After going the first two nights of April without a win or even a run scored, the Red Sox broke out in style in Oakland Wednesday night, putting an end to their four-game losing streak with a clutch 6-3 victory over the Athletics.
Making his second start of the season and second consecutive start against an American League West foe in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who entered Wednesday with three previous career starts at the Oakland Coliseum under his belt.
Tossing five full innings, the right-hander was essentially in damage control all night, limiting the A’s to three runs on four hits, four walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.
Similar to his last outing against the Mariners, Eovaldi was a bit erratic yet again, but he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, yielding just one two-run home run to Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the fourth inning.
After giving up that homer to Laureano though, which made it a 3-0 game in favor of Oakland at the time, the 29-year-old settled in a bit by retiring the final six hitters he faced through the fifth.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 96 (51 strikes) Eovaldi topped out at 98.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 35 times. His next start should come next Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen turned in yet another solid performance, as Colten Brewer, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final four frames of this one.
Brewer, in his third appearance for Boston, fanned a pair over the sixth and parts of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes with one out to get in the inning.
Barnes, who we last saw close out the Red Sox’ first win of the season last Friday, punched out the only batter he faced in the seventh before stranding a runner at third in the eighth with the help of Brock Holt.
Holt, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, dazzled with a cross-body throw as his momentum was taking him towards third to get Laureano out at first. That kept Marcus Semien from scoring from third and thus kept this contest tied at three runs a piece headed into the ninth.
It officially goes down as a 6-3 ground out, but it was really much more than that from Holt, who did not start at shortstop during the spring.
After Boston jumped out to a three-run lead of their own in their half of the ninth, in came Ryan Brasier to shut the door on the A’s in the bottom half of the frame.
Making his third appearance out of the bullpen this season, the 31-year-old hurler worked his way around a leadoff HBP to sit down the final three hitters of the night, notching his first career save in the process.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Athletics right-hander Marco Estrada to start things out.
An old friend from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, the seasoned Estrada held the Boston bats in check up until the fifth.
With their scoreless-innings streak reaching 22, Blake Swihart broke the club’s offensive slump by launching his first home run of the season with two outs in the fifth.
A 415 foot shot to center field to put his team on the board for the first time this month, that is quite a way to celebrate a 27th birthday.
An inning later, a Mookie Betts leadoff walk would ultimately spell the end for Estrada, who was pulled after surrendering another free pass to JD Martinez to load the bases for Boston with just one out in the sixth.
With A’s reliever Ryan Buchter now in, Mitch Moreland did not waste any time with a pitcher he had only faced off against once before Wednesday, as he squared up on a first pitch fastball and ripped a double down the right field line.
That allowed Betts and Rafael Devers to score from second and third, and just like that, the Red Sox were back in it.
Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with things still tied and another old friend in Fernando Rodney now on the mound for Oakland, Swihart came to the plate having already collected two hits.
With just one out to work with, the Red Sox backstop singled on a ground ball to right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by doing the same.
A wild pitch from Rodney allowed the pair of runners to advance to second and third, meaning the go-ahead run was only 90 feet away from scoring.
Mookie Betts, who was at the plate for that wild pitch, made the A’s pay for their mistake by turning a grounder that just so happened to deflect off the third base bag into a game-winning two-run double.
If that ball was hit to Matt Chapman, the inning presumably ends without a Red Sox crossing the plate.
Instead, the 2018 AL MVP came through big time, and Andrew Benintendi showed some signs of life by driving in Betts from second on an RBI triple to make it a 6-3 contest, which would go on to be the final score in this one.
Some notes from this win:
Happy belated 27th birthday to Blake Swihart!
JD Martinez has started his second season in Boston with a seven-game hitting streak. He is 10/28 with two home runs and seven RBI to kick off the 2019 campaign.
According to ESPN, the Red Sox bullpen has posted a 2.42 ERA over their first 26 innings of work. That is the fifth-best mark in all of baseball.
Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to depart from the Bay Area with a series-split against the A’s in hand.
It will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers for the series finale, as Eduardo Rodriguez and Brett Anderson are slated to start for their respective sides.
Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA), owns a 1.69 ERA in two career starts and 16 total innings of work at the Oakland Coliseum.
Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA), meanwhile, owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Red Sox.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on this getaway day.