In a game that took well over four hours to complete, the Red Sox stormed all the way back to a four-game split against the Texas Rangers with a 7-6 win on Thursday night to close out a 3-5 homestand.
Making his 12th start of the season for Boston in the series finale was David Price, fresh off six quality one-run innings in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This time around though, the left-hander struggled mightily against a team he has a rough history with, as he yielded six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the short-lived night.
The issues for Price were present right from the get-go, that much was clear by how he hit the first man he faced in Shin-Soo Choo, and proceeded to walk the next in Delino Deshields, which in turn led to Texas plating their first two runs on an Elvis Andrus RBI single and Hunter Pence RBI double that nearly left the yard, but bounced off the top of the short wall in right field and landed back in play.
Price escaped the first after surrendering another pair of runs on two-out, two RBI double from Logan Forsythe, but more trouble arose an inning later, and it was once again started by beaning Choo with one out on a 1-2 changeup.
A double from Deshields put both runners on base in scoring position for Andrus, who capitalized on a 1-0 changeup from the Tennessee native and grounded another two-run hit through the left side of the infield to make it a 6-0 game. That was how Price’s evening came to a disappointing close, less than an hour after it had began.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 49 (27 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 92.3 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez behind the plate.
When asked about his performance, Price simply said, “I sucked. That’s it.” With his ERA jumping up by 8/10 of a run up to 3.52 on the season, he’ll look for better results in his next time out against the Minnesota Twins next Tuesday.
In relief of Price, Sox manager Alex Cora turned to every reliever in his bullpen sans Heath Hembree, who later said he wasn’t available to pitch due to right forearm tightness.
Mike Shawaryn, Colten Brewer, and Travis Lakins, all of whom have been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket in the last few weeks, set the groundwork by working a combined four scoreless, no-hit frames of relief, scattering five walks along the way to set up the more high-leverage arms.
Entering the sixth with the score at 6-6, Marcus Walden bounced back from a two-run outing this past Saturday by working his way around two two-out singles in an otherwise clean frame with some help from Andrew Benintendi.
Another tightrope was walked in the seventh, when, still in a tie game, Brandon Workman walked the bases loaded with two outs, took Deshields to a full count after falling behind 3-0, and came through with a huge punchout on an 82 MPH slider to strand the go-ahead run at third.
In the eighth, after his side had plated what would turn out to be the winning run in their half of the inning, Matt Barnes also bounced back from what has been a subpar month of June so far by fanning the final two Rangers he faced to leave Hunter Pence at second following a one-out double.
And in the ninth, with Heath Hembree unavailable, Josh Smith, yes, Josh Smith came on for his first ever big league save opportunity.
It didn’t look great when he hit the first batter he faced, but the 31-year-old got Rougned Odor to ground into a force out at second to keep the tying run out of scoring position before the Rangers second baseman stole the base anyway, and he also struck out pinch-hitter Nomar Mazara seven pitches later.
With one out still to get, this contest nearly ended on a pick-off move made by Smith on a retreating Odor as he was sliding back to second.
Xander Bogaerts was confident he had the runner on the tag, but second base umpire Angel Hernandez ruled him safe, and that ruling was upheld despite a Red Sox challenge.
The man who was at the plate while that transpired, Choo, was intentionally walked, and Smith succeeded against his next opponent in Deshields, as he got the speedy outfielder to fly out to center, thus securing his first career save and completing the comeback.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rangers right-hander Adrian Sampson, who hadn’t pitched against the Sox nor at Fenway Park since his rookie year in 2016, when he was with the Seattle Mariners.
Starting the scoring for Boston in this one was JD Martinez in the first inning, mashing his 13th home run of the year on a 418 foot solo shot to center to cut the early deficit to three runs.
An inning later, that deficit would be trimmed down even further to two thanks to back-to-back leadoff singles from Bogaerts and Vazquez and a 403 foor three-run dinger off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr., his sixth of the year.
Fast forward to the fourth, and Michael Chavis came alive and made it a one-run game by depositing his first homer since the 22nd of May into the third row of Monster Seats down the left field line. 6-5.
Rafael Devers joined the home run party in the fifth, tying this wild one up by absolutely crushing an 0-2 hanging slider from Sampson and sending it 443 feet over everything in center field. Per Statcast, the 22-year-old’s 10th big fly of 2019 had an exit velocity of 110 MPH.
Finally, in the seventh, down to their final out of the inning with right-hander Peter Fairbanks in for Texas, Xander Bogaerts gave the Sox their first lead of the night, collecting his 14th home run of the season on an 0-1 slider, one that the budding shortstop mashed 386 feet over the Monster.
That put the Red Sox ahead 7-6 after trailing by as many as five runs, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
The Red Sox had nine hits Thursday. Five were home runs.
Jackie Bradley Jr. in June: .257/.366/.514 with two home runs, three doubles, and seven RBI.
Xander Bogaerts in June: .304/.382/.630 with three doubles, four home runs, and seven RBI.
The Red Sox bullpen Thursday: 7 1/3 innings pitched, four hits, one HBP, eight walks, nine strikeouts, ZERO earned runs.
So, after going down two games in a four-game series, the Red Sox respond by taking the next two for the split. That’s encouraging to see, especially with a three-game weekend series against the lowly Baltimore Orioles set to begin on Friday.
The starters for that series go as follows: Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, TBD (Could be Brian Johnson).
Meanwhile, for Baltimore, they have yet to announce a starter for either Friday or Sunday. Right-hander Dylan Bundy will be matched up against Sale on Saturday.
The Sox took two out of three from the O’s in their first trip to Baltimore back in May. A sweep this time around seems more ideal.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.