Red Sox decline Tommy Pham’s option, making outfielder a free agent

The Red Sox have declined their end of Tommy Pham’s $12 million mutual option for the 2023 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams. The veteran outfielder will receive a $1.5 million buyout as he heads for free agency.

Pham, 34, was acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on August 1. The right-handed hitter initially got off to a promising start with the Red Sox but ended his season in an 0-for-18 slump at the plate.

All told, Pham batted just .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts over 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Sox. He was used exclusively as a left fielder and finished tied for the team lead in outfield assists with eight.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals out of Durango High School in 2006, Pham first broke in with St. Louis towards the end of the 2014 season. The Las Vegas-area native then put himself on the map when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting in 2017.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. After 1 1/2 years in Tampa Bay, where he got to know current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, Pham was dealt to the Padres in December 2019. He spent two seasons with San Diego before hitting free agency for the first time last November.

It took until March because of the lockout, but Pham ultimately signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Reds that came with the aforementioned mutual option for 2023. Prior to being traded over the summer, Pham made headlines in late May when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football.

Between Cincinnati and Boston, Pham slashed .236/.312/.374 with 23 doubles, one triple, 17 homers, 63 runs driven in, 89 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 56 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 144 total games (622 plate appearances). His 15 outfield assists were the most in all of baseball.

Pham, who turns 35 next March, has expressed interest in returning to the Red Sox as he enjoyed playing in Boston. For their part, the Red Sox could also be interested in a reunion since they are expected to bolster their outfield depth this winter.

With the Pham decision made, the Red Sox still have two more option calls due this week. While Chris Sale has opted in and Xander Bogaerts has opted out, Boston is still waiting on Eric Hosmer, who is expected to opt in. James Paxton, meanwhile has the ability to exercise a $4 million player option for 2023 if his two-year, $26 million club optioned is declined. Those decisions are due by Thursday.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Tommy Pham scratched from Red Sox lineup

Tommy Pham was originally leading off and starting in left field for the Red Sox in their season finale against the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon. He was instead scratched from the lineup minutes before first pitch.

With Pham out, center fielder Enrique Hernandez moved from the six-hole to the leadoff spot while Abraham Almonte was inserted into the lineup as the No. 9 hitter and starting left fielder.

Acquired from the Reds for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on the eve of the trade deadline, Pham has batted .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts in 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting 34-year-old initially got off to a hot start to begin his tenure in Boston, as he clubbed four homers and posted an .812 OPS in 25 August contests. Since the calendar flipped to September, though, Pham has cooled off at the plate significantly and is slashing just .176/.268/.269 with two homers and nine RBIs over his last 28 games. He was in the midst of an 0-for-19 skid before being scratched on Wednesday.

Defensively, Pham has played exclusively left field for the Red Sox and has been quite good there. The 6-foot-1, 223-pounder has recorded eight outfield assists across 419 1/3 innings at the position. Combine that with the seven he notched with the Reds, and Pham finishes the year with a major-league-best 15 outfield assists.

When Pham signed his one-year, $6 million contract with Cincinnati back in March, it was reported at the time that the deal came with a $6 mutual option for 2023. According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, it is actually worth $12 million. If Boston declines its side of the option, Pham will be owed $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Pham, who turns 35 in March, would join a long list of pending Red Sox free-agents if his option is declined. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. already have plenty of decisions to make when it comes to the futures of Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts, who is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract this winter and hit the open market for the first time in his career.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

Abraham Almonte and Alex Verdugo both homer, Rich Hill fans 9 over 6 scoreless innings as Red Sox defeat Orioles, 3-1

In rather uneventful fashion, the Red Sox won their second straight over the Orioles on Wednesday night. Boston bested Baltimore by a final score of 3-1 to improve to 74-81 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 25th start of the year, pitched well for the Sox. The veteran left-hander scattered five hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work.

The Red Sox provided Hill with an early lead. After Rafael Devers ripped a one-out ground-rule double off Orioles starter Dean Kremer, Alex Verdugo followed by lacing a run-scoring single to center field to get his side on the board first in the first inning.

Two innings later, Abraham Almonte took the fourth pitch he saw from Kremer and drilled a 421-foot solo shot to right field for his first home run in a Red Sox uniform.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Hill ended his night by retiring the final three batters he faced in order. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with exactly 100 pitches (67 strikes) and induced 15 swings-and-misses. He also picked up his eighth winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.41.

Shortly after Hill put an end to the top of the sixth, Verdugo led off the bottom half by sneaking a 331-foot liner past Pesky’s Pole for his 11th home run of the season. It left his bat at 102.6 mph and gave Boston a 3-0 lead heading into the seventh.

In relief of Hill, Ryan Brasier received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Brasier needed just 10 pitches to get through a scoreless seventh inning. Kaleb Ort, on the other hand, served up a solo homer to Robinson Chirinos to begin the eighth before settling down and retiring the next three Orioles he faced.

Matt Barnes was responsible for the ninth inning. The righty allowed two runners to reach base but ultimately held on to secure the 3-1 victory while also notching his sixth save of the year.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Baumann in series finale

The Red Sox will look to take this four-game series from the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi, who last pitched on August 13, will be activated from the injured list to make his penultimate start of the season for Boston. Baltimore will counter with fellow right-hander Michael Baumann.

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

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts reaches career milestone as Red Sox rack up 20 hits in 13-3 win over Royals

The Red Sox secured a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. After getting shut out on Saturday, Boston broke out for 20 hits in a 13-3 win over Kansas City to close out the weekend at Fenway Park.

Matched up against Kris Bubic to kick off Sunday’s series finale, the Sox got off to a quick start offensively. On the heels of back-to-back singles from Tommy Pham and Rafael Devers to lead off the first inning, Xander Bogaerts followed by ripping a game-tying double off the Green Monster to knot the score at 1-1.

An inning later, Enrique Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and immediately advanced to second base on a line-drive single off the bat of Yu Chang. Both runners moved up an additional 90 feet on a successful sacrifice bunt laid down by Reese McGuire. Pham then plated Hernandez from third on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Boston began to pull away in the third on a pair of sacrifice flies from Rob Refsnyder and Christian Arroyo. Hernandez and Chang each drew two-out walks before McGuire scored Hernandez on a groundball single through the right side of the infield.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead going into the fourth. To that point, Nick Pivetta had already allowed two runs — both of which came within the first two innings.

Pivetta, making his 30th start of the season for Boston, managed to keep the Royals off the board in the third and fourth before serving up a solo shot to the dangerous Salvador Perez with one out in the fifth. The right-hander ended his day by retiring two of the final three batters he faced.

So, over five innings of work in total, Pivetta surrendered three earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts on 97 pitches (66 strikes). The 29-year-old was able to pick up his 10th win of the season, though his ERA did rise to 4.35.

Shortly after Pivetta had recorded the final out in the top of the fifth, the Red Sox lineup got back to work in the bottom half. Arroyo, McGuire, and Pham each reached to fill the bases with two outs for Devers. Devers, in turn, greeted new Royals reliever Anthony Misiewicz by swatting a two-run single to right field to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

With two outs in the sixth inning, Boston plated four additional runs on back-to-back-to-back-to-back RBI knocks from Hernandez, Chang, McGuire, and Pham. Pham and Devers drove in two more runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox a commanding 13-3 lead.

Out of the Boston bullpen, four relievers combined for four scoreless frames. Kaleb Ort walked and struck out two in the sixth, John Schreiber walked and struck out in the seventh, Matt Strahm struck out the side in the eighth, and Matt Barnes stranded one base runner in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a blowout win.

In terms of offensive production, Pham went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk, Devers went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with his 40th double of the season and two runs scored, Hernandez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two walks, and four runs scored, Chang went 2-for-3 with an RBI, two walks, and one run scored, and McGuire went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

With his first-inning double, Bogaerts collected the 1,400th hit of his big-league career. The 29-year-old shortstop becomes just the fourth player in Red Sox history to reach 1,400 hits before turning 30, joining the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.

Next up: On to Cincinnati

The Red Sox will enjoy an off-day on Monday as they prepare to travel to Cincinnati for a quick two-game series against the Reds. Rookie right-hander Brayan Bello is slated to start Tuesday’s opener opposite left-hander Nick Lodolo.

First pitch from Great American Ballpark is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox send power-hitting prospect Nick Northcut to Reds to complete Tommy Pham trade

The Red Sox have sent infield prospect Nick Northcut to the Reds to complete last month’s trade for outfielder Tommy Pham, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Boston acquired Pham from Cincinnati in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations on August 1. It turns out that player to be named is Northcut.

Originally selected by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2018 amateur draft, Northcut is a Cincinnati-area native who attended William Mason High School in nearby Mason, Ohio. He forwent his commitment to Vanderbilt University by signing with Boston for $565,000.

Now 23 years old, Nortchut opened the 2022 season with High-A Greenville. The right-handed hitter batted 223/.286/.530 with 13 doubles, 26 home runs, 58 RBIs, 43 runs scored, 21 walks, and 118 strikeouts in 77 games (322 plate appearances) with the Drive before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July.

From there, Northcut slashed .208/.245/.376 with five doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, four walks, and 37 strikeouts over 26 games (106 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. His 30 homers are currently the most in the organization.

Despite the impressive power numbers, Northcut was not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. That likely has to do with a .276 on-base percentage, a 35.3% strikeout rate, and a 5.8% walk rate between Greenville and Portland.

On the other side of the ball, Northcut has seen the majority of his playing time on the field this season come at either first or third base. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has logged 518 1/3 innings at third, 276 innings at first, and six innings at shortstop.

Northcut, who does not turn 24 until next June, can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter. The Reds will have until late November to add him to their 40-man roster if they intend on protecting him from it.

Pham, meanwhile, has slashed .262/.321/.416 with eight doubles, five home runs, 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored, one stolen base, nine walks, and 50 strikeouts in 36 games (162 plate appearances) with the Red Sox since the trade.

(Picture of Nick Northcut: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Rich Hill strikes out 7 over 5 scoreless innings as Red Sox take series from Orioles with 1-0 win

After breaking out for a season-high 17 runs on a season-high 21 hits on Saturday, the Red Sox needed just one run on four hits to secure a 1-0 series-clinching victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Sunday.

A 72-minute rain delay did not affect Rich Hill, who made his 22nd start of the year for Boston and scattered two hits, three walks, and one hit batsman to go along with seven strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

Hill retired the first five batters he faced before giving up a two-out single to Austin Hays in the bottom of the second. The veteran left-hander then worked his way around having runners on the corners with two outs in the third by getting Ryan Mountcastle to fly out to left field.

After stranding another base runner in the fourth, Hill plunked Rougned Odor and walked Robinson Chirinos to begin the fifth. But he did not falter as he got Ryan McKenna to pop out into foul territory before fanning Anthony Santander and Mountcastle back-to-back to end his day on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 77 (45 strikes), Hill ultimately picked up his seventh winning decision of the season while lowering his ERA to 4.56. The 42-year-old hurler has now allowed two or fewer runs to score in three of his last five starts.

It may have helped that the Red Sox had jumped out to an early 1-0 lead before Hill even took the mound on Sunday. Matched up against Baltimore right-hander Kyle Bradish, Tommy Pham led off the game with a line-drive single. He then stole second base, moved up to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout, and scored on a 348-foot sacrifice fly of Xander Bogaerts.

That one run turned out to be all Boston needed, as it recorded just one hit from the second and eighth innings before Verdugo and Bogaerts each singled in the ninth.

While the Sox lineup was unable to provide any sort of insurance, the bullpen held it down in relief of Hill. John Schreiber yielded just one single in a scoreless sixth inning, Matt Strahm put a runner at second with no outs before retiring the next three Orioles he faced in the seventh, Garrett Whitlock worked his way around a two-out walk in an otherwise clean eighth, and Matt Barnes struck out two while retiring the side in order in the ninth.

Barnes notched his fifth save of the season as the Red Sox improved to 7-8 against the O’s and to 69-72 on the 2022 campaign as a whole. With only 21 regular season games remaining, they still trail the Blue Jays by 10 games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Story day-to-day with left heel pain

Trevor Story left the game in the middle of the seventh inning after grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. He was later diagnosed with left heel pain and is considered day-to-day. Christian Arroyo took over for Story at second base and drew a walk in his only plate appearance.

Next up: Back to Boston

The Red Sox will an enjoy an off day on Monday before opening a quick two game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Tuesday. Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to start the opener for Boston. New York has yet to name a starter.

Regardless, first pitch on Tuesday night is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and TBS.

(Picture of Rich Hill: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers crushes grand slam as Red Sox rack up season-high 21 hits in 17-4 romping of Orioles

The Red Sox put an end to their four-game losing streak on Saturday with a commanding win over the Orioles. Boston defeated Baltimore by a final score of 17-4 to even the three-game series and improve to 68-72 on the season.

With Jordan Lyles on the mound for the O’s, the Sox did not waste any time in jumping out to an early lead. After Tommy Pham drew a leadoff walk, Alex Verdugo singled, and Xander Bogaerts was plunked by a pitch, the bases were loaded with no outs in the first inning for Rafael Devers.

Devers, who had not homered in his last 21 games, got ahead in the count at 2-0 and promptly cranked a 425-foot grand slam into the Red Sox bullpen in deep left-center field. The 26th home run of the season for Devers had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph and put Boston up, 4-0.

Michael Wacha, making his 19th start of the season for the Sox, already had a four-run lead to work with when he took the mound for the first time on Saturday. The veteran right-hander put together yet another quality outing, allowing three earned runs on six hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts over six innings.

The first of those three runs came in the bottom of the third, when Wacha served up a solo shot to Cedric Mullins. The Red Sox lineup, however, responded by putting up another four-spot in their half of the fourth.

After Enrique Hernandez and Kevin Plawecki traded places on back-to-back one-out doubles, Verdugo plated Plawecki on a line-drive single to right field. Verdugo moved up to second base on a Bogaerts single and then scored from there when Devers greeted new Orioles reliever Keegan Akin by ripping a run-scoring base hit to left-center field. Trevor Story capped the four-run inning off with another RBI single that drove in Bogaerts left his bat at 99.6 mph.

An inning later, J.D. Martinez led off with a softly-hit double and was immediately driven in when Christian Arroyo clubbed a two-run homer 396 feet over the left field wall for his sixth big fly of the year.

Wacha, meanwhile, ran into some more trouble in the bottom of the fifth. After Gunnar Henderson reached on a leadoff single and moved up to third on a Ramon Urias double, Wacha yielded a sacrifice fly to Jorge Mateo that scored Henderson. Urias, who advanced to third on the play, came into score on an RBI single from Mullins.

Though he was charged with both of those runs, Wacha stranded Mullins by punching out Adley Rutschman before retiring three of the final four batters he faced in the sixth. The 31-year-old hurler wound up throwing 82 pitches (60 strikes) while inducing a total of swings-and-misses. He picked up his 11th winning decision of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.69.

Following a scoreless seventh inning from Ryan Brasier, Boston tacked on additional run off Baltimore reliever Yennier Cano in the top of the eighth. Abraham Almonte led off with a single, marking his first hit in a Red Sox uniform. Almonte went from first to third on a two-out single from Devers and then came into score on a 100.7 mph base hit from Story.

Taking a sizable 11-3 lead into the latter half of the eighth, Matt Strahm took over for Brasier. The left-hander got the first two outs of the inning and was well on his way to getting his third, but Story misplayed a 197-foot flyball off the bat of the pinch-hitting Ryan McKenna and was charged with a fielding error. McKenna was able to take second as a result, and then scored from second on a Ryan Mountcastle RBI single.

In the top of the ninth, Almonte provided some late scoring with an RBI single that pushed across Hernandez from second base. Connor Wong, who came off the bench to pinch-hit for Devers, followed with an infield single that brought in Plawecki and kept the bases loaded for Story, who drew a four-pitch walk to plate Almonte.

That prompted an Orioles pitching change, as McKenna — the right fielder — took over for Cano. Martinez, Arroyo, and Hernandez kept the line moving by driving in three more runs before Plawecki grounded out to mercifully end the inning. Eduard Bazardo closed it out with a scoreless bottom of the ninth to secure a one-sided 17-4 victory.

All told, the Red Sox went 11-for-17 with runners in scoring position on Saturday while racking up a season-high 17 runs on a season-high 21 hits. Almonte, Verdugo, Story, Martinez, Arroyo, and Plawecki each had two hits. Devers went 3-for-5 with five RBIs and Hernandez went 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Pham exits with left shin contusion

Tommy Pham exited Saturday’s game in the middle of the fourth inning because of a left knee shin contusion he sustained in the top of the first. He went 0-for-1 with a walk and run scored prior to getting pulled and is considered day-to-day. In his place, Abraham Almonte went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Next up: Hill vs. Bradish in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to close out a series win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill will start the finale for Boston while right-hander Kyle Bradish will do the same for Baltimore.

First pitch from Camden Yards is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next up: On to Baltimore

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

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

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

Kutter Crawford, Ryan Brasier combine to give up 7 runs as Red Sox fall to Twins, 10-5

The Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins on Tuesday night. Boston fell to Minnesota by a final score of 10-5 at Target Field despite having a 4-3 lead at one point.

Kutter Crawford, making his 12th start and 21st overall appearance of the season for the Sox, surrendered five runs — four of which were earned — on four hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work.

Three of those runs came within the first two innings. Crawford retired the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the first before issuing a pair of two-out walks to Max Kepler and Jose Miranda. The rookie right-hander then gave up a two-run double to Nick Gordon that got the Twins on the board first.

An inning later, Jake Cave led off the bottom of the second by taking Crawford 400 feet deep to left-center field for just his third home run of the season. Crawford put together his first scoreless frame of the night in the third and did it again in the fourth.

The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, finally broke through against Twins starter Chris Archer in their half of the fourth. An Alex Verdugo leadoff single and Xander Bogaerts double put runners at second and third with no outs for Rafael Devers. Devers drove in Verdugo with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game in favor of Minnesota. J.D. Martinez followed by drawing a six-pitch walk, but Trevor Story grounded into an inning-ending double play to extinguish the threat.

In the fifth, however, the Sox were able to mount a rally. With Enrique Hernandez and Reese McGuire on the corners following a pair of one-out singles, Tommy Pham trimmed Boston’s deficit to one with a run-scoring base hit through the right side of the infield. That knocked Archer out of the game in favor of Caleb Thielbar.

McGuire moved up to third base when Verdugo grounded into a force out at second. With runners at the corners yet again, Bogaerts greeted the new Twins reliever by blooping a 241-foot game-tying single to left field to push across McGuire and move Verdugo to third. Devers then drew a bases-filling walk, prompting another Minnesota pitching change.

Michael Fulmer was dispatched to face Martinez, but he first airmailed a wild pitch to the backstop that allowed Verdugo to score the go-ahead run on a feet-first slide. The Red Sox had a chance to add to their newfound 4-3 lead, but Martinez struck out against his former teammate to leave things there.

Crawford came back out for the fifth and got Luis Arraez to fly out to Pham for the first out of the inning. It appeared as though Crawford was going to get the second out when he got Carlos Correa to lift a 318-foot flyball to Verdugo in right field.

Verdugo failed to make a clean catch, though, as the ball deflected off his glove, allowing Correa to reach first base safely. Correa then issued another walk to Kepler, which is how his night would come to an end as Red Sox manager Alex Cora pulled the righty for Ryan Brasier.

Brasier, in turn, made a sticky situation even worse by plunking the first batter he faced in Jose Miranda to load the bases. Gordon, already in the midst of a productive evening at the plate, took full advantage of the spot he was in by unloading the bases with a 416-foot grand slam over everything in right field.

Gordon’s sixth homer of the season officially closed the book on Crawford, who finished with a final pitch count of 76 (43 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler managed to induce just seven swings-and-misses while raising his ERA on the season to 5.47 (7.58 ERA in August). He was also hit with his sixth losing decision of the year.

Brasier, on the other hand, was tagged for two runs after getting through the rest of the fifth inning unscathed. The recently-turned 35-year-old has now allowed 14 runs (13 earned) to cross the plate in 14 relief appearances (12 innings) this month. That is good for an ERA of 9.75.

Boston’s bullpen struggled continued into the sixth inning, as Jeurys Familia served up a solo shot to Gary Sanchez. The Red Sox got that run back in the top of the seventh, when Verdugo plated Pham all the way from first base on a 410-foot RBI double to right-center field that would have been a home run in 16 of 30 MLB ballparks.

Verdugo’s second hit of the contest brought the Sox back to within three runs of the Twins at 8-5. Bogaerts moved Verdugo up to third base on a groundout, but Devers stranded him there by striking out.

Following a 1-2-3 seventh inning from Zack Kelly in his second big-league appearance, a resurgent Matt Barnes ran into more trouble in the eighth by walking one and giving up three straight hits to Sanchez, Arraez, and Correa. Arreaz and Correa each drove in runs with their singles, which gave the Twins a commanding 10-5 lead going into the ninth.

Down to their final three outs, Hernandez led off with a walk, but McGuire, Pham, and Verdugo went down quietly against Emilio Pagan to seal another defeat.

With the loss, the seventh in their last nine games, the Red Sox drop to 62-68 on the season. The Blue Jays won on Tuesday, so Boston now sits nine games back of Toronto for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Wacha vs. Ryan in series finale

The Red Sox will look to salvage something out of this series with the Twins on Wednesday night. Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston. Fellow right-hander Joe Ryan is expected to do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: David Berding/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta’s struggles against American League East continue as Red Sox drop series finale to Rays, 12-4

The Red Sox were unable to complete a three-game weekend sweep of the Rays on Sunday afternoon. Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score 12-4 at Fenway Park to drop to 62-66 on the season.

Nick Pivetta, making his 26th start of the year for the Sox, ended his month of August on a sour note. The right-hander allowed five earned runs on eight hits, three walks, and four strikeouts over five innings of work.

After retiring four of the first five batters he faced, Pivetta served up a solo home run over the Green Monster to Isaac Paredes with one out in the second inning. It was ruled a single on the field, but it was overturned following an umpire review.

An inning later, a two-out walk of Manuel Margot proved to be costly for Pivetta. That being the case because Margot stole second base and then easily scored from second when David Peralta ripped an RBI double down the right field line.

Trailing 2-0 going into their half of the third inning, the Red Sox were able to cut the deficit in half when Franchy Cordero cranked a 403-foot solo shot off Rays starter Corey Kluber into the home bullpen. Cordero’s eighth homer of the season — and fourth in his last six games — left his bat at 112.3 mph.

While Boston got on the board, Tampa Bay quicky responded. Randy Arozarena led off the fourth inning with a hard-hit double. Paredes immediately followed by crushing his second home run of the day off Pivetta to make it a 4-1 game.

To lead off the bottom of the fourth, J.D. Martinez took Kluber 410 feet over the Monster for his first home run since July 10. Martinez’s 10th big fly of the season once again trimmed the Rays’ lead in half at 4-2.

Pivetta, however, continued to struggle in his fifth and final frame. He surrendered hits to the first four batters he faced in the inning, including an RBI double to Peralta that plated Margot, before getting Taylor Wallks to ground into a force out at third base.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (63 strikes), Pivetta induced 14 swings-and-misses while mixing in a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.3 mph, a slider that averaged 86.3 mph, and a knuckle-curveball that averaged 78.6 mph. The 29-year-old hurler was charged with his 10th loss of the season and his ERA now sits at 4.40. That includes an ERA of 7.24 in 11 starts against divisional opponents.

Moments after Pivetta’s day had come to an end, Tommy Pham brought the Red Sox back to within two runs of the Rays by clubbing another solo blast off Kluber. It left his bat at 104.3 mph and was good for his fourth home run in 22 games with Boston.

Hirokazu Sawamura received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. As has been the case throughout the season, Sawamura’s struggles at Fenway Park continued. The Japanese-born righty gave up back-to-back one-out singles, including a 181-foot pop-up off the bat of Jose Siri that Cordero could not come up with cleanly in shallow right field.

With runners on the corners, Margot drove in Siri from third on a sacrifice fly. After issuing a five-pitch walk to Peralta, Sawamura yielded back-to-back run-scoring hits to Harold Ramirez and Arozarena, thus giving the Rays a commanding 8-3 advantage.

Following a scoreless top of the seventh from Ryan Brasier, the pinch-hitting Bobby Dalbec and Pham greeted new Rays reliever Colin Poche with back-to-back hard-hit singles to lead off the bottom half. Xander Bogaerts plated Pham on a sacrifice fly, but that is all the Sox could manage.

The Rays proceeded to pull away from there. A clean-shaven Austin Davis got tagged for four runs (two earned) in the eighth. Following a Rafael Devers fielding error that put runners on the corners with no outs, Arozarena drove in Peralta on a sharply-hit double. Taylor Walls made it an 11-4 game with a two-run single and Siri capped it off with a run-scoring groundout.

Davis retired the side in order in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half, Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt made the ninth relief appearance of his career. He gave up a pair of singles to Dalbec and Bogaerts, but still recorded the final three outs of the contest.

With Sunday’s 12-4 loss, the Red Sox remain seven games back of the Blue Jays for the third and final American League Wild Card spot.

Next up: Quick trip to Minnesota

The Red Sox will now board a flight to Minneapolis and open a three-game series against the Twins on Monday night. Rookie right-hander is slated to get the start for Boston while fellow righty Dylan Bundy is expected to take the mound for Minnesota.

First pitch from Target Field is scheduled for 7:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)