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Red Sox place Tanner Houck on 15-day injured list with facial fracture, recall Kaleb Ort from Worcester

Tanner Houck pressed a towel to his face after being hit by a line drive on Friday night.Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The Red Sox announced a handful of roster moves Sunday morning, most notably placing righthander Tanner Houck on the 15-day injured list with a facial fracture.

Houck found himself on the wrong end of a Kyle Higashioka comebacker Friday night, leaving the field bloodied — but under his own power — after a scary sight at Fenway Park.

The 26-year-old righthander was diagnosed with a facial fracture after evaluation at Massachusetts General Hospital. Manager Alex Cora said prior to the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader that he’s uncertain if Houck will need surgery.

“He finally got some rest yesterday,” Cora said. “He’s a tough kid. We knew that. Like I said before. We were lucky. He was lucky. The fact that he’s going to be OK, means a lot.”


To fill Houck’s roster spot, the Sox recalled righthander Kaleb Ort from Triple A Worcester. Ort was thrown straight into the fire, making his first career start in Game 1. In what amounted to a bullpen game, Ort tossed the first 2⅓ innings, gave up two runs, and struck out four in the Sox’ 6-2 win.

Afforded the 27th man for the doubleheader, the Sox recalled Chris Murphy from Triple A Worcester. The lefthander followed Ort and racked up 2⅔ scoreless frames, allowing just a hit while striking out three. In his only previous big league appearance, Murphy threw 3⅓ scoreless innings at Cleveland June 7.

Pivetta stellar in relief

Nick Pivetta followed Murphy, tossed three perfect frames, and got the win. Pivetta struck out four with his manager calling the relief appearance a dominant one.

In 10 relief appearances (16⅓ innings) Pivetta has a 2.20 ERA, striking out 17 in that span.

“I think he’s a different pitcher as a reliever than as a starter,” Cora said after the first game. “His stuff is getting better. And the cutter, slider mix is a good one. He’s not a two-pitch pitcher now, and he’s moving his fastball all over the place. He’s not only up in the zone. There’s a little bit more conviction, better tempo.”


Nick Pivetta's work as a reliever continues to put a smile on Alex Cora's face. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

When asked about his recent success, Pivetta had this to offer: “Just go out and just be my regular self,” he said. “I’ve worked really hard with my dry work and catch-play to just be more consistent and just have the confidence myself to go out there and throw strikes.”

The injury to Houck has left the Sox rotation with just four starters. The team’s starter for Thursday afternoon in Minnesota is to be determined, and Pivetta could fill that void.

Cora talks Father’s Day

Cora lost his father, José Cora, when he was just 13 years old, so Father’s Day was always tough for the Red Sox manager.

“Early on, when I was a kid, I hated this day after I lost my dad. I hated it,” Cora said. “It was just like, ‘Why us? Why’s he not with us?’ ”

Yet as Cora has grown older, experienced life’s joy and challenges and has had kids of his own, Father’s Day is now one that he appreciates.

“You grow up, you learn and you understand what it is, and we were blessed. We were blessed to have our father for 13 years.”

Cora admitted that he often wonders what his dad would be thinking if he were still alive.

“There are certain days that I wonder if he’s proud of what I’m doing here, or what I’ve done throughout the years,” Cora said. “And I’ll bet he would be honest with me. At certain points very disappointed, but at certain points very proud of what I have accomplished.”


First stop: Minnesota

The Red Sox hit the road for a two-city trip beginning Monday for a four-game set against the Twins. Despite the Twins’ .500 record (36-36) the club is in first place in the AL Central. Minnesota is 21-17 at home, compared with 15-19 on the road. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games, losing three of four to the lowly Tigers.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series. Monday: James Paxton (3.09 ERA) vs. Pablo Lopez (4.27 ERA); Tuesday: Kutter Crawford (4.20 ERA) vs. Bailey Ober (2.65 ERA); Wednesday: Garrett Whitlock (4.38 ERA) vs. Sonny Gray (2.37 ERA); and Thursday, the Sox starter is to be determined, while the Twins will start Joe Ryan (3.30 ERA).

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