After splitting a four-game series with the Texas Rangers to wrap up a 3-5 homestand on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up a three-game weekend set against the Baltimore Orioles in emphatic fashion on Friday, blowing out their divisional foes by a final score of 13-2.
Making his 14th start of the season for Boston in this convincing victory was Eduardo Rodriguez, fresh off a four-run, losing effort in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This time around, the left-hander had a much better time of things, as he yielded just one earned run while scattering six hits, one HBP, and no walks to go along with four strikeouts over seven quality innings of work.
That one Baltimore run came right away in the bottom of the first, when with one out, Trey Mancini launched his 15th home run of the season to left field to give his side the early lead.
It looked as though he could have folded from there, but Rodriguez recovered nicely after serving up the solo shot. That much was evident by how he kept the Orioles off the scoreboard.
Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr. did their part defensively as well, with the former making an inning-ending, over the shoulder snag in the fourth, and the latter robbing Pedro Severino of what would have been a one out, two-run home run in the sixth.
Sure, Bradley Jr. was unable to come up with the catch itself, but by being able to bring that ball back into play, both runners were held up at second and third.
Rodriguez ended the frame five pitches later with the assistance of JD Martinez, who caught a lineout off the bat of Anthony Santander and made a fine throw towards home to snuff out Mancini trying to tag up from third.
With one more scoreless frame in the seventh, Rodriguez’s impressive night against the club he began his professional career with came to a close.
Finishing with a final season-high pitch count of 114 (73 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball approximately 49% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing nine swings and misses and topping out at 94.2 MPH with the pitch while both Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon were behind the plate.
Improving to 7-4 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.67, Rodriguez will look to build on his best start of the month in his next time out, which should come against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.
In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen did not face as much pressure as they did the night before, as Travis Lakins entered this contest in the eighth with a comfortable 12-run lead to protect.
Making his second appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, Lakins needed 13 pitches to retire the only three hitters he faced in order to set up Josh Smith in the ninth.
Fresh off his first career big league save against Texas, Smith did give up one run on three hits before ultimately recording the final out and locking down his team’s third consecutive victory.
On the other side of things, the Mookie Betts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles rookie right-hander Luis Ortiz, who was making just his second career start Friday.
Having never faced off against Ortiz before, Brock Holt got the scoring started for Boston in the second inning with his first home run of the season, this one a 406 foot two-run shot to plate Xander Bogaerts as well as himself and give his side a lead they would not have to look back from.
In the fourth, Christian Vazquez added on to what’s been a career year in terms of power by leading things off with his eighth big fly of 2019 to give the Red Sox a 3-1 advantage.
That was followed by a Jackie Bradley Jr. double and an Orioles pitching change that saw Dan Straily take over for Ortiz, and he was immediately greeted by an RBI single off the bat of Michael Chavis to make it a 4-1 contest.
Two batters later, JD Martinez added another pair of runs to his team’s tally with a 414 foot bomb to left field, his first of two on the evening. 6-1.
Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his recent hot streak in the fifth, taking Straily deep yet again on an 0-2 91 MPH fastball and racking up his seventh big fly of the year, good for two runs.
Still in the fifth, an Eduardo Nunez single put a runner on for Chavis, and he took full advantage of that by depositing a 1-1 hanging slider from Straily 447(!) feet to dead center.
With the bases clear again following an Andrew Benintendi strikeout, Martinez went ahead and demolished his second homer of the night and third since Thursday on a 1-0 fastball right down Broadway. Per Statcast, the 31-year-old slugger’s 15th round tripper of the season had an exit velocity of 105 MPH.
Finally, in the sixth, Benintendi came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, and he put the exclamation point on this offensive outpouring by golfing a two-run double down the left field line off Baltimore reliever Josh Rogers to drive in Holt from third and Vazquez from second.
That put the Red Sox ahead 13-1, and after the Orioles got another run of their own in the ninth, 13-2 would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
Friday was JD Martinez’s third multi-homer game of 2019. He had three all of last season.
Jackie Bradley Jr. during his five-game hitting streak: 8-for-19 with three doubles, two home runs, and five RBI.
Rafael Devers during his four-game hitting streak: 7-for-17 with one double, one triple, one home run, and four RBI.
Michael Chavis, in his fourth game batting out of the leadoff spot: 2-for-5 with one home run and three RBI.
The Red Sox have won three straight to improve to 37-34 on the season.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game series on Saturday.
Left-hander Chris Sale will get the ball for Boston, while right-hander Dylan Bundy will do the same for Baltimore.
Last time he pitched at Camden Yards back on May 8th, Sale fanned 14 over eight scoreless frames, including his first immaculate inning of the season in the seventh.
Since the beginning of May, Sale has posted a 1.99 ERA and .153 batting average against over his last eight starts and 54.1 innings pitched, yet the Red Sox are only 4-4 in those games.
Bundy, meanwhile, has had himself a solid 2019 campaign to this point with an ERA of 4.50 through 13 starts, although that number lowers to 3.02 since the beginning of last month.
In 17 outings (13 starts) against Boston, Bundy is 3-7 with an unsightly 5.08 ERA over 78 total innings of work.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking for their fourth straight win.