Rafael Devers homers, Kenley Jansen records first save at Fenway Park as Red Sox snap skid with 5-3 win over Angels

Five hits is all the Red Sox needed to pick up a series-opening win over the Angels on Friday night. Donning the yellow City Connect uniforms for the first time in 2023, Boston defeated Los Angeles by a final score of 5-3 at Fenway Park to put an end to a four-game losing streak and improve to 6-8 on the season.

Tanner Houck, making his third start of the year, for the Sox, allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks to go along with six strikeouts over just four innings of work.

Both of those Angels runs came right away in the top of the first. After putting Shohei Ohtani (walk) and Anthony Rendon (single) on base with two outs, Houck surrendered a two-run double to former teammate Hunter Renfroe that was inches away from clearing the Green Monster in left field.

Despite the early struggles that put the Angels up 2-0, Houck was at least able to settle in a bit, though he did deal with his fair share of traffic on the base paths. After Connor Wong threw out Luis Rengifo at second to end the second and Renfroe grounded into a force out to end the third, the right-hander stranded two more runners in the fourth by retiring the final three batters he faced.

Because he had already thrown 90 pitches (56 strikes) to that point, though, Houck was done after four, meaning a Red Sox starter has still yet to pitch into the sixth inning of a game this season. The 26-year-old hurler did not factor into Friday’s decision as his ERA on the year remained at 4.50.

With Houck’s day done, the Red Sox got on the board in their half of the fourth. Still opposed by Angels starter Patrick Sandoval, Rafael Devers led off by reaching on Rengifo fielding error. He then took second on a wild pitch before coming into score on opposite-field RBI double off the bat of Enrique Hernandez.

Three batters later, Wong prolonged the inning by drawing a two-out walk off Sandoval to put runners at first and second for Yu Chang. Chang, in turn, hit a groundball towards Rendon at third base. Rendon fielded the ball cleanly, but he made a poor throw that got past first baseman Jake Lamb. As a result of the throwing error, Hernandez scored from second to knot things up at two runs apiece.

Josh Winckowski received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora as he took over for Houck in the fifth. The righty began his outing by putting two runners on with one out before getting Renfroe to ground into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

In the bottom of the fifth, Devers broke the tie by crushing a one-out solo shot to right field off Angels reliever Jimmy Herget. Devers’ sixth home run of the season already had an exit velocity of 106.6 mph and travelled 349 feet off his bat. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 3-2.

An inning later, the Red Sox again took advantage of some sloppy defense from the Angels infield. With two outs and two runners (Chang and Wong) at second and third, Rendon committed yet another throwing error on a Rob Refsnyder groundball. Devers then drew a walk off lefty reliever Aaron Loup, which filled the bases for Hernandez.

Hernandez, however, did not need to do anything, as Angels catcher Logan O’Hoppe could not corral a first-pitch changeup in the dirt, which allowed Chang to come in to score from third and give the Red Sox a 5-2 advantage heading into the seventh.

Los Angeles did get one of those runs back in the seventh, as Winckowski yielded an RBI groundout to Rendon after putting runners at second and third with one out. Still, it was a productive outing for Winckowski, who allowed just the one run over three innings of relief and was later credited with his first winning decision of the year.

From there, John Schreiber worked a scoreless eighth inning to pave the way for Kenley Jansen, who recorded his first career save at Fenway Park by striking out three of the four batters he faced.

The veteran closer made it a bit interesting by giving up a two-out single to Rendon, which brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Renfroe. But Jansen did not falter and instead responded by getting Renfroe to whiff on a nasty 87 mph slider to end it.

With the victory, the Red Sox pick up their first win in a night game this season while improving to 3-4 at home.

Next up: Anderson vs. Pivetta

The Red Sox will go for their second straight win over the Angels on Saturday (Jackie Robinson Day) afternoon. Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while left-hander Tyler Anderson will do the same for Los Angeles.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers: 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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