Mitch Moreland Celebrates 34th Birthday with Three-Run Homer, Three-Hit Night as Red Sox Top Yankees in Jhoulys Chacin’s Debut

After falling to the Minnesota Twins in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday, the Red Sox bounced back and opened up a four-game weekend series against the New York Yankees with a commanding 6-1 victory on Friday to improve to 76-65 on the season.

Making his first start for Boston and 20th of the season overall was Jhoulys Chacin, less than a week after inking a minor-league deal with the club while they were in Anaheim this past weekend.

Working just the first two innings in his Red Sox debut, the right-hander was perfect as he fanned four of the only six Yankees he faced and was more of an opener than anything.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 35 (23 strikes), Chacin relied on his slider exactly 40% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw nine times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Not factoring into the decision of this one, I would think Chacin’s status going forward would depend on the health of David Price, as he was originally supposed to start on Friday.

If anything, the 31-year-oldwill likely work in short bunches rather than being stretched out too much.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the top of the third in a scoreless contest, and he kept it that way by punching out two in a 1-2-3 inning.

From there, Marcus Walden worked his way around a two-out double and walk with a three-pitch strikeout of Edwin Encarnacion, which eventually earned him his ninth winning decision of the year.

Andrew Cashner yielded New York’s only run of the night on a one-out solo blast off the bat of Brett Gardner in the fifth, Ryan Weber tossed a scoreless sixth before stranding a leadoff walk with the help of Jackie Bradley Jr. in the seventh, and Darwinzon Hernandez also walked one in an otherwise clean eighth.

And in the ninth, Bobby Poyner recorded a pair of strikeouts in another shutout inning to secure the 6-1 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who picked up the win the last time he made an appearance at Fenway Park back on July 28th.

Kicking off the scoring in the fourth, a leadoff double from Rafael Devers finally got Boston in the hit column, and a J.D. Martinez groundout, as well as an Andrew Benintendi walk, put runners on the corners with two outs for Brock Holt.

It was clear that German was concerned with Benintendi at first, and perhaps taking advantage, Holt took a 1-1, 91 MPH heater at the top of the zone following two straight unsuccessful pickoff attempts and laced an RBI single right past Gleyber Torres in shallow right to drive in Devers for his side’s first run.

Still with two runners on, Mitch Moreland rallied from a second inning groundout by unloading on a 1-1, 81 MPH curveball from German and deposited it 389 feet into the right field seats.

Moreland’s 15th big fly of the year, this one good for three runs, had an exit velocity of 106 MPH, per Statcast, and it gave the Sox a four-run edge. On his birthday no less.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts walk with one out led to a Yankees pitching change, with Nestor Cortes Jr. taking over for German.

That move would prove to be quite costly for New York though, as Devers followed by drawing a six-pitch walk of his own to move Betts up to second, and Xander Bogaerts came through with a scorching, 108.4 MPH two-RBI double to plate both runners.

That run-scoring two-bagger, Bogaerts’ 49th of 2019, gave the Red Sox a 6-1 lead, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Red Sox pitching combined for 13 strikeouts and just three walks on Friday.

Mitch Moreland went 3-for-4 with three RBI on his 34th birthday.

Xander Bogaerts is one hit away from 1,000 for his career.

With the Tampa Bay Rays winning and both the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics still in action Friday, the Red Sox currently sit 6 1/2 games behind Oakland for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game set on Saturday evening, with right-hander Travis Lakins getting the start as the opener for Boston, and left-hander J.A. Happ doing the same for New York.

Lakins allowed two earned runs over two innings of relief in his last time out against the Los Angeles Angels this past Sunday.

The 25-year-old has never started a big league game, but does have 41 under his belt at the minor-league level, with the last coming on July 18th of this year in which he tossed a scoreless first inning for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Happ, meanwhile, has for the most part struggled since the All-Star break, but is coming off an outing where he held the Athletics scoreless over six strong innings on September 1st.

In three starts against the Red Sox this season, the 36-year-old has posted a 4.24 ERA and .254 batting average against over 17 total innings pitched. The Yankees are unbeaten in those games.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their second straight win.

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Chris Sale Gets Lit up for Eight Runs in Shortest Start Since Opening Day as Red Sox Fall to Yankees in First Game of Doubleheader

After being limited to two runs on three hits on Friday, the Red Sox were held in check by the New York Yankees yet again on Saturday, as they dropped the first of a day-night doubleheader to extend their losing streak to six.

Making his 23rd start of the season and fourth against New York for Boston was Chris Sale, who came into the weekend fresh off surrendering five runs in less than six innings in his last time out against this same Yankees squad this past Sunday.

The losing streak for the Sox began that night, and it increased to six in this one, as the left-hander got lit up for a season-high eight runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work.

The first of those eight Yankees tallies came right away in the bottom half of the first, with D.J. LeMahieu leading things off by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 389-foot solo shot that got his side on the board first.

Sale did settle in a bit from there, retiring eight of the next 10 hitters he faced following that homer before running in to a great deal of trouble in the bottom of the fourth.

There, an Edwin Encarnacion leadoff single, as well as one-out and two-out singles from Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka, filled the bases for Breyvic Valera, who drove in the runner from third on an RBI single to right to break the 1-1 tie.

Now, there had been instances of Sale getting squeezed by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook, so when Sox manager Alex Cora came out to talk to his starter directly, he also exchanged some words with Estabrook on his way back to the visitor’s dugout, which resulted in him getting ejected from this game.

Once the dust had settled from that, Brett Gardner picked up where Valera had left off by lacing a two-run single up the middle. 4-1.

LeMahieu added on to that, taking Sale deep once more off a 2-1, 89 MPH changeup on the outer half of the zone that he snuck just over the right field wall for a three-run homer. 7-1.

An Aaron Judge ground-rule double would be how Sale’s afternoon came to a frustrating close, but it should not have even happened, as the pitch before the double clearly should have been called strike three, but it was called a ball by Estabrook instead.

Following said double and receiving the hook from bench coach Ron Roenicke, Sale let some of his frustration out on Estabrook as he was headed back to the Sox’ dugout, and he too was ejected as a result.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (52 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 39% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 96.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to 20 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 5-11 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 4.68, Sale’s struggles against the Yankees continue. His next start should come against the Los Angeles Angels back at Fenway Park on Thursday.

In relief of Sale, Colten Brewer entered the fourth with one runner on second and one out to get, and he allowed that runner to score on an RBI base hit from Encarnacion to close the book on Sale’s outing before escaping the inning.

Josh Smith, just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, took over in the fifth, and he took over by yielding one run on an Encarnacion RBI single in the sixth in an otherwise four solid innings of mop up duty.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who also opposed Sale last Sunday.

Starting the scoring in the top of the second, a red-hot Andrew Benintendi led off the inning by mashing his 12th big fly of the season, this one coming off a 3-2, hanging curveball from German that was sent a booming 436 feet to right-center field.

That knotted things up at one run apiece, but German did not buckle, and the only run the Boston bats got off him came in the fifth, when Jackie Bradley Jr. led the frame off with his 12th homer of 2019.

A 344-foot solo shot for Bradley Jr. off a first-pitch, 85 MPH changeup from German made it an 8-2 contest in favor of New York.

As it turns out though, the Sox did not get a single hit the rest of the way, as German and right-hander Jonathan Holder combined to sit down the last 15 Red Sox who came to the plate in order. And that is how 9-2 went on to be the final score in Game 1 on Saturday.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left three men on base as a team.

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .500/.516/1.067 with four homers and nine RBI.

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From Red Sox Stats:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston in the second installment of this doubleheader, while right-hander Chad Green will do the same for New York.

Johnson had been out since June 29th with a non-baseball related medical issue before being activated off the injured  list earlier Saturday.

Through seven appearances (two starts) with the Sox this season, the 28-year-old owns an ERA of 6.43 and batting average against of .349 over 14 total innings pitched.

Green, meanwhile, has posted a a 5.06 ERA and .303 batting average against over 36 outings (eight starts) and 42 2/3 innings of work.

Neither starter is expected to pitch deep into his game, I would assume.

First pitch Saturday night is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to put a stop to this skid.

Chris Sale Struggles, Surrenders Six Runs as Red Sox Fail to Finish off Sweep of Yankees

After guaranteeing a series win with a 9-5 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday, the Red Sox were unable to finish off the four-game sweep in prime time, as they fell to their divisional foes Sunday by a final score of 9-6 to drop back down to 59-48 on the season.

Making his 22nd start of the season and third against New York for Boston was Chris Sale, who came into Sunday with back-to-back outings of at least six innings pitched and two or fewer runs allowed under his belt.

Struggling out of the gate and working into the sixth inning this time around, the left-hander surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first pair of those Yankees tallies came around to score in the top half of the third, when following seven straight outs to begin things on Sunday, Sale walked Cameron Maybin on five pitches before serving up a first-pitch, two-run home run to Austin Romine off a hanging, 87 MPH changeup.

It was more of the same for Sale an inning later, with Luke Voit drawing a one-out walk on six pitches and Didi Gregorius unloading on a 1-1, 81 MPH slider for another two-run blast and a four-run lead.

An important punchout of Voit to end the fifth with runners stranded on the corners in a two-run contest went for naught in the sixth, as Gregorius led things off by drawing a walk and Gio Urshela drove him in two batters later on a line-drive RBI double back up the middle.

That put the Yankees ahead 5-2, and that would be how Sale’s underwhelming evening ended.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 100 (56 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 36% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing just one swing and miss and topping out at 97.7 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate. It’s also worth noting that the Yankees averaged exit velocities of 97.3 MPH and 94.9 MPH off of Sale’s heater and slider, the two pitches he threw the most in this one.

Eventually falling to 5-10 while inflating his ERA up to 4.26 on the season, Sale certainly did not have a July to remember. In five starts this month, the Florida native went 2-3 with 5.86 ERA and .250 batting average against over 27 2/3 innings pitched.

Things won’t get any easier for Sale either, as his next start should also come against these same Yankees sometime on Saturday.

In relief of Sale, Colten Brewer entered with two outs to get and a runner at second, and he allowed that runner to score on a Maybin RBI single to officially close the book on Sale’s outing before picking off Maybin at first, as well as getting Romine to ground out to third, to retire the side.

From there, Darwinzon Hernandez got the call for the seventh, and all hell broke loose when with the bases loaded and one out in the frame, Jackie Bradley Jr. came up with the second one of the inning on a fly ball off the bat of Gregorius.

With the chance to potentially double up Voit at first, Bradley Jr. followed Xander Bogaerts’ instruction and made the throw over to first. The only problem was that no one was covering the bag, which in turn resulted in a wild throw and two unearned Yankees runs crossing the plate to make it an 8-3 game.

More sloppy play came back to bite the Sox with two outs in the eighth, when a Marcus Walden wild pitch with Aaron Hicks at the plate allowed Cameron Maybin to easily score from third after he reached on a one-out double. 9-4.

Finally, Heath Hembree was responsible for the ninth, and he put together one of his best outings since being activated off the injured list on July 4th by sitting down the only three hitters he faced in order to keep his club’s deficit at five runs.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Domingo German, who proved to be a formidable opponent, as he put together the best start of any New York starter in this series.

Falling behind by four runs early, a red-hot Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the fourth by driving in Xander Bogaerts, as well as himself, on his 10th home run of the season and second in as many days. This one a 415-foot, two-run no doubter that cut the Yankees’ lead in half at 4-2.

Fast forward to the sixth, trailing 6-2 now, and Rafael Devers and Bogaerts led things off with a walk and a double to put runners in scoring position with no outs for J.D. Martinez.

The best Martinez could do was plate Devers from third on an RBI groundout to short, and that was all the Sox could manage in the inning with Benintendi and Brock Holt coming up short against new Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle.

An inning later, Jackie Bradley Jr. reached base on a one-out single, bringing the pinch-hitting Christian Vazquez up in the place of Sandy Leon.

Up against right-hander Adam Ottavino, Vazquez moved Bradley Jr. up to third while reaching first safely himself.

Mookie Betts cut New York’s advantage back down to four runs with another sacrifice fly to drive in Bradley Jr., but once again, that’s all the run-scoring the Red Sox could muster with Bogaerts stranding Devers and Vazquez at second and third on an inning-ending fly out.

In the eighth, a Martinez leadoff walk, a Benintendi single, and a one-out walk drawn by the pinch-hitting Sam Travis against the left-handed Zack Brittion presented another opportunity for Boston.

Unfortunately though, Bradley Jr. fanned on six pitches and Vazquez grounded into a force out at second, thus extinguishing another threat.

Benintendi made things a bit interesting in the ninth by lacing a two-out, two-run double against Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to make it a 9-6 contest, but the rally fell short, and 9-6 went on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Sunday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From Red Sox Notes:

All three hitters Chris Sale walked on Sunday scored in the same inning they drew said walks in, if that makes sense.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .484/.500/.903 with three home runs and nine RBI. Potential American League Player of the Week candidate?

So, with an off day on Monday, the Red Sox wrap up the first half of 14 straight games against the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees with a 5-2 record. As things stand right now, they currently sit one game back of the Oakland Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.

It didn’t end all that pretty, but taking three out of four from the best team in the division proved that the Red Sox can still make something out of this season. They should be buyers at the trade deadline, not sellers.

The Rays come into Fenway Park next, with a three-game series set to begin on Tuesday night.

Left-hander David Price is set to get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Charlie Morton will do the same for Tampa Bay. The same pitching matchup when these two teams last faced off this past Wednesday.

In that contest, Price took the loss despite yielding just three runs over six quality innings, while Morton dominated by punching out 11 and giving up two runs over seven strong innings.

In his career at Fenway Park, the 35-year-old Morton is 3-0 with a 2.20 ERA and .213 batting average against over three starts and 16 1/3 innings of work.

Price, meanwhile, now owns a lifetime 3.23 ERA against the club he started his career with over 18 appearances (17 starts) and 108 2/3 innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.