Red Sox Blow 16th Save of Season, Fail to Sweep White Sox in Demoralizing 8-7 Loss

After coming from behind in a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, the Red Sox opened the official second half of the 2019 season by nearly completing the three-game sweep over the South Siders, but instead blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday and fell by a final score of 8-7 in their final contest before heading to London for the weekend.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston, Chris Sale was not his usual self to begin things in the series finale, but he settled in towards the end.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on six hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

All five of those Chicago runs came within Sale’s first three frames of work, with the first four batters of the ballgame all reaching base safely while plating their side’s first two runs.

In the third, a leadoff home run off the bat of backstop James McCann, as well as a two-out RBI infield single from Ryan Cordell to score Jon Jay, who was hit by a pitch, from third made it a 5-2 game. The thing is, that fifth run never would have crossed the plate had Michael Chavis turned his attention towards home instead of focusing on the first base umpire after Cordell beat out that infield single. But, a rookie made a rookie mistake, and Jay took full advantage.

Following that whole sequence, Sale locked in and proceeded to retire the next 10 hitters he faced in order leading into the middle of the sixth inning, the point in which his outing came to a close on a much more positive note than it seemed destined to earlier.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing 10 swings and misses and topping out at 97.4 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Hit with another no-decision, Sale’s streak of regular season starts without a win at Fenway Park now stands at 12, with the last one coming on July 11th, 2018 against the Texas Rangers. He’ll look for better overall results and to lower his 3.82 ERA in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came into the seventh with his side in a two-run hole, and he added on to that deficit by giving up one run on a Jose Abreu one-out RBI single in his lone inning of work.

Steven Wright, making his 2019 season debut after being activated from the restricted list on Tuesday, maneuvered around a one-out, runners on the corners in a two-run game situation by getting the pinch-hitting Yonder Alonso to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

And in the ninth, after the Red Sox had climbed their way back and taken a 7-6 lead in the bottom half of the previous inning, Matt Barnes gave it all away, blowing his sixth save and his team’s 16th by serving up a go-ahead, two-run homer to the slugging Abreu on a 2-2, 97 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

That put the White Sox up 8-7, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Chicago right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who just so happened to be opposite Sale the last time these two clubs met up in May.

Trailing by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston by pulling them back to within one run on his 17th big fly of the season, a 400-foot two-run shot in the first inning to plate both Rafael Devers and himself.

Fast forward to the third, and it was Devers getting himself involved yet again, this time leading the inning off with an opposite field double and coming in to score four batters later on a wild pitch from Lopez with Michael Chavis at the dish. 5-3.

In the seventh, Martinez struck once more with a two-out RBI double to right-center off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer, this one driving in Devers all the way from first to pull Boston back to within two runs at 6-4.

Finally, in the eighth, with new reliever Evan Marshall in for Chicago, Eduardo Nunez reached base safely on a line-drive single up the middle.

Two batters later, after Brock Holt pinch-hit for Sandy Leon and advanced Nunez up to third on a tough, pop fly ground-rule double and was replaced by Brian Johnson, yes, Brian Johnson, as a pinch-runner, Mookie Betts made things interesting against White Sox closer Alex Colome with a single grounder to third.

Going on any sort of contact, Nunez hustled in from third and managed to evade the tag attempt from McCann to score his team’s fifth run and make it a one-run contest.

A soft grounder from Devers moved up both Betts and Johnson into scoring position at second and third for Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the frame.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Colome, the soon to be 2019 All-Star drilled a clutch single right back up the middle, giving Johnson and Betts plenty of time to come in and put the Red Sox up 7-6.

It seemed crucial at the time, but as already mentioned, the White Sox responded with two runs of their own in their half of the ninth, while the Boston bats went down quietly in theirs despite Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff walk in what would turn out to be a crushing 8-7 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left 10 men on base.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .538/.556/.846 with one home run, five doubles, and four runs driven in.

So, the Red Sox seem to be making blowing late leads a recurring theme. There was that loss against the Blue Jays this past Saturday, that 17-inning against the Twins on June 18th, and that loss against the Rangers on June 10th, to name a few.

The Red Sox also lead the American League with 16 blown saves on the year. That is far from ideal.

I’ve already written about how president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski needs to go out and acquire a closer, because clearly the current crop of Red Sox relievers are going to burn out pretty soon, if they have not already, a la Matt Barnes.

Wednesday was the last time the Red Sox will play a game at Fenway Park until after the All-Star break on July 12th.

Now, it’s on to London, where Boston will be hosting the New York Yankees in a historic two-game weekend set across the pond, which will mark the first time Major League Baseball has ever been played in Europe.

Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the starting nods for the Red Sox, while New York has only announced one starter, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, for Saturday’s contest.

Currently sitting nine games back of the Yankees for first in the American League East, this weekend presents a huge opportunity for the Red Sox to jump start the second half of their 2019 season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to make some history in England.

 

 

 

Chris Sale Tosses Second Immaculate Inning of Season in Complete Game Shutout as Red Sox Top Royals for Third Straight Win

After opening up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals with a commanding 8-3 win on Tuesday, the Red Sox continued their recent run of success at Kauffman Stadium with another dominating performance in an 8-0 shutout victory Wednesday.

Making his 13th start of the season and 300th for his big league career for Boston was Chris Sale, fresh off an underwhelming four-run, 10-strikeout outing against the Yankees to close his month of May.

This time around though, the left-hander got his June off to a rocking start, as he completely shut the door on the Royals with nine scoreless innings Wednesday, scattering just three hits and zero walks to go along with 12 strikeouts on the night.

Right from the jump, Sale appeared to be locked in. It was a warm, humid night in KC, so perhaps that played into his stellar command of the strike zone, which we’ll touch on a little later.

Never facing more than four hitters in an inning, Sale did receive some assistance from his defense along the way, with Xander Bogaerts making a fantastic cross-body throw to get the speedy Adalberto Mondesi out at first in the first,…

….Sandy Leon ending the third by picking Whit Merrifield off at first as he was retreating towards the bag after reaching on a two-out single,…(right video, wrong caption)

…and Rafael Devers making a fine play over at third to rob Mondesi of yet another infield single in the fourth inning.

Ultimately retiring the last 15 hitters he faced beginning in the bottom half of the sixth, the real highlight showcasing just how dominant Sale was in this one came two innings later.

With the 6-7-8 portion of Kansas City’s lineup due up, the Florida native needed nine pitches, all of which were strikes, to complete his eighth frame of work, marking his second immaculate inning of the season already on June 5th, less than a month after his first against the Orioleson May 8th.

From there, Sale sat down Billy Hamilton, Terrance Gore, and Mondesi in order, and that wrapped up his first complete game shutout of the season and first complete game since last May.

Finishing with a relatively efficient final pitch count of 102 (75 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 34% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.7 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 29 times and got six whiffs on with Sandy Leon behind the plate.

Finally able to notch that elusive second win while loweing his ERA below four for the first time this season at 3.84, Sale will go for win number three in his next time out against the Texas Rangers sometime next week.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Royals right-hander Jakob Junis, someone many on the team had only seen once before Wednesday.

Following a contest where they were held in check early on the night before, it was the opposite for Boston in this one, with Rafael Devers driving in his side’s first run on a first inning one-out RBI groundout to plate Mookie Betts from third for the quick 1-0 lead.

Two batters later, the red-hot Brock Holt extended his hitting streak to seven games with yet another RBI base knock, this one driving in Devers from third to make it a 2-0 game beofre the Royals had even taken their first at-bats.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Devers collected his second RBI in what would turn out to be a productive evening on a one-out, run-scoring double allowing Andrew Benintendi, who led the inning off with a two-bagger himself, to come in from second. 3-0.

After Xander Bogaerts drew a five-pitch walk, Brock Holt reached first on an infield single, and Michael Chavis fanned for the second out of the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate for the second time with the chance to blow this one open, and he did just that by unloading on a 1-1 slider from Junis and ripping a bases-clearing, three-run opposite field double to left field, scoring Devers, Bogaerts, and Holt to give the Red Sox a brand new six-run advantage.

And in the seventh, Devers led things off by swinging at the first pitch he saw from Jorge Lopez, and he deposited a 95 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate and sent it 425 feet out into the center field seats. His ninth home run of the season.

Three of the next four Red Sox hitters reached base to once again fill the bases for Sandy Leon, who took responsibility for his team’s final tally of the night by plating Holt from third on an RBI sacrifice fly hit deep enough to center field. That put Boston ahead 8-0, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score shortly thereafter.

Some notes from this win:

Since the start of May, Chris Sale is averaging 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Chris Sale’s immaculate inning was the 96th in baseball’s history.

Chris Sale is the first pitcher since Lefty Grove in 1928 to throw an immaculate inning twice in the same season.

From MLB Stats:

Brock Holt’s last seven games since returning from the injured list: 11-for-25 with five RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this three-game set with an early start Thursday afternoon.

Right-hander Ryan Weber is expected to get the ball for Boston, while lefty Danny Duffy will do the same for Kansas City. Boston’s 12th-ranked prospect Mike Shawaryn, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket last Thursday, is also expected to make his big league debut in a relief role.

Since joining the Sox’ starting rotation on May 23rd, we have seen the good and the bad from Weber. The 28-year-old shined in his first start against the Blue Jays, but struggled mightily against the Indians in his last time out May 29th.

Duffy, meanwhile, currently sits at 3-2 with a 4.05 ERA through seven starts for the Royals this season, but he has surrendered 10 runs, seven of which were earned, over his last two outings.

In seven career starts against the Red Sox, Duffy has posted a lifetime 6.75 ERA over 37.1 total innings pitched. He is 0-5 in those starts.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:15 PM EDT. Red Sox looking to cap off the road trip with a three-game sweep.

 

 

 

The #RedSox Have Traded Infielder Deven Marrero to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Red Sox made an unsurprising move today. Out of Brock Holt, Blake Swihart, and Deven Marrero, there was a very small chance all three would make the Opening Day roster. After this trade, we now know that Holt and Swihart are essentially locks to make it. While Marrero goes to Arizona, the Red Sox receive either a PTBNL or cash considerations in return.

Since he was drafted by the Red Sox in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft, Marrero never put it all together. His defense is at a borderline elite level, but offensively, he brought almost nothing to the table. In 109 big league games, Marrero owns a career batting average of only .208 and a measly .259 On Base Percentage. Despite that, I have to give him credit for what he did for the Red Sox in 2017. The team went through Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, and Josh Rutledge at third, and it was a circus. Before Rafael Devers got called up, Marrero stepped up and provided some stability defensively at that position.

Maybe he’ll figure things out in Arizona, a place he is familiar with since he played college baseball for the Sun Devils of Arizona State University. There is also more familiarity with Diamondbacks leadership. The man who traded for him, Mike Hazen, was a part of the Red Sox front office when the team drafted him. And the manager of the Diamondbacks, Torey Lovullo, served as the Red Sox bench coach when Marrero was with the big league club for parts of the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

It’s nor clear what his role with the DBacks will be, but I would expect him to get the majority of his at bats against left-handed pitchers. That’s where he has found the most success at the plate in his big league career. I mean, his OPS increases by over 200 points when facing LHPs compared to facing RHPs. So best of luck in AZ, Deven. Maybe the Red Sox will see you again in October.

Also, this is my favorite Deven Marrero game.