Red Sox pitcher Kutter Crawford is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after pitching 5 1/3 shutout innings in relief during Boston’s 4-0 win over Tampa Bay on Monday. Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

BOSTON — The Red Sox hoped to somehow string together 27 outs with their bullpen Monday after scratching starter Michael Wacha because of a heavy, tired feeling in his arm.

Reliever Kutter Crawford decided to turn Boston’s bullpen game into his own game. He recorded 16 outs to lead the Red Sox 4-0 over the Rays in front of 36,473 here at Fenway Park.

Manager Alex Cora replaced opener Austin Davis with Crawford to begin the third inning. The 26-year-old righty hurled 5 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and one walk while striking out eight.

He left with one out in the eighth inning to a standing ovation.

“It’s kind of something you dream about, walking on the field, getting a standing ovation from 35-plus thousand people, especially at Fenway,” Crawford said. “So it was pretty special.”

Crawford threw 24 cutters, 24 four-seam fastballs, 20 curveballs, 10 changeups and four sliders. His fastball averaged 95 mph, per Baseball Savant.


“I had pretty good command of all five of my pitches,” Crawford said. “Just kind of got going right at guys. Whenever I fell behind in the count, got right back in it with a cutter or curveball. But just went right at guys.”

Crawford threw 60 of his 82 pitches for strikes (73.2% strikes).

“You see the 75% strike rate and that’s what he does,” Cora said. “And he has good stuff in the zone.”

Crawford uncharacteristically has struggled with his command this season after he averaged just 1.9 walks per nine innings in 20 outings (19 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester last year.

He threw just 59% strikes in his first 10 outings this season entering Monday. He also entered having allowed 12 walks in 19 ⅔ innings (5.5 walks per nine innings).

“Last couple of outings, I started to figure something out mechanically that’s helped with that,” Crawford said. “But yeah, commanding the baseball, all five pitches in the zone, is one of my keys to success.”


Crawford has tossed 8 1/3 scoreless innings in two outings against Tampa this season. He has held Rays hitters to three hits and one walk while striking out 13.

“It was awesome watching him from the bullpen,” said John Schreiber, who recorded the final five outs. “He was just attacking those guys. His fastball was really good. Cutter was really. Curveball. Everything was looking really good from the bullpen. So it was fun to watch him today.”

Davis, Crawford and Schreiber combined to allow just two hits and two walks while striking out 11 in 9 scoreless innings.

“Great job by the pitching department, starting with AD,” Cora said. “He did an amazing job for two. Kutter, he mixed all his pitches. It was impressive. Good breaking ball. Good cutter. Good changeup. And the fastball played. And he was under control until the last hitter.”

Cora added that using Schreiber for the final five outs allows Tanner Houck to be available Tuesday.

XANDER BOGAERTS was back in the Red Sox lineup Tuesday night, but his superstar teammate sat out the middle game of Boston’s three-game series against the Rays.

Rafael Devers was out of the lineup for what was likely a rare off day. Alex Verdugo sat out too. The Red Sox are in a stretch of 17 consecutive days with games. Rob Refsnyder was in left field and hitting second; Christian Arroyo was at third base in place of Devers.

Bogaerts left Sunday’s game and missed Monday’s win after being spiked in the thigh and requiring seven stitches. But he’s good to go and will hit fourth against former teammate Jeffrey Springs, who enters with a 3-2 record and 2.25 ERA and will start for Tampa Bay.

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