For the second time in three games, the Red Sox squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Angels in Anaheim on Wednesday night.
They did not get a complete game from their starting pitcher this time around, but they still held on to win their seventh straight game and improve to 30-27 on the season.
The game’s lone run came in the sixth inning. Up until that point in the contest, the Rafael Devers-less Red Sox lineup had been held in check by Angels pitching despite squandering a number of scoring opportunities.
With two outs in the sixth, though, Alex Verdugo drew an eight-pitch walk off Halos reliever Jimmy Herget. Three pitches later, Verdugo scored all the way from first when Bobby Dalbec laced a 93 mph double down the left field line.
Dalbec then attempted to score from second on a Kevin Plawecki single, but was thrown out at home plate. Still, the damage had already been done.
In the middle of the sixth, Red Sox manager Alex Cora elected to turn to his bullpen after getting five scoreless innings from Nathan Eovaldi. While Eovaldi scattered six hits without walking a batter and struck out five in his 12th start of the season, the right-hander’s velocity was noticeably down.
Of the 84 pitches (56 strikes) Eovaldi threw, 32 were fastballs. He averaged 94 mph with the pitch, down from the 96.7 mph he averaged with it coming into play on Wednesday. The 32-year-old also induced seven swings-and-misses with his splitter, a pitch he threw 24 times in the process of lowering his ERA on the season to 3.16.
In relief of Eovaldi, Tyler Danish received the first call from Cora out of the Boston bullpen. With a brand new 1-0 lead to work with, Danish tossed a scoreless frame in the bottom of the sixth before plunking the first batter he faced in the seventh.
That prompted Cora to call upon Jake Diekman, who got the pinch-hitting Max Stassi to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that was capped with a nice scoop at first base by Christian Vazquez, who was making his first start of the year at the position.
Diekman then fanned the dangerous Shohei Ohtani to retire the side in the seventh and make way for John Schreiber in the eighth. Schreiber, in turn, got the next four outs before Cora pulled him in favor of Matt Strahm.
Tasked with recording the final two outs of the ballgame, Strahm did just that on five pitches to earn the save and seal the win.
According to MLB.com’s Ian Browne, this is the first time the Red Sox have won two games in the same series by a final score of 1-0 since July 18 and 19 of 2006 against the Royals.
Browne also notes that Eovaldi was dealing with a tight right hip on Wednesday, which likely led to the dip in velocity.
Next up: Pivetta vs. Ohtani in series finale
The Red Sox will look to keep their perfect west coast road trip going by completing a four-game sweep over the Angels on Thursday night. Boston will turn to right-hander Nick Pivetta while Los Angeles will roll with fellow righty Shohei Ohtani.
First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Christian Vazquez and Bobby Dalbec: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)