For the fourth straight day, the Red Sox got a quality outing out of the starting pitcher for that game. Chris Sale, David, Price, Rick Porcello, and now Hector Velazquez. In the 24 combined innings they have pitched, the Rays have scored a grand total of two times. Velazquez got the start today, and even though he is just a fill in right now, he still impressed in his 2018 regular season debut. The Mexican League veteran finished his outing with a line of 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K’s. The only real costly mistake Velazquez made came in the second inning, where he served up a leadoff home run to Brad Miller, which put the Rays up 1-0 at the time. That second inning was pretty tough for the righty, but he got out of it with just the one run allowed.
After he recorded the first two outs of the sixth and gave up a single to Matt Duffy, Alex Cora went to Marcus Walden to get out of the inning. Walden, 29 and making his Major League debut, had a one run lead to work with and one out to get. The first batter he faced, Joey Wendle, ripped an 0-1 fastball to right field, advancing Duffy to third. It looked like Duffy could have scored to tie the game, but he was held up at third. Walden then got Wilson Ramos to fly out to Mookie Betts, ending the inning. The righty would go on to retire the side in order in the seventh, flashing the leather and putting the exclamation point on his first relief appearance as a big leaguer.
Bobby Poyner got the call next, and he retired the only batter he faced in one pitch. He was replaced by Matt Barnes, who appears to have an early hold on the eighth inning role, as he ended the inning by walking one and striking out two. Fast forward to a half inning later, and the Rays nearly came back again.
With Craig Kimbrel unavailable, Joe Kelly got the call to close out things in the ninth. Making his first appearance since Thursday, Kelly looked shaky yet again. The flamethrower started the inning by recording the first two outs in simple fashion. Things started getting shaky after though, as the next two batters reached on back to back singles. With two outs, runners on first and third, and the count full, Kelly was able to get Denard Span to swing at what looked like ball four, thus ending the game and giving the Red Sox the series win. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but Kelly did record the first save of his major league career today, so credit to him for that.
Offensively, the Red Sox could muster just two runs. The first came in the fifth, on an important milestone. With no outs and runners on first and second, JD Martinez pulled a single to left, scoring Mookie Betts from second and giving Martinez his first regular season RBI as a member of the Red Sox.
That RBI tied the game at the time. The go-ahead and final run of the game was scored in the very next inning, when Rafael Devers scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from third on an RBI single. Once again, that was all the Red Sox needed to pick up their third win of the season. Devers currently leads the team in RBIs with four. Xander Bogaerts surprisingly had a quiet day at the plate, lowering his OPS to only 1.412.
Next up for the Red Sox is a quick two game series against the Miami Marlins. Brian Johnson gets the start tomorrow against Marlins rookie Trevor Richards. First pitch is at 7:10 PM at Marlins Park.