RECAP: Chris Sale Tosses Three Scoreless Innings and Brock Holt Stays Hot as #RedSox Take Series from Mets with 4-3 Win.

After splitting the first two games of this three-game series against the New York Mets over the last two days, the Red Sox looked to head into an off day with their second consecutive series victory and 103rd win of the season on Sunday.

Making his 25th start of the season and second since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday, Chris Sale took the mound at Fenway Park for his second ever appearance against the Mets.

Pitching three full innings in this one as planned, the left-hander held New York scoreless while allowing just one hit and zero walks to go along with a single strikeout on the afternoon.

Facing the minimum nine batters thanks to a caught stealing in the top of the second, Sale needed 42 pitches (27 strikes) to complete the three frames of work.

Out of those 42 pitches, the Florida native threw 20 four-seam fastballs, 11 sliders, seven changeups, and four two-seam fastballs, which resulted in a total of six swinging and eight called strikes.

He also topped out at 96.8 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning.

Lowering his ERA on the season down to an American League best 1.92 with this solid performance to wrap up the weekend, Sale will look to ramp it up to four innings in his next time out, which will come against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland this upcoming Friday.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final six innings of Sunday’s win, but nothing certainly came easy for them.

Entering this contest first with a fresh three-run lead to protect, Hector Velazquez, who was scratched from his previous start with illness on Friday, tossed a scoreless fourth inning.

Drew Pomeranz was next up, and after retiring all three batters he faced in the fifth, surrendered the first two Mets runs of the day in the sixth while recording the first two outs of the inning.

Heath Hembree cleaned up Pomeranz’s mess in that top half of the sixth, but failed to record an out in the seventh by walking one and hitting another.

Joe Kelly, like Hembree, did manage to clean up a bit of a sticky situation in his 69th relief appearance of the year, but not before allowing one of the inherited runners to score on a two out Amed Rosario RBI single.

From that point on, Brandon Workman worked a scoreless eighth inning to keep this thing tied at three runs a piece, and after his team jumped out to a 4-3 advantage in their half of the eighth, Steven Wright came in and picked up his first career save with a clean ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against arguably the best pitcher in the National League in the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who entered Sunday with a miniscule 1.71 ERA over 29 starts this season.

After failing to reach base once through the first two-plus innings of this one, it was Rafael Devers who got a huge bottom of the third started by ripping a one out single back up the middle to center field.

One Christian Vazquez single later that allowed Devers to advance all the way to third thanks to a little hit-and-run action, Mookie Betts drove in the first run of the afternoon with a 380 foot sacrifice fly to center field that plated Devers and made it a 1-0 game.

With one out and one runner on, the red-hot Brock Holt came to the plate, batting in the two-hole for a change, and came through with yet another game-changing hit, a two-run home run sent 402 feet to the Red Sox bullpen.

For Holt, just his fifth big fly of the season, and for deGrom, just the 10th homer he has given up all season.

A las, that was all the Red Sox could get off of New York’s ace, and it was not until the eighth when they would get on the scoreboard again.

Tied at 3-3 now, Andrew Benintendi came to the plate with one out, Tzu-Wei Lin at third following a leadoff double, and Seth Lugo on the hill for the Mets.

On the second pitch he saw from Lugo, Benintendi al but sealed the deal in this one with an RBI sac fly to center that was more than good enough to plate Lin from third for what would end up being the game-winning run.

Some notes from this 4-3 win: 

Injury-related: Mookie Betts had to leave this game in the sixth inning with left side soreness after making an awkward throw home in right field, but he should be good to DH in New York on Tuesday, per Alex Cora.

Through 150 games, the Red Sox have a winning percentage of .687.

Brock Holt is hitting .400 with two home runs and seven RBI in his last five games.

Chris Sale has not surrendered an earned run in his last 25 innings pitched, which dates back to July 11th.

The magic number for the Red Sox to clinch their third consecutive American League East title now stands at two games, meaning they could be crowned division champs at Yankee Stadium for the second time in the last three seasons.

All that is needed for that to happen is one win in the team’s next three games against the Yankees, which will take place after an off day on Monday.

Starting pitching matchups for that upcoming series go as follows:

9/18: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-7 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP JA Happ (16-6 3.75 ERA)

9/19: LHP David Price (15-6 3.42 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Severino (17-8 3.46 ERA)

9/20: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (13-4 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-5 3.47 ERA)

The Yankees have lost six of their last ten games.

First pitch of the series opener in the Bronx is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Tuesday, weather permitting.

 

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RECAP: Brock Holt’s Seventh Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Seals Comeback Win as #RedSox Clinch Postseason Berth.

Entering their half of the seventh inning trailing by two runs, the Red Sox lineup looked as if they were having a tough go at it against Blue Jays starter Ryan Borucki.

Borucki, a left-hander, had only given up a pair of hits up until that point in Tuesday night’s contest at Fenway Park, but the momentum started to shift after Xander Bogaerts drew a one out walk.

Trailing by two runs at the time, Steve Pearce cut that deficit in half right away by ripping a 102 MPH triple to center field to plate Bogaerts all the way from first.

Following a pitching change that saw RHP Ryan Tepera take over for Borucki and a substitution that saw Tzu-Wei Lin entering as a pinch-runner at third, Ian Kinsler could not drive in the tying-run, as he struck out on six pitches.

Eduardo Nunez drew a walk on four straight balls a few moments later, and that set up Brock Holt in a perfect scoring spot.

Pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon, Holt, not Mitch Moreland, took the first four pitches he saw, which evened the count at 2-2, then leaned into a 93 MPH sinker on the inner half of the plate and launched it 388 feet into the right field seats.

That three-run big fly, Holt’s fourth of the season, put his team up 4-2, which, along with RBI from Andrew Benintendi and Ian Kinsler, along with a run-scoring wild pitch in the eighth, is all they would need to pick up their 99th victory.

Some notes from this 7-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Brock Holt is the first player in Red Sox history to hit multiple go-ahead pinch-hit home runs in a single season (August 14 at Philadelphia and tonight vs. Toronto) (source: ).

The Red Sox (99-46) have clinched a postseason berth. This will be the club’s 3rd consecutive postseason appearance, matching the longest streak in franchise history (also 2003-05 and 2007-09).

In 13 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter this season, Brock Holt is slashing .364/.462/1.192 with two home runs and five RBI.

Like the title reads, the Red Sox became the first team of the 2018 season to clinch a playoff berth on Tuesday night, and their magic number to clinch the American League East now stands at just nine games.

Going for win number 100 later tonight, it will be David Price getting the ball for Boston.

Since the All-Star break, the left-hander has posted a superb 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over eight starts and 50.2 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 7-1 in those games.

Opposite Price will be Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits in five innings pitched in his last outing at Fenway Park on May 28th, a game the Red Sox won by a final score of 8-3.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Wednesday.

 

Chris Sale Tosses Scoreless Inning in First Start Since August 12th for #RedSox.

For the first time in nearly a month, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was back on the mound on Tuesday after being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the afternoon.

Facing off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a three-game series at Fenway Park, the left-hander found himself under duress right away following a leadoff double off the bat of Lourdes Gurriel.

That was followed by two consecutive strikeouts of Devon Travis and Justin Smoak.

Sale did deal with some trouble again though when he hit Kendrys Morales to put runners on first and second with two outs.

Fortunately, the 29-year-old settled down, got Randal Grichuk to pop out to second, and retired the side without surrendering a run.

Now, the plan was for Sale to throw 40 pitches or go two innings deep into this start, whichever came first, per Alex Cora.

But, because of the fact he was put in a tough spot right from the get go, it’s understandable why the Florida native was limited to the one frame of work.

Instead of going back out for the second, Sale headed out to the Red Sox bullpen, threw about 22 pitches in a controlled environment, and called it a night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 26, 14 of which went for strikes, Sale threw his four-seam fastball 15 times, his slider 10 times, and his changeup just once, which resulted in seven total swings and misses.

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He also topped out at 97 MPH with his four-seamer on the very first pitch of the contest.

Although there were some control issues, it was encouraging to see Sale back out there for the first time this month. The rust shouldn’t last too long.

With his ERA dropping down to 1.96 on the season, the southpaw will look to ramp it up in his next time out, which should come against the New York Mets  back at Fenway this Sunday.

 

Chris Sale to Return from 10-Day Disabled List on Tuesday, Serve as “Opener” for #RedSox.

Chris Sale has not pitched in a major league game since August 12th, where he struck out 12 Orioles in five shutout innings of work on a total of just 68 pitches in Baltimore.

Since then, the left-hander has been on the 10-day disabled list with “mild left shoulder inflammation.”

In the past two months, Sale had made a total of five starts dating back to July 6th, but now he’s ready to return. That’s great.

Beginning this Tuesday, we will have the opportunity to see Sale pitch in a role similar to the one he had when he came up with the Chicago White Sox in 2010.

Over his first two big league seasons, the Florida native appeared in a total of 79 games as a reliever, where he posted a 2.59 ERA in 94.1 innings pitched to go along with 111 strikeouts before moving to Chicago’s starting rotation in 2012.

Now, Sale will not be coming out of the bullpen for the remainder of this 2018 season, but his workload will be limited for a while as an “opener.”

Like the above tweet states, the FGCU alum will pitch no more than two innings in his next “start” on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Five days later, an additional inning will be tacked on, and so on until he is back in the full swing of things.

After those two frames, Nathan Eovaldi will come out of the bullpen in relief of Sale, per Alex Cora.

So, there you have it. All of this may not be possible without Kevin Cash and what the Tampa Bay Rays have done with their pitching staff this season.

Also, Dustin Pedroia will miss the remainder of the 2018 season and Brandon Phillips took ground balls at first base on Friday.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Houston Astros is scheduled for 7:10 PM.

Looking at How Former #RedSox Prospect Michael Kopech Got to Where He Is Today.

The Red Sox are currently in Chicago taking on a 53-81 rebuilding White Sox team.

Despite the poor record, the White Sox do have some players worth watching, including tonight’s starting pitcher, Michael Kopech.

A former Red Sox prospect himself, Kopech may be mostly known for being part of the trade that sent ace left-hander Chris Sale to Boston, but I thought I would highlight some moments from his young career that saw him make his big league debut just a few weeks ago.

Selected by the Red Sox with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Mount Pleasant High School in Texas, Kopech forgoed his commitment to the University of Arizona and signed with Boston for a $1,500,000 bonus on June 17th.

Assigned to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox for his first professional season, the right-hander posted a 4.61 ERA and .216 BAA in eight starts and 13.2 innings pitched en route to a league title.

In 2015, Kopech made headlines for testing positive for Oxilofrine, a banned substance that violates the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Receiving a 50 game suspension because of the failed drug test on July 16th, the Texas native still posted a 2.65 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) over 65 innings pitched with the South Atlantic League’s Greenville Drive.

Less than a year later, Kopech’s name once again came up in the news, and not for positive reasons, as he got in an altercation with a teammate during spring training and ended up breaking his right hand.

Missing over four months of action because of the fractured throwing hand, the now 22-year-old made 12 starts between Low A Lowell and High A Salem while posting a 2.08 ERA to go along with 86 strikeouts in only 56.1 innings pitched.

That would end up being Kopech’s last season in the Red Sox organization, and he worked his way up to becoming the team’s best right-handed pitching prospect before he was traded on December 6th, 2016.

Along with top prospect Yoan Moncada, 24th ranked prospect Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz, Kopech was part of a blockbuster deal that ultimately landed the Red Sox the best left-hander in the game in Chris Sale from the White Sox.

In his first full season in the White Sox organization, not only was Kopech named the team’s best overall pitching prospect, he also made an appearance in the 2017 All-Star Futures Game in Miami, where he tossed a scoreless third inning.

On the 2017 campaign as a whole, the former first round pick posted a 2.88 ERA in 134.1 innings pitched between Double A Birmingham and Triple A Charlotte while being named the Southern League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher.

Entering this season as Chicago’s top pitching prospect once again, Kopech made 24 starts with the Charlotte Knights where he struck out 170 batters in 126.1 innings pitched before getting promoted to the White Sox.

Getting the call up on August 21st, the right-hander’s debut was shorter than expected due to a rain delay, but he struck out four Twins while scattering three hits over two scoreless innings of work.

Five days later, Kopech was back at it again, this time against the Detroit Tigers, where he pitched six innings of one-run ball to go along with another four punch outs and his first big league win.

And that is where things stand today.

Michael Kopech will be making his third career start Friday night, and it will come against the toughest opponent he has yet to face in the Boston Red Sox.

First pitch of tonight’s game is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some notes from this win:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chris Sale Named American League Pitcher of the Month for July.

As the four-game series opener between the Yankees and Red Sox is just about set to begin at Fenway Park on Thursday night, it was recently announced that Chris Sale was named the Pitcher of the Month in the American League for the second straight time.

The Red Sox were unbeaten in Sale’s four July starts, all while the lefty surrendered one lone run in 25 innings pitched to go along with 43 strikeouts and a mere .178 batting average against.

Currently on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, it is unfortunate that Sale will be unable to make what was his scheduled start against New York tonight.

Fortunately, the Florida native seems confident that he will be able to make his next start against the Toronto Blue Jays sometime next week.

On the season as a whole, Sale owns an 11-4 record, a 2.04 ERA, and 207 total punch outs in 141 innings pitched.

Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks received the same honor on the National League side after posting a 1.60 ERA in five July starts.