RECAP: The #RedSox Opened up a Six-Game Homestand on Friday by Unloading 14 Runs Against the Mariners.

Coming off a long road trip in which they averaged 4.2 runs scored per game, the Red Sox opened up a three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners in eventful fashion last night. The weirdest part of this game was that Steven Wright had his worst start of the season and they still found a way to win.

Having just gotten swept by the Yankees in New York, the Mariners came into Boston looking to get off to a quick start offensively. And with Steven Wright on the mound making his fourth start of the season on Friday, they did just that.

Yup, the knuckleballer, who in his last time out against the Mariners this past Saturday tossed seven one run innings in a losing effort, got rocked for the first time this season. Right from the get go, the Mariners were on top of Wright and his knuckleball, as they pounced for four runs in the first on two home runs, two in the second, and four again in the fourth with another home run mixed in there before the righty departed with two outs in the inning.

In those 4.2 frames of work, Wright got hit ten times for TEN earned runs. For the Mariners, Nelson Cruz was the main enforcer here. Old friend Denard Span was once again a bit of a headache, but by the time this thing reached the middle of the fourth inning, Cruz had already driven in SEVEN of his teams 10 runs, six of which came on two moon shots off of Wright.

The life of a knuckleballer, huh? One start you look like a magician, the next you look like absolute trash. Steven Wright’s ERA inflated from 1.23 all the way up to 3.38 after this stinker of a start, but he would not be pinned with the losing decision.

Nope, thanks to 5.2 scoreless frames of relief from the Red Sox bullpen and an explosion of runs from the lineup, the California native did not factor into the decision. Finishing with 59 pitches on the evening, Wright went to his knuckler 54 times and only got 4 swings and missed out of it. He’ll look to rebound next time out against the LA Angels on Thursday.

As I just mentioned, the Red Sox bullpen was nails last night. Starting in the top half of the fifth with two outs and a five run deficit, Brian Johnson, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel combined to toss over five shutdown innings while holding the Mariners to four hits and one walk.

For Barnes, this was his second straight scoreless appearance since giving up two runs in Seattle last Friday night. He struck out the side in the seventh. And for Kimbrel, who had not made an appearance since June 14th, he struck out one while tossing a scoreless ninth inning to wrap this crazy game up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup went off for the second day in a row. They tallied nine runs in Minnesota on Thursday, and they added on that by plating 14 runs on 20 hits last night. Eight players finished the game with at least one run driven in. Let’s get to it.

Already trailing by four runs in the bottom of the first, the Red Sox made the most of their first at bats in this one.

Facing off against a pitcher who had just shut them out less than a week ago in M’s righty Wade LeBlanc, the top of the lineup got things started right away by recording four straight hits. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi set the table by hitting back to back singles, and JD Martinez and Mitch Moreland followed that up with a pair of RBI knocks to make it a 4-2 game.

Two batters later, a Brock Holt RBI single, a Rafael Devers RBI groundout, and a Christian Vazquez RBI double plated another three runs, and just like that, the Red Sox were up by a run going into the second inning.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, after the Mariners had gone up big again, Devers came through by cutting the Red Sox deficit to four with another RBI, this one coming on a single to score Mitch Moreland from third, making it a 10-6 ballgame.

An inning later is where things got really interesting. Similar to Thursday, when the Red Sox scored seven of their nine runs over the last three innings in Minnesota, they struck for eight runs in their last three innings with at bats on Friday as well.

Starting in the sixth, with LeBlanc now out of the contest and Mariners reliever Nick Vincent in, a two out walk of Andrew Benintendi led to another pitching change. So with James Pazos in the game now and Benintendi over at first, JD Martinez ended his homerless streak of at bats at 30 by mashing a 427 foot two-run shot to dead center. His 23rd big fly of the season.

The third run of the inning came around to score when Xander Bogaerts drove in Mitch Moreland on another RBI single to make it a one run game going into the seventh.

Trailing by one run now, two singles from Rafael Devers and a Mookie Betts walk loaded the bases for Andrew Benintendi. With Juan Nicasio on the mound for the Mariners, Benintendi ripped his second hit of the day, a single, to score Devers from third to tie the game and reload the bases for JD Martinez. With three hits on the day already, the Red Sox slugger collected his fourth and fifth RBI of the night by grounding a single up the middle to score Swihart and Betts. 12-10.

Two batters later, with Eduardo Nunez in the game pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, two straight wild pitches from new pitcher Nick Rumbelow allowed Andrew Benintendi to score from third and allowed JD Martinez to advance from second to third.

To cap off a wild night of scoring, Eduardo Nunez collected his 17th RBI of the season by lining a single to center field to drive in Martinez for his teams 14th run of the night. That’s all the support the bullpen would need to secure win number 51.

Some notes from this W:

14 runs tied a season-high for the Red Sox. The only time they have scored as many runs this season came back on April 10th against the Yankees. The 20 hits did mark a new season-high.

Xander Bogaerts had to leave this game in the seventh inning after spraining his left index finger on an awkward slide into second base on a swiped bag in the sixth. He will not be in the lineup tonight.

After only hitting one home run and driving in one run on the road trip, JD Martinez came through with FIVE RBI on four hits last night.

Everyone in the Red Sox lineup, including Eduardo Nunez, reached base at least once. In total, the Red Sox went 20/43 with one home run and 13 RBI last night.

Looking to pick up the series win later tonight, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez making the start for Boston. He’ll be matched up against Mariners righty Mike Leake in the same pitching matchup we saw this past Sunday. The Red Sox had their way with Leake in that one, and they’ll look to do the same on Saturday. Going for his team-leading 10th winning decision of the season, Rodriguez owns a career 2.66 ERA in four starts against Seattle. With that in mind, first pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET on FOX.

 

 

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RECAP: David Price and Xander Bogaerts Lead #RedSox to 2-1 Win over Mariners.

Coming off a three game sweep in Baltimore, the Red Sox continued their ten game road trip by kicking off a four game set against the first place Seattle Mariners in Seattle last night. Owning two of the three best winning percentages in all the American League entering Thursday, this series has potential to be a postseason preview.

Making his 14th start of the season in this one, David Price put together his best performance since he tossed that complete game against the Orioles back on May 17th.

In seven full innings pitched, the lefty allowed just one run on five hits, zero walks, and a HBP while notching seven strikeouts on the night.

There was really no point last night where Price found himself in too much trouble. The only run he gave up came in the fifth inning, when after Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy both led things off with singles, Guillermo Heredia drove in Seager from third on a sacrifice fly for the first out.

Other than that though, the Tennessee native shut the Mariners down from that point on up until the conclusion of the seventh inning. With the help of some slick defense from Xander Bogaerts, Price got out of the sixth unscathed.

And in his final frame of work, with his pitch count getting up there, it looked as though Price was going to get the hook after giving up another single to Healy with two outs in the seventh. Instead, Alex Cora let him stay in the game after a meeting on the mound, and Price responded by striking out the last batter he faced to retire the side.

Finishing with 106 pitches (73 strikes) on the night, the 32-year-old hurler reached a maximum velocity of 95.5 MPH on his four-seam fastball, which he threw 23% of the time in those seven innings.

In his last seven starts, not only are the Red Sox undefeated, but Price himself has been outstanding. Over his last 44.1 innings pitched in those even outings, the southpaw owns a 2.64 ERA while opponents are hitting a measly .205 off of him. It must have all started with that carpal tunnel scare back in early May, because David Price has been one of the better pitchers in the American League since then.

Back to the game, the Red Sox bullpen would be responsible for the last six Mariners outs with a run lead to protect. As he usually does, Joe Kelly tossed a shutdown eighth inning to pick up his 14th hold of the year, and that set up another save situation for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

It certainly was not easy, as the first two Mariners in the inning on consecutive walks, but the Red Sox closer bounced back, struck out Kyle Seager for the first out of the inning, and with some help from Xander Bogaerts at short, got out of the jam thanks to an inning-ending double play off the bat of Ryon Healy. 22nd save of the season secured. Fifth straight win for the Red Sox also secured.

On the flip side of things, I gotta start off by tipping my cap to M’s starter Felix Hernandez. A franchise legend in Seattle, King Felix’s best years are definitely behind him, but I would be lying if I said I was not impressed with the performance he put together against the Red Sox last night, 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s.

Of all people, Jackie Bradley Jr. got the scoring started for the Red Sox in the top of the second when he drove in Rafael Devers from second on an RBI double to put his team on the board first.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Xander Bogaerts came through with the go-ahead run on a 404 foot solo shot off of Hernandez. Good for his 10th home run of the season on what was a terrific night for the Red Sox shortstop.

Like I said, that solo homer put the Red Sox up by one and they would not have to look back on their way to the series opening win.

Some notes from this W:

From @SoxNotes: Red Sox starters have allowed 2 ER or fewer in 10 of the club’s last 11 games, including each of the last 7.

Another one from @SoxNotes: Xander Bogaerts hit his 10th HR of the season tonight. The Red Sox are the only team with as many as 6 players with 10+ HR (Martinez, Betts, Benintendi, Bogaerts, Devers, Moreland).

Rafael Devers extended his hitting streak to nine games last night. Over that span, Devers is slashing .314/.333/.514 with one home run and four RBI.

The Red Sox are 17-3 in the last 20 games Christian Vazquez has started behind the plate.

Heading into the middle game of this series later tonight, Rick Porcello will be getting the start for the Red Sox. He will be matched up against lefty James Paxton for the Mariners, who has already thrown a no-hitter this season back on May 8th in Toronto. We could be in store for another pitchers’ duel here. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM local time.

 

RECAP: Steven Wright Extends Scoreless Innings Streak as #RedSox Take Opener from Orioles in Extras.

Coming off a 3-3 homestand against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, the Red Sox embarked on a 10 game road trip with the first stop coming in Baltimore. Facing off against a 19-45 Orioles team, Steven Wright and the Red Sox bullpen gave up absolutely nothing in a twelve inning win.

Making his second start of the season, Wright extended his scoreless inning streak to 23.2 in a solid effort last night. Pitching into the seventh inning, the knuckleballer scattered four hits and three walks while fanning five.

It was not until his final frame of work when Wright finally ran into a bit of trouble, and that happened when he allowed three consecutive Orioles to reach base, which loaded the bases with two outs to end his night. With his pitch count at 93 (58 strikes), Alex Cora turned to Joe Kelly to get the most crucial out of the game.

Adam Jones, who had already reached base twice up to this point, had been a career .250 hitter when facing Kelly, but those numbers got a little worse because the Red Sox flamethrower got Jones to strikeout on five pitches to end the inning, thus killing any shot at an Orioles rally.

From the bottom half of the eighth on, the Red Sox bullpen continued to shut down the Orioles lineup. Kelly, Brian Johnson, Brandon Workman, and Heath Hembree combined to toss 4.1 scoreless frames while limiting the O’s to just one hit and three walks.

Combine that with the Red Sox finally tacking on a pair of runs in the top half of the 12th, and Craig Kimbrel was all set up to notch his 21st save of the season. The closer led things off by questionably walking Craig Gentry, but bounced back by striking out the next three batters he faced on 15 pitches. Ballgame over.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got Mookie Betts back for the first time in over two weeks, but could not do much against Orioles pitching either. In fact, their ace, Dylan Bundy, had arguably his best start of the season against one of the better run producing teams in the American League.

Oh, they had their chances, but those did not come until late in this one. Up until the start of the 11th inning, the Red Sox sent more than three batters to the plate just five times last night and that did not translate in to any runs scored.

If you fast forward to that 11th inning, you’ll realize that Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and JD Martinez loaded the bases with two outs for Mitch Moreland. With Orioles reliever Mychal Givens, on the bump, Moreland got ahead and had a 3-0 count to his advantage. After taking the next two pitches for strikes to fill the count, the Red Sox first baseman could not keep up with a 96 MPH fastball from Givens and struck out while simultaneously leaving the bases loaded.

Luckily though, a similar situation presented itself in the 12th when, with Givens still on the mound, a single and a double from Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers and a Eduardo Nunez HBP loaded the bases with no outs this time.

Celebrating his 30th birthday, Brock Holt was due up next, and he came through with a 296 foot sacrifice fly to center field.

That allowed Bogaerts to score from third with plenty of time to spare while Devers and Nunez advanced into scoring position at the same time.

Now, to add on some insurance, Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered with a sacrifice fly of his own. This one scored Devers from third to put the Red Sox up by two, which is all Craig Kimbrel would need in the bottom half of the inning.

Some notes from this win:

Mookie Betts went 1/5 with a single in his return to the Red Sox lineup last night. He was taken out of the game in the middle of the 11th for precautionary reasons.

Rafael Devers accounted for his teams only extra base hit on the night when he hit his 14th double in the 12th. He made a handful of great plays at third base as well.

In four appearances this season, Brandon Workman has yet to give up a run and has only surrendered two hits and one walk in 4.1 innings pitched.

Happy belated birthday to Brock Holt. Position player of the game IMHO.

With the series opener in the books, Eduardo Rodriguez will toe the rubber for the Red Sox in the middle game of this three game set later tonight. He will be matched up against righty David Hess for the Orioles, who, in his last start against Boston on May 20th, gave up five runs in less than five innings pitched. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM once again.

 

 

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: Four Home Runs Power #RedSox to 6-2 Win over Braves.

After dropping the series finale to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night, the Red Sox looked to rebound against one of the more surprising teams in the National League, the Atlanta Braves, last night back at Fenway Park. With Hanley Ramirez no longer a member of this ball club, it was going to be interesting to see how the rest of the lineup would respond, and they put together a fairly decent all-around performance against Julio Teheran and the Braves bullpen.

Eduardo Rodriguuez made his first career start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday, and he had himself a pretty nice night. The lefty surrendered two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven in 5.2 innings pitched. Despite only throwing one 1-2-3 inning in this one, the only costly mistakes made by Rodriguez came in the third. That occurred when Nick Markakis plated the Braves only two runs on a double after Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman each singled. After that, the native of Venezuela settled down and pitched until there were two outs in the top half of the sixth.

With his pitch count north of 100 after walking Braves third baseman Johan Camargo, Rodriguez’s night would come to an end. I thought it was a bit of a quick hook from Alex Cora, but understandable nonetheless, especially given the fact he needed 110 pitches in his last start against the Orioles.

With one out still to get in the sixth, Heath Hembree got the call first out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he retired the only batter he faced in Dansby Swanson on a six pitch strikeout.

Next up out of the bullpen was Joe Kelly for the seventh inning and Matt Barnes for the eighth. They both tossed scoreless frames, and that set up the opportunity for Craig Kimbrel to close this game out in a non-save situation. The Red Sox flamethrower gave up a one out single, but bounced back by retiring the next two Braves he faced on seven pitches to wrap up his teams 35th win of the season.

So, overall, once ERod left this game in the sixth, the Red Sox bullpen combined to toss 3.1 scoreless innings on Friday night. And that now marks six straight contests in which the ‘pen has not surrendered a single run. They entered last night with the sixth best bullpen ERA in baseball, and I’m sure that’s going to go down some more after that stellar performance against one of the best lineups in the National League.

Speaking of lethal lineups, the Red Sox lineup put on a bit of a home run derby against Julio Teheran and the rest of the Braves bullpen on Friday night.

Trailing by two going into their half of the fourth inning, JD Martinez put the Red Sox on the board with his 16th long ball of the season that just cleared the Green Monster.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted this thing up at two runs a piece, as he launched his seventh big fly of the season over the Monster as well.

An inning later, Andrew Benintendi drove in the only run for the Red Sox that did not come on a home run, and that came on a sac fly to center field to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from third. Bradley nearly scored on an inside the park homer himself two at bats prior, but he settled for a one out triple on the hardest hit ball of the night (109 MPH off the bat).

Fast forward to the seventh, with two outs in the inning and a brand new pitcher on the mound for the braves in Matt Wisler, Mookie Betts continued his crazy season by retaking the league lead in home runs.

With both Mike Trout and JD Martinez homering last night, it only made sense for Betts to hit one of his own. That one was sent 387 feet to left field, and it left the Red Sox outfielder alone atop the Major League home run leaderboard.

Another inning later, Mitch Moreland got in on the action by mashing his eighth home run of the season off of Wisler, and that pretty much put this game out of reach if it was not already.

443 feet to dead center on that one, which was definitely a reassuring thing to see given the news from earlier Friday morning.

Some notes from this win:

According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, Craig Kimbrel threw his five fastest pitches of the season last night, as he topped out at 99.1 MPH.

The 3-4-5 hitters in last night’s lineup combined for four hits and three home runs.

With that triple I mentioned earlier, Jackie Bradley Jr. now has hits in four of his past five games.

In his first game as the everyday first baseman, Mitch Moreland went 2-for-4 with a single and a home run. He now owns a 1.029 OPS in 35 games this season.

It was certainly an unusual day for the Red Sox with Hanley Ramirez being designated for assignment, but they responded in a great way with a win last night.

Next up is the middle game of this series later this afternoon, and it will be local boy Sean Newcomb getting the start for the Atlanta Braves. The Massachusetts native has seemingly emerged as the best pitcher in the Braves rotation in just his first full season in the major leagues. For the Red Sox, it will be lefty Drew Pomeranz on the mound it what should be a very critical start. I mean, there was a point last season where it looked as if Pomeranz was going to be moved to the bullpen, but he turned his year around and become the best starting pitcher on that staff not named Chris Sale.

This time around, history is hopefully repeating itself because Pomeranz has not been close to great in the six starts he has made this season. If the struggles continue this afternoon, I can’t imagine he would make his next start. With guys capable of starting like Steven Wright and Hector Velazquez available in the bullpen, why would Pomeranz deserve a spot in the rotation if he continues to stink? We’ll have to wait on that though. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM.

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.

RECAP: Chris Sale Fans Nine and Mookie Betts Hits 16th Homer as #RedSox Pick up Series Opening Win in Tampa Bay.

Coming off a day off on Monday, the Red Sox kicked off another series against the 22-23 Tampa Bay Rays last night. Last time the Red Sox saw Tampa Bay, they took two out of three from them at Fenway Park and despite the low expectations going into this season, the Rays have not been that bad of a team.

Chris Sale made his eleventh start of the season in this one, and he was phenomenal once again on the mound at Tropicana Field. The lefty recorded his fourth start this month of seven or more innings pitched, as he surrendered two runs (one earned) on four hits, two walks, and a HBP while fanning nine Rays on the night. Up to this point in the season, there has been some talk about where the velocity of Sale’s fastballs are at, but that was not a concern last night. Right from the get go, the Florida native had his four-seamer working in his favor. In fact, the fastest pitch Sale threw came in the seventh inning when he reached 99 MPH on his 96th pitch of the game.

There were two costly mistakes that Sale made in his start last night, and they came in the fourth and fifth innings. With a three run lead going into the bottom of the fourth, the Rays put their first run on the board via a solo home run off the bat of their #1 prospect, Willy Adames. An inning later, after Rob Refsnyder led things off with a double and advanced to third on a passed ball with one out, Daniel Robertson scored the runner from third by flying out to left field. After getting out of the fifth with just that one run surrendered, Sale tossed two more scoreless innings and got the first two outs of the eighth before his departure. With his pitch count all the way up at 112 pitches (73 strikes), Sale was met with a standing ovation from the visiting crowd, which was more than likely consisted of mostly Red Sox fans, but it was still nice to see him get that sort of reception in a building he absolutely owns. As a matter of fact, after last night’s outing, Sale now owns a 1.92 ERA in 65.2 innings pitched at Tropicana Field. He’ll look to build on this start in his next time out against the Atlanta Braves this upcoming weekend.

In relief of Sale, Joe Kelly got the call out of the bullpen with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Responsible for one out, Kelly struck out the only batter he faced to pick up his seventh hold of the season.

Next out of the Red Sox bullpen was Craig Kimbrel. Looking to protect a two run lead and record his 14th save this season, getting there certainly was not an easy journey for the Red Sox closer. The Rays reached base three times in the inning, ultimately loading the bases with two outs for outfielder Mallex Smith. Thankfully, Kimbrel got Smith to ground into a force out, and this ballgame was over.

Looking at the numbers, we have not seen the best out of the 29-year-old this month. In nine appearances, Kimbrel has pitched 8.2 innings. Over that span, he has given up four earned runs (three home runs) on six hits and a walk. That’s good for a 4.15 ERA, and I expect those numbers to improve over the next nine games left in May, but I just wanted to point that out.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got all their scoring done on two swings of the bat. The first came from Mookie Betts in the third inning, and the second came from Rafael Devers in the sixth inning.

Facing off against Rays starter Jake Faria with Jackie Bradley Jr. at first and Sandy Leon at second, Betts mashed his league-leading 16th home run of the season.

That 405 foot shot to left field was good for three, and it marked the third home run for Betts in his last four games.

Fast forward to the sixth, with the lead cut to just one run, Rafael Devers provided a little insurance with his ninth big fly of the season. This one coming off Rays reliever Austin Pruitt.

In the last 10 games he has played in, Devers is only slashing .167/.250/.417 with six hits. Half of those hits have been home runs.

That solo shot gave the Red Sox their fourth and final run of the game, which was good enough to pick up their league-leading 33rd win of the season.

Some notes from this one:

With another base knock last night, Sandy Leon is quietly has a slash line of .400/.478/.600 over the last seven games he has appeared in. With the way Christian Vazquez has disappointed this season, maybe Leon could see an increase in time behind the plate.

For only the fifth time this season, Jackie Bradley Jr. has recorded a base hit in consecutive games after his 2-for-4 performance at the plate on Tuesday.

Since returning from that road trip that ended in Toronto less than two weeks ago, Hanley Ramirez owns a .172 slugging percentage. I won’t bring up the other numbers, which are also ugly, but that is borderline unacceptable for a player who is capable of putting up 30 home runs in any given season. Might be time to get Mitch Moreland more playing time at first base.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will look to take the second game of this series against the Rays later tonight. Coming off a great start against the Orioles, David Price will be taking the mound against his old team, while it will be Chris Archer going for Tampa Bay. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.