After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox bounced back in the opener of the last series of their homestand with a 9-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the week with two consecutive quality outings at Fenway Park under his belt.
This time around though, things it did not go as well for the left-hander, as he surrendered four earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts while pitching into the fifth inning of this one.
Right from the jump, it was pretty clear that the A’s had the advantage over Rodriguez in their second time seeing him already this season.
The first inning wasn’t all that bad, but when the lefty began his second frame of work by walking back-to-back hitters, both of whom were down in an 0-2 hole, that is where it got a bit ugly.
Plating four runs on two straight one out RBI singles from Jurickson Profar and Josh Phegley, as well as a two out run-scoring double off the bat of Matt Chapman to give the A’s the early advantage, it seemed as though Rodriguez’s night would be short-lived.
However, the 26-year-old did rebound after that second inning by retiring the next six batters he faced in order before running into more trouble in the fifth.
There, a Marcus Semien leadoff single was canceled out thanks in part to Rodriguez and rookie Michael Chavis, who was making his first career big league start at first base, on a pickoff attempt that ended with Tzu-Wei Lin getting the runner at second.
Following a Matt Chapman ground out moments after that successful pickoff attempt, Rodriguez was just one out away from getting through give full innings with his team in the lead, meaning he had the chance to earn his third winning decision of the year.
Instead, back-to-back two out singles from Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis prevented that from happening, and the Venezuela native’s night came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (63 strikes), Rodriguez relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch. His next start should come against the Chicago White Sox this coming weekend.
In relief of Rodriguez, Heath Hembree was released into the fire right away with one out to get, a two run lead to protect, and runners on first and second.
Known for his ability to succeed with inherited runners on for parts of the 2018 season, Hembree did just that this time around by getting Chad Pinder to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.
From the beginning of the sixth inning on, Colten Brewer, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Matt Barnes combined to work the final four innings of this contest without yielding a single run.
Brewer faced the minimum three hitters despite a walk in a scoreless sixth, Workman walked the first two hitters he faced in the seventh and struck out the final two before making way for Brasier, who fanned Khris Davis to end the inning and also tossed a 1-2-3 eighth.
With the Red Sox up by a comfortable five runs, Hector Velazquez came on to begin the ninth, but inevitably allowed three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base to load the bases for the Athletics.
Needing to get outs quickly all of a sudden, Alex Cora turned to Matt Barnes to get out of the jam, and the right-hander needed just two pitches to pick up the final two outs and secure his second save of the year.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander and former Boston international signee Frankie Montas for the A’s.
Having never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his young career, the Red Sox eventually got to Montas starting in their half of the third, after grounding into a pair of double-plays in their first two attempts at the plate.
Kicking off the scoring for Boston was Christian Vazquez, whose one out walk wound wind up being the catalyst for a six-run inning.
It all could have been avoided, really. Jurickson Profar could have made a quality throw over to Marcus Semien covering second on a grounder off the bat of Tzu-Wei Lin to both nab Vazquez and make the throw over at first to turn the DP, but Profar instead threw the ball into the dirt, meaning everyone was safe for the top of the Boston lineup.
Again, a dribbler from Andrew Benintendi could have resulted in another out for Oakland, but it turned out that Montas actually missed the bag with his left foot on the attempted put out, which in turn loaded the bases for Mookie Betts.
On a 2-2 heater from Montas, the reigning AL MVP lined an RBI single to right, plating Vazquez from third and putting the Red Sox on the board.
One batter later, after missing the weekend series against the Rays due to back spasms, JD Martinez made his presence felt by driving in Lin from third on another RBI single to make it a 4-2 game and keep the line moving.
That base knock was followed by a two-run double to center off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to tie this contest up, which only lasted briefly because Michael Chavis gave the Sox a 6-4 lead two batters later on a two out, two-run single of his own. And just like that, six runs had come around to score in an inning Boston sent 10 hitters to the plate. All six of those runs were unearned, by the way.
Fast forward to the fifth, after a Rafael Devers one out double, and Chavis was at it again, this time collecting his third RBI of the night on a pop fly single to right field to simultaneously score Devers and put an end to Montas’ outing.
Two innings later, Jackie Bradley Jr. broke out of a 3-for-19 skid with a one out RBI single off old friend Fernando Rodney to drive in Devers yet again, who led the seventh off by drawing a walk and stealing second base.
And in the eighth, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on this one by plating Boston’s ninth and final run of the night on an RBI sac fly, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third and giving his team a 9-4 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.
Some notes from this one:
In his last seven games (six starts), Rafael Devers is slashing .409/.500/.500 with four RBI. The power has not been there yet, but the run the third-year infielder has been on at the plate has been exciting to see.
Including a three-hit performance Monday, Mookie Betts is slashing .423/.521/.692 with one home run and six RBI in his last seven games.
Through his first nine career big league games, Michael Chavis is sporting a .643 slugging percentage. Minimum 25 plate appearances, that is currently the 10th best SLG in the American League.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the A’s.
Right-hander Aaron Brooks is set to get the ball for Oakland, while fellow righty Rick Porcello will do the same for Boston.
Looking for just their second series win of the year, first pitch Tuesday is schedlued for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.