RECAP: Christian Vazquez Finishes Triple Shy of Cycle as #RedSox Pick up 7-1 Win over Tigers.

Coming off a night in which they shutout the Detroit Tigers in the series opener on Tuesday, the Red Sox carried that over by holding Detroit to just one run on seven hits last night.

Making his 12th start of the season on Wednesday, the Red Sox improved to 11-1 whenever Rodriguez takes the mound. In 5.2 innings of one run ball, the lefty scattered five hits and one walk while striking out five to pick up his seventh winning decision on the year.

There were not many high stress situations for Rodriguez in this one. Pitch count was a bit of an issue, as it has been in his previous starts, but he was still effective pitching into the sixth inning. The only run he surrendered came in the top of the second on back to back two out hits from the Tigers 7-8 hitters. Other than that, solid night for the 25-year-old hurler, just wish he could pitch deeper into games.

Heading into the sixth, Rodriguez had the chance to complete the inning. A las, with two outs in the inning and a runner at first, the native of Venezuela could not retire Leonys Martin, and that single concluded his night.

Finishing with 107 pitches, Heath Hembree took over for Rodriguez with runners on first and second and one out in the inning. Despite walking the first batter he saw in JaCoby Jones on four pitches to load the bases, Hembree recovered by retiring the only other batter he faced in Jose Iglesias on two pitches to get out of the sixth.

Speaking of bases loaded situations for the Tigers, Matt Barnes did the same thing after recording the first two outs of the seventh. The righty needed 36 pitches in total, but he was able to get out of the jam by retiring Tigers catcher James McCann on seven pitches, thus extending his scoreless inning streak to 12.

From the conclusion of the seventh inning on, the Red Sox bullpen had a much better time of things. Brandon Workman and Bobby Poyner combined to toss two scoreless innings on the way to a convincing 7-1 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup feasted on Tigers pitching for the second straight night. They put up six runs in the opener and they put up seven on Wednesday.

Facing off against career reliever turned starter in Blaine Hardy for Detroit, the Red Sox were held scoreless in the first two innings.

Going into the bottom of third trailing by one, Rafael Devers led things off by reaching first on an infield single that easily could have been an out if not for a misplay from Miguel Cabrera. That was followed by an RBI double from Christian Vazquez and this thing was tied.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. reached first on a HBP to put runners on first and third, Andrew Benintendi drove both of them in on his 16th double of the season.

Xander Bogaerts then drove Benintendi in on an RBI double of his own and that put the Red Sox up 4-1 after three.

Fast forward to the fifth, with Hardy still on the mound for the Tigers, and Andrew Benintendi built on his great night at the plate by launching his 10th home run of the year. 5-1.

Two innings later, Christian Vazquez greeted new Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer by mashing his second home run in five days on the first pitch he saw in the at bat.

372 feet with a 95 MPH exit velo. on that solo shot that put the Red Sox up 6-1 in the seventh.

And in the ninth, making the most of his opportunities, recently called up Sam Travis knocked in his teams seventh and final run of the night on a one out RBI single. In five at bats since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on June 2nd, Travis has driven in three runs.

Some other notes from this win:

In his last three starts now, Eduardo Rodriguez has pitched at least into the sixth inning while giving up two or fewer runs. His ERA on the season now sits at 3.88.

Andrew Benintendi has hit three home runs this month. In April, he only hit one. Benintendi now ranks 7th in the American League with a .922 OPS.

After going 3-for-4 at the plate last night, Xander Bogaerts owns a .476 OBP in the month of June.

With two hits last night, Rafael Devers recorded his first multi-hit game since May 28th against the Blue Jays.

Christian Vazquez needed just a triple to complete the cycle last night. He is 4/10 over his last three games and owns a 1.100 OPS this month.

Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch twice last night, once in the third and once in the eighth, with two different pitchers on the mound for the Tigers.

Having already picked up the series win, the Red Sox will look to rookie hurler Jalen Beeks for the sweep later tonight. Beeks, a lefty, will be making his Major League debut, and he will be matched up against Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd. Bobby Poyner will be optioned to Pawtucket in a corresponding roster move. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM. Should be an entertaining one. Happy Jalen Beeks Day.

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RECAP: Christian Vazquez and Andrew Benintendi Deliver Clutch Home Runs as #RedSox Squeeze by Astros in 5-4 Win.

In a game that took just under four hours to complete, the Red Sox came away with a surprising 5-4 win in a comeback effort against the Houston Astros. Thanks in part to both David Price and Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox go into the series finale on Sunday night with the chance to head home with a four-game split. With that in mind, let’s get to how we got here…

Making his 12th start of the season on Saturday night, Price put together the best performance a Red Sox starter has had in Houston so far. In six full innings, the lefty scattered three runs on five hits and one walk while fanning seven.

The first three innings of this one were a bit tough for Price, as the Astros tacked on all three runs they scored off the Tennessee native, including a two-run home run off the bat of Alex Bregman, over that stretch. From the fourth inning on though, Price was nails. He held Houston hitless while facing the minimum nine batters to notch his third quality start in his last four starts overall.

Departing with a pitch count of 109 (63 strikes) and his team trailing by one run after six innings, it seemed as if Price would be heading towards his fifth losing decision of the season. Instead, a three run rally in the top of the seventh changed that, and the 32-year-old hurler ended up with the winning decision, his sixth on the year.

In relief of Price, with a two run lead to work with all of a sudden, the Red Sox bullpen held a solid Astros lineup in check over three innings pitched. Heath Hembree was first up and he worked his way around a walk in a scoreless seventh. Joe Kelly was next, and despite getting scored on for the second straight night, did his job by giving Craig Kimbrel a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

The Red Sox closer came on with the 7-8-9 hitters due up for the Astros, and he got pinch hitter JD Davis swinging for the third and final out in this one. Picking up his 19th save of the season, Kimbrel has pulled even with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz for the most saves in the American League.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was faced with a daunting task in going up against Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in the American League right now. In 12 starts prior to the one he made last night, the former Detroit Tiger owned a 1.11 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched, lowest among qualified starters in the American League.

Luckily for the Red Sox, Verlander would be without his usual catcher, Brian McCann, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 29th. Instead, Max Stassi was behind the plate for Houston, and despite having caught Verlander before this season, it was clear to see that the two were having some communication issues throughout the night.

Speaking of former Detroit Tigers mentioned earlier, Verlander’s former teammate in JD Martinez put the Red Sox on the board in the first. In his first career at bat against the Astros starter, Martinez saw a 96 MPH fastball he liked and lined it into the opposite field for an RBI single that scored Andrew Benintendi from second.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez struck again with his second RBI knock of the game and his 50th of the season. This one came on a 97 MPH fastball from Verlander, and it was lined to center field for another RBI single that scored Xander Bogaerts from second. Here are both of those hits in one convenient, although shortened, GIF:

That second one drew the Red Sox within one run in what would be Verlander’s final frame of work.

The seventh inning is where things got really crazy.

With Astros reliever Will Harris entering this contest and nonchalantly recording the first two outs on eight pitches, Christian Vazquez came through with his first home run of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.

383 on that shot to left field for Vazquez to tie this thing up at three runs a piece. He knew it was gone the second that ball made contact with his bat. If you thought that home run was impressive, just wait until you see the one hit by Andrew Benintendi later in the inning.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a six pitch walk, Andrew Benintendi stayed hot by mashing his eighth home run of the season to put the Red Sox on top.

417 feet and 105 MPH off the bat of Benintendi on that missile, and it caught Harris and even Benintendi a bit off guard.

Animated GIF

That big fly put the Red Sox up by two runs late, and as I mentioned earlier, they would not have to look back en route to their 40th win of the season, the first team to accomplish the feat so far.

Some notes from this win:

Over his last four starts, David Price owns a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He has struck out 28 batters over that stretch as well.

JD Martinez became the first player to reach 50 RBIs this season with two of them last night.

Also, I wanted to include this little nugget about Christian Vazquez, courtesy of @RedSoxStats on Twitter.

Now with the chance to head home with a split, Rick Porcello will man the rubber for the Red Sox in the series finale of this four game set, as he will be matches up against Astros righty Charlie Morton. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET on ESPN. A bit of an odd time for Sunday Night Baseball, but I’m not complaining.

 

RECAP: David Price Tosses Six Quality Innings as #RedSox Pick up Series Win Against Rays.

Coming off a series opening win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox looked to clinch the series and their fourth straight win with David Price on the mound last night. With Chris Archer getting the start on the other side of the Rays, we were treated to a great pitching matchup between former teammates and close friends.

In his 10th start of the season, fourth against the Rays, David Price was fantastic. Going against his old club, the lefty tossed six innings of one run ball, scattering three hits and three free passes while recording a season high nine strikeouts over that span.

The only costly mistakes the Tennessee native made did not transpire until his last inning of work. After walking leadoff man Denard Span on six pitches, CJ Con took Price deep to center field for what looked like a go-ahead two run home run. Instead, it bounced off the top of the wall and stayed in play. It did allow the speedy Span to score all the way from First, but Price settled down and retired the next three batters he faced in order. That was how the 32-year-old’s night would end. Not a bad way to follow-up a complete game.

Ever since that awful start against the Rangers in Texas, David Price has looked like the David Price of old. He gave up seven earned runs in that outing back on May 3rd, but in three starts since then, the lefty owns a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. The haters and doubters will say that the teams Price has been pitching against aren’t playoff teams, and that may be true, but opponents are hitting a measly .183 against him over his last three starts. Regardless of the opposition, those numbers are impressive. He’ll look to build on this momentum in his next outing, which should come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Memorial Day.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen shut the Rays down for the second straight night, as Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel combined to toss three perfect innings to go along with four strikeouts. For Kimbrel, last night’s save opportunity went much more smoothly than the one on Tuesday. That was reassuring to see, and he picked up his 15th save of the season to lock up his teams 34th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup did not have an answer for the way Rays starter Chris Archer was pitching last night. They had a golden opportunity to tack on their first run of the game in the fifth, after Eduardo Nunez tried to score from first on a two out double off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Unfortunately, Nunez was tagged out at the plate in a somewhat bizarre sequence.

I mean, you have to slide in that situation, right? Christian Vazquez definitely deserves a fair amount of blame here, but there was no real urgency in Nunez either. Whatever the case, that blunder cost the Red Sox a run, but it did not cost them the game.

An inning later, after the 9-1-2 hitters loaded the bases with no outs, the Red Sox scored their first run of the game when Hanley Ramirez grounded into his second double play of the night. That allowed Christian Vazquez from third, and the Red Sox had their first run of the game and a one run lead.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, and things are all knotted up at one run a piece. With closer Alex Colome on the mound for the Rays, JD Martinez led the inning off by reaching base on a throwing error committed by shortstop Willy Adames and making it to second in the process.

Now, with the go-ahead run in scoring position, a fairly cooled off and hitless Xander Bogaerts came to the plate looking to put this game away. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, he did just that.

Bogaerts’ 13th double of the season allowed Martinez to easily score from second to put the Red Sox on top.

After Rafael Devers followed that RBI double up with a five pitch walk, Eduardo Nunez’s sacrifice fly to center scored Bogaerts from third to add a little insurance and advanced Devers to third.

Devers would cross the plate on a wild pitch from Colome with Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, and that was the last run the Red Sox scored last night. A nice three run ninth to put this one out of reach for the Rays.

Some notes from this one:

Despite neither of them getting a hit, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi reached base a combined five times on five walks on Wednesday.

Hanley Ramirez is in the middle of a slump right now, as he is slashing .143/.182/.214 in 44 plate appearances over his last 10 games. Like I have been saying, might be time to get Mitch Moreland some more at bats.

Next up for the Red Sox is the series finale with the Rays later tonight. Looking for the sweep and their fifth straight win, Rick Porcello will be matched up against impressive lefty Blake Snell. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

Christian Vazquez and #RedSox Agree to Three-Year Contract Extension.

Entering his age 27 season and the last year on his previous contract, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez is here to stay for a while. The two sides came to terms on a three-year deal worth approximately $13.35 million over that span. He’ll still make $1.425 million in 2018, then the extension will kick in next season. The new contract also includes a club option worth $7 million in 2022, where Vazquez will be 31 years old.

The Puerto Rico native has been with the Red Sox since 2008, when he was drafted by the Red Sox in the ninth round in the amateur draft that year. In 211 career big league games, Vazquez owns a slash line of .261/.311/.355. He has always been known for his abilities behind the plate, but he really came through with the bat in his hands in 2017, putting up career high numbers in multiple offensive categories while also appearing in a career high 99 games. One of the more memorable moments of last season is because of Vazquez, when he walked it off for the Red Sox on August 1st against the Cleveland Indians.

With his new contract, Vazquez has committed to making annual donations to the Red Sox foundation. Great move on his part. Should be an exciting season for the number one catcher.

christian vazquez dancing GIF by MLB

Should Blake Swihart Make This #RedSox Team over Sandy Leon?

Opening Day may be 23 days away, but it’s never too early to look at rosters and see how they may shape out as the regular season draws near. Right now, it appears the Red Sox may have more position players than spots available on the 25-man roster. If you look at what the Opening Day roster would look like now, then you would have Hanley Ramirez, Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and JD Martinez playing everyday. At catcher, Christian Vazquez has earned the starter role after the season he put up in 2017. It’s after him where things get interesting. Both Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon are coming off of seasons I’m sure they would like to forget. Leon, who put up career high numbers in 2016, saw a significant drop in those numbers last year. And Swihart, who at one time was one of the most recognized catching prospects in baseball, only appeared in six games for the big league club in 2017, while hitting a measly .190 in 53 games with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

I can’t say I know this for certain, but I would assume that the Red Sox front office thinks more highly of Blake Swihart then they do of Sandy Leon. Swihart has been with the team since 2011 when he was drafted in the first round of the amateur draft. Like I said, he was a highly touted prospect at one time and has proved that when healthy, he can hit major league pitching. Leon, on the other hand, has been with the Red Sox since 2015 and has really never been put under immense pressure to excel at his position. He was a surprise for sure in 2016, but I honestly can’t see him putting up those kind of numbers again anytime soon. The bottom line is, both Swihart and Leon are out of minor league options, so it would make sense to retain one over the other. In my opinion, that would be Swihart. Without using the great spring training he is having because that means almost nothing, Swihart is still three years younger, plays another position, and is under team control for two years more than Leon is.

This may come off as a hot take, but I think it’s safe to say Swihart brings more to the table than Leon does. There’s a reason he was once a highly regarded prospect, I think he deserves the chance to back up Christian Vazquez while also taking on a utility role if the Red Sox FO wants to get more at bats out of him.