The Red Sox completed their four-game sweep of the Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Boston defeated Texas by a final score of 5-2 at Fenway Park to extend its winning streak to five and improve to 67-68 on the season.
Josh Winckowski, starting in place of the injured Kutter Crawford, allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go along with three strikeouts over four innings of work.
Both of those Rangers runs came right away in the top half of the first, as Winckowski began his day by issuing a four-pitch walk to Marcus Semien. The rookie right-hander then gave up a one-out single to Nathaniel Lowe, which put runners on the corners for Adolis Garcia, who ripped a run-scoring ground-rule double down the right field line. Jonah Heim followed by driving in Lowe with a groundout to give his side a 2-0 lead right out of the gate.
Despite that early deficit, the Red Sox lineup quickly responded in their half of the first. Matched up against Rangers righty Dane Dunning, Tommy Pham and Alex Verdugo both reached base on a pair of hard-hit singles before Xander Bogaerts came through with a ground-rule double of his own to cut Texas’ lead in half.
After Rafael Devers popped out into foul territory, Trevor Story took aim at the National Car Rental sign above the Green Monster for a 382-foot three-run blast. Story’s 16th home run of the season was accompanied by a bat flip and had an exit velocity of 101.9 mph. It also gave Boston its first lead of the day at 4-2.
An inning later, Connor Wong drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second base when Pham was hit by a pitch, and moved up to third on a Verdugo flyout. Bogaerts then drove him in with a sharply-hit opposite field single.
Winckowski, who had already retired the side in order in the top of the second, continued to settle into his outing by tossing two more scoreless innings. The 24-year-old hurler threw 82 pitches (47 strikes) and induced nine swings-and-misses while lowering his ERA on the season to 5.75.
In relief of Winckowski, Kaleb Ort received the first call out of the Boston bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Ort worked his way around a walk in the fifth and recorded the first two outs of the sixth before Wong threw out Leody Taveras at second base to end the inning.
Jeurys Familia and Matt Strahm each faced the minimum in the seventh and eighth, paving the way for John Schreiber to come on in the ninth. Schreiber, in turn, notched his second save in as many days by punching out two in a 1-2-3 inning. As a result, Ort was credited with the first winning decision of his big-league career.
Speaking of firsts, Triston Casas made his highly anticipated major-league debut on Sunday. The 22-year-old recorded his first career hit on an infield single in the fifth inning as part of a 1-for-4 day at the plate. He made solid contact on three separate occasions and provided stout defense at first base.
Story, meanwhile, provided some stellar defense of his own in the sixth inning. Playing in shallow right field as part of the shift, Story left his feet and made a fantastic leaping grab to rob Heim of a 107.7 mph line-drive single. On the other side of the ball, the 29-year-old finished a triple shy of the cycle and is now batting .464 (13-for-28) over his last seven games since returning from the injured list on August 27.
To the right of Story, Bogaerts went 3 for 4 with a double, two RBIs, and one run scored. He has now compiled eight straight multi-hit games to raise his batting average to an American League-leading .317.
Next up: On to St. Petersburg
Even on the heels of their first series sweep since late June, the Red Sox still trail the Blue Jays by 7 1/2 games for the third and final American League Wild Card spot. They will look to make up more ground in that race as they open a three-game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Monday.
Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to get the start for Boston in the series opener. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter.
First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Trevor Story: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)