RECAP: Chris Sale Dazzles in Return from DL as #RedSox Complete Four-Game Sweep of Orioles in Three Days.

Less than 24 hours after sweeping the Orioles in a day-night doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox were looking for the real four-game sweep this afternoon to head into an off day on a positive note.

Making his 23rd start of the season and first since July 27th due to a 10-day disabled list stint caused by left shoulder inflammation, Chris Sale picked off right where he left off and flat dominated at Camden Yards on Sunday.

Granted, it was against a last place Orioles team, but still, for not pitching in a big league game for over two weeks, Sale really did pick up right where he left off in this one.

Pitching five complete frames, the left-hander held Baltimore scoreless on one hit, a single, while not walking a single batter on the afternoon.

The most incredible part of this Sale start, at least for me, had to be the number of strikeouts.

As he faced 16 total Orioles through those five scoreless innings, Sale managed to punch out 12(!!!). 12! In five innings! That’s 80% of the outs he recorded. All done with just 68 pitches. Truly surreal.

Out of those 68 pitches thrown, 48 of which were strikes, the Florida native induced 15 total swings and misses on the day.while

Relying on his four-seam fastball 31 times, the seven-time All Star topped out at 99.7 MPH with it in the third inning. Another sign that Sale’s left shoulder is feeling quite fine.

Alex Cora made it clear following the game that Sale was going to be limited to 75 pitches no matter what happened. And given the fact he completed five innings in such a convincing fashion with those 68 pitches, it makes sense why they did not want to put him back out there only to have him not finish the sixth.

It’s also worth noting that this was the 29-year-old’s first in-game action this month, so easing him back into things isn’t such a bad plan either.

Regardless, Sale maintained the stellar form he has put on display time in and time out this season, and because of that, he increased his scoreless innings streak up to 28 dating back to July 6th.

Including today, Sale owns a nice 0.69 ERA over his last 10 starts with 109 strikeouts in 65 innings pitched over that span. He has not given up a home run in a start since the first day of June.

As he improved to 12-4 on the season, the lanky lefty will look to build on an impressive return to the rotation in his next time out, which should come sometime next week against either the Tampa Bay Rays or Cleveland Indians, depending on how the upcoming off days impact pitching matchups.

In relief of Sale, the Red bullpen was once gain turned to at a rather early spot starting in the sixth inning.

  • Tyler Thornburg entered in a 2-0 game and retired the first two batters he faced, but followed that up by loading the bases on a single and two walks in a frame he was unable to finish. Out of the 24 pitches Thornburg threw, 10 went for strikes. That is not good.
  • Ryan Brasier would have to come on and attempt to get out of the jam Thornburg had created, and he managed by getting Trey Mancini to strikeout in a nerve-wracking seven pitch at bat that ended the inning and left the bases juiced.
  • Brian Johnson, despite moving up to the rotation earlier in the week, got the call for the seventh, and he needed just 16 pitches to work his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise scoreless frame of work.
  • Matt Barnes’ August struggles continued in the eighth, as he allowed three of the first four Orioles he faced to reach and load the bases in a two-run game. Fortunately, after surrendering Baltimore’s lone run on a Trey Mancini sacrifice fly, the UCONN product buckled down and fanned Tim Beckham on four pitches to retire the side.
  • Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save in the ninth with a brand new three run lead to work with. He too continued some recent struggles by allowing the tying run to come to the plate with runners on first and second, but struck out the final pair of Orioles hitters he faced to notch his 35th save and secure his team’s 85th win of 2018.

So, over the past three days/four games, Red Sox relievers has been responsible for 19.2 innings pitched out of the bullpen en route to the four-game sweep. Having two off days in the next four days will certainly come in handy to get those guys some rest.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles RHP Alex Cobb.

Despite the rough first year he has had in Baltimore, Cobb was certainly more reminiscent of his days with the Tampa Bay Rays in one of his better outings of the season on Sunday.

Starting the scoring right away in the top half of the first was none other than Steve Pearce, who greeted Cobb by mashing a solo shot to left field to give the Red Sox an early advantage. Yet another big fly off a former team for Pearce, his 10th of the year.

Fast forward to the fourth, and a leadoff double off the bat of Brock Holt would turn into Boston second’s run of the afternoon thanks to a fielding error in right field on a JD Martinez single. Despite Holt coming in to score on the E9 committed by Adam Jones, Martinez was not credited with an RBI on the play.

Five innings later and going into the ninth with a one-run lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts provided some late game insurance with a pair of RBI base knocks.

Bradley Jr. drove in Eduardo Nunez, who technically got the rally started with a leadoff single off of O’s reliever Mychal Givens, from second to make it a 3-1 game.

In the very next at bat, Mookie Betts, in a 2-0 hitter’s count, ripped an RBI double off of Givens to score Bradley Jr. all the way from first and extend his hitting streak to eight games.

4-1 on Betts’ 63rd RBI of the season, which would turn out to be the final score in favor of the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox’ 85 wins are their most ever through 120 games. They are 50 games above .500 for the first time since 1946.

Another one from @SoxNotes: Chris Sale has a 0.20 ERA in his last 7 starts (44.0 IP, 1 R). According to , that is the lowest ERA by a Red Sox pitcher over any 7-start span since earned runs became an official stat in 1913. In those 7 starts, Sale has 79 K and 6 BB.

At 85-35, the Red Sox will head to Philadelphia via train for a quick two-game set against the Phillies that begins on Tuesday.

Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi will get the starting nod for Boston in those two interleague contests, as they will be matched up against RHPs Nick Pivetta and Vince Velazquez in that order.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Tuesday.

 

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Drew Pomeranz Is Headed to the #RedSox Bullpen, for Now.

Hours before the Red Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays looking for their seventh consecutive win, Manager Alex Cora announced that left-hander Drew Pomeranz will now assume a reliever role with the club.

This move does not come as a surprise to many, as Pomeranz has not looked quite like himself in the three starts he has made since being activated from the 10-day disabled list on July 24th.

Over that span, the lefty has surrendered eight earned runs on 14 hits and 11 walks in 14.1 innings pitched, good for an ERA of 5.02 and an OPS against of .894. Not great.

The Red Sox are 1-2 in those three Pomeranz starts and 5-6 in his starts dating back to April 20th.

Although this decision may be discouraging for the soon to be free agent, the numbers say that, over his eight-year career between the Rockies, Athletics, Padres, and Red Sox, Pomeranz has actually been more efficient out of the bullpen.

In 59 career appearances as a reliever, Pomeranz owns a 2.10 ERA in 64 innings pitched. Compare that to a 4.04 ERA in 122 career starts, and perhaps this role will benefit the native of Tennessee.

The last time Pomeranz pitched out of the Red Sox bullpen came during the 2016 ALDS, when in two appearances against the Indians, the 29-year-old hurler allowed two earned runs over 4.1 total innings pitched.

There is still a chance that Pomeranz gets designated for assignment though, as roster spots will need to be made available for the likes of Blake Swihart, Ian Kinsler, and Chris Sale in the coming days.

Alex Cora also announced Thursday that Brian Johnson will maintain his spot in the Red Sox rotation.

Chris Sale is still scheduled to start Sunday’s series finale against the Orioles in Baltimore, per The Boston Globe.

RECAP: Rafael Devers Homers in Return from Disabled List as #RedSox Remain Unbeaten in August.

On the night following a 10-7 win despite a disappointing performance from Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox hung another 10 runs on the Blue Jays while Wednesday’s starter Brian Johnson had himself a much better time on the mound at Rogers Centre.

Making his eighth start of the season and pitching north of the border for the first time since he took the loss on a Luke Maile walk-off home run on May 11th, Johnson breezed through the first five innings of this one.

Retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced while holding the Jays scoreless, it looked as though the lefty was going to cruise to his third winning decision on Wednesday night.

It turned out that way in the end, but not before the Blue Jays gave Johnson a fair amount of trouble in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Starting in that sixth inning, a two-run home run off the bat of Teoscar Hernandez, who has now hit seven homers in 19 career games against the Red Sox, that was preceded by a Justin Smoak single gave Toronto their first two runs of the contest.

An inning later, which is the furthest Johnson has pitched into a big league game since last May, another home run, this one good for three runs off the bat of Randal Grichuk cut Boston’s lead in half and ended Johnson’s night on a rather sour note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (67 strikes), the former Florida Gator relied on his offspeed curveball heavily on Wednesday, as he went to it 44% of the time he was on the mound. His four-seam fastball, a pitch Johnson went to 40 times, topped out at 90.1 MPH in the second inning. Both home runs given up were a result of 86 and 87 MPH fastballs.

As he did end up improving to 3-3 on the season despite the five runs given up for the second consecutive outing, I would assume that Johnson will be able to maintain his spot in the rotation and make another start against the Philadelphia Phillies next week.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen, fresh off more than five innings of work on Tuesday, did not need to be turned to that frequently last night.

Both Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly tossed scoreless frames of work in the 10-5 win. Brasier worked his way around two base runners to retire the side in the eighth, and Joe Kelly did the same in the ninth to wrap up his team’s 81st win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was mas matched up against a 28-year-old rookie right-handed pitcher in Toronto’s Mike Hauschild.

Hauschild, making his first career big league start, managed to hold Boston scoreless through the first two innings, but things really blew up on him starting in the third.

Rafael Devers, who was making his first start since being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day, got a four-run rally started by reaching second on a leadoff double.

One walk of Sandy Leon and one Mookie Betts HBP later to load the bases, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Devers from third with ease.

Mitch Moreland, fresh off a four RBI night on Tuesday, followed that up by ripping another double off the wall in center field to drive in both Leon and Devers and make it a 3-0 game.

Following a JD Martinez single that advanced Moreland to third and a Blue Jays pitching change that saw Luis Santos take over for Hauschild, Xander Bogaerts capped off the early rally with another sac fly to right field that allowed Moreland to score from third. 4-0.

In the fifth, Bogaerts came through again with runners in scoring position, as he drew a bases loaded walk from Santos that let Mookie Betts, who led the inning off with a single, plate Boston’s fifth run.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put on exclamation point in his first game back from injury by blasting a 2-2 slider from new Jays reliever Jake Petricka 425 feet into the left field seats. Devers’ 16th big fly of the season was good for two and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH, the second hardest hit ball of the evening.

Fast forward a bit to the seventh, and back-to-back doubles from JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s eighth run while Bogaerts was able to pick up his third RBI of the contest.

Finally, in the ninth, JD Martinez capped off what was another offensive onslaught from the Red Sox lineup by driving in Sandy Leon from second on a two out RBI single, his league-leading 98th of the season. Andrew Benintendi also came around to score in the inning thanks to a wild pitch from Toronto reliever Joe Biagini to plate his team’s 10th and last run of the night.

Some notes from this win: 

During his current seven-game hitting streak, JD Martinez is slashing .464/.559/.893 with one home run and nine RBI over that span.

From @MLBStatoftheDay: The are the 7th AL team EVER to win at least 81 of their first 115 games.

At 81-34, the Red Sox have won their last six games, all of which have come in August, 10 out of their last 11, and 25 of their last 30. Their winning percentage on the season is a robust .704.

Going for the series win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for the Red Sox against Blue Jays rookie southpaw Ryan Borucki.

Coming off perhaps the best start of his career last Friday against the New York Yankees in which he tossed nine innings of one run ball, Porcello will be in search of his 15th win of the season on Thursday.

Opposite Porcello will be Ryan Borucki, who also matched up against the righty in his last start against Boston on July 13th, a start in which he surrendered seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks in what turned out to be a 13-7 win for Toronto.

The Red Sox are red-hot and first pitch of the series finale at Rogers Centre is once again scheduled for 7:07 PM ET Thursday.

 

RECAP: Steve Pearce Launches Three Homers and Drives in Six Runs as #RedSox Steamroll over Yankees in 15-7 Series Opening Win.

In an exciting game that had just about everything a baseball fan could ask for on Thursday night, it was the Red Sox, despite a rather slow start, who had their way with the New York Yankees in the first game of a four-game weekend series.

Yes, the early performances from Brian Johnson and Boston’s lineup would lead you to believe the Red Sox would have to fight their way to a potential win last night, but an eight run fourth inning really turned this game on its head.

Speaking of Johnson, the lefty made his first career start against the Yankees on Thursday, as he filled in for Chris Sale, who is currently on the 10-day disabled list.

Pitching five full innings, Johnson was certainly not at his best in his seventh start of the season, but he didn’t need to be.

Starting right away in the top of the first, the Florida native allowed the first three batters he faced, including a three-run blast off the bat of Didi Gregorius to put the Yankees up 3-0 early.

An inning later, another home run, this one coming from Aaron Hicks with two outs in the second, tacked on another run to New York’s lead, and the Red Sox found themselves trailing by four before they even took their second set of at bats.

Fortunately, Johnson settled down a bit from that point up until the middle of the fifth when he served up another homer to Gregorius to lead off the inning. By the time that happened though, the Red Sox had already jumped up to a 10-4 lead, so it’s not like it had that big of an impact on the final result.

Able to pick up his first winning decision since April 2nd, the 27 year-old hurler ended his so-so night by striking out the final three batters he faced to up his total to 11 on the night, setting a new career-high with that mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (65 strikes), Johnson relied on his four-seam fastball 45 times last night, and topped out at 91.4 MPH with it on his 87th pitch of the game.

If Sale is able to make his next start in Toronto next week, I can’t imagine there would be a reason to keep Johnson in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Anyway, in relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen began their night with a six run lead to protect in the sixth.

Brandon Workman made his first appearance with the big league club since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday, and he surrendered a Giancarlo Stanton mammoth shot of a solo home run in what was an otherwise clean two innings of work. He also received some help from Ian Kinsler with two fantastic plays at second in the seventh.

Joe Kelly was next up in the eighth, and although his old friend Tyler Austin was nowhere to be found, the righty reliever looked decently dominant in an eight pitch 1-2-3 frame of work.

Finally, Ryan Brasier came on to close this thing out, and despite trimming the Yankees deficit to eight runs, managed to hold on to record the final out of the night and secure his team’s 76th win of the season.

On the other side of things, where do I even begin? Holy moly, what a night it was for just about everyone who swung a bat for the Red Sox on Thursday.

Facing off against an opponent they usually struggle against in the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, Mookie Betts, who entered last night in a 10/48 skid since the All-Star break, got the scoring started for Boston by drawing a two out bases loaded walk in the second to cut New York’s lead down to three.

In the third, Steve Pearce pulled his team a little closer by blasting his first of three home runs on the night in what would end up being Sabathia’s final frame after he had already walked four batters in a rather short period of time.

Big mistake there by Aaron Boone and the Yankees, because my god, did the Red Sox lineup go off in the fourth.

Before an out could even be recorded by Yanks reliever Jonathan Holder, Boston sent seven men to the plate, which resulted in a brand new 8-4 lead and one hell of a play at home courtesy of Jackie Bradley Jr. on an Andrew Benintendi fielder’s choice.

Steve Pearce’s second home run of the night, a three-run shot, was part of this barrage as well.

Once Chad Green came in for Holder, who, again, failed to record a single out, more RBI knocks from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi scored the seventh and eighth runs in what will more than likely go down as the most exciting inning of the season.

Over the next two innings, an RBI double from Ian Kinsler in the fifth put the Red Sox up 11-5, and in the sixth, another RBI two bagger off the bat of Andrew Benintendi increased the Red Sox lead to 12-5.

One batter later, Steve Pearce put the exclamation point on his incredible night by mashing his third big fly of the game off of Luis Cessa to complete the hat trick and put his team’s 14th and final run of the contest on the board. Here are all three homers in one convenient video.

In total, Red Sox hitters reached base 25 times on Thursday, which resulted in a season-high tying 15 runs crossing the plate. The team also hit .375 (9/24) with runners in scoring position.

Some other notes from this win:

Injury related: Blake Swihart would have to leave this game with right hamstring tightness in the sixth inning. He has been ruled day-to-day.

Mookie Betts broke out of his little slump in a big way last night, as he reached base SIX times by himself in six tries.

In his first taste of the rivalry, Ian Kinsler went 3/6 with two RBI and two defensive gems at second base.

Steve Pearce, in 59 career games against the Yankees, is slashing .294/.385/.586 with 13 HR and 29 RBI, which are the most he has against any individual team.

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce is the 3rd Red Sox player ever to hit 3 HR in a game against the Yankees, joining Kevin Millar (7/23/2004) and Mo Vaughn (5/30/1997).

Another one from @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead in the AL East since September 2013.

The Sox are 20-5 in their last 25 games. They lead the majors in win % (.691, 76-34), runs per game (5.34), stolen bases (86), AVG (.270), and OPS (.796).

Having won the series opener in convincing fashion, the Yankees and Red Sox will be back it at later tonight in a pitching matchup featuring two different types of right-handers.

For the Yankees, it will be Luis Severino, a power arm, and for the Red Sox, Rick Porcello, who relies less on his velocity, gets the nod for game two.

Despite the ace status, Severino has had his fair share of struggles lately, as he owns a 8.84 ERA in his last four outings for New York.

Rick Porcello, who has posted a 3.31 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees, is coming off an appearance in which he surrendered four earned runs in less than six innings pitched against the Minnesota Twins on July 28th.

Not expecting another blowout in this one, but it should still be an entertaining night regardless. First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Friday.

 

RECAP: Kyle Gibson Outduels Brian Johnson as #RedSox Drop Series Opener to Twins in 2-1 Loss.

Coming off a five-game road trip in which lousy weather followed them from Detroit the Baltimore, the Red Sox headed home for the first time since the All-Star break to welcome the 47-53 Minnesota Twins into town. After their game against the Orioles got rained out in the second inning on Wednesday night, one might have expected the team to come out firing against the Twins on Thursday, but that simply was not the case.

In what might be his last start for the forseeable future with RHP Nathan Eovaldi being added to the 25-man roster earlier in the day, Brian Johnson made his sixth start of the year in this one, and he was solid yet again.

Pitching nearly six full innings, the lefty held the Twins scoreless while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts, something he has done in three straight starts.

Despite the goose egg in runs allowed, Johnson certainly was far from perfect and found himself working around a healthy amount of traffic in the first and last innings he appeared in.

The first lot of traffic on the base paths came in the first, as two of the first three Twins the Florida native faced in this game reached base on singles.

With runners on first and second, another single off the bat of Eduardo Escobar to center field looked like it was going to be good enough to score Joe Mauer from second for the first run of the evening. Luckily for the Red Sox, a cannon from Jackie Bradley Jr. to nab the Twins third baseman at the plate put a temporary hold on any immediate danger.

Two batters later though, the bases were loaded for the Twins after DH Mitch Garver had a drawn a seven pitch walk.

Faced with yet another tough spot early on, Johnson buckled down by striking out the next batter he faced in Robbie Grossman on another seven pitches to escape the jam and send this thing to the middle half of the first.

Including the strikeout of Grossman, the 27-year old starter/reliever hybrid went on to retire 14 straight Twins hitters from the first all the way to the top half of the sixth.

Once Eddie Rosario broke that streak by drawing a five pitch walk, Johnson’s night would soon come to an end, but not before a wild sequence took hold on a Brian Dozier single.

As can be seen in the video, Jackie Bradley Jr. gets this ball in as soon as possible to try to nab Eddie Rosario at third.

That did not pan out, and neither did Rafael Devers’ throw to Brock Holt at second to catch Dozier advancing to second.

What did work out here was someone on the left side of the infield communicating to Holt that Rosario was headed towards home.

After recovering from the attempted tag out of Dozier, the Red Sox utility man got up quickly, turned, and darted a near-perfect throw to Blake Swihart to get the out at the plate and prevent the Twins from getting on the board. A very well executed 8-5-4-2 play on the second out of the inning.

Following another walk of Eduardo Escobar, Johnson’s eventful night came to an end with the chance to get the win, as he was replaced in favor of Heath Hembree.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (53 strikes), the former Florida Gator relied on his four-seam fastball 43% of the time while on the mound on Thursday and topped out at 91 MPH with it on his 67th pitch of the contest.

In terms of innings pitched, 5.2, this is the deepest Johnson has pitched into an outing since he tossed six one-run innings in his first start of the season back on April 2nd against the Miami Marlins.

Lowering his ERA to 3.45 and WHIP to 1.33, the left-hander came away with a no-decision on Thursday, and as I had already mentioned, will return to the bullpen within the next few days.

In relief of Johnson, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the sixth and retired the lone batter he faced in the inning.

Coming back out for a second frame of work with a one run lead to protect, the South Carolina native served up two straight hits to start out the seventh.

After a GDIP off the bat of Ehire Adrianza tied the game at one run a piece, Hembree gave up his third hit of the inning against the last batter he saw.

Matt Barnes came in to clean the mess that Hembree had made with two outs, ended the inning by striking out Joe Mauer, but surrendered the go-ahead run on a two out Mitch Garver RBI double in the eighth. Charged with his third loss of the season, last night marked the first time since July 12th in which Barnes had given up an earned run.

From that point on, Ryan Brasier continued his run of quality relief work with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to keep his team within striking distance, which nearly worked out for them.

On the other side of things, Twins starter Kyle Gibson was DEALING last night. He needed 120 pitches to get through eight innings, but he was excellent.

The only run the Red Sox could muster in this one came in the second, when, with one out and Blake Swihart at third and Jackie Bradley at first, Mookie Betts grounded out to short, which allowed Swihart to easily score from third.

However, on the throw from shortstop to first base, Bradley tried to advance all the way from first to third on a pretty agressive move and ultimately paid the price for it, as he was tagged out to end the inning thanks to a fine throw from Joe Mauer. Betts did come away with an RBI, but that was all the scoring the team could come up with.

I mean, they certainly had their plethora of opportunities, like loading the bases on multiple occasions in the first and ninth innings, but had nothing to show for it.

Speaking of the ninth inning, I need to know why Mitch Moreland was not pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr. in that spot.

Bases loaded, one run game, two outs, Twins closer Fernando Rodney on the mound, a pitcher Moreland has hit at a .600 clip over his career, and he is nowhere to be found.

Alex Cora said after the game that there was no reason in particular why Moreland did not come on to hit for Bradley. It was just a matter of the team being in favor of the way the lineup was matched up against Rodney.

And ultimately, that decision did not pan out. As the Red Sox center fielder, fresh off making two fantastic plays with his glove, fanned for second time to wrap this frustrating 2-1 loss up.

Some notes from this one:

In 14 at bats this month, Blake Swihart is slashing .417/.500/.625 with one home run and two RBI to go along with a current eight game hitting streak as well.

Since joining the big league club on July 28th, Ryan Brasier owns an ERA of 0.00 in eight innings pitched. With the recent struggles from the bullpen, perhaps it’s time to give Brasier some more high leverage opportunities.

This is just my opinion, but the Red Sox should probably upgrade their bullpen.

Dropping two consecutive games for the first time since June 19-20 against these Twins, the Red Sox will look to even things back up tomorrow to kick off what should be a fun weekend for the team. Chris Sale gets the ball for the Friday start and he will be matched up against veteran righty Lance Lynn for Minnesota.

In his only other start against the Twins this season, Sale struck out 11 batters in seven innings pitched back on that June 19th game at Target Field.

First pitch of the second game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Friday.

RECAP: Jose Iglesias Goes off Against His Former Team as #RedSox Get Shut out in 5-0 Loss to Tigers.

Less than 24 hours after their first win of the second “half” of the season in Detroit on Friday night, the Red Sox were back at it against the Tigers at an early 6:00 PM start time yesterday.

Making his fifth start of the season and second career start against Detroit, Brian Johnson continued to prove he is more than capable of filling in the rotation with yet another solid outing on Tuesday evening.

In his longest appearance since being activated from the disabled list on July 15th, the lefty surrendered just two runs, both unearned, on five hits in five innings pitched.

Over that span, Johnson did not walk a single batter while tying his season-high in strikeouts with five on the night.

The only real mistake Johnson made came in the bottom half of the second inning, when with runners on first and second, old friend Jose Iglesias ripped a two-run double down the left field line to put his team on the board, which is all they would need to pick up the eventual win.

Other than that though, it certainly could have been worse for Johnson, but with the help of Mookie Betts making this catch to rob Leonys Martin of a home run in the third…

…the Florida native managed to hold the Tigers scoreless over the last three innings he pitched while retiring nine of the last 12 batters he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 77 (53 strikes), Johnson went to his four-seam fastball 35 times and topped out at 91 MPH with it in the fourth inning. It has yet to be announced by the team yet, but I would expect the 27 year-old hurler to make his next start against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Johnson, Tyler Thornburg got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin the bottom half of the sixth inning, and he was not at the top of the game.

Walking the leadoff hitter is never a good sign, but that’s exactly what Thornburg did to kick off his lone frame of work. After a Victor Martinez single put runners on first and third with still no outs, Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario tacked on an insurance run for his team with a sac fly to left field, making it a 3-0 game now.

Two batters later, old friend Jose Iglesias struck again, as he essentially put this game out of reach by blasting a two-run homer, his third of the season, into the Tigers bullpen to put his team up by five runs. All of this coming off of Thornburg, who now owns a 10.38 ERA in five appearances with the Red Sox.

From that point on, Ryan Brasier and Hector Velazquez combined to toss two scoreless innings to wrap this thing up and at least give the Red Sox some sort of chance in the ninth, although that did not come to fruition.

On the other side of things, following a one run effort against the Tigers on Friday, the Red Sox lineup was held completely scoreless in nine tries last night.

Facing off against veteran starter Mike Fiers for Detroit, Boston did collect their fair share of hits and walks, but could not capitalize on any scoring opportunity.

With JD Martinez out of the lineup on Saturday, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi were responsible for half of the teams eight hits.

As I mentioned, the scoring chances were there for the Red Sox, like how two runners reached base each inning from the fifth until the seventh, but a las, nothing came of it.

Scattering seven hits and three free passes over 6.1 innings pitched, Fiers was definitely far from the toughest opponent the Red Sox have faced this season, yet they could not plate a single run off of him or the Tigers bullpen in a frustrating effort.

Some notes from this one:

Rafael Devers made his return from the 10-day disabled list and batted sixth last night. He went 1/4 with two strikeouts to go along with an E5 on a throwing error in the second inning.

100 games into the season, the Red Sox still have a nice 69-31 record, meaning they have won exactly 69% of their games thus far in 2018.

In five outings as a starter, Brian Johnson owns a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 4-1 when he starts.

With a 1/3 night at the plate, Blake Swihart extended his hitting streak to six games. In those six games, he’s slashing .438/.471/.563 with one RBI.

The Red Sox have scored one run in 18 innings since returning from the break, not great.

Looking for win number 70 this afternoon, it will be Chris Sale making his first start since he tossed a scoreless inning for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game. With a career 3.05 ERA against the Tigers, the lefty will be matched up against fellow southpaw Blaine Hardy for Detroit, who has surrendered six runs in 7.2 career innings pitched against the Red Sox.

JD Martinez is back in the lineup, DHing, and batting third today while Mitch Moreland sits in favor of Steve Pearce at first base. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET as the Red Sox go for their fifth straight series win.

 

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Homers Again as #RedSox Close out First Half with 68th Win of Season.

On the last day before hitting the All-Star break, the Red Sox were looking to end the first half of their season on a positive note by taking three out of four games from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Making his first start for the team since July 3rd, Brian Johnson returned from the disabled list in effective fashion on Sunday afternoon.

In just over four innings pitched, the lefty surrendered two runs on two hits and four walks while tying a season-high in strikeouts with five on the day.

Four walks in that short of an outing usually is not a good sign for a pitcher, but Johnson found himself working his away around them to avoid anything too detrimental.

In fact, the only real costly mistake the Florida native made came in the third inning, when with one out and a runner at second, Johnson left a 0-1, 76 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate, and Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez made him pay for it, as he sent it 349 feet into the Monster seats for a two-run shot, tying the game at two runs a piece.

Following that home run though, Johnson proceeded to retire seven of the final eight batters he faced, and with two outs in the top half of the fifth and Hernandez due up for Toronto, got the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (52 strikes), the 27 year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball just over 51% of the time on Sunday, and topped out at 92 MPH with it in the first inning.

Since rejoining the Red Sox rotation on June 28th against the Angels, Johnson has yet to go deeper than five innings in three outings, yet the Red Sox are unbeaten in all three of those starts.

In relief of Johnson, as I had previously mentioned, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. Needing one out to close out the top half of the fifth, Workman struck out the only batter he faced, Hernandez, on seven pitches.

From that point on, despite a more than welcome amount of traffic on the base paths, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, and Heath Hembree all tossed a scoreless inning of relief each, setting up Craig Kimbrel for the save opportunity with a three-run lead to work with in the ninth.

Making his last appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen before heading to Washington DC for his seventh All-Star Game, Kimbrel notched his 30th save of the season by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning, including two straight punch outs to close this thing out and secure his teams 68th win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman.

Never trailing in this game, Xander Bogaerts stayed red-hot and started off the scoring with his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot sent 423 feet over the Monster, to put the Red Sox on the board first.

Four batters later, after JD Martinez drew a seven pitch walk and Mitch Moreland reached first on a fielding error, Brock Holt came through with his first of two RBI knocks on the day, as he scored Martinez from third on a hard-hit bloop single to center field, putting the Red Sox up 2-0 early.

After Toronto came back to tie things back up again in the third, a Sandy Leon leadoff double in the fifth got a mini rally started for the Red Sox.

Following that up with a double of his own of off Stroman, Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the go-ahead run while also collecting his 31st RBI of the season and giving his team a one run lead they would not have to look back from.

That was followed by a Mookie Betts flyout that allowed Bradley to tag up and advance to third, setting up another prime scoring chance.

Looking for his second RBI of the day, Xander Bogaerts managed to drive in Bradley from third by hitting a comebacker that got a piece of Stroman’s knee. The Blue Jays were able to recover and get the out at first, but the Red Sox had a two-run cushion to work with now.

In the sixth, Brock Holt wrapped up the scoring for the Red Sox with another RBI single, this one just out of the reach of Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis, as Mitch Moreland came in to score from second to put Boston up 5-2.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 4.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead of the season.

The Sox have won 12 of their last 13 games and are 17-3 in their last 20.

This is the first time since 2007 that Boston enters the All-Star break with MLB’s best record (68-30, .694).

In the month of July, Xander Bogaerts owns an OPS of 1.154.

Over his last six games, Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting .333 with five extra-base hits and five RBI.

With the next four days off, the Red Sox will resume their season schedule next Friday, as they open up a six game road trip starting in Detroit.

Starting pitchers for that series have yet to be officially announced by the team yet, but for the Tigers, it will be Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers, and Michael Fulmer getting the start for the upcoming weekend series.

Before then, let’s just enjoy watching our five All-Stars in the nation’s capital on Tuesday.