Red Sox Squander Late Lead, Eventually Fall to Rays in 11 Innings on Same Night They Are Eliminated From Postseason Contention

After salvaging their series against the San Francisco Giants with a 5-4 win on Thursday, the Red Sox kicked off their final road trip of the season and a four-game weekend set against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 5-4 loss in 11 innings on Friday.

While the Red Sox were in the process of losing their 73rd contest of the year, the Cleveland Indians won their 90th in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, officially eliminating the defending World Series champions from postseason contention in 2019.

Back to Friday’s game itself, making his 31st start of the season for Boston and fourth against Tampa Bay was Rick Porcello, coming off five strong, two-run innings in his last time out against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tossing six full innings this time around, the right-hander held the opposition scoreless, scattering three hits and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

Two of those three hits came on back-to-back singles from Avisail Garcia and Matt Duffy to put runners on the corners with no outs in the bottom half of the third.

Porcello did not back down though, as he fanned Willy Adames on six pitches, got Joey Wendle to fly out to shallow left to hold Garcia at third. and also fanned Austin Meadows on five pitches to escape the jam.

Other than that, the New Jersey native stranded Ji-Man Choi at first following a one-out single in the fourth before retiring the final eight hitters he faced in consecutive order leading into the conclusion of the sixth, the point in which his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (59 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his sinker more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings and misses and 15 called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just seven times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with the no-decision despite the impressive performance while lowering his ERA on the year down to 5.56, Porcello will make his final start of 2019 in his next time out against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday. It could be his last start in a Red Sox uniform as well, but I don’t want to think about that right now.

In relief of Porcello, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez entered in the seventh inning for his second-to-last appearance of 2019, and he filled the bases on three of the first four Rays he faced, making way for Marcus Walden to come on with still two outs to get in the frame.

Walden was unable to extinguish the flames left behind by Hernandez, however, as he saw his side’s 2-0 lead become a 2-2 tie on a Nate Lowe run-scoring forceout and Adames RBI ground-rule double.

That forced Josh Taylor to come in with two outs and two runners in scoring position, and he allowed the go-ahead run to score on a wild pitch in the dirt with Wendle at the plate. A two-run lead turned into a one-run deficit just like that.

In the eighth, Andrew Cashner walked the first man he faced in Meadows, and that came back to bite him on a one-out RBI double off the bat of Ji-Man Choi to make it a 4-2 contest.

Some heroics on the part of Mitch Moreland that we’ll get to later knotted things up at four runs apiece in the top half of the ninth though, which set up Ryan Brasier to leave one runner on in a scoreless bottom half of the ninth.

Bobby Poyner followed suit by punching out a pair in a clean bottom of the 10th, but Trevor Kelley could not extend things in the 11th, as he walked back-to-back hitters with two outs before serving up a game-winning single to Adames.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Rays veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who held them to two runs over seven innings the last time he opposed Boston at Tropicana Field back on July 24th.

Kept off the scoreboard through the first six innings of this one, it wasn’t until Brock Holt reached base on a one-out double in the seventh when the bats finally got going.

That two-base hit set up Mitch Moreland with a runner in scoring position, and he delivered big time in his third at-bat of the night, taking Morton deep to dead center off an 0-2, 79 MPH curveball on the outer half of the plate.

Moreland’s 16th homer of the season plated the Sox’ first runs of the contest, but Tampa Bay responded with three runs of their own in their half of the seventh as well as another in the eighth.

So, now trailing by two runs headed into the ninth, a Gorkys Hernandez leadoff triple off of Rays closer Emilio Pagan brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Holt.

Holt was unable to come through, lining out to center on the first pitch he saw, meaning Boston was down to their final two outs.

Coming into the weekend, Moreland had only faced off against Pagan three times before Friday, but he came out well on top in round four.

Yup, the 34-year-old did it again, elevating a 1-2, 96 MPH heater from Pagan and depositing it 379 feet into the seats in left field.

That two-run blast, Moreland’s second of the night and 17th of 2019, pulled the Sox back even with the Rays at 4-4, and ultimately sent this one into extras.

Despite that fact though, Mookie Betts, Sandy Leon, and Rafael Devers went down in order in the 10th and Xander Bogaerts, Gorkys Hernandez, Holt, and Moreland were unable to push any runs across in the 11th.

Because of those late offensive struggles, the Rays eventually broke through in the 11th and went on to take the opener of this four-game series by a final score of 5-4 in walkoff fashion.

Some notes from this loss:

Andrew Benintendi left Friday’s game in the third inning due to a left thumb contusion suffered in his first at-bat of the night in the second. He is considered day-to-day.

Mookie Betts went 0-for-5 with one strikeout in his first game back since September 12th.

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

All in all, pretty brutal night for the Red Sox if we’re being totally honest. The chance to defend their 2018 crown has been squashed before the calendar even turned to October, which is not great.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this weekend series, with right-hander Travis Lakins getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Tyler Glasnow doing the same for Tampa Bay.

Last time he got the call to serve as the opener for the Sox, Lakins punched out three over two perfect innings back on September 7th against the New York Yankees.

The 25-year-old rookie has yet to face off against the Rays, nor pitch at Tropicana Field.

Glasnow, meanwhile, has posted a 3.60 ERA in two starts spanning five innings since returning from the injured list on September 8th. The Rays are 2-0 in those games.

In his only two starts against the Sox this season, which came in consecutive order back on April 21st and 28th, the 26-year-old surrendered a total of four runs on nine hits and four walks over 12 total innings of work.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 6:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox still looking to play spoiler.

 

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Fans 10 Over Six Strong Innings, Picks up 18th Win as Red Sox Hold on to Salvage Series Against Giants

After dropping the first two games of their last interleague series of the year against the San Francisco Giants on on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Red Sox were able to salvage a little something with a tight 5-4 victory on a get away day Thursday to improve to 80-72 on the season.

Making his 32nd start of the season for Boston and second straight of the interleague variety was Eduardo Rodriguez, who yielded just one run over 6 2/3 innings in his last time out against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Tossing six full frames this time around, the left-hander surrendered just one more once more, this one unearned, on two hits and two walks to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

That lone San Francisco tally came right away in the top half of the first, when with one out and runners on the corners following a Mauricio Dubon leadoff single and Kevin Pillar reaching first on a fielder’s choice and fielding error committed by Marco Hernandez that allowed Dubon to advance to third, Evan Longoria got his side on the board first with a sacrifice fly to left.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez really settled in beginning in the second, retiring 14 of the final 17 hitters he faced with some help from Christian Vazquez throwing Jaylin Davis out at second to end that second inning.

Finishing with a nice final pitch count of 107 (69 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 60% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing 14 of 21 total swings and misses and topping out at 94.7 MPH while Vazquez was behind the plate.

Eventually earning his 18th winning decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.53, the chance for Rodriguez to reach the 20-win milestone is still there, as he has two starts remaining before season’s end. The first of those will come against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

In relief of Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier entered the seventh with a four-run cushion to work with, and he punched out two in a scoreless frame.

From there, Marcus Walden got the first two outs of the eighth in fairly simple fashion, but a two-out walk of Dubon and back-to-back knocks from the pinch-hitting Mike Yastrzemski and Pillar cut Boston’s advantage down to two with Pillar driving in two on a bases-clearing double.

So, with the tying run at the plate in the form of Longoria, in came Matt Barnes to try and clean the mess left behind by Walden, and he filled the bases on the first two Giants he faced before fanning the pinch-hitting Stephen Vogt on six pitches to get out of the jam.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman had an interesting time of things, as he loaded the bases full of Giants with no outs, struck out the next two, walked another to make it a 5-4 contest, but held on to secure the one-run win and his 15th save of 2019 by fanning Longoria on a 3-2, 82 MPH knuckle-curveball in the dirt. Meltdown averted.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly unfamiliar foe in Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who made his first career start at Fenway Park on Thursday.

Trailing by a run before even taking their first at-bats of the afternoon, Andrew Benintendi kicked off his side’s half of the first with a leadoff double.

A seven-pitch walk drawn by Christian Vazquez brought Rafael Devers to the plate for the first time with runners at first and second, and he came through with a hard-hit RBI single to right to plate Benintendi from second and knot things up at one run apiece.

Xander Bogaerts followed suit with a run-scoring single of his own off of Bumgarner to drive in Vazquez from third, and just like that, the Sox had their first lead at 2-1.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting it done yet again, with Benintendi and Vazquez both reaching on two-out singles to set the table once more for Devers and Bogaerts.

Devers maintained his career 1.000 clip against Bumgarner with a bloop of an RBI single to center to score Benintendi and also advance to second, while Bogaerts drove in both Vazquez and Devers on a two-run single through the right side of the infield.

Bogaerts’ second and third RBI on the afternoon gave the Red Sox a relatively commanding 5-1 edge in the second, and after the Giants drove in three runs of their own in their half of the eighth and ninth innings, 5-4 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the last road trip of the 2019 campaign, beginning with a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow veteran righty Charlie Morton will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Porcello is coming off his best start of the month in his last outing against the Phillies, giving up two runs over five strong innings of work.

In three starts against the Rays this season, the 30-year-old is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA and .315 batting average against over 17 1/3 total innings pitched.

Morton, meanwhile, shined the last time he faced the Sox at Tropicana Field back on July 24th, striking out 11 and scattering two runs and five hits over seven quality frames in an eventual win.

Since that time, the 36-year-old owns an ERA of 4.59 and batting average against of .265 over his last nine starts spanning 51 innings pitched.

Headed into this weekend, the Rays are a 1/2 game up on the Cleveland Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot, so the Red Sox will have the chance to spoil the postseason hopes of their division rivals if things go accordingly.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to play spoiler.

 

Eduardo Rodriguez Punches out 12, Andrew Benintendi Drives in Game-Winning Run With Pinch-Hit Sacrifice Fly as Red Sox Take Opener From Phillies

After a rare off day on a Friday, the Red Sox kicked off the second leg of their five-game road trip by taking the first of two from the Philadelphia Phillies in a tight 2-1 win to improve to 78-70 on the season.

Making his 31st start of the season for Boston and third in a National League ballpark was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the weekend fresh off six one-run innings in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the seventh inning this time around, the left-hander continued to impress, holding the Phillies to just one earned run on four hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with a season-high 12 strikeouts on the night.

That lone Philadelphia tally came in that bottom half of the seventh, when after retiring 18 of the first 20 hitters he faced, Rodriguez served up a leadoff single to Bryce Harper.

Back-to-back punchouts of Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery brought the Venezuela native to within one out of escaping the frame, but a Cesar Hernandez single, Adam Haseley HBP, and six-pitch walk of Maikel Franco prevented that from happening.

Instead, Franco drove in Harper from third on that free pass, the Phillies had their first run of the contest, and Rodriguez’s evening came to a close, as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his changeup more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing 16 swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 28 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 3.64, Rodriguez’s quest for 20 wins this season appears to be over, but he still has a realistic shot at surpassing the 200-inning plateau for the first time in his career. He’ll look to continue that pursuit in his next time out, which should come against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

In relief of Rodriguez, left-hander Josh Taylor entered in quite the jam with the bases full and one out to get in the seventh, and he got that out by fanning the pinch-hitting Phil Gosselin on six pitches.

From there, Matt Barnes worked his way around a leadoff single and stolen base from Jean Segura and one-out intentional walk of Harper in a scoreless eighth to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

Workman did yield a leadoff walk to Hernandez to put the tying run on base immediately for Philadelphia, but he did not fold, striking out Hasely, getting Jay Bruce to fly out to right, and finally fanning Logan Morrison on a 2-2, 88 MPH cutter on the outer edge of the plate to lock down the 2-1 victory and earn his 13th save of the season.

On the other side of things, a Mookie Betts-less Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, someone who held them to two runs over seven strong innings the last time these two clubs met up at Fenway Park in August.

Struggling to get anything going against Nola once more on Saturday, it was not until Rafael Devers drew a nine-pitch walk to lead off the seventh when the bats finally came through.

J.D. Martinez followed with a ground ball single back up the middle to move Devers up to second, and after Mitch Moreland fanned for the first out of the inning, Christian Vazquez delivered with the biggest hit of the night, plating Devers from second on a line-drive RBI single shot through the left-center field gap. His 25th two-bagger of the year put the Sox up 1-0 late.

Fast forward to the ninth, after the Phillies responded with a run of their own in the eighth, and a Moreland leadoff single off new reliever Hector Neris brought Vazquez to the plate.

Having never faced off against Neris before Saturday, Vazquez took a 2-1, 95 MPH heater down the heart of the plate and came through yet again, this time advancing the pinch-running Chris Owings all the way up to third on a hard-hit single to center. A little hit-and-run action.

A one-out walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Brock Holt loaded the bases for another pinch-hitter in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

The slumping Benintendi came into this one just 1-for-his-last-26 at the plate, but that did not stop him from elevating a sacrifice fly to left on the first pitch he saw from Neris, one that gave Owings more than enough time to come in and score from third.

That RBI sac fly gave the Red Sox the 2-1 lead, and that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game weekend series and five-game road swing on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while veteran left-hander Jason Vargas will do the same for Philadelphia.

Porcello has surrendered six runs and gone four innings deep in his last two starts since the calendars flipped to September. The Red Sox have lost both of those games.

Last time he faced the Phillies back on August 21st, the 30-year-old allowed three runs to score in five innings of work before eventually taking the loss. He has made two career starts at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 2.77 ERA and .167 batting average against over 13 total innings pitched.

Vargas, meanwhile, joined the Phillies from the New York Mets in July and has pitched to the tune of a 5.01 ERA and .293 batting average against in eight starts and 41 1/3 innings of work since the move.

The 36-year-old has made eight career starts against the Red Sox and owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA and .255 batting average against over 51 2/3 innings pitched in that span.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to return the favor and complete the two-game sweep.

The Brock Holt Free Agency Conundrum

At the conclusion of the 2019 season, Red Sox utility man Brock Holt is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career.

The 31-year-old has put together a well-rounded campaign this year, slashing .316/.380/.427 with three home runs and 31 RBI over 77 games and 255 plate appearances while playing all around the field.

Given those numbers, it appears that Holt is set for quite the pay raise this winter after earning $3.575 million this season.

Per FanGraphs’ Dollars statistic, which is, “the amount of money a player’s production would be worth on the free agent market in millions of dollars,” Holt has been worth $11.9 and $11.3 million over the last two seasons respectively. Not too shabby.

Off the field, the Texas native provides even more value, both as a positive influence in the Sox clubhouse and as a Jimmy Fund Captain.

Even more so, what Holt provides off the field was on full display this past week, as he was named Boston’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on Thursday, marking the the third time since 2016 that he was selected for, “the most prestigious individual award” in the league for “represent(ing) the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

So, not only does Holt provide the Red Sox with quality play on the field. He has also become a staple in the Boston community and a favorite among Sox fans. Both are positive factors working in his favor.

That said, it’s not out of of the realm of possibilities that Holt could have plenty of suitors come free agency in the next few months.

As already mentioned, he gets on base, he plays multiple positions, and he would be a well-respected veteran and potential mentor wherever he lands. Any club, contending or rebuilding alike, has a reason to be interested in Holt’s services.

This past February, former Houston Astros utility man Marwin Gonzalez inked a two-year, $21 million pact with the Minnesota Twins. In his time with Houston, Gonzalez played up to seven different positions and was viewed as a leader in the Astros’ clubhouse.

Granted, Gonzalez had a down year in 2018, but I don’t think it it too difficult to fathom Holt receiving offers of $10+ million per season in the coming months.

If the Red Sox were not willing to pay that much given their other well-documented salary concerns, there is a cheaper alternative in the form of Marco Hernandez, who will be entering just his first year of salary arbitration in 2020.

Since initially being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on June 8th, the recently-turned 27-year-old is slashing .284/.318/.402 with two homers and 10 RBI over 48 games spanning two stints with the big league club.

Like Holt, Hernandez can play all across the infield and may even be a better defender.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo questions in this attached article, “Is Holt really worth something like $7-8 million more per year than Hernandez?” That will be a tough question for the Red Sox to answer in November.

 

Brock Holt Starting at Third Base, Juan Centeno Catching Jhoulys Chacin as Red Sox Look to Avoid Sweep Against Clay Buchholz, Blue Jays

The Red Sox have lost five straight games and are one more loss away from getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. In order to prevent that from happening, they’ll have to get the best out of old friend and former Sox right-hander Clay Buccholz on Thursday night.

Since being traded from Boston to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 2016, Buccholz has yet to pitch against the club he began his professional career with, but has made 26 total starts across three different organizations over three seasons, including eight for Toronto in 2019.

The 35-year-old owns a 5.31 ERA and .283 batting average against in 42 1/3 innings pitched over that span, but has looked better since returning from the injured list due to shoulder inflammation on August 25th, allowing a total of eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits and nine walks over his last three outings and 17 2/3 innings of work.

Against Buccholz, third baseman Rafael Devers will get the night off for the Red Sox, while Brock Holt slides into the two-hole to make his second start of the year at the hot corner. This will also be the first time this season that the 31-year-old will hit as high as second in Boston’s lineup.

Behind the plate, it will be Juan Centeno making his first start in a Red Sox uniform to catch Jhoulys Chacin.

Centeno entered Wednesday’s loss as a defensive replacement for Christian Vazquez in the middle of the sixth inning and popped out to third in his lone plate appearance in the eighth.

Signed as a minor league free agent by Boston last November, the Puerto Rico native was part of the first round of September call-ups at the beginning of the month. He has never caught Chacin before in his career.

Speaking of Chacin, the 31-year-old hurler will be making his second start for the Sox after impressing with two scoreless frames against the New York Yankees last Friday and tossing a scoreless frame of relief in the same series on Sunday.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Chacin.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN.

 

Red Sox Held in Check by J.A. Happ, Fall to Yankees as Xander Bogaerts Picks up 1,000th Career Hit

After taking the opener of a four-game weekend series against the New York Yankees with a commanding 6-1 win on Friday, the Red Sox fell back to Earth on Saturday, as they managed just one run themselves in a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Bronx Bombers to fall back to 76-66 on the season.

Making the first start of his big league career for Boston and 11th appearance overall was Travis Lakins, who was named the opener for this one on Friday in what was another bullpen day for the Sox.

Tossing two no-hit innings like Jhoulys Chacin the day before, the rookie right-hander kept the Yankees off the scoreboard while fanning three of the six hitters he faced on the afternoon.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 29 (17 strikes), Lakins relied on his four-seam fastball more than 48% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 96.1 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate. Four of those heaters were the hardest pitches Lakins has thrown this year, per Red Sox Stats.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.15, it will be interesting to see if the Red Sox turn to the 25-year-old hurler as an opener again given the level of success achieved in his first go at it.

In relief of Lakins, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third in a scoreless contest, and he got another busy day for the Boston bullpen started by sitting down the only three Yankees he faced in order.

The fourth inning is where things got sticky, as Ryan Weber yielded a leadoff double to D.J. LeMahieu before punching out Aaron Judge on four pitches for the first out of the frame.

A line drive to right off the bat of Didi Gregorius should have gone for the second out of the fourth, but with the sun directly in his face, J.D. Martinez, not Mookie Betts, had trouble picking up the ball, and it ended up glancing off his glove before rolling to the wall for a one-out double.

So, with runners at second and third with only one out instead of one runner at first with two outs, Colten Brewer came on for Weber, and he got Gary Sanchez to hit a weak fly ball to shallow right field.

The only thing was, the ball was essentially in no-man’s land, and neither of Mitch Moreland, Brock Holt, nor Martinez were able to come up with it for what would have been the second out.

Nope, instead, Sanchez was credited with a two-run ground-rule double and the Yankees had themselves a 2-0 lead just like that.

Things would not improve for the Sox following that series of mishaps though, not with Edwin Encarnacion unloading on the very first pitch he saw from Brewer, a hanging 81 MPH curveball down the heart of the plate, and depositing it 423 feet over the Green Monster for a two-run blast to double his side’s lead at 4-0.

Brewer was able to escape the fourth without surrendering anything else following that Encarnacion homer, but the damage had already been done.

From there, Trevor Kelley worked his way around two walks in a scoreless fifth, Hector Velazquez stranded the bases loaded with the help of an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play in a shutout sixth, and Josh Smith walked one and struck out another in a clean seventh to make way for Mike Shawaryn in the eighth.

Shawaryn proceeded to punch out the first two Yankees he faced before allowing the next two to reach base, but got out of it by getting LeMahieu to ground into a force out at second to retire the side.

In the ninth, Shawaryn again got the first two outs of the inning in simple fashion, but was unable to keep New York off the scoreboard this time as he plunked Sanchez and served up an RBI double to Encarnacion to increase the deficit to five runs before ending the frame.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ, who entered the weekend fresh off one of his better starts of the season in his last time out against the Oakland Athletics this past Sunday.

Winless against Happ in his first three outings against them this year, that trend continued for Boston on Saturday.

Two hits and one walk. That’s all the Sox bats could manage off of Happ, and none of those three runners made it up to second base either.

It was not until the bottom half of the eighth, with Happ out and right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle in for the Yankees, when back-to-back one-out singles from Mitch Moreland and the pinch-hitting Marco Hernandez finally put a runner in scoring position.

That led to left-hander Zack Britton taking over for Kahnle, and all Brock Holt could do was watch as strike three blew past him on a 1-2, 95 MPH slider at the knees.

Mookie Betts followed by making hard contact, but only on a ball that was hit right to Aaron Judge in right field to extinguish the threat.

And in the ninth, J.D. Martinez made things a bit interesting against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman as he took the lefty deep to the Red Sox bullpen off an 0-1, 99 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate for his 35th home run of the season.

That 397-foot solo shot, Martinez’s 16th of the year off a left-handed pitcher, cut the deficit to four runs at 5-1, but that would ultimately go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left four men on base as a team.

Xander Bogaerts collected the 1,000th hit of his major league career on Saturday with a fourth-inning single.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

As of right now, the Red Sox are 6 1/2 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second American League Wild Card Spot. That is sure to change with the A’s, Cleveland Indians, and Tampa Bay Rays all in action on Saturday night.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third installment of this four-game set on Sunday Night Baseball, with right-hander Rick Porcello getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Masahiro Tanaka doing the same for New York.

Porcello struggled mightily in his first start of September against the Minnesota Twins, surrendering six earned runs on eight hits in an eventual 6-5 loss this past Tuesday.

In his last start against the Yankes, the 30-year-old toughed out a quality outing after allowing two runs in the second inning of a contest the Sox eventually won by a final score of 19-3.

Tanaka opposed Porcello in that game on July 25th, when he yielded 12 earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings of work and ultimately got hit with the losing decision.

The 30-year-old has recovered nicely since then though, posting an ERA of 3.38 and batting average against of .250 over his last seven starts and 42 2/3 innings pitched. The Yankees are 5-2 in those games.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 8:05 PM EDT on ESPN.

 

Mitch Moreland Celebrates 34th Birthday with Three-Run Homer, Three-Hit Night as Red Sox Top Yankees in Jhoulys Chacin’s Debut

After falling to the Minnesota Twins in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday, the Red Sox bounced back and opened up a four-game weekend series against the New York Yankees with a commanding 6-1 victory on Friday to improve to 76-65 on the season.

Making his first start for Boston and 20th of the season overall was Jhoulys Chacin, less than a week after inking a minor-league deal with the club while they were in Anaheim this past weekend.

Working just the first two innings in his Red Sox debut, the right-hander was perfect as he fanned four of the only six Yankees he faced and was more of an opener than anything.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 35 (23 strikes), Chacin relied on his slider exactly 40% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw nine times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Not factoring into the decision of this one, I would think Chacin’s status going forward would depend on the health of David Price, as he was originally supposed to start on Friday.

If anything, the 31-year-oldwill likely work in short bunches rather than being stretched out too much.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the top of the third in a scoreless contest, and he kept it that way by punching out two in a 1-2-3 inning.

From there, Marcus Walden worked his way around a two-out double and walk with a three-pitch strikeout of Edwin Encarnacion, which eventually earned him his ninth winning decision of the year.

Andrew Cashner yielded New York’s only run of the night on a one-out solo blast off the bat of Brett Gardner in the fifth, Ryan Weber tossed a scoreless sixth before stranding a leadoff walk with the help of Jackie Bradley Jr. in the seventh, and Darwinzon Hernandez also walked one in an otherwise clean eighth.

And in the ninth, Bobby Poyner recorded a pair of strikeouts in another shutout inning to secure the 6-1 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who picked up the win the last time he made an appearance at Fenway Park back on July 28th.

Kicking off the scoring in the fourth, a leadoff double from Rafael Devers finally got Boston in the hit column, and a J.D. Martinez groundout, as well as an Andrew Benintendi walk, put runners on the corners with two outs for Brock Holt.

It was clear that German was concerned with Benintendi at first, and perhaps taking advantage, Holt took a 1-1, 91 MPH heater at the top of the zone following two straight unsuccessful pickoff attempts and laced an RBI single right past Gleyber Torres in shallow right to drive in Devers for his side’s first run.

Still with two runners on, Mitch Moreland rallied from a second inning groundout by unloading on a 1-1, 81 MPH curveball from German and deposited it 389 feet into the right field seats.

Moreland’s 15th big fly of the year, this one good for three runs, had an exit velocity of 106 MPH, per Statcast, and it gave the Sox a four-run edge. On his birthday no less.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts walk with one out led to a Yankees pitching change, with Nestor Cortes Jr. taking over for German.

That move would prove to be quite costly for New York though, as Devers followed by drawing a six-pitch walk of his own to move Betts up to second, and Xander Bogaerts came through with a scorching, 108.4 MPH two-RBI double to plate both runners.

That run-scoring two-bagger, Bogaerts’ 49th of 2019, gave the Red Sox a 6-1 lead, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Red Sox pitching combined for 13 strikeouts and just three walks on Friday.

Mitch Moreland went 3-for-4 with three RBI on his 34th birthday.

Xander Bogaerts is one hit away from 1,000 for his career.

With the Tampa Bay Rays winning and both the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics still in action Friday, the Red Sox currently sit 6 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set on Saturday evening, with right-hander Travis Lakins getting the start as the opener for Boston, and left-hander J.A. Happ doing the same for New York.

Lakins allowed two earned runs over two innings of relief in his last time out against the Los Angeles Angels this past Sunday.

The 25-year-old has never started a big league game, but does have 41 under his belt at the minor-league level, with the last coming on July 18th of this year in which he tossed a scoreless first inning for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Happ, meanwhile, has for the most part struggled since the All-Star break, but is coming off an outing where he held the Athletics scoreless over six strong innings on September 1st.

In three starts against the Red Sox this season, the 36-year-old has posted a 4.24 ERA and .254 batting average against over 17 total innings pitched. The Yankees are unbeaten in those games.

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

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.

Back-To-Back Homers from Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez Power Red Sox to 4-3 Win over Angels in David Price’s Return

After snapping their mini three-game winning streak with a 10-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday, the Red Sox rallied on Sunday and topped the Halos, taking the series with a tight 4-3 victory to end the last west coast swing on a positive note and improve to 74-63 on the season.

Making his 22nd second start of the season for Boston and first since August 4th was David Price, who was activated from the injured list earlier Sunday after missing nearly four weeks with a left wrist issue.

Tossing just two full innings in his first in-game action of September, the left-hander kept the Angels off the scoreboard while giving up one hit and one walk to go along with two strikeouts on the afternoon.

A two-out double off the bat of Brian Goodwin in the first and a one-out walk drawn by Kole Calhoun in the second. Those are the only two hitters Price allowed to reach base in this one.

Goodwin was stranded at second, as Price got Albert Pujols to fly out to right to end the first, and Calhoun was also stranded at second after swiping the bag in between two straight Angels flyouts induced by Price to retire the side in the bottom half of the second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 45 (26 strikes), the 34-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 31% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 91.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision due to the length of his outing, control was a bit of an issue for Price in this one. Out of the eight batters he faced, four got into three-ball counts and two got into two-ball counts. He’ll look to continue to shake off the rust in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees on Saturday back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was dealt another long day of work, but they were better prepared for that this time around with rosters expanding on Sunday.

The recently called up Travis Lakins got the first call to begin the third, and he yielded one run on three straight two-out hits in the inning, and another on a leadoff walk and sacrifice fly in the fourth to cut his side’s lead down to two runs at 4-2.

From there, Ryan Weber scattered one hit and one walk over two scoreless frames of relief in the fifth and sixth, Hector Velazquez worked his way around a Mike Trout leadoff walk with the help of an unassisted double play turned by Sam Travis on a liner from Goodwin in a clean seventh, and Matt Barnes served up a leadoff solo shot to Justin Upton before sitting down the next three Angels he faced in order to preserve the 4-3 lead.

That made way for Brandon Workman in the ninth, and he plunked Trout with two outs in the inning to bring the winning run to the plate in the form of Goodwin, but held on by getting the Angels outfielder to fly out to Jackie Bradley Jr. in center to notch his 10th save and secure the one-run win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney, someone who held them to one run in less than four innings back on August 10th.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the first for the third consecutive day, Xander Bogaerts got his side on the board with a one-out, one-run single through the left side of the infield to bring in Mookie Betts, who led the inning off with a single and advanced twice on two wild pitches, from third. 1-0.

Fast forward to the third, and Bogaerts struck again, this time following up a one-out Rafael Devers single with a two-run home run hit 418 feet to dead center off a 1-1, 84 MPH changeup on the bottom half of the zone from Heaney for his 31st of the season.

On the very next pitch thrown by Heaney, a red-hot J.D. Martinez provided some power of his own, depositing a 77 MPH curveball on the inner half of the plate 411 feet into the seats in left field.

Martinez’s 34th big fly of the year and sixth of this road trip gave the Sox a commanding 4-0 lead, and after the Angels made things somewhat interesting in the end, 4-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Xander Bogaerts’ last 15 games: .371/.443/.790 with six homers and 15 RBI.

J.D. Martinez’s last 30 games: .389/.482/.770 with 12 homers and 33 RBI.

With the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians losing, and the Tampa Bay Rays winning on Sunday, the Red Sox currently sit five games behind Cleveland for the second American League Wild Card spot.

The Red Sox finished their last west coast road trip of the season by going 6-2 and now have just 25 regular season games remaining on the year.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday back in Boston before opening up a seven-game homestand against two of the three best teams in the American League in the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston in the opener against Minnesota. The Twins have yet to name a starter.

Porcello is coming off a solid month of August in which he posted a 4.00 ERA and .233 batting average against over his last five starts and 27 innings pitched.

The last time he matched up against these Twins came on June 17th at Target Field, where the 30-year-old hurled seven scoreless innings in a game the Sox won by a final score of 2-0 and eventually took the series at two games to one.

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

 

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.