Rafael Devers Homers, Drives in Four Runs as Red Sox Hold on to Top Blue Jays 5-4

After waiting out a 33-minute rain delay, the Red Sox bounced back from a disappointing 10-4 loss on Tuesday by barely holding on to a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday to improve to 52-44 on the season.

Making his 20th start of the season for Boston and second against Toronto was Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed a season-high six earned runs north of the border back on May 21st.

Turning things around in this one, the left-hander yielded just two runs, both earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 quality innings of work.

Both of those Blue Jays tallies came courtesy of the home run ball, with Teoscar Hernandez taking Rodriguez deep to center on a first-pitch, 92 MPH four-seam fastball to lead off the top half of the third, and Hernandez doing the same with one out in the fifth on another 1-1, 92 MPH heater.

Other than those two blips, Rodriguez retired 17 of the first 22 hitters he faced with the help of Jackie Bradley Jr. before running into some trouble to begin the seventh, where Cavan Biggio led things off by drawing a five-pitch walk and Justin Smoak reached on an E5 committed by Rafael Devers at third.

A simple fly out off the bat of Freddy Galvis for the first out of the inning would wind up being the last action for Rodriguez, as Hernandez was due to hit next for the Jays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (63 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 11-4 while lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.34, the month of July has treated Rodriguez very well to this point. Over his last three starts, the Venezuela native has surrendered just four earned runs in 18 1/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.96 and not to mention a batting average against of .182 in that span as well.

Rodriguez’s next start should come on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on with two runners on and two outs to get in the seventh, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s night by walking Hernandez on six pitches to load the bases before fanning Danny Jansen and Eric Sogard back-to-back to escape the jam.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the eighth in a legitimate high-leverage situation, but all he could manage to do was serve up a one-out homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., cutting his team’s lead to 4-3, and put the next two men he faced in Randal Grichuk and Biggio on base with a HBP and six-pitch walk.

So, Brandon Workman entered with the potential tying run in scoring position and potential go-ahead run at first base, and he, like Barnes in the inning prior, came through with two huge punchouts to end the threat.

Finally, in the ninth, responsible for closing this thing out, Workman walked Hernandez and Danny Jansen to lead off the inning in a 5-3 game, got the first two outs in consecutive order after that, and allowed Gurriel Jr. to drive in his second run of the evening on a first-pitch, RBI single to center.

That made it a one-run contest yet again at 5-4, but, fortunately for Boston, Workman was able to rally with a seven-pitch strikeout of Grichuk to notch his fifth save of the season.

It may have taken him a season-high 45 pitches to do so, but Workman came through when it mattered to wrap up a tight 5-4 win for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Wednesday with a 6.22 ERA on the season while also leading the American League in walks with 58.

Brock Holt, batting out of the nine-hole, kicked off a five-run evening for Boston by coming through with two outs in the bottom of the second and ripping a line-drive RBI single to center.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put his opposite field power on display yet again, leading the third off with his 18th home run of the season off a 0-1, 88 MPH changeup from Sanchez.

In the fourth, Devers struck with his second and third RBI of the contest on a two-out, two-run double to right following base hits from Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts, giving his side the 4-1 advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Jays had battled their way back to make it a 4-3 contest, and the budding Devers capped off a fantastic night at the plate with a one-out, run-scoring single off Toronto closer Ken Giles to drive in Holt from second.

Holt scoring gave Devers his 70th RBI of the season, and it also gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, which would turn out to be just enough in an eventual 5-4 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers’ July thus far: .353/.431/.765 with six home runs and 20 RBI.

Xander Bogaerts during his nine-game hitting streak: .474 (18-for-38) with three doubles, five homers, and 16 RBI.

Mookie Betts during his nine-game hitting streak: .447 (17-for-38) with one double, one triple, and six RBI.

Brock Holt’s last seven games: .611/.600/.778 with three RBI and five runs scored.

On a day that started with some unneeded drama, the Red Sox were able to come out with a win. They’ll look to wrap up the four-game set against the Blue Jays with a series victory on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Chris Sale is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Thomas Pannone will do the same for Toronto.

Sale has not had much success against the Jays this season, posting an ERA of 7.98 and batting average against of .359 in three starts against them so far, including an outing in which he gave up five runs in less than six innings pitched back on July 3rd.

Pannone, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for Toronto after being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

In 24 appearances (two starts) in 2019, the Rhode Island native owns a 6.18 ERA over 39 1/3 total innings of work.

His last big league outing before being sent down came against Boston on July 4th, where he allowed four earned runs over 4 1/3 frames of relief.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Weather could be a factor once more.

Rest in Peace, Pumpsie Green.

 

Advertisements

Mitch Moreland and Rafael Devers’ Late-Inning Heroics Lift #RedSox to First Home Win of 2019

After dropping their first home game of the 2019 season on Tuesday, the Red Sox bounced back in dramatic fashion on Thursday, as they walked off the Toronto Blue Jays to capture their first victory at Fenway Park this year.

In a contest that took nearly three-and-a-half hours to complete, it was Nathan Eovaldi who got the ball to start things out in this one.

Making his third start of the season, the right-hander managed to work through five full innings despite surrendering five earned runs on six hits, two of which were home runs, and four walks to go along with four strike outs as well.

One thing that helped Eovaldi make it through five innings was the double-play ball, as he only retired four of the first seven Blue Jays hitters he faced with the help of his infield turning a pair of DP’s behind him.

The top half of the third is where things started to take a turn for the worst, however, with Toronto plating all five runs they scored off Eovaldi in a span of a few minutes thanks to a three-run home run from Justin Smoak and a two-run homer from Rowdy Tellez.

After fanning Danny Jansen to end that disaster of an inning though, the 29-year-old hurler induced two more twin killings before his evening came to an end following a scoreless fifth frame.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (51 strikes), Eovaldi threw his four-seam fastball 36 times, topping out at 99.8 MPH while inducing eight swings and misses with the heater.

His next start should come against the Yankees in New York next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final four innings of this one, and they relatively held their own.

Heath Hembree and Colten Brewer each struck out a pair in back-to-back shutout innings in the sixth and seventh before Ryan Brasier yielded a solo home run to Freddy Galvis in an otherwise clean eighth frame.

From there, Marcus Walden worked his way around a tight situation where the Blue Jays had runners on second and third with just one out to close the door on them and keep this contest at a one-run game going into Boston’s half of the ninth. He improved to 2-0 on the season thanks to the solid effort.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Thursday with a lifetime 3.79 in nine career outings (six starts) at Fenway Park.

Getting the scoring started for Boston in this one was JD Martinez, whose one out RBI double in the second to plate Mookie Betts would wind up being the catalyst for a three-run inning, with both Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia collecting their first RBI of the season as well.

That cut Toronto’s lead to two runs after they had just scored five of their own.

Fast forward to the fifth, and the Red Sox would cut that deficit down to one run thanks to a wild pitch from Sanchez that allowed Xander Bogaerts to easily score from third with Dustin Pedroia at the plate.

Two innings later, Mitch Moreland, who is without a doubt the team’s clutchest player at the moment, came through in the big time again, as his fifth home run of the season, this one coming off Blue Jays reliever Joe Biagini, knotted this contest up at five runs a piece.

After Toronto scored what appeared to be a vital go-ahead run on that aforementioned dinger from Freddy Galvis in the eighth, the Red Sox entered their half of the ninth with three outs to work with and a 3-10 start staring them dead in the face.

With closer Ken Giles, who entered the night 34-for-34 in his last 34 save opportunities, on the mound for Toronto, Mookie Betts put the tying run on base by drawing a one out, six-pitch walk.

Just a few moments after that, Moreland was at it yet again, ripping a 389 foot double to dead center to drive in Betts all the way from first and tie this game up for the second time on the night.

Eduardo Nunez would come on to pinch-run for Moreland, and all of a sudden, the winning run was only 180 feet away.

In a bit of a tough spot, the Blue Jays decided to put JD Martinez on intentionally in hopes of turning a double play, but after Giles fell behind on Xander Bogaerts and walked him, the bases were loaded for Rafael Devers.

Entering the ninth inning with an RBI double under his belt already, Devers had the chance to send his team home with their first win since Sunday, and he did just that by bouncing the game-sealing, run-scoring single over the head of any Blue Jays infielder into shallow right field.

That allowed Nunez to calmly score from third to make it 7-6, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In the Red Sox’ four wins this season, Mitch Moreland is 5-for-14 with two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. He is directly responsible for all four of those victories.

Dustin Pedroia has two hits in two games since his return from the injured list on Tuesday. He’s also looked pretty solid at second base.

Next up for the Red Sox, they welcome the 5-8 Baltimore Orioles into town for the first time this season.

Eduardo Rodriguez, who hasn’t pitched since last Thursday in Oakland, will get the ball for Boston, while right-hander David Hess will do the same for Baltimore.

Rodriguez, 26, has walked six batters in a total of eight innings of work in 2019.

Hess, meanwhile, has only made one prior start at Fenway Park in his two-year career, an outing in which he surrendered five earned runs in less than five innings pitched last May.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

 

 

 

 

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Tosses Four Scoreless Innings in First Rehab Start in Portland.

For the first time in over a month, Eduardo Rodriguez saw some in-game action in a rehab start with the Portland Sea Dogs on Monday night.

Out since he sprained his right ankle on a play at first base against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 14th, the 25-year-old’s road to recovery has gone quite well and last night was a big step in the right direction.

Some feared that he may be forced to miss the remainder of the season, but the fact that Rodriguez is pitching, albeit in a minor league setting, just over five weeks after suffering the injury, is pretty remarkable.

Facing off against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, the left-hander held the opposition scoreless on just one hit and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts in a solid four frames of work. In total, Rodriguez threw 63 pitches, 39 of which went for strikes.

Matched up against another young starter on a rehab assignment in Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez, it was the Sea Dogs who came away with an eventual 4-3 win.

When asked about his outing in Portland’s clubhouse, Rodriguez replied, “Threw all my pitches. I didn’t get tired. Felt really good.”

On the season as a whole, the native of Venezuela owns a 3.44 ERA in 19 games started with the Red Sox. He has not given up a run in his last 19 innings pitched.

Per Alex Cora, “(Rodriguez)’ll come back and we’ll go through PFPs (pitchers fielding practice drills), the plan is for him probably to go another one, and we’ll go from there.”

So there you have it, E-Rod will more than likely make another rehab start sometime in the next week, and the Red Sox will proceed in whatever direction they deem best fit after that.

 

RECAP: Chris Sale Has Career Night, but #RedSox Still Find a Way to Lose to Blue Jays in Extras.

Flashback to April 24th, and you’ll find that the Red Sox were walked off in Toronto in extras in the first game of that series. Why do I bring that up? Well, the same thing essentially happened last night. That’s right, the Red Sox opened up a three game series north of the border on Friday night, and once again, they were walked off by the Blue Jays in extra innings. This one took an inning longer than the first one though, and it did not involve Craig Kimbrel and Curtis Granderson.

How we got there: Chris Sale made his eighth start of the season last night, and as he usually does at the Rogers Centre, pitched a gem. The lefty tossed nine full innings, scattered three runs on six hits, walked none, and tied his career high in strikeouts with 15 on the night. It did not appear as if things were going to go Sale’s way in the beginning of this game, as he gave up the first of those three runs before recording a single out in the first inning. The Red Sox ace was getting hit fairly hard, and after the Blue Jays tacked on another run in the second, pitching coach Dana Levangie went out and had a lengthy conversation with both Sale and Sandy Leon. They must have come to the conclusion that the Blue Jays were stealing signs, because they went with multiple signs for the rest of the night, and Sale looked like a different pitcher.

At one point, the Florida native retired 15 straight Blue Jays before surrendering the game-tying home run to catcher Luke Maile in the seventh inning. Following that blip, Sale pitched two more scoreless innings. In the ninth, it looked like the Blue Jays were about to get the go-ahead run to third on a hard hit ball by Kevin Pillar, but a great throw from Andrew Benintendi to Brock Holt and an almost perfect relay from Holt to Eduardo Nunez got Pillar out at third for the second out of the inning.

After getting the next batter, Kendrys Morales, to ground out to end the frame and send this one to extra innings, Sale’s night would come to an end. Although he tossed nine innings, the 29-year-old did not factor in the decision. He finished the night with a season high 116 pitches, 85 of which went for strikes.

In extras, the Red Sox bullpen was not at their best. Matt Barnes kicked the bottom half of the 10th off by walking the first two batters he faced to put runners on first and second with no outs. How he got out of it I don’t know but he got Josh Donaldson to strike out in a huge spot with two outs in the inning to send things to the eleventh.

An inning later, Carson Smith had the best performance of any Red Sox reliever, as he recorded the first two outs of the inning before giving up a single to Kevin Pillar. That hit would not come back to bite the Texas native though, since he struck out the very next batter he faced on six pitches.

Another inning later, and this game came to an end quickly with Brian Johnson on the mound for the Red Sox. The lefty walked the first batter he saw on four straight balls. Not ideal. The very next pitch he threw was taken 418 feet to right center field by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile.

As they say in Toronto, the Maile man always delivers, and he sent the Blue Jays home with a series opening win last night. To put it simply, Chris Sale deserved better. Not just from the bullpen, but from the lineup too.

For Brian Johnson, I can’t imagine Friday night’s performance helps his chances of staying up with the Red Sox. In ten games as a reliever, Johnson owns an ERA of 9.00 in 13 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .321 off of the lefty, so it’s difficult to justify keeping someone with those kind of numbers on the active roster.

Anyway, on the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got the scoring started in the top of the first. Facing off against Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi got on base right away in this one to put runners on first and third with no outs. After Benintendi stole second with JD Martinez at the plate, the third member of the Red Sox outfield scored Betts from third and advanced Benintendi from third on an RBI ground out.

Fast forward to the fourth, with the Red Sox trailing by one run, and Xander Bogaerts led the inning off by tying things up once again.

That 426 foot shot to center marked Bogaerts’ fourth of the season. Four batters later, with Brock Holt at first, Sandy Leon drove in a run in one of the most bizarre fashions you’ll see.

Technically ruled a strikeout, Leon was unfortunately not credited with an RBI on that play. What’s even funnier about it is that it was the last run the Red Sox scored all night. At one point, they went more than seven innings without a single hit. I’ll give credit where credit is due when I say the Blue Jays bullpen was stellar in the seven combined innings they tossed last night. They held the Red Sox lineup to essentially nothing once Aaron Sanchez departed in the sixth.

Next up for the Red Sox is a David Price v. Marco Estrada matchup later this afternoon. After all the carpal tunnel drama this past week, it will be interesting to see how Price responds today. Alex Cora had said that if his hand starts bothering him again, they have a plan to get Price out of the game right away and go to the bullpen. First pitch of the middle game of this series is scheduled for 4:07 PM ET. Like I said, should be…interesting.

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts and Brock Holt Drive in All Four Runs for #RedSox as Losing Streak Comes to an End.

Finally, the three game losing streak is behind us. That’s right, the Red Sox won a baseball game last night, and although they did not do it in convincing fashion, it was a solid victory regardless.

Making his fourth start of the season, Eduardo Rodriguez put together a solid performance on the mound in Toronto. In 6 2/3 innings pitched, the lefty surrendered three runs on six hits and a walk, striking out three along the way.

Rodriguez ran into some trouble here and there throughout his start, but he limited the damage. The biggest mistake he made last night came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Jays third baseman Yangervis Solarte mashed a leadoff home run on the first pitch he saw. That put the Blue Jays up 3-2 at the time, but the Red Sox responded with two runs of their own an inning later, which ultimately led to the native of Venezuela picking up his third win of the season. By the time he got the hook with two outs in the seventh, Rodriguez was at 106 pitches, 66 of which went for strikes. He’ll be looking for his fourth next week against the Kansas City Royals.

In relief of ERod, Heath Hembree came on to finish things in the seventh and he struck out the only batter he faced. Joe Kelly tossed a scoreless eighth after that, and Craig Kimbrel rebounded from Tuesday night by picking up his sixth save of the season in a perfect inning of work. I think it’s safe to say the Red Sox bullpen is solid.

Offensively, Mookie Betts got the scoring started in the top of the first. On the third pitch of the game from Aaron Sanchez, Betts belted his seventh long ball of the year 402 feet over the wall in right field.

That leadoff home run from Betts marks his third of the season already and the 14th of his career. No other player in the history of the Red Sox has had more than 10. Betts would get in some more action later, but not before Brock Holt got involved in the fifth inning.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian  Vazquez led the inning off with a pair of walks, Holt extended his hitting streak up to eight games with an RBI double to center field.

Off the bat, it looked like that ball could have been caught, but a slip up from left fielder Steve Pearce while he was pursuing the fly ball prevented that from happening. With Jackie Bradley Jr. scoring on the play, the Red Sox went up by a run for a half inning.

Since his eight game hitting streak began on April 14th, Holt is slashing .455/.455/.697 with one home run and six RBIs to go along with two straight three hit games. It’s been great to see Holt playing this way recently, especially with Xander Bogaerts still on the disabled list. If he keeps playing like this, I’ll be interested to see how Alex Cora works him into the lineup after Bogaerts returns this weekend.

Anyway, to put an exclamation point on this one, Mookie Betts delivered the biggest hit of the night in the seventh inning. Trailing by one with one out in the inning and a runner at first, Betts went yard for the second time, this time against Danny Barnes. (fast forward to :30 if you don’t want to see the first one again)

That 366 foot shot was Betts’ eighth of the season, and it put the Red Sox up 4-3, all but guaranteeing the team their 18th win in 23 games. Betts also owns an OPS of 1.192 after last night’s spectacle, best among American League outfielders.

After splitting the first two games of the series, it will be Chris Sale looking to go home with the series win later tonight. In the three starts he made at Rogers Centre last season, the lefty averaged 1.6 K’s per inning while maintaining an ERA of 0.00 in 22 innings pitched. He’ll be matched up against Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 PM ET.