Rafael Devers Homers, Drives in Four Runs as Red Sox Hold on to Top Blue Jays 5-4

After waiting out a 33-minute rain delay, the Red Sox bounced back from a disappointing 10-4 loss on Tuesday by barely holding on to a 5-4 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday to improve to 52-44 on the season.

Making his 20th start of the season for Boston and second against Toronto was Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed a season-high six earned runs north of the border back on May 21st.

Turning things around in this one, the left-hander yielded just two runs, both earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts over 6 1/3 quality innings of work.

Both of those Blue Jays tallies came courtesy of the home run ball, with Teoscar Hernandez taking Rodriguez deep to center on a first-pitch, 92 MPH four-seam fastball to lead off the top half of the third, and Hernandez doing the same with one out in the fifth on another 1-1, 92 MPH heater.

Other than those two blips, Rodriguez retired 17 of the first 22 hitters he faced with the help of Jackie Bradley Jr. before running into some trouble to begin the seventh, where Cavan Biggio led things off by drawing a five-pitch walk and Justin Smoak reached on an E5 committed by Rafael Devers at third.

A simple fly out off the bat of Freddy Galvis for the first out of the inning would wind up being the last action for Rodriguez, as Hernandez was due to hit next for the Jays.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (63 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 54% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing seven swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 11-4 while lowering his ERA on the year down to 4.34, the month of July has treated Rodriguez very well to this point. Over his last three starts, the Venezuela native has surrendered just four earned runs in 18 1/3 total innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.96 and not to mention a batting average against of .182 in that span as well.

Rodriguez’s next start should come on Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on with two runners on and two outs to get in the seventh, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s night by walking Hernandez on six pitches to load the bases before fanning Danny Jansen and Eric Sogard back-to-back to escape the jam.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the eighth in a legitimate high-leverage situation, but all he could manage to do was serve up a one-out homer to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., cutting his team’s lead to 4-3, and put the next two men he faced in Randal Grichuk and Biggio on base with a HBP and six-pitch walk.

So, Brandon Workman entered with the potential tying run in scoring position and potential go-ahead run at first base, and he, like Barnes in the inning prior, came through with two huge punchouts to end the threat.

Finally, in the ninth, responsible for closing this thing out, Workman walked Hernandez and Danny Jansen to lead off the inning in a 5-3 game, got the first two outs in consecutive order after that, and allowed Gurriel Jr. to drive in his second run of the evening on a first-pitch, RBI single to center.

That made it a one-run contest yet again at 5-4, but, fortunately for Boston, Workman was able to rally with a seven-pitch strikeout of Grichuk to notch his fifth save of the season.

It may have taken him a season-high 45 pitches to do so, but Workman came through when it mattered to wrap up a tight 5-4 win for the Red Sox.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Wednesday with a 6.22 ERA on the season while also leading the American League in walks with 58.

Brock Holt, batting out of the nine-hole, kicked off a five-run evening for Boston by coming through with two outs in the bottom of the second and ripping a line-drive RBI single to center.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put his opposite field power on display yet again, leading the third off with his 18th home run of the season off a 0-1, 88 MPH changeup from Sanchez.

In the fourth, Devers struck with his second and third RBI of the contest on a two-out, two-run double to right following base hits from Christian Vazquez and Mookie Betts, giving his side the 4-1 advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Jays had battled their way back to make it a 4-3 contest, and the budding Devers capped off a fantastic night at the plate with a one-out, run-scoring single off Toronto closer Ken Giles to drive in Holt from second.

Holt scoring gave Devers his 70th RBI of the season, and it also gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, which would turn out to be just enough in an eventual 5-4 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From Red Sox Stats:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers’ July thus far: .353/.431/.765 with six home runs and 20 RBI.

Xander Bogaerts during his nine-game hitting streak: .474 (18-for-38) with three doubles, five homers, and 16 RBI.

Mookie Betts during his nine-game hitting streak: .447 (17-for-38) with one double, one triple, and six RBI.

Brock Holt’s last seven games: .611/.600/.778 with three RBI and five runs scored.

On a day that started with some unneeded drama, the Red Sox were able to come out with a win. They’ll look to wrap up the four-game set against the Blue Jays with a series victory on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Chris Sale is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Thomas Pannone will do the same for Toronto.

Sale has not had much success against the Jays this season, posting an ERA of 7.98 and batting average against of .359 in three starts against them so far, including an outing in which he gave up five runs in less than six innings pitched back on July 3rd.

Pannone, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for Toronto after being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.

In 24 appearances (two starts) in 2019, the Rhode Island native owns a 6.18 ERA over 39 1/3 total innings of work.

His last big league outing before being sent down came against Boston on July 4th, where he allowed four earned runs over 4 1/3 frames of relief.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Weather could be a factor once more.

Rest in Peace, Pumpsie Green.

 

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Michael Chavis’ First Career Grand Slam Sets Tone Early as Red Sox Hold on to Take Opener from Blue Jays

After dropping their series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, the Red Sox opened up a new four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays in much more encouraging fashion Monday, taking the opener by a final score of 10-8 to snap a two-game skid and improve to 51-43 on the season.

Making his 19th start of the season and third against Toronto for Boston was Rick Porcello, who entered the week having given up six total runs in his first two outings against the Jays.

This time around, the right-hander yielded four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits, one HBP, and zero walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts over six full innings of work.

The first two of those Toronto tallies came in the top half of the second, when with two outs and a runner on first, Porcello served up a two-run home run to the just-called up Billy McKinney on a 2-0, 90 MPH two-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate.

An inning later, with one out and runners at first and second, an RBI double off the bat of Randal Grichuk and RBI groundout off the bat of Justin Smoak in consecutive order plated two more runs, cutting the Sox’ initial five-run lead down to just one.

Things were not looking all that positive for Porcello at that point, but New Jersey native did recover nicely enough from there by sitting down nine of the final 12 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the sixth, which is where his outing came to a close. Rafael Devers helped out, too.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 27% of the time he was on the mound Monday night, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 92.7 MPH with the pitch.

Able to pick up the winning decision to improve to 7-7 on the year despite his ERA inflating up to 5.37, Porcello has quite simply not been a quality starting pitcher since he tossed that seven-inning shutout gem against the Minnesota Twins on June 17th.

In four starts since then, Porcello owns an ERA of 10.50 over his last 18 innings pitched. He’ll look to turn things around in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

In relief of Porcello, Marcus Walden came on with a six-run cushion to work with, and it appeared as though the Red Sox would cruise to a victory following a scoreless seventh inning from the right-hander.

Ryan Brasier, however, did not have as easy as a time as Walden did, as he saw his team’s six-run lead shrink down to four on a one-out Smoak double, a Danny Jansen RBI single, a McKinney single, and a sacrifice fly from Eric Sogard.

With runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the eighth, Matt Barnes was tabbed with getting out of the jam, and he did so, but not before closing the book on Brasier’s night by surrendering a two-run base knock to the first man he saw in Freddy Galvis.

Just like that, a 10-4 lead turned into a 10-8 one, whcih meant Brandon Workman coming on for the save in the ninth on a night where it looked like he would not be needed.

Up against the 4-5-6 hitters in Toronto’s lineup, Workman needed only 14 pitches to retire the side, notching his fourth save and securing the 10-8 victory for his team in the process of doing so. Bullpen meltdown avoided.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Trent Thornton, facing Boston for the third time this season and second time in a span of two weeks.

Getting things started right away in the bottom of the first, a Mookie Betts leadoff double and back-to-back one out walks drawn by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez loaded the bases early for Andrew Benintendi.

On the second pitch he saw from Thornton, an 0-1, 93 MPH heater, Benintendi pulled an RBI single to right field to drive in Betts for his side’s first run and to refill the bases for Michael Chavis.

In a rookie-on-rookie matchup, Chavis won the first battle against Thornton, as he unloaded on a 3-2, 94 MPH four-seamer right down the heart of the plate and sent it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his first career Grand Slam and 16th homer of the season.

That put the Red Sox up 5-0 early, but as already mentioned, the Jays battled their way back to cut that deficit to one heading into the bottom half of the third.

There, with Thornton out and right-hander Sam Gaviglio in, a two-out walk drawn by Sandy Leon would turn out to be the catalyst for another five-run rally, as a Brock Holt walk and Betts free pass loaded the bases again, this time for Rafael Devers.

Devers came through with a two-run single on a 3-2, 84 MPH slider from Gaviglio, and Bogaerts followed suit by plating Betts and moving Devers up to third on a line-drive RBI single to center, making it an 8-4 contest.

Martinez’s second walk saw righty Joe Biagini replace Gaviglio, and up to the plate came Benintendi with the bases full once more.

Fittingly enough, the one who drove in the Sox’ first run of the night also drove in the last two, as Benintendi hacked at an 0-1, 94 MPH two-seamer from Biagini and slapped a two-run double down the left field line, off the base of the left field wall.

Both Devers and Bogaerts were able to score as a result, and the Red Sox had themselves a 10-4 lead.

The Sox were unable to send more than four hitters to the plate in a single frame from the fourth inning on, but despite Toronto’s best efforts, they managed to hold on and take this series opener by a final score of 10-8.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Xander Bogaerts during his seven-game hitting streak: .414/.469/.862 with four homers and 14 RBI.

A nice way to recover from a tough weekend against the Dodgers for sure, but as Sox manager Alex Cora mentions in the attached quote, his team needs to be better, especially at closing out games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this four-game series on Tuesday night.

Right-hander Andrew Cashner, acquired from the Baltimore Orioles this past Saturday, is set to get the start and make his Red Sox debut. The Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

Cashner, 32, owns an ERA of 1.41 and batting average against of .168 over his last five starts and 32 innings pitched dating back to June 8th.

In eight career starts against Toronto, Cashner is 3-2 with a 2.49 ERA over 50 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

 

 

Red Sox Crumble Late, Fail to Pick up Series Win in Grueling 12-Inning Loss to Dodgers

In a game that took nearly six hours and 12 innings to complete, the Red Sox failed to pick up the series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night/Monday morning, falling to the team with the best record in the National League by a final score of 7-4 to mark their second consecutive defeat.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston was David Price, who entered the weekend having given up three or fewer runs in four consecutive outings.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits, three walks, and one HBP to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first three of those four Dodgers runs came right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners on first and second following a leadoff walk drawn by Chris Taylor and fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts on a Justin Turner grounder, A.J. Pollock put his team on the board by punishing a 1-1, 94 MPH two-seam fastball from Price and sending it 326 feet down the right field line to make it a 3-0 contest early.

From there, Price settled in a bit and sat down 11 of the next 15 hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fifth, where a pair of doubles from David Freese with one out and Pollock with two outs widened Los Angeles’ advantage from one to two runs at 4-2.

A nine-pitch punchout of Max Muncy to retire the side in the fifth would be how Price’s outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 113 (75 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seamer nearly 33% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch thrown 33 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season dropped down to 3.16 despite the four-run performance, Price’s next start should come this Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore. How he responds from this so-so outing will be something to watch for then.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen put together a solid collective effort, with Josh Taylor tossing a scoreless sixth inning, Colten Brewer a scoreless seventh, Ryan Brasier a 1-2-3 eighth, Brandon Workman a scoreless ninth to preserve the fresh 4-4 tie, Matt Barnes a two-strikeout, shutout 10th, and Heath Hembree working his way around a hit, a walk, and a HBP in a scoreless 11th thanks to Andrew Benintendi nabbing Alex Verdugo at home for the final out of the frame.

The 12th is where things got dicey for Boston, as they were down to either Marcus Walden or Hector Velazquez out of the ‘pen.

So, in came Velazquez for the third straight night, and that showed considering how the right-hander walked pinch-hitter Joc Pederson to lead off the inning, allowed Cody Bellinger to reach safely on an interference error committed by himself, and loaded the bases with no outs on a Pollock single to left.

A five-pitch, bases-loaded free pass to Max Muncy brought in the go-ahead run for the Dodgers, and a one-out RBI single from Verdugo, as well as Russell Martin grounding into a run-scoring force out at second, gave Los Angeles a 7-4 lead, which would turn out to be all they would need in this one.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers left-hander and 2019 All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, who came into Sunday with the lowest ERA among qualifiers in all the NL at 1.73 on the season.

Andrew Benintendi kicked off the scoring for Boston against Ryu with a two-out, bases-loaded RBI single in the first, plating Mookie Betts from third and also consequently Xander Bogaerts from second due to an error by Chris Taylor on the throw over from short. That cut Los Angeles’ lead down to one run at 3-2.

In the fifth, a two-out single off the bat of Rafael Devers and six-pitch walk drawn by Bogaerts to follow it gave the Sox another golden scoring chance, but nothing came of it with J.D. Martinez ripping a single to left and Verdugo gunning down Devers at the plate to keep it at a 4-2 contest.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Ryu out and right-handed reliever Pedro Baez in for the Dodgers, Bogaerts struck again, this time staying red-hot with his third home run of the series and 20th of the season. This one a 352-foot, opposite field bomb off a 1-1, 95 MPH heater from Baez.

Just two pitches later, J.D. Martinez came through in the clutch with his 19th big fly of the year, a 402-foot shot hit deep to center off a 1-0, 88 MPH slider to knot this contest up at four runs apiece.

Baez did recover by striking out the side after that, but the Sox had the opportunity to win this thing in the ninth with Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff free pass against left-hander Zac Rosscup.

A pinch-hitting Marco Hernandez laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt against new Dodgers hurler Yimi Garcia to advance Bradley Jr. into scoring position, and an intentional walk of Betts brought Devers to the plate against the vaunted Kenley Jansen.

Neither Devers nor Bogaerts could do anything against the Dodgers closer though, and this one headed into extras.

There, in the 10th, Christian Vazquez reached base on a one-out walk, successfully stole second, but could not be driven in.

In the 11th, the same situation that occured two innings prior essentially presented itself again, with Bradley Jr. lacing a leadoff double off of righty Dylan Floro, meaning the winning run was only 180 feet away from scoring.

Rather than laying down another potential sacrifice bunt, Hernandez instead grounded into a fielder’s choice, resulting in Bradley Jr. being tagged out at third.

So, instead of having the go-ahead run at third with just one out for Betts, the reigning AL MVP came to the plate with one out and a runner at first. He could not advance him.

An intentional walk of Devers and infield single off the bat of Bogaerts moved the winning tally in the form of Hernandez to third, but Martinez, despite his earlier efforts, grounded into a simple force out at second to end the threat.

Finally, in the 12th, after falling behind by three yet again, the Sox did manage to get the tying run on deck thanks to Vazquez reaching on a walk to lead off the inning.

Benintendi fanned for the first out of the frame, and in came Joe Kelly for the save against his former club.

The flame throwing right-hander did just that, notching save number one in a Dodgers uniform by punching out Holt and Bradley Jr. in consecutive order to wrap up a disappointing 7-4 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox with runners in scoring position on Sunday: 5-for-14. They left 13 men on base as a team.

Xander Bogaerts this weekend: 6-for-12 with three homers and six RBI.

With the loss Sunday night, the Red Sox have fallen to 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, they welcome the 35-59 Toronto Blue Jays into town for a four-game series.

 

 

Christian Vazquez Blasts 14th Homer, David Price Goes Five Strong as Red Sox Finish off Sweep of Tigers and Head into All-Star Break Winners of Four Straight

After another rain-filled 10-6 win over the Tigers on Saturday, the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep and wrapped up the first half of their season with a 6-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday to improve to 49-41 on the year.

Making his 16th start of the season for Boston to cap off the weekend was David Price, who entered the day with a 2.65 ERA over his last three outings dating back to June 18th.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one Detroit run came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after walking the leadoff man in Victor Reyes, the one-time Tiger gave up an RBI double to former teammate Nicholas Castellanos on a 1-0, 83 MPH changeup.

Other than that one blip and despite putting his team in an early hole, Price recovered nicely, retiring 15 of the next 19 hitters he faced leading to the end of the sixth, which is the point where his outing came to a close due to a high pitch count.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (66 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing a pair of swings and misses and topping out at 93.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Able to pick up his seventh winning decision to reach 150 wins for his career while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.24, Price’s first half numbers look like this: 7-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 83 1/3 innings pitched, 95 punchouts.

In relief of Price, left-hander Josh Taylor came on with a four-run lead to protect, and he racked up four strikeouts over two perfect frames of work, making way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.

There, Brasier could not get through the inning, as he served up a two-out, two-run home run to Brandon Dixon, cutting Boston’s advantage down to three before walking his second man and getting the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Workman escaped the potential jam, leaving the tying run on deck and retiring the side by getting Niko Goodrum to ground out to Michael Chavis at first.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree maneuvered his way around a one-out John Hicks single and notched his second save of the season with an eight-pitch strikeout of Reyes.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Gregory Soto, who was last used as a reliever for Detroit in the first game of this series on Friday.

Serving as the opener in this one, the Boston bats got to Soto beginning in the top half of the second inning, when after falling behind one early, Christian Vazquez erased that deficit and gave his team a one-run lead by blasting a one-out, two-run homer 376 feet over the right field wall for his 14th of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, with lefty Nick Ramirez on the mound, and Xander Bogaerts came through with two outs and runners at first and second, as he plated both Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts on a two-run double to left for his 64th and 65th RBI of the year.

Two batters later, after J.D. Martinez reached on an intentional walk and Bogaerts advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch from Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi picked up where he left off Saturday by sneaking an RBI single through the left side of the infield, driving in Bogaerts and giving his team the 5-1 edge.

And in the eighth, Martinez led things off against new Tigers reliever Eduardo Jiminez with a line-drive double to center, moved up to third on a Benintendi flyout, and came in to score from third thanks to a wild pitch with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate.

That put the Red Sox ahead 6-1, and after the Tigers rallied with two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, 6-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers’ 10-game hitting streak has come to an end.

J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday. Over that span, he is hitting .347 to go along with two home runs and six RBI.

Christian Vazquez’s last seven games: .387/.394/.871 with four homers and 10 runs driven in.

The Red Sox are eight games over .500 for the first time this season.

So, that’s it for the first half of the season. The Red Sox head into the All-Star break winners of four straight and five of their last six. They are currently nine games off the pace for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot.

Coming out of the four-day break, the Sox will begin a seven-game homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

For now, it’s on to Cleveland, where we have Jarren Duran and the Futures Game Sunday night, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the 90th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.

The Red Sox will be represented by Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, while Alex Cora will be managing the American League squad.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 PM EDT on FOX.

 

Andrew Benintendi Celebrates 25th Birthday with Four Hits, Finishes Home Run Shy of Cycle as Red Sox Take Series from Tigers with 10-6 Victory

After waiting out a four-hour-and-five-minute rain delay, the Red Sox rattled off their third straight win on Saturday, clinching their series against the Detroit Tigers with a closer-than-the-scoreboard-indicated 10-6 victory.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who picked up the win the last time he faced off against his old club back on April 25th

Coming off one of the worst starts of his career in his last time out against the New York Yankees in London, the right-hander’s struggles continued in this one, as he surrendered six runs, all earned, on nine hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Tigers tallies came in the fourth, when with no outs and a runner on first, Jeimer Candelario got his team on the board with a 398-foot, two-run shot to right field.

It looked as though that would be Porcello’s lone mistake leading into the sixth, but Candelario struck again, mashing his second big fly of the evening to cut into Boston’s lead even further at 7-3.

Able to get the second out of the inning on a force out at second, a single from Gordon Beckham, as well as a wild pitch to the next man he faced in Bobby Wilson, put runners at second and third for the Tigers backstop, and he drove in both runs while simultaneously ending Porcello’s night on a two-run single to left.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 92.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 6-7 despite another poor performance that bumped his ERA on the season up to 5.33, Porcello will look to put a forgettable first half of the 2019 campaign behind him in his next time out, which should come against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Toronto Blue Jays after the All-Star break.

In relief of Porcello, Colten Brewer came on with one runner on and one out to get in the sixth, and he officially closed the book on the Boston starter’s outing by allowing that sixth run to score on a Victor Reyes RBI triple before ending the inning.

From there, left-hander Josh Taylor loaded the bases with three of the first five hitters he faced in the bottom half of the seventh, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to enter with the go-ahead run at first.

Appearing in his third straight game going back to July 4th, Barnes did not falter this time around, punching out Gordon Beckham on three straight curveballs to escape the jam with the lead still intact.

Brandon Workman retired the only three hitters he faced in a scoreless eighth, and Steven Wright locked down the 10-6 win for the Sox with a shutout frame in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers, who opposed Porcello at Fenway Park back on April 25th and took the loss in that contest.

Starting the scoring for Boston right away in the first inning of this one was Rafael Devers, plating Mookie Betts from third following a leadoff triple on a simple RBI groundout to first.

Two batters later, Andrew Benintendi made his return to the Sox lineup after two days off in triumphant fashion, ripping another three-bagger off Zimmermann and coming in to score on a Michael Chavis bloop RBI single.

In the second, back-to-back singles from Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez to lead off the inning, followed by a successful Sandy Leon sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position for Betts.

Betts took advantage of the situation in front of him, this time lining a double off Zimmermann to plate both Holt and Hernandez.

Christian Vazquez came through with two outs in the same frame, scoring Betts from second on a hard-hit RBI back up the middle to put his team up 5-0 early.

Fast forward to the fourth, and hits from Devers and Vazquez to lead off the inning brought Andrew Benintendi with runners at second and third, and the birthday boy delivered with an RBI double to left that probably should have been caught by Tigers outfielder Christin Stweart. But, it wasn’t, and Devers scored because of it. 6-0.

A pitching change that saw left-hander Blaine Hardy take over for Zimmermann and a one-out walk of Jackie Bradley Jr. meant that runners were on the corners for Brock Holt, who brought Vazquez home from third with a sacrifice fly to center, making it a 7-0 game.

That seven-run cushion quick;y shrunk to just one though, and it wasn’t until the seventh inning when the Sox bats got back on the board, with Hernandez scoring from third on a simple one-out, bases loaded grounder from Devers that was mishandled by Detroit reliever Buck Farmer on the throw back to home.

An inning later, in his second at-bat of the night after pinch-hitting for Holt in the seventh, Eduardo Nunez provided some more insurance for his side, plating Benintendi from second on a two-out, run-scoring single off Farmer. 9-6.

And in the ninth, a Vazquez sacrifice fly with runners at the corners yet again allowed Leon to coast in from third and put the Red Sox up 10-6, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi on his 25th birthday, batting cleanup: 4-for-6 with one double, one triple, two runs scored, and one RBI. Finished a home run shy of the cycle.

Michael Chavis, through five games in July: .333/.364/.571 with two doubles, one homer, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts’ last seven games: .407/.528/.593 with three RBI and eight walks.

Through his first 18 games this season, Marco Hernandez is slashing .348/.362/.565 with two homers, four doubles, and seven RBI.

Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to 10 games on Saturday.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game weekend set and the last game before the All-Star break on Sunday afternoon.

Another former Tiger in the form of left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.

Since that six-run meltdown against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has recovered nicely, posting a 2.65 ERA and .239 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In 22 prior appearances (20 starts) at Comerica Park, the 33-year-old owns a lifetime 2.99 ERA and .249 batting average against over a total of 141 innings of work.

Soto, meanwhile, will likely serve as the opener for the Tigers on Sunday, as he tossed a scoreless seventh inning of relief against Boston in the series opener on Friday.

Through seven outings (six starts) in 2019, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA north of eight at 8.06 over 22 1/3 innings. The Tigers are 2-5 in those games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep in the final action before the All-Star break.

 

 

 

 

Marco Hernandez Comes Through with Go-Ahead Home Run in Ninth Inning as Red Sox Complete Comeback with Tight 8-7 Win over Blue Jays

After dropping the middle game of this series in disappointing fashion on Wednesday, the Red Sox bounced back and celebrated their Independence Day with a comeback 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Making his 21st appearance and eighth start of the season for Boston in the finale of this three-game set was Hector Velazquez, who hadn’t started a game since May 18th against the Houston Astros.

Working into just the third inning of this one, the right-hander yielded three runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first pair of those three runs came right away in the bottom half of the first, when following two two-out walks to load the bases for Toronto, Rowdy Tellez got his team on the board and gave them the lead with a two-run single up the middle off a 1-0, 87 MPH changeup from Velazquez.

An inning later, the Mexico native could sneak a 3-2, 92 MPH sinker past a red-hot Danny Jansen, as he led things off by blasting his seventh home run of the season to put the Blue Jays up 3-1.

Velazquez recovered nicely enough by retiring four of the next six hitters he faced after giving up that bomb, but his outing came to quick close with a one-out double off the bat of Justin Smoak in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (28 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball exactly 34% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 93.9 MPH while Sandy Leon was at the plate.

Eventually hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the season was bumped up to 5.65, Velazquez’s performance shows that the fifth spot in Boston’s rotation continues to be a legitimate issue. If Velazquez is to start again, expect that to come sometime after the All-Star break.

In relief of Velazquez, Colten Brewer came in with a runner on second and two outs to get in the third. He got out of the inning just fine, but the bottom of the fourth was a different story.

There, Jansen struck yet again, leading another frame off with his second big fly of the night to make it a 4-1 game.

Brandon Drury followed with a line-drive double, and two batters and one out later, Freddy Galvis took Brewer deep for his 15th of the year on a first-pitch, 95 MPH cutter down the heart of the plate, giving Toronto a five-run edge.

From the middle of the fifth inning up until the middle of the eighth, the Red Sox bullpen did settle in a bit, with Josh Taylor, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes combining for three scoreless frames, all while the Boston bats rallied to take a 7-6 lead going into Brandon Workman’s 41st appearance of the season.

A one-out double from Jansen in that eighth inning put the tying run in scoring position for the Jays, and after getting Drury to fly out to left, Workman was unable to do the same against Eric Sogard, as the Toronto leadoff man came through with what was at the time a game-tying RBI double to plate Jansen and knot this contest up at seven runs a piece. That marked the 18th blown save of the season for Boston relievers.

Fortunately for Workman, the right-hander was able to keep the stalemate intact by fanning Freddy Galvis on four pitches.

And in the ninth, with his team now in front 8-7, Workman worked his way around two one-out walks and notched his eighth winning decision of the year with the help of a quick Rafael Devers on a soft grounder from the pinch-hitting Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Fielding the ball with his glove, Devers managed to make the transfer over to his right hand hastily enough so that the Blue Jays rookie was out on a bang-bang play over at first. \

That was the third out of the ninth, and that was how Thursday’s contest finished with a final score of 8-7.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Derek Law, serving as the opener in this one.

Starting the scoring for Boston was Rafael Devers, who extended his hitting streak to eight games with his 15th homer of the season with one out in the first inning, a 360-foot wall scraper that had an Expected Batting Average of .180, per Statcast.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, after Toronto had jumped out to a 6-1 lead and left-hander Thomas Pannone had been dealing, Mookie Betts turned out to be the catalyst for a six-run inning by drawing a leadoff walk, something he has made a habit of so far in 2019.

Two batters later, after Devers advanced Betts to third with a ground ball single, back-to-back RBI base knocks from Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez cut Boston’s deficit down to three and put runners at first and second.

Pinch-hitter Eduardo Nunez could not advance Bogaerts nor Martinez against new Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza, but a wild pitch with Christian Vazquez at the plate moved both runners into scoring position and Vazquez drew a walk anyway to fill the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley Jr. came away with one RBI to make it a 6-4 contest, but could have had more had it not been for a fine defensive effort from Freddy Galvis at shortstop to snuff out Vazquez at second.

So, with two outs and runners once again at the corners, Michael Chavis had the chance to put his team ahead, and he did just that by punishing a 2-2, 87 MPH slider from Mayza and depositing it 391 feet into the right field seats for his 15th dinger of the season, this one a three-run shot that gave the Red Sox a one-run edge at 7-6. Six-run rally completed.

The Blue Jays did answer back in their half of the eighth to tie things back up at 7-7, but the Sox showed some more resiliency when they were down to what could have been their final three outs in the ninth.

With closer Ken Giles on the mound for Toronto, a strikeout of Michael Chavis would have brought Sandy Leon to the plate with one out in the frame, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora decided to go back to his bench, and in came Marco Hernandez for his first at-bat of the series.

Having never faced off against Giles before Thursday, Hernandez took the first pitch he saw from the right-hander, a 96 MPH fastball that went for a ball.

The very next pitch from Giles was another 96 MPH heater from Giles, the only difference being this one caught the outer edge of the plate, and Hernandez took full advantage of that by ripping it 348 feet down the left field line for his second home run of 2019.

Hernandez’s opposite field blast put the Red Sox ahead 8-7, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Red Sox pinch-hitters this season: 20-for-48 (.417) with four home runs and 14 RBI.

J.D. Martinez during his seven-game hitting streak: .467/.500/.767 with two home runs and six runs driven in.

Rafael Devers during his eight-game hitting streak: .558 batting average with four home runs and 12 RBI.

It certainly was not easy, but the Red Sox came away with a series over the Blue Jays to improve to 46-41 on the season.

Next up, the Sox head to Detroit to take on the 28-54 Tigers in their first stateside action since June 26th.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Gregory Soto will do the same for Detroit.

Back on April 24th, Rodriguez had one of his better starts of the season against the lowly Tigers, allowing just one earned run on two hits, three walks, and seven punchouts over six quality innings in a winning effort at Fenway Park.

In one previous start at Comerica Park, his first of the 2017 campaign, the 26-year-old surrendered four earned runs over five innings of work, eventually taking the loss.

Soto, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old rookie who has yet to pitch against the Red Sox in his young career

Through six starts in 2019, the lefty is 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA and 6.54 FIP over 21 1.3 innings pitched.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to build some momentum going into the All-Star break.

In Defense of Matt Barnes

It’s been no secret that Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has been struggling as of late.

Since the turn of June, the right-hander has posted a 7.82 ERA over 12 2/3 innings pitched, allowing runs in five of his last 14 appearances while also blowing three saves in that span.

He entered the month with an ERA just over two at 2.08 and a batting average against of .160, but those numbers have since skyrocketed.

The main issue involved with these regressing statistics would have to be that Barnes has been used more frequently out of the Red Sox bullpen by manager Alex Cora.

In that span where his ERA was at 2.08 heading into June, the UCONN product appeared in 22, or 40%, of Boston’s first 55 games this season.

Since the beginning of the month though, as previously mentioned, Barnes has appeared in 14, or 58.3%, of Boston’s last 24 games, which is where those struggles have arisen.

As things stand right now, the 29-year-old is on pace to make 71 relief outings in 2019, which would be eight more than he made all of last year. His previous career-high in that category was 70 back in 2017.

With that recent workload comes not much rest, and the numbers back up the sentiment that Barnes has struggled when asked to come out of the ‘pen on consecutive days.

Per Baseball Reference, Barnes has made 10 appearances on zero days rest, another career-high for him. In those 10 games, he has posted an ERA well over 10 and batting average against of .351 over 8 2/3 total innings.

With one or more days of rest, however, the former first round pick has fared much better. That much is evident by how his ERA shrinks from 10.38 with no days off down to 2.16 over 25 frames with anywhere from one to five days off.

If Barnes continues to work at the rate he is now, he is only going to wear out quicker. He’s already walked nine batters in June, more than he had in March/April and May combined.

Clearly, whatever plan president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had in place for his bullpen has not panned out and is just not sustainable for a deep postseason run.

Barnes has struggled at closing games, yes, but was he ever named the Red Sox’ closer to begin with? No.

What the Sox need is an actual closer. Someone with saving experience to fill the gap Craig Kimbrel left from last year’s team.

As long as they figure out some way to upgrade their bullpen, there’s no need for this team to sell.

So, as I have already mentioned, Matt Barnes and the Red Sox bullpen needs some help, or else the Yankees are just going to keep on widening that gap for first place in the American League East until it’s out of the picture.