After finishing off a forgettable April by clinching their first home series win of 2019 on Tuesday, the Red Sox went ahead and kicked off the new month by completing their three-game sweep over the Oakland Athletics with a 7-3 victory on Wednesday afternoon.
Making his fourth start and ninth overall appearance in this on was Hector Velazquez, who served more as the opener Wednesday after working out of the bullpen as recently as Monday.
Working just the first two innings, the right-hander surrendered one run on two hits, no walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the day.
That one Oakland run came around to score on a two out RBI single off the bat of Ramon Laureano in the second, and that would wind up being the second to last hitter Velazquez faced.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 43 (28 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just 9% of the time he was on the mound in this brief outing.
In relief of Velazquez, Marcus Walden was really the star of the show from the third inning on, as he ended up tossing three scoreless frames while also fanning three and allowing one of the 10 hitters he faced to reach base in that span.
An effort certainly worthy of the winning decision, which is exactly what the right-hander got for the fourth time this season. His ERA now stands at a miniscule 1.65 through 11 appearances so far.
From the beginning of the sixth inning on, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially nails sans another rough ninth for Tyler Thornburg.
Brandon Workman struck out one in a clean sixth, Colten Brewer worked his way around a two out single from Chad Pinder in a shutout seventh, and Heath Hembree retired the only three hitters he faced in order in the eighth.
Entering the final frame with another sizable lead to protect, Thornburg nearly made something out of nothing for the second time in less than 24 hours by allowing the Athletics to trim their deficit down to four with run-scoring doubles from Khris Davis and Pinder.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, the ex-Brewer was able to hold his own enough to get the aforementioned Laureano to ground out to Tzu-Wei Lin for the third and final out, wrapping up the 7-3 win as well as the three-game sweep.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar opponent in Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers, who held Boston scoreless over six innings in his last start against them in early April. But, like I have mentioned before during this series, things were different this time around.
Kicking off the scoring in the second, Mitch Moreland got a productive day at the plate started by driving in Rafael Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to left field.
None of that would have been possible, however, had not it been for this crazy hop the ball took off the second base bag on a Michael Chavis single one at-bat prior, which allowed Devers to advance to third in the first place.
Fast forward to the fourth, Moreland struck again by continuing his run of dominating A’s pitching and launching his team-leading ninth home run over the Monster for his second dinger of the series. 399 feet and 103 MPH off the bat, per Statcast.
In the fifth, a Tzu-Wei Lin leadoff double would later result in Boston’s fifth run of the afternoon crossing the plate on another sac fly from Mookie Betts for his 16th RBI of the season. 3-1.
An inning later, with JB Wendelken now in for Oakland, back-to-back two out, bases loaded singles from Lin and Andrew Benintendi drove in three more Red Sox runs, with Lin accounting for one and Benintendi for two, to make it a 6-1 contest.
And in the eighth, Christian Vazquez put the finishing touches on this one by greeting new A’s reliever Ryan Dull with a 372 foot moonshot to left on the very first pitch of the inning for his fifth big fly of the year already.
That gave Boston a 7-1 advantage, and after a mini rally from the A’s in their half of the ninth, 7-3 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
Somehow, some way, the Red Sox won the season series against the A’s 4-3.
Playing in six of those games, Mitch Moreland slashed .313/.400/.750 with two home runs and six RBI.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 19th, Marcus Walden owns a 0.00 ERA and a .111 batting average against over his last six appearances.
The Red Sox are 8-4 in their last 12 games.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on the South Side in the first stop of a two-city road trip.
Left-hander David Price is set to get the ball in the opener for Boston, while right-hander Lucas Giolito will do the same for Chicago.
In his career at Guaranteed Rate Field, Price owns a lifetime 4.41 ERA over eight starts.
Giolito, meanwhile, has only started against the Red Sox once before in his young career. An outing last August in which he allowed one run over 6.1 innings in a losing effort.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.