RECAP: #RedSox Head Home with a Series Split as Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland Homer Against Astros Again.

Not gonna lie, after the Red Sox lost their second straight game to the Houston Astros on Friday night, I was not feeling too confident about the rest of the series. With Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton taking th mound for the Astros, I honestly thought the Red Sox were going to head back home on Sunday night having gotten swept by arguably the best team in the American League. Instead of that though, they battled back, and thanks to great performances from David Price and Rick Porcello, they left Houston last night with a series split. Not too shabby.

Yup, Porcello made his 13th start of the season in this one, and he found himself working around a solid amount of baserunners all night.

Things did not get off to the best of starts for the righty, as Astros leadoff hitter George Springer greeted Porcello with a solo home run on the third pitch he saw. After that though, the Astros were held to just two runs in the seven innings Porcello appeared in.

As I previously mentioned, Porcello was dealing with runners on base throughout the night. In fact, the Astros led off every inning other than the fourth by reaching base at least once before the first out was recorded. Despite that fact, the Red Sox starter manevured his way around five hits, two walks, and two HBPs in total to earn his eighth winning decision of the season.

When he made his way to the mound for his seventh inning of work with a pitch count of around 75, I thought Porcello had a chance to toss a complete game. Instead, similar to his last time out against the Blue Jays, the New Jersey native sort of let things fall apart in his final frame of work. In neither of those outings did things get away from the Red Sox, but I just find it interesting how in his last two starts, Porcello has surrendered two runs in the seventh inning, and he was not able to finish the seventh in both of those outings.

Anyway, having gotten himself in a bit of a jam with only one out in the seventh, Matt Barnes came on to replace Porcello in a high-leverage situation. Facing Jose Altuve with runners on first and second, the UCONN product retired the side in a big way by striking out Altuve and getting Carlos Correa to ground into an inning-ending force play at second base.

Coming back out for his second inning of work in the eighth, Barnes needed just 15 pitches to retire the side in order and earn his 14th hold of the season. Definitely a great night for him.

With this game out of reach going into the bottom of the ninth, Heath Hembree worked his way around two walks in a scoreless inning of work to wrap this game and series up while also providing us with this epic shot from ESPN.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup struck first for the second night in a row. Andrew Benintendi got things started with a leadoff double off of Astros righty Charlie Morton, and Mitch Moreland brought him home three batters later on his 10th home run of the season.

441 feet with an exit velocity of 107.3 MPH on that shot.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Andrew Benintendi came through with a one out home run on the first pitch he saw from Morton, which just so happened to be an 88 MPH cutter on the inner half of the plate.

406 feet on that home run from Benintendi, with an exit velo. of 103.3 MPH as well on his ninth big fly of the season.

An inning later, back to back hits from Brock Holt and Blake Swihart with runners on base tacked on another three runs to the Red Sox lead and that would be the end of the night for Charlie Morton. Giving up a whopping six runs, this was his worst start of the season.

Things did not fare better for the Astros when they turned to their bullpen though, as Brock Holt struck once again in the eighth inning off of Collin McHugh on an RBI single.

And finally, pinch-hitting for JD Martinez in the ninth, the recently called up Sam Travis came out of nowhere and lined a two-run single off of Ken Giles to put his team up 9-3, which ended up being the final score.

Some notes from this win:

In the ten games he has appeared in since giving up two runs to the Yankees on May 9th, opponents are hitting .135 off of Matt Barnes in 11 shutout innings.

As of May 11th, Andrew Benintendi’s slash line was sitting at .243/.335/.404. In 21 games since then, he is slashing .388/.457/.763 with 7 HR and 23 RBI.

The Red Sox got beat up a little bit on Sunday night. JD Martinez had to exit with back spasms in the ninth inning, Xander Bogaerts appeared to be limping after scoring from second in the ninth, and Eduardo Nunez took a hard groundball off his face at third. Luckily for them, Monday is an off day for the Red Sox, as they will kick off a three game series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

For that opening game, it will be righty Artie Lewicki on the mound for Detroit, while Steven Wright gets the start for Boston. This doesn’t mean that anyone has lost their spot in the rotation, it just means that all the other starters are getting an additional day of rest. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM on Tuesday back at Fenway Park.

 

 

 

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RECAP: Christian Vazquez and Andrew Benintendi Deliver Clutch Home Runs as #RedSox Squeeze by Astros in 5-4 Win.

In a game that took just under four hours to complete, the Red Sox came away with a surprising 5-4 win in a comeback effort against the Houston Astros. Thanks in part to both David Price and Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox go into the series finale on Sunday night with the chance to head home with a four-game split. With that in mind, let’s get to how we got here…

Making his 12th start of the season on Saturday night, Price put together the best performance a Red Sox starter has had in Houston so far. In six full innings, the lefty scattered three runs on five hits and one walk while fanning seven.

The first three innings of this one were a bit tough for Price, as the Astros tacked on all three runs they scored off the Tennessee native, including a two-run home run off the bat of Alex Bregman, over that stretch. From the fourth inning on though, Price was nails. He held Houston hitless while facing the minimum nine batters to notch his third quality start in his last four starts overall.

Departing with a pitch count of 109 (63 strikes) and his team trailing by one run after six innings, it seemed as if Price would be heading towards his fifth losing decision of the season. Instead, a three run rally in the top of the seventh changed that, and the 32-year-old hurler ended up with the winning decision, his sixth on the year.

In relief of Price, with a two run lead to work with all of a sudden, the Red Sox bullpen held a solid Astros lineup in check over three innings pitched. Heath Hembree was first up and he worked his way around a walk in a scoreless seventh. Joe Kelly was next, and despite getting scored on for the second straight night, did his job by giving Craig Kimbrel a one run lead to protect in the ninth.

The Red Sox closer came on with the 7-8-9 hitters due up for the Astros, and he got pinch hitter JD Davis swinging for the third and final out in this one. Picking up his 19th save of the season, Kimbrel has pulled even with Mariners closer Edwin Diaz for the most saves in the American League.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was faced with a daunting task in going up against Justin Verlander, arguably the best pitcher in the American League right now. In 12 starts prior to the one he made last night, the former Detroit Tiger owned a 1.11 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched, lowest among qualified starters in the American League.

Luckily for the Red Sox, Verlander would be without his usual catcher, Brian McCann, who has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 29th. Instead, Max Stassi was behind the plate for Houston, and despite having caught Verlander before this season, it was clear to see that the two were having some communication issues throughout the night.

Speaking of former Detroit Tigers mentioned earlier, Verlander’s former teammate in JD Martinez put the Red Sox on the board in the first. In his first career at bat against the Astros starter, Martinez saw a 96 MPH fastball he liked and lined it into the opposite field for an RBI single that scored Andrew Benintendi from second.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez struck again with his second RBI knock of the game and his 50th of the season. This one came on a 97 MPH fastball from Verlander, and it was lined to center field for another RBI single that scored Xander Bogaerts from second. Here are both of those hits in one convenient, although shortened, GIF:

That second one drew the Red Sox within one run in what would be Verlander’s final frame of work.

The seventh inning is where things got really crazy.

With Astros reliever Will Harris entering this contest and nonchalantly recording the first two outs on eight pitches, Christian Vazquez came through with his first home run of the season, and it could not have come at a better time.

383 on that shot to left field for Vazquez to tie this thing up at three runs a piece. He knew it was gone the second that ball made contact with his bat. If you thought that home run was impressive, just wait until you see the one hit by Andrew Benintendi later in the inning.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a six pitch walk, Andrew Benintendi stayed hot by mashing his eighth home run of the season to put the Red Sox on top.

417 feet and 105 MPH off the bat of Benintendi on that missile, and it caught Harris and even Benintendi a bit off guard.

Animated GIF

That big fly put the Red Sox up by two runs late, and as I mentioned earlier, they would not have to look back en route to their 40th win of the season, the first team to accomplish the feat so far.

Some notes from this win:

Over his last four starts, David Price owns a 2.77 ERA in 26 innings pitched. He has struck out 28 batters over that stretch as well.

JD Martinez became the first player to reach 50 RBIs this season with two of them last night.

Also, I wanted to include this little nugget about Christian Vazquez, courtesy of @RedSoxStats on Twitter.

Now with the chance to head home with a split, Rick Porcello will man the rubber for the Red Sox in the series finale of this four game set, as he will be matches up against Astros righty Charlie Morton. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET on ESPN. A bit of an odd time for Sunday Night Baseball, but I’m not complaining.

 

RECAP: Chris Sale Struggles Continue Against Astros as #RedSox Drop Second Game in Houston.

For the second night in a row, a Red Sox starting pitcher gave up four runs in his start against the Houston Astros. Yup, Drew Pomeranz gave up four in five innings on Thursday, and Chris Sale just so happened to do so in six innings pitched on Friday.

In his 13th start of the season, Sale had a bit of a tough time in the first. Similar to what they did to Pomeranz on Thursday, the Astros put two runs on the board early. It started with a leadoff walk to George Springer, who eventually scored when Carlos Correa reached first on a strikeout. That was followed by a Yuli Gurriel single, which scored Alex Bregman from third, and just like that, the Red Sox found themselves down early.

The lefty would settle down a bit after that, as he scattered two more runs on four hits and no walks over the next five innings. By the time he departed, the Red Sox were only trailing by one.

Certainly not the best out of Sale against a team he has owned in the past, and that now marks two straight starts where he has not looked like his dominant self. In those two starts against the Braves and Astros, the Florida native has surrendered 10 earned runs on 11 hits in just 10.1 innings pitched. He’ll look to rebound next time out against the Detroit Tigers.

With his pitch count at exactly 100 (67 strikes) heading into the bottom half of the seventh, Sale was replaced in favor of Matt Barnes.

The UCONN alum worked his way around back to back singles to lead off the inning while holding the Astros scoreless in his only frame of work. That made way for Joe Kelly in the eighth, who has arguably been one of the better relievers in baseball up to this point in the season.

In fact, over his last 10 appearances, Kelly has held opponents to a .091 BAA in 10.1 innings pitched. That was not the case last night though, as the Astros got to the righty for three runs on two home runs to pretty much put this ting out of the reach. For Kelly, it was the first time he had surrendered a run since May 10th against the Yankees.

Needing two outs to get to the top of the ninth, Brian Johnson got the final call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he too worked his away around back to back singles AND a bases loaded jam to get out of the inning.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could only muster three runs against Astros starter Gerrit Cole last night. Cole, who entered last night with the American League lead in strikeouts, managed to fan seven in seven innings pitched. Over that span, Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and JD Martinez were the only ones to drive in a run on Friday.

Holt put the Red Sox on the board in the second with an RBI double, and Moreland and Martinez went back to back with solo shots in the fourth.

That was that, and the Astros pitching staff held them scoreless over the last five innings to pick up the 2-0 series lead.

Next up for the Red Sox is the third game of this series later tonight. In a matchup of premier pitchers, Cy Young Award winners, and former teammates, it will be David Price vs. Justin Verlander.

Over their past three starts respectively, both starters have been phenomenal. Price owns a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings pitched, and Verlander owns a 0.83 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Also, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia have both hit the 10-day disabled list in the last 24 hours. Betts won’t be able to return until next Friday at the earliest, and in their place, first baseman Sam Travis and reliever Bobby Poyner have been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket. It will certainly be interesting to see how they manage without two very important players.

Anyway, first pitch of tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET tonight on FOX. Should be a decent pitchers duel.

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz Gives up Two-Run Homer in First Inning as #RedSox Fall to Astros in Series Opener.

Coming off a sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in Boston, the Red Sox headed down to Houston to kick off a four-game series last night. Although it is still decently early in the season, I had this series circled in my calendar. The Astros are coming off their first World Series championship in franchise history last fall, and they just so happened to beat the Red Sox in the ALDS to get there. With both teams improving over the offseason, I was excited for this matchup.

In his eighth start of the season on Thursday, Drew Pomeranz did not have the best of first innings. After walking Alex Bregman on five pitches in between getting the first two outs, the lefty got taken deep to left by Astros shortstop Carlos Correa.

That 389 foot shot put the Astros up by two runs early and, despite some close moments, they would not have to look back.

After the Red Sox got those two runs back in their half of the third, the Astros struck for another two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Thanks in part to giving up two hits to the first three batters he faced to leadoff the inning, Tony Kemp drove in JD Davis from third to make it a one run game. That was followed by a bunt off the bat of outfielder Jake Marisnick which allowed Davis to score from third.

After Sandy Leon caught Marisnick trying to steal second to end the fourth, Pomeranz would go on to pitch one more inning, a 1-2-3 fifth to end his night.

So far this season, the lefty has only been able to pitch past the fifth inning twice in eight starts, and those came in back to back outings against the Royals and Yankees in early May. All and all, four runs in five innings against a juggernaut like the Houston Astros is not too shabby, so at the very least, he has earned himself another start.

In relief of Pomeranz, Alex Cora only needed to turn to one pitcher, and that pitcher was Steven Wright. The knuckleballer kept the Red Sox in this game while scattering one hit and three walks over three shutout innings pitched thanks to some help from Rafael Devers in the eighth.

With this most recent performance, Wright now owns a 2.25 ERA in 16 innings pitched since being activated from the restricted list on May 14th. Over that stretch, opponents are only hitting .167 off the California native. If Pomeranz’s struggles were to continue, Wright would be my first choise to take over his spot in the rotation.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox were without Mookie Betts for the fifth game in a row due to that left side tightness he has been dealing with. The Red Sox were also without Dustin Pedroia, who was scratched from the original lineup because of soreness in his surgically repaired knee.

So that all happened quickly before the game started. Then in the second inning, it looked like Rafael Devers was going to have to leave the game after colliding with Astros starter Lance McCullers at first base, but he was fine.

An inning later, the Red Sox scored their only two runs of the night off the bat of Xander Bogaerts on an RBI double that scored both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi on a close play at the plate.

Fast forward to the ninth, trailing by two runs, and the Red Sox made things a little interesting. With Astros closer Ken Giles on the mound, a two out single from Sandy Leon and a walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Blake Swihart. Unfortunately, as was the theme for the Red Sox last night, Swihart appeared to make solid contact with a 88 MPH slider from Giles, but it was hit right at Jake Marisnick in center field. That killed any shot at a rally and ended the winning streak at three games.

Some notes from this one:

According to Statcast, the eight hardest hit balls last night all belonged to the Red Sox. Four of them went for hits, while the other four went for outs.

Andrew Benintendi finished the month with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. In May, he slashed .349/.411/.633 with 6 HR and 23 RBIs.

JD Martinez finished the month with a 0-for-3 day at the plate. In May, he slashed .299/.370/.729 with 13 HR and 25 RBIs. American League Player of the Month right there.


With the series opener out of the way, the Red Sox will look to rebound in the second of four games later tonight. Chris Sale will be getting the start in this one, and he is coming off one of his more disappointing starts of the season last time out against Atlanta. He will be matched up against former Pittsburgh Pirate Gerrit Cole. In his first season in Houston, Cole currently leads the AL in strikeouts with 109 of them on the season. Who is in second you ask? Well, that would be the other starter in tonight’s game, the aforementioned Chris Sale, who has 104 K’s in 2018.

A primetime pitching matchup to kick off the weekend. Couldn’t ask for anything better on a Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET, time to even this series up.

 

The #RedSox have officially hired Alex Cora as their 47th manager.

After weeks of speculation, the Red Sox have officially named Alex Cora as their manager for 2018. The announcement was made official this afternoon, as Cora has inked a three-year deal with the club. Cora, who spent the better part of four seasons with Boston from 2005 to 2008, will look to tap into this teams full potential. Inking a three-year deal, the 42-year-old will not have too long of an adjustment period with his “new” team. The only player who remains from his playing days in Boston would be none other than Dustin Pedroia. The two won a World Series together back in 2007, and I’m sure that’s the type of attitude and Culture Cora will want to instill here.

Acquired back on July 7, 2005 for Ramon Vazquez, Cora proved to be valuable to the Red Sox despite never playing all that much. In the 301 regular season games he appeared in for the Red Sox, the infielder hit .252 with 6 HRs and 61 RBIs.

Known as one of the best baseball minds in the game, Cora began coaching with the Houston Astros at the beginning of this season under AJ Hinch. Ever since John Farrell was relieved of his managing duties, Cora was the heavy favorite to replace him. There were rumors that Ron Gardenhire would be the choice, but he has already signed with the Detroit Tigers to be their new manager.

Personally, I’m excited by this move. I remember liking Cora when he played here, he helped Dustin Pedroia get to where he is today. He could have been selfish and not wanted a rookie to take his job, but he was key in developing Pedroia back in 2007 and 2008. It appears that Cora is a better communicator than Farrell, and he may understand more since he has not been out of the game as a player for too long. I’m not saying this move guarantees a championship next year, but it definitely helps.

RECAP: Astros end #RedSox season with narrow 5-4 win.

Well, that’s it, the season is over. What looked so promising just a few hours ago ended in disappointment. The Red Sox had the lead in this game going into the eighth inning, but they could not hold on.

Once again, the starting pitching was abysmal, with Rick Porcello only lasting three full innings before getting saved by Chris Sale. In that span, Porcello surrendered two runs on five hits, three walks, and a hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts. Allowing nine guys to reach base while only being able to record nine outs is far from spectacular, especially if you take into account that he needed 70 pitches to do so. Like I said though, Chris Sale stepped up like David Price did yesterday. He took things over in the fourth inning and was nails until the eighth. Four innings pitched, two walks, and six strikeouts from the fourth until the seventh. Did they stretch him too far? Maybe, but I didn’t have a problem letting Sale start the eighth. Unfortunately, he was running out of gas, and the Astros took advantage of it. Alex Bregman tied the game by taking Sale deep on a 2-1 changeup and the air was taken out of Fenway Park. Craig Kimbrel would come on with two outs in the inning, and that marked the beginning of the end. A George Springer walk put runners on first and second with two outs and Josh Reddick at the plate. The former Red Sox farm hand drove in the go-ahead run on an RBI single to left, essentially ending his former team’s season.

Carlos Beltran drove in another run in the ninth, which proved to make a difference given what Rafael Devers in the bottom half of the inning. All and all, when we needed him most, Craig Kimbrel basically disappeared. The flamethrower did not make many big pitches tonight, nor did he prove effective in his first meaningful action of this series. It was only one run, but that matters too much in the postseason to go untouched.

On the other side of things, Charlie Morton wasn’t too good either. He was charged with two runs in 4.1 innings he pitched, though he only allowed one run while he was on the mound. That run came early for the Red Sox, as Xander Bogaerts hit his first and only home run of the postseason in the first.

The second run was charged in part because of Justin Verlander. Surprisingly, Astros manager decided to make like the Red Sox and roll with his best starter out of the bullpen. Andrew Benintendi introduced him to the new role by taking him deep to right field for a two-run home run, giving his team a 3-2 lead.

I was really feeling it after this. I was already thinking about Game 5 in Houston on Wednesday when I shouldn’t have been. That was the only hit Verlander allowed and he definitely deserved that W he picked up.

The Astros closer Ken Giles came on after Verlander responsible for the last six outs of the game and ending the Red Sox season. He got them in order in the eighth, but the ninth got very interesting. Rafael Devers led off the inning with an inside the park home run in one of the most surprising plays these eyes have seen.

Unfortunately, the next three batters could not do anything against Giles and Dustin Pedroia ended the season with a ground out.

I forgot to mention it before, but John Farrell was ejected from this game arguing balls and strikes in the second. Also, Brian Butterfield pretty much cost the Red Sox a run in the third by sending Mitch Moreland home when he should not have. If these two things don’t happen who knows how this game goes.

With all that out-of-the-way and the season coming to an end, Dave Dombrowski has a lot to consider this offseason. Does John Farrell remain manager? Do they go after Giancarlo Stanton? JD Martinez? Resign Mitch Moreland? Eduardo Nunez? Only time will tell. Should be a long offseason, wish it could have been a little shorter.

As for me, I’ll have a few blogs coming this week recapping the year and what to expect this offseason. Thanks for a great season, I had a lot of fun doing this.

RECAP: David Price comes through in big spot as #RedSox stave off elimination with 10-3 victory.

Win or go home. That was the mindset the Red Sox had to have coming into today’s game against the Astros. Doug Fister got the start, and there were reasons to be confident given how good his postseason numbers are. Unfortunately, that’s not how things went for Fister as he only lasted 1.1 innings before being taken out. In that span, the Astros scored three times, all in the first inning. Once again, Carlos Correa hit a first inning home run, marking the third straight game the Astros had done so.

Honestly, I thought the game was over after that home run. It just got over the center field wall and the first thing I thought was, “here we go again.” Luckily though, things did not spiral out of control for the Red Sox. Joe Kelly picked up the win by getting out of the second thanks to Mookie Betts…

…and pitching a clean third inning. This made way for David Price to pitch for the first time since Friday, and he was really something else. Four complete innings to go along with four strikeouts in the lefty’s most important performance of the season. We all know about the problems Price has had in the postseason, but he looked like a different guy today. I was surprised they stretched him out for so long, and with 53 pitches today, there’s no way he pitches tomorrow. I do love what he had to say after the game, though:

The remainder of the game was wrapped up by Addison Reed and Carson Smith, who bounced back nicely from Friday’s game with two scoreless innings.

Offensively, the Red Sox showed approximately five times more life then they did in Houston. The funny thing is, all the run production came from the bottom half of the lineup. Batters 1-4 went a combined 3 for 18 with two runs scored while batters 5-9 went a combined 12 for 20 with eight runs scored and all 10 RBIs. In an inning where they easily could have scored more runs, Sandy Leon got the Red Sox scoring started in the second with an RBI single. Hanley Ramirez followed this up with an RBI single next inning, and the lead was cut to one run. After Brad Peacock was taken out of the game in favor of Francisco Liriano, Rafael Devers had a moment. On an 0-1 slider, Devers mashed his first career postseason home run into the bleachers, giving his team the lead.

The bats would take a short break, but they really turned it on in the seventh. Hanley and Devers continued their great days with some more RBI hits, and Jackie Bradley Jr. secured the W with a three-run home run off of Joe Musgrove.

One thing I found interesting was how much Hanley Ramirez was into this game. Over the span of this past season, we’ve rarely seen Hanley this fired up, but it’s been much more noticeable since last Thursday. I mean…look at that intensity.

This is what the Red Sox need. They needed their guys to step up and that is exactly what happened tonight. Rick Porcello faces off against Charlie Morton tomorrow afternoon. Another do or die game, I expect them to play just as they did today.

1 down, 10 to go.