RECAP: Andrew Benintendi Makes Game-Saving Catch in Ninth Inning as #RedSox Jump up 3-1 on Astros in ALCS.

In a game that took over four and a half hours to complete, the Red Sox found themselves just one win away from clinching the American League pennant following an enthralling 8-6 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Making his second start (fourth appearance) of the postseason in this one was Rick Porcello, and he did not have it going on early.

Tossing four innings seemingly out of necessity, the right-hander got hit hard, as he surrendered a postseason-high four earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Right from the get go, it was clear to see Porcello was struggling to find any sort of rhythm. The Astros were making hard contact and getting on base, which could have led to two runs crossing the plate in their half of the first, right after the Red Sox scored a pair of their own, had it not been for Joe West ruling this ball off the bat of Jose Altuve as fan interference.

I don’t want to get into this too much, since like Tuesday’s controversy, it really did not make a difference in the end, but I do believe it’s pretty obvious that Mookie Betts would have made that spectacular catch had that fan not shut his glove closed.

Any who, Porcello got out of the first unscathed. Great, maybe he’ll start to settle in a bit after getting that out of the way, I thought.

Nope, instead Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa greeted the New Jersey native in their half of the second by consecutively reaching base, and that led to Houston’s first run of the night coming around to score on a Correa RBI single.

An inning later, George Springer, who seemingly hits a home run in almost every postseason game he plays in, was at it agin with a leadoff solo shot to right field that cut Boston’s lead to one momentarily.

After a Jose Altuve double to follow that up and two straight outs, Josh Reddick continued his revenge tour against the team he came up with by ripping a line drive RBI single to left to drive in Altuve. Tie game.

In his final frame of work, Porcello failed once again to retire the side in order, as he served up a one out, solo home run to Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who put his club up by a run with his first homer of the series.

Finishing his night by getting Jose Altuve to pop out to first for the final out of the fourth, Porcello would finish with a final pitch count of 68 (46 strikes).

Out of those 68 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, relied on his slider the most at 31% of the time and topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the first inning. He only induced seven total swings and misses as well.

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Whether we see Porcello again in this series will probably be indicative on whether or not it goes back to Boston.

If the Red Sox clinch the pennant tonight, then there’s obviously no need for him until the World Series. But, it would not shock me to see Alex Cora turn to Porcello in a late, close game at Fenway either.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for locking down the final five innings of Wednesday night’s contest.

Joe Kelly (1-1) got the first call in the fifth with the game tied at four runs each, but surrendered the then go-ahead run on another Carlos Correa RBI single in the lone inning he appeared in.

Eduardo Rodriguez was next up with left-handed bat Tony Kemp set to leadoff the sixth, and he walked him on seven pitches, the last three of which were all balls. Not ideal.

That made way for Ryan Brasier to clean up that small mess, and he did just that by sitting down the 1-2-3 hitters in the Astros lineup in consecutive fashion.

With his team up 7-5 by the time he took the mound again for the seventh, Brasier would be unable to do his job this time, as he gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and a two out double to the pesky Carlos Correa to put runners at second and third.

Matt Barnes got the next call from Alex Cora in this crucial spot with the pinch-hitting Tyler White at the plate for Houston, and he managed to strikeout White while his bat never left his shoulder. Inning over.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on in an extremely rare SIX out save situation with a three-run lead to protect, and somehow, someway he did it.

It was far from easy and certainly very stressful with the Astros cutting their deficit down to two in the eighth and then loading the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Kimbrel was bailed out twice by his stellar outfield.

The first came in eighth, when the aforementioned Tony Kemp tried to stretch a leadoff single into a leadoff double, but his childhood friend, Mookie Betts, had other ideas.

And in the ninth, with two outs and an Astro on every base, Andrew Benintendi made the catch of his life on a screaming line drive off the bat of Alex Bregman that was falling rapidly.

Absolutely unreal. That’s how this ballgame would end only four and a half hours after it started.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who hadn’t seen any in-game action since the end of September.

Like they did off of Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, the top of the lineup got things started right away in the first, as Mookie Betts and JD Martinez drew a pair of walks to put runners on first and second with one out.

A wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate would allow both runners to advance into scoring position, but Bogaerts was unable to bring them home.

Fortunately, Rafael Devers, who has seemingly turned into an elite hitter in the postseason, came through with a two out, two RBI single to left field that saw his club take an early 2-0 lead.

Over the next four innings, not only was Morton knocked out of this contest, but a pair of Xander Bogaerts RBI base knocks, one in the third and one in the fifth, gave the Red Sox a two-run lead and then pulled them even with Houston at four runs each.

In the sixth, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came up looking for his first hit of the evening with two outs and Christian Vazquez at second following a double, and he did just that by smoking a 89 MPH changeup from Astros reliever Josh James 385 feet down the right field line.

That put Boston up 6-5, and they would not have to look back on that lead despite some late inning concerns.

To add on what would become much needed insurance, a Brock Holt bases loaded walk in the seventh, followed by a JD Martinez RBI single in the ninth, would eventually be all the Red Sox would need to go up 3-1 in this American League Championship Series.

Some notes from this 8-6 win:

From @SoxNotes: Most multi-RBI games in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 4 (2004) Jason Varitek – 3 (2004) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 3 (2018)

Most RBI in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 11 (2004) Manny Ramirez – 10 (2007) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 9 (2018) Mike Lowell – 8 (2007)

Including the Postseason, the Red Sox are 14-0 in 2018 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a home run.

The Red Sox are 4-0 on the road this postseason.

With the opportunity to clinch a spot in the World Series with a win tonight, it will be David Price, not Chris Sale, on the mound for Boston.

Pitching on only four days rest, it appeared as though Price was available to come out of the bullpen if needed on Wednesday, but that did not happen.

In his only other appearance of this series, the southpaw nearly earned the winning decision in 4.2 innings of four-run ball in Game Two at Fenway Park last Sunday.

Opposite Price will be Astros ace Justin Verlander, who allowed just two runs to score over six quality innings of work in a Game One win for Houston.

A lot is on the line Thursday, and first pitch of Game Five is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on TBS.

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RECAP: Brock Holt Hits for First Postseason Cycle in MLB History as #RedSox Go off for 16 Runs in Blowout Game Three Win over Yankees.

After momentarily losing home field advantage in a disappointing 6-2 loss at the hands of the Yankees at Fenway Park on Saturday night, the Red Sox headed down to the Bronx and looked to get back on track in the first of two at Yankee Stadium.

Making his postseason debut for Boston  last night was Nathan Eovaldi, who was originally slated to be the starter for Game Four. But, given the rate of success the hurler has had against a former club of his since he joined the Red Sox in July, Alex Cora made the first of many right decisions by moving Eovaldi up to pitch on Monday.

Tossing seven full innings this one, the right-hander surrendered just one earned run on five hits, all singles, and no walks to go along with five strikeouts on the mist-filled night.

That lone run for New York came in their half of the fourth inning, when with no outs and runners on the corners, Didi Gregorius grounded into an RBI force out at second base that plated Luke Voit from third.

Other than that though, Eovaldi get the job done by consistently hitting 100 MPH with his fastball and limiting the quantity of traffic base paths.

Retiring nine of the final 10 hitters he faced, the Texas native’s night would come to a positive end after he got Gleyber Torres to ground into a 4-3 putout to retire the side in the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (72 strikes) with Christian Vazquez behind the plate, Eovaldi threw 46 four-seam fastballs, 30 cutters, 14 sliders, five splitters, and two curveballs, which induced 17 total swings and misses from Yankee hitters. He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the second inning while reaching 100 MPH seven times.

Not too shabby for a postseason debut if you ask me. As for whether Eovaldi will pitch again in this division series, I believe that is dependent on how long it continues. He obviously would not be available for Tuesday’s game, but I could see him coming out of the bullpen if needed for a potential Game Five on Thursday.

Speaking of the Red Sox bullpen, Alex Cora needed to turn to just two pitchers in relief of Eovaldi on Monday night with the game already well out of reach for the Yankees.

Both Heath Hembree and Eduardo Rodriguez worked a scoreless frame each in the eighth and ninth to wrap this blowout win up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees ace right-hander Luis Severino, and they had some fresh faces in their who made their presence felt.

Brock Holt, Christian Vazquez, Rafael Devers, and Steve Pearce, all of whom had four total at bats between them prior to Monday, all made their presence felt in this one.

Starting the scoring right away in the second, a Rafael Devers leadoff single would later result in Boston’s first of many runs on the night on a two out infield RBI single off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

An inning later, back-to-back singled from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi led to JD Martinez notching his fourth RBI of this postseason on a sac fly to left field.

Two batters and one Xander Bogaerts single later, Rafael Devers gave his team a three-run advantage by driving in Benintendi from third on an RBI ground out to second.

In the fourth, the Red Sox would chase Severino from this game without recording an out by loading the bases on a pair of singles from Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez followed by a four pitch walk of Jackie Bradley Jr.

With Lance Lynn taking over in place of Severino and the Red Sox lineup turning over, Mookie Betts took advantage of the opportunity in front of him and finally drove in his first postseason RBI by taking another four pitch, run-scoring walk. 4-0.

A few moments after that, Andrew Benintendi essentially put this game on ice early by unloading the bases on a hard hit, three RBI double down the right field line to put his club up 7-0.

The Red Sox would not stop there though, as the Yankees swapped pitchers once again and both Steve Pearce and Brock Holt plated three more runs on consecutive RBI base knocks off of Chad Green before the top half of the frame finally came to an end.

In total, Boston sent 11 batters to the plate in the fourth inning and came away with SEVEN runs. All while the Yankees burned through their bullpen.

Fast forward all the way to seventh now, with Jonathan Holder on the mound for New York, and JD Martinez struck once again with his second RBI of the night on a line drive single up the middle that scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from second and made it an 11-1 contest.

Another inning later, Brock Holt and Mookie Betts made their presence felt with two more run-scoring hits, Holt’s an RBI double and Betts’ an RBI single, while Ian Kinsler also came around to score from third on a wild pitch from Yanks reliever Stephen Tarpley. 14-1.

Finally, in the ninth, after Ian Kinsler drew a two out walk with Austin Romine, a CATCHER, taking over pitching duties for New York, Brock Holt came to the plate for the sixth time with a chance to make history.

Never before has a major leaguer hit for the natural cycle in a postseason game, and having already collected a single, double, and triple prior to his final AB, Holt certainly made the most of a historic opportunity.

On the very first pitch he saw from Romine, a 79 MPH slider towards the bottom of the strike zone, the Red Sox super utility man swung away and sent that ball 355 feet down the right field line. History made and mission accomplished.

Some notes from this 16-1 win:

From @SoxNotes: This is the 7th game in Red Sox postseason history in which every member of Boston’s starting lineup recorded at least 1 hit. Three of those games have been at Yankee Stadium (also 2003 ALCS Game 6 and 2004 ALCS Game 7).

This is the most runs the Red Sox have ever scored in a postseason game on the road. The previous record was 12 (1999 ALDS Game 5 at Cleveland).

From @MLBStatoftheDay: Boston’s 16-1 win is the largest margin of victory in any Red Sox-Yankees postseason game ever.

With this series now at 2-1 in favor of Boston, the Red Sox will look to end things later tonight with Rick Porcello on the bump.

Originally slated to start Game Three, Porcello recorded two outs in his only other appearance in this series on Friday.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran left-hander CC Sabathia for the Yankees, who owns a 3.29 ERA over 18 postseason games (17 games started) since he joined New York prior the 2009 season.

First pitch of Game Four is scheduled for 8:07 PM ET Tuesday on TBS.

 

RECAP: David Price’s Postseason Struggles Continue as #RedSox Drop Game Two of ALDS to Yankees.

After taking Game One in a 5-4 win over the New Yankees on Friday night, the Red Sox looked to go up two games in this American League Division Series with another victory at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Making his first start of this postseason, David Price looked to expel his October demons with a quality outing last night, but a las, could not a get the job done once again.

Pitching into just the second inning of this one, the left-hander got hit hard for three earned on three hits and two walks all while failing to record a single strikeout.

Similar to a start he made against New York on September 19th in which he served up three home runs, the home run ball was again not Price’s friend yesterday.

Right from the get go, the Tennessee native was greeted by Aaron Judge with one out in the top half of the first, and he made his presence felt by mashing his second home run of the series to put his team up by one early.

An inning later, Gary Sanchez, who hit .667 off of Price over the course of the regular season, hit his first of two long balls on the night to lead off the second.

Following two consecutive two out walks and an Andrew McCutchen RBI single in the same frame, Price’s night would come to a disappointing close with Aaron Judge due up next for the Yankees.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 42 (24 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler threw 12 four-seam fastballs, 12 two-seam fastballs, 10 changeups, and eight cutters. He also topped out at 95.2 MPH with that four-seamer in the second inning.

Dropping to 0-1 yet again, this is but another disappointing addition to Price’s playoff resume.

Since joining the Red Sox prior to the 2016 season, the Vanderbilt alum has tossed 11.2 postseason innings over four games, two of which were starts. In that span, he owns a 6.17 ERA, an 0-2 record, and an .853 OPS against. Over the course of his career, just take a look at this tweet.

To be paid as much as Price is being paid and consistently perform like he did on Saturday is far from ideal.

As for whether or not his number two starter will move to the bullpen, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, ” He’s one of our starters. Just a bad outing [Saturday]. It just so happened it wasn’t his day. He didn’t make pitches. We trust him. He’s bounced back before. We’ll talk to him to make a few adjustments. And we’ll go from there.”

In relief of Price, the majority of the Red Sox bullpen, outside of Eduardo Rodriguez, actually held their own in this one.

Joe Kelly got the first call with two outs in the second and runners on the corners, and he escaped the early jam by getting Aaron Judge to line out to right field.

After two additional scoreless frames from Kelly, it was Ryan Brasier’s turn for the second consecutive night to begin the fourth, and he looked much better in a clean inning compared to how he performed on Friday.

In addition to the solid scoreless inning of relief, Brasier also had his “rivalry” moment by yelling at Gary Sanchez to get back in the batter’s box after stepping away from the plate for the umpteenth time of the at bat.

From that point on, Brandon Workman and Eduardo Rodriguez combined to work a scoreless sixth inning, but this contest would get away from the Red Sox in the top of the seventh, when with one out and runners on first and third, Rodriguez could not sneak a 2-1 fastball over the heart of the plate with Gary Sanchez up to bat, and the Yankees catcher sent it 479 feet over everything in left field.

That big fly, Sanchez’s second of the night, made it a 6-1 game, and New York would not have to look back on their way to a series-evening win.

It’s also worth noting that Heath Hembree, who was added to Boston’s ALDS roster in place of Steven Wright prior to Saturday’s game, was responsible for the final two innings, and despite walking three, did not allow a run to cross the plate.

So, given the circumstances of David Price failing to make it out of the second inning, I would chalk this up as a win for the Red Sox bullpen, outside of the three-run homer Eduardo Rodriguez gave up, of course.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who pitched to a tune of a 6.52 ERA in two starts at Fenway Park this regular season.

Like Friday, runs were hard to come by for Boston, and they could not get anything going until their half of the fourth.

Already trailing by three runs, Xander Bogaerts delivered with one out in the inning by demolishing the first pitch he saw from Tanaka 411 feet to center field for his second career postseason home run. 3-1 New York.

Fast forward to the bottom half of the seventh, now trailing by five runs, and Ian Kinsler came through with the only other RBI knock from a Red Sox hitter on a hard hit RBI double off of Dellin Betances to plate Mitch Moreland all the way from first and make it a 6-2 game which would go on to be the final score.

Unfortunately, Moreland came up grabbing his right hamstring as he was rounding third on the play, and he would have to be replaced by Steve Pearce at first a half inning later.

According to Alex Cora, Sunday’s treatment at Yankee Stadium will determine if Moreland, who was diagnosed with right hamstring tightness, is ready for Game Three, but he will not be removed from the ALDS roster.

After a day off in New York on Sunday, the Red Sox will look to once again go up a game in this tightly contested division series on Monday night at Yankee Stadium.

It was just announced that Nathan Eovaldi, not Rick Porcello, will get the start for Boston on Monday.

Eovaldi, who has yet to pitch in this series, posted a 1.93 ERA over four starts, both with the Tampa Bay Rays and Red Sox, against the Yankees this season.

Opposite Eovaldi will be another right-hander for the Yankees in the form of the flame throwing Luis Severino, who tossed four scoreless innings in his last time out against the Oakland Athletics, which helped lift his club to another American League Wild Card win.

First pitch of the third game of the series is scheduled for 7:40 ET Monday on TBS. Maybe Brock Holt and Rafael Devers will play.

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Scores Winning Run on Fielding Error as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Blue Jays.

Following a historic Wednesday night in which they saw their win total reach 100 for the first time since 1946, the Red Sox went into Thursday looking to complete the series sweep in their last game against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

Making his 22nd start of the year on Thursday, Eduardo Rodriguez looked much better than he did in his last time out against the Houston Astros, an outing in which he surrendered five earned runs in less than four innings.

Pitching six full frames in this one, the left-hander allowed just one Toronto run to cross the plate while scattering five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

That lone run came in the top half of the third inning, when with two outs and a runner at second, Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak grounded an RBI single up the middle to drive in Lourdes Gurriel.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Rodriguez bounced back after that by retiring 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced, including a four pitch strikeout of Randal Grichuk with two outs in the sixth, to wrap up his evening on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final efficient pitch count of 78 (52 strikes), the Venezuela native, who was caught by Christian Vazquez once again, had a more solid pitch mix than he did this past Saturday.

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Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez threw 17 changeups, 16 two-seam fastballs, 16 sliders, 16 four-seam fastballs, and 13 cutters, which resulted in a total of nine swinging strikes and 17 called strikes.

He also topped out at 93.9 MPH with both the two and four-seamer in the third and fifth innings.

Unable to pick up a well-deserved winning decision despite leaving with his team ahead, Rodriguez did manage to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.53 in his third start since returning from the disabled list.

He’ll look to build on this solid outing in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees sometime next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final three innings of Thursday night’s contest with a two run lead to protect.

Ryan Brasier was first up for the seventh inning, and he retired the only three hitters he faced in order. That was fine, but what happened in the eighth was not.

Bobby Poyner, who has seemingly been paving his way for a spot on any postseason roster with his performance as of late, made one mistake pitch to Lourdes Gurriel, who hit his eighth home run of the season to make it just a one-run game.

The left-hander did manage to record the first two outs of the frame along with that homer, and Joe Kelly was next up after him.

Kelly, who had already surrendered runs in two appearances this month alone, could not record the inning-ending out.

Instead, he loaded the bases on one walk, one single, and one HBP before allowing the tying run to cross the plate on another HBP.

Out of the 15 pitches Kelly threw on Thursday, only FIVE of them went for strikes.

Brandon Workman would have to enter this one with two outs and a Blue Jay on every base, but he was able to escape the jam by fanning Billy McKinney on three straight strikes.

After the Red Sox retook the lead at 4-3 in their half of the eighth inning, it was Craig Kimbrel’s time to shut the door on Toronto for the final time in 2018.

Making his second appearance in as many days, the flame throwing closer needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order, earning his 40th save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who only allowed one run in 3.1 innings pitched in his last start against Boston on July 14th.

For the second consecutive night, the bats were not all there, but they really didn’t need to be thanks to a pair of home runs.

That first homer came in the bottom of the second, when JD Martinez took a swing at a 2-2 83 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate and sent it 397 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Home run number 41 for Martinez had an exit velocity of 105.5 MPH.

An inning later, a Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff double would later result in the team’s second run of the night after Ian Kinsler drove him in on a one out sacrifice fly to left field.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth now, and Rafael Devers, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Eduardo Nunez in the fourth, absolutely crushed his 17th big fly of the season off of Mark Leiter.

According to Statcast, that ball was hit 394 feet and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH.

In all honesty, that probably should have been the final nail in the coffin for the Blue Jays, but they pulled their way back into this thing, for a few minutes anyway.

Moments after Toronto evened this contest up at three runs a piece in the top half of the eighth inning, Xander Bogaerts responded right away by ripping a one out double off of Danny Barnes to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

After a successful attempt of stealing third base, Bogaerts would come into score on what appeared to be a routine pop fly off the bat of Blake Swihart.

Instead, Jays second baseman Yangervis Solarte had trouble locating the ball during its descent, and it ended up clanking off his glove and dropping to the ground.

No RBI credited to Swihart there, but it was still good enough to get the job done.

For the second straight night, the game-wining run for Boston has been scored without recoding an RBI.

Some notes from this 4-3 win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox (101-46) have won each of their last 4 games. They have a 10.5-game lead over the Yankees, tied for their largest of the season. This is only the 2nd season in which they have been as many as 55 games above .500 (also 1912).

In 10 games this month, Jackie Bradley Jr. owns a .915 OPS.

JD Martinez and Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics are currently tied in the league lead for home runs with 41 a piece.

The Red Sox finish their season series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 15-4 record. Their magic number to clinch the American League East is down to six games.

Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day with soreness in his right knee.

Winners of four straight, the Red Sox welcome the New York Mets into town for the first time since 2009 for a three-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the series opener for each side will be RHP Hector Velazquez for Boston and RHP Noah Syndergaard for New York.

In one career start against the Red Sox, which came back in 2015, Syndergaard surrendered four earned runs on six hits and one walk in 6.2 innings pitched. He did not factor into the decision.

Velazquez, on the other hand, has never faced the Mets in his career, but he does own a 4.26 ERA over seven appearances (one start) in interleague play this season.

UPDATE: Velazquez is out, RHP William Cuevas is in.

First pitch of the first game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Friday.

 

RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Surrenders Five Runs in Short Start as #RedSox Fall to Astros Again.

After dropping the series opener to the Houston Astros by a final score of 6-3 on Friday night, the Red Sox were back at it looking for some redemption on a Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Making his 21st start of the season today was Eduardo Rodriguez, who dominated against the Chicago White Sox in his first start since returning from the 10-day disabled list in his last time out on September 1st.

Pitching into just the fourth inning of this one, the left-hander found himself not having the same amount of success he had in Chicago. Instead, the Astros got to him early and often, which as you could guess, led to some problems.

In the 3.1 frames of work on Saturday, Rodriguez surrendered five earned runs on six hits, two of which were home runs, and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

It was somewhat a tale of two starts for the 25-year-old in this one, because he began his day by retiring the first four hitters he faced in order.

It was not until Carlos Correa ripped a one out double off of Rodriguez where things really started to go down hill, because that was followed by a Tyler White triple that could have been caught by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a Jake Marisnick sacrifice fly that saw the Astros jump out to a 2-1 lead.

Over the next two innings, solo home runs from Alex Bregman, his 30th, and Martin Maldanado increased that Houston lead to three runs, and after walking George Springer with one out in the fourth, Rodriguez’s evening would come to a disappointing end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (49 strikes), the Venezuela native did not receive much help from his catcher, Christian Vazquez, in terms of calling a quality game, and that resulted in some hard hit balls from the Astros.

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Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez turned to his four-seam fastball the most on Saturday, as he threw it 36% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 96 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.

Falling to 12-4 on the season with his ERA inflating up to 3.64, the fourth-year hurler will look to reclaim that form he had on display against the White Sox in his next time out, which should come against the New York Mets next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was surprisingly not to blame for this particular loss.

Brandon Workman was first up, and he closed the book on Rodriguez’s outing by allowing the second Astros run of the fourth to cross the plate on a sac fly, but bounced back with a scoreless fifth inning of work.

Bobby Poyner allowed the first two hitters he faced in the sixth to reach base, then sat down the next six Astros he faced consecutively going into the middle of the seventh.

Finally, Tyler Thornburg, who was pitching on no days rest for the first time since August 20-21st, dealt with his fair share of traffic on base paths, but ultimately held Houston scoreless in the two frames of relief he worked to hold his team’s deficit to three runs.

All and all, the Red Sox bullpen’s final line from Saturday looks like this:

5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who was making his first start since August 28th after being placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was Xander Bogaerts, whose one out RBI single in the bottom of the first drove in Mookie Betts from second and gave Boston an early advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth now, and Bogaerts struck again by mashing his second home run of the series and his 21st of the season that pulled the Red Sox to within three runs of Houston.

That would end up being Morton’s final inning, and despite reaching base a total of nine times off the Astros hurler, those two runs were all the Red Sox could manage through the first five frames on Saturday.

After rookie reliever Josh James and Ryan Pressly shut things down through the end of the eighth, it all came down to the ninth inning with Astros closer Roberto Osuna on the mound for the second straight night.

A Blake Swihart leadoff pinch-hit single, followed by a one out walk from Mookie Betts, brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

A wild pitch from Osuna allowed both runners to advance 90 feet, and Benintendi capitalized on that mistake by driving in Swihart from third on an RBI single to left field. 5-3 game.

With JD Martinez coming up representing the game-winning run, the Red Sox could not have asked for a better scoring spot to be in with the league leader in RBI at the plate.

Unfortunately, Martinez could not come through with a clutch hit and instead grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Some notes from this 5-3 loss:

With runners in scoring position on Saturday, the Red Sox were only 3/13 (.231)

Xander Bogaerts tied his career-high in home runs today (21) and also set a new career-high in RBI (92).

Going for their 98th win of the season once again tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston.

In his last time out against the Astros on June 3rd at Minute Maid Park, Porcello allowed just three runs (two earned) to score on five hits over 6.1 innings in what would turn out to be a 9-3 Red Sox win.

Opposite Porcello will be another former Cy Young Award Winner in Houston’s right-hander Dallas Keuchel.

Over the course of his seven-year career, Keuchel has made two career starts at Fenway Park.

In those pair of starts, the former seventh round draft pick has given up 11 earned runs in 16 innings pitched. That’s good for a 7.62 ERA to go along with a not so nice 1.69 WHIP.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET Sunday. Time to salvage something.

 

RECAP: David Price Shines but Bullpen Falls Apart as #RedSox Drop Series Opener to Astros.

Coming off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves this past week and an off day on Thursday, the 97-44 Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park to embark on a nine-game homestand, where they were first greeted by the defending World Series champion Houston Astros for a three-game weekend series.

Earlier in late May/early June, these two teams, arguably the two best in the American League, split a four-game set at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros taking the first two and the Red Sox taking the last two.

Getting the start for this series opener, his 27th of the season, was David Price, who last we saw, took a 103 MPH line drive off his left wrist in the third inning of August 29th’s contest against the Marlins.

The left-hander would have to depart from that outing after that occurred, and nine days later, he was back at it against a team he gave up three runs to in six innings of work back on June 2nd.

Pitching into the seventh inning of this one, Price picked up right where he left off prior to that Marlins start with another stellar performance, as he surrendered just two earned runs on two hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.

Retiring 14 straight hitters at one point, the Tennessee native had full control of the strike zone on Friday, and he used that to his full advantage by consistently painting the corners, which led to the double-digit punch outs.

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Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (57 strikes), Price’s night would come to an end after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced in the seventh to reach base, which would ultimately be the Red Sox’s demise.

Out of those 101 pitches, the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball 44% of the time on Friday, and topped out at 94.2 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Unable to pick up a much deserved winning decision at the fault of his bullpen, Price will look to build on what was a strong start to his month of September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays, a former club of his, sometime next week.

In relief of Price, Alex Cora turned to Ryan Brasier with one out and runners on first and second in the top half of the seventh.

Brasier closed the book on Price’s outing by allowing both of those inherited runners to score as well as another on a pair of RBI doubles from Yuli Gurriel and Tony Kemp.

Just like that, the Red Sox found themselves trailing in a game they appeared to have full control of.

Joe Kelly was next up for the eighth inning after his team had just tied things up in their half of the seventh.

Despite some solid numbers recently, Kelly found himself struggling once again, as he allowed the first three Astros hitters he faced to reach, which loaded the bases without a single out recorded.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Carlos Correa gave Houston a brand new lead while the runners on base advanced to scoring position.

That was followed by a wild pitch in the next at bat with Tyler White at the plate, which allowed Jose Altuve to cross the plate.

With White Still up at bat, Kelly could not get a 2-2 85 MPH knuckle curveball by the Astros DH, and he laced it into left field to drive in Alex Bregman from third  and give his team a three-run lead.

Finally, just trying to keep the Red Sox within the three runs they trailed by at this point, Tyler Thornburg worked his way around two singled in a scoreless ninth inning of work, not like it mattered that much at that point.

All and all, here is the final pitching line from the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night:

2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Not great.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who, in his only other start against Boston as an American League hurler, pitched seven innings while allowing three runs to score back on June 1st in Houston.

With the regulars back in the Boston lineup, Cole was solid yet again, although Red Sox hitters did make him work quite a bit.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was JD Martinez, whose sacrifice fly in the first inning drove in Mookie Betts from third to give the Red Sox an early advantage.

Fast forward to the fourth, Xander Bogaerts extended that lead a bit by blasting his 20th home run of the season, a 432 foot shot to dead center.

Three innings later, after the Astros had jumped out to a 3-2 lead, JD Martinez answered right back with an RBI single of his own to pull this thing back at even.

That would be the final Red Sox run of the night, however.

Some notes from this 6-3 loss:

In eight starts since the All-Star break, David Price has posted a 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over 50.2 innings pitched.

I know RBI are not the greatest statistic but JD Martinez already has 117 of them on September 8th.

Over the last 14 days, the Red Sox bullpen owns a 5.40 ERA in 55 total innings pitched. That’s good for the 26th best ERA in baseball over that span.

Going for their 98th win this evening, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston in his second start since returning from the disabled list.

In his four-year career, the left-handed Rodriguez has only made two starts against the Astros, both of which have come at Fenway Park.

In those two starts, Rodriguez has surrendered six earned runs in a total of 6.2 innings pitched. That’s a good for a 8.10 ERA.

Opposite Rodriguez for this middle game will be another right-hander in Houston’s Charlie Morton, who the Red Sox got to for six runs in less than six innings back on June 3rd, a game Boston ran away with.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET Saturday.

RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Dominates with 12 Strikeouts in First Start Back from DL as #RedSox Cruise to 6-1 Win over White Sox.

On a day where rosters expand all across Major League Baseball, the Red Sox welcomed a total of eight players from both Triple A Pawtucket and the 10-day disabled list to increase their roster size up to 33.

Yes, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Christian Vazquez were all activated from the disabled list on Saturday, while Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, Robby Scott, Bobby Poyner, and William Cuevas were all recalled from the PawSox.

Getting the starting nod in last night’s contest was none other than Rodriguez himself, and his battery mate for his first big league in-game action in exactly seven weeks was none other than Christian Vazquez, who caught E-Rod in one of his rehab starts in Portland.

In what was his 20th start of the season, the left-hander looked as though he had not missed a beat on Saturday, as he tossed nearly six innings of one run ball while scattering three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high 12 strikeouts.

For never pitching against the White Sox on the road before, Rodriguez began his night by fanning 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced while taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.

After giving up a leadoff single to Matt Davidson and a seven pitch walk to Ryan LaMarre in an otherwise clean fifth, the 25-year old’s evening would come to an end an inning later when Nicky Delmonico ripped a two out RBI double to score Adam Engel from first for Chicago’s lone run.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (60 strikes), Rodriguez would depart from this one with two outs and a runner on second.

Out of those 90 pitches, the Venezuela native turned to his four-seam fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound on Saturday. He topped out at 96.1 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Improving to 12-3 and lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.34, Rodriguez’s scoreless innings streak did ultimately come to an end at 24.2, but regardless of that, Alex Cora and the Red Sox have to be encouraged with what they saw from their young lefty in his first meaningful start in over a month.

He’ll look to build on this dominant performance in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 10 outs last night, and Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, and Joe Kelly dealt with the White Sox bats in decently short order to secure their team’s 94th win of the year.

For Barnes, a nice bounce back after surrendering seven earned runs in his previous four appearances.

And for the Red Sox pitching staff as a whole, well, they faced 32 total batters on Saturday and struck out 18 of them. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against arguably the best starting pitcher the White Sox have to offer in Carlos Rodon.

A left-hander like Rodriguez, Rodon made his 2018 debut against Boston on June 9th, where he surrendered four runs (two earned) over six innings in a losing effort.

Unlike Friday night, when they were held to one run, the Red Sox were able to score multiple runs last night, and it started with a solo home run off the bat of Eduardo Nunez in the fifth.

An absolute line drive of a long ball, Nunez’s 10th of the season had a launch angle of 19 degrees.

Three batters later, Jackie Bradley Jr. took the first pitch he saw from Rodon, a 84 MPH, slider, and sent it 402 feet to right field to make it a 2-0 game.

Fast forward to the seventh, an inning that has treated the Red Sox quite nicely these past few days, and Christian Vazquez led things off by drawing an eight pitch walk.

After a Jackie Bradley Jr. fly out, Mookie Betts was able to advance Vazquez all the way to third on his 39th double of the year.

With runners in scoring position, Andrew Benintendi appeared to ground into a 1-3 put out for the second out of the frame, but an ugly throw from Carlos Rodon that got over the first baseman’s head allowed Vazquez to easily score from third to make it a 3-1 game.

Just a few moments after that all went down, Steve Pearce put an end to Rodon’s night by ripping a one out single to left field to plate Mookie Betts and advance Benintendi to third.

Following a pitching change that saw rookie Ryan Burr take over for Rodon, JD Martinez tacked on another insurance run and added on to his league-leading RBI count by singling to center and scoring Benintendi from third. Martinez now has 115 RBI on the season.

Finally, in the eighth, just for fun, Ian Kinsler went ahead and launched his first home run in a Red Sox uniform on a rocket sent to the White Sox bullpen. 6-1.

Some notes from this 6-1 win: 

The Red Sox won their 94th game of the 2018 season on Saturday night. That is more than they had in both 2016 and 2017 and there are still 25 games left.

Over his last 10 appearances, Joe Kelly has posted a 0.93 ERA in 9.2 innings of work.

In his last five games, Ian Kinsler is batting .474 with one home run and three RBI.

With hits in eight of his last 10 games, Mookie Betts owns a 1.061 OPS with two homers and six runs driven in since August 22nd.

JD Martinez has 9 RBI in his last 10 games. Like I mentioned above, his 115 RBI on the year is the most in all of baseball.

Going for the series win later this afternoon, it will be Brian Johnson getting the start for the Red Sox in the Windy City finale.

Now, Johnson has neither pitched at Gauranteed Rate Field nor against the White Sox in his three-year career, but he did post a 5.27 ERA in six appearances (five starts) over 27.1 innings pitched in August.

Opposite Johnson will be veteran right-hander James Shields for Chicago, who owns a 4.54 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 29 games, 28 of which are starts, in what is his 13th year in the big leagues.

Known mostly for his time with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, “Big Game James” has faced off against the Red Sox 28 times in his career, and is 9-14 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in those starts.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET.