Late Comeback Attempt Falls Short as Red Sox Drop Opener to Twins 6-5

After wrapping up a 6-2 west coast road trip on Sunday and a day to recover on Monday, the Red Sox opened up the final month of their season with a 6-5 loss against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins on Tuesday to fall to 74-64 on the year.

Making his 28th start of the season for Boston and second against Minnesota was Rick Porcello, who held the Twins scoreless on just four hits over seven strong innings the last time he faced them at Target Field back on June 17th.

Working into the fifth inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

The first of those six Twins tallies came in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners at first and second following a leadoff HBP from Max Kepler and one-out walk drawn by Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano got his side on the board first with a jam shot of an RBI single hit weakly to left field, but strong enough to drive in Kepler from second.

In the third, more two-out trouble arose for Porcello, this time with runners on second and third and Jake Cave plating both on a two-run triple off the center field wall to make it a 3-0 contest.

Two innings later, it was the home run ball that bit Porcello, as Nelson Cruz teed off on a 1-0, 81 MPH slider at the top of the zone to lead the frame off with a solo shot, and Sano followed suit by doing even more damage off another 1-1, 90 MPH heater at the top of the zone, driving in a pair on a 452-foot two-run shot to dead center.

Sano’s 27th homer of the season gave Minnesota a commanding 6-0 advantage at the time it was crushed, and Porcello would not face another hitter, as Sox manager Alex Cora was forced to turn to his bullpen early once more.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (59 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer nearly 41% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 91.9 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his 11th loss while inflating his ERA on the season up to 5.63, Porcello will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball.

In relief of Porcello, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the fifth with the bases empty and three outs to get, and he got that first out before plunking C.J. Cron and making way for another southpaw in the form of Brian Johnson.

Johnson stranded Cron, as well as the man he walked, with back-to-back groundouts to escape the inning unscathed.

From there, Marcus Walden gave up one free pass in an otherwise clean sixth, Darwinzon Hernandez punched out the side on 12 pitches in an electric seventh, Andrew Cashner tossed a 1-2-3 eighth, and Brandon Worman also fanned three in a scoreless ninth to hold the Twins at six runs. Not like it made much of a difference in the end, though.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie right-hander Randy Dobnak for the Twins, someone making the first start of their major league career after being used as a reliever thrice since being called up on August 27th.

Dobnak held his own in the first, working his way around a two-out walk in a scoreless frame before making way for a bullpen day from the Twins.

Kicking off the scoring in the bottom of the fifth, a leadoff walk drawn by Mitch Moreland and single off the bat of Christian Vazquez, as well as a wild pitch from left-handed reliever Lewis Thorpe, put a couple of runners in scoring position for Brock Holt.

Holt did manage to collect his team’s first RBI of the night, but only on a groundout to second that allowed Moreland to score easily from third. 6-1.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. walk led to another pitching change for the Twins, with right-hander Trevor May taking over for Thorpe.

May got the first man he faced in Mookie Betts to fly out to right, meaning he was only one out from getting out of the jam, but Rafael Devers had different plans.

On the sixth pitch he saw from May, a 2-2, 84 MPH slider down and in, the slugging third baseman came through with a 426-foot blast directly down the right field line for his 29th of 2019.

Per Statcast, that three-run shot had an exit velocity of 104.3 MPH, and it brought the Sox back to within two runs at 6-4.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Andrew Benintendi delivered in a tight spot with two outs, as he greeted new Twins left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers by depositing a 1-0, 94 MPH two-seam fastball pretty much down the middle 373 feet over the Green Monster to cut the deficit to one at 6-5. His 13th of the year came on his bobblehead night.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Holt reached on a leadoff single through the left side of the infield off of Rogers.

Marco Hernandez came on to pinch-run for Holt, and the pinch-hitting Gorkys Hernandez advanced him to second on a successful sacrifice bunt, putting the tying run in scoring position for the top of the lineup.

Betts made decent contact, but failed to advance Hernandez on a comebacker hit to Rogers for the second out.

So, with Devers representing the last chance Boston had, all the 22-year-old could do in a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup was fan on three straight strikes, stranding Hernandez at second and wrapping this one up with a final score of 6-5.

Not the way you want to start a seven-game homestand against two of the toughest teams in the American League.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left six men on base as a team.

The top four hitters in the Red Sox’ lineup (Betts, Devers, Bogaerts, Martinez) went a combined 1-for-16 (.062) with one home run and three RBI on Monday. The Red Sox only had six hits all night.

Andrew Cashner, since moving to the bullpen: 7 Games, 11 Innings Pitched, 4 Hits, 1 Earned Run, 4 Walks, 9 Strikeouts, 1 Save, 0.82 ERA.

From Red Sox Stats:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox are 23-38 against teams .500 or better so far this season.

Bonus Darwinzon Hernandez highlights:

With the Oakland Athletics in action, the Cleveland Indians falling to the Chicago White Sox, and the Tampa Bay Rays splitting a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, the Red Sox currently sit 5 1/2 games behind Cleveland for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set, with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston and right-hander Jose Berrios doing the same for Minnesota.

Rodriguez is coming off a month of August in which he posted a 3.41 ERA and .284 batting average against over six starts and 37 innings of work. The Red Sox went 4-2 in those games.

Back on June 19th, the Venezuela native yielded four runs over seven innings for the Sox in an eventual 8-4 win against the Twins.

Berrios, meanwhile, has fell off a bit since the All-Star break, posting a 4.85 ERA and .279 batting average against over his last nine starts and 52 innings pitched since then.

The 25-year-old out of Puerto Rico opposed Porcello the first time these two teams squared off in June and was just as impressive, surrendering just one run on five hits and 10 strikeouts over eight innings in a tough-luck loss.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

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Red Sox Bullpen Allows Seven Runs to Score in Eighth Inning Meltdown in 10-4 Loss to Angels

After opening up a three-game weekend series with a 7-6, 15-inning victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, the Red Sox saw their mini three-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, as they fell to the Halos by a final score of 10-4 in what truly was a meltdown of a loss.

Making his first start of the season for Boston and 41st appearance overall was Josh Taylor, who was named the opener for the middle game of this three-game set earlier Saturday.

Tossing just one inning in the first start of his big league career, the left-hander kept the Angels off the board despite allowing three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base on a leadoff single and a pair of walks.

Yup, a nine-pitch punchout of Justin Upton, Taylor’s second of the night, and a first-pitch flyout off the bat of Kole Calhoun put an end to the threat, and the Arizona native got off scot-free.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 31 (17 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 55% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 95.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Obviously not factoring into the decision of this one, Taylor should resume his reliever duties once the Red Sox arrive back in Boston.

In relief of Taylor, Marcus Walden entered in the second inning of what was a “bullpen day” for the Sox, and he yielded one run on a two-out Mike Trout RBI single to knot things back up at one run apiece.

From there, Brian Johnson provided some length by serving up three doubles, two of which going for runs, in the bottom half of the third, before retiring nine Angels in consecutive order from the middle of the fourth until the conclusion of the sixth.

In the seventh, Matt Barnes preserved a one-run lead by stranding one runner at second in an otherwise clean frame to make way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.

At that point, the Red Sox had a 60% chance to come away with a win on Saturday, according to FanGraphs.

Rather than seeing those odds increase in his side’s favor though, Brasier did quite the opposite, as he gave up three straight singles to lead off the eighth on fastballs over the heart of the plate.

Upton, Calhoun, and Andrelton Simmons all came through with big hits, and Simmons’ single drove in Upton from second to pull the Angels back even with the Sox at four runs each.

Brasier did manage to get the first two outs of the inning following that flurry, but crumbled once more, this time with David Fletcher and Brian Goodwin driving in a total of three Angels runs on a pair of RBI knocks. 7-4.

Unable to finish what he started, Brasier departed with runners at the corners for Josh Smith, who served up a crushing three-run bomb to the first man he faced in Pujols.

All in all, the Red Sox entered the middle of the eighth with a one-run lead in hand. By the time the final out was recorded, they were trailing by six runs. Not ideal!

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels left-hander Dillon Peters, someone they got to for three runs over six innings the last time they faced him at Fenway Park back on August 8th.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first for the second straight night, J.D. Martinez get his team on the board first with a two-out RBI double just out of the reach of Kole Calhoun in right field, which allowed Rafael Devers to score all the way from first and make it a 1-0 contest early.

In the third, the red-hot Martinez struck with two outs once more, this time plating Mookie Betts from third on a run-scoring single back up the middle to re-take the lead at 2-1.

A fielding error committed by David Fletcher that allowed Martinez to advance to second and Sam Travis to reach base safely brought Andrew Benintendi to the plate with the chance to add on to that 2-1 lead, and he did so, capitalizing on his opponent’s mistake by lacing another RBI base knock to right. 3-1.

An inning later, with things even at 3-3, Brock Holt’s leadoff double and Sandy Leon’s successful sacrifice bunt put a runner at third for Betts, and he delivered with what was then a go-ahead RBI sac fly hit deep enough to center to bring in Holt and make it a 4-3 contest.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and the Sox had their best chance of the night to put this game to bed, with Martinez, the pinch-hitting Marco Hernandez, and the pinch-hitting Mitch Moreland all reaching base off Angels reliever Luis Garcia to fill the bases with one out for Holt.

Having only faced off against Garcia one time in his career before Saturday, Holt got ahead in the count at 2-0, fouled off a 97 MPH heater to bring it back to 2-1, and ultimately made hard, but unlucky contact off a 98 MPH heater pretty much down the heart of the plate.

Instead of it going for a run-scoring hit, Holt grounded into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play, thus killing any shot at adding on some insurance.

That missed opportunity may not have done the Red Sox in, but it certainly did not help, as the Angels went on a seven-run rally of their own in their half of the eighth, and went on to take Saturday’s contest by a final score of 10-4.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 men on base as a team.

The Red Sox finished August with a record of 14-13.

With the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians losing, and Tampa Bay Rays winning on Saturday, the Red Sox currently sit 5 1/2 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot. A great opportunity to make up ground in the Wild Card race goes for naught.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series and west coast road trip as a whole on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Andrew Heaney will do the same for Los Angeles.

Price will be activated off the injured list after missing the past three-plus weeks while recovering from having a TFCC cyst in his left wris removed via a cortisone shot.

In his career at Angel Stadium, the recently turned 34-year-old owns a lifetime 3.54 ERA and .260 batting average against over 11 prior starts and 73 2/3 innings pitched.

Heaney, meanwhile, limited the Sox to one run over 3 2/3 innings of work the last time he faced them on August 10th.

Since that time, the 28-year-old has shined, posting a 1.71 ERA and .160 batting average against over his last three outings, all of which the Angels have won.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Rosters also expand on Sunday, so expect the Red Sox to announce a handful of moves shortly.

Red Sox Go 0-For-7 with Runners in Scoring Position, Struggle Against Aaron Nola in 3-2 Loss to Phillies

After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, as they opened up a two-game, interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 loss to fall back down to 67-60 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and 11th overall appearance was Brian Johnson, taking the spot of the now-shelved Chris Sale, who appears to be out for the remainder of 2019.

Working into fourth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Philadelphia tallies were plated right away in the top half of the first, beginning with a one-out, two-run double off the bat of Jean Segura that drove in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper from second and third.

Two batters later, Johnson was just one strike away from getting out of the first with just the two runs, as he had Scott Kingery in an 0-2 count on the first two pitches of the at-bat.

Instead of escaping though, the Florida native persisted with three straight balls before hanging a 74 MPH curveball over the heart of the plate, one in which Kingery roped down the left field line to drive in Segura and make it a 3-0 contest.

Another single from Cesar Hernandez put a runner in scoring position for Philadelphia once more, but Johnson did not falter this time around, as he got Adam Haseley to fly out to center to put an end to the first.

That flyout began a run for Johnson in which he retired eight of the last 11 Phillies he faced with the help of a successful inning-ending pickoff attempt on the part of Mitch Moreland to snuff out Kingery in the third.

In the fourth, with one out and Hasely at second following a wild pitch, Johnson managed to punch out Andrew Knapp on five pitches, and that would be how his evening came to a close as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen with the Phillies lineup turning over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (42 strikes), the 28-year-old relied on his curveball more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 90 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his second losing decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to 6.58, Johnson’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered with an inherited runner on second and one out to get in the top of the fourth, and he got that out by fanning J.T. Realmuto on three straight strikes after giving up an infield single to Hoskins.

Walden also worked a 1-2-3 fifth before making way for left-hander Josh Taylor in the sixth, who also tossed a perfect inning of relief.

From there, Ryan Brasier struck out one in a scoreless seventh, Darwinzon Hernandez did the same in the eighth, and Matt Barnes worked his way around two straight hitters reaching base with two outs in a shutout top of the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox relievers sat down 16 of the 19 Phillies they collectively faced from the fourth until the middle of the ninth to keep the deficit at one run. Too bad it went in vain.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, whose only other appearance at Fenway Park before Tuesday was an eight-inning gem back on July 30th of last season.

Down by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, Mitch Moreland got things started against Nola beginning in the third inning with a leadoff single.

A Brock Holt flyout brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out in the frame, and he came through by unloading on a first-pitch, 93 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate from Nola and depositing it 402 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Per Statcast, Bradley Jr.’s 15th home run of this season and third in his last six games had an exit velocity of 108.4 MPH, the hardest hit ball from either side all night.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s lead down to just one, and it certainly seemed as though they had Nola on the ropes on multiple occasions from there.

Like in the bottom of the fifth, when Christian Vazquez led off with a line-drive double. Moreland, Brock Holt, and Bradley Jr. all had their chances to drive the runner in, but neither of the three could deliver.

An inning later, Mookie Betts singled and stole second to lead off the sixth, setting up the Red Sox’ 2-3-4 hitters in a prime run-scoring spot. Again, none of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, nor J.D. Martinez answered with what would have been a game-tying knock.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Nola out and left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia, and Bradley Jr. again reached base on one-out single, turning the lineup over against new reliever Mike Morin.

Betts looked helpless as he fanned on three straight hittable strikes, and Devers didn’t fare much better with an inning-ending lineout to center.

And in the ninth, all frustration boiled over as Xander Bogaerts laced a leadoff double off of Phillies closer Hector Neris.

Things were looking promising for Boston yet again, but on the very next pitch thrown by Neris, Martinez lined a grounder to Segura at short, prompting Bogaerts to try and advance to third despite the play being right in front of him.

Segura took advantage of this, as he snubbed out his positional counterpoint with a quick toss over to Kingery at third.

Bogaerts was out by a decent amount, and just like that, the Sox were down to their final two outs with a runner at first instead of at second.

Chris Owings came on to run for Martinez at first, but that did not make much of a difference, as Benintendi lined out to Segura in the shift more towards second, and he was able to double up Owings at first to end the ballgame with 3-2 being Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left three men on base as a team.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .292/.333/.750 with three homers and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays falling to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, the Red Sox still remain six games off the pace for the second American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second and final game of this two-game series, with right-hander Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston and left-hander Drew Smyly doing the same for Philadelphia. The two were part of the same starting rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2012 until 2014.

Since the calendar flipped to August, Porcello has been, for the most part, solid, posting a 3.71 ERA and .206 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In his career in interleague play, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 4.29 ERA and .277 batting average against over 42 total outings (40 starts) and 241 1/3 innings of work. He will not get to bat this time out.

Smyly, meanwhile, has surrendered 17 runs (15 earned) on 26 hits in five starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched since joining the Phillies on July 21st.

When pitching at Fenway Park over the course of his career, the 30-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and .198 batting average against over five prior starts that amount to 31 1/3 innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to rebound and start a new winning streak.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Travis Lakins in Corresponding Move

Before kicking off a two-game interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Josh Smith had been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Travis Lakins was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday.

Smith will be making sixth stint with Boston this season and first since being optioned down to Pawtucket on August 4th.

In his most recent stretch with the PawSox, the 32-year-old allowed eight earned runs on 15 hits over two starts and nine innings pitched.

With the Sox this year, Smith has been used as both a starter and reliever, posting a 4.84 ERA and .283 batting average against through 11 appearances (two starts) and 22 1/3 total innings of work.

Per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox’ Smith is up to provide some length out of the bullpen in the event that Tuesday’s starter Brian Johnson does not pitch deep into the game.

On the other side of this move, Travis Lakins was sent back down to Pawtucket eight days after being recalled for his fourth big league stint of 2019.

In those eight days with Boston, the 25-year-old yielded one unearned run in two relief appearances and four total innings pitched against the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Lakins owns an ERA of 4.05 and batting average against of 2.45 through nine appearances and 13 1/3 innings with the Red Sox.

 

J.D. Martinez Crushes Two of Red Sox’ Five Homers in 16-4 Blowout Win over Angels

After shutting out the Los Angeles Angels behind eight dominant innings from Chris Sale on Thursday, the Red Sox picked up their second straight win over the Halos on Friday, as they took the second of the four-game set by a final score of 16-4 to improve to 62-56 on the season.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston and second since being activated off the injured list this past Saturday was Brian Johnson, now taking the spot of the recently shelved David Price in Boston’s rotation.

Working into the third inning on Friday, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.

All three of those Angels runs came around to score right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners on first and second following a one-out double from Mike Trout and two-out walk drawn by Justin Upton, Albert Pujols unloaded on a 1-2, 77 MPH slider from Johnson and deposited it well over the Green Monster.

That three-run blast put Los Angeles up 3-0, but Johnson should have been out of the first before all that went down. Why? Because ball four on that walk to Upton should have gone for strike three for the final out of the frame. Instead, it wasn’t called a strike by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, Upton was granted first, and that set up Pujols.

Other than that one major blip though, Johnson recovered nicely enough to sit down six of the next seven hitters he faced after serving up that bomb before getting the hook with Shohei Ohtani on first, two outs in the third, and Upton due up next to hit for the Angels.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (28 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 90.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while bumping his ERA on the season up to 7.32, Johnson’s next start should come against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered the top half of the third with one out still to get and one runner on, and he got that out thanks to Vazquez, who nabbed Ohtani at second on an unsuccessful stolen base attempt.

Walden also came back out for the fourth and fifth innings, where he faced the minimum of six Angeles hitters over two scoreless to eventually earn his seventh winning decision of the year before making way for Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth.

There, the right-hander began his evening by sitting down David Fletcher, Trout, and Ohtani in order on 20 pitches. Not too shabby.

Eovaldi’s second inning of work in the seventh though? Well, it could have gone better, as a leadoff double off the bat of Upton, a one-out HBP of Kole Calhoun, and two straight walks of Luis Rengifo and Brian Johnson brought Los Angeles’ fourth run of the night.

The Texas native did manage to escape any further damage in the seventh by getting Matt Thaiss to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.

Regardless of that, Hector Velazquez and Josh Taylor wrapped things up in a contest the Sox ended up running away with by combining for two perfect innings of relief in the top halves of the eighth and ninth to secure the 16-4 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels right-hander Jaime Barria, who came into the weekend having yielded 17 runs in his last four starts since the All-Star break.

Kicking off the scoring started right away in the bottom half of the first, J.D. Martinez responded to an early three-run deficit by driving in Mookie Betts from second on a two-out, line-drive RBI double. 3-1.

Fast forward all the way to the fourth, and Martinez struck again, this time plating Xander Bogaerts, as well as himself, on a 402-foot, two-run shot off a 3-1, 93 MPH heater down the heart of the plate from Barria to knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, a one-out single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. would turn out to be the catalyst for another two-run rally in the fifth, as Betts followed suit with his 20th big fly of the year off a 3-2, 87 MPH slider on the inner half of the plate to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 5-3.

In the sixth, Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Vazquez all reached to fill the bases with one out for the pinch-hitting Sam Travis, who greeted new Angels reliever Adalberto Mejia by drawing a five-pitch walk, which brought Martinez in from third and made it a 6-3 contest.

Bradley Jr. collected an RBI despite driving in a pair with a grounder that got under the glove of Rengifo. 8-3.

A six-pitch walk of Betts re-loaded the bases for Rafael Devers, and the 23-year-old took full advantage by lacing another two-run single through the right side of the infield, putting his side up 10-3 in the process of going so.

A red-hot Martinez stayed hot in the seventh, mashing his second homer of the night and 27th of the season to lead the inning off against Angels right-hander Trevor Cahill. 11-4.

Benintendi and Vazquez followed that up by both reaching base on a HBP and walk, and Mitch Moreland came through with an RBI double of his own to drive in Benintendi and make it an eight-run game at 12-4.

In the eighth, after taking over for Bogaerts defensively in the top of the inning, Devers took the first pitch he saw from Cahill and led off with not only his 24th dinger of 2019, but also his first career homer as a shortstop.

Four batters later, a wild pitch allowed Martinez to go from second to third after he reached on a throwing error, and Vazquez proved once more that mistakes can be costly, as he plated Martinez with an RBI single to left. 14-4.

And finally, Moreland put the exclamation point on this blowout with his first home run in nearly three months. This particular one, his 14th of the year, was good for two runs as it soared over the Green Monster.

That opposite field blast gave the Red Sox a 16-4 edge, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

J.D. Martinez’s August thus far: .469/.553/.938 with four homers and eight RBI.

The Red Sox are 14-1 this season when scoring 10-plus runs in a game.

The Red Sox are 3-1 in their last four completed games.

With the win on Friday, the Red Sox now sit five games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Sox, it’s the third of this four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Andrew Heaney will do the same for Los Angeles.

Porcello is coming off his best outing in weeks in his last time out against the Kansas City Royals, as he held the opposition to just one run on four hits over six strong innings of work.

In his career against the Angels, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 5.56 ERA and .291 batting average against over 18 starts and 103 2/3 total innings pitched.

Heaney, meanwhile, will be making his first start in over three weeks after being sidelined due to inflammation in his left elbow.

In one prior start at Fenway Park back on June 27th of last season, the 28-year-old allowed six runs in less than four innings in an eventual losing effort.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

 

Red Sox Get Swept in Doubleheader, Drop Seventh Straight Overall in 6-4 Loss to Yankees

After dropping the opener of a day-night doubleheader and holding a team meeting in between games on Saturday, the Red Sox were unable to turn things around in the night cap, as they fell to the New York Yankees by a final score of 6-4 to mark their seventh consecutive loss.

Making his eighth overall appearance and third start for Boston this season was Brian Johnson, who came into the weekend having not appeared in a big league game since June 22nd after missing more than a month on the injury list due to a non-baseball related medical issue.

Tossing three full innings in his first start since June 16th, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Yankees runs came in the bottom half of the third, when after scattering four hits over two scoreless frames to begin things, Johnson served up a one-out solo shot to a red-hot Gleyber Torres off a 1-1, 94 MPH at the top of the strike zone.

Back-to-back singles from Aaron Hicks and Gio Urshela brought Cameron Maybin to the plate with runners at first and second, and he emptied the bases by lacing a two-run double to left field. Just like that, the Sox’ two-run lead had turned into a one-run deficit.

A line-out off the bat of Mike Tauchman and a mental lapse made from Maybin allowed Johnson to escape the inning thanks to an unconventional 8-6 double play, but the damage already been done.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (44 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 36% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 21 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision due to the short outing while raising his ERA on the season up to 6.88, Johnson will more than likely be used in a long-relief/spot start role in the Sox’ pitching staff for the foreseeable future.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered the fourth with his side up a run, and he maintained that lead by stranding a runner at first in an otherwise clean frame.

Left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the sixth, and he too fell victim to Gleyber Torres, as the Yankee All-Star led the inning off by mashing his second solo shot of the night, this one to tie the ballgame up at four runs apiece.

Taylor got out of the fifth and got the first two outs of the sixth before giving up a ground ball single to D.J LeMahieu, which in turn led to Sox manager Alex Cora turning to Matt Barnes.

Barnes stranded LeMahieu by getting Aaron Judge to ground out to short and also came back out for his second inning of work in the seventh.

There, the right-hander proceeded to fill the bases with Yankees on a Torres leadoff double and back-to-back walks of Hicks and Urshela.

A four-pitch punchout of Maybin made it seem as though Barnes was making progress, but a two-run single off the bat of Tuachman on a 2-1, hanging 86 MPH curveball changed all that.

Torres and Urshela scored as a result, and New York had themselves a 6-4 lead.

To make matters worse, Barnes again loaded the bases with a seven-pitch walk of Austin Romine, thus leading to another pitching change.

Colten Brewer was inserted into a game for the second time in the same day, and he sat down the only two hitters he faced in order to leave the bases loaded.

Finally, Brandon Workman maneuvered his way around a Judge leadoff single in a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep the deficit at two runs.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was first matched up against right-hander Chad Green in what was a bullpen game for the Yankees.

Starting the scoring with one out in the top half of the third, after Green had already been placed by Nestor Cortes Jr., Rafael Devers got his team on the board first by scoring Marco Hernandez, as well as himself, on his 22nd homer of the season.

That booming, 433-foot two-run blast put Boston ahead 2-0, but a three-run rally from New York in their half of the same inning turned that two-run lead into a one-run hole.

Fast forward to the fourth, a leadoff walk from Sam Travis and double from Christian Vazquez against new Yankees reliever Chance Adams put the Red Sox in a prime run-scoring spot.

Michael Chavis and Marco Hernandez were unable to do anything off Adams, but fortunately for Boston, Mookie Betts came through with a two-out, two-run single, plating Vazquez and Travis from second and third to make it a 4-3 contest.

The Yankees’ pen held the Sox in check from there though, as Adam Ottavino, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to toss four shutout frames from the beginning of the sixth until the end of the ninth.

That’s not to say that Boston did not have any chances to score off those three, because they did.

Like in the sixth, when after falling behind by a run, Sam Travis reached second on a leadoff single and stolen base. Christian Vazquez and Brock Holt both had their shot to drive the runner in, but came up short before Marco Hernandez reached on an eight-pitch walk.

Again, Betts came to the plate with the chance to re-take the lead and instead flew out to center.

In the seventh, a two-out walk drawn by J.D. Martinez off of Kahnle presented Andrew Benintendi with the chance to drive in a run. He struck out on five pitches.

What transpired an inning later was clearly their best scoring chance, as Devers came to the plate with two outs and runners at first and second following a Betts walk.

Having faced the Yankees left-hander four times before Saturday, the 23-year-old took the first two pitches he saw for strikes and opted to take a hack at a third-pitch, 83 MPH sinker in the dirt to retire the side.

And in the ninth, another Martinez free pass, this one with one out, brought the tying run to the plate on two separate occasions against Chapman.

Neither Benintendi, who picked up the Golden Somberero with his fourth strikeout, or Travis, who also fanned, could deliver in the clutch though, and the Red Sox dropped this one by a final score of 6-4 as Chapman notched his 29th save of 2019.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Saturday night. They left 11 men on base as a team.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

With their losing streak growing to seven games on Saturday, the Red Sox now stand 13 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 5 1/2 games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

It’s been seven full days since the Red Sox last won a game. That’s hard to believe given how it seemed like this turn was about to turn a corner last weekend against these same Yankees.

For the series finale, it will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers both making their return from paternity leave, as David Price will get the ball for Boston, while J.A. Happ will do the same for New York.

Since the All-Star break, Price has experienced quite the regression, posting a 6.52 ERA and .301 batting average against over his last four starts and 19 1/3 innings pitched.

The 33-year-old’s only other start at Yankee Stadium so far this season also came on Sunday Night Baseball back on June 2nd, when he held the opposition to just two runs over 6 1/3 quality innings en route to a much-needed win.

Happ, meanwhile, has also struggled since returning from the All-Star break, as he owns an ERA of 5.95 in his last four starts dating back to July 13th.

In two starts against Boston this year, Happ is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA and .220 batting average against over 11 1/3 total innings of work. The Yankees are 2-0 in those games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox looking to get back in the win column and avoid the four-game sweep.

 

 

 

Chris Sale Gets Lit up for Eight Runs in Shortest Start Since Opening Day as Red Sox Fall to Yankees in First Game of Doubleheader

After being limited to two runs on three hits on Friday, the Red Sox were held in check by the New York Yankees yet again on Saturday, as they dropped the first of a day-night doubleheader to extend their losing streak to six.

Making his 23rd start of the season and fourth against New York for Boston was Chris Sale, who came into the weekend fresh off surrendering five runs in less than six innings in his last time out against this same Yankees squad this past Sunday.

The losing streak for the Sox began that night, and it increased to six in this one, as the left-hander got lit up for a season-high eight runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work.

The first of those eight Yankees tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, with D.J. LeMahieu leading things off by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 389-foot solo shot that got his side on the board first.

Sale did settle in a bit from there, retiring eight of the next 10 hitters he faced following that homer before running in to a great deal of trouble in the bottom of the fourth.

There, an Edwin Encarnacion leadoff single, as well as one-out and two-out singles from Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka, filled the bases for Breyvic Valera, who drove in the runner from third on an RBI single to right to break the 1-1 tie.

Now, there had been instances of Sale getting squeezed by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, so when Sox manager Alex Cora came out to talk to his starter directly, he also exchanged some words with Estabrook on his way back to the visitor’s dugout, which resulted in him getting ejected from this game.

Once the dust had settled from that, Brett Gardner picked up where Valera had left off by lacing a two-run single up the middle. 4-1.

LeMahieu added on to that, taking Sale deep once more off a 2-1, 89 MPH changeup on the outer half of the zone that he snuck just over the right field wall for a three-run homer. 7-1.

An Aaron Judge ground-rule double would be how Sale’s afternoon came to a frustrating close, but it should not have even happened, as the pitch before the double clearly should have been called strike three, but it was called a ball by Estabrook instead.

Following said double and receiving the hook from bench coach Ron Roenicke, Sale let some of his frustration out on Estabrook as he was headed back to the Sox’ dugout, and he too was ejected as a result.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (52 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 39% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 96.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to 20 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 5-11 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 4.68, Sale’s struggles against the Yankees continue. His next start should come against the Los Angeles Angels back at Fenway Park on Thursday.

In relief of Sale, Colten Brewer entered the fourth with one runner on second and one out to get, and he allowed that runner to score on an RBI base hit from Encarnacion to close the book on Sale’s outing before escaping the inning.

Josh Smith, just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, took over in the fifth, and he took over by yielding one run on an Encarnacion RBI single in the sixth in an otherwise four solid innings of mop up duty.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who also opposed Sale last Sunday.

Starting the scoring in the top of the second, a red-hot Andrew Benintendi led off the inning by mashing his 12th big fly of the season, this one coming off a 3-2, hanging curveball from German that was sent a booming 436 feet to right-center field.

That knotted things up at one run apiece, but German did not buckle, and the only run the Boston bats got off him came in the fifth, when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the frame off with his 12th homer of 2019.

A 344-foot solo shot for Bradley Jr. off a first-pitch, 85 MPH changeup from German made it an 8-2 contest in favor of New York.

As it turns out though, the Sox did not get a single hit the rest of the way, as German and right-hander Jonathan Holder combined to sit down the last 15 Red Sox who came to the plate in order. And that is how 9-2 went on to be the final score in Game 1 on Saturday.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left three men on base as a team.

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .500/.516/1.067 with four homers and nine RBI.

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From Red Sox Stats:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston in the second installment of this doubleheader, while right-hander Chad Green will do the same for New York.

Johnson had been out since June 29th with a non-baseball related medical issue before being activated off the injured  list earlier Saturday.

Through seven appearances (two starts) with the Sox this season, the 28-year-old owns an ERA of 6.43 and batting average against of .349 over 14 total innings pitched.

Green, meanwhile, has posted a a 5.06 ERA and .303 batting average against over 36 outings (eight starts) and 42 2/3 innings of work.

Neither starter is expected to pitch deep into his game, I would assume.

First pitch Saturday night is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to put a stop to this skid.