Playing in their first interleague series since sweeping the Washington Nationals earlier this month, the Red Sox came into the week fresh off three straight wins and a quick two-game set against a first place Philadelphia Phillies team next up on the schedule.
David Price, who has big game experience pitching against the Phils during his rookie year in the 2008 World Series, made his 21st start of the season last night and extended what has been a near-dominant run for Red Sox starters.
In a full eight innings pitched, the lefty held Philadelphia to just one run while scattering eight and hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
Things did not appear as though they were going to go as smoothly as they did for Price early on, as he surrendered five hits and that one run within the first three innings. But, with the help of some careless Phillies base running…
the Tennessee native settled down with a stretch of nine straight retired batters from the top of the third all the way to the sixth.
After escaping two more respective jams and stranding multiple runners on base in the sixth and eighth innings of this one, Price’s night would come to an end with his pitch count reaching 97.
Out of those 97 pitches (66 strikes), the 32 year-old hurler relied on his cut fastball the most on Monday, as he went to it nearly 31% of the time while also topping out at 93.3 MPH with his two-seamer in the third inning.
Unable to pick up the win due to this game going 13 innings, Price will look to carry over this recent success into August, where he is slated to make his next start against the New York Yankees this upcoming Sunday. *gulps*
In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen did a fantastic job of limiting what the Phillies could do at the plate, and that prevented them from scoring the go-ahead run at any time last night.
Tossing a combined five scoreless frames, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, and finally Hector Velazquez, who picked up the win to improve to 7-0 on the season, were all part in a fine effort in the eventual 75th win of the year for the Red Sox.
My biggest takeaways here were how Thornburg continued to impress, as his scoreless appearance streak now stands at six, and how Joe Kelly worked his way around a two out walk in the twelfth to avoid any damage. Hembree was also solid.
On the other side of things, I have to start off by tipping my cap to Phillies starter Aaron Nola. Similar to what Tyler Gibson did on Thursday night for the Twins, Nola mostly had his away against a dangerous Boston lineup.
Had it not been for a Jackie Bradley Jr. single and an Eduardo Nunez RBI triple that should have been caught in center field in the bottom of the fifth, Nola more than likely would have held the Red Sox scoreless in the eight frames he pitched in. He’s that good.
Anyway, we’ll pick this thing up in the 13th inning, when with one out, Eduardo Nunez at second, and Philadelphia reliever Luis Garcia on the mound, Blake Swihart had the chance to send everyone home happy.
Stepping up to the plate for the second time that night after pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon in the tenth, Swihart swung at the first pitch he saw from Garcia, a 99 MPH fastball right over the heart of the plate, and launched a scorching 106 MPH ground-rule double into the Red Sox bullpen, driving in Nunez from second and ensuring his team’s second walk-off win in the last four days with the 2-1 victory.
Some notes from this win:
From @SoxNotes: Including tonight, Red Sox starting pitchers have a 1.41 ERA in their last 12 games. According to
@EliasSports, that is the club’s lowest starting pitcher ERA over any 12-game span since 1933 (1.31 from 7/20-8/3).
Extending his hitting streak to 10 games with that walk-off double, Blake Swihart is slashing .429/.484/.679 over that span with one home run and three RBI.
In his last five games, Eduardo Nunez owns an OPS of 1.213.
At 75-33, the Red Sox are 42 games over .500. Absurd.
Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Drew Pomeranz getting the start for the Red Sox. He’ll be matched up against fairly new Phillie Jake Arrieta.
Known for his time spent with the Chicago Cubs, Arrieta owns a 3.45 ERA in 20 starts in his first year in Philadelphia.
Last season, when the Cubs were at Fenway in April, this same pitching matchup took hold for a game on April 28th. I remember because I was there.
Surprisingly, Pomeranz outpitched Arrieta in what turned out to be a close 5-4 win for the Red Sox.
Regardless of that, first pitch of the second and final game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET tonight. Could be Pomeranz’s last start for a while if he continues to struggle.
Also, the Red Sox traded for Ian Kinsler last night. You can read about him here. The trade deadline is at 4 PM ET today.