RECAP: Porcello pitches into eighth, Betts drives in two as #RedSox take series from Rays with 3-1 win.

After another marathon of a game Friday night/Saturday morning, the Red Sox took care of the Rays in a much more timely fashion tonight. Rick Porcello got the start in this one, and he must have been happy going in because he has been great at Tropicana Field this season. Prior to today’s game, Porcello owned a 1.93 ERA in two starts at The Trop. This trend continued on Saturday, as the righty only gave up one earned run over 7.1 innings pitched. The Rays could only manage to get on base six times over that span, while also striking out three times. He easily could have finished the eighth, but John Farrell pulled him after he walked Mallex Smith. So, with this being the last time he’ll pitch in Tampa Bay this season, let’s look at the numbers. 21.1 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, and 17 K’s. That translates to a 1.71 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 1.26 BB/9, and 7.17 K/9. Obviously, Porcello is not having a great season, but at least his performances against the Rays on the road can be seen as a bright spot.

The Red Sox bullpen was used heavily last night, so it was good to see Porcello go as deep as he did to give them some rest. The only relief pitchers that had to be used were Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Reed, who finished the eighth, struck out one, while Kimbrel, who pitched the ninth, struck out two on his way to his 33rd save of the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox bats did need to do much with the way Rick Porcello was dealing against the Rays. Alex Cobb was holding them in check for a good while, and the game could have gone a different way if Mookie Betts hadn’t gone deep to lead off the second, but he did, and it was his 22nd of the season. That was just the beginning for Mookie, who drove in his second RBI of the game in the sixth, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third on an RBI single. Later in the inning, with Cobb out of the game, Rafael Devers ripped a double to left, allowing Betts to score from second. That was all the scoring, but I just want to give a shout out to Brock Holt for this gem in the seventh. It’s been a tough year for Holt, but I still love him.

Eduardo Rodriguez and Jake Odorizzi square off tomorrow at 1:10, right when the Patriots will be playing. Perfect for those multiple televisions, unfortunate for those with only one.

85 down, 9 to go. 

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RECAP: The #RedSox trailed by three runs entering the ninth against the Rays; they won 13-6 in fifteen innings.

The Red Sox had themselves a pretty good week before arriving in Tampa on Thursday night. They had an off day on Monday, and that was followed by taking two out of three games from the Oakland Athletics at home. Drew Pomeranz looked great on Thursday, and that had me feeling confident about Chris Sale’s start yesterday. Unfortunately, the lefty was not at the top of his game against the Rays. He only gave up four hits, but two of those hits were home runs. The first was good for two runs off the bat of Wilson Ramos, and the second was good for one off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria. It did not look like it was going to be like this for Sale, though. After a rough first inning, he settled down for the next two, striking out five straight at one point before allowing that home run to Ramos. His day would end with two outs in the sixth, and it was clear that he was not happy about getting taken out. September has not been too kind to Sale, as this start marks the second time in three starts where the southpaw has failed to pitch at least six innings. It looks like he’ll make his next start in Baltimore next Wednesday, if he pitches on regular rest. This may not be a popular idea, but I may consider giving Sale another day of rest next time around the rotation if I’m Manager John. I think it helped him last time it happened and it could be beneficial for the team along with Sale.

The Red Sox bullpen ended up being tasked with a lot. Austin Maddox, Matt Barnes, Fernando Abad, Craig Kimbrel, Addison Reed, Joe Kelly, Brandon Workman, and Blaine Boyer were responsible for more than nine innings of work. Kelly would be my pick for MVP out of the ‘pen. His three shutout innings were huge from the eleventh to the thirteenth. Matt Barnes gave up a home run in the eighth, and Brandon Workman gave up a home run to Kevin Kiermaier that tied the game in the fourteenth. After the Red Sox went off for seven runs in the top half of the fifteenth, Blaine Boyer locked things down with two strikeouts in a shutout inning.

I don’t know where to begin with the Red Sox offensively. The Rays were doing a pretty good job limiting the Red Sox to two runs, one being a Mitch Moreland home run, over the first eight innings. It wasn’t until the Rays closer, Alex Colome, took the mound when they got back into this game. A walk, an error, and a single closed the gap to two runs with no outs in the inning. A Sandy Leon single made it a one run game, then Kevin Kiermaier made one of the most desperate catches you’ll ever see. The Red Sox win this game sooner if this play is not made.

Kiermaier did not stop there, though. Oh no, after the Red Sox tied the game in the ninth, he did this in the tenth.

Him, Kevin Pillar, and Jackie Bradley all play in the same division. Anyway in the fourteenth, Rafael Devers drove in the then go-ahead run thanks to another error from Rays second baseman Brad Miller. That allowed Mookie Betts to score, and it looked like the Red Sox were going to win in the next inning. That’s not how things went, but they did score seven times in the fifteenth inning. I wish they did it sooner, but hey, that’s baseball. There were no big hits either, just one double, a few singles, a HBP, and capitalizing on errors. Xander Bogaerts had his best performance in a long time with four hits and two RBIs. In fact, Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, and Deven Marrero all drove in 2 RBIs each last night. Honestly, I did not expect Blake Swihart and Deven Marrero to play any kind of role in this game, but the Red Sox probably lose this game if not for their efforts.

Rick Porcello gets the start against Alex Cobb this evening, special 6:10 start for whatever reason. Red Sox are 7-3 in their last 10 and the Yankees are only three games back, time to pick it up and hold onto that lead.

84 down, 10 to go. 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz, Andrew Benintendi play key roles as #RedSox take the series from A’s with a 6-2 win.

Nothing like some afternoon baseball to lift some spirits right? With the weekend right around the corner, the Red Sox guaranteed a happy flight to St. Pete after taking care of the Oakland Athletics today. Drew Pomeranz got the start in this one, and if you remember, last time he faced the Athletics back in May, his season really turned around after that start. Today, he was much better than he was on May 20th. The lefty allowed only one run while scattering five hits and three walks over the six innings he pitched. He managed to strike out five and really only got into trouble in one inning, the fifth. That was the only inning where the Athletics scored off of him, and he got out of the inning with some help from the guys behind him.

In relief of Pomeranz, the bullpen was tasked with protecting a two-run lead at the time of the southpaw’s departure. Brandon Workman and Robby Scott both faced a batter each to start the seventh, and Addison Reed finished it without giving up anything despite loading the bases. Joe Kelly served up a solo home run to Ryon Healy in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel, in a non-save situation, recorded two strikeouts while pitching a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

Offensively, the bats took a little while to get going, but they hit their stride from the fifth to the seventh. They scored all six of their runs in that three inning span, including a solo shot from Christian Vazquez in the fifth, his fifth, to tie things up at one. It was a big day for Andrew Benintendi, as the left fielder drove in three runs on three hits, two of those being doubles. He does this on the same day his old friend, Yoan Moncada, reached base six times today while also hitting a home run. I thought those two were going to run things up in Boston, but that’s the past. Anyway, Dustin Pedroia and Mitch Moreland also drove in a run a piece today, Mitchy Two Bags got his on an RBI double in the sixth, and Pedroia got his on a sac fly in the seventh. Benintendi put an exclamation point on this one with a 2 RBI single in the seventh, scoring Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts to put this one out of reach.

After starting September a bit cold, Benintendi has started to pick things up again. Since September 6th, the lefty is slashing .423/.423/.654 if I did the math right. With the potential he has to go along with how he has performed this season overall, I personally think he deserved more playing time over Chris Young, who is batting .191 against lefties this season.

A three game series against the Rays kicks off tomorrow with Chris Sale taking the hill for the opener. With all the talk about the Cy Young Award belonging to Corey Kluber, perhaps Sale can remind everyone why he was the favorite to win for the majority of the season.

83 down, 9 to go. 

RECAP: Doug Fister struggles for first time in nearly a month; #RedSox drop middle game to A’s 7-3.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the Cleveland Indians have won 21 games in a row, their last loss coming against the Red Sox. This doesn’t put any pressure on the Red Sox, but it does take away any attention they may get if that streak is not happening. The good thing about this is the fact that the Indians have now passed the Astros for the best record in the American League. That means that if the season ended today, the Astros would play host to the Red Sox in the ALDS. That would also mean that the Red Sox could end up playing the Astros in nine straight games, since their season ends with a four game series against Houston in Boston.

Anyway, the Red Sox had the chance to take this series from a last place team last night, but they came up short. For the first time since August 14th, Doug Fister failed to pitch at least seven innings. The righty could only make it through four innings, all while surrendering six runs on six hits and a walk. The A’s managed to score four times off of Fister in the first, and scored an additional two runs in the third. Old friend Jed Lowrie and A’s forst baseman Matt Olson did the most damage last night, combining for 4 RBIs on 4 hits, including a two-run home run from Olson in the first. I’m not going to say I’m concerned about Fister because last time he was this bad, he went on that great run for four straight starts. In relief of Fister, Fernando Abad, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and Blaine Boyer combined to go five innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out five. Nothing spectacular, but they kept their team within four runs, which is doable.

Offensively, Jharel Cotton was much better than I thought he was going to be last night. The Red Sox scored once in the first to cut the A’s lead to three, but that’s the closest it got. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi both had RBIs on this one, while Jackie Bradley Jr. took Cotton deep for his sixteenth long ball of the season.

That was all the scoring they could manage against a team that is ranked 26th in team ERA.

Drew Pomeranz, who was pretty good last time out against the Rays, is making his 29th start of the season this afternoon against one of his former teams. Daniel Gossett, who owns an ERA of 5.02 this season, is making the start for the A’s, so hopefully the Red Sox can capitalize on that.

82 down, 10 to go. 

RECAP: Mookie Betts homers twice, drives in six as #RedSox dominate A’s in 11-1 win.

After an off day on Monday, I was looking forward to last night’s game, even if it was against the Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox looked like a first place team in every aspect last night, while the lowly A’s maintained their last place reputation. Eduardo Rodriguez made his 21st start of 2017 last night, and he was matched up against fellow southpaw, Sean Manaea. If you take away the four walks, ERod was nearly perfect in the six innings he pitched. One hit is all he gave up, and that came in the first inning, along with the only run he surrendered. From the second to the end of the sixth, the Venezuelan was great, only scattering three walks over that span. I didn’t think he’d be able to make it through six given the fact that his pitch count was north of 100 after five, but he did by ending his outing by only facing three batters in the sixth. The last time ERod got a win was all the way back on May 26th, which has to be something to feel good about.

Brandon Workman would be called upon for the seventh inning, and he struck out the only three batters he faced. Carson Smith, making his third appearance since being activated on September 5th, was not nearly as good as Workman. His control was off, and that lead to him loading the bases while facing five batters. Austin Maddox came in with two outs in the inning, and he got out of the jam with a strikeout, then went on to pitch a scoreless ninth to secure the win. Watching Carson Smith struggle was not very comforting, but you gotta like what you have seen out of Austin Maddox. Since he was recalled on September 1st, the righty has appeared in five games while pitching seven innings, and he has yet to allow an earned run in his young career. Similar to how Robby Scott performed last September, Maddox’s performance this season could really benefit him going into 2018.

On the other side of things, Sean Manaea stood no chance against Mookie Betts and the Red Sox. In his two career starts, Manaea has a line that he probably wouldn’t want to share; 6.1 IP, 21 H, 15 ER, and three home runs allowed. Last night, he managed to pitch a clean first, then things began to unravel. Five of the first six batters in the second reached base, which led to three runs scoring. A two-out, Mookie Betts triple scored the final two runs of the inning, and Mookie was just getting started. In the fourth, Betts went deep for his 20th long ball of the season, scoring Dustin Pedroia and giving his team a six-run lead. Two more runs crossed the plate in the fifth thanks to Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr., then Mookie was back on his bs in the sixth. He connected with his second home run of the day and drove in his fifth and sixth runs of the day by doing so.

We haven’t seen a performace like this from Mookie since July 2nd when he drove in eight runs against the Blue Jays. Recently though, Betts has been looking better coming off that month-long slump. In the ten games he has played in this month, the right fielder has already hit three home runs while driving in nine runs. I know more than half of this production came last night but still, it looks like he’ll get to 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Doug Fister gets the start later tonight, and I believe the Athletics are a team he has had success against in his career. It also helps that the opposing pitcher, former Dodgers prospect, Jharel Cotton, owns a 5.82 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 119 IP this season. A win guarantees a series win, which would be the third one this month. I’ll leave you with this:

82 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: After scoring 18 runs in the first two games, #RedSox can only manage one in 4-1 defeat against the Rays.

The Red Sox looked great in the first two games of this weekend series, not so much on Sunday. Rick Porcello got the start in this one, and he did not look nearly as bad as he did last time out against the Blue Jays on Labor Day. In the five innings the righty pitched, the Rays managed to score twice on five hits and three walks, all to Logan Morrison. They did strike out four times though, and Porcello did not give up his first hit until the fourth. I don’t think his pitch count was that high, but he did not come back out to start the sixth inning. The bullpen struggled a little bit in the four innings they pitched, but I’d still say they kept the Red Sox in the game. Brandon Workman and Robby Scott both allowed a run, but Addison Reed, Fernando Abad, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel combined to pitch 2.2 innings of scoreless relief. The highlights of this were Fernando Abad’s eephus pitch for a K, and Craig Kimbrel striking out the side in the top of the ninth. In his next start, it looks like Porcello will face the Rays again, this time on the road, but it might not be at Tropicana Field.

On the other side of things, the bats looked lifeless similar to the way they did earlier last week against New York and Toronto. The only run they managed to score off of Alex Cobb came in the second, when Christian Vazquez drove in Mitch Moreland on an RBI single. Vazquez should have scored later in the inning, but was later ruled out after a lengthy, incorrect replay review. The call was so incorrect that the Rays players took the field after seeing the replay for themselves. Anyway, the Red Sox had one legit shot to score a few runs in the sixth, after Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts reached base with no outs, Moreland grounded into a double play and Rafael Devers grounded out to end the inning, stranding Benintendi at third. After Cobb left in that inning, the Rays bullpen did a great job of shutting down the Red Sox over the next three innings, limiting them to only one hit over that span. So, shout out to Falmouth, MA native Steve Cishek for his scoreless inning.

An off day tomorrow will give this team time to prepare a team very similar to the Rays in the Oakland Athletics. They are a club that strikes out a lot and hits the ball deep a lot. I haven;t watched him play a ton in Milwaukee or Oakland, but I like what Khris Davis has evolved into with the 39 home runs he has this season. ERod gets the first start on Tuesday, facing off against Sean Manaea, who got lit up last time he pitched in Boston last May.

81 down, 11 to go. 

RECAP: Chris Sale quietly strikes out eight as #RedSox pile on the runs en route to their fourth straight win.

Good morning, the Red Sox have won four consecutive games.

It’s the first football Sunday of this new season, so I’ll keep this light, and I think I can do a good job of that given how last night’s game went.

Chris Sale made his 29th start of 2017 on Saturday, and he didn’t have to pitch to the best of his abilities to get the win in this one. By the time he took the mound for the top of the second, he already had a three run lead, and by the time he came out for the third, he had an eight run lead to work with. He wasn’t great in the six innings he pitched, but he looked very good. No runs on six hits, a HBP, and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts. You may consider this a hot take, but Chris Sale is usually the star on the days he pitches and I honestly don’t think he was last night. That’s not a knock on him, in fact, I like that he was not put back out for the seventh, which could have easily happened back in June or July. Instead, he gets additional rest, after already receiving an extra day this past week. In the 29 starts Sale has made, he has gone at least six while allowing two runs or fewer 62% of the time. Similar to Friday;s game, the Red Sox bullpen was not put under any pressure given a nine run lead when Sale departed after six innings. Carson Smith, Heath Hembree, and Blaine Boyer combined to go for three scoreless innings of relief, with Smith being the only one to give up any hits.

Offensively, Matt Andriese stood no chance. Dustin Pedroia got the scoring started with a two-run home run, his sixth, over the monster in the first. Mitch Moreland drove in another run in the inning, and the onslaught continued into the second. Andrew Benintendi, Moreland, and Hanley Ramirez all drove in runs in the inning. Benintendi wrapped up the scoring in the third with an RBI single in the third. Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers all recorded multi-hit games. Unfortunately, Nunez had to leave the game in the second after getting a spike off the back while successfully stealing second. Surprisingly, Xander Bogaerts, his replacement, was borderline outstanding. Two hits on three at bats, two runs scored, and some great plays made defensively. Like Jerry Remy said, hopefully this performance Bogaerts was not prepared for will get him going.

With their 81st win of the season, the Red Sox have guaranteed that they will finish the season with a winning percentage north of .500 for the second straight season. Rick Porcello will look to rebound from his last start this afternoon, as the first place Red Sox look for the sweep over the Rays.

81 down, 11 to go.