Coming off their worst weekend of the season and an off-day on Monday, the Red Sox welcomed the National League East’s Miami Marlins into town for a quick two-game interleague series before heading back out on the road later this week.
Getting the start for Boston in this opening game was Brian Johnson, his 11th of the season, who also started against the Marlins back on April 2nd, where he allowed just one run to score in six quality innings of work in a 7-3 win for Boston.
Only pitching into the fifth in this one, the left-hander once again gave up one run while scattering five hits and a lone walk to go along with three punch outs on the night.
What cost Johnson that one earned run came in the top half of the third, when with one out and the bases empty, Marlins rookie outfielder Isaac Galloway launched his second home run of the season to pull this game even at one run a piece.
Other than that, the Florida native certainly dealt with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, but he did a solid job of limiting what the Marlins could get off him. Especially when you consider that Starlin Castro led the fourth inning off with a triple and could not come around to score.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (44 strikes), Johnson’s night came to a conclusion after giving up a one out single to Rafael Ortega.
Out of those 73 pitches, the 27-year-old relied on his four-seam fastball 48% of the time on Tuesday and topped out at 91.9 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.
Unable to pick up the win due to the length of his outing and the fact that the Red Sox had a bit of a meltdown later on, Johnson will look to build on this so-so start in his next time out, which will be coming against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves a night to forget from the eighth inning on.
Up until that point, Brandon Workman, with the help of Blake Swihart, and Joe Kelly looked decent in their combined 2.2 scoreless frames of relief.
Once Matt Barnes took the mound to begin the eighth though, well, let’s just say things got ugly real quick.
Entering the inning with a 4-1 lead, Barnes allowed two of the first three hitters he faced to reach, including back-to-back homers off the bats of JT Realmuto and Starlin Castro to pull the Marlins back to even.
Six batters and one pitching change later, with the bases loaded and Heath Hembree in for Barnes, it was Rafael Ortega who struck again, as his one out, two RBI single gave his club a brand new 6-4 lead before the side was retired.
In the ninth, moments after the Red Sox had jumped out to a one-run lead of their own, Craig Kimbrel could not shut the door on the Marlins.
Nope, he allowed three of the six batters he faced to reach, which led to Miami scoring what looked to be the go-ahead run on a Magneuris Sierra RBI single. Just demoralizing.
Thanks to efforts from his team in the bottom half of the inning though, Kimbrel did manage to notch his fourth winning decision of the season while also collecting his fourth blown save. Granted, he has not pitched much recently, but it’s still not a great look.
To summarize, here’s the final pitching line from Red Sox relievers after the seventh inning:
2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. That’s a 27.00 ERA, which is far from ideal.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Marlins right-hander Jose Urena, who held Boston to one run in seven innings in his only other start against them back on April 3rd. That is not how things went on August 28th, though.
Starting the long night of scoring was Ian Kinsler, whose one out RBI single to plate Xander Bogaerts from third put the Red Sox on the board first.
An inning later, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts both reached base to leadoff the third, which set up Andrew Benintendi for an ideal scoring spot.
On a 1-2 96 MPH fastball from Urena, Benintendi ripped a RBI double to right field, driving in Bradley Jr. to retake the lead at 2-1.
With Mookie Betts advancing to third on the play, Xander Bogaerts was able to score the outfielder on a sacrifice fly to left. 3-1.
Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Eduardo Nunez made some noise by mashing his eight big fly of the year, a 380 foot shot hit just over the top of the Green Monster to increase his team’s lead to three runs.
After Miami went off for five runs in their half of the eighth, the Red Sox responded right away with a rally of their own in their half of the same inning.
With hard-throwing reliever Tayron Guerrero on the mound for the Marlins, three of the first four Boston hitters reached to load the bases with one out for Blake Swihart, who struck out on six pitches.
Fortunately, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through big time, as with the count full, he delivered with a two RBI single to drive in a pair of runs to tie this game up.
Next up was Mookie Betts, who came to the plate with runners on the corners and got ahead in the count against Guerrero at 3-1.
On the very next pitch of the at bat, Guerrero sailed a 98 MPH fastball right over Betts’ head and that allowed Ian Kinsler to slide in and score what appeared to be the run that would finally put an end to this losing streak.
That would not be the case however, and it was not until with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth where this marathon of a game would finally come to an end.
With Drew Steckenrider pitching, Eduardo Nunez came to the plate with one big hit under his belt already, and he came up clutch without recording a base knock in his final at bat.
Yup, a game-winning force out that probably should have been an inning-ending double play but was not because of a throwing error committed by JT Riddle at shortstop.
With the ball rolling all the way to the camera well, JD Martinez had no problem scoring from second, and just like that, this game was over.
A fitting end to a game as ugly as this one, but nonetheless, the Red Sox losing streak has come to an end at three. They remain as the only team this season to have yet drop four consecutive contests.
Some notes from this 8-7 win:
Including last night, JD Martinez is slashing .405/.488/.568 with one home run and six RBI.
Dating back to July 27th, Craig Kimbrel has surrendered runs in five of his last 10 relief appearances and owns a 5.23 ERA over that span.
In his last 10 appearances, Matt Barnes has given up 10 earned runs in only 9.1 innings pitched.
Heath Hembree has allowed eight runs to cross the plate (six earned) on 10 hits in his last 7.1 innings of work going back to the fifth of August.
In hopes of picking up the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be the red-hot David Price toeing the rubber for the Red Sox.
Since the All-Star break, Price owns a 1.09 ERA over his last six starts. The Red Sox are also unbeaten in Price’s last eight starts.
Only making four starts against the Marlins in his 11-year career, the recently turned 33-year-old hurler owns a 3.42 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched to go along with a 1-3 record in those outings.
Opposite Price will be rookie right-hander Trevor Richards for Miami, who made his first career big league start against the Red Sox on April 2nd, where, in less than five innings pitched, he surrendered five earned runs on eight hits in a losing effort.
Since then, Richards has had a solid rookie campaign for himself, as he owns a 3.94 ERA and .250 BAA in 17 starts and 91.1 innings pitched.
First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET Wednesday.