Since he was activated from the restricted list on May 14th, Steven Wright has shined out of the Red Sox bullpen. In six appearances, he pitched his way to a 2.25 ERA while holding opponents to a .167 batting average in 16 innings, the last nine of those all being scoreless.
With those numbers in mind and wanting to get his other starters an extra day of rest, Alex Cora named Wright the starting pitcher for last night’s game against the Tigers last week.
Before the game even started on Tuesday, Drew Pomeranz was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left bicep tendonitis. Since the lefty has struggled as of late and Wright has mostly succeeded, there has been much debate amongst Red Sox fans revolving around the opinion that Wright should take Pomeranz’s spot in the rotation. Well, the knucleballer got his chance to prove himself last night and that he did.
In seven full innings, Wright held the Tigers scoreless while scattering two hits and three walks with six strikeouts along the way. On a rainy and overcast night at Fenway, Wright did a solid job controlling his number one pitch. The first inning was a bit rocky with the first three batters in the Tigers order reaching base and all, but with some help from a great relay throw from Xander Bogaerts to Christian Vazquez to get Leonys Martin out at home, the righty was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
From the end of the first on, Wright limited the Tigers to two base runners in six innings on a walk in the second and a single in the third.
I get that it was just the 29-33 Detroit Tigers Wright was facing, but regardless of opponent, he has not given up a single run in his last 16 innings pitched. That is impressive and certainly worthy of another start with Drew Pomeranz hitting the disabled list.
Finishing with an efficient 96 pitches (57 strikes) on the night, I would hope Wright will start again against the Baltimore Orioles next week.
In relief of the knuckleballer, the Red Sox bullpen finished the shutout he started. Hector Velazquez, another converted reliever many feel deserves a shot in the rotation, and Brandon Workman, who had been the corresponding roster move for Pomeranz yesterday, both tossed scoreless innings to wrap this thing up.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup feasted on an inferior Tigers pitching staff last night.
Facing off against another righty in Artie Lewicki, a rookie, JD Martinez got the scoring started for the Red Sox right away in the bottom of the first. On a 3-2 count, Martinez launched a 91 MPH fastball from Lewicki and sent it 431 feet off a light tower in left field. Two-run moon shot.
Speaking of 3-2 counts, the Red Sox had to have loaded the bases at least five times last night. In fact, they sent eight batters to the plate in the fourth, loaded the bases twice, and came away with two runs. The first coming on an Eduardo Nunez RBI single and the second coming after Mitch Moreland scored on a Rafael Devers double play with the bases loaded.
The fourth ended up being Lewicki’s last frame of work after he walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to reload the bases again. He was replaced by Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold, an Australian, who has a great name for baseball, in my opinion.
Unfortunately for Saupold, he was not much better than Lewicki, and he led the fifth inning off by serving up a 401 foot opposite field solo shot to Xander Bogaerts. His ninth big fly of the season.
Three batters later, after the bases were reloaded for the Red Sox again, Brock Holt drove in his teams final run of the night on an RBI groundout to second that allowed JD Martinez to score from third. All and all, a pretty stress free night.
Some notes from this win:
JD Martinez became the first player in baseball to reach 20 home runs this season. In total, he was responsible for three of the six hardest hit balls last night, all of which had an exit velocity north of 104 MPH.
With two hits last night, Eduardo Nunez has extended his hitting streak to six games now. In the month of June, the infielder is slashing .438/.471/.438 over his last 16 at bats.
In 44 games and 174 at bats this season, Xander Bogaerts has hit nine home runs. In 148 games and 571 at bats last season, the shortstop hit 10 home runs.
With the series opening win picked up, the Red Sox will be sending Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound tonight looking to notch the series win. He will be matched up against Tigers lefty Blaine Hardy. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM.
Also, because of that Drew Pomeranz injury, the Red Sox will be calling up pitching prospect Jalen Beeks, a lefty, from Triple A Pawtucket to make a spot start on Thursday. Beeks, who was scratched from his scheduled start with the PawSox on Tuesday, owns a 2.56 ERA in 10 starts this season. He’s ranked as the #5 prospect on SoxProspects.com and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 12th round back in 2014.