it wasn’t, and Devers scored because of it. 6-0.

A pitching change that saw left-hander Blaine Hardy take over for Zimmermann and a one-out walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. meant that runners were on the corners for Brock Holt, who brought Vazquez home from third with a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 7-0 game.

That seven-run cushion quick;y shrunk to just one though, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Sox bats got back on the board, with Hernandez scoring from third on a simple one-out, bases loaded grounder from Devers that was mishandled by Detroit reliever Buck Farmer on the throw back to home.

An inning later, in his second at-bat of the night after pinch-hitting for Holt in the seventh, Eduardo Nunez provided some more insurance for his side, plating Benintendi from second on a two-out, run-scoring single off Farmer. 9-6.

And in the ninth, a Vazquez sacrifice fly with runners at the corners yet again allowed Leon to coast in from third and put the Red Sox up 10-6, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi on his 25th birthday, batting cleanup: 4-for-6 with one double, one triple, two runs scored, and one RBI. Finished a home run shy of the cycle.

Michael Chavis, through five games in July: .333/.364/.571 with two doubles, one homer, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts’ last seven games: .407/.528/.593 with three RBI and eight walks.

Through his first 18 games this season, Marco Hernandez is slashing .348/.362/.565 with two homers, four doubles, and seven RBI.

Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Saturday.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set and the last game before the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon.

Another former Tiger in the form of left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.

Since that six-run meltdown against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has recovered nicely, posting a 2.65 ERA and .239 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In 22 prior appearances (20 starts) at Comerica Park, the 33-year-old owns a lifetime 2.99 ERA and .249 batting average against over a total of 141 innings of work.

Soto, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for the Tigers on Sunday, as he tossed a scoreless seventh inning of relief against Boston in the series opener on Friday.

Through seven outings (six starts) in 2019, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA north of eight at 8.06 over 22 1/3 innings. The Tigers are 2-5 in those games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep in the final action before the All-Star break.

 

 

 

 

Home Runs from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 9-6 Win over Tigers

After a series-clinching 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox opened another three-game set, their last before the All-Star break, in Detroit on Friday, where they topped the lowly Tigers by a final score of 9-6.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win the last time he faced Detroit back in late April at Fenway Park.

This time around, in his first outing at Comerica Park in over two years, the left-hander surrendered just one earned run while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over five rain-shortened innings of work.

That one Detroit tally came in the bottom half of the fourth, when with two outs and Brandon Dixon at first, Jeimer Candelario came through with with his team’s first RBI of the night on a line-drive double to left that Xander Bogaerts was nearly able to snuff out on the relay from J.D. Martinez.

A las, Dixon narrowly evaded the tag from Sandy Leon, and the Tigers were on the board.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez retired four of the next five hitters he faced leading into the end of the fifth inning, where his outing came to a premature close due to the weather.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (49 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 9-4 while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.65, Rodriguez will look to kick off the second half of his season in similar fashion to how he capped off his first half in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden came on in the sixth more than two hours after the Venezuela native had thrown his last pitch, and he allowed the Tigers to climb their way back into this contest with a one-out walk of Miguel Cabrera, a one-out single from Dixon, and another run-scoring base knock off the bat of Candelario that was not handled cleanly by Mookie Betts in right field.

Seven pitches later, Harold Castro hit what appeared to be a hard line-drive back up the middle at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but the ball knuckled a bit, which caused the Sox outfielder to try and make a basket catch, but that did not pan out, as the ball deflected off Bradley Jr. and two more Detroit runs crossed the plate because of it.

So, in came Ryan Brasier with two outs still to get in the inning, and he got those outs, but not before allowing one of his inherited runs to score on a two-out RBI single from John Hicks, cutting Boston’s lead to just one run.

Fortunately though, Brasier ended the sixth by fanning Jordy Mercer on three straight strikes, and the right-hander also worked his way around a two-out Miguel Cabrera single in a scoreless seventh.

From there, Matt Barnes entered with a new four-run lead to protect, and he needed just 13 pitches to hurl a 1-2-3 eighth inning, punching out two along the way.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree made his first appearance since being activated off the injured list on Thursday, and he served up a solo home run to Hicks to lead things off before settling in and locking down the 9-6 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Ryan Carpenter for Detroit, not lefty Gregory Soto as originally thought on Thursday.

With virtually no experience against Carpenter entering the weekend, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started for Boston in the first by driving in Mookie Betts from third on an RBI groundout to short for an early 1-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, and a red-hot Rafael Devers stayed the course following a one-out single from Betts, extending his hitting streak to nine games by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 357-foot opposite field shot off a first-pitch, 81 MPH slider from Carpenter. 3-0.

In the sixth, with Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero on the mound after a rain delay that lasted more than two hours, a Christian Vazquez leadoff double and Michael Chavis single in consecutive order put runners at the corners for a slumping Jackie Bradley Jr.

Entering the frame 0-for-his-last 13, Bradley Jr. broke out of said skid by ripping a line-drive, RBI double down the left field line on a 2-2 heater from Cisnero, plating Vazquez and moving Chavis up to third.

Two batters and one out later, Sandy Leon followed suit and drove in Chavis by reaching on a fielding error committed by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario.

Again with runners at first and third as the lineup turned back over, Betts made it a five-run contest with a sacrifice fly hit deeply enough to center field to score Bradley Jr. 6-1.

And in the eighth, Xander Bogaerts put an exclamation point on this one by launching his 17th big fly of the season, a 441-foot, three-run shot launched over everything in left field off Tigers reliever Austin Adams.

That dinger opened this one up and gave the Red Sox a 9-5 advantage, and after Detroit got one back in their half of the ninth, 9-6 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 3-1 since returning from London.

Rafael Devers has already hit four home runs this month, matching his total for all of June.

Eduardo Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers this season: Two starts, 11 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, four walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s good for a 1.64 ERA.

Xander Bogaerts’ 441-foot home run was his longest of the Statcast era. (h/t @gfstarr1)

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to take the mound for Boston, while fellow righty Jordan Zimmermann will do the same for Detroit.

Porcello struggled mightily in his last start against the New York Yankees in London, where he gave up six runs and only managed to record one out, but he did pick up the win over his former club back on April 25th when he allowed three runs over six quality innings.

In his career at Comerica Park, the one-time Tiger owns a lifetime 4.53 ERA over 91 starts and 542 total innings pitched.

Zimmermann, meanwhile, opposed Porcello in that same game back in April and took the loss, as he yielded five runs, all earned, in just three innings of work.

In his career against the Red Sox, the 33-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight victory.