RECAP: Matt Kent Takes No-Hitter into Sixth Inning as Sea Dogs Blank Curve in 3-0 Win.

That’s right, this is a Sea Dogs blog now.

But really, I’ve been able to catch a few games up in Portland, Maine this weekend, so I figured I would share a few thoughts on the team in case you haven’t been paying much attention to the Red Sox’s Double A affiliate.

Entering Saturday with a measly 52-69 record and sitting in last place in the Eastern League’s Eastern Division, the Sea Dogs certainly have not been world burners this season, but they do house two of the Red Sox’s most promising prospects in third basemen Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec.

Chavis, 23, is ranked as the team’s #1 prospect and Dalbec, also 23, is ranked sixth, per MLB Pipeline.

Batting third and fourth in the Sea Dogs’ lineup respectively in a Saturday night contest against the 66-54 Altoona Curve, an affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, they were who I was looking forward to watching most after neither could do much in a 8-1 loss on Friday.

As it turned out though, the star of the night was Portland’s starting pitcher Matt Kent, who is not ranked in the top 30 of Red Sox prospects.

Kent, a left-hander who was selected by Boston back in the 13rd round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Texas A&M, entered Saturday with a 3.52 ERA in 23 games (19 starts) with the Sea Dogs in 2018, and he was fantastic.

Pitching into the seventh inning, the 25-year-old Kent sat down the first 11 hitters he faced and proceeded to take a no-hitter into the sixth until Curve right fielder broke it up with a one out single.

Finishing with 96 pitches, 55 of which went for strikes, Kent departed with runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh in his eventual ninth winning decision of the season.

In 124.1 innings pitched with the Sea Dogs in 2018, Kent’s ERA now stands at a solid 3.33 to go along with a decent 1.21 WHIP and .242 batting average against.

According to SoxProspects.com, Kent, “Does not have a typical profile, but has a chance as a lefty who can pound the strike zone, has deception and can manipulate the ball, giving hitters different looks.”

Definitely not a big time prospect, but is still someone you should keep your eye on.

Speaking of big time prospects, Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec played Saturday, as I had previously mentioned, and they combined to go 3/7 at the plate with one extra base hit, one RBI, and all three runs scored.

That RBI, one of just three on the night for Portland, came on an RBI single off the bat of Dalbec in the sixth that scored Chavis from first and put the Sea Dogs up 2-0.

Jordan Betts and Danny Mars also drove in runs in a 3-0 shutout win for the ‘Dogs.

On the season, Chavis, a former first round pick is slashing .303/.400/.515 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 27 Eastern League games.

Dalbec, a former fourth round pick, is slashing .320/.407/.720 with five homers and 14 RBI in just 14 games with the Sea Dogs after hitting 26 home runs in exactly 100 games with the High A Salem Red Sox to begin the 2018 season.

The Sea Dogs improved to 53-69 with the shutout win on Saturday. They have won seven of their last nine games and will look for the series win tomorrow afternoon at Hadlock Field.

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RECAP: #RedSox End Road Trip with 7-4 Loss in Philadelphia Following Tough Night for Bullpen.

After taking the first of two against the Philadelphia Phillies in a close 2-1 win on Tuesday night, the Red Sox looked to end their nine-game road trip on a positive note on Wednesday, but that simply was not the case.

Making his fourth start of the season with the Red Sox in this one, Nathan Eovaldi took a step in the right direction five days after the Baltimore Orioles lit him up for eight runs on 10 hits last Friday.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander surrendered three runs, one of which was earned, while scattering seven hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

As he faced four hitters each in what went down as three pretty smooth frames, the bottom half of the fourth did not treat Eovaldi as nicely.

The worst part about a three-run rally for the Phillies that tied the game in that fourth inning was the fact that it was all started by a throwing error.

Yes, Rafael Devers, who leads the team in errors, could not make the throw over to first in what appeared to be a 5-3 put out at first on a Rhys Hoskins grounder to leadoff the inning.

From that point, three of the next five Phillies Eovaldi faced managed to reach base, and thanks to RBI knocks from Wilson Ramos and Carlos Santana and a RBI groundout from Odubel Herrera, this game was tied at three runs a piece heading into the fifth.

Fortunately for Boston, the Texas native ended his night on a solid note by sitting down three of the final four batters he faced on Tuesday.

Had this game not been played in a National League ballpark, Eovaldi probably could have pitched further, but with his spot in the lineup due up with runners at first and second in a tied game in the sixth, going with the pinch-hitter was clearly the right choice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (61 strikes) the 28-year-old turned to his cut-fastball about 43% of the time he was on the mound last night, which resulted in just three swings and misses. He also topped out at 99 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 27 times, in his fifth and final inning of work.

Now with 14 starts under his belt this season, Eovaldi will look to build on a solid outing in his next time out, which should come sometime against the Cleveland Indians next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen, mainly Joe Kelly and Drew Pomeranz, did not have the best of nights in the City of Brotherly Love.

Kelly, who got the call for the sixth in his sixth appearance of August, allowed what would turn out to be the go-ahead run for the Phillies in the form of a Scott Kingery sac fly that scored Wilson Ramos from third.

Speaking of Ramos, the former Rays backstop was making his first start with the Phillies since being traded there in July, and he went 3/4 with three RBI in another great day at the plate against the Red Sox, something he has become accustomed to.

Anyway, Kelly gave up the run to bump his ERA on the season up to 4.29 and he would later be dealt his fourth losing decision of the year as well because of it.

Drew Pomeranz made his third relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen last week, and it was certainly his worst of the three.

In what has the chance to be his last outing in a Red Sox uniform, the lefty allowed the Phils to score THREE times in one inning, which essentially, despite their best effort, put this game out of reach for Boston.

During that seventh inning, it was clear that Pomeranz was struggling to locate his pitches, as he left a lot of them up in the strike zone. Topping out at 91.5 MPH with your four-seam fastball is not the best of signs either.

Finally, with his team trailing by three, Hector Velazquez sat down the only three batters he faced in the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was without Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot and matched up against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez.

Velasquez, 26, had only made one career start against Boston prior to Wednesday night, and that came all the way back in 2015.

Starting the scoring in the third inning of this one, a one out walk drawn by Nathan Eovaldi, followed by an Andrew Benintendi HBP and a Brock Holt infield single set up Mitch Moreland in an ideal scoring spot.

On the third pitch he saw from Velasquez, Moreland ripped a 94 MPH fastball all the way to the center field wall for a three-RBI double, and just like that, the Red Sox were up early.

Velasquez would depart from the game after reloading the bases in the same inning, but with Hector Neris on the mound for Philadelphia, nothing came of that scoring chance for the Red Sox.

Fast forward to the top half of the sixth with things knotted up at three, two straight two out singles from Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon had Boston threatening to jump ahead once again with pinch-hitter Steve Pearce due up.

With Tommy Hunter on the mound for the Phils, it looked as though Pearce managed to beat out an infield single that would have loaded the bases again, but upon further review, Pearce was ruled out and the inning came to a close.

After going down quietly in the seventh, the top of the eighth would turn out to be the last real opportunity for the Red Sox to cut into a brand new four-run Phillies lead.

JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all reached to leadoff the inning with reliever Pat Neshek on the hill, but all they could muster in the end was one run off a Mookie Betts pinch-hit RBI single.

That was that, and they went down quietly in the ninth as well to end an encouraging road trip in rather disappointing fashion.

Looking at the final box score, the Phillies ended up using SEVEN pitchers out of their bullpen. Gabe Kapler out here managing like it’s game seven of the World Series or something.

Some notes from this one:

Over the nine-game road trip, here is how the Red Sox stacked up (via NESN):

7-2 record

7.2 runs per game

.279 team batting average

2.54 starters ERA

4.00 bullpen ERA (Obviously the most discouraging figure)

Andrew Benintendi apparently hit a bill twice on one swing last night. That’s pretty cool.

Splitting the four-game season series while getting outscored 12-9 by Philly in those four contests, the Red Sox will not have to see the 66-53 Phillies for the remainder of the regular season.

Instead, they head back home to enjoy another off day on Thursday before welcoming the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

Brian Johnson, David Price, and Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox in that order while the Rays still have a series to wrap up in New York.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

 

 

RECAP: Brock Holt’s Eighth Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Lifts #RedSox to Tight 2-1 Win over Phillies.

Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox headed north for some tougher competition in the form of the 65-52 Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Coming off an outing in which he surrendered seven earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, Rick Porcello looked much more like the Rick Porcello we saw two starts ago when he threw a complete game against the New York Yankees.

Making his 25th start of the season in this one, Porcello ended up tossing seven innings of one run ball after taking a perfect game into the fifth.

The only real costly mistake the right-hander made last night was the hit that broke up the perfecto and no-no simultaneously, a leadoff solo shot off the bat of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins to leadoff the fifth.

A 1-1 72 MPH hanging curveball located towards the bottom of the strike zone, Hoskins did not miss in what turned out to be his 23rd homer of the season and lone run of the evening for Philadelphia.

Other than a two out single he gave up in the same inning, Porcello was perfect en route to his 15th winning decision of the season, as he set a new-season high in strikeouts with 10 on the night.

Like the typical quick worker he is, the 2016 Cy Young Award winner found himself in one three-ball count all night and never dealt with the same one batter for too long a time.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (61 strikes), Porcello was pinch-hit for in the top half of the seventh inning, which would go down as the correct decision to make in that spot.

Before that happened though, the 29-year-old added on to his fine day on the mound with a second inning double off of Phillies starter Nick Pivetta for his second two-bagger of the year.

Out of those 91 pitches thrown, Porcello relied on both of his fastballs a combined 51% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 92.5 MPH with his four-seamer in the first inning.

Improving to 15-5 and lowering his ERA on the year to 4.04, Porcello will look to build on what has thus far been an inconsistent month in his next time out against the Cleveland Indains on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for closing out the final two frames on Tuesday night, and Heath Hembree did his part with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which ended with this Odubel Herrera whiff.

Craig Kimbrel, on the other hand, was a different story.

Entering the ninth with a 1.071 OPS against over his last seven appearances, the flame throwing closer got his night started in a one-run game by walking the first batter he faced on six pitches.

With the help of Sandy Leon though, Kimbrel was able to secure his 36th save of the season by retiring the final three Phillies he faced to wrap up a 2-1 win for the Red Sox.

All and all, in nine total innings, Boston pitching held the Phillies to one run on two hits and one walk to go along with 13 punch outs. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who owned a 4.51 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) this season.

A right-hander in his second year in the majors, Pivetta held Boston scoreless in seven innings pitched in his only other career start against them at Citizens Bank Park last season.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it was more of the same from Pivetta on Tuesday night, as they could only tack on one run in the six innings he appeared in.

That run, a 384 foot solo shot off the bat of Sandy Leon with one out in the third, put Boston on the board first in this one.

Although they had another opportunity to score in the inning, nothing came of it after Andrew Benintendi grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with Pivetta out and reliever Tommy Hunter in for Philadelphia, Brock Holt came through with the biggest hit of the night.

Batting in the pitcher’s spot with one out in the inning, Holt swung away at the first pitch he saw from Hunter, a 94 MPH cutter located on the inner half of the plate, and sent it 424 feet to right field to score what ended up being the winning run.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 86-35, 10 games up in the American League East, and have won five games in a row.

From @SoxNotes: This is the first time Red Sox starting pitchers have ever recorded 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in consecutive team games (source: ). Rick Porcello had 10 K and 0 BB tonight, after Chris Sale had 12 K and 0 BB on Sunday.

That home run from Brock Holt was his second career pinch-hit homer. The last time he did that came nearly two seasons ago against the Padres in San Diego.

Over the span of his six-game hitting streak, Holt is slashing .364/.440/.636 with two long balls and six RBI in 22 at bats.

Rick Porcello owns a 1.200 OPS this season.

Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi looking for redemption in his first interleague start with the Red Sox.

In case you have forgotten, Eovaldi got his bell rung for eight runs on 10 hits in two innings last Friday against the Orioles.

In four career outings at Citizens Bank Park, the newest Red Sox hurler owns a 4.57 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, who, like Pivetta, has only made one start against the Red Sox in his four-year career.

That start, which came back when Velazquez pitched for the Astros during part of the 2015 season, was an outing in which the California native gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched in an eventual 8-3 win for Houston.

That was a long time ago though, and things have definitely changed in the last three years.

First pitch of the series finale in Philly is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blake Swihart Has Been Activated from the 10-Day Disabled List.

Missing the past 10 days with a right hamstring strain, Blake Swihart is officially back after the Red Sox activated him from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday.

In the last game he played with the big league club against the New York Yankees on August 2nd, the catcher/utility man had to leave in the top of the seventh inning in an eventual 15-7 win for the Red Sox.

Later diagnosed with a strain in his right hamstring, Swihart was placed on the 10-day disabled list that Friday morning, but Alex Cora seemed confident that he was not going to miss that much time and he did not.

As part of the rehab process, Swihart appeared in one game for Low A Lowell this past Sunday where he started at catcher in batted third in the Spinners lineup.

In three at bats against the Brooklyn Cyclones, the 26-year-old failed to reach base while striking out once before being replaced in the seventh inning.

Despite the results, or lack thereof, the Red Sox must have been happy with what they saw out of Swihart and his right hamstring, because he is back with the team today in Philadelphia.

The 2018 season has not been easy on Swihart. Given the lack of playing time early on, the trade rumors, and then the hamstring injury this month, hopefully the final month and a half of the regular season will be better for the Texas native, because it certainly looked like he was hitting his stride prior to the DL stint.

Since the Red Sox placed Christian Vazquez on the 10-day disabled list on July 8th with a right finger fracture, which opened up more opportunities for Swihart to catch, the former first round pick is slashing .324/.378/.529 with one home run and two RBI over his last 10 games.

With a two-game interleague series set to begin today in Philadelphia for the Red Sox, it would not surprise me if Swihart saw some pinch-hitting opportunities in the pitcher’s spot in the lineup this week.

To make room for Swihart on the 25-man roster, Dan Butler, who caught two games for Boston against the Orioles last weekend, has been designated for assignment.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Phillies is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.

Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec Were at It Again for the Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday.

A few days ago, I wrote about how Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec each hit a pair of home runs for the Portland Sea Dogs in Erie, PA this past Thursday.

I talked about how they were two of the more interesting prospects in the Red Sox farm system to watch, and they proved me right once again yesterday afternoon.

Facing off against the Akron RubberDucks, the Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, and batting third and fourth in Portland’s lineup, the pair of corner infielders were responsible for all six runs scored by the Sea Dogs on Sunday.

An RBI single from Chavis in the first and two RBI doubles, one of which was good for two runs, from Chavis and Dalbec in the third had Portland up by four runs early.

Fast forward all the way to the top half of the eighth, with two outs and Chavis at first following a HBP, Dalbec put the exclamation point on a fine day for the Sea Dogs by blasting his 31st home run of the season between High A Salem and Double A Portland.

That big fly, Dalbec’s fifth in the past week, put the Sea Dogs up 6-2, which would turn out to be the final score in their third win in the last four days.

Since he was promoted to Portland on August 3rd. the 23-year-old Dalbec, ranked as the sixth best prospect in Boston’s system, is off to a hot start with his new club, as he is slashing .364/.421/.848 over his last nine games with those five homers and 11 RBI as well.

On the other side of the infield, Michael Chavis, 23, has been on a more torrid pace lately, as he was just named Eastern League Player of the Week after hitting .560 in his last six games.

On the season as a whole, Chavis, 23, a Georgia native and ranked as Boston’s top prospect, owns a 1.005 OPS to go along with six home runs in 27 games played between Low A Lowell and Double A Portland.

At 49-68, the Sea Dogs will be opening up the longest homestand of their season starting on Tuesday.

JD Martinez Is Your American League Player of the Week.

Following a seven-game stretch in which he slashed .464/.531/1.071 with four homers and 11 runs driven in, JD Martinez was named American League Player of the Week for his efforts on Monday.

Receiving the honor for the second time in his first season with the Red Sox, Martinez has been nothing short of spectacular in 2018.

For the lack of attention and offers he seemed to get over the winter, it really is amazing how the Miami native is making other teams look rather dumb for letting the Red Sox scoop up Martinez for a relatively fair price in February.

On the 2018 campaign as a whole, the 30-year-old designated hitter/outfielder hybrid leads all of baseball in hits (145), home runs (37), RBI (104), slugging percentage (.669), and total bases (291).

RECAP: Chris Sale Dazzles in Return from DL as #RedSox Complete Four-Game Sweep of Orioles in Three Days.

Less than 24 hours after sweeping the Orioles in a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox were looking for the real four-game sweep this afternoon to head into an off day on a positive note.

Making his 23rd start of the season and first since July 27th due to a 10-day disabled list stint caused by left shoulder inflammation, Chris Sale picked off right where he left off and flat dominated at Camden Yards on Sunday.

Granted, it was against a last place Orioles team, but still, for not pitching in a big league game for over two weeks, Sale really did pick up right where he left off in this one.

Pitching five complete frames, the left-hander held Baltimore scoreless on one hit, a single, while not walking a single batter on the afternoon.

The most incredible part of this Sale start, at least for me, had to be the number of strikeouts.

As he faced 16 total Orioles through those five scoreless innings, Sale managed to punch out 12(!!!). 12! In five innings! That’s 80% of the outs he recorded. All done with just 68 pitches. Truly surreal.

Out of those 68 pitches thrown, 48 of which were strikes, the Florida native induced 15 total swings and misses on the day.while

Relying on his four-seam fastball 31 times, the seven-time All Star topped out at 99.7 MPH with it in the third inning. Another sign that Sale’s left shoulder is feeling quite fine.

Alex Cora made it clear following the game that Sale was going to be limited to 75 pitches no matter what happened. And given the fact he completed five innings in such a convincing fashion with those 68 pitches, it makes sense why they did not want to put him back out there only to have him not finish the sixth.

It’s also worth noting that this was the 29-year-old’s first in-game action this month, so easing him back into things isn’t such a bad plan either.

Regardless, Sale maintained the stellar form he has put on display time in and time out this season, and because of that, he increased his scoreless innings streak up to 28 dating back to July 6th.

Including today, Sale owns a nice 0.69 ERA over his last 10 starts with 109 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched over that span. He has not given up a home run in a start since the first day of June.

As he improved to 12-4 on the season, the lanky lefty will look to build on an impressive return to the rotation in his next time out, which should come sometime next week against either the Tampa Bay Rays or Cleveland Indians, depending on how the upcoming off days impact pitching matchups.

In relief of Sale, the Red bullpen was once gain turned to at a rather early spot starting in the sixth inning.

  • Tyler Thornburg entered in a 2-0 game and retired the first two batters he faced, but followed that up by loading the bases on a single and two walks in a frame he was unable to finish. Out of the 24 pitches Thornburg threw, 10 went for strikes. That is not good.
  • Ryan Brasier would have to come on and attempt to get out of the jam Thornburg had created, and he managed by getting Trey Mancini to strikeout in a nerve-wracking seven pitch at bat that ended the inning and left the bases juiced.
  • Brian Johnson, despite moving up to the rotation earlier in the week, got the call for the seventh, and he needed just 16 pitches to work his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise scoreless frame of work.
  • Matt Barnes’ August struggles continued in the eighth, as he allowed three of the first four Orioles he faced to reach and load the bases in a two-run game. Fortunately, after surrendering Baltimore’s lone run on a Trey Mancini sacrifice fly, the UCONN product buckled down and fanned Tim Beckham on four pitches to retire the side.
  • Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save in the ninth with a brand new three run lead to work with. He too continued some recent struggles by allowing the tying run to come to the plate with runners on first and second, but struck out the final pair of Orioles hitters he faced to notch his 35th save and secure his team’s 85th win of 2018.

So, over the past three days/four games, Red Sox relievers has been responsible for 19.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen en route to the four-game sweep. Having two off days in the next four days will certainly come in handy to get those guys some rest.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles RHP Alex Cobb.

Despite the rough first year he has had in Baltimore, Cobb was certainly more reminiscent of his days with the Tampa Bay Rays in one of his better outings of the season on Sunday.

Starting the scoring right away in the top half of the first was none other than Steve Pearce, who greeted Cobb by mashing a solo shot to left field to give the Red Sox an early advantage. Yet another big fly off a former team for Pearce, his 10th of the year.

Fast forward to the fourth, and a leadoff double off the bat of Brock Holt would turn into Boston second’s run of the afternoon thanks to a fielding error in right field on a JD Martinez single. Despite Holt coming in to score on the E9 committed by Adam Jones, Martinez was not credited with an RBI on the play.

Five innings later and going into the ninth with a one-run lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts provided some late game insurance with a pair of RBI base knocks.

Bradley Jr. drove in Eduardo Nunez, who technically got the rally started with a leadoff single off of O’s reliever Mychal Givens, from second to make it a 3-1 game.

In the very next at bat, Mookie Betts, in a 2-0 hitter’s count, ripped an RBI double off of Givens to score Bradley Jr. all the way from first and extend his hitting streak to eight games.

4-1 on Betts’ 63rd RBI of the season, which would turn out to be the final score in favor of the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox’ 85 wins are their most ever through 120 games. They are 50 games above .500 for the first time since 1946.

Another one from @SoxNotes: Chris Sale has a 0.20 ERA in his last 7 starts (44.0 IP, 1 R). According to , that is the lowest ERA by a Red Sox pitcher over any 7-start span since earned runs became an official stat in 1913. In those 7 starts, Sale has 79 K and 6 BB.

At 85-35, the Red Sox will head to Philadelphia via train for a quick two-game set against the Phillies that begins on Tuesday.

Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi will get the starting nod for Boston in those two interleague contests, as they will be matched up against RHPs Nick Pivetta and Vince Velazquez in that order.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Tuesday.