RECAP: Mookie Betts Blasts Monumental Grand Slam in Tenth Straight Win for #RedSox.

Coming off a sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Red Sox welcomed the fourth place Toronto Blue Jays into town for one last series before reaching the All-Star Break. In search of their tenth consecutive victory, David Price got the nod in what was simply an important night for the left hander.

Making his 19th start of the season, and third of what has been a frustrating month of July, David Price looked for some retribution in his last appearance in this opening half of the season.

Pitching into the seventh inning of this one, the lefty surrendered three runs, all earned, on six hits while recording eight strikeouts on the night.

In what was an otherwise impressive start for Price, the only thing that truly bit him was, once again, the home run ball.

Starting in the top half of the first, he tried to sneak a 0-1 93 MPH fastball by Teoscar Hernandez with two outs in the inning. Hernandez, one of Toronto’s best power hitters, took that fastball and sent it 434 feet, the farthest hit ball of the night, to the center field bleachers, putting the Jays up 2-0 early.

After that blast, Price did settle down and retire 16 of the next 18 batters he faced going into the top half of the seventh.

To leadoff that seventh inning, Kendrys Morales greeted Price by launching another home run, this one cutting the Red Sox lead to two runs.

Again, Price bounced back by retiring the next two batters he faced before Alex Cora came to get him with a 2/2 Devon Travis due up next for the Blue Jays.

In total, the Tennessee native pitched 6.2 innings, the deepest he has gone into a game since June 26th, and did not walk, or hit, a single batter in what turned out to be his 10th winning decision of the season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (76 strikes), the 32 year-old hurler relied on his changeup the most on Thursday, as he went to it 34% of the time resulting in nine swinging strikes. He only went to his four-seam fastball a total of 12 times, and actually topped out at 93.5 MPH with his two-seamer in the third inning of his start.

Overall, putting David Price’s first half of the season into words is no easy task. We’ve seen how great he can be at times, and we have also seen how nonexistent on the mound he can be at times. For the remaining 64 games left on the schedule following the break, hopefully we see a David Price that is ready to positively contribute to a team heading towards postseason contention.

In relief of Price, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and after giving up a single to the aforementioned Devon Travis, retired the side in the top half of the seventh by getting Yangervis Solarte to line out to Mookie Betts in right field.

Over the final two innings of last night’s contest, Matt Barnes got hit decently hard by the top of the Jays lineup, as he allowed them to creep a little closer by making it a 6-4 game, but rallied with two huge strikeouts to retire the side and prevent any additional damage.

And in the ninth, on the day after recording a four-out save against the Rangers, Craig Kimbrel shut the door on Toronto in a clean frame of work, with none other than Mookie Betts, who we’ll get to momentarily, catching the final out to ensure Kimbrel’s 29th save and his team’s 66th win of the season in 6-4 fashion.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an All-Star pitcher in the Blue Jays’ JA Happ.

Similar to Bartolo Colon, Happ, 35 has been doing this pitching thing for a while, and he proved why he is an All-Star this season by shutting down Boston’s bats over the first three innings on Thursday night.

The bottom of the fourth inning, though, well, that is where things started to drastically change for the better.

With one out in the frame and Xander Bogaerts at first following a line drive single, it appeared as if Brock Holt had grounded into a force out at second base on a failed double play by the Blue Jays. After further review however, it was determined that Toronto’s second baseman, Devon Travis, never applied the force at second, meaning Bogaerts was actually safe.

So, the Red Sox video room saw that from their vantage point, contacted the dugout, and Alex Cora ended up with a winning challenge, meaning both Bogaerts and Holt were safe with only one out in the inning.

Following that bit of craziness, an infield single from Eduardo Nunez loaded the bases for the Red Sox, and Sandy Leon came through first with an RBI force out that allowed Bogaerts to score from third.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a six pitch walk to reload the bases, Mookie Betts went ahead and had one of the more dramatic at bats these eyes have seen.

Lasting 13 pitches total, Betts fouled off SEVEN pitches from Happ and watched three go for balls to eventually fill the count at 3-2.

On the 13th pitch of the endeavor, the Red Sox outfielder must have had enough, because he took a 95 MPH fastball from Happ and pulverized it 407 feet over the Green Monster for his second grand slam of the season.

Just Betts’ reaction alone is something else.

Never mind the fact that he just capped off one of, if not the best at bat of the season with a GRAND SLAM, good for his 23rd homer of the season, too.

That is how All-Stars are made, and that is how JA Happ’s night would end for Toronto in an inning he needed 46 pitches to record two outs in.

Fast forward to the seventh inning now, and it was Betts coming up big again, as he delivered what turned out to be a very important insurance run by driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. on an RBI single off the Monster, making it a 6-3 game to pretty much put this thing out of reach.

Some notes from this win:

Injury related: Steve Pearce had to exit from Thursday night’s contest after taking a 94 MPH fastball of his left shin in the first inning. He’s been diagnosed with a left shin contusion and is day-to-day.

The Red Sox have now won 10 games in a row, marking their longest such streak this season. Here are some nuggets from @SoxNotes pertaining to that streak:

At 66-29 (.695), the Red Sox are 37 games over .500 for the first time since 1949.

They are 38-15 (.717) in their last 53 games, including 17-3 (.850) in their last 20.

Boston’s 10-game winning streak is the club’s longest since September 2016 (11 games).

Just saying, but that is pretty good.

In the month of July, Mookie Betts is slashing .409/.490/.705 with three home runs and eight RBI. He is currently in the midst of a 10 game hitting streak.

Going for their 11th straight win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for the Red Sox. Following a so-so outing against the Kansas City Royals this past Sunday, I’m sure Porcello will be wanting to end his first half on a positive note against a team he has pitched well against this season.

He’ll be matched up against lefty Ryan Borucki, who in his rookie year with the Blue Jays, owns a 2.25 ERA in his first three career starts.

First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

Rafael Devers Hits Disabled List with Left Shoulder Inflammation.

After sitting out last night’s game in favor of Eduardo Nunez, the Red Sox announced today that third baseman Rafael Devers has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, meaning he will miss the remaining four games against the Toronto Blue Jays before the All-Star Break.

Prior to this roster move, Devers was actually in a bit of a slump at the plate. If you go back to his five-hit night against the Yankees on June 30th, the Dominican native was slashing just .138/.265/.172 with two RBI in eight games since then.

In what is his first full year in the big leagues, this season has provided plenty of ups and downs for the young Red Sox infielder. Given the fact this injury does not appear to be all that serious, I would expect that Devers would be ready to go by the time Boston opens up a three-game series in Detroit following the break.

As the above tweet mentions, infielder Tzu-Wei Lin has been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket to take the place of Devers on the 25-man roster.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Blue Jays (Happ v. Price) is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Chris Sale Strikes out 12 and Dominates as #RedSox Sweep Rangers for Ninth Straight Win.

Entering Wednesday night with a 3.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East, the Red Sox were in search of their ninth straight win and third consecutive series sweep since departing from the Bronx on July 1st. Having already manhandled the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers were up next for Boston, and they did not back down in the series finale yesterday.

Making his 20th start of the season on Wednesday, which also happened to be the 200th start of his career, Chris Sale stayed red-hot in what turned out to be his 10th winning decision of the year.

Tossing seven scoreless innings last night, Sale held the Rangers to just six hits and one walk over that span while fanning 12, marking his fifth straight outing with at least 11 K’s.

Despite only having one frame in which he faced the minimum three batters, the lanky lefty’s dominance was fully on display against a team he has already shined against this season.

Besides the dozen punch-outs, what had to be most impressive about Sale’s night was the defensive clinic he put on in the sixth. After back-to-back hits from Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara put runners on second and third with no outs, the Florida native bounced back by striking out Adrian Beltre on five pitches, then got Rougned Odor to ground into an inning ending double play, started by none other than the ace himself to retire the side.

To cap off a stellar performance on the mound, Sale struck out the final three batters he faced in the seventh after giving up a leadoff infield single to Jurickson Profar.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 110 (80 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler went to both his four-seam fastball and deadly slider a combined 79% of the time on Wednesday, which in total, resulted in 19 swinging strikes. Out of 44 four-seamers thrown, Sale topped out at 99.7 MPH in the fifth inning, while also being responsible for seven of the 10 fastest thrown pitches all night.

As previously mentioned, Sale picked up his 10th victory of 2018 in what will be his final start before the All-Star Break. To wrap up his first half, let’s take a look at the numbers from Sale’s last seven outings via @SoxNotes:

I know I usually include this information in the end of the blog, but this was too good not to share now.

Given this recent stretch of dominance from the left hander, we’ll have to wait and see if Sale gets the nod for the American League in what would be his third straight start in the All-Star Game.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to start the top half of the eighth.

After striking out Ronald Guzman to lead off the inning, Elvis Andrus ripped a single to right field off the South Carolina native, and thanks to a stolen base and a wild pitch, the Rangers shortstop was able to advance to third base.

He would come in to score on a Nomar Mazara RBI single, ending the shutout and putting additional pressure on Hembree, who would later depart following a walk to load the bases with two outs in the frame.

With their lead cut to three now, Alex Cora turned to closer Craig Kimbrel for the rare four-out save opportunity. Kimbrel, who had not appeared in a game since Sunday, did walk in the second run of the inning for Texas, but escaped any further damage by striking out Joey Gallo on six pitches to finally get out of the jam.

An inning later, Kimbrel, pitching in a situation I would assume he is much more comfortable in, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out all three batters he faced to secure his 28th save and his teams 65th win of the season as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon for the Rangers. Colon, 45, surrendered four runs in seven innings against Boston in his only other start against them this season back on May 4th in Arlington.

Speaking of four runs, that’s exactly how many runs the Red Sox scored off of Colin last night, too.

Starting in the bottom half of the second, a leadoff single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts, followed by an awry pick-off attempt that allowed the shortstop to move up to second, put a runner in scoring position right away for the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup.

Two batters later, in what looked to be a routine pop fly from Eduardo Nunez, turned out to be so much more, as no one in the Rangers outfield could come up with the ball, which allowed Bogaerts to easily score from second, putting the first run of the night on the board.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth inning now, two straight one out hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi off of Colon put the Red Sox in a prime spot to tack on some more runs, and thanks to JD Martinez, that’s exactly what happened.

In a 2-0 hitter’s count, Martinez took a 88 MPH fastball from Colon and pulled it down the third base line into the left field corner, allowing both Betts and Benintendi to score for his 78th and 79th RBI of the season.

Two batters after that, Xander Bogaerts struck once again, as he drove in Martinez from second on a RBI triple, his second of the season in as many days. With the score at 4-0 in favor of the Red Sox at this point in Wednesday’s contest, they would not have to look back en route to another sweep.

Some notes from this win:

Another one from @SoxNotes: This is the first time since 1948 the Red Sox have had multiple winning streaks of 9+ games in a single season.

The last time Chris Sale did not record 10+ K in a start came on June 13th against the Orioles in Baltimore. Since then, his K/9 is an outrageous 15.6.

Sadly, Andrew Benintendi finished second behind only the Mariners’ Jean Segura for the final spot on the AL All-Star roster.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be looking for their TENTH straight win tonight, as they welcome in the below average Toronto Blue Jays into town for a four-game set.

Struggling in his last two starts against the Yankees and Royals, David Price will be in search of some retribution against a former club of his in the Blue Jays.

At 42-49, Toronto has certainly been an underwhelming team this season, so hopefully they will present the opportunity for Price to head into the All-Star Break on encouraging terms.

He’ll be matched up against fellow lefty and 2018 All-Star JA Happ for Toronto, who held the Red Sox to one run in the seven innings he pitched against them on April 24th.

First pitch of the first game of the last series before the All-Star Break is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Two RBI Each from Benintendi, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., and Moreland Lift #RedSox to Eighth Straight Victory.

On a night they were planning to rely heavily on their bullpen due to Brian Johnson hitting the DL on Sunday, the Red Sox looked to take the series against the Texas Rangers for their eighth straight win.

Although he was not expected to pitch very deep into this game, Hector Velazquez made his first start since April 14th on Tuesday night, and despite not being totally in command, he did a solid job to start this one out.

In three frames of work, the righty scattered one run while allowing two hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night. The only real mistake Velazquez committed came in the second, when Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor smacked a 92 MPH sinker 447 feet to right field to put his team on the board first.

Other than that, Velazquez got out of another jam in the same inning, and went on to work his away around a leadoff walk in a scoreless third. So, overall, not too shabby for the 29 year-old.

Since he was limited in what he could do, Velazquez finished with a pitch count of only 47 (32 strikes) and topped out at 93.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

Depending on the status of Steven Wright in this next turn around the Red Sox rotation, it will be interesting to see what the team does this coming Sunday, which would be Velazquez’s, or Wright’s, next scheduled start. But, given the fact it’s the last day before the All-Star break, it would not surprise me if we had another bullpen day on our hands. We’ll have to wait for that announcement.

Anyway, in relief of Velazquez, Jalen Beeks, who was recalled from Pawtucket Tuesday morning, made his first appearance with the Red Sox since his major league debut on June 7th.

In just over two innings of work, Beeks got hit fairly hard, as the Rangers tacked on their final three runs of the night with the Arkansas native on the mound. Despite that, it could have been worse for Beeks, had he not received some serious help from Mookie Betts in the fifth…

…and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth.

With one out in that sixth inning, Brandon Workman came on for Beeks with runners on second and third and a four run lead to work with.

On the fifth pitch he threw, noted slugger Joey Gallo nearly took a 93 MPH fastball from Workman and sent it out of the park. He did it 394 feet, but it was only good for a two-run double off the tallest part of the Monster in left field.

Cutting the lead to just two runs now, Workman recovered by retiring the next two batters he faced on six pitches to end the top half of the sixth.

From that point on, with the aid of an increased lead, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially money from the seventh until the last out of the ninth. Matt Barnes earned his third wining decision of the season thanks to a scoreless seventh, Joe Kelly held down the fort by tossing a scoreless eighth, and for the second straight night, the new guy, Ryan Brasier saw this win through with a scoreless final frame.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against 12-year veteran starter Yovani Gallardo for the Rangers, who entered Tuesday night with an unsightly 8.17 ERA on the season.

Six hits in the third inning is what got the scoring started for Boston, and surely enough, the five-run rally was initiated by back-to-back doubles from the 8-9 hitters in Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. to put the first run on the board.

Two batters later, an Andrew Benintendi double to drive in Bradley from second started a string of four straight knocks for the Red Sox 2-5 hitters, including a JD Martinez single to advance Benintendi to third, a Mitch Moreland RBI single, and to cap it off, a 2 RBI triple off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to clear the bases and put Boston up 5-1.

Fast forward to the fifth now, with Gallardo still on the mound for Texas, and Mookie Betts led things off with his 25th double of the season to put a runner in scoring position right away. Following a JD Martinez walk two batters later, Mitch Moreland came through with his second RBI of the night on a sac fly hit far enough to center field to allow Betts to score from third and make it a 6-2 game.

In the next two innings, the Red Sox padded their lead, which did shrink a bit in the top half of the sixth, with a run in each frame.

First, in the bottom of the sixth, with the score at 6-4, it was the 8-9 hitters who showed up for Boston once again, as a two out Blake Swihart single set up Jackie Bradley Jr. with another RBI chance, and he capitalized on it with his second RBI double of the night.

An inning later, Andrew Benintendi padded on to his All-Star hopes by notching his 57th RBI of the season on another double to drive in Mookie Betts from first and wrapping up the scoring at 8-4.

Some notes from this win:

I failed to mention this earlier, but Blake Swihart started at catcher for only the second time this season. Given the fact that Christian Vazquez is out with a broken pinky finger for the forseeable future, Swihart will be getting a decent amount of playing time, and he impressed both behind the plate and with a bat in his hands last night.

The Red Sox are 35 games over .500 at 64-29.

From @SoxNotes: This is the Red Sox’ third win streak of 8+ games this season. It had been 40 years since they had as many as three win streaks of 8+ games in a single season (four in 1978).

In nine games this month, Andrew Benintendi has a 1.179 OPS. Today is the last day to vote for the final All-Star on each roster, so don’t forget to #VoteBenny before 4 PM on Wednesday.

redsox.com/vote

Going for their ninth consecutive victory and third straight sweep on Wednesday, it will be a pitching matchup featuring Bartolo Colon for Texas and Chris Sale for Boston.

At the age of 45, Colon owns a 4.65 ERA in 18 appearances with the Rangers in what is his 21st season in the big leagues.

He’ll be going up none other than Chris Sale, who in his last six starts, is putting up ridiculous numbers for the Red Sox en route to what could be his third straight start for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Steve Pearce Hits First Homer in a Red Sox Uniform, JD Martinez Blasts 28th Home Run, and #RedSox Win Seventh Straight.

Coming off a road trip in which they went 7-2, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park last night to take on the Texas Rangers, who currently sit in last place in the American League West.

Looking for his team’s seventh straight win, Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for his 18th start of the season on Monday.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the lefty held the Rangers scoreless while scattering three hits and three walks while recording five strikeouts in exactly 5.2 frames.

With another shutout performance, although it certainly was not his best, Rodriguez has now extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.2 going back to the final two innings of his start against the Yankees.

In his full two starts since then, both in July, the Venezuela native has a pitching line that looks like this: 2-0, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K.

It would be nice if he could consistently pitch deeper into games, but at this point, I think it’s time to accept that is not going to happen as frequently as the Red Sox would like. But when you toss back-to-back shutouts, it becomes less of an issue.

Finishing with a final high pitch count of 105 (68 strikes), Rodriguez departed from last night’s contest in the sixth after recording the first two outs of the inning and allowing two straight Rangers to reach. Out of those 105 pitches, the 25 year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time, topping out at 95.5 MPH with it in the fourth inning. He’ll look to carry over this recent success in his last start before the All-Star Break, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen saw the shutout through to its completion. Heath Hembree got out of the jam in the sixth, Brandon Workman gave up a leadoff triple in the seventh but did not allow that potential run to cross the plate, Joe Kelly struck out two in the eighth, and making his Red Sox debut, Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap up his new team’s 63rd win of the season. Brasier, who had not pitched in the majors since 2013, was actually responsible for eight of the 12 fastest thrown pitches all night, according to Statcast.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup needed just two swings of the bat to take care of Texas on Monday night.

The first came in the bottom half of the first inning. In his first at bat in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park, Steve Pearce took Rangers starter Mike Minor deep to left on a 3-2 fastball right down broadway. His fifth big fly of the season, a two-run shot, was also his first since being acquired by Boston on June 28th.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth now, with Jesse Chavez on the mound for the Rangers, and JD Martinez essentially put this game out of reach.

Following two singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to leadoff the inning, Chavez tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate and paid for it dearly, as Martinez scorched his 28th big fly of the season 374 feet into the Monster seats, making it a 5-0 game.

Some notes from this win:

The top four hitters in the Red Sox lineup last night, Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Pearce, went a combined 8/16 with five RBI and five runs scored. Other than that, Sandy Leon was the only other hitter to reach base.

Speaking of Andrew Benintendi, you should be voting for him right now. If I can’t convince you, maybe Brock Holt can.

redsox.com/vote

Looking for the series win along with their eighth straight win, Hector Velazquez gets the ball for the Red Sox tonight. Making his first start since April 14th against the Orioles, he’ll be matched up against fellow Mexico native Yovani Gallardo for Texas. First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

Xander Bogaerts Is Your American League Player of the Week.

To cap off a perfect 6-0 week for the Red Sox, Xander Bogaerts was named AL Player of the Week earlier Monday afternoon.

After slashing .400/.600/.933 with two home runs and eight RBI in his last five games, it is clear to see why the Red Sox shortstop was deserving of the honor.

Overall, Bogaerts has had himself a solid season, maybe one that has flown under the radar for most. He’s not hitting for a high average as he has done in the past, but a .520 slugging percentage and a AB/HR rate of just over 20 would set new career highs for the Aruba native.

Out of 25 qualified shortstops, Bogaerts ranks 6th in fWAR via Fangraphs, which is impressive when you consider he missed nearly three weeks of games while on the disabled list with a left ankle injury.

On the National League side, after a 10 RBI performance on Saturday, Nationals first baseman Mark Reynolds was selected as the other Player of the Week.

Also, don’t forget to vote for Andrew Benintendi for the AL Final Vote in this year’s All-Star Game. Here’s the link.

redsox.com/vote

 

RECAP: Nine Strikeout Day for Rick Porcello Key for #RedSox in 7-4 Win to Complete Sweep of Royals.

Wrapping up a nine game road trip in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox looked for their sixth straight win and their second straight sweep. With a rookie pitcher making his first career start on the bump for the Royals, they got that done in fairly simple fashion.

In his 19th start of the season yesterday, Rick Porcello was certainly not at his best, but credit to him for limiting the damage, which is something he excels at.

Pitching seven full innings in this one, the righty surrendered three runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk while also tying a season-high in strikeouts with nine on the day.

What looked to be a stress free outing for Porcello turned into a bit of a rough one starting in the third inning and carrying over to the fourth as well. Over that stretch, the Royals got to the New Jersey native for five of their nine hits, three which came consecutively in the third, and all three of their runs. After what David Price went through on Saturday night, this did not seem all that encouraging, but Porcello settled down after that.

After striking out Adalberto Mondesi to retire the side in the sixth, you would think that Porcello’s day would come to an end with his pitch count nearing 100. Instead, he came back out for the seventh.

That decision looked like it was going to backfire immediately for Alex Cora and the Red Sox, as the Royals led the bottom half of the frame off by putting runners on second and third after consecutive hits from Drew Butera and Whit Merrifield.

Following a brief mound visit from Cora, Porcello still remained in the game, high pitch count and all. He must have gotten strong words of encouragement during that visit, because he sat down the next three batters he faced on 10 pitches to both strand the runners in scoring position and end his day on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 111 (78 strikes), the 29 year-old hurler relied on his slider the most yesterday, as he went to it 40 times. He also topped out at 93.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the seventh inning.

Beginning his July with two solid outings against the Nationals and Royals, Porcello will look to build on this success he has found in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday in what will be his last start before the All-Star Break.

In relief of Porcello, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the eighth inning, and he retired the side in order while picking up two strikeouts along the way.

That set things up for Tyler Thornburg to make his second appearance in three days for the ninth, and he was not at the top of his game either. Keep in mind that it as a 7-3 game by the time Thornburg took the mound, but he was unable to finish the inning while allowing the Royals to score their fourth run of the contest. With that being said, Craig Kimbrel had to come on in what turned out to be a save opportunity.

With two outs still to get, the Red Sox closer gave up a single to Jorge Bonifacio, which meant the tying run for Kansas City was now at the plate and represented by Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda after him.

Luckily, Kimbrel buckled down, struck out both Moustakas and Duda, and came away with his 27th save of the season to ensure his teams 62nd win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher in Heath Fillmyer who had yet to make a big league start. Righty Jakob Junis was supposed to make the start for the Royals, but he was placed on the disabled list with lower back inflammation on Sunday morning.

Instead, Fillmyer got the nod, and it took a little while for the Red Sox lineup to get going. In fact, it wasn’t until the third inning when they finally got on the board thanks to a sacrifice fly off the bat of Steve Pearce to score Mookie Betts from third.

After the Royals took the 2-1 lead in their half of the third, Eduardo Nunez responded by driving in the tying run on a one out RBI single in the fourth to score Xander Bogaerts, who had reached base on a fielding error to leadoff the top half of the frame, from second.

Following another bottom half of an inning in which the Royals tacked on what looked to be a go-ahead run, the Red Sox responded again in the top of the fifth.

With Fillmyer still on the mound for Kansas City, The 1-2-3 hitters in the Red Sox lineup all reached base with one out to load the bases for Mitch Moreland. In a five pitch at bat, Moreland eventually drew a walk to score Mookie Betts from third and pick up his first of two RBI on the day.

Following a pitching change, Xander Bogaerts followed that Moreland at bat up by simply launching a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing Andrew Benintendi to easily score from third for what turned out to be the go-ahead run.

Fast forward to the seventh now, and the Red Sox essentially put this thing out of reach by tacking on an additional three runs of insurance. Highlighted by RBI hits from Moreland, Bogaerts, and Nunez, Boston entered the seventh with a 4-3 lead, and by the time the side had been retired by Royals reliever Enny Romero, that lead had inflated to 7-3. A lead in which they would not have to look back from.

Some notes from this win:

After reaching base six times on Saturday, Andrew Benintendi reached base in his first four at bats against the Royals on Sunday, taking him to ten straight plate appearances in which he reached base before striking out in the eighth.

Heading into the home stretch of the first half of the season, the Red Sox are 62-29.

With seven games still to play before hitting the All-Star Break, the Red Sox are back home to take on the Texas Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays. For the opener against Texas tonight, it will be a pitching matchup featuring two lefties in Mike Minor and Eduardo Rodriguez.

Coming off a start in which he strung together six shutout innings against the Nationals, Rodriguez will look to rebound against a team that he gave up three home runs to back on May 5th in Arlington. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM at Fenway Park.

Also, vote for Andrew Benintendi.

redsox.com/vote

For the First Time in His Career, Mitch Moreland, 32, Is an All-Star.

In a season where it initially looked like he would not be receiving regular playing time, Mitch Moreland has managed to turn that situation into his first All-Star Game selection.

With Hanley Ramirez getting most of the starts at first base for the first 50 or so games to start the 2018 campaign, Moreland struggled to find regular at bats, and had difficulties out of the gates because of it.

As of April 13th, the Mississippi native was slashing a mere .217/.308/.304 in 26 plate appearances. Since that point in the season, Moreland owned a .918 OPS in 60 games heading into this afternoon’s contest against the Royals.

If he had enough at bats to qualify, Moreland would rank number one in terms of OPS on the season (.883) among American League first baseman.  The nine-year veteran has also collected 11 HR and 41 RBI in exactly 70 games.

Moreland will join the likes of Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel as members of the Red Sox getting the call for this year’s Midsummer Classic. Outfielder Andrew Benintendi also has the chance to join those five, as he has been selected as one of the five players in the Final Vote for the American League.

With the All-Star Game just over a week away, I’m looking forward to seeing what our Red Sox All-Stars have in store for us in the nation’s capital.

Here’s how you can vote for Benintendi: redsox.com/vote

 

RECAP: David Price Shaky Again but #RedSox Prevail in Blowout Win over Royals.

Coming off one of his worst starts in a Red Sox uniform last Sunday against the Yankees, David Price looked to rebound and get back on track against a team that struggles to score runs in the Kansas City Royals.

In what was his 18th start of the season on Saturday night, Price found himself struggling yet again. Only managing to pitch into the fifth inning, the lefty got pounced on for four runs on six hits, one walk, and three HBP.

Price did manage to tie his season-high in strikeouts with nine on the night, but that did not do him any favors against a Royals team that typically find themselves struggling at the plate.

The real kick in the gut, to me anyway, was the last frame Price appeared in the fifth. A half inning after his team stormed back from a 3-0 hole to take a one run lead, what does Price do? Gives up a leadoff single to Whit Merrifield, hits three of the next five batters he faces to set a new team record, gives up what was the tying run initially, and leaves the game with a pitch count of 102 (69 strikes) in the FIFTH inning. Talk about going deep into your start.

A reason for that high pitch count could be the fact that exactly one-third of them resulted in foul balls off the bats of Royals hitters. Regardless of that, these last two starts from Price have to have the Red Sox feeling a bit concerned. Struggling against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium is one thing, but putting up a performance like that against a 25-62 team the night after Chris Sale had his way with them? Not a great look, especially when you consider how he has been pitching since this video dropped following his start against the Angels on June 26th.

Anyway, topping out at 95.3 MPH with his two-seam fastball in the third inning this time around, the Tennessee native will look to regain the prominence he displayed from May 12th to June 26th in his next outing, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen combined for 5.1 no-hit innings en route to the series-clinching win. Heath Hembree picked up his fourth win of the season by getting out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth and tossing a scoreless sixth. And from the middle of the seventh on, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, and Hector Velazquez wrapped up a game that had somehow turned into a laugher for Boston.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could not get to Royals starter Brad Keller the way they got to Jason Hammel on Friday night. Instead, it took until the fifth inning for them to finally get on the board, and it all started with a two out rally.

Already trailing by three runs with two outs in the top half of the fifth, the top of the lineup, mainly Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi set the table for the middle part with JD Martinez due up next.

On a 1-2 fastball from Keller, the Red Sox DH ripped a line drive single to left, scoring Betts from second to put his team on the board while also advancing Benintendi to third.

Two batters later and the bases now loaded, Xander Bogaerts delivered with a bases-clearing 3 RBI double hit over the head of Alcides Escobar in center field. That put the Red Sox up by one momentarily as the Royals came back to knot things up at four in their half of the fifth.

In the seventh, the Red Sox tacked on another three runs, with the most important coming on a Mitch Moreland sac fly to score Andrew Benintendi from third for the go-ahead run.

Three batters after that happened, Christian Vazquez came through with what looked to be important insurance runs at the time, as he scored both JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts on a 2 RBI single.

In the eighth inning, Andrew Benintendi, who had walked in all four of his at bats prior to this one against Royals righty Kevin McCarthy, blasted his first home run since June 21st to put the Red Sox up 8-4. Ballgame over, or so I thought.

Instead of easing up on the gas pedal in the ninth, the Red Sox lineup decided to kick it up a notch by plating SEVEN runs. Highlighted by back-to-back RBI doubles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, this offensive outpouring all but put the lowly Royals out of their misery, and we got to see Drew Butera, a backup catcher for KC, pitch.

All and all, every member of the Red Sox lineup who had at least one at bat in last night’s contest, 11 total, drove in at least one run, which added up to 15 in nine innings.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi did not record an official at bat until the eighth inning on Saturday. In total, his OPS shot up from .856 all the way up to .881 in one game.

JD Martinez, in case you lost count, is up to 74 RBI on the season now.

Combined, Betts, Benintendi, and Martinez went 8/13 with 4 RBI, 4 BB, and 4 K.

Exactly 90 games into the season now, the Red Sox are 61-29. Pretty decent.

Some injury news:

Joe Kelly had to depart with two outs in the eighth due to light-headedness.

Christian Vazquez fractured his right pinky while sliding into second base, so he’ll be placed on the 10-day disabled list today. Expect Blake Swihart to get more opportunities behind the plate backing up Sandy Leon.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will go for the sweep this afternoon with Rick Porcello on the hill for the series finale. He’ll be matched up against Jakob Junis for Kansas City, who held Boston to two runs over six innings pitched in the only other time he has faced them back on May 1st. First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 2:15 PM ET. Last game before heading home.

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts Hits 100th Career Homer and Chris Sale Picks up 100th Career Victory as #RedSox Open Series in Kansas City with 10-5 Win.

Coming off an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox took to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO to take on the 25-61 Royals. Having already taken two out of three from them earlier this season at Fenway Park, the Red Sox, led by Chris Sale, were looking to end a nine game road trip on a positive note.

Making his 19th start of the season on Friday, Sale carried over the dominance he displayed throughout the month of June in another great showing. In what was his shortest start since June 13th, the lefty went six innings deep in this one, surrendering just one run on five hits and one walk while fanning 12 Royals on the night.

By the time Sale took the mound for the first time in the bottom half of the first, his team had already gotten him four runs of support. And an inning later, that lead inflated all the way up to eight runs. So, the 29 year-old was never under much duress on Friday night, and the Royals only got to him once, on a Alcides Escobar RBI single, in the second, in six frames of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (65 strikes), Sale displayed his full range of abilities with a fine defensive play in his final inning.

Out of those 99 pitches, the Florida native went to his nasty slider 43 times, which resulted in nine swinging strikes and 10 called strikes. He also topped out at 100.3 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.

A performance worthy of his ninth winning decision of the season, Sale reached a milestone with his 100th career win as well. He’ll look to build on this start, and make even more of a case to get his third consecutive nod for the AL in the All-Star Game, in his next time out, which should come against the Texas Rangers back at home on Wednesday.

In relief of Sale, we got our first look at Tyler Thornburg in a Red Sox uniform, and in case you were not able to catch it, I can confirm that he is a real person.

Making his first appearance with the club since being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2017 season, Thornburg gave up one run in the lone inning he pitched in the seventh. Granted, a Lucas Duda leadoff triple probably should have been a leadoff double had Mookie Betts not misplayed the ball in right field, but other than that, it certainly was not the worst relief appearance these eyes have seen.

From that point on, Brandon Workman gave up a two-run home run to Mike Moustakas in the eighth, and Hector Velazquez gave up one run on a Whit Merrifield RBI single in the ninth to make it a 10-5 game, while also picking up the final out to ensure his teams 60th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got to Royals starter Jason Hammel right away in this one. In his only other start against Boston this season, Hammel surrendered eight runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings pitched back on April 30th. On Friday night, the righty got hit hard once again, but did not make it into the fifth inning.

Leading the night off as he typically does, Mookie Betts took the third pitch he saw from Hammel and launched it 410 feet to left center for his 22nd long ball of the season.

In the process of doing that, not only did Betts put his team on the board first, but that homer was also good for the 100th of the outfielder’s career.

Four batters later, Brock Holt came to the plate with the bases loaded, and he took advantage of that by ripping an RBI single to right field to score JD Martinez from third and Steve Pearce from second.

Another two batters later, Sandy Leon put the exclamation point on an exciting opening frame by lining an RBI single of his own to right, scoring Xander Bogaerts from third for his teams fourth run of the night already.

In the second, with Hammel still on the mound for Kansas City, a pair of two-run home runs off the bats of JD Martinez (27) and Xander Bogaerts (14) doubled the Red Sox lead to eight heading into the bottom half of the inning.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and Jackie Bradley Jr. collected his 26th RBI of the season to score Eduardo Nunez from third for the ninth run of the night. An inning later, Steve Pearce capped off his three-hit with an RBI double to score Blake Swihart and put his new teams 10th and final run on the board.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: Chris Sale is in line to earn the 100th win of his career. In his last 6 starts, he has a 1.10 ERA. He has not allowed a HR in his last 44.0 innings, the longest streak of his career.

And

Players to hit 100 HR with the Red Sox before turning 26: Tony Conigliaro – 160 Jim Rice – 133 Ted Williams – 127 Mookie Betts – 100 (turns 26 on Oct. 7)

It is July 7th, JD Martinez is slashing .328/.392/.647 with 27 HR and 73 RBI. The Red Sox are also the only team in all of baseball with 60 wins.

Looking to rebound from an ugly outing against the Yankees last Sunday, David Price will get the ball for the middle game of this weekend series later tonight. He’ll be matched up against Royals righty Brad Keller, who initially started the season as a reliever, but has since transitioned into a starting role with the club. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX.