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: Eduardo Nunez and Eduardo Rodriguez Lift #RedSox to 7-3 Win over the Orioles.

Welcoming the Baltimore Orioles into town for the first time this season, the Red Sox got things going quickly on Friday night with the help of a couple of guys named Eduardo.

Looking to rebound from his disappointing season debut last Sunday against the Rays, Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and rebound he did. In six innings pitched, the lefty allowed just one run, scattered five hits, walked two, and fanned eight. The Orioles got to ERod early for a run in the first, but he settled down after that. Some highlights from Rodriguez’s start include striking out the side in the second inning and getting some assistance from Mookie Betts on an Adam Jones leadoff single that turned into the first out in the top of the fourth.

Rodriguez ended his night by dramatically striking out Chris Davis on a full count with runners on first and second in the sixth. Regardless of Davis getting on base or not in that situation, that would have been the last batter Rodriguez faced, so that was an important moment for him to strike him out and end the inning on his own. The 25-year-old out of Venezuela finished with 104 pitches, 64 of which went for strikes. He’ll make his next start Wednesday in Anaheim.

In relief of Rodriguez, Heath Hembree got the call for the seventh, and he was far from great. The righty surrendered two runs on three hits before ending the inning, allowing the Orioles to kind of creep back into things and stay within striking distance.

After that though, the bullpen was fine. Joe Kelly made his first appearance since the Tyler Austin fight on Wednesday, and he got a warm welcome from the fans for what he did that night. He pitched a clean eighth, and Matt Barnes gave up one hit while tossing  a scoreless ninth to wrap up his team’s eleventh win of the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup tacked on six of their seven runs over the first three innings Friday night. A four run first began with a Mookie Betts leadoff walk, and he scored from third two batters later thanks to a JD Martinez sacrifice fly. One batter later, with runners on second and third, Eduardo Nunez took a 1-1 fastball from Chris Tillman and ripped it over the Green Monster for his second home run of the season. 4-1.

Later in the second inning, Tzu-Wei Lin hit his first career double and Mookie Betts collected his tenth RBI of the season by driving in Lin from second on a double of his own. 5-1.

In the third, the Red Sox scored their seventh run on a passed ball that scored Rafael Devers from third. They loaded the bases twice in the inning, but could only manage one run.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the Red Sox scored their seventh and final run of the game on a wild pitch with Eduardo Nunez at the plate that scored Mitch Moreland from third.

Since dropping that middle game the Yankees, the Red Sox have responded by winning their last two games and outscoring opponents 13-6 over that span. Hector Velazquez will look to continue that trend later this afternoon as he faces off against familiar face Alex Cobb. First pitch is at 1:05 PM.

RECAP: Chris Sale records 300th strikeout, Betts and Marrero go deep, and the #RedSox leave Baltimore with a sweep.

Chris Sale is a machine, plain and simple. Yeah, he’s had his ups and downs in the second half, but he’s still the most valuable pitcher on this staff, and he proved that last night. Needing 13 strikeouts to reach 300, it was going to take quite the effort to reach that milestone. Lo and behold, he got it done, striking out the last batter he faced in the eighth inning.

With those 300 K’s, Sale joins Pedro Martinez as the only Red Sox pitchers to record 300 or more strikeouts in a single season. Pedro did it back in 1999, and here we have Sale doing it 18 years later. I’m sure there were plenty of people who did not agree with bringing Sale back out for the eighth inning given his pitch count, but I can understand it based off the fact he would have been stuck at #299 had he left after seven innings. Sale is one who will definitely benefit from the off day today, and I think the Red Sox should consider giving him even more rest in preparation for the playoffs. Since he went eight innings, the bullpen was not tasked with too much work, and Austin Maddox ended the game by throwing a shaky, but scoreless ninth inning. He still hasn’t given up a run in his big league career.

On the other side of things, old friend Wade Miley got the ball for the O’s, and he was far from impressive. The Red Sox failed to score in the first three innings despite loading the bases with one out in the third. The fourth inning was a different story, in a good way. Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero, who are the best of friends, both hit two-run jacks, giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead. Hanley Ramirez tacked on two more runs in the fifth, doubling for the second time while also driving in Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts. A Dustin Pedroia double scored two more runs in the eighth, and Hanley capped things off in the ninth with an RBI single, scoring Betts from third.

Last night was all about Chris Sale, but it was good to see the offense put up this type of performance the night after failing to record a single RBI.

Let’s talk about what the Red Sox have done this month real quick. Since dropping three out of four to the Yankees, they have won 11 out of their past 15 games. Unfortunately, the Yankees have also been playing really good baseball over that stretch so no ground in the division has been gained. They did clinch a playoff spot last night, though.

88 down, 6 to go but I think they might win more than 6.

Also…suh dude.

 

RECAP: The #RedSox defeated the Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings last night without an RBI.

First things first, the Red Sox have got to stop making a habit out of these games. I know they’re 15-3 in extra inning games, but you have to attribute at least a handful of those, like last night, to luck. Imagine if they were only 10-8 in extras this year? That’s not bad but they would be in second place behind the Yankees right now. Honestly, I was lucky to be able to watch that whole game. Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman really picked up the pace, and they’re the main reason this eleven inning game only took three hours and twenty-seven minutes. A good way to avoid these long games would be to have a game-changing power bat available. Hanley Ramirez was supposed to be that guy, Mookie Betts isn’t going to hit 31 ding dongs like he did last year, and David Ortiz is no longer here. Those were your three biggest power threats last year, and two-thirds of them have not lived up to the expectations they had going into the year. Bryce Brentz hit 31 HR with the PawSox this season, but he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster for whatever reason. What I think this all boils down to is the acquisition of a power bat this offseason. Giancarlo Stanton would be nice, but you’re not going to meet the Marlins asking price, hopefully. I’m really talking myself into JD Martinez of the Diamondbacks. He’s a free agent after this season, he has a history with Dave Dombrowski, and he has hit 40 home runs this year. Sure, he’s thirty and can probably get a deal worth more than $20 million a year, but the Red Sox are going to need a game changing type of bat, and he fits that need. I know I’m getting too far ahead of myself, but it’s something to think about.

Okay, I got that off my chest, let’s talk about the game that was played last night. Like I said above, Drew Pomeranz was matched up against Kevin Gausman in this one, two SEC guys. Gausman outpitched Pomeranz, but not by much. The lefty put up six and a third solid innings, scattering five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over that span. He got hit pretty hard, but managed to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard with the help of his outfielders. In the third, Andrew Benintendi ended the inning by picking off old friend Manny Machado at the plate with this great throw:

Later on in the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Chris Davis of a solo shot with this very casual catch:

I was hoping Mookie Betts would rob the Orioles of a run, since the other two outfielders made great plays. That didn’t happen though, and Pomeranz couldn’t pick up his 17th win of the year either, despite the great effort. It was surprising to see him come back out for the seventh, but I actually like how John Farrell only had him face Chris Davis, a lefty. He got Davis to fly out, thus ending his day on a positive note.

For the second night in a row, the bullpen was relied on heavily, and they came through yet again. Carson Smith, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes combined to pitch nearly five innings of perfect baseball. No hits, no walks, nothing for the Orioles, a real shut down. It was a bit nerve-racking watching Road Matt Barnes try and close out the game, but he did it to perfection and picked up his first save of the season. With all the use the bullpen has been dealing with lately, the off day on Thursday will be a good opportunity for rest.

Offensively, Kevin Gausman held the Red Sox in check. It took until the fifth inning for them to get their first hit, a Rafael Devers single, and they could only reach base three other times while facing Gausman. Once he left though, more scoring chances came, but they couldn’t capitalize right away. A leadoff single from Sam Travis in the eighth turned to nothing, a one out double from Andrew Benintendi could not turn into a run, and a one out Rafael Devers single couldn’t be turned into a run. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Devers had a really rough night at third with his throwing error in the eleventh that could have led to the tying run scoring for the Orioles. Anyway, it wasn’t until the eleventh when the Red Sox finally capitalized on a scoring chance. A leadoff single from Brock Holt was cancelled out by JBJ grounding into a fielder’s choice, putting him at first with one out. After Xander Bogaerts advanced him to second, two straight walks loaded the bases. With Mitch Moreland at the plate, a wild pitch from Brad Brach allowed the runners to advance, scoring JBJ from third. Moreland grounded out after that and that was the inning.

The win marks five straight series wins, and keeps them three games above the Yankees. Chris Sale, who owns a 4.25 ERA since the start of August, gets the start in this pretty important series finale later tonight.

87 down, 7 to go. 

RECAP: Andrew Benintendi’s heroics gave #RedSox yet another extra innings victory, this time in Baltimore.

The Red Sox went into Baltimore last night after taking two out of three from the Rays. Their goal for this week had to be the same as it was over the weekend, win the series against a division rival. They got off to a good start on Monday, despite some pitching struggles. Doug Fister got the start in this one, and he looked bad yet again. For the second time in a row, Fister failed to pitch at least six innings and gave up five or more earned runs. In the two plus innings he pitched, the Orioles reached base nine times and scored five times. Marty Foster’s strike zone was off, and that made way for Fister allowing five walks, which is rare for him. It was clear he didn’t agree with the zone, and he was even seen yelling at Foster while heading to the dugout at one point.

In relief of Fister, the Red Sox had to use nine relief pitchers, and they did a solid job from the sixth inning on. Heath Hembree, Fernando Abad, and Brandon Workman gave up a combined three runs in four innings pitched, and that was it in terms of the Orioles scoring. Robby Scott, Joe Kelly, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Carson Smith went on to pitch five scoreless innings while striking out four. If you look at the bullpen’s final line, 9 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, that looks like a great start for a starting pitcher, so it’s good to see the bullpen is still doing their thing, with Road Matt Barnes coming up big and Carson Smith picking up his first save of the season.

On the other side of things, Dylan Bundy was slightly better than Fister, but not by much. It looked like he was going to have his way with the Red Sox up until the fifth inning. After Mookie Betts drove in the first run in the fourth, he, along with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt, drove in six runs in the fifth. If it weren’t for JBJ’s long at-bat, Bundy may have got out of the inning without giving up anything. Also, Brock Holt’s AB wasn’t even supposed to happen. Dustin Pedroia had to leave the game after taking a foul ball off his nose. So, in the middle of the at-bat, Holt came in and ripped a 2 RBI single. That outpour in the top half of the sixth gave the Red Sox a 7-6 lead, but the Orioles retook the lead in the bottom half. Surprisingly, Xander Bogaerts tied the game with a solo home run in the seventh.

The bats on both sides went silent for a little bit, until the top of the eleventh inning. Three walks and two ground outs set up a bases loaded, two-out at bat for Andrew Benintendi. On a 2-2 pitch, Benintendi ripped a single to right field, scoring Blake Swihart from third and Xander Bogaerts from second, giving the Red Sox a 10-8 lead and essentially the win.

With that extra innings win, the Red Sox are now 14-3 in games that go more than nine innings. Drew Pomeranz gets the start today, and this will actually be his first start at Camden Yards this season.

86 down, 8 to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox look lifeless yet again; fail to win one game over Players Weekend.

First off, sorry for not posting a recap blog of the game yesterday. I was getting ready for the fight and I figured it wouldn’t be worth it to blog about a 7-0 loss. Anyway, Doug Fister made the start in this one, coming off his best start in a Red Sox uniform last time out in Cleveland. The righty put together another solid performance on Sunday despite a rough start. The Orioles managed to score twice off of Fister in the first, but couldn’t do anything after that. After getting those two runs on three hits in the first, Fister limited the Orioles to two hits and two walks over the next six innings. There were really no times after the first where Fister found himself in any real trouble, and he also tied a season-best with seven strikeouts on the day. He kept his guys in the game, and so did the bullpen. Even though the Red Sox were trailing, we still saw Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel pitch the eighth and ninth innings, and they both looked good with scoreless innings.

Before today, the Red Sox have scored a combined three runs in eighteen innings against a team that owns the third worst team ERA in all of baseball. Unfortunately, this trend continued Sunday afternoon. Old friend Wade Miley held the Red Sox to only one run, despite allowing seven hits and three walks in the five plus innings he pitched. They loaded the bases in two consecutive innings, the fifth and the sixth, and could only score that one time. I feel the need to single out Mookie Betts here because he struck out to end the sixth on a full count without taking his bat off his shoulders. In total, the Red Sox went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position today. Definitely something that needs improvement as they go on this big seven game road trip in Toronto and New York.  Continue reading “RECAP: #RedSox look lifeless yet again; fail to win one game over Players Weekend.”