RECAP: Chris Sale Tosses Three Scoreless Innings and Brock Holt Stays Hot as #RedSox Take Series from Mets with 4-3 Win.

After splitting the first two games of this three-game series against the New York Mets over the last two days, the Red Sox looked to head into an off day with their second consecutive series victory and 103rd win of the season on Sunday.

Making his 25th start of the season and second since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday, Chris Sale took the mound at Fenway Park for his second ever appearance against the Mets.

Pitching three full innings in this one as planned, the left-hander held New York scoreless while allowing just one hit and zero walks to go along with a single strikeout on the afternoon.

Facing the minimum nine batters thanks to a caught stealing in the top of the second, Sale needed 42 pitches (27 strikes) to complete the three frames of work.

Out of those 42 pitches, the Florida native threw 20 four-seam fastballs, 11 sliders, seven changeups, and four two-seam fastballs, which resulted in a total of six swinging and eight called strikes.

He also topped out at 96.8 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning.

Lowering his ERA on the season down to an American League best 1.92 with this solid performance to wrap up the weekend, Sale will look to ramp it up to four innings in his next time out, which will come against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland this upcoming Friday.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final six innings of Sunday’s win, but nothing certainly came easy for them.

Entering this contest first with a fresh three-run lead to protect, Hector Velazquez, who was scratched from his previous start with illness on Friday, tossed a scoreless fourth inning.

Drew Pomeranz was next up, and after retiring all three batters he faced in the fifth, surrendered the first two Mets runs of the day in the sixth while recording the first two outs of the inning.

Heath Hembree cleaned up Pomeranz’s mess in that top half of the sixth, but failed to record an out in the seventh by walking one and hitting another.

Joe Kelly, like Hembree, did manage to clean up a bit of a sticky situation in his 69th relief appearance of the year, but not before allowing one of the inherited runners to score on a two out Amed Rosario RBI single.

From that point on, Brandon Workman worked a scoreless eighth inning to keep this thing tied at three runs a piece, and after his team jumped out to a 4-3 advantage in their half of the eighth, Steven Wright came in and picked up his first career save with a clean ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against arguably the best pitcher in the National League in the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who entered Sunday with a miniscule 1.71 ERA over 29 starts this season.

After failing to reach base once through the first two-plus innings of this one, it was Rafael Devers who got a huge bottom of the third started by ripping a one out single back up the middle to center field.

One Christian Vazquez single later that allowed Devers to advance all the way to third thanks to a little hit-and-run action, Mookie Betts drove in the first run of the afternoon with a 380 foot sacrifice fly to center field that plated Devers and made it a 1-0 game.

With one out and one runner on, the red-hot Brock Holt came to the plate, batting in the two-hole for a change, and came through with yet another game-changing hit, a two-run home run sent 402 feet to the Red Sox bullpen.

For Holt, just his fifth big fly of the season, and for deGrom, just the 10th homer he has given up all season.

A las, that was all the Red Sox could get off of New York’s ace, and it was not until the eighth when they would get on the scoreboard again.

Tied at 3-3 now, Andrew Benintendi came to the plate with one out, Tzu-Wei Lin at third following a leadoff double, and Seth Lugo on the hill for the Mets.

On the second pitch he saw from Lugo, Benintendi al but sealed the deal in this one with an RBI sac fly to center that was more than good enough to plate Lin from third for what would end up being the game-winning run.

Some notes from this 4-3 win: 

Injury-related: Mookie Betts had to leave this game in the sixth inning with left side soreness after making an awkward throw home in right field, but he should be good to DH in New York on Tuesday, per Alex Cora.

Through 150 games, the Red Sox have a winning percentage of .687.

Brock Holt is hitting .400 with two home runs and seven RBI in his last five games.

Chris Sale has not surrendered an earned run in his last 25 innings pitched, which dates back to July 11th.

The magic number for the Red Sox to clinch their third consecutive American League East title now stands at two games, meaning they could be crowned division champs at Yankee Stadium for the second time in the last three seasons.

All that is needed for that to happen is one win in the team’s next three games against the Yankees, which will take place after an off day on Monday.

Starting pitching matchups for that upcoming series go as follows:

9/18: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-7 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP JA Happ (16-6 3.75 ERA)

9/19: LHP David Price (15-6 3.42 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Severino (17-8 3.46 ERA)

9/20: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (13-4 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-5 3.47 ERA)

The Yankees have lost six of their last ten games.

First pitch of the series opener in the Bronx is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Tuesday, weather permitting.

 

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RECAP: Brandon Phillips Comes up Clutch with Go-Ahead Ninth Inning Home Run as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Braves.

After taking the first two games of this interleague series against the Atlanta Braves over these last two days, the Red Sox looked to head into an off day with a three-game sweep to end their road trip on a positive note.

Making his seventh start of the season on Wednesday was Hector Velazquez, who entered the afternoon with a lifetime 3.38 ERA in two career relief appearances against Atlanta, both of which have come in 2018.

Tossing four full innings, the right-hander yielded just two runs on five hits and three walks to go along with two strikeouts on the day.

For as lousy as a start Velazquez got off to with the Braves tacking on two runs on a Ronald Acuna leadoff home run and Nick Markakis RBI single before a single out was recorded in the bottom half of the first, it was nice to see him settle down a bit.

After that disastrous first frame, the 29-year old buckled down and did not surrender a single hit to the final 12 Braves he faced in this one, as he worked his way around three walks along the way to a decent outing.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 57 (37 strikes), the Mexico native turned to his slider 33% of the time on Wednesday while topping out at 92.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he only threw seven times, in the fourth inning.

Although his ERA did rise from 3.24 up to 3.30 following this afternoon’s performance, Velazquez will look to build on a solid start to September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays sometime next week if it’s in a starting capacity. If not, I would not be surprised to see him come out of the bullpen during this upcoming weekend series against the Houston Astros.

In relief of Velazquez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final five innings of Wednesday afternoon’s contest, and they did not really have an easy go of it.

Drew Pomeranz, who entered the day with a 2.93 ERA since moving to the bullpen earlier last month, was first out of the ‘pen to relieve Velazquez in the bottom of the fifth.

The southpaw came into the game with the score at 2-1 in favor of the Braves. By the time he departed, that one-run lead had inflated all the way up to five after Pomeranz could only record one out on a force out while technically allowing all six hitters he faced to reach base.

That was certainly not great, and the situation got even worse when William Cuevas, who came in for Pomeranz, allowed an inherited runner to score from third on a Tyler Flowers single to make it a 7-1 game.

From that point on, both Cuevas and Bobby Poyner held the Braves scoreless in a combined 2.2 innings of work before Brandon Workman made an appearance to start the eighth.

Just moments after his team rallied from a six-run deficit to even things up at seven runs a piece, Workman allowed the then go-ahead run to score on a two out, pinch hit solo home run from Freddie Freeman.

However demoralizing it was at the time, the Red Sox still made another successful comeback effort, and Workman ended up getting credited with the winning decision, his fourth of the year.

Finally, to wrap this thing up, Craig Kimbrel came in for the save opportunity against his former club with a fresh one-run lead to protect.

Despite a two out walk, the flame throwing closer rebounded by striking out the next and final batter he faced to secure both his 38th save and the team’s 97th win of the season.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup absent of Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Ian Kinsler to begin things was matched up against Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz, who entered Wednesday with the fourth lowest ERA (2.80) among qualified starters in the National League.

Foltynewicz, 26, had already faced Boston once before this season, and he dominated with seven innings of one run ball back on May 27th in a 7-1 win for Atlanta.

Similar to that outing more than three months ago, the Braves hurler was at the top of his game again, as he allowed another lone run in another six quality innings of work.

That one run, though, was scored by none other than Brandon Phillips, who in his first game in a Red Sox uniform, had himself quite the day, and it all started with this wild sequence at third to plate Boston’s first run of the contest in the second inning.

Fast forward all the way to the top of the eighth now, with Foltynewicz out and RHP Dan Winkler in for the Braves, it was surprisingly Christian Vazquez who got a huge rally started with a leadoff single.

Three batters and two additional singles later, Blake Swihart trimmed the Red Sox’s deficit down to four runs with a two RBI double lined to center field.

Following a pitching change that saw left-hander Jonny Venters take over for Winkler, Andrew Benintendi picked up right where Swihart left off by lacing another RBI knock to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from third and make it a three-run game.

Steve Pearce, pinch-hitting for Mitch Moreland, made it a two-run game with a sacrifice fly to left field that was deep enough to drive in Swihart from third.

After Brandon Phillips reached first on a throwing error that also allowed Benintendi to advance to third, the Braves turned to their bullpen once again and out came former Oriole Brad Brach to try and get out of a sticky situation.

Greeted first by pinch-hitter Ian Kinsler, Brach could not sneak a 1-0 94 MPH fastball by Kinsler, as the Red Sox second baseman came through with the clutchest hit of the inning, a bases clearing two RBI double to pull his team even.

That would do it for the scoring in the eighth, and after the Braves jumped out to a brand new one-run lead in their half of the inning, it would all come down to the just called up Phillips in the ninth.

Down to their final out with Andrew Benintendi at first and closer AJ Minter on the mound for Atlanta, Phillips smacked the first pitch he saw, a 95 MPH fastball down the middle of the plate, and sent it 432 feet to left field. No doubt about it.

Phillips’ first big league homer since September 26th proved to be the most important hit of the afternoon, as it put the Red Sox up 9-8, which would go on to be your final score in this thrilling series finale.

Some notes from this 9-8 win:

From @SoxNotes: Brandon Phillips is the first player in Red Sox history to hit a go-ahead HR in the 9th inning or later in his debut with the team (source: ).

From @KNegandhiESPN: MLB teams were 487-0 when leading by 6 runs entering the 8th inning this season.. That streak came to an end as the erase a 7-1 deficit to beat the , 9-8.

Since August 26th, Ian Kinsler is slashing .361/.395/.528 with one home run and eight RBI in his last 10 games.

Finishing a seven-game road trip with a solid 5-2 record, the Red Sox will head into a much deserved off day on Thursday with 97 wins already under their belt.

Following the off day, the team will welcome the defending World Series Champion Houston Astros into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

The pitching matchups for that series go as follows:

9/7. RHP Gerrit Cole (13-5, 2.86 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.60 ERA)

9/8. RHP Charlie Morton (13-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (12-3, 3.34 ERA)

9/9. RHP Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.46 ERA) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (16-7, 4.20 ERA)

For Price, Friday’s start will be the first in-game action he has seen since taking a line drive comebacker off his left wrist in his last outing against the Miami Marlins on August 29th, where he had to leave after only pitching three innings.

First pitch of the series opener against the ‘Stros is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

RECAP: Brian Johnson Struggles as #RedSox Drop Series Finale to White Sox in 8-0 Loss.

On a humid afternoon in Chicago where the White Sox honored legendary commentator Ken “The Hawk” Harrleson with a touching pregame ceremony, the Red Sox, a former team of Harrelson’s during his playing career, looked absolutely lifeless this afternoon.

Let’s get into where things went wrong.

Making his 12th start of the season on Sunday was Brian Johnson, who before today, had never faced the White Sox nor pitched at Guaranteed Rate Field in his three-year career.

Right from the get go, it was clear Chicago had the left-hander’s number, because they came out swinging early and they were making hard contact.

Only able to pitch into the second inning of this one, Johnson surrendered four runs, all earned, on seven hits and one walk to go along with two punch outs on the afternoon.

A pair of runs in the first on a Tim Anderson solo home run and Kevan Smith RBI single another pair of runs in the second on a two RBI double off the bat of Matt Davidson. That is how the White Sox collected all four runs off of Johnson, and his day would come to an end after giving up that Davidson two-bagger.

Facing 12 total batters, the Florida native could barely manage to record four outs before he got the hook with one out and a runner on second in favor of Bobby Poyner.

Finishing with a final low pitch count of 38 (28 strikes), Johnson relied on his four-seam fastball 50% of the time and topped out at 90.3 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.

Falling to 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA on the season now, the 27-year-old will look to rebound from an awry start to September in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next weekend.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen had a daunting talk on their hands in completing nearly seven innings to close this one out.

Three September call-ups, Bobby Poyner, William Cuevas, and Robby Scott combined for five-and-two-thirds innings of work, and they gave up three earned runs on six hits, which essentially put this game out of reach for the Red Sox.

Oddly enough, White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka ended up hitting a solo home run off of Cuevas in the fourth after it looked like he initially homered earlier in the same at bat, but it was ruled foul.

Despite the results, Scott, who was inserted into this contest after Cuevas had to exit due to a heat-related illness, was the only Boston hurler to not surrender a run, so credit to him for that I guess.

Hector Velazquez was last up, and he allowed one run to cross the plate on two hits in the bottom half of the eighth. He has now given up runs in six of his last seven outings dating back to the beginning of August, although three of those were starts.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in Chicago’s James Shields.

Having already faced Boston 28 previous times over his 13-year career between the Rays, Royals, Padres, and now the White Sox, Shields had himself a solid day with six scoreless frames on Sunday.

Only managing four hits and two walks off the veteran right-hander, things did not get much better once the White Sox bullpen took over in the seventh, as Boston’s lineup could scrape together just one hit in the final three frames against the likes of Caleb Frare, Juan Minaya, and Hector Santiago.

One note from this 8-0 loss: 

80% of the Red Sox’s hits on Sunday came from Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez. Blake Swihart was responsible for the other one. None of the five hits went for extra bases.

All and all, the White Sox were tough opponent for the Red Sox this year, as they came away with the season-series win at 4-3.

Leaving the Windy City with a series-split under their belts, Boston will head south to Atlanta where they will be taking on a first place Atlanta Braves team.

Getting the start in the series opener tomorrow afternoon will be Nathan Eovaldi, who is able to pitch on such short rest because of that weather-shortened outing on Friday.

In 13 career starts against the Braves, Eovaldi has posted a solid 2.82 ERA and .235 BAA over 83 innings pitched.

Opposite Eovaldi will be rookie right-hander Touki Toussaint for Atlanta, who tossed six one-run innings against the Miami Marlins in his only other big league start back on August 13th.

First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

RECAP: Hector Velazquez Gets Roughed up as #RedSox Open up Players’ Weekend with 10-3 Loss to Rays.

Heading into Players’ Weekend winners of four of their last seven, the Red Sox arrived at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg for their last series of the season against the 67-61 Tampa Bay Rays, who entered Friday on a five-game winning streak.

Less than a week after being on the wrong side of 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay this past Sunday, Hector Velazquez made his sixth start of the season last night and did not have much of anything going for himself.

Pitching into just the third inning of this one, the right-hander ended up getting charged for EIGHT earned runs on nine hits to go along with two walks and four strikeouts.

At one point giving up six straight hits in the second, which led to three Rays runs crossing the plate, what really screwed Velazquez over came an inning later, when with two outs and runners on first and second, Steve Pearce, in the place of Mitch Moreland at first base, could not field a grounder off the bat of Kevin Kiermaier, which led to a single that allowed Ji-Man Choi to score from second.

On what should have been an inning-ending play, the Rays managed to tack on an additional four runs before Velazquez got the early hook in what was all of a sudden an 8-2 game.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (46 strikes), the 29-year-old turned to his sinker the most on Friday, as he threw it a total of 21 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Falling to 7-2 with a 3.69 ERA on the season now, Velazquez will look to rebound in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend, if he remains in the rotation.

In relief of Velazquez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final five-plus innings of last night’s contest, but thanks to the efforts of Drew Pomeranz, only two other pitchers were used.

Pomeranz, who entered with two outs in the bottom half of the third with a runner on first, surrendered two runs on a two-run home run off the bat of Rays rookie Willy Adames in the fourth in an otherwise solid 4.1 frames of work to end the seventh. Xander Bogaerts came through with some flashy defense as well.

Joe Kelly, making his third relief appearance in the last four days, wrapped up a rather tough night for Red Sox pitching by working his way around two hits and tossing a scoreless eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays “opener” Diego Castillo, who pitched in the same role last Sunday and held Boston scoreless in nearly two innings of work.

Pitching into the second once again, the Rays hurler retired five of the seven batters he faced before getting lifted for Jalen Beeks with two outs and runners on first and second.

Beeks, a former Red Sox pitching prospect who was part of the Nathan Eovaldi deal last month, tossed four scoreless frames and picked up the win in his only other appearance against his former team on Sunday.

Although he was not as effective last night, Beeks did manage to pick up the winning decision, his third of the season, while surrendering three runs on seven hits and three walks to go along with four punch outs.

Starting the scoring in the top of the third with three straight two out hits, Xander Bogaerts stayed hot with a two RBI single to plate both Mookie Betts and Steve Pearce.

Those runs appeared to be crucial at the time, as it cut the Red Sox deficit to one, but as I mentioned before, the Rays went off for five runs of their own in their half of the third.

Fast forward to the fifth, and JD Martinez wrapped up his team’s scoring while collecting his league-leading 110th RBI of the season on a one out single to drive in Andrew Benintendi from second to trim the Rays lead down to only seven.

Some notes from this 10-3 loss: 

The Red Sox out hit the Rays 13-12 on Friday, yet got outscored by seven runs. That is mostly due to the fact that none of those 13 hits went for extra bases. Nope, all of them were singles.

In his last 10 games, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .385/.429/.718 with two home runs and 12 RBI.

Since its inception, the Red Sox are 0-4 in Players’ Weekend games. Not great.

Despite the loss, 90-40 is at least satisfying to look at, right?

Looking to get back on the right track later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston.

Porcello (15-6, 4.14 ERA) owns a lifetime 2.72 ERA in 14 career starts at Tropicana Field, with the most recent coming on May 24th, an outing in which the right-hander got shelled for six runs (four earned) in less than four innings in an eventual loss.

Opposite Porcello will be rookie left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Tampa Bay, who has never started against the Red Sox, but does own a 3.00 ERA in four relief appearances against them this season.

First pitch of the second game of the series is scheduled for 6:10 PM ET Saturday.

RECAP: JD Martinez Comes up Clutch with Two Homer Night as #RedSox Sweep Doubleheader in Baltimore.

After taking care of business against the Orioles in a 5-0 shutout win earlier Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox were back at it at Camden Yards later in the evening to wrap up the day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.

Hector Velazquez,who hadn’t started a game since July 11th while also making just three relief appearances since July 30th, got the nod in this one, and as some may have expected, did not go deep into Saturday night’s contest.

Pitching into the third inning, the right-hander had his fair share of ups and downs, as he sat down the first three batters he faced on 11 pitches, but proceeded to allow the next three Orioles he faced to reach in the second, which led to Baltimore tacking their first run of the night on a Renato Nunez RBI double.

In in his final frame of work, the Mexico native walked Jace Peterson to lead things off, then got Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to ground out to second and third base for the first two outs of the bottom half of the third. That is how Velazquez’s night would come to somewhat of a surprising end, all while he failed to record a single strikeout.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 41 (56% strikes), the 29-year-old certainly was not pressed in his 34th outing of the season, which makes sense when you consider that he will be returning to his role in the bullpen in the coming days.

Out of those 41 pitches thrown, Velazquez relied heavily on his sinker, changeup, and slider, as he went to those three pitches a total of 33 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, which he threw seven times, in the first inning.

In relief of Velazquez, Brandon Workman got the first call in what would be a very busy night for the Red Sox bullpen.

Workman, who was later optioned down to Triple A Pawtucket, officially closed the book on Velazquez’s night by giving up an RBI single to Trey Mancini that scored Jace Peterson, who drew a leadoff walk earlier in the inning, from second and make it a 2-0 game.

After walking the next two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Renato Nunez to load the bases, Workman escaped any further damage by getting rookie Cedric Mullins to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

Drew Pomeranz, making his second straight appearance as a reliever in as many days, settled things down a bit by tossing two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth and was in line for another winning decision with the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-2 lead while the left-hander was in the game.

Unfortunately, Heath Hembree, who has been struggling as of late, messed that up by surrendering the game-tying home run to Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard with two outs in the sixth, which could have been worse had Hembree not picked off Mullins on an attempted steal of second base while Rickard was at the plate.

Joe Kelly got the call for the seventh, and he worked his way around a one out single and two out walk for his first clean relief appearance since August 8th and fourth winning decision of 2018 to make way for William Cuevas in the eighth.

Cuevas, the 26th man on Saturday’s Red Sox roster for the doubleheader, made his first appearance with the big league club in over a month, and he too worked his way around multiple base runners in a scoreless frame of work.

Finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel continued to frustrate by serving up a solo shot to Trey Mancini that cut Boston’s lead down to two, but ultimately saw his team’s 84th win through to the end by notching his 34th save of the season and 100th save in a Red Sox uniform on a four pitch strikeout of Chris Davis.

All and all, Alex Cora turned to seven pitchers in total, and despite only recording four strikeouts and an unsightly eight walks, I would say things worked out for the better.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher they have already seen multiple times this year in Baltimore’s Yefry Ramirez

Ramirez, a right-hander in his rookie season, owned a career 5.79 ERA in two previous starts against Boston coming into Saturday, but he held his own in five innings pitched last night.

Without JD Martinez, the Red Sox more than likely would not have won this game, and he got the scoring started for his team in the fourth by blasting his first of two home runs to cut the Orioles lead in half at the time.

An inning later, Dan Butler, who was starting behind the plate in the night cap, drove in his first big league run since 2014 on a sac fly that scored Eduardo Nunez, who tripled to lead off the fifth, from third and tie things up at two runs a piece.

In the sixth, with Steve Pearce at third and Martinez at second, a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Cody Carroll on ball four of Rafael Devers’ third at bat of the night allowed Pearce to come in from third. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a one-run lead.

A lead that would not last long though, as Baltimore answered right back with a run of their own in their half of the sixth off of Heath Hembree to re-tie the game.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Mike Wright on the mound for the Orioles, and JD Martinez essentially put this contest to bed by coming through with a clutch two-run shot to left field. 410 feet off the bat for Martinez’s second big fly of the evening and league-leading 37th of the season.

To put this thing out of reach for good, Brock Holt provided some necessary insurance in the ninth on a two out RBI single that scored Mookie Betts from second and gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead they would not have to look back from to sweep the twin bill.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 84-35 on the season. They are also 13-2 against the Orioles.

JD Martinez drove in his 102nd, 103rd, and 104th RBI last night. In his eight-year career, the most runs he had driven in in a single season was 104 in 2017.

Craig Kimbrel has given up runs in five of his last six appearances. That is actually bad.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep in Baltimore later this afternoon. Guess who is getting the start for Boston?

That’s right. Chris Sale is BACK from the 10-day disabled list after missing nearly two weeks with left shoulder inflammation as he gets the nod in the Sunday finale.

As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Workman to Pawtucket will be the corresponding roster move.

Backed up by a career 2.18 ERA in ten games (seven starts) at Oriole Park, Sale will be facing off against another lefty in Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.

Although he may not be having the greatest of seasons (5.55 ERA in 21 GS), Cobb, a Boston native himself, has seen plenty from the Red Sox over his seven-year career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

In two starts against them in 2018, Cobb has surrendered a total of 11 runs on 20 hits in ten innings pitched.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.

 

 

RECAP: Mookie Betts Amazes with Cycle as #RedSox Drop Series Finale to Blue Jays.

Believe it or not, the Red Sox are not a perfect team. They are capable of losing games and that is exactly what happened Thursday night for the first time this month.

Coming off the game of his life in his last time out against the New York Yankees this past Friday, Rick Porcello made his 24th start of the season yesterday, and he found himself struggling against Toronto’s team yet again.

If you recall the last time Porcello faced the Blue Jays in the series before the All-Star break, then you’ll remember that he got absolutely lit up for eight runs in two innings pitched back on July 13th in an eventual loss.

Last night, it was more of the same for the right-hander. Not only was he matched up against the same pitcher as before in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki, Porcello surrendered SEVEN runs in only four-plus innings pitched in another losing effort.

Things went awry right away for the New Jersey native in this one, as he walked the very first two batters he faced, which later resulted in two Blue Jays runs crossing the plate in the first.

An inning later, another leadoff walk and a single off the bat of Aledmys Diaz put runners at first and third for the Jays with no outs and Kevin Pillar at the plate.

On the first pitch of his at bat, Pillar grounded into what looked to have the potential of a force out at second. The run was scoring no matter what, but an E5 from Eduardo Nunez prevented a single out from being recorded and runners were safe at first and second with still no outs.

Nothing more came of that in the second, but Teoscar Hernandez, as he is known to do, blasted a solo homer off of Porcello in the third to pull his team ahead by two runs. He now has hit eight home runs in 20 career games against the Red Sox.

After what was without a doubt his best inning of the night in the fourth, a 1-2-3 effort, Porcello got hit hard again in his final frame, a frame that was capped off by a go-ahead three-run home run from Randal Grichuk, the last batter Porcello faced before getting the rather quick hook.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (54 strikes) and his team trailing by three runs at the time of his departure, Porcello relied on his curveball nearly one-third of the time he was on the mound Thursday. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball on his 13th pitch of the game.

How one goes from pitching a complete game in one outing to struggling mightily in the next is something I don’t think I will ever understand. If you’re frustrated by Porcello’s lack of consistency though, just keep these numbers in mind.

The 29-year-old will look to rebound from one of his worst performances of the season in his next time out against the Phillies in Philadelphia on either Tuesday or Wednesday, probably Tuesday.

In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he retired three of the only four batters he faced to clean up the mess made in the fifth.

Hector Velazquez was next up for both the sixth and seventh innings, and he allowed a lone Blue Jays run to score on back-to-back hits from Curtis Granderson and Devon Travis in the sixth while tossing a scoreless seventh.

And in the eighth, Tyler Thornburg worked his away around a pair of two out singles to strike out the side and give his team one last chance in the ninth trailing by four runs.

On the other side of things, as I had mentioned above, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a pitcher they had already familiarized themselves with in Toronto’s Ryan Borucki.

Similar to Porcello, Borucki, 24, in his rookie season, has been solid as a starter for the Blue Jays against teams not named the Red Sox.

He gave up seven runs, four of which were earned, in three innings pitched on July 13th at Fenway Park, and despite picking up the win on Thursday, Borucki was not much better.

Like Porcello, Borucki too allowed the first two batters he faced to reach base on back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi.

Four batters and one Xander Bogaerts walk later, Eduardo Nunez came through in a bases loades situation by ripping a two-run single to right field to drive in Betts and Benintendi. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a quick two run lead and it looked like it was going to be another one of this high scoring nights.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out to be, because the Blue Jays answered right back with two runs of their own in their half of the first, and jumped out to a 4-2 lead by the time Boston tacked on their next run in the fifth.

That run, a one out solo home run off the bat of JD Martinez, was good for his 35th of the season and had an exit velocity of 108 MPH. 4-3 game.

A Brock Holt RBI single later in the inning that scored Eduardo Nunez from second knotted this thing up at four runs a piece, but a three-run rally from the Blue Jays in the bottom half of the fifth essentially put this contest out of reach for the Red Sox.

Thanks to Mookie Betts though, headlines would still be made in Boston’s favor despite their first loss in over a week.

Going into the ninth with a single, a double, and a triple already under his belt, Betts had one last chance to go for history with Ken Giles on the mound for Toronto.

As I wrote yesterday, Betts got ahead in the count at 3-1, fouled off a 96.5 MPH fastball that was right down broadway, and capitalized on the very next pitch, a 85.6 MPH slider from Giles located at the top of the strike zone, by sending it 379 feet into the left field seats. First career cycle completed.

That homer, Betts’ 27th, put Boston’s fifth and final run of the night on the board, but it really meant so much more.

The 21st cycle in Red Sox history and first since Brock Holt did it back during the 2015 season, Mookie Betts should 100% be the favorite to win American League MVP right now. Not Mike Trout, not Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts.

Some notes from this one:

With a 1/4 night at the plate on Thursday, JD Martinez is currently riding an eight-game hittins streak. Over that span, Martinez is slashing .438/.514/.906 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

In seven games and 28 at bats this month, Mookie Betts owns a 1.500 OPS to go along with seven extra base hits.

Wrapping up the first leg of their road trip with a series win, the Red Sox head to Baltimore to take on a lowly Orioles team in a four-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the opener will be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who has yet to surrender a run in two starts and 15 innings pitched with his new club.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Baltimore’s ace Dylan Bundy, who has pitched well against the Red Sox in three starts this season. Last time Bundy faced them on June 11th, he held Boston scoreless in eight innings of work in a game the Red Sox eventually won in extras.

The Orioles have traded off most of their assets in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Kevin Gausman, so I totally expect the Red Sox to have full control of this series. Chris Sale will also make his return to the rotation on Sunday.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Friday.

RECAP: #RedSox Held to One Run by Phillies’ Jake Arrieta in 3-1 Series Splitting Loss.

On a day where Chris Sale was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, Drew Pomeranz did not put forth his best effort to make Red Sox fans feel a little more comfortable with the fact they will be with out their ace for the time being, although Sale’s injury does not appear to be all that serious.

Anyway, making his 10th start of the season last night, Pomeranz was far from awful against the Philadelphia Phillies, that much is certain, but he was from great as well.

In five full innings, the lefty somehow managed to hold the Phils to just two runs while surrendering four hits, four walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with three punch outs on the night.

It was not pretty by any means, but by the time Pomeranz’s day came to an end in the middle of the fifth with his team trailing by just two runs, it’s difficult to say that he did not give the Red Sox a chance to win this game, because he kept them in it and worked around plenty of traffic on the base paths to hold Philadelphia to two runs.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95, the 29-year old hurler only threw strikes about 53% of the time on Tuesday night. He also topped out at 92.3 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to 30 times, in the third inning while lowering his ERA on the season to an unsightly 6.56.

Due to the fact that Brian Johnson has taken over for Chris Sale while he is on the DL, all signs point to Pomeranz maintaining his spot in the Red Sox rotation. If nothing were to change, the Tennessee native would start again sometime next week against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another solid night up until the ninth inning.

Joe Kelly, with the help of Blake Swihart’s cannon of an arm, worked his way around a leadoff single to face the minimum three batters in the lone inning he pitched in the sixth.

Heath Hembree too worked his way around a leadoff walk to toss a scoreless seventh and Matt Barnes, despite loading the bases, escaped any damage in the eighth inning with a big time strikeout of Cesar Hernandez.

In the final frame though, with the Red Sox trailing by just one run, Hector Velazquez, who had pitched on Monday, allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, which drove in the Phillies’ third and final run of the night to create some distance between them and the Red Sox going into the bottom half of the inning.

On the other side of things, similar to what Aaron Nola did for the Phillies in the series opener, Jake Arrieta had his way with the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday.

Tossing seven innings of one run ball, the ex-Cub held Boston to one lone run on six hits and one HBP with seven strikeouts.

That one run came in the sixth inning on a Xander Bogaerts RBI groundout. That’s all the scoring the Red Sox could manage in this one, although they did have plenty of opportunities.

I won’t break down all of them, but I will highlight the most crucial of these scoring chances that came in the ninth.

With Seranthony Dominguez on the mound for Philadelphia to protect a two run lead, a leadoff walk drawn by JD Martinez appeared to be a step in the right direction for a second walk-off hit in as many nights.

However, that optimism was quickly wiped away when Xander Bogaerts took a 99.1 MPH fastball off his right hand in the very next at bat. The same right hand that impacted Bogaerts’ 2017 campaign when he was hit with a pitch in Tampa Bay right before the All-Star break.

Despite the obvious pain he was in, Bogaerts was able to stay in this game and represent the tying run at first base with no outs.

From that point, Dominguez really buckled down for the Phillies, as he consecutively sat down the next three hitters he saw to pick up the save.

Ian Kinsler, who was making his Red Sox debut, Mookie Betts, who came on to pinch hit for Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt were all retired on just 11 pitches, and that was how last night’s contest would come to a close with a final score of 3-1.

Some notes from this one:

From @EvanDrellich: Right hand contusion for Xander Bogaerts. X Rays negative. Same spot as last year. He sounded worried just because of the similarity but good news again is X Rays are negative.

From @PeteAbe: Dombrowski said Sale was “adamant” he would miss only one start. Suspicion is how he throws his slider could be the cause. Team is being cautious. MRI was not needed.

In his aforementioned Red Sox debut, Ian Kinsler went 1/4 at the plate with two strikeouts batting in the six-hole. He was also solid at second base.

Extending his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth inning single, Blake Swihart finishes his month of July with an outstanding slash line of .412/.474/.618 in 14 games.

Ending July with a 19-6 record, the Red Sox have Wednesday off before hosting the New York Yankees for a four-game set that begins tomorrow.

With a 4-5 record against the Bombers this season and a five game division lead to protect, you don’t need me to tell you that this upcoming series is meaningful.

Brian Johnson starts in the place of Chris Sale in the opener on Thursday. He’ll be matched up against CC Sabathia for New York, who has both struggled and succeeded against Boston in two separate starts at home this season.

As for Johnson, well, he’s never started against the Yankees, but he has yet to give up a run against them in three relief appearances as well. Should be an interesting matchup of two left-handers.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Thursday.