After falling victim to some mild heartbreak recently, the Red Sox let out their frustrations in a 20-8 romping of the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
Matched up against Rays starter Josh Fleming to begin things on Wednesday, the top third of the Sox lineup set the tone right out of the gate, with Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, and Xander Bogaerts each doubling off the left-hander to give their side an early 2-0 lead.
J.D. Martinez followed suit and got his exceptional night at the plate started with an RBI single that brought in Bogaerts and made it a 3-0 contest after just one inning.
In the second, it was the bottom and top of the Boston lineup that got the job done against Fleming, as Bobby Dalbec drew a one-out walk, advanced up to third on a two-out double from Hernandez, and both runners scored on another two-run double off the bat of Renfroe. 5-0.
Despite going down relatively quietly in the third, the Boston bats matched that five-run total in their half of the fourth inning alone. Hernandez led off with a single, moved up to single on a walk drawn by Renfroe, and crossed the plate on a Rafael Devers run-scoring single.
Fleming proceeded to intentionally walk Martinez to fill the bases with one out, but followed that up by unintentionally walking Kevin Plawecki to bring in yet another run. Marwin Gonzalez and Dalbec each lifted softly-hit singles to shallow right field to push across three additional runs, thus giving the Sox a commanding 10-0 lead.
An inning later, with reliever Dietrich Enns in for the Rays, the Red Sox padded that lead even further on an RBI single from Martinez that was followed by a three-run triple off the bat of Dalbec, making it a 14-0 contest.
With that sizable of a cushion to work with, Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi was easily able to find a groove in what was his 23rd start of the season.
Over seven dominating innings of work against his former team, Eovaldi allowed just one earned run while scattering just three hits and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts to tie a season-high in that category.
After retiring 16 of the first 18 batters he faced Wednesday, the lone run the veteran right-hander surrendered came when he served up a solo home run to Brandon Lowe with one out in the top of the sixth.
That cut the Sox’ deficit down to 13 runs at 14-1, but Eovaldi was able to recover nicely by sitting down five of the final six Rays hitters he faced going into the middle of the seventh — the point in which his evening came to a masterful close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (69 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler ultimately earned his 10th winning decision of the year while lowering his ERA down to 3.92.
In relief of Eovaldi, Yacksel Rios got the first call out of the Sox bullpen and retired the side in order in the eighth.
From there, the Boston offense took advantage of the fact that the Rays had a position player — catcher Francisco Mejia — pitching for them in the bottom half of the inning.
After Dalbec was plunked by a 40 mph curveball, Jarren Duran put runners on the corners with a single of his own.
Renfroe plated Dalbec with yet another RBI base hit, and Bogaerts brought in both Renfroe and Duran on a three-run blast (his 17th home run of the season) that left his bat at 105.5 mph and traveled 428 feet to center field.
That made it an 18-1 game, but the Sox were not done there, as the pinch-hitting Connor Wong collected an RBI of his own on his first career big-league triple and scored his side’s 20th and final run on a base knock from Gonzalez.
Despite being in possession of a 20-1 lead going into the ninth and final frame, Red Sox reliever Phillips Valdez made things somewhat interesting by getting rocked for seven runs on five hits in what was a low-leverage spot.
Still, even after serving up a pair of RBI singles to Wander Franco and Joey Wendle, a grand slam to Brett Phillips, and a solo home run to Mike Zunino, Valdez was ultimately able to hold on and secure a 20-8 victory for his side.
With the win, the Red Sox snap a two-game skid to improve to 66-50 on the season while also moving four games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Some notes from this victory:
From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:
From Red Sox Notes:
Next up: Houck vs. Rasmussen
The Red Sox will recall right-hander Tanner Houck from Triple-A Worcester and have him start the rubber match of this three-game series against the Rays on Thursday afternoon, manager Alex Cora said. A corresponding move will need to be made in order to add Houck to the major-league roster.
The Rays, meanwhile, will go with righty Drew Rasmussen in what looks to be a bullpen day for manager Kevin Cash’s club.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)