Red Sox Give up Four Home Runs, Go 1-For-13 with Runners in Scoring Position in 6-1 Loss to Rays

After coming away with a split in a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox were not able to split their four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, as they fell to their divisional foes by a final score of 6-1 for their third defeat in as many days.

Making his 13th start of the season for Boston to close out the weekend was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered Sunday having never won any of his previous seven outings against the Rays.

Pitching his way into the sixth inning of this one, the left-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

Right from the jump, it appeared that Tampa Bay had Rodriguez all figured out, with the first four hitters they sent to the plate all reaching safely sans Tommy Pham trying to extend a wall-ball single into a double and getting snuffed out by Sam Travis.

Still, an RBI knock from Brandon Lowe and a sacrifice fly from Travis d’Arnaud two hitters later gave the Rays an early two-run advantage before the Red Sox had even taken their first at-bats.

In the second, more was tacked on to that lead, with Guillermo Heredia mashing a one-out, 433 foot shot off Rodriguez on a 2-1 86 MPH cutter to make it a 3-0 game.

Fortunately for Boston though, the Venezuela native settled in for a bit, retiring 11 of the next 12 Rays he faced up until the beginning of the sixth.

There, the home run ball bit Rodriguez yet again, this time with Brandon Lowe leading things off with his first of two home-runs on the day. This one, coming off a first-pitch 92 MPH fastball, was deposited a whopping 455 feet into the center field bleachers to put Tampa Bay ahead 4-1.

Allowing two of the last four hitters he faced to reach on a pair of free passes, Rodriguez’s outing came to an end with an eight-pich walk of Christian Arroyo.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (62 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his cut and two-seam fastball a combined 55% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four total swings and misses with the combination of pitches. He also topped out at 94.3 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 18 times with Sandy Leon behind the plate.

Falling to 6-4 with his ERA on the season jumping up to 5.00 on the dot, Rodriguez’s career struggles against the Rays continue. He’ll look to put this particular outing behind him in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles this Friday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Heath Hembree came on with runners at first and second and one out to get in the sixth, and he filled the bases by plunking Heredia with a 94 MPH fastball before fanning pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi on five pitches to escape the jam and keep it at a three-run game.

From there, Marcus Walden managed to only record one out to start out the seventh, as he served up a pair of solo shots, one being a leadoff piece from Yandy Diaz, and the other being a 435 foot missile off the bat of Lowe, that gave the Rays a 6-1 advantage.

Colten Brewer was able to clean up the mess Walden left behind in that seventh inning while also tossing a scoreless eighth.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, did the same by working his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean ninth to keep his team within the five runs they trailed by.

On the other side of things, the right-handed Red Sox lineup was matched up against ace left-hander Blake Snell for the Rays, who held Boston to a total of three runs over the four starts he made against them during his Cy Young Award-winning campaign in 2018.

And as those numbers from last year indicate, it was more of the same from Snell on Sunday.

The lone run the Sox got off him came in their half of the second, when with one out and Sam Travis and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the corners following back-to-back leadoff singles, Marco Hernandez stayed hot in his second start since returning from the injured list by driving in Travis with a line-drive RBI single to left field.

The opportunities to tack on more than one run were present throughout, but the ability to capitalize on said scoring chances was not. That much is evident by how the team went 1-for-13 (.008) with runners in scoring position and left a total of nine men on base. Not ideal, really.

Key run-scoring chances that came up empty include Mookie Betts and Christian Vazquez being stranded in scoring position in the first after getting there with no outs, Xander Bogaerts leading off the sixth by reaching second on a fielding error and not scoring, Sandy Leon and Hernandez occupying first and second with one out in the seventh and being stranded there, and Bogaerts reaching first on a five-pitch leadoff walk against Oliver Drake in the eighth and not scoring either.

Fittingly enough, when the Red Sox were down to their out in the ninth with Leon 90 feet away from home after he got on with a one-out single, Mookie Betts struck out looking on a 1-2 95 MPH fastball from Rays lefty Adam Kolarek, and that was how this 6-1 loss came to a close.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox’ 7-9 hitters on Sunday (Bradley Jr., Leon, Hernandez): 6-for-12, one double, one RBI, two strikeouts.

The Red Sox’ 1-3 hitters on Sunday (Betts, Vazquez, Bogaerts): 1-for-11, two walks, four strikeouts.

Marco Hernandez’s return to the majors so far: 4-for-9, two doubles, three RBI.

Michael Chavis in June: .182/.229/.273, zero home runs, three RBI, 17 strikeouts.

So, including the five runs they scored in Game 2 of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Red Sox pushed across a total of nine runs against the Rays in four games over the weekend. They lost three out of four of those.

Next up for the Sox, they’ll continue their eight-game homestand by welcoming the 34-30 Texas Rangers into Fenway Park for the first and only time this regular season on Monday.

For the opener in what looks to be a fascinating four-game set, it will be a pitching matchup featuring two of the better left-handers in the American League this year in Texas’ Mike Minor and Boston’s Chris Sale.

In his second of a three-year pact with the Rangers, Minor has surpised many in 2019, as he’ll come into the week with a 2.55 ERA through his first 13 starts this year.

Over five prior outings (three starts) at Fenway Park, the 31-year-old is 0-3 with a lifetime ERA of 4.19 in 19.1 total innings pitched.

Opposite Minor, Sale is coming off his best start of the season in his last time out against the Kansas City Royals, fanning 12 and tossing an immaculate eighth inning in his first complete game shutout as a member of the Red Sox.

In 14 career games (10 starts) against the Rangers, the Florida native is 7-2 with a 2.28 ERA over 73.1 total innings of work.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT. Red Sox looking to start something.

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RECAP: Nathan Eovaldi’s Struggles Continue as #RedSox Get Swept for First Time This Season Against Rays.

Having already dropped their first series in over a month with a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, the Red Sox closed out their season series against a red-hot Rays team at Tropicana Field by getting swept for the first time this season.

Getting the starting nod in this one was a former Ray himself in RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who made 10 starts with the club before being traded to Boston on July 25th.

Since he started his Red Sox career by twirling two consecutive gems against the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, Eovaldi has been struggling to maintain that same form over the past few weeks, and that was evident once again on Sunday.

Pitching just four innings against his former team, the right-hander surrendered six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits to go along with zero walks and five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Before he even had the chance to settle in, Tampa Bay had already pushed across their first of nine runs thanks to three straight hits to begin the first.

That set the tone early on, and the Rays found themselves with a two-run advantage going into the second inning.

By the time he retired the side in his fourth, Eovaldi had already faced 21 batters.

Out of those four disastrous frames, the Texas native could only manage one clean inning on Sunday, which came in the second. Tampa Bay sent at least five batters to the plate in the other three.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (65 strikes), Eovaldi relied heavily on both is four-seam and cut fastball this afternoon, as he turned to the two pitches a combined 63% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 99.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the third inning.

Falling to 5-6 with a 4.15 ERA on the season, let’s take a look at how Nathan Eovaldi’s Red Sox tenure has gone just over a month since the trade that sent him to Boston was completed.

First two starts:

2-0, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, .143 BAA

Last four starts:

0-2, 17 IP, 35 H, 14 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 7.41 ERA, .407 BAA

Obviously a sizable discrepancy there.

He’ll look to get back on track in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had another tall task ahead of themselves on Sunday with 12 outs to record, and they did not have the best of times.

Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel combined for three earned runs on four hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts in those four innings of work.

Special shout out to Craig Kimbrel though. For not seeing any in-game action since last Saturday, the Red Sox closer looked solid in a 1-2-3 eighth, fanning all three batters he faced. Four straight scoreless appearances for Kimbrel now too.

On the other side of things, Boston’s lineup was held to one lone run for the second straight day on Sunday.

Facing off against Rays ace Blake Snell, a left-hander, that one run came off the bat of a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that plated Sandy Leon from third.

Other than that, Snell, along with Diego Castillo and Andrew Kittredge out of the Rays bullpen, limited the Red Sox to three total hits and two free passes while inducing nine strikeouts on the day.

Some notes from this 9-1 loss:

This is the first time the Red Sox have been swept since August 25-27th of last season, which also happened to be Players’ Weekend. Meaning, the Red Sox are 0-6 in Players’ Weekend games.

Over their last eight games, in which they are 2-6, the Red Sox have averaged 3.6 runs per game while starters own a 6.47 ERA in that span.

On the flip side of that, the Rays have won eight straight games and are now 70-61 on the season.

Mookie Betts took the first step in getting out of his slump by recording his first base hit since Thursday on a fourth inning single.

Finishing their season series against the Rays with a solid 11-8 record despite the sweep, the Red Sox will turn their attention to another Florida team for a quick two-game set against the 53-79 Miami Marlins, but not before enjoying a much-needed off day on Monday back in Boston.

Starting pitching matchups for that series go as follows:

Tuesday: RHP Jose Urena (4-12, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (4-3, 4.12 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.50 ERA)

Going back to April, the Red Sox took both games from the Marlins in Miami.

Johnson, who got the start in the first game of that two-game series, tossed six frames of one-run ball in a winning effort, while Urena, who started for Miami in the second game, tossed seven one-run innings in a no decision.

First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday at Fenway Park.

 

 

 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz Serves up Three Home Runs as #RedSox Drop Series Opener to Rays at Fenway.

After taking two out of three from the Blue Jays earlier in the week, the Red Sox welcomed the red-hot Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three game weekend set. The Rays, who entered last night’s contest with six straight wins, sent their best starter, Blake Snell to the mound, while Drew Pomeranz got the nod for the Red Sox in what would be his second start of the season.

To be fair, I don’t think Pomeranz was awful last night. Yes, he gave up three home runs, but the only other hits he gave up were three singles, and he only walked two. So really, it was a typical early season Drew Pomeranz start. If all three of those homers were solo shots, then he would have only surrendered three runs in five innings. Not bad, but unfortunately, one of those homers was a two-run blast, and that put the Red Sox down by two runs before they even got their first at bats. Fast forward to Pomeranz’s last inning of work, and Christian Vazquez showed off his cannon behind the plate with this impressive strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.

The lefty also fanned three and finished with just 81 pitches, 49 of which went for strikes. He’ll look to rebound next time out when he goes up against the Kansas City Royals.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen shut the Rays down for the next four innings. In a sort of long-relief role, Hector Velazquez impressed yet again as he held Tampa Bay scoreless in 3.1 innings pitched while walking one and scattering four hits.

After Velazquez walked Denard Span with one out in the ninth, it was Heath Hembree who would get the call to keep the Red Sox within the one run they were trailing by. Well, with some help from Christian Vazquez, who caught Span stealing second, and a five pitch strikeout of Matt Duffy, Hembree got out of the inning unscathed.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup could not do much against Rays lefty Blake Snell. He held the Sox hitless through the first four innings and scoreless through the first five. It wasn’t until Christian Vazquez led the sixth inning off with a double where the Red Sox finally got some runs on the board. Mookie Betts drove the catcher in on a double to center field, picking up his 18th RBI of the season, and two batters later, JD Martinez did the same thing with a double of his own to right field. That scored Betts from Second and cut the Rays lead in half.

Move ahead to the eighth, and Betts and Martinez came through once again. After a one out double from Betts, Martinez barely got a single through the infield that scored Betts from second. That RBI single put the Miami native at 20 for the season and it cut the Red Sox deficit to just one run.

With one last chance in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts got the inning started by singling off Rays closer Alex Colome. Good start, but Eduardo Nunez and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by popping out and striking out. Andrew Benintendi came on to pinch it for Christian Vazquez, and it was all up to him with two outs. After filling the count at 3-2, Colome got Benintendi looking at a 94 MPH fastball on the outside edge to end things.

No excuses there, that is definitely a pitch you should be swinging at with a full count in the ninth inning.

Anyway, on a more positive note, Xander Bogaerts made his return to the Red Sox lineup for the first time since April 8th and he reached base three times. Solid night, and it could not come at a better time with Brock Holt headed to the disabled list with a hamstring issue.

Next up for the Red Sox is the middle game of this series. David Price will be getting the ball against Rays righty Yonny Chirinos. First pitch is at 4:05 PM. Time to end the Rays winning streak at seven games.