RECAP: The #RedSox Opened up a Six-Game Homestand on Friday by Unloading 14 Runs Against the Mariners.

Coming off a long road trip in which they averaged 4.2 runs scored per game, the Red Sox opened up a three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners in eventful fashion last night. The weirdest part of this game was that Steven Wright had his worst start of the season and they still found a way to win.

Having just gotten swept by the Yankees in New York, the Mariners came into Boston looking to get off to a quick start offensively. And with Steven Wright on the mound making his fourth start of the season on Friday, they did just that.

Yup, the knuckleballer, who in his last time out against the Mariners this past Saturday tossed seven one run innings in a losing effort, got rocked for the first time this season. Right from the get go, the Mariners were on top of Wright and his knuckleball, as they pounced for four runs in the first on two home runs, two in the second, and four again in the fourth with another home run mixed in there before the righty departed with two outs in the inning.

In those 4.2 frames of work, Wright got hit ten times for TEN earned runs. For the Mariners, Nelson Cruz was the main enforcer here. Old friend Denard Span was once again a bit of a headache, but by the time this thing reached the middle of the fourth inning, Cruz had already driven in SEVEN of his teams 10 runs, six of which came on two moon shots off of Wright.

The life of a knuckleballer, huh? One start you look like a magician, the next you look like absolute trash. Steven Wright’s ERA inflated from 1.23 all the way up to 3.38 after this stinker of a start, but he would not be pinned with the losing decision.

Nope, thanks to 5.2 scoreless frames of relief from the Red Sox bullpen and an explosion of runs from the lineup, the California native did not factor into the decision. Finishing with 59 pitches on the evening, Wright went to his knuckler 54 times and only got 4 swings and missed out of it. He’ll look to rebound next time out against the LA Angels on Thursday.

As I just mentioned, the Red Sox bullpen was nails last night. Starting in the top half of the fifth with two outs and a five run deficit, Brian Johnson, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel combined to toss over five shutdown innings while holding the Mariners to four hits and one walk.

For Barnes, this was his second straight scoreless appearance since giving up two runs in Seattle last Friday night. He struck out the side in the seventh. And for Kimbrel, who had not made an appearance since June 14th, he struck out one while tossing a scoreless ninth inning to wrap this crazy game up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup went off for the second day in a row. They tallied nine runs in Minnesota on Thursday, and they added on that by plating 14 runs on 20 hits last night. Eight players finished the game with at least one run driven in. Let’s get to it.

Already trailing by four runs in the bottom of the first, the Red Sox made the most of their first at bats in this one.

Facing off against a pitcher who had just shut them out less than a week ago in M’s righty Wade LeBlanc, the top of the lineup got things started right away by recording four straight hits. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi set the table by hitting back to back singles, and JD Martinez and Mitch Moreland followed that up with a pair of RBI knocks to make it a 4-2 game.

Two batters later, a Brock Holt RBI single, a Rafael Devers RBI groundout, and a Christian Vazquez RBI double plated another three runs, and just like that, the Red Sox were up by a run going into the second inning.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, after the Mariners had gone up big again, Devers came through by cutting the Red Sox deficit to four with another RBI, this one coming on a single to score Mitch Moreland from third, making it a 10-6 ballgame.

An inning later is where things got really interesting. Similar to Thursday, when the Red Sox scored seven of their nine runs over the last three innings in Minnesota, they struck for eight runs in their last three innings with at bats on Friday as well.

Starting in the sixth, with LeBlanc now out of the contest and Mariners reliever Nick Vincent in, a two out walk of Andrew Benintendi led to another pitching change. So with James Pazos in the game now and Benintendi over at first, JD Martinez ended his homerless streak of at bats at 30 by mashing a 427 foot two-run shot to dead center. His 23rd big fly of the season.

The third run of the inning came around to score when Xander Bogaerts drove in Mitch Moreland on another RBI single to make it a one run game going into the seventh.

Trailing by one run now, two singles from Rafael Devers and a Mookie Betts walk loaded the bases for Andrew Benintendi. With Juan Nicasio on the mound for the Mariners, Benintendi ripped his second hit of the day, a single, to score Devers from third to tie the game and reload the bases for JD Martinez. With three hits on the day already, the Red Sox slugger collected his fourth and fifth RBI of the night by grounding a single up the middle to score Swihart and Betts. 12-10.

Two batters later, with Eduardo Nunez in the game pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, two straight wild pitches from new pitcher Nick Rumbelow allowed Andrew Benintendi to score from third and allowed JD Martinez to advance from second to third.

To cap off a wild night of scoring, Eduardo Nunez collected his 17th RBI of the season by lining a single to center field to drive in Martinez for his teams 14th run of the night. That’s all the support the bullpen would need to secure win number 51.

Some notes from this W:

14 runs tied a season-high for the Red Sox. The only time they have scored as many runs this season came back on April 10th against the Yankees. The 20 hits did mark a new season-high.

Xander Bogaerts had to leave this game in the seventh inning after spraining his left index finger on an awkward slide into second base on a swiped bag in the sixth. He will not be in the lineup tonight.

After only hitting one home run and driving in one run on the road trip, JD Martinez came through with FIVE RBI on four hits last night.

Everyone in the Red Sox lineup, including Eduardo Nunez, reached base at least once. In total, the Red Sox went 20/43 with one home run and 13 RBI last night.

Looking to pick up the series win later tonight, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez making the start for Boston. He’ll be matched up against Mariners righty Mike Leake in the same pitching matchup we saw this past Sunday. The Red Sox had their way with Leake in that one, and they’ll look to do the same on Saturday. Going for his team-leading 10th winning decision of the season, Rodriguez owns a career 2.66 ERA in four starts against Seattle. With that in mind, first pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX.

 

 

Advertisements

RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Takes a Perfect Game into Fifth Inning as #RedSox End Homestand with a Win over Blue Jays.

In his 11th start of the season on Wednesday, Eduardo Rodriguez took a perfect game into the fifth inning against the Blue Jays. It was not until Kendrys Morales reached on a one out single when the no-no came to an end. But still, a strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play with Devon Travis at the plate and Morales caught stealing got Rodriguez out of the inning while still facing the minimum 15 batters through five.

With a two run lead heading into the sixth, the lefty retired the first two batters he faced in order before walking Giovanny Ursehela on eight pitches. Things got even worse for Rodriguez in the next at bat, as Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez took the native of Venezuela deep down the left field line to knot this thing up at two. In a matter of minutes, it went from cruise control to tie game.

Rodriguez would retire the side by getting Kevin Pillar to strike out swinging. After giving up a single to Justin Smoak in between getting the first two outs of the seventh, the 25-year-old’s day would come to an end with Devon Travis, a righty, coming to the plate. Finishing with exactly 100 pitches (70 strikes), Rodriguez capped off the month of May with one of his better starts of the season. He will look to build on this momentum in his next start, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next week.

In relief of the Red Sox starter, Matt Barnes would come on for his first appearance in five days. Needing just one out to get out the seventh, Devon Travis reached on a fielding error committed by Blake Swihart at first base, but Barnes got Curtis Granderson to fly out to center two pitches later to end the inning.

The UCONN product would come back out for another frame of work in the eighth, and he retired the 8-9-1 hitters for Toronto in order on 10 pitches.

Similar to Tuesday night, the ninth inning did not have to be a stressful one for the Red Sox, given the fact they had a four run lead, but it did. Lefty Brian Johnson got the call for the final frame, but he failed to record an out while surrendering back to back singles to Kevin Pillar and Yangervis Solarte. With the tying run in the on deck circle now, Alex Cora made the switch to his closer, Craig Kimbrel, to get out of another jam.

The Red Sox flamethrower walked the first batter he faced in Justin Smoak to load the bases, then served up a two-run double to Kendrys Morales to cut the Blue Jays deficit in half with still no outs in the inning. Luckily though, Kimbrel settled down and sat down the next three batters he faced in the 7-8-9 hitters for Toronto to pick up his 18th save of the season. “Another happy landing”, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would probably say if he were a Red Sox fan, but at least with the additional work, Kimbrel now only trails Mariners closer Edwin Diaz for the most saves in the American League with 19.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup failed to score eight runs for the third straight game. Instead, they only scored six, wow.

Blake Swihart got the ball rolling in the third when he led things off with a hard hit single off of Blue Jays starter Sam Gaviglio. Two batters later, with Swihart now at second, Jackie Bradley Jr. stayed hot by ripping an RBI double to left field. That allowed Swihart to score from second and the Red Sox were up 1-0.

They easily could have scored more in the third, but Andrew Benintendi was caught stealing second after he singled, and Jackie Bradley Jr. was tagged out by catcher Luke Maile trying to score from third on a wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. Talk about squandering some scoring opportunities.

Fast forward to the fifth, with Gaviglio still on the mound for Toronto, and Eduardo Nunez led the inning off by mashing his first home run since the first of May to put the Red Sox up by two.

An inning later, after the Blue Jays had come back to tie it up with a home run of their own, JD Martinez got in on the long ball action as well.

434 feet on that home run. 434! Martinez tied Mike Trout for the league lead in home runs with 18 thanks to that go-ahead rocket over the Green Monster.

In the eighth, Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt tacked on another pair of runs for the Red Sox, which turned out to actually be fairly important since they only won by two runs. Nunez got his on a one out RBI double that scored Xander Bogaerts from second, and Holt got his on an RBI single that probably would have been an out if the Blue Jays infield were positioned normally. That put the Red Sox up 6-2, and despite some worries in the ninth, they would not have to look back.

Some notes from this win:

Over his last 10 games, Eduardo Nunez has quietly raised his batting average from .233 to .249, his OBP from .256 to .265, and his SLG from .353 to .381.

Over his last 10 games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .345/.406/.552 with 10 hits in 29 at bats.

With one home run and two RBIs today, JD Martinez now leads the league in runs driven in with 47 of them on the season.


All and all, the Red Sox outscored the Blue Jays 22-10 in this three game series. All three starting pitchers, Price, Porcello, and Rodriguez all looked decent on the mound as well.

Headed into a four game series against the Houston Astros in Houston that starts tomorrow, this weekend is going to be big. Drew Pomeranz kicks things off, as he will be matched up against Astros righty Lance McCullers Jr. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET. Mookie Betts should be back in the lineup.

RECAP: Chris Sale Surrenders Six Runs as #RedSox Drop Finale to Braves.

Going into this afternoon’s game with the series against the Atlanta Braves already in hand, the Red Sox were looking for their third straight win and their fifth win in six days. Unfortunately, they ran into a good pitcher in Mike Foltynewicz for the Braves.

Chris Sale’s 12th start of the season was certainly not a memorable one. In his only other start against the Braves in his career. when he was with the White Sox, Sale gave up eight earned runs on 10 hits in five innings. Today’s performance certainly resembled that, as the lefty surrendered six earned runs on five hits and three walks in 4.1 innings pitched. Whatever it is about the Atlanta Braves, for some reason they appear to have an edge on an elite pitcher like Chris Sale.

Things got awry for Sale beginning in the second inning. Having pitched a clean first, Braves outfielder Nick Markakis got the ball rolling by drawing a leadoff walk. After Kurt Suzuki singled and Ender Inciarte popped out to third, Sale’s former teammate and catcher in Chicago, Tyler Flowers, launched a three-run shot into the Green Monster seats. That put the Braves up by three early, and they would not have to look back.

Fast forward to the top of the fifth, and another leadoff walk ended up biting Sale. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is the one who drew it this time, and he was able to score a few minutes later when Charlie Culberson ripped a single past Jackie Bradley Jr. in right field. After giving up his third walk of the day to Ronald Acuna Jr, Freddie Freeman, one of the better all around hitters in the National League, drove in both Culberson and Acuna by blasting a two-run double over everyone’s heads in left center field. Another three runs on the board for Atlanta in the inning, and that would be the end of things for Chris Sale on Sunday.

Since he finished with a pitch count of only 91 (59 strikes), perhaps this could be used to the Red Sox advantage when they head to Houston later next week for a four-game weekend series against the Astros. The team has yet to announce the starting pitcher for the Friday game, but if I had to guess, I would say it will be Sale. With the low pitch count from today in mind, I think it would make sense if Alex Cora let Sale go a little deeper into his next start, if he is pitching effectively, of course. When you consider that Drew Pomeranz is pitching on Thursday, and how much the bullpen has had to been used in his starts, the Red Sox could need Sale to get into the seventh or eighth inning before turning to the bullpen in a close game. I know I’m looking to far ahead, but I just thought I would throw it out there.

Anyway, with Sale departing earlier than usual, Brian Johnson received the first call put of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth. Another lefty, Johnson had himself a decent day in an extended relief role. The Florida native strung together 2.2 scoreless innings while allowing one hit and one walk from the fifth until the end of the top half of the seventh. After a shaky start to his season, Johnson has now gone eight innings in five innings without giving up a single run.

Speaking of extended relief, once Johnson retired the side in the seventh, Hector Velazquez came on in a bit of a mop-up role with the Red Sox trailing by five runs at the point. The native of Mexico was not as effective as he has been of late, as he surrendered one run in the ninth while allowing a total of four Braves to reach base. Not that it mattered, since the Red Sox lineup could barely do anything today.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox were without Mookie Betts and JD Martinez in this one. Martinez because of a scheduled day off, but Betts, who was originally in today’s lineup, was scratched due to “left side tightness.”

Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, who had pitched against the Red Sox before this season, but not started, came out dealing today. For the first five innings, the best the Red Sox could do is draw three walks against the righty from Illinois. It was not until the sixth when Andrew Benintendi lined a one out double off the wall in left field for his teams first hit of the contest.

One batter later, with Xander Bogaerts at the dish, Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies made a dazzling play with his glove to rob Bogaerts of a hit for the second out of the inning.

Luckily though, Benintendi was not stranded at second base, as Mitch Moreland drove him in by ripping a triple down the first base line, his second three bagger of the season.

That RBI triple prevented the shutout, and it was the only run of the day for the Red Sox. With the two biggest threats out of the lineup, offensive performances like today can be frustrating.

Some notes from this one:

Since Hanley Ramirez was DFA’d this past Friday, Mitch Moreland has hit one home run, two triples, one double, and driven in four in three games.

Ronald Acuna Jr. had to leave today’s game with knee and lower back pain in the seventh inning after an awkward occurrence as he was running out an infield single. I won’t post the video, but I sincerely hope he is okay and has a speedy recovery. Never want to see anything like that happen to an athlete, never mind a 20-year-old rookie.


On a more uplifting note, the Red Sox will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays into town for a three game series that begins tomorrow. The Blue Jays had a decent start to their season, but are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. David Price will get the ball for Boston, while it will be righty Aaron Sanchez going for Toronto. Another 1:05 start time, should be a good way to spend some of Memorial Day.

 

Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart Combined to Hit Three Home Runs for the #RedSox Today.

On a day the Red Sox were not on television, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart put on a bit of a show at the plate. The first three catchers on the depth chart were all in the same starting lineup today, with Christian Vazquez behind the plate, Swihart at first, and Leon at DH. Combined, they went 5 for 10 at the plate, but I just want to focus on Swihart and Leon. Last week, I wrote about who should backup Christian Vazquez this season, because it is presumed that he will be the starter. Both Swihart and Leon are out of minor league options, so one of them is most likely gone if they both do not make the Opening Day roster. Today’s game against the Blue Jays was a prime example of the competition that may be going on between them. There doesn’t seem to be any video available, but Leon hit his two home runs in the second and fourth innings while Swihart hit his in the fifth.

Throughout this spring, Swihart has gotten a significant amount of at bats compared to what Leon has gotten. 35 for Swihart and only 12 for Leon. I’m not looking into that though, because I have a hunch Leon will make the roster no matter what. I mean, he is essentially the personal catcher for the best pitcher on the staff, that’s all the reason you need to keep him. The only thing that counters this thought is how much the Red Sox seem to value Swihart. His trade value is probably at its highest right now, but I have not heard anything about a potential trade. Keeping both Swihart and Leon on the 25-man roster seems like a stretch, but I’m not in that clubhouse or front office, so I don’t know what to make of it.

Should Blake Swihart Make This #RedSox Team over Sandy Leon?

Opening Day may be 23 days away, but it’s never too early to look at rosters and see how they may shape out as the regular season draws near. Right now, it appears the Red Sox may have more position players than spots available on the 25-man roster. If you look at what the Opening Day roster would look like now, then you would have Hanley Ramirez, Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and JD Martinez playing everyday. At catcher, Christian Vazquez has earned the starter role after the season he put up in 2017. It’s after him where things get interesting. Both Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon are coming off of seasons I’m sure they would like to forget. Leon, who put up career high numbers in 2016, saw a significant drop in those numbers last year. And Swihart, who at one time was one of the most recognized catching prospects in baseball, only appeared in six games for the big league club in 2017, while hitting a measly .190 in 53 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

I can’t say I know this for certain, but I would assume that the Red Sox front office thinks more highly of Blake Swihart then they do of Sandy Leon. Swihart has been with the team since 2011 when he was drafted in the first round of the amateur draft. Like I said, he was a highly touted prospect at one time and has proved that when healthy, he can hit major league pitching. Leon, on the other hand, has been with the Red Sox since 2015 and has really never been put under immense pressure to excel at his position. He was a surprise for sure in 2016, but I honestly can’t see him putting up those kind of numbers again anytime soon. The bottom line is, both Swihart and Leon are out of minor league options, so it would make sense to retain one over the other. In my opinion, that would be Swihart. Without using the great spring training he is having because that means almost nothing, Swihart is still three years younger, plays another position, and is under team control for two years more than Leon is.

This may come off as a hot take, but I think it’s safe to say Swihart brings more to the table than Leon does. There’s a reason he was once a highly regarded prospect, I think he deserves the chance to back up Christian Vazquez while also taking on a utility role if the Red Sox FO wants to get more at bats out of him.