After taking care of business against the Orioles in a 5-0 shutout win earlier Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox were back at it at Camden Yards later in the evening to wrap up the day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.
Hector Velazquez,who hadn’t started a game since July 11th while also making just three relief appearances since July 30th, got the nod in this one, and as some may have expected, did not go deep into Saturday night’s contest.
Pitching into the third inning, the right-hander had his fair share of ups and downs, as he sat down the first three batters he faced on 11 pitches, but proceeded to allow the next three Orioles he faced to reach in the second, which led to Baltimore tacking their first run of the night on a Renato Nunez RBI double.
In in his final frame of work, the Mexico native walked Jace Peterson to lead things off, then got Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to ground out to second and third base for the first two outs of the bottom half of the third. That is how Velazquez’s night would come to somewhat of a surprising end, all while he failed to record a single strikeout.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 41 (56% strikes), the 29-year-old certainly was not pressed in his 34th outing of the season, which makes sense when you consider that he will be returning to his role in the bullpen in the coming days.
Out of those 41 pitches thrown, Velazquez relied heavily on his sinker, changeup, and slider, as he went to those three pitches a total of 33 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, which he threw seven times, in the first inning.
In relief of Velazquez, Brandon Workman got the first call in what would be a very busy night for the Red Sox bullpen.
Workman, who was later optioned down to Triple A Pawtucket, officially closed the book on Velazquez’s night by giving up an RBI single to Trey Mancini that scored Jace Peterson, who drew a leadoff walk earlier in the inning, from second and make it a 2-0 game.
After walking the next two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Renato Nunez to load the bases, Workman escaped any further damage by getting rookie Cedric Mullins to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.
Drew Pomeranz, making his second straight appearance as a reliever in as many days, settled things down a bit by tossing two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth and was in line for another winning decision with the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-2 lead while the left-hander was in the game.
Unfortunately, Heath Hembree, who has been struggling as of late, messed that up by surrendering the game-tying home run to Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard with two outs in the sixth, which could have been worse had Hembree not picked off Mullins on an attempted steal of second base while Rickard was at the plate.
Joe Kelly got the call for the seventh, and he worked his way around a one out single and two out walk for his first clean relief appearance since August 8th and fourth winning decision of 2018 to make way for William Cuevas in the eighth.
Cuevas, the 26th man on Saturday’s Red Sox roster for the doubleheader, made his first appearance with the big league club in over a month, and he too worked his way around multiple base runners in a scoreless frame of work.
Finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel continued to frustrate by serving up a solo shot to Trey Mancini that cut Boston’s lead down to two, but ultimately saw his team’s 84th win through to the end by notching his 34th save of the season and 100th save in a Red Sox uniform on a four pitch strikeout of Chris Davis.
All and all, Alex Cora turned to seven pitchers in total, and despite only recording four strikeouts and an unsightly eight walks, I would say things worked out for the better.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher they have already seen multiple times this year in Baltimore’s Yefry Ramirez
Ramirez, a right-hander in his rookie season, owned a career 5.79 ERA in two previous starts against Boston coming into Saturday, but he held his own in five innings pitched last night.
Without JD Martinez, the Red Sox more than likely would not have won this game, and he got the scoring started for his team in the fourth by blasting his first of two home runs to cut the Orioles lead in half at the time.
An inning later, Dan Butler, who was starting behind the plate in the night cap, drove in his first big league run since 2014 on a sac fly that scored Eduardo Nunez, who tripled to lead off the fifth, from third and tie things up at two runs a piece.
In the sixth, with Steve Pearce at third and Martinez at second, a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Cody Carroll on ball four of Rafael Devers’ third at bat of the night allowed Pearce to come in from third. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a one-run lead.
A lead that would not last long though, as Baltimore answered right back with a run of their own in their half of the sixth off of Heath Hembree to re-tie the game.
Fast forward to the eighth, with Mike Wright on the mound for the Orioles, and JD Martinez essentially put this contest to bed by coming through with a clutch two-run shot to left field. 410 feet off the bat for Martinez’s second big fly of the evening and league-leading 37th of the season.
To put this thing out of reach for good, Brock Holt provided some necessary insurance in the ninth on a two out RBI single that scored Mookie Betts from second and gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead they would not have to look back from to sweep the twin bill.
Some notes from this win:
The Red Sox are 84-35 on the season. They are also 13-2 against the Orioles.
JD Martinez drove in his 102nd, 103rd, and 104th RBI last night. In his eight-year career, the most runs he had driven in in a single season was 104 in 2017.
Craig Kimbrel has given up runs in five of his last six appearances. That is actually bad.
On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep in Baltimore later this afternoon. Guess who is getting the start for Boston?
That’s right. Chris Sale is BACK from the 10-day disabled list after missing nearly two weeks with left shoulder inflammation as he gets the nod in the Sunday finale.
As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Workman to Pawtucket will be the corresponding roster move.
Backed up by a career 2.18 ERA in ten games (seven starts) at Oriole Park, Sale will be facing off against another lefty in Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.
Although he may not be having the greatest of seasons (5.55 ERA in 21 GS), Cobb, a Boston native himself, has seen plenty from the Red Sox over his seven-year career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
In two starts against them in 2018, Cobb has surrendered a total of 11 runs on 20 hits in ten innings pitched.
First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.