J.D. Martinez homers twice as Red Sox finish off sweep of Rays to close out 2022 season

The Red Sox closed out the 2022 season on Wednesday night by completing a three-game sweep of the Rays. Boston defeated Tampa Bay, 6-3, at Fenway Park to finish the year with a 78-84 record.

With left-hander Josh Fleming starting for the Rays, the Sox drew first blood right away in their half of the first inning. After Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts hit back-to-back one-out singles, Alex Verdugo grounded into a force out at second base.

That put runners at the corners with two outs for J.D. Martinez, who worked a full count before depositing a hanging sinker from Fleming 389 feet into the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run homer that gave his side an early 3-0 lead.

The Rays responded in their half of the third. After giving up a one-out single to Randy Arozarena, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta served up a two-run home run to Ji-Man Choi that traveled 348 feet over the Green Monster and trimmed Boston’s deficit down to one run at 3-2.

Pivetta, making his 33rd and final start of the season for Boston, lasted just four innings due to a high pitch count of 103 (69 strikes). The right-hander yielded two runs on four hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. He finishes the year with an ERA of 4.56 over 179 2/3 innings.

To break it down even further, Pivetta posted a 6.61 ERA in 16 starts against divisional opponents and a 2.95 ERA in 17 starts against all other teams. The 29-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Wednesday.

Shortly after Pivetta’s night had ended, Martinez got to Fleming again. This time around, the veteran slugger clubbed a 406-foot solo shot off the lefty that cleared the Green Monster in 4.9 seconds for his second big fly of the game and his 16th of the season.

Taking a 4-2 lead into the fifth, Eduard Bazardo received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Bazardo worked his way around a leadoff walk and one-out double before handing things over to Matt Strahm, who faced the minimum in the sixth.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, recorded the first two outs of the seventh before yielding a 333-foot home run to Vidal Brujan that barely cleared the right field fence. It appeared as though Verdugo had come up with a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch on the other side of the wall, but he failed to come up with the ball cleanly as it wound up landing in the Red Sox bullpen.

Although the Rays again made it a one-run game, John Schreiber kept them off the board in the top of the eighth. The Sox then tacked on some important insurance runs in the bottom half when Triston Casas drew a bases-loaded walk off Jimmy Yacabonis and Christian Arroyo followed by ripping an RBI single to right field that brought in Yu Chang from third.

Now with a three-run lead in hand, Matt Barnes entered in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning to secure the win and notch his eighth and final save of 2022.

Bogaerts, Martinez receive curtain calls

As Brasier warmed up before the start of the seventh inning, Chang came on to take over for Bogaerts at shortstop. Bogaerts, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free-agent this winter, received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd. He tipped his cap to them as he left the field and was first greeted in front of the Red Sox dugout by Devers, who gave him a hug.

An inning later, Martinez — a pending free-agent himself — was pulled after he stepped up to the plate for what would have been his last at-bat of the season. He, too, received a standing ovation from the crowd and he raised his fist in response as Bogaerts greeted him. Connor Wong pinch-hit for Martinez.

In what might have been their final game as Red Sox teammates, Bogaerts and Martinez each went 2-for-3. Arroyo also enjoyed a multi-hit performance. On the other side of things, Bazardo earned the first win of his big-league career.

The final numbers

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox finish the 2022 campaign with a record of 78-84, good for last place in the American League East. Against divisional opponents specifically, Boston went 26-50. They went 43-38 at home and 35-46 on the road.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/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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