After routing the New York Yankees 19-3 to open up a four-game weekend series on Thursday, the Red Sox were back at it again on Friday, this time going off for 10 wins in a 10-5 victory over their divisional foes to improve to 58-47 on the year.
Making his third start for Boston and 20th of the season overall was Andrew Cashner, who came into Friday winless in his first two outings with his new club since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles earlier in the month.
When he first arrived in Boston two weekends ago, Cashner made it clear that he was excited to be a part of this rivalry, saying that, “the thing I’m looking forward to the most is playing the Yankees.” He stepped up in his first Red Sox-Yankees action Friday.
Working into the seventh inning of this one, the right-hander put together his best performance since the trade, as he allowed three runs, all of which were earned, on 10 hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.
The first of those three New York tallies came across to score in the top half of the sixth, when after retiring 14 of the first 18 hitters he faced, Cashner yielded three-straight two-out knocks to Edwin Encarnacion, Didi Gregorius, and Luke Voit, which plated Encarnacion from second.
A three-pitch punchout of Gleyber Torres allowed Cashner to escape that jam, but the Texas native ran into a bit more trouble an inning later, where the first three Yankees who came to bat in the seventh all reached base, resulting in Austin Romine driving in a run on RBI single, and D.J. LeMahieu driving in another while grounding into a helpful 6-4-3 double play.
That cut Boston’s lead from eight runs down to six, so Cashner’s evening quickly came to a close following a two-out double from Aaron Judge with Encarnacion looming.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (67 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 41% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was at the plate.
Finally able to pick up that first win as a Red Sox while slightly lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.18, Cashner will look to maintain this positive trend in his next time out, which should come against another divisional opponent in the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.
In relief of Cashner, Marcus Walden entered the seventh with a runner in scoring position and one out to get in the frame. He got that out rather quickly, punching out Encarnacion looking on seven pitches to retire the side.
From there, left-hander Josh Taylor worked his way around a one-out walk of Luke Voit in the eighth with the help of Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers.
Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree failed to record an out in the inning, allowing New York’s fourth run of the night to score on an Austin Romine RBI double, which led to Sox manager Alex Cora having to turn to Brandon Workman in a six-run contest.
Workman promptly loaded the bases on a Judge screamer that went for a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts, surrendered another run on a Gregorius sacrifice fly, but ultimately held on by getting Voit to ground into a force out at third to secure the 10-5 win for his club.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander James Paxton, someone who had never pitched at Fenway Park before Friday.
Perhaps that unfamiliarity played a factor in how the scoring started for Boston, as Mookie Betts coldly greeted Paxton and kicked things off by mashing a 362-foot solo shot to left to lead off the first.
Three batters later, with one out and Rafael Devers at first, J.D. Martinez added on to his team’s early lead with his 21st big fly of the season. This one a 433-foot, two-run bomb over the Monster to put the Red Sox ahead 3-0.
Fast forward to the third, and the dynamic duo of Betts and Martinez struck once more, with the former leading the inning off with his second solo shot of the evening, a 390-foot solo shot at that, and the latter driving in Xander Bogaerts from second on a one-out, RBI triple down the right field line. 5-0.
An inning later, a two-out single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. brought Betts to the plate with a runner on for the first time, and he got ahead in this particular count against Paxton at 3-1 before absolutely punishing a hanging, 87 MPH cutter down the heart of the plate.
Per Statcast, Betts’ third homer was deposited 376 feet into the Monster seats and had an exit velocity of over 103 MPH. Also was his 18th of the season.
In the sixth, with reliever David Hale in for New York and Michael Chavis on at second, back-to-back two-out RBI doubles from Betts and Devers plated two more runs for Boston, making it a 9-1 game.
And in the seventh, Sam Travis came through with an RBI two-bagger of his own off Hale, scoring Andrew Benintendi from second to put his team up 10-3.
Betts’ last at-bat came with one out in the bottom of the eighth. With the chance to become the first Red Sox player to ever hit four home runs in a single game, all the reigning American League MVP could manage against tough lefty Zack Brittion was a softly-hit grounder to third.
No history made, but still an impressive day at the plate nonetheless, as 10-5 would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Notes:
From MLB Stats:
From The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam:
From NESN’s Guerin Austin:
Red Sox’ top four hitters (Betts, Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez) on Friday: 9-for-18 with four homers, five other extra-base-hits, seven runs scored, and nine runs driven in.
Mookie Betts in July: .395/.465/.709 with five homers and 17 RBI.
Rafael Devers in July: .341/.400/.747 with nine homers and 32(!!!) RBI.
Xander Bogaerts in July: .369/.424/.702 with seven homers and 23 RBI.
J.D. Martinez’s last seven games: .438/.455/.813 with two homers and nine RBI.
The Red Sox have won four of their last five games against the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. At 58-47, this is the first time Boston has been 11 games over .500 all season.
They’ll look to make that 12 games over .500 in the third of this four-game series on Saturday afternoon.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the start for Boston, while fellow veteran southpaw C.C. Sabathia will do the same for New York.
Since the beginning of the month, Rodriguez is 4-0 in his last four starts, posting a 1.42 ERA and .159 batting average against over 25 1/3 innings pitched.
The 26-year-old’s last start against the Yankees came on international soil, where he gave up two earned runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings of work back on June 30th in London.
In his career against the Bronx Bombers, Rodriguez owns a lifetime 3.86 ERA over 15 appearances (13 starts) and 74 2/3 total frames pitched.
Sabathia, meanwhile, allowed three runs over six innings in a losing effort in his only other start against Boston this season back on June 2nd.
Over 19 prior starts at Fenway Park, the 39-year-old is 7-5 with an ERA of 4.87 and batting average against of .289 in 112 2/3 innings pitched.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.