RECAP: Rafael Devers’ go-ahead, three-run blast in fourth gives #RedSox 5-4 win over the Reds.

For the first time in more than three years, the Red Sox made a visit to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds have been a last place team for the better part of this season but they are not a team anyone should overlook. If you compare their everyday lineup to that of the Red Sox, you’d see just how many more home runs the Reds have hit this year. Not surprisingly, the only runs the Reds scored last night came on a home run, a grand slam to be more specific. That was served up by last night’s starter, Rick Porcello. The righty was not too sharp in this one, making his shortest outing of the month so far by only making it through four full innings. Porcello was pretty much in trouble right from the start, loading the bases with no outs in the first inning. The very next batter he faced, Scooter Gennett, capitalized on this by mashing his FOURTH grand slam of the year. Note that the Red Sox have hit ZERO grand slams all year.

Despite Porcello’s struggles, the pitching staff actually put together a pretty solid performance from the fifth inning on. Making his first appearance since last Sunday, David Price made his second appearance out of the bullpen, and he looked solid in the 2.2 innings he pitched. Over that span, the lefty scattered three hits and a walk while striking out four. Since pitchers bat in NL ballparks, Price also got his third career hit on a single last night, and he was excited about it.

Addison Reed came on with two outs in the seventh, ended the inning, and went on to pitch a scoreless eighth as well. This all paved way for Craig Kimbrel to come on, do his thing, and pick up his 34th save of 2017. I’m gonna have a blog out soon previewing what I think the ALDS roster should look like, and I think last night’s start pretty much took Rick Porcello off the board, David Price on the other hand, well, his stock is rising.

On the other side of things, I heard a lot about how Reds starter, Sal Romano, was looking forward to facing the Red Sox since he grew up a Yankees fan. Unfortunately, his performance was one that he’d probably like to forget. The Red Sox drew first blood, though that did not last long and they should have scored more. Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, and hometown hero Andrew Benintendi all reached base to lead off the first. Only one run managed to cross the plate, and that came on a Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly. The bats went silent for the next two innings, then scored all their other runs in the fourth. Mookie Betts started the inning with a double, and that was followed by a Moreland walk. Next up was Christian Vazquez, and on a 1-2 slider, he ripped a double to right, scoring Betts. Rafael Devers then decided he wanted to join in and make up for his base running blunder by hitting an absolute moonshot to right field, giving the Red Sox a 5-4 lead, which is all they needed.

With the Yankees loss last night, the Red Sox move to four games up in the division, and the magic number to clinch is down to six. Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start tomorrow, and he should be at the top of his game vying for a spot in the playoff rotation.

89 down, 5 to go. 

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RECAP: Chris Sale records 300th strikeout, Betts and Marrero go deep, and the #RedSox leave Baltimore with a sweep.

Chris Sale is a machine, plain and simple. Yeah, he’s had his ups and downs in the second half, but he’s still the most valuable pitcher on this staff, and he proved that last night. Needing 13 strikeouts to reach 300, it was going to take quite the effort to reach that milestone. Lo and behold, he got it done, striking out the last batter he faced in the eighth inning.

With those 300 K’s, Sale joins Pedro Martinez as the only Red Sox pitchers to record 300 or more strikeouts in a single season. Pedro did it back in 1999, and here we have Sale doing it 18 years later. I’m sure there were plenty of people who did not agree with bringing Sale back out for the eighth inning given his pitch count, but I can understand it based off the fact he would have been stuck at #299 had he left after seven innings. Sale is one who will definitely benefit from the off day today, and I think the Red Sox should consider giving him even more rest in preparation for the playoffs. Since he went eight innings, the bullpen was not tasked with too much work, and Austin Maddox ended the game by throwing a shaky, but scoreless ninth inning. He still hasn’t given up a run in his big league career.

On the other side of things, old friend Wade Miley got the ball for the O’s, and he was far from impressive. The Red Sox failed to score in the first three innings despite loading the bases with one out in the third. The fourth inning was a different story, in a good way. Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero, who are the best of friends, both hit two-run jacks, giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead. Hanley Ramirez tacked on two more runs in the fifth, doubling for the second time while also driving in Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts. A Dustin Pedroia double scored two more runs in the eighth, and Hanley capped things off in the ninth with an RBI single, scoring Betts from third.

Last night was all about Chris Sale, but it was good to see the offense put up this type of performance the night after failing to record a single RBI.

Let’s talk about what the Red Sox have done this month real quick. Since dropping three out of four to the Yankees, they have won 11 out of their past 15 games. Unfortunately, the Yankees have also been playing really good baseball over that stretch so no ground in the division has been gained. They did clinch a playoff spot last night, though.

88 down, 6 to go but I think they might win more than 6.

Also…suh dude.

 

RECAP: The #RedSox defeated the Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings last night without an RBI.

First things first, the Red Sox have got to stop making a habit out of these games. I know they’re 15-3 in extra inning games, but you have to attribute at least a handful of those, like last night, to luck. Imagine if they were only 10-8 in extras this year? That’s not bad but they would be in second place behind the Yankees right now. Honestly, I was lucky to be able to watch that whole game. Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman really picked up the pace, and they’re the main reason this eleven inning game only took three hours and twenty-seven minutes. A good way to avoid these long games would be to have a game-changing power bat available. Hanley Ramirez was supposed to be that guy, Mookie Betts isn’t going to hit 31 ding dongs like he did last year, and David Ortiz is no longer here. Those were your three biggest power threats last year, and two-thirds of them have not lived up to the expectations they had going into the year. Bryce Brentz hit 31 HR with the PawSox this season, but he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster for whatever reason. What I think this all boils down to is the acquisition of a power bat this offseason. Giancarlo Stanton would be nice, but you’re not going to meet the Marlins asking price, hopefully. I’m really talking myself into JD Martinez of the Diamondbacks. He’s a free agent after this season, he has a history with Dave Dombrowski, and he has hit 40 home runs this year. Sure, he’s thirty and can probably get a deal worth more than $20 million a year, but the Red Sox are going to need a game changing type of bat, and he fits that need. I know I’m getting too far ahead of myself, but it’s something to think about.

Okay, I got that off my chest, let’s talk about the game that was played last night. Like I said above, Drew Pomeranz was matched up against Kevin Gausman in this one, two SEC guys. Gausman outpitched Pomeranz, but not by much. The lefty put up six and a third solid innings, scattering five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over that span. He got hit pretty hard, but managed to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard with the help of his outfielders. In the third, Andrew Benintendi ended the inning by picking off old friend Manny Machado at the plate with this great throw:

Later on in the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Chris Davis of a solo shot with this very casual catch:

I was hoping Mookie Betts would rob the Orioles of a run, since the other two outfielders made great plays. That didn’t happen though, and Pomeranz couldn’t pick up his 17th win of the year either, despite the great effort. It was surprising to see him come back out for the seventh, but I actually like how John Farrell only had him face Chris Davis, a lefty. He got Davis to fly out, thus ending his day on a positive note.

For the second night in a row, the bullpen was relied on heavily, and they came through yet again. Carson Smith, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes combined to pitch nearly five innings of perfect baseball. No hits, no walks, nothing for the Orioles, a real shut down. It was a bit nerve-racking watching Road Matt Barnes try and close out the game, but he did it to perfection and picked up his first save of the season. With all the use the bullpen has been dealing with lately, the off day on Thursday will be a good opportunity for rest.

Offensively, Kevin Gausman held the Red Sox in check. It took until the fifth inning for them to get their first hit, a Rafael Devers single, and they could only reach base three other times while facing Gausman. Once he left though, more scoring chances came, but they couldn’t capitalize right away. A leadoff single from Sam Travis in the eighth turned to nothing, a one out double from Andrew Benintendi could not turn into a run, and a one out Rafael Devers single couldn’t be turned into a run. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Devers had a really rough night at third with his throwing error in the eleventh that could have led to the tying run scoring for the Orioles. Anyway, it wasn’t until the eleventh when the Red Sox finally capitalized on a scoring chance. A leadoff single from Brock Holt was cancelled out by JBJ grounding into a fielder’s choice, putting him at first with one out. After Xander Bogaerts advanced him to second, two straight walks loaded the bases. With Mitch Moreland at the plate, a wild pitch from Brad Brach allowed the runners to advance, scoring JBJ from third. Moreland grounded out after that and that was the inning.

The win marks five straight series wins, and keeps them three games above the Yankees. Chris Sale, who owns a 4.25 ERA since the start of August, gets the start in this pretty important series finale later tonight.

87 down, 7 to go. 

RECAP: Andrew Benintendi’s heroics gave #RedSox yet another extra innings victory, this time in Baltimore.

The Red Sox went into Baltimore last night after taking two out of three from the Rays. Their goal for this week had to be the same as it was over the weekend, win the series against a division rival. They got off to a good start on Monday, despite some pitching struggles. Doug Fister got the start in this one, and he looked bad yet again. For the second time in a row, Fister failed to pitch at least six innings and gave up five or more earned runs. In the two plus innings he pitched, the Orioles reached base nine times and scored five times. Marty Foster’s strike zone was off, and that made way for Fister allowing five walks, which is rare for him. It was clear he didn’t agree with the zone, and he was even seen yelling at Foster while heading to the dugout at one point.

In relief of Fister, the Red Sox had to use nine relief pitchers, and they did a solid job from the sixth inning on. Heath Hembree, Fernando Abad, and Brandon Workman gave up a combined three runs in four innings pitched, and that was it in terms of the Orioles scoring. Robby Scott, Joe Kelly, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Carson Smith went on to pitch five scoreless innings while striking out four. If you look at the bullpen’s final line, 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, that looks like a great start for a starting pitcher, so it’s good to see the bullpen is still doing their thing, with Road Matt Barnes coming up big and Carson Smith picking up his first save of the season.

On the other side of things, Dylan Bundy was slightly better than Fister, but not by much. It looked like he was going to have his way with the Red Sox up until the fifth inning. After Mookie Betts drove in the first run in the fourth, he, along with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt, drove in six runs in the fifth. If it weren’t for JBJ’s long at-bat, Bundy may have got out of the inning without giving up anything. Also, Brock Holt’s AB wasn’t even supposed to happen. Dustin Pedroia had to leave the game after taking a foul ball off his nose. So, in the middle of the at-bat, Holt came in and ripped a 2 RBI single. That outpour in the top half of the sixth gave the Red Sox a 7-6 lead, but the Orioles retook the lead in the bottom half. Surprisingly, Xander Bogaerts tied the game with a solo home run in the seventh.

The bats on both sides went silent for a little bit, until the top of the eleventh inning. Three walks and two ground outs set up a bases loaded, two-out at bat for Andrew Benintendi. On a 2-2 pitch, Benintendi ripped a single to right field, scoring Blake Swihart from third and Xander Bogaerts from second, giving the Red Sox a 10-8 lead and essentially the win.

With that extra innings win, the Red Sox are now 14-3 in games that go more than nine innings. Drew Pomeranz gets the start today, and this will actually be his first start at Camden Yards this season.

86 down, 8 to go. 

RECAP: David Price throws two scoreless innings for #RedSox in first appearance since July 22.

Listen, this game was not that blog-worthy, I was more invested in the Patriots anyway. What I can tell you about this game is that the Red Sox almost got no hit. Had Jackie Bradley Jr not hit that bomb in the sixth, who knows how Jake Odorizzi and the Rays bullpen would have pitched. Andrew Benintendi was the only other hitter in the lineup to record a hit today. Eduardo Rodriguez was doing pretty well, but he was left in the game too long. There is no way he should have been facing Sucre, it was just Manager John pushing his luck. ERod exited the game with 110 pitches and two outs in the sixth, and the bullpen did a solid job after that. Austin Maddox ended the sixth by only facing one batter, and David Price ended the game by tossing two perfect innings. We have not seen the lefty in live action since way back in July, so his two strikeout performance was definitely encouraging. I can’t imagine he’ll carry that much of a workload from now to the end of the season, probably more of a depth guy for now, not a weapon. If he is able to pitch in the postseason that would definitely get me excited too.

Quick little recap for you, I’m not too discouraged by this loss. The Red Sox are 8-4 in their last 12, and should be able to take care of an inferior Baltimore Orioles team to start off the week. Doug Fister gets the start tomorrow against the O’s best starter, Dylan Bundy, first pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

85 down, 9 to go. 

 

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. 

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.