Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13 games, as they extended their current winning streak to five on Sunday afternoon with an 11-2 Mother’s Day triumph over the Seattle Mariners to finish off the weekend sweep.
On what was more of a bullpen day for the Sox, it was Hector Velazquez making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one.
Pitching in mostly unfavorable conditions at Fenway Park, the right-hander twirled five solid innings of work, limiting the M’s to just two runs on two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the day.
Right from the get go, it did not look as though Velazquez was going to go too deep into his outing, as Seattle led things off in the first by having runners on second and third without an out yet recorded.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, the Mexico native held the opposition to one run in the frame on an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly before really settling in.
Retiring 10 of the next 11 he faced following that Encarnacion at-bat, Velazquez did not run into any more trouble up until the start of the fifth inning, when Omar Narvaez launched a leadoff homer to right field for Seattle’s second run of the afternoon.
Still, Velazquez showed the ability to bounce back by again sitting down the M’s 7-8-9 hitters in order to retire the side in the fifth and end his outing on a more positive note by being eligible for the winning decision, which he did eventually pick up.
Finishing with a final economical pitch count of 63 (37 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 30% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing zero swings and misses and getting three called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 13 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.
Finally able to pick up that first W and improve to 1-2 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 3.95, the whereabouts on Velazquez’s next start are not yet known. I would expect him to make his next appearance out of the bullpen, though.
In relief of Velazquez, as has been the case regularly, Marcus Walden received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin the sixth inning.
Making his 14th appearance out of the ‘pen this season, the right-hander continued to impress with two more scoreless innings of relief on Sunday in addition to just one hit given up and three punch outs.
That made way for Josh Smith, who worked his way around a single and a fielding error in the eighth before shutting things down with a clean ninth to secure the 11-2 win for his club.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, who picked up the win against the Sox in his second start of the year back on March 28th.
This time around, the Boston bats had a much better time of figuring out the Seattle southpaw, and the scoring got kicked off right away in the first inning.
Already trailing by a run, JD Martinez erased that deficit very quickly with a two out, 384 foot solo shot off of Gonzales to put the Red Sox on the board.
Three batters later, after Xander Bogaerts reached on a five-pitch walk and Rafael Devers advanced him to third on a line drive single, Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-19 slump by driving in Bogaerts on an RBI line drive single that should have been caught by Mariners rookie second baseman Shed Long.
That was followed up by another defensive miscue on Seattle’s behalf, with Rafael Devers coming in from third on a passed ball with Christian Vazquez at the plate. And just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-1 lead.
An inning later, more two trouble for the Mariners led to more scoring for the Red Sox, this time with Andrew Benintendi scoring all the way from first on a Mookie Betts pop up that again should have been caught by right fielder Jay Bruce. Instead, Bruce never really had control of the ball, dropped it, and in came Benintendi on the fielding error. 4-1.
Fast forward to the fifth, and Chavis was set up in a prime RBI spot again thanks to Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers reaching base with two outs against Mariners reliever Parker Markel.
With both runners in scoring position, the Red Sox rookie infielder snuck a single through the right side of the infield, plating Bogaerts and Devers to give his team the 6-2 advantage.
Two innings later, three straight walks drawn by Betts, Martinez, and Bogaerts off righty Dan Altavilla put the Red Sox in a spot to put this one out of reach, and they did just that with a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Devers and a two-run single from Chavis to make it a 9-2 game.
For Chavis, those two runs marked his fourth and fifth RBI of the day, setting a new-career high for a single game. Quite a way to break out of an offensive slump.
And in the eighth, just like how he started this one off, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on his team’s fifth straight win by depositing his second big fly of the afternoon over the Green Monster to plate both Mookie Betts as well as himself.
That put the Red Sox ahead 11-2, which would go on to be the final score in this series finale. Sweep completed.
Some notes from this win:
The Red Sox are 16-6 in their last 22 games.
With yet another three-hit performance on Sunday, Rafael Devers is slashing .426/.462/.638 with two home runs and 13 RBI over 11 games this month.
Two from Red Sox Notes:
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before welcoming the Colorado Rockies into town for a quick, two-game interleague series on Tuesday.
The first of those two will feature a starting pitching matchup between left-hander Kyle Freeland for Colorado and fellow southpaw Chris Sale for Boston.
Coming off eight innings of one run ball in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, Sale has posted a 1.73 ERA, .165 batting average against, and 14.54 K/9 over his last four starts. The Red Sox are unbeaten in the lefty’s last two outings.
Freeland, meanwhile, has never pitched at Fenway Park, nor against the Red Sox, as this is just his third season in the majors.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.