After dropping their first home game of the 2019 season on Tuesday, the Red Sox bounced back in dramatic fashion on Thursday, as they walked off the Toronto Blue Jays to capture their first victory at Fenway Park this year.
In a contest that took nearly three-and-a-half hours to complete, it was Nathan Eovaldi who got the ball to start things out in this one.
Making his third start of the season, the right-hander managed to work through five full innings despite surrendering five earned runs on six hits, two of which were home runs, and four walks to go along with four strike outs as well.
One thing that helped Eovaldi make it through five innings was the double-play ball, as he only retired four of the first seven Blue Jays hitters he faced with the help of his infield turning a pair of DP’s behind him.
The top half of the third is where things started to take a turn for the worst, however, with Toronto plating all five runs they scored off Eovaldi in a span of a few minutes thanks to a three-run home run from Justin Smoak and a two-run homer from Rowdy Tellez.
After fanning Danny Jansen to end that disaster of an inning though, the 29-year-old hurler induced two more twin killings before his evening came to an end following a scoreless fifth frame.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (51 strikes), Eovaldi threw his four-seam fastball 36 times, topping out at 99.8 MPH while inducing eight swings and misses with the heater.
His next start should come against the Yankees in New York next week.
In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final four innings of this one, and they relatively held their own.
Heath Hembree and Colten Brewer each struck out a pair in back-to-back shutout innings in the sixth and seventh before Ryan Brasier yielded a solo home run to Freddy Galvis in an otherwise clean eighth frame.
From there, Marcus Walden worked his way around a tight situation where the Blue Jays had runners on second and third with just one out to close the door on them and keep this contest at a one-run game going into Boston’s half of the ninth. He improved to 2-0 on the season thanks to the solid effort.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Thursday with a lifetime 3.79 in nine career outings (six starts) at Fenway Park.
Getting the scoring started for Boston in this one was JD Martinez, whose one out RBI double in the second to plate Mookie Betts would wind up being the catalyst for a three-run inning, with both Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia collecting their first RBI of the season as well.
That cut Toronto’s lead to two runs after they had just scored five of their own.
Fast forward to the fifth, and the Red Sox would cut that deficit down to one run thanks to a wild pitch from Sanchez that allowed Xander Bogaerts to easily score from third with Dustin Pedroia at the plate.
Two innings later, Mitch Moreland, who is without a doubt the team’s clutchest player at the moment, came through in the big time again, as his fifth home run of the season, this one coming off Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini, knotted this contest up at five runs a piece.
After Toronto scored what appeared to be a vital go-ahead run on that aforementioned dinger from Freddy Galvis in the eighth, the Red Sox entered their half of the ninth with three outs to work with and a 3-10 start staring them dead in the face.
With closer Ken Giles, who entered the night 34-for-34 in his last 34 save opportunities, on the mound for Toronto, Mookie Betts put the tying run on base by drawing a one out, six-pitch walk.
Just a few moments after that, Moreland was at it yet again, ripping a 389 foot double to dead center to drive in Betts all the way from first and tie this game up for the second time on the night.
Eduardo Nunez would come on to pinch-run for Moreland, and all of a sudden, the winning run was only 180 feet away.
In a bit of a tough spot, the Blue Jays decided to put JD Martinez on intentionally in hopes of turning a double play, but after Giles fell behind on Xander Bogaerts and walked him, the bases were loaded for Rafael Devers.
Entering the ninth inning with an RBI double under his belt already, Devers had the chance to send his team home with their first win since Sunday, and he did just that by bouncing the game-sealing, run-scoring single over the head of any Blue Jays infielder into shallow right field.
That allowed Nunez to calmly score from third to make it 7-6, which would go on to be the final score in this one.
Some notes from this win:
In the Red Sox’ four wins this season, Mitch Moreland is 5-for-14 with two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. He is directly responsible for all four of those victories.
Dustin Pedroia has two hits in two games since his return from the injured list on Tuesday. He’s also looked pretty solid at second base.
Next up for the Red Sox, they welcome the 5-8 Baltimore Orioles into town for the first time this season.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who hasn’t pitched since last Thursday in Oakland, will get the ball for Boston, while right-hander David Hess will do the same for Baltimore.
Rodriguez, 26, has walked six batters in a total of eight innings of work in 2019.
Hess, meanwhile, has only made one prior start at Fenway Park in his two-year career, an outing in which he surrendered five earned runs in less than five innings pitched last May.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.