After dropping the first contest of their day-night doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays earlier Saturday, the Red Sox bounced back a few hours later, salvaging the twin bill with a 5-2 win in the night cap.
Making his 11th start for Boston was David Price, fresh off a quality outing against the Yankees where he was also tasked with stopping a losing streak.
He got the job done then, and the same can be said for what was done Saturday, as the left-hander yielded just one earned run over six innings, scattering five hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.
Relatively speaking, Price breezed through his first four frames of work. That much is evident by how he retired 12 of the first 13 hitters he faced. Once this one reached the fifth inning though, well, that’s where things got interesting.
A four-pitch walk of Willy Adames, followed by a balk that allowed Adames to take second and put Tampa Bay’s second base runner of the night into scoring position with no outs for Mike Zunino, who advanced said runner 90 feet to third by grounding out to first.
On the very next pitch thrown by Price with Kevin Kiermaier at the plate, the speedy outfielder nearly drove in his team’s first run on a dribbler up the first base line, but a solid tag from Christian Vazquez, who received the ball from Michael Chavis, on a sliding Adames prevented that from happening. The play was challenged by Tampa Bay, but it was not overturned.
Still with one out to get in the fifth, back-to-back hits from Christian Arroyo and Guillermo Heredia did plate the Rays’ first run of the evening, with Heredia driving in the aforementioned Kiermaier on an RBI double.
That would be all the damage given up by Price in the inning, but the Rays almost struck again in the sixth, loading the bases in between recording the first two outs of the inning for Kiermaier.
Already with some impactful hits under his belt in this series, Price did not let his one-time teammate beat him this time around, as he got Kiermaier to pop out to shallow center field on the seventh pitch of an at-bat loaded with drama to keep the Rays off the scoreboard and end his outing on a positive note.
Finiashing with a final pitch count of 103 (64 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball nearly 42% of the time he was on the mound Saturday. With his changeup, a pitch Price threw 25 times, he induced nine swings and misses. And with his four-seamer, a pitch thrown 17 times, he topped out at 94.6 MPH while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
Improving to 4-2 while also lowering his ERA on the season down to a rotation-best 2.70, Price certainly appears to be on track to earn his first All-Star appearance as a member of the Red Sox later this summer. He’ll look for win number five in his next time out, which should come against the Texas Rangers next Thursday.
In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen held things down in nearly perfect fashion, with Brandon Workman tossing a 1-2-3 seventh, Marcus Walden working his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean eighth, and Matt Barnes committing a throwing error of his own in a two-strikeout ninth to secure the 5-1 win for his team.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a bullpen game for the Rays, and it began with right-hander Ryne Stanek, who recorded the first four outs of this contest before departing with runners on first and second in the bottom half of the second.
Colin Poche, making his big league debut, was inserted and managed to get out of the jam by retiring Jackie Bradley Jr. and Marco Hernandez in consecutive order, but the Boston bats did get to him an inning later.
It started with back-to-back leadoff singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, as well as back-to-back strikeouts from Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, which led to Rays manager Kevin Cash going back to his ‘pen with a right-handed bat in Michael Chavis due up next for Boston.
So, in came Austin Pruitt, having never faced Chavis before, and perhaps the rookie took advantage with that lack of familiarity by swinging at the first pitch he saw from the Tampa Bay reliever, an 87 MPH slider on the bottom half of the strike zone, and ripping a two-run double off the Green Monster to drive in both Betts and Benintendi for his side’s first two runs of the evening.
Fast forward to the fifth, and it was the top of Boston’s lineup getting things done once again, with Betts reaching base on another leadoff double, advancing to third on a Benintendi groundout, and coming in to score on an RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Xander Bogaerts. 3-1.
And in the sixth, making his first start at second base in more than two years, Marco Hernandez came through with the bases loaded by lacing another two-run double off of Pruitt, with this one also deflecting off the left field wall to plate Chavis and Holt for his first two RBI of the year.
That two-bagger, Hernandez’s second of the day, put the Sox ahead 5-1, which would go on to be the final score in Game 2 of the doubleheader Saturday.
Some notes from this win:
From Red Sox Stats:
From Red Sox Notes:
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale against these same Rays Sunday afternoon.
For the finale, it will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers, with Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston and Blake Snell doing the same for Tampa Bay.
Last making a start at Fenway Park on May 15th, Rodriguez (6-3, 4.88), will come into Sunday having given up just a total of three earned runs in his last two starts combined.
In seven career starts against the Rays, the 26-year-old owns a lifetime 6.42 ERA over 33.2 innings pitched.
Snell (3-5, 3.68 ERA), meanwhile will be making his first start against the Red Sox this year after capturing his first ever Cy Young Award in 2018.
In three prior starts at Fenway Park, the southpaw has posted a 4.50 ERA while averaging six innings per outing.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. Red Sox looking for the series-split before welcoming the Texas Rangers into town.