The Red Sox capped off their first road trip of the season on a positive note on Wednesday night, topping the Rays by a final score of 5-0 to put an end to their four-game losing streak.
Martin Perez made his third start of the year for Boston in this one, and he picked up where he left against the Mets with another solid outing on Wednesday.
Working five scoreless innings, the left-hander worked a bit of a tight-rope act, but still managed to keep Tampa Bay off the board while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.
Part of the reason Perez was able to avoid any real damage was his ability to induce soft contact on Wednesday, as he got the Rays to ground into a double-play on two separate occasions.
On top of that, the Sox starter also did an adequate job of dealing with traffic on the base-paths. Among the 20 batters he faced, Perez allowed seven to reach base, yet none of them scored thanks in part to the Rays going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with the last of those chances coming with two outs in the fifth.
There, Yandy Diaz reached base on a line-drive double off Perez, but the 29-year-old countered by getting the dangerous Austin Meadows to fly out to right and that was that.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 91, only 48 of which were strikes, Perez relied on his cutter and changeup a combined 53% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses with the pair of pitches while also topping out at 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 20 times en route to picking up his second consecutive winning decision.
With that, Perez is now 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. His next start will also come against the Rays, this time at Fenway Park, sometime next week, likely on Tuesday.
In relief of Perez, Colten Brewer got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect inning of work.
From there, Austin Brice tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Matt Barnes bounced back with a quick and painless bottom of the eighth, and Brandon Workman closed things out and preserved the shutout by striking out the side in the ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, absent the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., was matched up against Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to kick things off on Wednesday.
As it turned out, Boston’s first runs of the night were driven in by a left-handed bat. That hitter’s name? Alex Verdugo.
Yes, it took until the fourth inning, but after Michael Chavis reached base on a two-out double, the 24-year-old outfielder followed by crushing a 0-1, 71 mph curveball from Yarbrough just over the fence in right field for his first Red Sox home run.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis was in the offensive spotlight once more, this time coming to the plate against Yarbrough with no outs and a runner on first following a Christian Vazquez RBI single that brought in Xander Bogaerts.
On the sixth pitch he saw from the Rays starter, Chavis unloaded on a 3-2, 78 mph changeup down the heart of the plate and deposited it 421 feet to the seats in left field, right off a cardboard cutout.
Chavis’ second big fly of 2020 and his second within the last five days put his side up 5-0, which as previously mentioned, would be all the Red Sox would need to pick up their fourth win of the season in this one.
Some notes and observations from this victory:
Michael Chavis on Wednesday: 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. His first multi-hit game of the season, and he also looked really sharp at first base.
Since giving up five runs (four earned) in his first two innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox back on July 25, Martin Perez has yielded just two earned runs over his last 13 2/3 innings of work.
Xander Bogaerts over the course of this seven-game road trip: 10-for-23 (.435) with two homers and four RBI.
From Red Sox Notes:
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a happy flight back home to Boston, another off day on Thursday, and the first of three against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park to kick off the weekend on Friday.
As things currently stand, the Sox will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber on Friday, right-hander Zack Godley on Saturday, and an opener on Sunday. The Jays have yet to name any of their starters for the three-game set.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.
Before that though, major-league rosters across baseball have to go from 30 players down to 28 by Thursday morning, so stay tuned for that.