The #RedSox Have Designated Hanley Ramirez for Assignment.

 

In a shocking turn of events, it looks as if Hanley Ramirez’s days in a Red Sox uniform are over. With Dustin Pedroia rejoining the team today after being activated from the disabled list, this was the corresponding move. Not Blake Swihart, the third catcher on this team who rarely plays, but Hanley Ramirez gets DFA’d.

Ramirez got off to a great start this season, as he slashed .330/.400/.474 in March/April. Since the calendars flipped to May though, Ramirez is only slashing .163/.200/.300 in 19 games.

With this happening today, Mitch Moreland will more than likely handle the everyday first baseman duties from here on out.

I’m still a little shook, but I wish Hanley the best wherever he lands after this. Regardless of his performance on the field, which had its ups and downs for sure, he seemed like a great teammate and clubhouse guy. Definitely going to miss him.

 

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RECAP: Hanley Ramirez Homers for Third Time in Four Days as #RedSox Even Things up with Blue Jays.

Less than 24 hours after getting walked off by Luke Maile in extra innings, the Red Sox took the field for the middle game of this three-game weekend set in Toronto. Fortunately, this one was less of a nail biter than Friday’s night contest, and did not have to be decided in extras.

David Price made his first start for the Red Sox since the first game of the road trip they are currently on. Due to a bout with mild carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand, Price was held out of his originally scheduled start this past Wednesday in New York. Three days later, he was back on the mound in Toronto for his eighth start of the season.

Contrary to how he looked before the carpal tunnel announcement, the Red Sox lefty put together a solid effort in his return to the mound on Saturday. In 5.1 innings pitched, Price held the Blue Jays to just two runs on five hits while walking three and tying a season high in strikeouts with six of them on the afternoon. The only real costly mistake the Tennessee native made came in the bottom of the sixth. With Justin Smoak at the plate to lead things off for the Jays, Price could not sneak a 93 MPH fastball by the Blue Jays first baseman, as he sent it 380 feet to left field for his teams second and final run of the day.

After that solo shot, Price would face one more batter in Kevin Pillar, who he got to pop out for the first out of the bottom half of the sixth inning. I don’t know if the fan running on the field had anything to do with it, but it looked like Price was prepared to at least finish the sixth. That did not happen though, as Alex Cora pulled him in favor of Carson Smith. The only inning in which the 32-year-old did not deal with baserunners was the second inning, when he struck out the side on 14 pitches. He ended his day with 93 pitches thrown, 55 of which went for strikes and his next start will more than likely come against the Baltimore Orioles sometime next week back at Fenway Park.

With Price’s day over and 11 outs still to get, Carson Smith would be the first man out of the Red Sox bullpen. Making his second appearance in the series. The righty did not need to do much, as he retired the only two batters he faced on 12 pitches, one of those including a strikeout. Slowly but surely, Smith has been looking better and better for the Red Sox. Since the calendar turned from April to May, the native of Texas has tossed six scoreless innings with no walks and eight strikeouts. His ERA has steadily decreased over the past few weeks, and it now stands at 3.38, the lowest its been since Opening Day.

After the conclusion of the sixth inning, the next three pitchers that came out of the Red Sox bullpen were nearly perfect. In three combined innings of work, Hector Velazquez, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel held the Blue Jays to zero runs on just two hits while striking out five. For Velazquez, today marked his first appearance in a game since the third for May. And for Kimbrel, today’s 1-2-3 ninth marked his 11th save of the season, that’s good for second in the American League.

On the other side of things, it took a little bit for the Red Sox lineup to get going against Jays starter Marco Estrada. For Estrada, he has not had a fun time facing the Red Sox as of late, and that sort of proved true on Saturday. After Christian Vazquez led the top of the third off with a fly out to left, three straight hits from the top of the lineup put three runs on the board.

A Mookie Betts double, followed by another double from Andrew Benintendi, plated the first run of the day for the Red Sox. Then Hanley Ramirez followed that up with a hit of his own, except his hit went out of the park.

That 89 MPH fastball from Estrada was sent 376 feet to left by the Red Sox first baseman for his sixth big fly of the season. Over the past four games, Ramirez has accounted for half of his season total with three homers in just 18 at bats.

Fast forward to the sixth, a one out double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts set up an ideal situation for Rafael Devers. After striking out in his first two at bats, Devers saw something he liked on the first pitch from Estrada and ripped a single to center field, allowing Bogaerts to score easily from second base. For Devers, it was his 24th RBI of the season.

Later on in the ninth, the Betts-Benintendi connection hooked up once again, as Benintendi pretty much put this one away with an RBI single that scored Betts from second after he had doubled in the prior at bat.

Some notes from this game:

In 11 games played this month, Mookie Betts has recorded more than one hit in five of them after his three hit performance on Friday.

Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez may both be heating up at the same time, as Benintendi currently has a five game hitting streak going on, while Ramirez has recorded a hit in six of the last seven games he has appeared in.

Speaking of hitting streaks, JD Martinez’s 12 game streak unfortunately came to end this afternoon, as he was held hitless for the first time since April 28th.

A three-day mental break clearly did Jackie Bradley Jr. no favors, as he was held hitless in four at bats today in his first start in center since May 8th. He is now 2 for his last 27.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox have the chance to end their long road trip with a series win tomorrow afternoon. Drew Pomeranz is on the mound for the visiting side, while it will be righty Joe Biagini getting the start for Toronto. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07 PM ET, should be a good way to spend Mothers Day.

RECAP: JD Martinez’s Clutch Home Run Leads #RedSox to Win over Yankees in Series Finale.

Going into the series finale on Thursday night, a win for the Red Sox was almost vital. The difference between leaving New York tied for first place in the AL East and trailing by two games is huge. The good thing is, they locked down the get away day win, but it was a rocky road getting there.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and he was coming off a performance in Texas where he gave up three home runs. Fortunately, he put together a much better outing in the Bronx last night. In five rain-interrupted innings, the lefty surrendered zero runs on just one hit and three walks while fanning eight. Other than the fourth inning, there was really no point in the game where it looked like Rodriguez was struggling. From the first to the third, he faced 10 batters and struck out half of them. After that, things got a little shaky for the native of Venezuela in the bottom half of the fourth. A leadoff walk to Aaron Judge, a single to Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees first hit of the night, and another walk to Gary Sanchez loaded the bases with only one out in the inning. With a three run lead to protect, it was looking like the Yankees were about to stage another comeback. That still happened, but not with Rodriguez on the mound, as the 25-year-old retired the next two batters he faced to get out of the fourth unscathed.

In between the conclusion of the fourth inning and the middle of the fifth, there was a 55 minute rain delay, which ultimately ended Yankees starter CC Sabathia’s day, but not Rodriguez’s. He came back out for the fifth inning and wrapped his stellar night up by collecting two more K’s and getting Brett Gardner to ground out to short to conclude things in the fifth. It’s a shame he couldn’t go any further, but with a pitch count of 95 (53 strikes) and that previously mentioned weather delay, I can understand why Alex Cora went with a fresh arm for the sixth.

That fresh arm just so happened to be Matt Barnes, coming off one of his worst outings of the season on Wednesday night. Those struggles would not continue though, as the righty tossed a scoreless frame despite walking the first batter he saw. Next up out of the ‘pen was Heath Hembree for the seventh inning, and that’s where things started to momentarily fall apart for the Red Sox once again.

After getting Tyler Austin to fly out to right to begin the inning, Hembree surrendered two hits and a walk to the next three batters he faced. That loaded the bases up with just one out, and that was all the action Hembree saw. In the month of May, the righty out of South Carolina owns an ERA north of 11 in four innings of work. Not great.

Having already dealt with a bases loaded jam in this series, Joe Kelly was next out of the bullpen. Things did not get off the best of starts for the Red Sox flamethrower, as he walked in a run on four pitches and gave up a one-run single in two consecutive at bats. After that, the Yankees tacked on another two runs before Kelly retired the side, thus tying the game at four runs a piece.

With the Red Sox taking the lead back on a JD Martinez home run in the top of the eighth, Alex Cora decided to stick with Kelly for another inning of work. Again, he was not at his sharpest, as he allowed the tying run to reach second base at one point, but came through in the end. Facing off against Neil Walker with runners on first and second and two outs, Kelly needed six pitches to record his second and final strikeout of the night, while stranding the tying and go-ahead runs in the process. The California native was credited with a blown save and his second win of the season thanks to his efforts.

Since Kelly protected the one run lead in the eighth inning, that paved the way for Craig Kimbrel coming in for a clean ninth. There has been plenty of tak about when it is most ideal to use the Red Sox closer, but I think it’s safe to say that he prefers working in the ninth. Compared to Wednesday night, Kimbrel looked like a different guy on the mound. He tossed a perfect frame while also recording his 24th strikeout this season. With save number 10 on the year, Kimbrel locked down the get away day win for the Red Sox, ensuring that they leave New York with a share of the division lead in the AL East.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was not at a disadvantage with 18-year veteran CC Sabathia on the mound for the Yankees. In fact, they reached base nine times off of him in only four innings. Mookie Betts set the tone right away with a leadoff double to right field to start the game. Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez got his impressive day at the plate started with an RBI ground out to short. That allowed Betts, who had moved up to third, to score easily and give the Red Sox their first run of the game.

Fast forward to the third, and Hanley Ramirez is in the thick of things once again. After two straight hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to lead off the inning put runners on second and third, Ramirez notched his second of three RBIs on the night on a single to shallow right field that Gleyber Torres could do nothing with. That allowed Betts to score from third and allowed Benintendi to advance to third himself. JD Martinez wrapped up the scoring in the top of the third, as he drove in Benintendi from third on a hard hit RBI force out that could easily have been a double play if Gleyber Torres held on to the ball.

Later on in the fifth, Hanley Ramirez led things off by putting the fourth run of the game for the Red Sox on the board with his fifth big fly of the season.

That 412 foot shot to left field came just in the nick of time for the Red Sox, as the game was delayed due to rain one pitch into the next at bat.

After a 55 minute delay and a Yankees rally in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed as if the Red Sox were destined to blow another late lead. Fortunately for them, JD Martinez did not allow that to happen. With Dellin Betances on the mound for his second frame of work, the Red Sox outfielder took a 97 MPH fastball on the inside edge of the plate and launched it 350 feet into the opposite field.

A vintage JD Martinez home run, his ninth of the season, put the Red Sox on top 5-4 and they would not have to look back. His only hit of the game turned out to be the most important one. What a guy.

Some notes from this one:

After a three-hit performance last night, Mookie Betts leads all of baseball in several offensive categories. Those being Batting Average (.361), Slugging Percentage (.803), OPS (1.244), Total Bases (98), Home Runs (13), and Extra Base Hits (27). All of this and he’s batting leadoff. Incredible.

With his ninth home run of the season last night, JD Martinez has now recorded a hit in 11 straight games. Over that stretch, the Miami native is slashing an outlandish .444/.490/.778 in 49 Plate Appearances.

For the first time this season, Hanley Ramirez has homered in back-to-back games. That happening after going 19 games in between his second and third long balls of the season. So maybe he’s about to heat up.

Next up for the Red Sox is the last leg of this road trip in Toronto. Last time they were up north, the Red Sox came away with the series win. Chris Sale gets the ball in the series opener, he’ll be matched up against righty Aaron Sanchez for Toronto. David Price is also scheduled to pitch on Saturday in this three-game set. First pitch tonight is set for 7:07 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.

 

 

RECAP: #RedSox Fall to Yankees Again Thanks to Another Collapse from the Bullpen.

A day after a disappointing loss to the Yankees in the opening game of this series, the Red Sox found themselves in a similar position last night. With the game going in their favor up until the bottom of the eighth, it’s almost inexcusable that they could not come away with the win to even things up at one game at piece. Instead, they’ll look to salvage something from this three-game set later tonight.

Since the news broke that David Price would not be able to make his scheduled start on Wednesday, everyone in the Red Sox rotation moved up a spot. Meaning it would be Rick Porcello on the mound against Masahiro Tanaka. In what was his worst start of the season up to this point, I thought that Porcello was still somewhat effective, as he prevented the Yankees from running away with this one.

The righty out of New Jersey tossed 5.1 innings, surrendered five earned runs on eight hits, three walks, and a HBP, all while fanning just three Yankees. Surprisingly, no one in that menacing lineup managed to go deep off of Porcello. That may not have been the most surprising part of the 2016 Cy Young Award winner’s night though. Nope, that would have to be the three free passes he gave up. In his seven starts prior to this one, Porcello has only walked more than two batters once, and that was back on April 24th in Toronto. In my opinion, those three walks last night were indicative of the fact that Porcello may not have had his best stuff going. After recording the first out of the sixth and giving up a single to Gleyber Torres, the 29-year-old’s night would come to an end with a pitch count of 91, 51 of which went for strikes.

With the Red Sox trailing by one at the time of Porcello’s departure in the sixth, lefty Brian Johnson would be first out of the bullpen. The former Florida Gator came through with two big outs to retire the side, then recorded the first out of the seventh inning as well. Considering this was his first time in a game since the first of May, it was reassuring that Johnson did not show any signs of struggling last night. After getting a fresh lead in the top half of the inning and getting Didi Gregorius to line out to kick off the bottom half, Carson Smith would enter this one and be responsible for ending things in the seventh.

The Texas native needed three batters to record two outs, but no damage was done in the inning, as the Red Sox still had a one run lead to protect going into the bottom of the eighth. That is where things got a bit sticky though, with Matt Barnes on the mound. A leadoff double to Neil Walker certainly did not help, and that was followed by a five pitch walk to Gleyber Torres two batters later. With runners on first and third and just one out in the inning, it was all left up to Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, who had never recorded a five out save in his entire career.

Well, that would not happen last night either, unfortunately. The flame throwing Kimbrel gave up a go-ahead triple to the very first batter he saw in Brett Gardner. That scored the runners from first and third and put the Red Sox down by a run. Even worse, the lead would increase for the Yankees four pitches into the next at bat, as Aaron Judge launched a 97 MPH fastball from Kimbrel into orbit, sending it 429 feet into the night sky.

Judge’s ninth long ball of the season put the Yankees up by three, and that’s all the run support Aroldis Chapman would need a half inning later.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup had a much easier time reaching base last night off of Masahiro Tanaka than they did Tuesday night against Luis Severino. Mitch Moreland got the scoring started in the top half of the second, as he put the Red Sox momentarily on top with his sixth home run of the season. A two-run blast that scored Xander Bogaerts from first as well.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, Andrew Benintendi got in on the action with a home run of his own. This one a solo shot, mashed 391 feet into the right field bleachers of Yankee Stadium, his second of the season and his sixth career homer in the Bronx.

An inning later,trailing by two, and facing a new pitcher in Chad Green, Eduardo Nunez cut the Red Sox deficit in half with a sacrifice fly to center field. That scored Xander Bogaerts from third after he had ripped a double off of Tanaka to lead off the sixth.

Later in the seventh, still trailing by one, Hanley Ramirez left his mark on this game. It really did not make a difference by the end, but it was huge at the time. After Brock Holt and Mookie Betts both grounded out to start the inning, Andrew Benintendi drew a walk on six pitches. That set up a spot where Hanley Ramirez could go deep for the first time since April 14th and give his team the lead. Well, on the third pitch off his at bat, that’s exactly what Ramirez did.

That 431 foot shot to left put the Red Sox up by one in the seventh. Like I said, it seemed HUGE at the time it was hit, but that warm feeling did not last all that long.

Fast forward another inning, this time up by a run, and the Red Sox had a great chance to tack on some insurance runs. Mitch Moreland and Eduardo Nunez led the inning off against Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve with a walk and a double. That meant with no outs in the inning, the Red Sox had runners in scoring position. Ideal spot to be on, but the bottom half of the lineup could not capitalize on it. Even with two outs and the bases loaded for Andrew Benintendi after an intentional walk to Mookie Betts, nothing. Maybe getting more of a lead going into the ninth would have helped Craig Kimbrel out a little bit more, I don’t know.

Anyway, that did not happen and the Red Sox lost their second game in a row to the hands of the Yankees. It stings, but they have the chance to even the season series up later tonight. At least JD Martinez extended his hitting streak to 10 games, that’s pretty cool. Oh yeah, Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start against veteran lefty CC Sabathia, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM ET. Would be a real shame if someone like Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt against ol’ CC, a real shame.

RECAP: Craig Kimbrel Picks up 300th Career Save as #RedSox Win Tight One in Texas.

After dropping the first game of this series in a blowout, the Red Sox have rebounded quite nicely with two straight wins.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and he did not have the best of nights. In six innings pitched, the lefty only gave up four hits, but three of those were home runs. One of those being an absolute shot off the bat of Joey Gallo in the second inning. That ball was hit 466 feet.

Other than those three home runs, Rodriguez gave up one hit, a single off the bat of Robinson Chirinos in the fifth inning. He also walked two and fanned 10, so maybe this start would have gone much better for the native of Venezuela if he wasn’t pitching at Globe Life Park last night. Rodriguez finished with 107 pitches, 67 of which went for strikes, and he’ll look to rebound next time out against either the Yankees or Blue Jays, it hasn’t been announced yet.

Anyway, with the Red Sox tied up with the Rangers going into the bottom half of the seventh inning, it would be Heath Hembree getting the call to take over for Rodriguez. The righty kicked things off by striking out all three batters he faced in the inning on 14 pitches. Pretty good start, but the eighth inning was a different story for Hembree. He could only record one out while loading the bases on two hits and an intentional walk. After that walk to Nomar Mazara, it would be Joe Kelly who was given the responsibility to get out of the inning with the tie still intact.

Facing off against Joey Gallo, who had already homered twice up to that point, Kelly met fire with fire by striking out the Rangers slugger on five pitches. Next up for the Rangers was Jurickson Profar, and that had to be one of the more dramatic at bats of the season. It took Kelly all of 11 pitches, but he got Profar looking on a 98 MPH fastball to end the inning with the bases loaded.

After the Red Sox lineup tacked on the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, it would be none other than Craig Kimbrel for the bottom half of the inning, as he was looking to collect the 300th save of his career.

The flamethrower needed just 11 pitches and two strikeouts to retire the side in the ninth. Thus locking up the win for the Red Sox while also becoming the youngest reliever to reach 300 career saves and the fastest do so as well.

Offensively, it was a slow start for the Red Sox lineup, but it paid off in the end. Trailing by one run going into the fifth inning, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with an RBI single that ricocheted off the second base bag and scored Christian Vazquez from third.

An inning later, after the Rangers had gone up by three runs, Mitch Moreland pulled the Red Sox a little bit closer in a ballpark he is very familiar with. On a 1-1 fastball from Rangers starter Cole Hamels, Moreland, making his first start of the series, launched a 368 foot two-run shot that barely got over the wall in right field to pull the Red Sox within one run.

Another inning later, in the seventh, and once again after the Rangers had gone up by two runs, Mookie Betts was the catalyst of a two run inning, as he drew a walk with one out. With Andrew Benintendi at the plate and a new pitcher on the mound for the Rangers, Benintendi blooped a double into shallow left field to send Betts to third, or so we thought. Instead, Mookie took advantage of a lackluster reaction from Jurickson Profar and managed to score all the way from first base. Amazing awareness on display right there.

Two batters later, JD Martinez drove in Benintendi from third on an RBI single of his own to pull the Red Sox and Rangers even at five runs a piece.

Fast forward to the ninth, and it would be Andrew Benintendi coming through yet again, as he nearly took a one out 82 MPH curveball from Keone Kela and sent it over the wall in right field. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the wall and Benintendi had to settle for a triple, his third and final hit of the night. One batter later, Hanley Ramirez drove in Benintendi on a sacrifice fly to center field. That gave the Red Sox a one run lead ans all but locked up the win with Craig Kimbrel picking up his ninth save of the season a half inning later.

Some notes from this one:

After his three hit game last night, Andrew Benintendi has raised his batting average to .254 on the season. In four games played this month, Benintendi has either recorded three hits, which he has done twice, or gone hitless, which he has also done twice.

With a leadoff single in the sixth, his first of two hits on the night, JD Martinez extended his hitting streak to seven games. Over that span, the 30-year-old Martinez is slashing .483/.516/.724 with two home runs and six runs driven in.

And to wrap it up, here’s this great nugget from @SoxNotes:

 

Next up for the Red Sox is the fourth and final game of this series later today. Chris Sale gets the ball against old friend Doug Fister, who owns a 2.88 ERA in five starts with the Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.

RECAP: A 10-3 Win over the Orioles Has the #RedSox off to Their Best Start in Franchise History.

Less than 24 hours after taking the series opener from the Orioles, the Red Sox won their third straight game today. Hector Velazquez got the start in this one, and he put together a solid performance against a lineup that can do some damage. In five complete innings, the right hander from Mexico allowed two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five. Those two runs the Orioles scored off of Velazquez came on one swing of the bat, a Pedro Alvarez two-run home run in the fifth. Other than that mistake, not much to complain about because it could have been worse. I mean, the Orioles had runners on base in every inning Velazquez pitched in except the second, when he struck out the side. So, it was impressive to see him work his way out of those few jams he got himself into.

With Velazquez’s day done after throwing 86 pitches (58 strikes), it was Joe Kelly who got the call for the sixth inning. With some help from Jackie Bradley Jr., Kelly tossed a scoreless frame while striking out one. Here’s the first out that I was speaking of:

The only other pitcher the Red Sox used today was Marcus Walden, and he wrapped this thing up by going the last three innings. In those three innings, the Orioles were limited to just one run in the ninth and three hits total to go along with three strikeouts. This outing may very well be the best Walden has had thus far with the Red Sox, which is encouraging to see considering the fact he owned a 1.50 WHIP before today’s game and lowered his ERA by a full run with today’s effort.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup struck early yet again, facing off against old friend Alex Cobb, who was making his Orioles debut. Mookie Betts got things started with a leadoff walk in the first, and he injured himself while scoring on an Andrew Benintendi RBI double. How did Betts injure himself you ask? Well, take a look for yourself:

As can be seen in the video, Betts collided with Orioles catcher Chance Sisco while also taking a relay throw off the back. He managed to stay in the game for a little while after, but was eventually replaced by Blake Swihart in the fourth inning.

Anyway, still in the first, Hanley Ramirez returned from a wrist contusion he suffered on Thursday by scoring Benintendi along with himself on his third long ball of the year. That ball landed in the second row of the Monster seats in left field, in case you were interested.

Fast forward to the third, and JD Martinez put the fourth run for the Red Sox on the board with his third home run of the season.

An inning later, the Red Sox tacked on four more runs, upping their total on the day to eight. Andrew Benintendi collected his second and third RBI’s of the game by ripping a two out, two run single into right field, putting the Red Sox up by six. Hanley Ramirez followed that up by scoring Benintendi with an RBI double of his own. With JD Martinez at the plate, the fourth and final run of the inning scored on a throwing error after Martinez hit a ground ball to Manny Machado. A bad throw from the O’s shortstop allowed Ramirez to score from second. 8-0 heading into the fifth.

After the Orioles tacked on two runs of their own in their half of the fifth, the Red Sox responded an inning and a half later. With Blake Swihart on second, JD Martinez collected his second RBI of the day by ripping a single to left field.

In the seventh, Blake Swihart returned the favor by picking up his first RBI of the contest, scoring Brock Holt from second with a single to center field. That gave the Red Sox their tenth and final run of the game and all but guaranteed their twelfth win of the season.

At 12-2, the Red Sox have never had a better start in their storied history. Given the way they have handled the Orioles and their pitching staff so far, we very well could be looking at a 14-2 team heading into this upcoming road trip. If the weather holds up, Chris Sale will get the start against Dylan Bundy tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures are expected to be in the 30’s in Boston, so good luck to anyone heading into Fenway. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM.

Also, before I forget, Mookie Betts was diagnosed with a left foot contusion. X-Rays were negative and his status is day-to-day.

RECAP: Hanley Ramirez Comes Through for #RedSox Again in 3-2 Opening Day Win.

Playing in their first home game of the season, the Red Sox played their second straight game that went into extra innings. They won the first one in Miami, and they won in 12 innings today against the Tampa Bay Rays.

David Price got the start in this one, and he looked just as good as he did last Friday in Tampa Bay. The southpaw once again tossed seven shutout innings, scattering three hits, walking three, and striking out five. He threw 91 pitches on Thursday, 56 of which went for strikes.

Price has yet to yield a single run to opponents, and his start marks the seventh straight start a by Red Sox pitcher where one or fewer runs have been scored off of them. Through those seven games, Red Sox starters own a 0.86 ERA in 42 innings pitched to go along with 39 total strikeouts and just 10 walks. Those are some impressive numbers, but unfortunately, David Price could not get the W today even though he deserved it.

Once Price departed after completing seven innings, Carson Smith took over in the top of the eighth. Smith walked the first batter he saw, and followed that by serving up a home run to Rays third baseman Matt Duffy. Duffy, who owns a career .393 Slugging Percentage, gave his team a two-run lead thanks to his first long ball of the season. Smith was able to get out of the inning, but his start to this season has been far from promising. In four appearances, the Texas native has given up four earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched, making for an ERA north of 10 at 13.50. Not a great look for the righty who still hasn’t settled in with his club despite this being his third season here.

Trailing 2-0 heading into the ninth, Hector Velazquez would be responsible for keeping the deficit at two runs, and that is exactly what he did. Considering the fact he just started a game this past Sunday, I was surprised to see Velazquez come out of the bullpen on just three days rest. He pitched a clean inning though, and the Red Sox managed to score twice in the bottom half of the inning, so credit to Velazquez for holding the Rays in check.

With the game headed to extras, Craig Kimbrel would get the call to pitch in the top of the tenth in a non-save situation. The Red Sox closer was a bit shaky today, which led to him loading the bases while recording the first two outs of the inning. Going up against Rays DH CJ Cron, Kimbrel came through with a huge strikeout, keeping the game tied.

Next up out of the bullpen, Bobby Poyner was the last pitcher used by the Red Sox. The rookie reliever retired the side in order in the eleventh. In the twelfth, Poyner gave up a leadoff single to Joey Wendle, then proceeded to retire the next three batters he faced. With his stellar performance in this one, Poyner was credited with the first win of his young big league career.

Offensively, the Rays held the Red Sox lineup in check yet again. Despite not using a stereotypical starting pitcher, the Rays have found some success in sticking with just relief pitchers on two occasions this season. The first time, March 31st, Rays pitching surrendered three runs to the Red Sox. Today, April 5th, Rays pitching surrendered another three runs to the Red Sox. Both of these games have resulted in losses for Tampa Bay, but the pitching has not been to blame.

Anyway, the Red Sox didn’t score their first run of the game until the ninth inning. A Mookie Betts leadoff single followed by an Andrew Benintendi walk set up Hanley Ramirez in a prime position. On the second pitch of his at bat against Alex Colome, Ramirez lined a single to center field, allowing Betts to score from second to make it a one run game. After JD Martinez grounded into a double play, it came down to Xander Bogaerts to either tie this thing or win it himself.

With Andrew Benintendi just 90 feet away, Bogaerts laced a clutch double off the wall in left field, just out of the reach of Mallex Smith.

This allowed Benintendi to easily score from third and we had ourselves a tied game. Three batters later and the bases loaded, Jackie Bradley Jr. nearly won the game for the Red Sox on an infield single , but he was ruled out at first by just inches.

jbj out

After going scoreless in the next two innings, the Red Sox offense picked up again in the bottom of the twelfth. A Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff double was followed by a beautiful sac bunt off the bat of Christian Vazquez. With one out and a runner at third, Rays pitching intentionally walked Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, loading the bases with Hanley Ramirez at the plate. On the first pitch he saw from Ryan Yarbrough, Ramirez ended things by lining a walk off single to right field, scoring Bradley and giving the Red Sox the 3-2 win.

That marks six straight wins for this Red Sox team. This also marks two straight wins Hanley Ramirez is pretty much responsible for. A healthy Hanley can elevate this lineup, and that is what he has done so far this season. After today’s performance, Ramirez has taken over the team lead in RBIs with six. He has also been playing exceptional defense at first as well. Seven games in and Hanley has definitely proven why Alex Cora wants him batting third in the lineup almost everyday.

Next up for the Red Sox is another off day on Friday. After that, Rick Porcello will make the start on Saturday afternoon against Rays righty Jake Faria, who allowed one run in four innings last time he faced the Red Sox on April 1st.

Also, Eduardo Rodriguez is back and he will be starting on Sunday. That’s probably why Velazquez came out of the bullpen today. Looking forward to that.

We also got Lil Wayne tweeting about the Red Sox, so that’s something.