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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.