Eduardo Rodriguez Punches out 12, Andrew Benintendi Drives in Game-Winning Run With Pinch-Hit Sacrifice Fly as Red Sox Take Opener From Phillies

After a rare off day on a Friday, the Red Sox kicked off the second leg of their five-game road trip by taking the first of two from the Philadelphia Phillies in a tight 2-1 win to improve to 78-70 on the season.

Making his 31st start of the season for Boston and third in a National League ballpark was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the weekend fresh off six one-run innings in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the seventh inning this time around, the left-hander continued to impress, holding the Phillies to just one earned run on four hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with a season-high 12 strikeouts on the night.

That lone Philadelphia tally came in that bottom half of the seventh, when after retiring 18 of the first 20 hitters he faced, Rodriguez served up a leadoff single to Bryce Harper.

Back-to-back punchouts of Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery brought the Venezuela native to within one out of escaping the frame, but a Cesar Hernandez single, Adam Haseley HBP, and six-pitch walk of Maikel Franco prevented that from happening.

Instead, Franco drove in Harper from third on that free pass, the Phillies had their first run of the contest, and Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his changeup more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 16 swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 28 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.64, Rodriguez’s quest for 20 wins this season appears to be over, but he still has a realistic shot at surpassing the 200-inning plateau for the first time in his career. He’ll look to continue that pursuit in his next time out, which should come against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

In relief of Rodriguez, left-hander Josh Taylor entered in quite the jam with the bases full and one out to get in the seventh, and he got that out by fanning the pinch-hitting Phil Gosselin on six pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes worked his way around a leadoff single and stolen base from Jean Segura and one-out intentional walk of Harper in a scoreless eighth to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

Workman did yield a leadoff walk to Hernandez to put the tying run on base immediately for Philadelphia, but he did not fold, striking out Hasely, getting Jay Bruce to fly out to right, and finally fanning Logan Morrison on a 2-2, 88 MPH cutter on the outer edge of the plate to lock down the 2-1 victory and earn his 13th save of the season.

On the other side of things, a Mookie Betts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, someone who held them to two runs over seven strong innings the last time these two clubs met up at Fenway Park in August.

Struggling to get anything going against Nola once more on Saturday, it was not until Rafael Devers drew a nine-pitch walk to lead off the seventh when the bats finally came through.

J.D. Martinez followed with a ground ball single back up the middle to move Devers up to second, and after Mitch Moreland fanned for the first out of the inning, Christian Vazquez delivered with the biggest hit of the night, plating Devers from second on a line-drive RBI single shot through the left-center field gap. His 25th two-bagger of the year put the Sox up 1-0 late.

Fast forward to the ninth, after the Phillies responded with a run of their own in the eighth, and a Moreland leadoff single off new reliever Hector Neris brought Vazquez to the plate.

Having never faced off against Neris before Saturday, Vazquez took a 2-1, 95 MPH heater down the heart of the plate and came through yet again, this time advancing the pinch-running Chris Owings all the way up to third on a hard-hit single to center. A little hit-and-run action.

A one-out walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Brock Holt loaded the bases for another pinch-hitter in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

The slumping Benintendi came into this one just 1-for-his-last-26 at the plate, but that did not stop him from elevating a sacrifice fly to left on the first pitch he saw from Neris, one that gave Owings more than enough time to come in and score from third.

That RBI sac fly gave the Red Sox the 2-1 lead, and that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game weekend series and five-game road swing on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while veteran left-hander Jason Vargas will do the same for Philadelphia.

Porcello has surrendered six runs and gone four innings deep in his last two starts since the calendars flipped to September. The Red Sox have lost both of those games.

Last time he faced the Phillies back on August 21st, the 30-year-old allowed three runs to score in five innings of work before eventually taking the loss. He has made two career starts at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 2.77 ERA and .167 batting average against over 13 total innings pitched.

Vargas, meanwhile, joined the Phillies from the New York Mets in July and has pitched to the tune of a 5.01 ERA and .293 batting average against in eight starts and 41 1/3 innings of work since the move.

The 36-year-old has made eight career starts against the Red Sox and owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA and .255 batting average against over 51 2/3 innings pitched in that span.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to return the favor and complete the two-game sweep.

Red Sox Go 0-For-7 with Runners in Scoring Position, Struggle Against Aaron Nola in 3-2 Loss to Phillies

After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, as they opened up a two-game, interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 loss to fall back down to 67-60 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and 11th overall appearance was Brian Johnson, taking the spot of the now-shelved Chris Sale, who appears to be out for the remainder of 2019.

Working into fourth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Philadelphia tallies were plated right away in the top half of the first, beginning with a one-out, two-run double off the bat of Jean Segura that drove in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper from second and third.

Two batters later, Johnson was just one strike away from getting out of the first with just the two runs, as he had Scott Kingery in an 0-2 count on the first two pitches of the at-bat.

Instead of escaping though, the Florida native persisted with three straight balls before hanging a 74 MPH curveball over the heart of the plate, one in which Kingery roped down the left field line to drive in Segura and make it a 3-0 contest.

Another single from Cesar Hernandez put a runner in scoring position for Philadelphia once more, but Johnson did not falter this time around, as he got Adam Haseley to fly out to center to put an end to the first.

That flyout began a run for Johnson in which he retired eight of the last 11 Phillies he faced with the help of a successful inning-ending pickoff attempt on the part of Mitch Moreland to snuff out Kingery in the third.

In the fourth, with one out and Hasely at second following a wild pitch, Johnson managed to punch out Andrew Knapp on five pitches, and that would be how his evening came to a close as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen with the Phillies lineup turning over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (42 strikes), the 28-year-old relied on his curveball more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 90 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his second losing decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to 6.58, Johnson’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered with an inherited runner on second and one out to get in the top of the fourth, and he got that out by fanning J.T. Realmuto on three straight strikes after giving up an infield single to Hoskins.

Walden also worked a 1-2-3 fifth before making way for left-hander Josh Taylor in the sixth, who also tossed a perfect inning of relief.

From there, Ryan Brasier struck out one in a scoreless seventh, Darwinzon Hernandez did the same in the eighth, and Matt Barnes worked his way around two straight hitters reaching base with two outs in a shutout top of the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox relievers sat down 16 of the 19 Phillies they collectively faced from the fourth until the middle of the ninth to keep the deficit at one run. Too bad it went in vain.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, whose only other appearance at Fenway Park before Tuesday was an eight-inning gem back on July 30th of last season.

Down by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, Mitch Moreland got things started against Nola beginning in the third inning with a leadoff single.

A Brock Holt flyout brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out in the frame, and he came through by unloading on a first-pitch, 93 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate from Nola and depositing it 402 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Per Statcast, Bradley Jr.’s 15th home run of this season and third in his last six games had an exit velocity of 108.4 MPH, the hardest hit ball from either side all night.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s lead down to just one, and it certainly seemed as though they had Nola on the ropes on multiple occasions from there.

Like in the bottom of the fifth, when Christian Vazquez led off with a line-drive double. Moreland, Brock Holt, and Bradley Jr. all had their chances to drive the runner in, but neither of the three could deliver.

An inning later, Mookie Betts singled and stole second to lead off the sixth, setting up the Red Sox’ 2-3-4 hitters in a prime run-scoring spot. Again, none of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, nor J.D. Martinez answered with what would have been a game-tying knock.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Nola out and left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia, and Bradley Jr. again reached base on one-out single, turning the lineup over against new reliever Mike Morin.

Betts looked helpless as he fanned on three straight hittable strikes, and Devers didn’t fare much better with an inning-ending lineout to center.

And in the ninth, all frustration boiled over as Xander Bogaerts laced a leadoff double off of Phillies closer Hector Neris.

Things were looking promising for Boston yet again, but on the very next pitch thrown by Neris, Martinez lined a grounder to Segura at short, prompting Bogaerts to try and advance to third despite the play being right in front of him.

Segura took advantage of this, as he snubbed out his positional counterpoint with a quick toss over to Kingery at third.

Bogaerts was out by a decent amount, and just like that, the Sox were down to their final two outs with a runner at first instead of at second.

Chris Owings came on to run for Martinez at first, but that did not make much of a difference, as Benintendi lined out to Segura in the shift more towards second, and he was able to double up Owings at first to end the ballgame with 3-2 being Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left three men on base as a team.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .292/.333/.750 with three homers and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays falling to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, the Red Sox still remain six games off the pace for the second American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second and final game of this two-game series, with right-hander Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston and left-hander Drew Smyly doing the same for Philadelphia. The two were part of the same starting rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2012 until 2014.

Since the calendar flipped to August, Porcello has been, for the most part, solid, posting a 3.71 ERA and .206 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In his career in interleague play, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 4.29 ERA and .277 batting average against over 42 total outings (40 starts) and 241 1/3 innings of work. He will not get to bat this time out.

Smyly, meanwhile, has surrendered 17 runs (15 earned) on 26 hits in five starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched since joining the Phillies on July 21st.

When pitching at Fenway Park over the course of his career, the 30-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and .198 batting average against over five prior starts that amount to 31 1/3 innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to rebound and start a new winning streak.

 

 

 

 

Rafael Devers Homers, Surpasses 100-RBI Mark as Red Sox Complete Sweep of Orioles in 13-7 Comeback Win

After shutting out the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox fell behind by six runs early against the O’s on Sunday, but battled their way back to both complete the three-game weekend sweep and extend their winning streak to five games with a 13-7 victory.

Making his fifth start and 16th overall appearance for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who, before Sunday, hadn’t started a game in over four months.

Tossing just two full innings in this one, the right-hander yielded five runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

The first three of those Baltimore runs came on one swing of the bat right away in the top half of the first, when with one out and runners at the corners following a Jonathan Villar leadoff double and Trey Mancini walk, Renato Nunez unloaded on a 3-2, 79 MPH curveball from Eovaldi and sent it 415 feet over the Green Monster.

An inning later, ball four came back to bite Eovaldi once more, with Chris Davis drawing a walk to lead things off and Villar drawing another with two outs, which allowed Mancini to make it a 5-0 contest on a two-run single that also ended the top of the frame as he was thrown out at second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 43 (23 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cut fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing and miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.7 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 13 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with the no-decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to a not-so-nice 6.69 ERA, command, or lack thereof, played a major role for Eovaldi in his first start since April 17th. He’ll look for improved results, as well as an increased workload, in his next time out, which should come against the San Diego Padres next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez entered the top of the third with his side trailing by five runs, and he bumped that deficit up to six by serving up a two-out RBI double to Hanser Alberto in his lone inning of work.

From there, Ryan Brasier worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless fourth, Josh Taylor allowed back-to-back two-out singles in an otherwise clean fifth, Marcus Walden tossed a scoreless sixth, which eventually led to him picking up his eighth winning decision of the season, and Andrew Cashner put together his third straight scoreless appearance since moving to the bullpen with the help of an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play in the seventh.

And finally, with this one already well in hand, Travis Lakins surrendered one run on one hit over two frames of relief to secure the 13-7 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles left-hander Ty Blach, who was claimed off waivers by Baltimore from the San Francisco Giants earlier in the month.

Already trailing by three runs before they took their first at-bats, five runs before taking their second, and six before taking their third, back-to-back RBI groundouts from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts following a walk and double from Chris Owings and Mookie Betts to lead off the bottom half of the third netted the Sox their first two runs of the day.

In the fourth, Sam Travis continued to trim the deficit, as he took Blach deep to dead center off a one-out, first-pitch, 90 MPH sinker down the middle of the plate for his sixth home run of the season.

Fast forward to the sixth, and a leadoff double off the bat of J.D. Martinez and one-out walk drawn by Travis knocked Blach out of this contest and brought right-hander Gabriel Ynoa in for Baltimore.

That move would wind up favoring Boston more though, as Christian Vazquez greeted the new O’s reliever by knocking in Martinez from third on a line-drive RBI double down the left field line.

The emergence of Mitch Moreland hitting in the place of Sandy Leon led to another Orioles pitching change, this time with lefty Paul Fry taking over.

Again, the run that Red Sox pinch-hitters have been on this season continued, with Moreland being the beneficiary of sloppy defensive play from Baltimore on a routine pop fly to shallow left field.

What should have been the second out of the sixth instead went for an RBI single while both Travis and Vazquez scored to knot things up at six runs apiece.

An Owings strikeout and Betts walk brought Devers to the plate with the chance to give his side their first lead of the afternoon, and he came through with the go-ahead, run-scoring double off the Green Monster to do just that and drive in Moreland from second.

Bogaerts and Martinez followed suit with back-to-back RBI singles in between another Orioles pitching change, with Bogaerts’ knock coming off Fry and Martinez’s off of Shawn Armstrong.

All in all, the Sox entered their half of the sixth down 6-3. By the time the third out was recorded on a Travis punchout, 12 hitters had come to the plate and the score was now 9-6 in favor of Boston. Talk about turning a game on it’s head.

The offensive outpour did not stop there though, not with Vazquez and Moreland leading off the seventh with back-to-back singles and Betts plating Vazquez on a sacrifice fly to center.

Devers followed that by absolutely punishing a 1-1, 94 MPH four-seamer on the outer half of the strike zone from Armstrong and depositing it 399 feet to right for his 27th big fly of the season.

That two-run shot had an exit velocity of over 111 MPH, per Statcast, and it also marked the 100th and 101st RBI of the year for Devers, as he became the first player in baseball this season to reach the century mark in runs driven in.

A Bogaerts double and Martinez run-scoring single put the Red Sox up 13-6, and after the Orioles tacked on another run in their half of the ninth, 13-7 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

Josh Taylor’s last 15 appearances: 14 1/3 innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs, five walks, 18 strikeouts, 1.88 ERA.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .563/.600/1.094 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

J.D. Martinez’s last 15 games: .414/.485/.707 with four homers and 10 RBI.

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: .409/.458/.682 with one homer and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays topping the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, the Red Sox still stand 6 1/2 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another off day on Monday before welcoming the 64-60 Philadelphia Phillies into town for a two-game interleague series beginning on Tuesday.

Left-hander Chris Sale was supposed to start in the opener, but has since been placed on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation. Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to name a replacement.

Right-hander Aaron Nola will get the start for Philadelphia.

Since the beginning of August, the Phillies ace owns an ERA of 2.07 and batting average against of .194 over his last three outings and 19 innings pitched.

In one prior start at Fenway Park back on July 30th of last year, Nola hurled eight masterful innings of one-run ball in a contest the Phillies lost by a final score of 2-1.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their sixth straight win.

RECAP: Blake Swihart Walks It off for #RedSox in Extra Innings Win over Phillies.

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 , 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.