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.

Ian Kinsler Headed to Disabled List with Left Hamstring Strain.

Not great.

After being removed from last night’s contest against the New York Yankees in the second inning, the Red Sox have announced that their new second baseman is headed to the 10-day disabled list with a strain in his left hamstring.

The injury appeared to happen in the bottom of the first, when after drawing a walk and stealing second base, Kinsler came around to score on an Eduardo Nunez RBI single.

While he was heading towards home, a replay of what happened showed that Kinsler was in some pain as he crossed the plate in the first.

A half inning later, he was out of the game, and by the time Alex Cora got to his press conference at around 9:30, a trip to the DL seemed pretty imminent.

Although the Red Sox are being cautious here, similar to the Chris Sale injury, it certainly is a bummer to lose a guy who just got here, especially someone who was going to be a full-time player over at second base.

In Kinsler’s place, the team has announced that infielder Tony Renda has been added to the 25-man roster from Triple A Pawtucket.

Renda, 27 and a former second round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2012, is in his first year with the Red Sox organization.

Most notable for being part of the trade that sent Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Yankees, Renda, a native of California, owns a big league slash line of .183/.246/.217 in 32 games with the Reds back in 2016.

Playing in both Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket this season, Renda owns a .928 OPS to go along with five home runs and 24 RBI in 47 games with the Sea Dogs and PawSox.

Capable of playing second and third base, I can’t imagine Renda will have that large of a role with the big league club.

Eduardo Nunez has done a fine job filling in at third base for Rafael Devers, who should return from the DL himself very soon, and Brock Holt is more than competent over at second base.

We’d usually see Tzu-Wei Lin get the call up in this situation, but he is hurt himself with bruised ribs.

Brandon Phillips, another former Red who hit a three-run walk-off homer for the PawSox last night, could have gotten the promotion as well, but the team decided to roll with Renda.

Dustin Pedroia has also been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Yankees is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET, weather permitting.

RECAP: Steve Pearce Launches Three Homers and Drives in Six Runs as #RedSox Steamroll over Yankees in 15-7 Series Opening Win.

In an exciting game that had just about everything a baseball fan could ask for on Thursday night, it was the Red Sox, despite a rather slow start, who had their way with the New York Yankees in the first game of a four-game weekend series.

Yes, the early performances from Brian Johnson and Boston’s lineup would lead you to believe the Red Sox would have to fight their way to a potential win last night, but an eight run fourth inning really turned this game on its head.

Speaking of Johnson, the lefty made his first career start against the Yankees on Thursday, as he filled in for Chris Sale, who is currently on the 10-day disabled list.

Pitching five full innings, Johnson was certainly not at his best in his seventh start of the season, but he didn’t need to be.

Starting right away in the top of the first, the Florida native allowed the first three batters he faced, including a three-run blast off the bat of Didi Gregorius to put the Yankees up 3-0 early.

An inning later, another home run, this one coming from Aaron Hicks with two outs in the second, tacked on another run to New York’s lead, and the Red Sox found themselves trailing by four before they even took their second set of at bats.

Fortunately, Johnson settled down a bit from that point up until the middle of the fifth when he served up another homer to Gregorius to lead off the inning. By the time that happened though, the Red Sox had already jumped up to a 10-4 lead, so it’s not like it had that big of an impact on the final result.

Able to pick up his first winning decision since April 2nd, the 27 year-old hurler ended his so-so night by striking out the final three batters he faced to up his total to 11 on the night, setting a new career-high with that mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (65 strikes), Johnson relied on his four-seam fastball 45 times last night, and topped out at 91.4 MPH with it on his 87th pitch of the game.

If Sale is able to make his next start in Toronto next week, I can’t imagine there would be a reason to keep Johnson in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Anyway, in relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen began their night with a six run lead to protect in the sixth.

Brandon Workman made his first appearance with the big league club since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on Tuesday, and he surrendered a Giancarlo Stanton mammoth shot of a solo home run in what was an otherwise clean two innings of work. He also received some help from Ian Kinsler with two fantastic plays at second in the seventh.

Joe Kelly was next up in the eighth, and although his old friend Tyler Austin was nowhere to be found, the righty reliever looked decently dominant in an eight pitch 1-2-3 frame of work.

Finally, Ryan Brasier came on to close this thing out, and despite trimming the Yankees deficit to eight runs, managed to hold on to record the final out of the night and secure his team’s 76th win of the season.

On the other side of things, where do I even begin? Holy moly, what a night it was for just about everyone who swung a bat for the Red Sox on Thursday.

Facing off against an opponent they usually struggle against in the Yankees’ CC Sabathia, Mookie Betts, who entered last night in a 10/48 skid since the All-Star break, got the scoring started for Boston by drawing a two out bases loaded walk in the second to cut New York’s lead down to three.

In the third, Steve Pearce pulled his team a little closer by blasting his first of three home runs on the night in what would end up being Sabathia’s final frame after he had already walked four batters in a rather short period of time.

Big mistake there by Aaron Boone and the Yankees, because my god, did the Red Sox lineup go off in the fourth.

Before an out could even be recorded by Yanks reliever Jonathan Holder, Boston sent seven men to the plate, which resulted in a brand new 8-4 lead and one hell of a play at home courtesy of Jackie Bradley Jr. on an Andrew Benintendi fielder’s choice.

Steve Pearce’s second home run of the night, a three-run shot, was part of this barrage as well.

Once Chad Green came in for Holder, who, again, failed to record a single out, more RBI knocks from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi scored the seventh and eighth runs in what will more than likely go down as the most exciting inning of the season.

Over the next two innings, an RBI double from Ian Kinsler in the fifth put the Red Sox up 11-5, and in the sixth, another RBI two bagger off the bat of Andrew Benintendi increased the Red Sox lead to 12-5.

One batter later, Steve Pearce put the exclamation point on his incredible night by mashing his third big fly of the game off of Luis Cessa to complete the hat trick and put his team’s 14th and final run of the contest on the board. Here are all three homers in one convenient video.

In total, Red Sox hitters reached base 25 times on Thursday, which resulted in a season-high tying 15 runs crossing the plate. The team also hit .375 (9/24) with runners in scoring position.

Some other notes from this win:

Injury related: Blake Swihart would have to leave this game with right hamstring tightness in the sixth inning. He has been ruled day-to-day.

Mookie Betts broke out of his little slump in a big way last night, as he reached base SIX times by himself in six tries.

In his first taste of the rivalry, Ian Kinsler went 3/6 with two RBI and two defensive gems at second base.

Steve Pearce, in 59 career games against the Yankees, is slashing .294/.385/.586 with 13 HR and 29 RBI, which are the most he has against any individual team.

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce is the 3rd Red Sox player ever to hit 3 HR in a game against the Yankees, joining Kevin Millar (7/23/2004) and Mo Vaughn (5/30/1997).

Another one from @SoxNotes: The Red Sox are 6.5 games ahead of the Yankees, their largest lead in the AL East since September 2013.

The Sox are 20-5 in their last 25 games. They lead the majors in win % (.691, 76-34), runs per game (5.34), stolen bases (86), AVG (.270), and OPS (.796).

Having won the series opener in convincing fashion, the Yankees and Red Sox will be back it at later tonight in a pitching matchup featuring two different types of right-handers.

For the Yankees, it will be Luis Severino, a power arm, and for the Red Sox, Rick Porcello, who relies less on his velocity, gets the nod for game two.

Despite the ace status, Severino has had his fair share of struggles lately, as he owns a 8.84 ERA in his last four outings for New York.

Rick Porcello, who has posted a 3.31 ERA in 20 career starts against the Yankees, is coming off an appearance in which he surrendered four earned runs in less than six innings pitched against the Minnesota Twins on July 28th.

Not expecting another blowout in this one, but it should still be an entertaining night regardless. First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 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.

#RedSox Land Ian Kinsler in Trade with Los Angeles Angels.

Fresh off a 13 inning 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, the Red Sox announced that they have acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for two minor league pitching prospects.

Kinsler, 32, was in his first year with Los Angeles after spending the previous four seasons with the Detroit Tigers.

In 91 games this season, the former Texas Ranger is slashing .239/.304/.406 with 13 home runs and 32 RBI. Lately though, Kinsler has been better at the plate, as he owns a season-best .850 OPS in July.

The biggest takeaway, at least for me, is what this deal means for the likes of Dustin Pedroia.

Having not appeared in a game since May 29th and currently on the 10-day disabled list with left knee inflammation, I would go ahead and say the addition of Kinsler most likely means Pedroia will not play again this season.

That being said, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski clearly values Kinsler as a player on and off the field. I mean, he has traded for him two times now.

In exchange for Kinsler, the Angels have acquired minor league relievers Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez. Buttrey, 25, a righty, and Jerez, 26, a lefty, are ranked 19th and 26th amongst Red Sox prospects according to SoxProspects.com

Like Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi, Kinsler is set to hit free agency this winter, so no long-term committment there.

The Red Sox also received $1.8 million in cash considerations.

The trade deadline is just under 16 hours away. Now it’s time to go out and get some help for the bullpen. Exciting times.