Red Sox have ‘at least checked in on’ free agent shortstop Trevor Story, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams with interest in free-agent shortstop Trevor Story, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, the Astros, Mariners, and Red Sox have all been linked to Story, who remains unsigned in the wake of Major League Baseball’s work stoppage beginning last week.

“Story, I have heard three teams,” Heyman said on the latest installment of the Big Time Baseball podcast. “Seattle, Houston, and Boston. So it would be interesting to see with Boston. Obviously he could start out at second base potentially, and we’ll see what goes on from there.”

Heyman added on Twitter that the Red Sox “have at least checked in with Story” while noting that there are at least three “serious players” and one “mystery team” who are interested in the infielder’s services.

Story, 29, has spent the last six seasons with the Rockies and is fresh off a 2021 campaign in which he slashed .251/.329/.471 with 34 doubles, five triples, 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, 88 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 53 walks, and 139 strikeouts over 142 games spanning 595 plate appearances.

Defensively, Story has proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball since making his major-league debut in 2016. This past season alone, the two-time All-Star put up positive-nine defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating of 3.6 across 1,175 innings at the position.

At present, the Red Sox already have one of the better offensive shortstops in the game in Xander Bogaerts, who could potentially opt out of the final three years of his six-year, $120 million contract at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Back in October, ESPN’s Joon Lee reported that Bogaerts “currently plans on opting out of the contract after 2022, but hopes to remain in Boston” and is even “open to moving to second or third base down the road.”

Story has only played shortstop at the major-league level, though there seems to be some speculation that the right-handed hitter would be willing to move to second base in the right situation, such as getting the opportunity to play alongside someone like Bogaerts everyday.

“The AL/NL kind of keeps us apart, but man, he’s so underrated it’s unbelievable,” Story said of Bogaerts at this summer’s All-Star Game festivities in Denver. “He’s such a good player on both sides of the ball. I appreciate just the way he goes out there every day and posts every day. It feels like he’s getting an extra-base hit every day. He’s just a really productive player. And he’s good for the game.”

Even if Story were to express a willingness to switch positions, signing the Excel Sports Management client would not come cheaply since he is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a six-year, $126 million contract this winter.

Not only that, but Story was also extended a qualifying offer by the Rockies (which he rejected), meaning any other team that signs him would have to forfeit a draft pick and international bonus pool money in order to sign him.

That being said, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes that “it’s unclear how serious any talks between the Red Sox and Story advanced before the lockout went into effect at midnight Thursday.”

The ongoing lockout, of course, prevents clubs from speaking with major-league free agents or their representatives. Things will remain that way until a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers named to All-MLB Second Team

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers was named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team on Tuesday night, as revealed on MLB Network.

Devers was originally one of six Red Sox players selected as a finalist for the third annual All-MLB team earlier this month, joining teammates Xander Bogaerts, Kyle Schwarber, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, and Garrett Whitlock.

While the other five were unable to land on one of the two All-MLB squads, Devers was recognized as the second team’s starting third baseman after Braves third baseman Austin Riley received first-team honors.

For Devers, this marks the first time in which he has been selected to an All-MLB team since the concept was introduced in 2019 to “give a more comprehensive honor that covered the full breadth of a big league season, complementing the All-Star Game selections that are awarded just past the season’s halfway point.” Voting was conducted by both fans and a panel of experts.

Being named to the 2021 All-MLB Second Team is not all Devers has accomplished this off-season, as he also took home his first career Silver Slugger Award and finished 11th in American League Most Valuable Player voting.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, the 25-year-old slashed .279/.352/.538 to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, a career-high 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Among qualified big-league third basemen this year, the left-handed hitting Devers ranked first in home runs, first in RBIs, second in runs scored, second in isolated power (.259), second in batting average, seventh in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, second in wOBA (.373), third in wRC+ (134), and second in fWAR (4.7), per FanGraphs.

Heading into the winter, Devers is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $11.1 million in 2022, which is a significant raise from the $4.575 he made this season.

With Devers under club control for the next two years, it is worth mentioning that his fellow infield partner in Bogaerts can opt out of the final three years of his contract at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

Taking those two situations into consideration, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked on Monday about where things stand in regards to extension talks with Bogaerts and Devers.

“As always with any type of contract talks with players in-house, we wouldn’t comment unless and until there’s something to announce,” Bloom said. “But you know where we stand on both guys. They are critical, critical parts of our organization. Huge parts of past success here and hopefully parts of future success for a long time.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Nathan Eovaldi all recognized in American League MVP voting

A trio of Red Sox teammates were recognized in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting on Thursday night, as revealed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on MLB Network.

While Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani took home AL MVP honors unanimously, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers finished 11th, shortstop Xander Bogaerts finished 13th, and right-hander Nathan Eovaldi finished 15th.

Devers finished 11th in voting by receiving one fifth-place vote, two sixth-place votes, one seventh-place vote, and eighth 10th-place votes. In total, the 25-year-old netted himself 28 voting points.

A first-time All-Star in 2021, Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBIs, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Bogaerts finished 13th in voting after receiving a pair of ninth-place votes and three 10th-place votes, which translates to seven voting points in total. The 29-year-old Aruban was selected to his third career All-Star Game roster this summer.

Over 144 games in what was his ninth season with the Sox, Bogaerts batted .295/.370/.493 to go along with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBIs, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts in 603 total trips to the plate.

Both Devers and Bogaerts won their respective first and fourth career Silver Slugger Awards last week.

Eovaldi, on the other hand, just finished fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting on Tuesday and now further solidifies what was a breakout campaign in 2021 after receiving one seventh-place vote in the MVP race.

Like Devers, Eovaldi was named an All-Star for the first time in his career earlier this summer. The 31-year-old righty posted posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP with 195 strikeouts and 35 walks across 182 1/3 innings of work. Among qualified American League starters this year, he ranked ninth in strikeout rate (25.5%), first in walk rate (4.6%), first in FIP, third in xFIP (3.48), and first in fWAR (5.6), per FanGraphs.

The last Red Sox player to win American League MVP was Mookie Betts, who did so in 2018.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers named Silver Slugger Award winners

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and third baseman Rafael Devers were each named Silver Slugger Award winners by Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball on Thursday night. The announcement was made on MLB Network.

Per MLB.com, “the Silver Slugger recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league. The winners are voted upon by Major League managers and coaches, who are unable to vote for players on their own teams.”

Bogaerts, who was named one of three finalists for American League shortstops last month, takes home his fourth career Silver Slugger Award after beating out Houston’s Carlos Correa, Chicago’s Tim Anderson, and Toronto’s Bo Bichette for the honors.

This past season, the 29-year-old was named to his third American League All-Star team while slashing an impressive .295/.370/.493 (130 wRC+) with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 144 games and 603 trips to the plate.

Among qualified American League shortstops, Bogaerts ranked fourth in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.368), and second in weighted runs created plus.

Devers, meanwhile, made his first American League All-Star team this season and he was just recognized as a Silver Slugger Award winner for the first time in his career on Thursday. He beat out Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez and Seattle’s Kyle Seager by doing so.

Regularly playing to the right of Bogaerts and manning third base for the Red Sox, Devers slashed .279/.352/.538 (134 wRC+) to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBI, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

Among qualified third basemen in the junior circuit this year, the 25-year-old ranked first in home runs, first in RBI, second in runs scored, second in isolated power (.259), first in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.373), and second in weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs.

With Bogaerts and Devers taking home Silver Slugger Awards on Thursday, the pair of infielders become the fourth American League shortstop/third baseman teammates to win the award in the same season since its inception in 1980.

According to Red Sox senior manager of media relations and baseball information J.P. Long, Bogaerts becomes the fifth shortstop in major-league history to win at least four Silver Slugger Awards. He has now also won the fourth-most Silver Sluggers in team history behind only David Ortiz (7), Wade Boggs (6), and Manny Ramirez (6).

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

6 Red Sox players, including Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, selected as finalists for 2021 All-MLB team

Six different Red Sox players were selected as nominees to make Major League Baseball’s 2021 All-MLB team on Wednesday night.

Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Kyle Schwarber, and Garrett Whitlock represent six of the 103 players with the opportunity to make the league’s third annual All-MLB team.

Of those on the Sox who made the cut, Bogaerts is one of 10 shortstops, Devers is one of seven third baseman, Hernandez and Schwarber are two of 18 outfielders, Martinez is one of five designated hitters, and Whitlock is one of 16 relievers.

With six nominees, the Red Sox have the fourth-highest total in the American League behind only the White Sox (nine finalists), Astros (seven finalists), and Blue Jays (seven finalists).

First introduced in 2019, the purpose of the All-MLB team is to recognize the best players at each position across both the American and National League while also splitting them into a First and Second Team.

Since its inception two years ago, only two Red Sox players have received All-MLB honors, as both Bogaerts and former Boston outfielder Mookie Betts were named to the inaugural first and second teams at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign.

After not having a single player make it last year, the Sox will be well represented this time around. Bogaerts has a strong chance to make his second All-MLB team, while his five teammates (including Schwarber) will be going for their first All-MLB nods, respectively.

Voting for the All-MLB team runs through 5 p.m. eastern time on November 19. Fan voting, which can be done by following this link, accounts for 50% of the vote. The other 50% comes from a panel of experts.

The field of players who were announced as finalists on Wednesday will be whittled down to 32 — or two teams consisting of 16 players each — by the time voting ends next Friday.

Winners will then be announced on MLB Network on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 23. This was previously done during the Winter Meetings, which typically take place in December, but the impending work stoppage must have forced a change of plans.

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

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts on Jerry Remy’s passing: ‘He will be missed’

Longtime Red Sox player and NESN color analyst Jerry Remy passed away at 68 on Saturday night after a lengthy battle with lung cancer.

Remy often described Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts as his favorite player to watch from the broadcast booth.

“Bogaerts is very special,” Remy told MLB.com’s Ian Browne last April. “He can do everything. I love his style of hitting. He’s not a launch and lift guy. He basically tries to hit line drives. He now has the ability to play with the whole ballpark line to line with his offense which makes him, to me, an outstanding hitter. To top it all, he’s just a tremendous person.”

Remy and Bogaerts share plenty in common. Both are infielders, both were All-Stars and fan favorites in their time with the Red Sox, and both had/have spent the majority of their major-league careers in Boston.

When it was revealed by the Red Sox on Sunday that Remy had indeed passed away following his fight with lung cancer that dates back to 2008, Bogaerts was the lone active player to offer some words of condolence in a series of statements released by the club.

“This is a such a sad day. My thoughts are with Jerry’s family and his loved ones,” Bogaerts said. “As a player, I always loved seeing Rem in our clubhouse at Fenway every day. He was the first person you’d see when you came in. Whether it was just to say hello or to talk baseball, he was always there. You knew he loved the Red Sox and that he was always pulling for us. He will be missed.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora also made a statement in regards to Remy’s passing, adding that: “Like everyone else in Red Sox Nation today, I’m absolutely devastated by Jerry’s passing.

“We connected because of our love for the game of baseball. I will miss all of our conversations about the game and just passing time together throughout the years, whether in the clubhouse or dugout,” added Cora. “Jerry was so passionate about the Red Sox and even though he had to step away for treatment late in the season, he was with us every step of the way — especially in October.

“We kept in touch just about every day and encouraged each other to keep fighting. It was great seeing him at Fenway when we started our run; he was a source of inspiration for so many of our players. My condolences go out to his wife, Phoebe, and his children and their grandchildren. We will miss you, Rem!”

Cora took to Twitter as well and ended his tweet by writing “Descansa en Paz, amigo,” which translates to “Rest in Peace, friend.”

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and Hunter Renfroe named Silver Slugger Award finalists

Three Red Sox hitters have been named as finalists for Silver Slugger Awards at their respective positions, Louisville Slugger and Major League Baseball announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Hunter Renfroe were each recognized for the seasons they put together at the plate, as “the Silver Slugger recognizes the best offensive players at each position in each league.”

Devers, who is up for his first career Silver Slugger Award, is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he slashed .279/.352/.538 (134 wRC+) to go along with 37 doubles, one triple, 38 home runs, 113 RBI, 101 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 143 strikeouts over 156 games spanning 664 plate appearances.

The recently-turned 24-year-old third baseman was also named to his first career All-Star team over the summer and now finishes alongside the likes of Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez and Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager.

Of those three, Devers ranked first in batting average, second in on-base percentage, tied for first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.373), and second in weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, is up for for his fourth career Silver Slugger Award as he, too, is just a few weeks removed from an All-Star season in which he posted an impressive .295/.370/.493 (130 wRC+) with 34 doubles, one triple, 23 home runs, 79 RBI, 90 runs scored, five stolen bases, 62 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 144 games and 603 trips to the plate.

The 29-year-old shortstop was named a finalist on Monday along with Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, and Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette.

Among that quartet, Bogaerts ranked third in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in weighted on-base average (.368), and second in weighted runs created plus.

Renfroe, on the other hand, is up for his first career Silver Slugger Award after enjoying a breakout campaign in his first year with the Red Sox.

Across 144 games, the 29-year-old hit a steady .259/.315/.501 (114 wRC+) to go along with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 96 runs driven in, 89 runs scored, one stolen base, 44 walks, and 130 strikeouts in 572 total plate appearances.

One of eight American League outfielders to be recognized as a finalist with Cedric Mullions of the Orioles, Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. of the Blue Jays, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, Kyle Tucker of the Astros, Mitch Haniger of the Mariners, and Randy Arozarena of the Rays, Renfroe ranked seventh among this group in batting average, eighth in slugging percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, sixth in weighted on-base average (.344), and seventh in weighted runs created plus.

While Boston finishing with three finalists means they have among the most in the American League, one could make the case that designated hitter J.D. Martinez was snubbed from the list.

Martinez would have ben going for his fourth career Silver Slugger Award, but instead missed the cut behind the likes of Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, Yankees mashers Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, and Rays veteran Nelson Cruz.

If you were to add Martinez to that group of five, though, the 34-year-old — who was also an All-Star this season — would actually rank first in batting average (.286), fourth in on-base percentage (.349), third in slugging percentage (.518), fourth in weighted on-base average (.364), and fourth in weighted runs created plus (128).

Per MLB.com, the winner for each Silver Slugger Award is voted on by major-league players and coaches “who are unable to vote for players on their own teams.”

The winners themselves will be revealed on MLB Network at 6 p.m. eastern time on November 11.

(Picture of Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ offensive struggles continue in 9-1 blowout loss to Astros in Game 5 of ALCS

Momentum can be a fickle thing, particularly when it comes to postseason baseball.

Two days ago, it appeared as though the Red Sox had all the momentum after taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series.

Less than 48 hours later, it is the Astros who now have all the momentum after they took their second straight game from the Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 9-1 in Game 5, which puts them in a three-games-to-two hole as this ALCS heads back to Houston.

Playing at Fenway Park for possibly the last time this year, the Red Sox got what they needed out of Chris Sale, though the left-hander’s final line may not reflect that.

Sale, making his third start of the postseason, allowed four runs — only two of which were earned — on three hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work.

After retiring the side in order to begin his day, Sale kicked off the top half of the second by serving up a towering solo shot to Yordan Alvarez on a first-pitch 94 mph heater that wasn’t in the strike zone.

Still, the Astros went up 1-0 on Alvarez’s home run, but Sale did not let that put a damper on things for him, as he rebounded and sat down the next seven batters he faced in order.

With one out in the fourth inning of what was still a one-run contest that favored Houston, Sale issued an eight-pitch walk to Alex Bregman that was followed by another hard-hit single from Alvarez that put runners at the corners.

Again, Sale did not back down and instead fanned Carlos Correa on three straight strikes before doing the very same to Kyle Tucker on four pitches to escape the jam.

Upon getting Tucker to fan on a 98.5 mph four-seam fastball — his fastest pitch of the night — that was up and out of the zone, an energetic Sale pumped his left fist, put his glove to his face, and let out a fiery scream while heading back to his dugout.

Sale’s evening was not done yet, however, as the lefty came back out for the fifth and put up another zero. At that point, Sale had gone through the dangerous Astros lineup twice and managed to avoid any serious damage aside from the Alvarez home run.

With his pitch count rising and Houston’s batting order flipping back over, Sale took the mound for the sixth and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve.

Michael Brantley then made matters worse when he reached base safely on a missed catch error committed by Kyle Schwarber at first base, which allowed Altuve to advance all the way up to third.

A groundout off the bat of Bregman moved Brantley up to second and kept the rally alive for Alvarez, who the Red Sox decided to pitch to despite first base being open.

Alvarez made Boston pay dearly for that mistake, as he proceeded to hit Sale hard yet again when he laced a two-run double down the left field line that plated both Altuve and Brantley.

Suddenly down 3-0, Sox manager Alex Cora quickly turned to his bullpen, giving Sale the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier. Brasier, in turn, yielded a two-out single to Tucker that put runners at the corners before Yuli Gurriel drove in another on an RBI double down the right field line.

Jose Siri made sure to keep it going by blooping a softly-hit two-run single to shallow right field that gave the Astros a commanding 6-0 lead before the sixth inning mercifully came to an end.

By the time the third out of the sixth was recorded, the book was officially closed on Sale’s outing while Brasier himself was charged with two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning.

In the top of the seventh, Hansel Robles took over for Brasier, but was unable to get through the inning. The right-handed reliever yielded a leadoff single to Altuve and allowed the speedy second baseman to advance an additional 90 feet on a failed pickoff attempt.

Altuve then scored all the way from second on an RBI single off the bat of Brantley before Bregman grounded into a 6-4-3 double play that was followed by a pitching change that saw Darwinzon Hernandez replace Robles.

Hernandez did what he was called upon to do by punching out Alvarez on six pitches to set the Red Sox up in the bottom half of the frame.

To that point in the night, the Sox lineup had been held in check by Astros starter Framber Valdez in the process of squandering several scoring opportunities.

After going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s Game 4 loss to Houston, Boston had been no-hit by Valdez through four innings on Wednesday before Rafael Devers led off the bottom of the fifth with a sharply-hit single.

J.D. Martinez followed by taking a curveball off the knee that put runners at first and second for Hunter Renfroe, whose postseason struggles continued to drag on when he grounded into a soul-crushing 6-4-3 double play that ultimately stranded Martinez at third.

An inning later, the Sox had the chance to respond to the Astros’ five-run sixth when Christian Vazquez ripped a one-out double off Valdez. He, like Martinez, was left in scoring position after both Enrique Hernandez and Schwarber were sat down by the opposing left-hander.

This takes us to the aforementioned bottom half of the seventh. Shortly after Houston tacked on another run to their lead, Devers got that one run back immediately.

With one out and the bases empty, Devers stayed hot by unloading on a 1-0, 94 mph sinker on the inner half of the plate from Valdez and wrapped it 402 feet around Pesky’s Pole in right field.

Devers’ fifth homer of the postseason left the young slugger’s bat at a scorching 110.7 mph. It also trimmed Boston’s defecit down to six runs at 7-1.

Another walk drawn by Martinez kept the inning alive momentarily, but Renfroe followed by grounding into another twin killing that extinguished the threat.

In the eighth, after Hernandez and Hirokazu Sawamura somehow combined to toss a scoreless frame of relief, Valdez capped off his stellar day for Houston in the bottom half by sitting down the final three batters he faced in order.

Martin Perez then surrendered two additional runs to the Astros to begin the ninth, while Ryne Stanek retired the side in order to close this one out.

All in all, the Boston bats went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left two runners on base as a team in what will go down as a lopsided 9-1 defeat.

With this loss, which is their second straight, the Red Sox’ backs are now against the wall as they trail this best-of-seven ALCS, 3-2.

Next up: Eovaldi on top for Game 6 in Houston

The Red Sox will have Thursday off as they board a flight to Houston for the final leg of this championship series at Minute Maid Park.

On the brink of elimination, it will be right-hander Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston in Game 6 on Friday night. Houston, on the other hand, will turn to fellow righty Luis Garcia in what will be a rematch of Game 2 from last Sunday.

First pitch from Minute Maid Park on Friday is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez and Jose Altuve: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox blow late lead in process of falling to Astros, 9-2, in Game 4 of ALCS

The Red Sox were just a few innings away from potentially jumping out to a commanding three-games-to-one-lead over the Astros in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday night … until they weren’t.

After holding on to a 2-1 lead for most of the night, Boston saw things unravel in the eighth inning of what would later go down as a 9-2 loss to Houston at Fenway Park, which means this best-of-seven ALCS is now tied at two games apiece.

Nick Pivetta, making his first start and third overall appearance of the postseason for the Sox, was solid in his championship series debut. The right-hander limited the Astros to just one run while scattering two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over five impressive innings of work.

The lone run Pivetta surrendered to Houston came right away in the top half of the first, when he served up a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster to Alex Bregman that gave the Astros an early 1-0 lead.

Despite that miscue, the Red Sox lineup picked up their starter right away in the bottom half of the frame.

Matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Zack Greinke to begin things on Tuesday, Rafael Devers drew a five-pitch walk with two outs to set the stage for Xander Bogaerts.

After not collecting an RBI in Monday’s 12-3 thumping of Houston, Bogaerts unloaded on a 1-0, 84 mph slider from Greinke and deposited 413 feet into the Boston night and onto Lansdowne Street.

Bogaerts’ third homer of the postseason — a sizzling two-run blast that left his bat at 107.9 mph — allowed the Sox to snatch their first lead of the evening at 2-1.

Given that fresh one-run advantage to work with, Pivetta took full advantage by stringing together four scoreless frames. He had to escape a bit of a jam he created for himself in the second, but followed by sitting down nine of the final 10 batters he faced leading into the middle of the fifth.

Even after the Astros lineup flipped over for a third time in that fifth inning, Pivetta responded by getting the dangerous Jose Altuve to ground out to third base to retire the side and end his night on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of just of 65 (36 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler topped out at 96.5 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he turned to 38 times to complement both his slider and knuckle curveball.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor got the first call from Red Sox manager Alex Cora out of the Boston bullpen, and he recorded the first two outs of the sixth before yielding a two-out single to Yordan Alvarez.

Adam Ottavino then came on for Taylor to finish the inning, and the veteran reliever did just that by emphatically punching out Carlos Correa on a 96 mph sinker on the outer half of the plate.

From there, Garrett Whitlock put up a zero in the seventh, but ran into some trouble an inning later.

To that point in the contest, the Boston bats had been held in check by Houston pitching. Despite knocking Greinke out after just 1 1/3 innings, the Sox were stymied by the Astros bullpen, though they certainly had their fair share of scoring opportunities.

In the bottom of the second, for instance, the Red Sox had runners at first and second with one out, but neither Enrique Hernandez or Devers were able to come through and instead went down quietly.

Two innings later, Chritian Arroyo ripped a one-out triple off Cristian Javier, but was stranded there after both Kyle Schwarber and Hernandez were retired by the Astros reliever.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Bogaerts laced a 106.9 mph double off Javier. He, too, was left there when Alex Verdugo and J.D. Martinez were sat down on a fly out and swinging strikeout, respectively.

Fast forward to the top half of the eighth, and the Astros promptly capitalized on the fact that the Red Sox had gone 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position while leaving eight runners on base as a team up until then.

That being the case because on the very first pitch he saw from Whitlock, Altuve led off the eighth by crushing a game-tying solo home run 400 feet off the National Car Rental sign hovering above the Green Monster.

Altuve’s late-game heroics knotted things up at two runs apiece, and it also paved the way for Nathan Eovaldi to attempt to keep it that way in the ninth.

Having just started Game 2 of this series on Saturday, Eovaldi immediately gave up a leadoff double to Correa that was just out of the reach of Hunter Renfroe in right field. He then struck out Kyle Tucker and intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to face the pinch-hitting Aledmys Diaz.

Diaz, in turn, fanned on five pitches, bringing Eovaldi to within one out of escaping a sticky situation. Jason Castro, however, had different plans.

Moments after it appeared as though Eovaldi had punched out Castro on a 1-2, 80 mph curveball on the inner half of the plate that was instead called a ball by home plate umpire Laz Diaz, the Astros backstop responded by drilling a go-ahead, run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Castro plated Correa on his clutch hit to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Houston, but the Astros were not done there. Not with Altuve drawing a walk that prompted Cora to go get Eovaldi.

With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Michael Brantley greeted the newly-inserted Martin Perez by drilling a three-run, bases-clearing double to the gap in right-center field that increased his side’s advantage to four runs at 6-2.

Perez’s struggles did not end there, as the lefty surrendered three more runs on three more hits before the top of the ninth inning mercifully came to a close with the Astros up, 9-2.

In total, Eovaldi was charged for four runs — all of which were earned — on two hits, two walks, and two strikeouts in 2/3 of an inning. He is slated to start Game 6 of this series in Houston on Friday.

Perez, on the other hand, was charged with three runs (two earned) in a third of an inning.

The Sox somewhat threatened in their half of the ninth, but ultimately went down quietly against Astros closer Ryan Pressly to secure a heart-breaking 9-2 defeat in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base as a team.

With the loss, the Red Sox have given home-field advantage back to the Astros, as they ensure that they will be heading back to Houston later this week since this ALCS is now tied up at 2-2 and will at least be six games in length.

Next up: Sale vs. Valdez to start off Game 5

The Red Sox will turn to left-hander Chris Sale to start Game 5 at Fenway Park on Wednesday evening, while the Astros will roll with fellow southpaw Framber Valdez.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Wednesday is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Kyle Schwarber’s second-inning grand slam propels Red Sox to 12-3 victory over Astros in Game 3 of ALCS; Eduardo Rodriguez strikes out 7 over 6 solid innings

Have a happy birthday, Alex Cora.

The Red Sox celebrated their manager’s 46th birthday by taking a two-games-to-one lead over the Astros in the American League Championship Series on Monday night.

Boston crushed Houston by a final score of 12-3 in Game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway Park to kick off the week, meaning they are now just two wins away from heading to their first World Series since 2018.

A travel day on Sunday could not stymie a red-hot Sox lineup, as they once again knocked out an Astros starter early while matched up against right-hander Jose Urquidy.

After going down in order to Urquidy in their half of the first inning, Alex Verdugo proved to be the catalyst for an explosive second inning by drawing a hard-fought, 11-pitch walk with one out.

J.D. Martinez advanced Verdugo up to third and put a pair of runners at scoring position with a line-drive double to center field, then Hunter Renfroe drew another walk off Urquidy to fill the bases for Christian Vazquez.

Vazquez got his productive night at the plate started by slapping an RBI single to the opposite field that plated Verdugo and re-loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo, who nearly grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Instead, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve once again mishandled another groundball hit in his direction, which allowed Arroyo to reach base safely and Martinez to cross home plate uncontested.

With the bases still full of Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber put the finishing touches on his side’s second-inning outburst by first getting ahead in a 3-0 count against Urquidy. He then took the fourth pitch he saw, a 93 mph heater on the outer half of the plate, and deposited it 430 feet into the night and into the right field seats.

Schwarber’s grand slam, which left his bat at 114 mph, gave the Sox a commanding 6-0 lead. It also made history since it was the third grand slam Boston has hit in this series alone, matching their total from the 162-game regular season.

While Boston’s six-run surge in the second inning forced Astros manager Dusty Baker to turn to his bullpen earlier than expected yet again, the Red Sox offense did not stop there, as they got to Houston reliever Yimi Garcia in their half of the third as well.

There, with one out and Renfroe at third base after reaching on a walk, stealing second, and moving up to third on a throwing error, Vazquez took advantage of the Astros’ infield positioning by blooping a 67.1 mph single to shallow left field.

Vazquez’s second run-scoring base knock of the evening made it a 7-0 contest in favor of Boston, though their lead only grew when Arroyo promptly uncorked a two-run home run 399 feet over the Green Monster off a first-pitch slider to give his side a 9-0 advantage.

To that point in the night, Eduardo Rodriguez had held the Astros in check, though he did eventually run into some trouble in the middle innings.

Rodriguez, making his third start of the postseason for the Sox, came out firing, hovering around 94-96 mph with his four-seam fastball while striking out the side in the second in the process of retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.

The left-hander’s fortunes momentarily ran out in the top half of the fourth, however, and it began when he yielded a leadoff single to Michael Brantley.

A one-out single off the bat of Yordan Alvarez put runners at the corners for the dangerous Carlos Correa, who popped out to short to bring Rodriguez within one out of getting out of the jam.

Kyle Tucker prevented that from happening, though, as he took Rodriguez deep on a three-run blast hit 413 feet to right field that scored Brantley, Alvarez, and himself to cut the Astros’ deficit down to six runs at 9-3.

Despite that miscue, Rodriguez did manage to limit the damage. He got through the rest of the fourth unscathed before sitting down each of the final six hitters he faced in order. Correa was his final victim, as he got the star shortstop to ground out to second for the last out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (65 pitches), the 28-year-old hurler wound up allowing three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts over six quality frames of work.

Moments after Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, Martinez provided some two-out insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Following a Rafael Devers leadoff walk, the veteran slugger greeted newly-inserted Astros reliever Phil Maton by clubbing another two-run shot 395 feet over the Monster.

Martinez’s third homer of the postseason, which had an exit velocity of 106 mph, put the Red Sox up over the Astros, 11-3. It subsequently set the stage for the Boston bullpen to take over for Rodriguez as well.

Hansel Robles, who got that first call from Cora out of the ‘pen, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk to face the minimum of three batters with the help of a double play in a clean seventh inning.

From there, Martin Perez did the exact same thing by inducing another twin killing in the top of the eighth before Devers made it a 12-3 game by tattooing a 372-foot solo into the Monster seats off Ryne Stanek in the bottom half.

That sequence paved the way for Hirokazu Sawamura to be dispatched in the ninth, and he slammed the door on the Astros with the help of a sliding, game-ending catch from Renfroe to secure a 12-3 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox find themselves up 2-1 in this best-of-seven ALCS with the Astros and inch ever closer to punching their ticket to the Fall Classic.

Next up: Pivetta likely for Game 4

The Red Sox have yet to officially name a starter for Game 4 on Tuesday, though it seems likely that responsibility will fall to right-hander Nick Pivetta, who was available out of the bullpen on Monday but was not used.

Likewise, the Astros also have not named a starter for Tuesday’s contest. Fellow righty Zack Greinke could wind up getting the start for Houston opposite Pivetta.

Regardless, first pitch from Fenway Park on Tuesday night is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. eastern time on FS1.

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)