After sweeping the Colorado Rockies in a two-game interleague series and an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up the final leg of their west coast swing with a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels in 15 innings on Friday.
Making his seventh start of the season for Boston and third since returning from the injured list last month was Nathan Eovaldi, who only lasted three innings in his last time out against the San Diego Padres.
Tossing four full innings this time around, the right-hander yielded just one earned run on three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts on the night.
That lone Angels run came in the bottom half of the third, when with one out and the bases empty, Brian Goodwin took Eovaldi deep to right-center off a 3-2, 98 MPH heater at the top of the zone to get his team on the board.
Other than that one blip though, Eovaldi rebounded by retiring five of the final six hitters he faced leading to the conclusion of the fourth, the point in which his evening came to a close.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (54 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 100.3 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Ultimately getting hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 6.23, Eovaldi will look to go deeper into his next start, which should come against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday back at Fenway Park.
In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the middle of the fifth with a three-run lead to protect, and he loaded the bases on a leadoff single and back-to-back walks before getting Mike Trout to pop out to second and Shohei Ohtani to ground into a 3-2 forceout at home for the first two outs of the frame.
From there, Marcus Walden came into try and clean the mess left behind by Taylor, and he allowed two of the runners he inherited to score on a two-run single off the bat of Albert Pujols. Both of those runs were charged to Taylor.
Walden was able to escape the fifth with an inning-ending groundout from Kole Calhoun, and he also worked a 1-2-3 to make way for Matt Barnes in the seventh.
There, with his side up three runs once more, Barnes let that lead shrink back down to two by serving up another one-out solo shot to Goodwin, thus making it a 6-4 contest in an otherwise clean frame of relief.
Ryan Brasier got the call for the eighth, and he fanned two of the first three men he faced, but walked the fourth, Andrelton Simmons, on five pitches, to put the tying run on base for the pinch-hitting Justin Upton, which led to Brandon Workman coming on and looking to lock down the four-out save.
Workman did load the bases on an infield singe from Upton, but he also got out of the sticky spot by getting Kevan Smith to ground out to second.
In the ninth, the right-hander created some more trouble for himself, walking the first two men he faced in the frame before allowing one of those runners to advance to third on an Ohtani force out.
So, with two outs to get and runners on the corners, Workman had the perfect chance to end this one by getting Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play, but instead served up a 1-1, 82 MPH curveball on the outer half of the plate, one in which the future Hall of Famer slapped through the right side of the infield and J.D. Martinez misplayed in right.
That fielding error gave way to the tying run, Ohtani, crossing the plate, and Workman was dealt his sixth blown save of the year.
Fortunately for Boston though, 6-6 is where Friday’s contest stood for a while, as lefr-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out five over two innings of scoreless relief in the 10th and 11th.
Andrew Cashner continued to impress out of the ‘pen as well, eventually earning the victory while tossing four no-hit frames from the middle of the 12th until the end of the 15th to secure the 7-6 victory.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie left-hander Jose Suarez for the Angels, who came into the weekend owning an ERA of 7.89 in seven outings since the All-Star break.
Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first, Mookie Betts led things off by going yard off the fifth pitch of the night from Suarez, a 3-1, 91 MPH heater on the outer half of the plate. Per Statcast, Betts’ 22nd homer of the year had an exit velocity of 108.3 MPH
An inning later, A Sam Travis leadoff walk, an Andrew Benintendi HBP, and Christian Vazquez GIDP set up Brock Holt with two outs and a runner on third, and he came through by driving in Travis on a simple RBI single through the left side of the infield. 2-0.
In the third, J.D. Martinez stayed hot and doubled his side’s edge, as he scored himself, as well as Betts, on his 33rd big fly of the year. This one, a two-out, two-run shot, coming off a 3-1, 76 MPH cutter from Suarez, put the Sox up 4-0 over the Halos.
Fast forward to the sixth, with Suarez out and old friend Noe Ramirez in for Los Angeles, and Martinez capitalized on another prime run-scoring chance, this time plating Xander Bogaerts, who was on following a leadoff single, all the way from first with an RBI double down the left field line. 5-3.
A Marco Hernandez HBP while pinch-hitting for Travis led to the Angels turning to left-hander Muguel Del Poze out of their bullpen.
That decision did not faze Benintendi though, as he drove in Martinez from third with a sacrifice fly hit deep enough to center to re-up the lead to three at 6-3.
The Angels were able to mount a late comeback to knot this contest up at six runs apiece in their half of the ninth, and as already mentioned, the 6-6 stalemate stood pat for quite some time.
Fast forward all the way to the 15th, after running into a string of 19 straight outs at one point, and Betts came up to the plate for the seventh time.
Down to their last out in the 15th with Trevor Cahill on the mound for the Angels, Betts took the first pitch he saw in his eighth career matchup against the righty, an 88 MPH cutter down the heart of the plate, and deposited it 401 feet over everything in left field.
The reigning American League MVP’s second homer of the evening and 23rd of 2019 gave the Red Sox the 7-6 lead they were desperately in search for, and that would go on to be Friday’s final score.
Some notes from this win:
From Stats by STATS:
Friday’s game took five hours and 23 minutes to complete, the third-longest game for the Red Sox this season.
J.D. Martinez’s last 10 games: .375/.447/.800 with five homers and 17 RBI.
Andrew Cashner, since moving to the bullpen on August 13th: 6 games, 10 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 9 strikeouts, 0.90 ERA.
With the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both winning on Friday, the Red Sox remain 5 1/2 games off the pace behind Oakland for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend set, with an unnamed starter getting the ball for Boston and left-hander Dillon Peters doing the same for Los Angeles.
Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game at this point in time. Left-hander Brian Johnson and right-hander Josh Smith were the only two hurlers not used by Boston on Friday, so my money is on one of them getting the starting nod.
Peters, meanwhile, held the Sox to three runs over six innings while taking the tough luck loss the last time he faced them on August 8th.
Since that time, the recently turned 27-year-old has posted a 5.52 ERA and .267 batting average against over his last three starts and 14 2/3 innings of work, including back-to-back five-run outings at the hands of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 9:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.