The Boston Red Sox are getting healthy at the right time as their late-season chase for an American League playoff spot continues.
The Red Sox, who have won back-to-back games and four of their past five, will look to keep the good times rolling in the middle contest of a three-game series against the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
In Boston’s 5-3 win on Tuesday, Enrique Hernandez returned after missing 60 games with a right hip flexor strain. He recorded an RBI during Boston’s four-run first inning.
“The good thing with (Hernandez is) we can … maximize his talent,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He’ll play a lot of center field, we know that. But at the same time, we can move him.”
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has not allowed a run in five of six outings since returning from right shoulder inflammation on Aug. 4. On Tuesday, Barnes logged his first save since May 21, securing the win after Nick Pivetta threw seven shutout innings.
“I’m happy that I could just contribute to this win,” Barnes said. “It’s always good to start the first game of a road trip and a series with a win.”
Hernandez played shortstop as Xander Bogaerts got the night off after fouling a ball off his foot over the weekend against the Yankees. The injury is not expected to be serious.
“We’re getting healthy, we’re getting there,” Cora said. “We have to win as many as possible. We have a chance to win the series (on Wednesday).”
Boston left-hander Rich Hill (4-5, 4.75 ERA) is slated to start on Wednesday, his third outing since returning from a sprained left knee. He has allowed a total of eight runs over seven innings in his past two appearances.
On Aug. 9 against the Atlanta Braves, the southpaw gave up four runs on seven hits in four innings.
Hill hasn’t faced the Pirates since April 28, 2019. His last start at Pittsburgh came with the Dodgers on August 23, 2017, a 1-0 defeat in which he worked nine-plus innings and struck out 10. In 11 career starts vs. the Pirates, Hill is 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA.
Rookie Josh Winckowski is expected to follow Hill to the mound for Boston on Wednesday for his first relief outing after 11 starts.
Winckowski has worked at least five innings in nine of his 11 appearances. The first five innings of his 5 2/3-inning outing Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles were scoreless, but he wound up yielding three runs.
On Tuesday, the Pirates recalled Roansy Contreras and first baseman Kevin Padlo from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Contreras (3-2, 3.78 ERA) will start on Wednesday, returning to the majors for the first time since July 7 after the Pirates expressed a desire to manage his workload. He has thrown a total of 84 1/3 innings between the majors and minors this season.
“(Contreras) has pretty much checked all the boxes at this point,” general manager Ben Cherington said in a recent Pittsburgh radio interview. “A big part of sending him down was to incorporate some recovery time for Contreras in the middle of his first full major league season.”
Manager Derek Shelton expects Contreras to be somewhat limited in his outing as he looks to help the Pirates snap a five-game skid.
“We’ll still monitor where he’s at because I think he’s thrown four innings and five innings in his last two starts,” Shelton said. “We’re gonna monitor him and our starters the rest of the way because we are gonna get to the point where innings are gonna become an issue.”
Padlo, 26, started at first base on Tuesday in his Pirates debut and went 0-for-3. He played briefly for both the San Francisco Giants and the Seattle Mariners earlier this season.
–Field Level Media