RECAP: Another Mookie Betts Leadoff Home Run Helps #RedSox Complete Sweep of Angels.

To be perfectly honest with you, I was expecting this Red Sox-Angels series to be a competitive one. Going into Tuesday, both teams were in the midst of impressive winning streaks, with the Red Sox at four straight and the Angels at seven. I thought the series opener, which featured David Price and Shohei Ohtani, would set the tone for what would be a close three games. Maybe the Red Sox take two out of three in Anaheim, I thought, that would be great. Well, I was completely wrong. Instead of three close games, the Red Sox blew out the Angels three nights in a row. They outscored the Angels 27-3 and never trailed at any point in the series. They entered at 13-2, and they leave at 16-2, marking the best start to a season a team has had since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.

Eduardo Rodriguez made his third start of the season in this one, and he was fantastic. The lefty tossed six full innings, surrendering two earned runs on three hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts. His day got off to a bit of an odd start, with the home plate umpire having to leave the game after taking a foul ball off his right elbow, but the delay that took place did not appear to have any negative effect on Rodriguez. He recorded his first two K’s of the night by getting Mike Trout and Justin Upton back to back in the first.

The Angels tacked on their first run in the second. A one out walk to Andrelton Simmons lead to third baseman Zack Cozart driving him in on an RBI single two batters later. The only other real mistake Rodriguez made came later on in the fifth. With no outs and old friend Chris Young at the plate, Rodriguez tried to sneak a 94 MPH fastball by the Angels fourth outfielder, but failed, as Young took him deep to left center for his first home run with his new team. That cut the Red Sox lead at the time to one run.

By the time Rodrigurz got through his sixth and final frame, his pitch count was at a solid 104, 65 of which went for strikes. Since his horrid season debut back on the eighth of April, the native of Venezuela has been solid in his two starts, posting a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched to go along with 13 K’s. It looks like he will be making his next start next Wednesday in Toronto.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen nearly tossed a perfect three innings. Heath Hembree and Carson Smith tossed a shutout inning each in the seventh and eighth, and Joe Kelly allowed one hit while striking out two to lock up the three game sweep.

Offensively, Mookie Betts got the scoring started in typical Mookie Betts fashion. On the third pitch he saw from Halos starter Nick Tropeano, Betts blasted his sixth long ball of the season over the wall in left field, putting his team up early.

Later on in the fourth, after a leadoff walk from Hanley Ramirez, JD Martinez stayed hot by ripping a double to left field, scoring Ramirez from first and picking up 15th RBI of the season. Two batters later, Rafael Devers collected his first of two RBIs on the night with a ground ball single to right that allowed Martinez to score from second.

Fast forward to the sixth, and we had Andrew Benintendi FINALLY getting his first home run of the season. On a 2-2 count, Benintendi hammered a 90 MPH fastball from Tropeano way over the wall in right field.

Three batters later, Devers collected that second RBI I mentioned earlier. He drove in JD Martinez, again, from third and put the Red Sox up by three.

After a quiet seventh, Mitch Moreland picked up his seventh RBI of the season with a sac fly that scored Hanley Ramirez from third.

With the game already in hand in the top of the ninth, Andrew Benintendi added on to his impressive night with a 2 RBI double that scored both Brock Holt and Mookie Betts to put them up 8-2.

Some notes from this one:

Mookie Betts hit his second leadoff home run in three days last night.

After a slow start to the season, Andrew Benintendi is now slashing .267/.384/.450 in 16 games. That’s a .834 OPS.

JD Martinez collected three hits last night, which marks his seventh multi-hit game of the season.

With two more RBIs last night, Rafael Devers is now tied for second in the American League in the category with 17, trailing only none other than Jed Lowrie for first place. He has 21.

Speaking of Jed Lowrie, the Red Sox will be taking on his team later tonight. That team being the Oakland Athletics, who despite being 9-10, have one of the best lineups in the AL thus far into the season.

Making his return to the rotation, Drew Pomeranz will be facing off against Athletics righty Kendall Graveman later tonight. First pitch is at 10:05 PM ET, GET PUMPED FOR DWEW.

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RECAP: Benintendi, Lin, and Moreland Account for Eight Hits as #RedSox Squeak by Orioles in 3-1 Win.

Going for their fifth straight series win, the Boston Red Sox took care of business against the Baltimore Orioles on Jackie Robinson Day. In the third installment of this four-game series, it was a battle of aces at a chilly Fenway Park today. Chris Sale, making his fourth start of the season, was matched up against the best starting pitcher on the Orioles roster, Dylan Bundy.

Although he was effective, Sale’s pitch count limited him to just five innings pitched. In that span, the left hander out of Florida allowed just one run on two hits and two walks while fanning eight. Both hits and that one run came across the plate for the Orioles on a Manny Machado RBI double in the first. After that, Sale was nearly perfect, as he recorded seven of his eight strikeouts over the next four innings he appeared in. With his pitch count already at 93 through five innings, Sale’s day come to an end.

Through his first four starts of the season, I have to say that I respect the approach the Red Sox have had with Chris Sale so far. He has yet to throw more than six innings or 93 pitches in any start. Conserving him, along with the rest of the rotation, could prove to be beneficial later in the season and into the postseason as well.

Anyway, it was Heath Hembree who got the call for the top half of the sixth. While he did give up a leadoff single to Craig Gentry, Hembree settled down by retiring the next six batters he faced in the sixth and later on in the seventh. After that, Matt Barnes, who was doing his best to stay warm, tossed a nearly clean eighth inning, as he walked one and struck out two to make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

The flamethrower got Adam Jones to line out to right for the first out of the inning. Then he proceeded to strike out the next two batters he faced on 13 pitches, ending the game and collecting his fifth save of the season. So far in 2018, Kimbrel has yet to allow a run in seven innings pitched, striking out 10 along the way to go with just four walks.

On the other side of things, Dylan Bundy was able to hold the Red Sox lineup in check for a little while. It wasn’t until the fifth inning when they broke through for their first run of the game. That happened after Jackie Bradley Jr. reached first after grounding into a force out and stole second with Andrew Benintendi at the plate. On a 1-1 count, Benintendi took a 91 MPH fastball from Bundy and ripped it down the right field line for a triple that scored Bradley from second in the process and tied the game at one.

With Bundy still on the mound in the sixth, the Red Sox struck for two more runs. The go-ahead run came across with Rafael Devers at the plate and no outs in the inning. With JD Martinez already at third, a ball that got away from Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph gave Martinez just enough time to score and give the Red Sox a one run lead.

Two batters later, Tzu-Wei Lin drove in Mitch Moreland from third on hard hit ground-rule double to give the Red Sox their third and final run of the day.

Speaking of Lin and Moreland, the both of them put together an impressive day at the plate. Combined, they went 5-for-9 with one RBI hitting in the fourth and ninth spots in the lineup. Andrew Benintendi racked up three hits and an RBI himself.

Not the most effective day at the plate, but that’s understandable given just how poor the conditions were in Boston today.

Unfortunately, there will be no game tomorrow. This tweet just popped up on my timeline and I am now bummed out.

Morning baseball on Patriots Day is hard to beat. I guess we will have to wait until May 17th to see if the Red Sox can finish the sweep.

With that in mind, the next game the Red Sox will play will be in Anaheim to take on the red-hot Angels. David Price will get the start for the opener on Tuesday, and he’ll be facing off against Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani. First pitch is scheduled for 10:07 PM ET.

 

RECAP: A 10-3 Win over the Orioles Has the #RedSox off to Their Best Start in Franchise History.

Less than 24 hours after taking the series opener from the Orioles, the Red Sox won their third straight game today. Hector Velazquez got the start in this one, and he put together a solid performance against a lineup that can do some damage. In five complete innings, the right hander from Mexico allowed two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five. Those two runs the Orioles scored off of Velazquez came on one swing of the bat, a Pedro Alvarez two-run home run in the fifth. Other than that mistake, not much to complain about because it could have been worse. I mean, the Orioles had runners on base in every inning Velazquez pitched in except the second, when he struck out the side. So, it was impressive to see him work his way out of those few jams he got himself into.

With Velazquez’s day done after throwing 86 pitches (58 strikes), it was Joe Kelly who got the call for the sixth inning. With some help from Jackie Bradley Jr., Kelly tossed a scoreless frame while striking out one. Here’s the first out that I was speaking of:

The only other pitcher the Red Sox used today was Marcus Walden, and he wrapped this thing up by going the last three innings. In those three innings, the Orioles were limited to just one run in the ninth and three hits total to go along with three strikeouts. This outing may very well be the best Walden has had thus far with the Red Sox, which is encouraging to see considering the fact he owned a 1.50 WHIP before today’s game and lowered his ERA by a full run with today’s effort.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup struck early yet again, facing off against old friend Alex Cobb, who was making his Orioles debut. Mookie Betts got things started with a leadoff walk in the first, and he injured himself while scoring on an Andrew Benintendi RBI double. How did Betts injure himself you ask? Well, take a look for yourself:

As can be seen in the video, Betts collided with Orioles catcher Chance Sisco while also taking a relay throw off the back. He managed to stay in the game for a little while after, but was eventually replaced by Blake Swihart in the fourth inning.

Anyway, still in the first, Hanley Ramirez returned from a wrist contusion he suffered on Thursday by scoring Benintendi along with himself on his third long ball of the year. That ball landed in the second row of the Monster seats in left field, in case you were interested.

Fast forward to the third, and JD Martinez put the fourth run for the Red Sox on the board with his third home run of the season.

An inning later, the Red Sox tacked on four more runs, upping their total on the day to eight. Andrew Benintendi collected his second and third RBI’s of the game by ripping a two out, two run single into right field, putting the Red Sox up by six. Hanley Ramirez followed that up by scoring Benintendi with an RBI double of his own. With JD Martinez at the plate, the fourth and final run of the inning scored on a throwing error after Martinez hit a ground ball to Manny Machado. A bad throw from the O’s shortstop allowed Ramirez to score from second. 8-0 heading into the fifth.

After the Orioles tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the fifth, the Red Sox responded an inning and a half later. With Blake Swihart on second, JD Martinez collected his second RBI of the day by ripping a single to left field.

In the seventh, Blake Swihart returned the favor by picking up his first RBI of the contest, scoring Brock Holt from second with a single to center field. That gave the Red Sox their tenth and final run of the game and all but guaranteed their twelfth win of the season.

At 12-2, the Red Sox have never had a better start in their storied history. Given the way they have handled the Orioles and their pitching staff so far, we very well could be looking at a 14-2 team heading into this upcoming road trip. If the weather holds up, Chris Sale will get the start against Dylan Bundy tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30’s in Boston, so good luck to anyone heading into Fenway. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM.

Also, before I forget, Mookie Betts was diagnosed with a left foot contusion. X-Rays were negative and his status is day-to-day.

RECAP: #RedSox Stage Epic Eighth Inning Comeback to Sweep the Rays.

Not too long ago, I thought this recap was going to go in a complete;y different direction. The Red Sox were trailing the Rays by five runs heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Throughout the game, they really never put anything together against Rays pitching. Lo and behold, they erupted for six runs to take the lead and ultimately win the game. What an inning it was.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and the lefty did not look all that sharp in his 2018 debut. In 3.2 innings pitched, the Rays got to Rodriguez for three runs on five hits and two walks. After the first inning he had where he struck out the side, I did not expect to see Rodriguez struggle the way he did. I’d say things got shaky when the first batter Rodriguez faced in the top of the second, CJ Cron, launched a solo home run to center field, tying the game at one. Once that happened, the native of Venezuela needed a lot of pitches to get through the next two-plus innings, although he did strike out seven. When he departed with two outs in the fourth, his pitch count was at 92, which was right around his limit for today.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was not able to keep the Rays in check. They obviously did enough to keep the team in the game, but it wasn’t great. Hector Velazquez tossed two innings, he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. Bobby Poyner came in with two outs in the sixth, he walked one and struck out another to end the inning. Brian Johnson made his first relief appearance of the season in the seventh, he gave up two runs to score while only recording one out. There was also a really scary moment for the Red Sox in the seventh. A triple off the bat of Joey Wendle to left field led to Xander Bogaerts recieving a relay throw from JD Martinez. While trying to get the ball to Rafael Devers, Bogaerts lost the ball and it rolled towards the Rays dugout. Trying to save the ball from rolling out of the field of play, the short stop slid down the dugout steps in order to push the ball back towards the field. Unfortunately, Bogaerts roughed up his left ankle on the slide and would have to leave the game. Brock Holt came in to take over at short.

Heath Hembree came in to finish the inning, he got the only two batters he faced to fly out and ground out. Carson Smith got the call for the eighth inning. He looked shaky yet again as he loaded the bases after recording the first two outs. However, he got out of the inning with a clutch strikeout and is credited with the win. After that epic eighth inning, Craig Kimbrel came on for the start of the ninth and he retired all three batters he faced for his third save of the season.

Offensively, the Rays pitching staff did just about everything right against the Red Sox up until the eighth inning. Hanley Ramirez was responsible for the first two runs scored by the Red Sox in the first and fifth innings, but that and just four hits is all the Red Sox lineup could muster over the first seven. Fast forward to the bottom of the eighth, and things got really exciting, all with two outs in the inning.

Hanley Ramirez led things off with a single. Two batters later and two outs later, Mitch Moreland got his first hit of the season with a vintage RBI double off the monster, scoring Ramirez from second and cutting the deficit to four.

An Eduardo Nunez single put runners on first and third for Rafael Devers, who drove in both Moreland and Nunez by lining a double into the left field corner. Deficit is now at two.

A pitching change by the Rays saw Alex Colome take things over for Matt Andriese. That did not make a difference. The first batter Colome faced, Christian Vazquez, ripped an RBI single to left center that scored Devers from second. All the sudden, we had a one run game with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

Back to the top of the order, Mookie Betts collected his second hit of hit the day with a game-tying RBI single to left, barely scoring Vazquez from second.

Next up, Andrew Benintendi had arguably the most important at bat of the game. On a 1-1 count, Benintendi took a cutter from Colome and just got enough of the monster to drive in Betts with a double. The score now was 8-7, and that’s how it would end.

A six run comeback to win your eighth straight game is a great way to end the weekend and go into an off day. The Red Sox are 8-1, at no point in their history have they ever been better through nine games.

The New York Yankees are next up on the schedule, as they come into Fenway for a three game set that starts Tuesday night. The pitching matchup will be Chris Sale versus Luis Severino, power arm versus power arm. Should be a good one. First pitch is at 7:10 PM.

 

The #RedSox Wrapped up Grapefruit League Play Today by Defeating the Twins 6-1.

Although they are not done playing exhibition games, the Red Sox did move one step closer to playing meaningful baseball today, as they defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-1 in their last Grapefruit League game of the spring. They finish Grapefruit League play at 20-8-1.

Like Chris Sale did yesterday, David Price made his final start before the regular season begins today. The lefty tossed three innings of one run ball while facing 12 batters and fanning four of them. The only run he gave up came on a solo shot off the bat of Twins slugger Brian Dozier in the second inning. He’ll be on the mound again next Friday, facing off against the team he began his career with in the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bobby Poyner, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Dedgar Jiminez also got some work in today, and they all combined to throw six shutout innings while only allowing three total runners to reach base.

Offensively, the Red Sox were carried by the top half of the lineup. Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, and Andrew Benintendi were responsible for all six runs scored. The three home runs the team hit today belong to just Betts (2) and Benintendi. To put it simply, all three were hit far.

As for what’s next, the Red Sox will be hosting the Chicago Cubs over the next two days at Fenway South. After that, it’s an off day, then we finally arrive at Opening Day in St. Pete on Thursday. It took a while, but we are just FOUR days away from meaningful baseball being back in our lives for the next seven months. I’ll make sure to have a season preview out soon.

Andrew Benintendi Hit a Ball out of Bradenton for the #RedSox Today.

Going into today winning their last five games, Red Sox left fielder Andrew Benintendi did his part in ensuring the winning streak continues. The bats were quiet up until the top half of the fifth inning. After Christian Vazquez led off the inning by flying out to center, the next three Red Sox hitters reached base. A single by Rusney Castillo was followed up by a Mookie Betts RBI double, giving the Red Sox their first and only lead of the game. With the very next at bat, Andrew Benintendi launched a pitch from Brett McKinney of the Pittsburgh Pirates over the right field wall in Bradenton, and hit it over everything.

Benintendi ended the game 1 for 2 with that solo shot, and he is now slashing .433/.486/.900 this spring. That’s an OPS of 1.386. I know they’re just spring training numbers, but it’s hard not to be impressed with what Benintendi has done with the 30 at bats he has gotten this month. I expect a borderline great season from our everyday left fielder in 2018.