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Michael Wacha returning Sunday to reinforce Red Sox’ inconsistent rotation

Michael Wacha, who has been out since late June, will return and take the ball for the Red Sox on Sunday in the series finale with the Yankees.Mark Blinch/Getty

Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) will be activated for Sunday’s series finale with the Yankees and start.

Wacha, whose last start was June 29, impressed during his first 13 starts with the Red Sox, producing a 2.69 ERA in 70 ⅓ innings.

“I think it’s just a lot of excitement,” Wacha said before the Sox’ 3-2 loss Saturday. “I’m really a little anxious to get back out there, I will say. But just a lot of excitement to get back out there and join this club and hopefully make a little run at it.”

The Red Sox have struggled to find consistency among their starting pitchers. Rich Hill was hurt before recently making a return to the rotation and Nick Pivetta has underperformed for much of July and August. Getting Wacha back will provide the Sox with another solid starter and take a load off of a thin bullpen.


“Strike one is the best pitch in baseball and we haven’t done that consistently,” manager Alex Cora said. “It’s always good to be efficient and go deep into the games and it hasn’t happened. Having Michael to pitch to contact, that’ll be good for us, good for the bullpen. I think finally we’re going to obviously find some consistency.”

Despite power outage, Bogaerts still effective

Despite his 1-for-4 night that ended in a pop out to Anthony Rizzo in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts has been effective for the Red Sox this year. Even though he came into Saturday batting just .225 in August. Through that 10-game span he has a .238 on-base and .350 slugging percentage. His power numbers have not replicated what they were in seasons past.

Through Friday, Bogaerts was sitting on nine homers in 109 games while slugging .448. His combined slugging percentage over his previous four seasons was .523.

Nonetheless, Bogaerts’s hitting ability is multilayered. He finds ways to still be productive because he puts the ball in play and has the ability to produce different swings on different pitches and locations. That’s a primary reason why he came into the day hitting .307, which ranked second among major league shortstops, trailing the Dodgers’ Trea Turner (.309).


“It’s the combination of a lot of things,” Cora said. “But Xander’s ability to hit with two strikes is unreal. His ability to put the ball in play, and then after that the athlete takes over.”

The athlete is part of the mix, too, and hustle. In those 109 games, Bogaerts has an astonishing .364 batting average on ground balls. That’s the highest in the majors for batters who have seen a minimum of 1,500 pitches.

“I mean, that’s the beauty of putting the ball in play and hustling,” Cora said. “The baseball gods, they take care of you. It’s interesting. It’s not like his best season, but he’s still consistent, right? You put him in the third hole and at [some] point start driving the ball and hitting it in the air.”

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After being released by the Phillies last week, Jeurys Familia went back home to the Dominican Republic to work with one of his pitching coaches. When the Red Sox signed him and assigned the righthander to Worcester, Familia said he felt like a different pitcher. His one outing — Familia pitched one inning and struck out three — was good enough for the Red Sox to call him up Saturday afternoon. Familia was one of the best relievers in all of baseball for a period of time. He has a career 3.46 ERA in 532 ⅔ innings, striking out 560. He had a 6.09 ERA in 38 games for the Phillies this season before getting released on Aug. 6 . . . Kiké Hernández (right hip flexor strain) is still on target to rejoin the big league club Monday in Pittsburgh for the start of a three-game set with the Pirates. Hernández played Saturday for Double A Portland, going 2 for 4 with two doubles, and will play Sunday as well . . . Rob Refsnyder (right knee sprain) played for Portland Saturday. He had two walks and a hit and scored twice. He will also play Sunday, too. Matt Strahm (left wrist contusion) will throw a live batting practice Sunday before the team decides what his next steps will be . . . To make room for Familia, the Red Sox optioned Kaleb Ort to Triple A Worcester. Chris Sale was transferred to the 60-day injured list . . . Matt Judon and Jalen Mills of the Patriots were at Fenway Saturday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.