Franchy Cordero and Xander Bogaerts both homer as Red Sox avoid disaster, hold on for 9-8 win over Rays

The Red Sox put an end to their four-game losing streak with a series-opening win over the Rays on Friday night. Boston avoided disaster and defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 9-8 at Fenway Park to improve to 61-65 on the season.

Michael Wacha, making his 16th start of the year for the Sox, allowed four runs on five hits, one walk, and two hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts over six innings of work. All four of those runs were scored within the first three innings.

The veteran right-hander got his night off to a tough start, as his very first pitch was deposited 411 feet over the Green Monster courtesy of a leadoff home run off the bat of Yandy Diaz.

An inning later, Wacha yielded a one-out double to Jose Siri. After fanning Francisco Mejia, he promptly served up a 431-foot shot to Ji-Man Choi that gave the Rays an early 3-0 lead.

Boston responded in the bottom of the second. Christian Arroyo led off against Ryan Yarbrough by ripping a 105 mph double to left field. He then moved up to third base on an Enrique Hernandez base hit and scored from there on an infield single from Kevin Plawecki that was deflected by Diaz at third base. Tommy Pham drew a two-out walk off Yarbrough to load the bases, but Alex Verdugo popped out to second to end the rally there.

Diaz returned the favor in the third with a leadoff double of his own. Wacha then plunked the next two batters he faced to fill the bases for Harold Ramirez, who brought Tampa Bay’s lead back to three runs with a sacrifice fly to right field. Wacha managed to limit the damage by getting David Peralta to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play.

Perhaps that sequence helped Wacha settle into a groove, because the righty proceeded to retire nine of the final 11 Rays hitters he faced through the middle of the sixth. The 31-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 93 (63 strikes). He induced 10 swings-and-misses while averaging 93 mph with his four-seam fastball.

The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, took full advantage of Wacha putting up those zeroes. Franchy Cordero led off the fourth inning by wrapping his seventh home run of the season — and third of the week — 356 feet around Pesky’s Pole to make it a 4-2 game. Hernandez and Plawecki followed with back-to-back singles to put runners at the corners for Jarren Duran.

Duran drove in Hernandez on a sacrifice fly to right field. In the fifth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a single and Bobby Dalbec, who was pinch-hitting for Cordero, drew a one-out walk. Following a Tampa Bay pitching change that saw Shawn Armstrong take over for Yarbrough, Hernandez greeted the new reliever by lacing a game-tying single through the left side of the infield. Dalbec advanced to second on the play and scored the go-ahead run on a 104.3 mph RBI double off the bat of Plawecki.

After Verdugo and J.D. Martinez each reached base with no outs in the sixth, Bogaerts broke it open by cranking a no-doubt, 386-foot three-run home run over the Green Monster. Bogaerts’ 11th big fly of the season left his bat at 100.1 mph to give the Red Sox a four-run advantage at 8-4.

Matt Strahm took over for Wacha — who later picked up the winning decision — out of the Boston bullpen in the seventh inning. The left-hander worked his way around a two-out single in an otherwise clean frame of work. The Red Sox then received what would prove to be some much-needed insurance in the latter half of the inning on a run-scoring triple from Verdugo.

Taking a 9-4 lead into the eighth inning, Ryan Brasier nearly let that five-run cushion slip away. Celebrating his 53rd birthday on Friday, Brasier failed to record an out in the process of giving up a leadoff walk, a base hit, an RBI single to Peralta, and a three-run home run to Siri.

Brasier’s meltdown gave the Rays life and forced Red Sox manager Alex Cora to turn to Matt Barnes for the third time in as many days. As has been the case since he returned from the injured list earlier this month, though, Barnes proved reliable yet again by striking out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect inning of relief.

That paved the way for Garrett Whitlock to enter in the ninth, and he wasted no time in slamming the door on the Rays to secure the one-run victory and earn his sixth save of the year.

All told, the Red Sox went 7-for-20 with runners in scoring position on Friday. Pham, Verdugo, and Bogaerts each had two hits while Hernandez and Plawecki each had three.

Next up: Hill vs. Springs

The Red Sox will go for a series win over the Rays on Saturday afternoon. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill is slated to start for Boston while fellow southpaw (and old friend) Jeffrey Springs is expected to do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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