Red Sox’ Mookie Betts Projected to Earn $27.7 Million in Final Year of Arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors

MLB Trade Rumors released their ninth annual salary arbitration projections for all 30 major league clubs pertaining to the 2020 season earlier Wednesday, and according to their initial model, the Red Sox have 12 arbitration-eligible players.

As indicated above, All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts is projected to earn a record-setting $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Since about the time the Sox were eliminated from postseason contention last month, most of the attention regarding the club has turned to what the future holds for Betts.

The recently turned 27-year-old has established himself as one of, if not the best corner outfielder in all of baseball and appears set to test the free agency waters in 2020.

That said, the Red Sox would surely like to keep Betts in Boston beyond next season and have made a handful of extension offers in order to make that happen. There seems to be this notion that Betts does not want to play in Boston even though he has shut that speculation down himself several times.

With how unlikely the chances of Betts agreeing to a contract extension before hitting the open market seem, a trade involving the 2018 American League MVP have come into question.

A player of Betts’ caliber has the ability to replenish Boston’s farm system to a certain extent if that is the direction they so choose, but he is also not a player you come across everyday either.

In regard to analytics, Betts’ has accumulated the second-most fWAR in all of baseball since the start of the 2015 season (35.4), trailing only Mike Trout (44.2) over that time period.

I understand that the Red Sox are hoping to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, which would require cutting a serious amount of payroll, but if you are still trying to compete for a postseason spot, or you are telling your fans that anyway, then I just do not see how you can deal a player who makes your team seriously better.

Anyway, I kind of went on a rant there, so here are the rest of the Red Sox’ arbitration projections, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 milliom
  • Sandy Leon – $2.8 million
  • Chris Owings – $3.0 million
  • Mookie Betts – $27.7 million
  • Brandon Workman – $3.4 million
  • Steven Wright – $1.5 million
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – $9.5 million
  • Matt Barnes – $3.0 million
  • Heath Hembree – $1.6 million
  • Andrew Benintendi – $4.9 million
  • Marco Hernandez – $700K
  • Gorkys Hernandez – $1.0 million

Out of the names above, some are likely to get non-tendered, while others like Andrew Benintendi and Marco Hernandez are entering arbitration for the first time in their careers and will see decently significant raises in pay.

Eduardo Rodriguez Falls Short of 20th Win, Rafael Devers Picks up 200th Hit, and Mookie Betts Scores Winning Run as Red Sox Walk off Orioles in 2019 Season Finale

After dropping their penultimate game of the year with a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox bounced back and wrapped up their 2019 season in style, as they walked off the O’s in nine innings in a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

Making his 34th and final start of the season for Boston on Sunday was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the weekend just one winning decision of 20 and 3 2/3 innings shy of 200.

Tossing seven full innings to surpass that 200-mark on the season, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned against his former club on four hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came in the top half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, back-to-back RBI knocks from Hanser Alberto and Austin Hays got the Orioles on the board first.

One mound visit from pitching coach Dana LeVangie later, and Rodriguez allowed the third run of the frame to come in on a fielder’s choice out off the bat of Trey Mancini.

Other than that bit of trouble though, the Venezuela native settled in nicely from the beginning of the fourth inning on, retiring 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, the point in which his outing came to an impressive close with an emphatic six-pitch punchout of Richie Martin.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (71 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 48% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing 14 swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately unable to get that vaunted 20th win due to what transpired later on, Rodriguez finishes his fourth full season with the Red Sox with a 19-6 record, a 3.91 ERA, and a career-high 231 strikeouts over 34 outings and 203 1/3 total innings pitched.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on for one final time in the eighth with a brand new one-run lead to protect, and he could not do that, as he allowed the game-tying run, which was unearned, to cross the plate on a two-out RBI single from Jonathan Villar.

No 20th win for Rodriguez, all while Barnes was charged with his eighth blown save of 2019.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman fanned the only three Orioles he faced on just 15 pitches to send this one to the bottom half of the inning with a 4-4 stalemate intact, and that eventually earned him his 10th and final winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Orioles right-hander Chandler Shepherd, who was with the PawSox up until May of this year before being designated for assignment.

Kicking off the scoring in the third just as Baltimore did, the Boston bats quickly responded from an early three-run hole by plating two of their own on back-to-back one-out, run-scoring hits courtesy of Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts, single from J.D. Martinez, and another walk drawn by Mitch Moreland brought Christian Vazquez to the plate in a one-run game with the bases full.

Up against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, Vazquez delivered with a line-drive RBI single to left to drive in Bogaerts and knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting things done once more, this time with Devers reaching base with a one-out double off Evan Phillips, his 200th hit of the season, and Bogaerts scoring him on an RBI single to the opposite field. 4-3.

That probably should have been good enough to get Rodriguez his 20th win, but as already mentioned, the Orioles rallied and tied things up in their half of the eighth.

In the bottom half of that eighth, it looked as though the Sox had jumped in front again, as Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed an 0-1, 95 MPH heater from Mychal Givens with two outs and Brock Holt on at first.

Instead of mashing his 22nd homer of the year though, Bradley Jr. was downright robbed by Stevie Wilkerson in right field, as the O’s outfielder sprawled out to take away what surely was a two-run shot. The .980 xBA on that line drive is quite evident of that statement.

So, the two sides headed into the ninth still in a 4-4 tie, and after Brandon Workman did what he had to do in the top half, Betts did what he had to do to lead off the bottom half.

Yup, the reigning American League MVP drew a six-pitch walk off of Dillon Tate in what very well could have been his last plate appearance as a Red Sox.

That brought Devers up to the plate for a fifth time, and all he did was rip a single through the right side of the infield. One that was certainly good enough to advance the runner on base up to third, but as he is known to do, Betts caught the opposition off guard and made the trek towards the promised land.

By the time the right fielder Wilkerson caught on to this, Betts was well on his way to sliding safely into home, as the Red Sox came away with a 5-4 walk-off win in their final game of 2019.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

 

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

So, the Red Sox finish their World Series-defending campaign with a final mark of 84-78, 19 games off the pace of the New York Yankees for the American League East crown and 12 games off the pace of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

To say the 2019 season was underwhelming would be an understatement, but there was still plenty to remember and definitely plenty to reflect on and learn from.

As I have said before, there are plenty of questions surrounding this club headed into the offseason, and they’ll have about four weeks to get a head start on those discussions.

Will Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. be traded? Will J.D. Martinez opt out of his current deal? Will Brock Holt be offered a new contract? These are all uncertainties at the moment, and only time will tell on how these issues are resolved.

That is for another time though. For now, it’s a good time to unpack, reflect, and say thanks.

Pitchers and catchers report in a little under five months.

Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez Both Homer but Red Sox Drop Second Straight to Orioles

After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.

Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.

Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.

An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.

In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.

Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.

From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.

Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.

Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.

A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.

An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.

In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.

Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.

And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.

In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.

Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.

The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.

The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.

In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.

Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.

Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.

With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.

 

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.

 

Christian Vazquez Has Career Day at Plate as Red Sox Finish off Sweep of Phillies

After being held to two runs in a tight one-run victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday, the Red Sox were able to break out for six runs in a 6-3 win on Sunday to complete the two-game weekend sweep and improve to 79-70 on the season.

Making his 30th start of the season for Boston and second against Philadelphia was Rick Porcello, who surrendered three runs over five innings the last time he faced off against the Phils at Fenway Park back on August 21st.

Tossing five full innings once again this time around, the right-hander yielded two runs, both of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first of those two Phillies runs came in the bottom half of the second, when with no outs and the bases empty, Rhys Hoskins led things off by unloading on a 2-1, 92 MPH heater from Porcello and crushed it 421 feet to left field to get his side on the board. The 31st long ball of the season given up by Porcelo.

In the fifth, a one-out walk of Scott Kingery and back-to-back two-out singles from the pinch-hitting Phil Gosselin and Cesar Hernandez resulted in another run crossing the plate for the Phillies, but Porcello managed to escape any further damage by getting J.T. Realmuto to ground out to third to both retire the side and end his outing on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (49 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball nearly 49% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing zero swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw eight times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately picking up his 13th winning decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 5.77, Porcello’s best performance of the month is certainly a step in the right direction. He’ll look to build on it in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

In relief of Porcello, Marcus Walden entered the middle of the sixth with a four-run cushion to work with, and he saw that cushion shrink to three on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Jean Segura to drive in Hoskins from second after he drew a one-out walk.

From there, Andrew Cashner maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in a scoreless seventh, and Matt Barnes faced the minimum in a clean eighth with the help of an inning-ending 3-5-3 double play to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth for the second time in less than 24 hours.

And in that bottom of the ninth, Workman retired three of the four hitters he faced to lock down the 6-3 win and pick up his 14th save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander Jason Vargas for the Phillies, someone they had not seen since July 28th, 2017 when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Coming off a night in which they were relatively held in check by Aaron Nola, J.D. Martinez kicked off the scoring for Boston right away in the first, plating Andrew Benintendi from third on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right.

Fast forward to the third, and it was the top of the lineup setting the table once again, this time with Benintendi getting plunked, Xander Bogaerts ripping a single, and Martinez drawing a one-out walk to fill the bases for the second time in three innings.

Mitch Moreland was unable to do anything with that, as he fanned on three pitches for the second out of the frame, but Christian Vazquez did not let the opportunity go to waste.

Yup, the backstop took a 2-1, 72 MPH knuckle-curveball from Vargas and proceeded to deposit it 358 feet into the left field seats for his first career grand slam.

Not only did Vazquez’s slam untie the contest and give the Sox a 5-1 advantage, it was also his 20th homer of the season, marking the first time 29-year-old has reached that plateau in his five-year-career.

And in the sixth, Vazquez struck again by blowing right past that 20-homer plateau, as he greeted new Phillies reliever Mike Morin with his second big fly of the afternoon and 21st of the year off a one-out, 2-2, 91 MPH four-seamer on the inner half of that plate.

That solo shot put the Red Sox up 6-2, and after Philadelphia tacked on a run of their own in the sixth, 6-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox have won three straight games. They are 9 1/2 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another off day on Monday before welcoming the San Francisco Giants into town for a three-game interleague series beginning on Tuesday.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow righty Logan Webb will do the same for San Francisco.

Since moving back to the starting rotation on August 18th, Eovaldi has posted a 5.89 ERA and .254 batting average against over his last five outings and 18 1/3 innings of work, which includes surrendering three runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays this past Tuesday.

In six career starts against the Giants, the 29-year-old owns a lifetime 10.86 ERA and .370 batting average against over 29 total innings pitched.

Webb, meanwhile, is ranked as San Francisco’s top pitching prospect and has posted a 6.75 ERA and .337 batting average against in 22 2/3 innings spanning five starts since making his big league debut on August 17th. The Giants are 2-3 in those games.

This series will also feature Giants rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, the 29-year-old grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, and 25-year-old rookie outfielder Chris Shaw, who played his college ball at Boston College. Both are natives of Massachusetts.

Last time the Giants visited Fenway Park, the Sox swept a two-game series back on July 19-20 of the 2016 season.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth 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.