After shutting out the Los Angeles Angels behind eight dominant innings from Chris Sale on Thursday, the Red Sox picked up their second straight win over the Halos on Friday, as they took the second of the four-game set by a final score of 16-4 to improve to 62-56 on the season.
Making his fourth start of the season for Boston and second since being activated off the injured list this past Saturday was Brian Johnson, now taking the spot of the recently shelved David Price in Boston’s rotation.
Working into the third inning on Friday, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.
All three of those Angels runs came around to score right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners on first and second following a one-out double from Mike Trout and two-out walk drawn by Justin Upton, Albert Pujols unloaded on a 1-2, 77 MPH slider from Johnson and deposited it well over the Green Monster.
That three-run blast put Los Angeles up 3-0, but Johnson should have been out of the first before all that went down. Why? Because ball four on that walk to Upton should have gone for strike three for the final out of the frame. Instead, it wasn’t called a strike by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, Upton was granted first, and that set up Pujols.
Other than that one major blip though, Johnson recovered nicely enough to sit down six of the next seven hitters he faced after serving up that bomb before getting the hook with Shohei Ohtani on first, two outs in the third, and Upton due up next to hit for the Angels.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (28 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 90.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Ultimately hit with the no-decision while bumping his ERA on the season up to 7.32, Johnson’s next start should come against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.
In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered the top half of the third with one out still to get and one runner on, and he got that out thanks to Vazquez, who nabbed Ohtani at second on an unsuccessful stolen base attempt.
Walden also came back out for the fourth and fifth innings, where he faced the minimum of six Angeles hitters over two scoreless to eventually earn his seventh winning decision of the year before making way for Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth.
There, the right-hander began his evening by sitting down David Fletcher, Trout, and Ohtani in order on 20 pitches. Not too shabby.
Eovaldi’s second inning of work in the seventh though? Well, it could have gone better, as a leadoff double off the bat of Upton, a one-out HBP of Kole Calhoun, and two straight walks of Luis Rengifo and Brian Johnson brought Los Angeles’ fourth run of the night.
The Texas native did manage to escape any further damage in the seventh by getting Matt Thaiss to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.
Regardless of that, Hector Velazquez and Josh Taylor wrapped things up in a contest the Sox ended up running away with by combining for two perfect innings of relief in the top halves of the eighth and ninth to secure the 16-4 win.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels right-hander Jaime Barria, who came into the weekend having yielded 17 runs in his last four starts since the All-Star break.
Kicking off the scoring started right away in the bottom half of the first, J.D. Martinez responded to an early three-run deficit by driving in Mookie Betts from second on a two-out, line-drive RBI double. 3-1.
Fast forward all the way to the fourth, and Martinez struck again, this time plating Xander Bogaerts, as well as himself, on a 402-foot, two-run shot off a 3-1, 93 MPH heater down the heart of the plate from Barria to knot things up at three runs apiece.
An inning later, a one-out single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. would turn out to be the catalyst for another two-run rally in the fifth, as Betts followed suit with his 20th big fly of the year off a 3-2, 87 MPH slider on the inner half of the plate to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 5-3.
In the sixth, Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Vazquez all reached to fill the bases with one out for the pinch-hitting Sam Travis, who greeted new Angels reliever Adalberto Mejia by drawing a five-pitch walk, which brought Martinez in from third and made it a 6-3 contest.
Bradley Jr. collected an RBI despite driving in a pair with a grounder that got under the glove of Rengifo. 8-3.
A six-pitch walk of Betts re-loaded the bases for Rafael Devers, and the 23-year-old took full advantage by lacing another two-run single through the right side of the infield, putting his side up 10-3 in the process of going so.
A red-hot Martinez stayed hot in the seventh, mashing his second homer of the night and 27th of the season to lead the inning off against Angels right-hander Trevor Cahill. 11-4.
Benintendi and Vazquez followed that up by both reaching base on a HBP and walk, and Mitch Moreland came through with an RBI double of his own to drive in Benintendi and make it an eight-run game at 12-4.
In the eighth, after taking over for Bogaerts defensively in the top of the inning, Devers took the first pitch he saw from Cahill and led off with not only his 24th dinger of 2019, but also his first career homer as a shortstop.
Four batters later, a wild pitch allowed Martinez to go from second to third after he reached on a throwing error, and Vazquez proved once more that mistakes can be costly, as he plated Martinez with an RBI single to left. 14-4.
And finally, Moreland put the exclamation point on this blowout with his first home run in nearly three months. This particular one, his 14th of the year, was good for two runs as it soared over the Green Monster.
That opposite field blast gave the Red Sox a 16-4 edge, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
J.D. Martinez’s August thus far: .469/.553/.938 with four homers and eight RBI.
The Red Sox are 14-1 this season when scoring 10-plus runs in a game.
The Red Sox are 3-1 in their last four completed games.
With the win on Friday, the Red Sox now sit five games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Next up for the Sox, it’s the third of this four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon.
Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Andrew Heaney will do the same for Los Angeles.
Porcello is coming off his best outing in weeks in his last time out against the Kansas City Royals, as he held the opposition to just one run on four hits over six strong innings of work.
In his career against the Angels, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 5.56 ERA and .291 batting average against over 18 starts and 103 2/3 total innings pitched.
Heaney, meanwhile, will be making his first start in over three weeks after being sidelined due to inflammation in his left elbow.
In one prior start at Fenway Park back on June 27th of last season, the 28-year-old allowed six runs in less than four innings in an eventual losing effort.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.