Recapping the All-Star Game from a #RedSox Perspective.

In what turned out to be a record-setting 8-6 win for the American League in last night’s MLB All-Star Game, I thought I would break down how the five Red Sox representatives contributed to the victory.

Chris Sale

Making his third consecutive start for the American League on Tuesday night, Sale was responsible for just the first inning of the 89th Midsummer Classic. Appearing in the bottom half of the first, the lefty surrendered a leadoff single to Cubs infielder Javy Baez on his very first pitch, then retired the last three batters, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Freddie Freeman, on eight pitches, including this nasty 83 MPH slider to fan Goldschmidt for the second out.

Finishing with nine pitches (seven strikes), Sale did not factor into the decision, but he did electrify with a four-seam fastball that topped out at 100.7 MPH, which according to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, is “the hardest tracked pitch velocity he’s had since 2010.”

Sale will look to build on a successful first half in his next scheduled start against the Tigers in Detroit on Sunday.

Mookie Betts & JD Martinez

The other two starters for Boston, Betts and Martinez had five at bats between them, and Martinez was the only one who managed a hit, as he ripped a two out single off of Max Scherzer in the first inning.

The dynamic duo also struck out three times while failing to drive in a run, so they really did nothing for themselves in terms of making a case for the game’s MVP.

Mitch Moreland

A pleasant surprise, Moreland entered this game in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement for White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

A first time All-Star, Moreland struck out in his first at bat against Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez in the seventh, but followed that up by singling in his next two at bats while seeing the win for the American League through until the end.

Looking at the final box score, no one on either roster had more hits than Moreland, so congrats to him on that.

Craig Kimbrel

Per Kimbrel himself, he was not available to pitch last night after the workload he has had recently. Makes sense.

After the American League took home an 8-6 win in 10 innings, former Red Sox draft pick and current Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was named the game’s Most Valuable Player thanks to his go-ahead home run in that 10th and final frame.

Having the next two days off, the Red Sox will be back at it once again this weekend, as they head to Detroit to take on a 41-57 Tigers team. David Price gets the nod against his former team in the series opener. He’ll be matched up against another lefty in the Tigers’ Matthew Boyd. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

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Mookie Betts Batting Leadoff, JD Martinez Cleanup in American League Starting Lineup.

In their first season as teammates, Mookie Betts and JD Martinez were voted in by the fans as started in this year’s All-Star Game. Representing the American League for their third and second times respectively, Betts and Martinez have clearly emerged as two of the best hitters in not just the AL, but in all of baseball.

Batting first and fourth for the AL, this should be nothing new for the pair of dynamic hitters. With 52 home runs between them, both Betts and Martinez should be able to make an impact on Tuesday night.

I mean, both have already homered at Nationals Park this season.

With Chris Sale getting the starting nod for the third straight year, the three Red Sox starters will be joined by Craig Kimbrel and first time All-Star Mitch Moreland as well.

First pitch of the 2018 All-Star Game is scheduled for 8:00 PM ET Tuesday on FOX.

Chris Sale Named All-Star Game Starting Pitcher for Third Consecutive Year.

For the third straight season, Red Sox ace Chris Sale will get the nod for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

Going up against Max Scherzer, Sale becomes the first Red Sox pitcher to start in multiple All-Star Games.

The last time a pitcher started in as many as three consecutive All-Star Games came when Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies did it from 1953-1955.

In exactly 20 starts this season, Sale owns a 2.23 ERA and 2.17 FIP to go along with 188 strikeouts in 129 innings pitched.

On the flip side, representing the host Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer will make his sixth appearance in an All-Star Game. At the age of 33, Scherzer has been as dominant as ever, as he has punched out 182 batters in 134.2 innings pitched this season.

First pitch of the 2018 All-Star Game is scheduled for 8:00 PM on FOX.

Top #RedSox Pitching Prospect Bryan Mata Tosses Scoreless Inning for World Team in 2018 MLB Futures Game.

While the Red Sox were wrapping up a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays in Boston on Sunday afternoon, All-Star festivities had already begun down south in the nation’s capital.

Yes, the Futures Game is always something to look forward to before the big names make their way to baseball’s Midsummer Classic, and yesterday, the Red Sox were represented by one prospect by the name of Bryan Mata.

Mata, 19, gave up one hit, one walk, and struck out one in a scoreless inning of work for the World team while consistently reaching 94-96 MPH with his two-seam fastball and 75-79 MPH with his curveball.

It certainly was not a clean outing for the Venezuela native, as he had runners on second and third with just one out, but he escaped any further damage, thanks in part to this strikeout of Rockies top prospect Brendan Rodgers for the second out of the inning.

Mata.gif

Just look at the sweeping action on that curveball.

Ranked as the #2 prospect in the organization according to SoxProspects.com, Mata has been with the Red Sox since he signed as an international free agent on January 27th, 2016 as a 16 year-old out of Maracay, Venezuela.

Listed at 6’3″ and 160 lbs., Mata, a righty, owns a 3.42 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in 16 games started and 71 innings pitched for High A Salem this season.

Per SoxProspects, Mata has a, “Long way to go developmentally, but a very intriguing arm. Has the profile of a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher. Already shows the beginnings of a three-pitch mix and has a projectable frame. Has shown the ability to miss bats with both his fastball and changeup already, though his curveball lags behind. Physical development will be key given how skinny he is at present.”

Since he’s still so young, I would not expect Mata to sniff a Major League roster for at least another two years. The possibility of being used as a trade piece is certainly there, but in terms of Red Sox pitching prospects, he may be the most interesting one the organization has seen in a while.

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Homers Again as #RedSox Close out First Half with 68th Win of Season.

On the last day before hitting the All-Star break, the Red Sox were looking to end the first half of their season on a positive note by taking three out of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Making his first start for the team since July 3rd, Brian Johnson returned from the disabled list in effective fashion on Sunday afternoon.

In just over four innings pitched, the lefty surrendered two runs on two hits and four walks while tying a season-high in strikeouts with five on the day.

Four walks in that short of an outing usually is not a good sign for a pitcher, but Johnson found himself working his away around them to avoid anything too detrimental.

In fact, the only real costly mistake the Florida native made came in the third inning, when with one out and a runner at second, Johnson left a 0-1, 76 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate, and Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez made him pay for it, as he sent it 349 feet into the Monster seats for a two-run shot, tying the game at two runs a piece.

Following that home run though, Johnson proceeded to retire seven of the final eight batters he faced, and with two outs in the top half of the fifth and Hernandez due up for Toronto, got the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (52 strikes), the 27 year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball just over 51% of the time on Sunday, and topped out at 92 MPH with it in the first inning.

Since rejoining the Red Sox rotation on June 28th against the Angels, Johnson has yet to go deeper than five innings in three outings, yet the Red Sox are unbeaten in all three of those starts.

In relief of Johnson, as I had previously mentioned, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Needing one out to close out the top half of the fifth, Workman struck out the only batter he faced, Hernandez, on seven pitches.

From that point on, despite a more than welcome amount of traffic on the base paths, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree all tossed a scoreless inning of relief each, setting up Craig Kimbrel for the save opportunity with a three-run lead to work with in the ninth.

Making his last appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen before heading to Washington DC for his seventh All-Star Game, Kimbrel notched his 30th save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two straight punch outs to close this thing out and secure his teams 68th win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.

Never trailing in this game, Xander Bogaerts stayed red-hot and started off the scoring with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot sent 423 feet over the Monster, to put the Red Sox on the board first.

Four batters later, after JD Martinez drew a seven pitch walk and Mitch Moreland reached first on a fielding error, Brock Holt came through with his first of two RBI knocks on the day, as he scored Martinez from third on a hard-hit bloop single to center field, putting the Red Sox up 2-0 early.

After Toronto came back to tie things back up again in the third, a Sandy Leon leadoff double in the fifth got a mini rally started for the Red Sox.

Following that up with a double of his own of off Stroman, Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run while also collecting his 31st RBI of the season and giving his team a one run lead they would not have to look back from.

That was followed by a Mookie Betts flyout that allowed Bradley to tag up and advance to third, setting up another prime scoring chance.

Looking for his second RBI of the day, Xander Bogaerts managed to drive in Bradley from third by hitting a comebacker that got a piece of Stroman’s knee. The Blue Jays were able to recover and get the out at first, but the Red Sox had a two-run cushion to work with now.

In the sixth, Brock Holt wrapped up the scoring for the Red Sox with another RBI single, this one just out of the reach of Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, as Mitch Moreland came in to score from second to put Boston up 5-2.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead of the season.

The Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games and are 17-3 in their last 20.

This is the first time since 2007 that Boston enters the All-Star break with MLB’s best record (68-30, .694).

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts owns an OPS of 1.154.

Over his last six games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .333 with five extra-base hits and five RBI.

With the next four days off, the Red Sox will resume their season schedule next Friday, as they open up a six game road trip starting in Detroit.

Starting pitchers for that series have yet to be officially announced by the team yet, but for the Tigers, it will be Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, and Michael Fulmer getting the start for the upcoming weekend series.

Before then, let’s just enjoy watching our five All-Stars in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.

RECAP: Walk-Off Grand Slam from Xander Bogaerts Halts #RedSox Losing Streak at One in 6-2 Win over Blue Jays.

Less than a day after suffering their first loss in nearly two weeks at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, the Red Sox were back it against Toronto Saturday afternoon, looking to start a new winning streak heading into the All-Star Break.

Making his 19th start of the season on Saturday, Eduardo Rodriguez came out guns blazing against a team he has had issues with in the past.

Over the first five innings of this one, Rodriguez looked like a man who could not be stopped, as the lefty retired 15 of the 17 batters he saw while needing just 59 pitches to do so.

Things were looking great for the Red Sox heading into the sixth inning. With a 1-0 lead and Rodriguez dealing on the mound, it seemed as if win #67 was right around the corner.

Unfortunately, it was not that easy, and after getting the first out of that sixth inning, Rodriguez would have to leave the game with a right ankle sprain following an ugly collision with Lourdes Gurriel at first base.

The good news here, if any, is the fact that, according to Alex Cora, Rodriguez did not damage his surgically repaired right knee to any extent.

Finishing with a final pitching line of 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 5 K on 67 pitches (47 strikes), it was certainly disappointing to see the Venezuela native’s day come to an end in the manner it did.

In what could have been his best outing of the season, we are left to hope that Rodriguez’s sprained ankle will not take all that much time to heal. The All-Star break could play a role in his timetable to return as well. Just have to wait and see for now.

Coming into a game he was initially not prepared for, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen.

With Gurriel already at first, Hembree did walk a man to put the go-ahead run on base, but escaped any real damage by getting Justin Smoak to fly out to center for the third and final out of the top half of the sixth.

A struggling Joe Kelly got the next call to begin the seventh inning, and he allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, putting runners on second and third with no outs.

After inducing two straight ground outs, one that drove in the tying run from third, Kelly walked Luke Maile, the Jays’ number nine hitter, on four straight balls, thus ending his day before it could even really get started.

That made way for Matt Barnes to enter and try to get out of this mess, and although it’s not entirely his doing,  he did give up what was the go-ahead run on a Lourdes Gurriel RBI single, closing the book on what was another miserable appearance for Joe Kelly.

From that point on though, Barnes held things in check by striking out Yangervis to retire the side in the seventh. And in the eighth, the UCONN product worked his way around back-to-back two out walks to punch out Randal Grichuk on three straight strikes, retiring the side and keeping it a one run game.

An inning later, Brandon Workman was given the responsibility of keeping his team within striking distance going into the bottom of the ninth. In response to this, Workman needed only 12 pitches to retire the only three batters he faced in order, which proved to be beneficial for the Red Sox a few minutes later.

With this contest now tied and headed into extra innings, Craig Kimbrel came out for a non-save opportunity in the tenth. Having seen his fair share of action these past few days, Kimbrel nonetheless still impressed with a two strikeout performance to keep things knotted up at two runs a piece. Thanks to his efforts, the Red Sox closer notched his second winning decision of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup did not have themselves the best of days at the plate on Saturday, and it looked as if that was ultimately going to cost them in the end.

JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston in the fourth inning, as he led the bottom half of the frame off by launching a 389 foot missile into the Monster seats off Jays starter Sam Gaviglio for his 29th big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the eighth inning now, and scattered amongst other opportune scoring chances, the best one up to this point in the day probably happened in the eighth.

A one out single off the bat of Mookie Betts, followed by an E5 committed by Yangervis Solarte, allowed Betts to reach second, representing the tying run.

With Brock Holt at the plate, Betts was able to catch Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini sleeping, and easily swiped third to put the tying run just 90 feet away.

Unfortunately, Betts could not advance, as Holt hit a hard ground out to second with the infield playing in, and JD Martinez struck out to end the inning. At that point, I’m thinking this thing is over. Get it done with, go home, and come back to split the series tomorrow, or so I thought.

From the middle of the ninth inning on, Xander Bogaerts was the star of the show for the Red Sox.

Facing off against long time late inning man Tyler Clippard, Bogaerts led his teams half of the ninth off by ripping a double down the left field line, once again putting the tying run in scoring position.

Two pitches into the next at bat, Jackie Bradley Jr. lined another double, this one hit to right field and allowing Bogaerts to easily score from second. And just like that, we had ourselves a 2-2 game.

In the tenth, a four-run rally was started by another fielding error committed by the Blue Jays. This time, in what looked like a routine ground out off the bat of Mookie Betts for the second out of the inning, turned into the go-ahead run being on first after Toronto’s shortstop, the aforementioned Lourdes Gurriel, could not come up with the ball cleanly.

That allowed Betts to reach first, and three batters later, after Jays reliever Chris Rowley had intentionally walked JD Martinez to load the bases, Xander Bogaerts sent the Fenway faithful home happy.

2-0 hitters count, 87 MPH fastball, 104 MPH and 392 feet off the bat, grand slam, ballgame over with a final score of 6-2.

The Toronto Blue Jays and giving up dramatic grand slams, name a more iconic duo.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 67-30. They have hit two grand slams in the past three days and have not lost consecutive games since June 19-20th.

From @SoxNotes: Xander Bogaerts is the first Red Sox player to hit a walk-off grand slam since Rico Brogna on August 14, 2000 vs. Tampa Bay.

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts has a 1.142 OPS with 3 home runs and 18 runs driven.

JD Martinez collected his 80th RBI this afternoon, the most in all of baseball.

Going for the series win tomorrow afternoon, it will be Brian Johnson making his first start since being placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip back on July 8th. As of this time, no corresponding roster move has officially been made, but I would guess it would be Tzu-Wei Lin or Bobby Poyner.

Johnson will be matched up against Jays righty Marcus Stroman. Stroman, 27, owns a 5.90 ERA in 11 games started this season, but has looked better on the mound as of late.

First pitch of the final game of the first half of the season is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

 

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.