For the first time this season, the Red Sox will not lose a series, as they defeated the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday by a final score of 4-0 to at least guarantee a series-split with the finale between the two clubs set for Monday.
Starting pitching has been a hot topic in Boston lately, but it looks as though things may be turning for the better more than two weeks into the 2019 campaign.
Eduardo Rodriguez came through with a quality outing against the O’s to start the weekend, and less than 48 hours later, David Price was even better.
Making his third start of the season on Sunday, Price was borderline brilliant, holding Baltimore scoreless while limiting them to just three hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts over seven impressive innings of work.
Retiring nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, the left-hander really was not under too much pressure in this one.
There was an instance in the fourth where Joey Rickard led things off for Baltimore by reaching second on a Rafael Devers throwing error, but Christian Vazquez was able to cancel that out by throwing Rickard out at third on a stolen base attempt.
And in the final two frames Price pitched in, the Orioles led each inning off with doubles from Richie Martin and Trey Mancini, and despite having the then tying run in scoring position with no outs, the 33-year-old managed to escape the sixth and seventh without a scratch.
Finishing with an economical final pitch count of 92 (64 strikes), Price relied heavily on his two-seam fastball, throwing the pitch 33 times and inducing five swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 94 MPH with both his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, according to Statcast.
Lowering his ERA from 6.00 to 3.79 in one outing, Price’s next start should come against the Tampa Bay Rays next weekend.
In relief of Price, the recently overworked Red Sox bullpen was only responsible for the final two innings on Sunday, and they capped off the shutout.
Working the eighth, Ryan Brasier danced his way around a one out walk and two out single to strand what would have been the tying run for Baltimore at third base, notching his first hold of the season in the process.
And in the ninth, after his team jumped out to a four-run lead, Matt Barnes also gave up one walk in one base hit while fanning a pair in a scoreless frame, locking down Boston’s third win in the last four days.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles left-hander John Means, whose big league debut came at Fenway Park last September.
Starting a relatively quiet day of scoring on Sunday was Xander Bogaerts, whose fourth inning RBI sacrfice fly to plate Steve Pearce would have been the only run the Red Sox would need to pick up the W in this one.
However, after squandering a couple of scoring opportunities over the middle portion of this contest, Bogaerts was it again in the bottom half of the eighth.
With one out in the inning and Mookie Betts and JD Martinez at first and second, Bogaerts essentially put this game away on one swing of the bat, launching a three-run, 418 foot home run to dead center for his second big fly of the season.
That made it a 4-0 game at the time it was blasted, and that would go on to be the final score in this one.
Some notes from this win:
Andrew Benintendi had to depart from this contest after fouling a ball off his right foot in the third inning. He did manage to stay in the game after the blow, and actually laced a double down the left field line, but his day came to a close before the Red Sox took the field in the fourth.
Blake Swihart filled in for Benintendi for the remainder of Sunday’s win. Benintendi was ruled day-to-day with a right foot contusion.
This comes on the same day that Jackie Bradley Jr. was ruled from the Red Sox’ lineup due to flu-like symptoms, so the outfield situation could be pretty interesting Monday depending on the statuses of those two.
The Red Sox are 3-1 in their last four games.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an early start for Patriots Day Monday.
Right-hander Hector Velazquez is slated to get the start for Boston, while fellow right-hander and former Miami Marlin Dan Straily will do the same for Baltimore.
In his last time starting a game, Velazquez dazzled against the Arizona Diamondbacks out in the desert, twirling three scoreless inning to go along with three strikeouts.
Straily, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 6.00 ERA over two previous starts at Fenway Park.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 11:05 AM EDT, weather permitting.
Happy Marathon Monday, everyone.