RECAP: David Price Tosses Six Quality Innings as #RedSox Pick up Series Win Against Rays.

Coming off a series opening win against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, the Red Sox looked to clinch the series and their fourth straight win with David Price on the mound last night. With Chris Archer getting the start on the other side of the Rays, we were treated to a great pitching matchup between former teammates and close friends.

In his 10th start of the season, fourth against the Rays, David Price was fantastic. Going against his old club, the lefty tossed six innings of one run ball, scattering three hits and three free passes while recording a season high nine strikeouts over that span.

The only costly mistakes the Tennessee native made did not transpire until his last inning of work. After walking leadoff man Denard Span on six pitches, CJ Con took Price deep to center field for what looked like a go-ahead two run home run. Instead, it bounced off the top of the wall and stayed in play. It did allow the speedy Span to score all the way from First, but Price settled down and retired the next three batters he faced in order. That was how the 32-year-old’s night would end. Not a bad way to follow-up a complete game.

Ever since that awful start against the Rangers in Texas, David Price has looked like the David Price of old. He gave up seven earned runs in that outing back on May 3rd, but in three starts since then, the lefty owns a 2.21 ERA in 20.1 innings pitched. The haters and doubters will say that the teams Price has been pitching against aren’t playoff teams, and that may be true, but opponents are hitting a measly .183 against him over his last three starts. Regardless of the opposition, those numbers are impressive. He’ll look to build on this momentum in his next outing, which should come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Memorial Day.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen shut the Rays down for the second straight night, as Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, and Craig Kimbrel combined to toss three perfect innings to go along with four strikeouts. For Kimbrel, last night’s save opportunity went much more smoothly than the one on Tuesday. That was reassuring to see, and he picked up his 15th save of the season to lock up his teams 34th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup did not have an answer for the way Rays starter Chris Archer was pitching last night. They had a golden opportunity to tack on their first run of the game in the fifth, after Eduardo Nunez tried to score from first on a two out double off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Unfortunately, Nunez was tagged out at the plate in a somewhat bizarre sequence.

I mean, you have to slide in that situation, right? Christian Vazquez definitely deserves a fair amount of blame here, but there was no real urgency in Nunez either. Whatever the case, that blunder cost the Red Sox a run, but it did not cost them the game.

An inning later, after the 9-1-2 hitters loaded the bases with no outs, the Red Sox scored their first run of the game when Hanley Ramirez grounded into his second double play of the night. That allowed Christian Vazquez from third, and the Red Sox had their first run of the game and a one run lead.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, and things are all knotted up at one run a piece. With closer Alex Colome on the mound for the Rays, JD Martinez led the inning off by reaching base on a throwing error committed by shortstop Willy Adames and making it to second in the process.

Now, with the go-ahead run in scoring position, a fairly cooled off and hitless Xander Bogaerts came to the plate looking to put this game away. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, he did just that.

Bogaerts’ 13th double of the season allowed Martinez to easily score from second to put the Red Sox on top.

After Rafael Devers followed that RBI double up with a five pitch walk, Eduardo Nunez’s sacrifice fly to center scored Bogaerts from third to add a little insurance and advanced Devers to third.

Devers would cross the plate on a wild pitch from Colome with Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, and that was the last run the Red Sox scored last night. A nice three run ninth to put this one out of reach for the Rays.

Some notes from this one:

Despite neither of them getting a hit, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi reached base a combined five times on five walks on Wednesday.

Hanley Ramirez is in the middle of a slump right now, as he is slashing .143/.182/.214 in 44 plate appearances over his last 10 games. Like I have been saying, might be time to get Mitch Moreland some more at bats.

Next up for the Red Sox is the series finale with the Rays later tonight. Looking for the sweep and their fifth straight win, Rick Porcello will be matched up against impressive lefty Blake Snell. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

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RECAP: JD Martinez Homers as #RedSox Hold on to Take Series from Blue Jays.

With a ten game road trip coming to a close for the Red Sox today, a victory today would ensure both a series win in Toronto and a winning road trip as well.

Drew Pomeranz got the start for the Red Sox in this one, and he was matched up against Blue Jays righty Joe Biagini. It’s safe to say this matchup was not exactly a pitcher’s duel, because neither starter could make it through the fifth inning.  Despite what the numbers may say, Pomeranz struggled in his fifth start of the season today. Right from the get go, the lefty looked a bit out of sorts. That being said, the Blue Jays did not score their first run of the game until the fifth inning. Up until that point, despite not surrendering any runs, Pomeranz had just one clean inning over the first four. Walks were also an issue for the Tennessee native, as he allowed a season-high five free passes on Sunday.

Like I said though, despite all the baserunners Pomeranz had to deal with early on, he somehow did not give up any runs until his fifth and final frame of work. With some help from Mookie Betts, Pomeranz got out of a fourth inning jam in style. If that ball off the bat of Richard Urena dropped in front of Betts, it more than likely would have plated a run.

The Blue Jays rally was started by the top of their lineup, as three straight hits plated their first two runs of the game. With his pitch count up at 103 already, Pomeranz’s day would come to an end before he could even record an out in the fifth. Since he could not make it through five innings, Pomeranz did not factor into the decision later on. The final line for Pomeranz looks like this: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, and 6 K’s. After the performance he put on in the Bronx last week, the 29-year-old hurler did not have the same type of stuff going for him this time out. He’ll look to rebound in his next start against the Baltimore Orioles next weekend.

Anyway, with no outs in the bottom of the fifth and runners on first and second, Hector Velazquez would get the call first out of the Red Sox bullpen. Inheriting somewhat of a mess, Velazquez did a solid job holding the Blue Jays to just one run while also getting Kendrys Morales to ground into an inning ending double play. The righty also came back out for the sixth inning, and he tossed another scoreless frame to lower his ERA all the way down to 2.10.

After that, the Red Sox bullpen continued to hold the Blue Jays scoreless for the rest of the game. Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Joe Kelly combined for three scoreless frames to go along with three strikeouts to wrap this one up. For Hembree, a reassuring performance given the road trip he has had up to this point. And for Kelly, with Craig Kimbrel not available, a shut down ninth inning helped the Red Sox flamethrower notch his second save of the season today.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup had plenty of scoring opportunities against Joe Biagini and the Blue Jays bullpen today. JD Martinez got things started right away in the first, as he launched his 10th home run of the season 386 feet to right field.

Another vintage opposite field home run for Martinez. According to FanGraphs, 60% of the homers the Miami native has hit this year have gone over the wall in right field. That put the Red Sox up by two runs early, and they would have a golden opportunity to tack on some more two innings later.

With Joe Biagini on the mound, Jackie Bradley Jr. led the third off by drawing an eight pitch walk. A single from Mookie Betts moved Bradley up to third. After Andrew Benintendi flew out and JD Martinez reached first on a walk, the bases were loaded for Mitch Moreland. Despite not getting a hit, Moreland had himself  a great at bat against Biagini, as he drew an RBI walk on the tenth pitch of the AB. On the broadcast, they said that Moreland was at the plate for approximately six minutes, so it was a hard-earned RBI to say the least. Unfortunately, that’s all the scoring the Red Sox would do in the third since Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play in the next at bat.

Fast forward to the fifth, and JD Martinez added on to his great day at the plate with an RBI single to right field. His second hit of the game scored Mookie Betts from third and put the Red Sox up by four runs at the time.

Three innings later, Xander Bogaerts drove in his only run of the game on an RBI groundout. That scored Andrew Benintendi from third after he led the inning off with a walk. For the Red Sox, that run marked their fifth and final run of the day, which was nice, since it provided the bullpen with some insurance late in the game.

Some notes from this one:

After going hitless last night, JD Martinez got back on the board with two hits today. With another three RBI performance, Martinez now has 33 of them on the season, good for fifth in the American League.

Entering today 2 for his last 27 in May, Jackie Bradley Jr. got a hit in his fourth and final at bat today. Maybe now he will have the confidence to heat up for a bit, we’ll see.

With the 5-3 win on Sunday, the Red Sox are now 12-1 in series finales this season. As they head back to Boston, the Oakland Athletics will be first up on a seven game home stand. The two sides kick off a three game set tomorrow night, and it will be Sean Manaea on the mound for the A’s, who, in case you forgot, tossed a no-hitter the last time he saw the Red Sox in Oakland. Looking to keep his perfect season going, Rick Porcello will be taking the mound for the Red Sox. The Athletics are definitely one of the more interesting teams in the American League, so this week should be…interesting. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Monday.

 

 

 

RECAP: David Price Struggles as #RedSox Drop Second Straight Game to Rays.

A day after dropping a close game to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, the Red Sox did not look much better on Saturday. Although the game was tied up until the top of the sixth inning, the Rays found a way to run away and hide with this one. And for the second time in less than a week, the Red Sox find themselves in the midst of a losing streak, technically.

David Price made his sixth start of the season this afternoon, and he, like Drew Pomeranz on Friday night, was hurt by the home run ball, but not in the conventional way. In fact, the first two runs the Rays scored in the second inning came on an inside the park home run off the bat of Denard Span.

A bad hop seemed to have fooled Jackie Bradley Jr., and that’s how Span managed to score so easily. It was originally ruled a three-base error, but the scorers changed their mind soon after that.

The Rays tacked on another two runs in the third on a legitimate two run home run. This one coming off Wilson Ramos’ bat to put the Rays up 4-2.

Over the next three innings, Price would be charged with one earned run and one unearned run. The first of those came on a bases loaded walk to Daniel Robertson in the fifth, and the second came after he was already out of the game. After Adeiny Hechavarria led the sixth inning off with a single and David Price was removed after getting the first two outs of the inning, it would be Heath Hembree who got the call to end things in the inning.

Unfortunately, Hembree allowed Hechavarria to score and that closed the book on David Price’s day, The lefty finished with a line of 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R (5 ER), 4 BB, and 5 K’s. That marks two straight sort of uncharacteristic starts for Price, as he gave up nine hits and four runs last Sunday in Oakland. He’ll look to bounce back next week when the Red Sox take on the Texas Rangers in Arlington.

Back to Heath Hembree, after putting together an impressive outing on Friday night, the righty could not do much right on Saturday. The righty allowed four of the five batters he faced to reach base, including a home run off the bat of Carlos Gomez, and could only record one out, that being the final out of the sixth inning. Matt Barnes would take over for him with runners on first and second and no outs in the inning.

Luckily, Barnes had what was the best performance out of a Red Sox pitcher on Saturday, as he retired all three batters he faced to go along with two strikeouts. That made way for Brian Johnson to start things in the eighth inning, and that’s when things really got away from the Red Sox.

In two innings pitched, the lefty surrendered five runs on seven hits, one of those being a three-run home run in the ninth inning. That put the 12th run of the game on the board for the Rays, and that pretty much killed any chances at a comeback. So, all in all, not a great night for the Red Sox pitching staff, as those 12 runs scored against them is a season high.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could manage just six runs in this one. That may seem like a high enough number to get the win, but I think they could have scored more off Rays starter Yonny Chirinos. It was a back and forth kind of game for the first five innings, but then things fell apart in the sixth.

Xander Bogaerts drove in the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the first. That gave the Red Sox the early lead, but it would be short-lived. Bogaerts would go on to collect another RBI with a single in the third, and Hanley Ramirez would do the same with an RBI single in the fourth. Rafael Devers had the biggest day out of anyone in the Red Sox lineup, as he collected  a team best two RBIs, including a solo home run in the fifth inning, his fourth of the season.

That home run looked like it could be meaningful at the time, but like I said, things fell apart for the Red Sox after they took their at bats in the fifth. Devers would go on to collect another RBI in the ninth. He is now in a tie with JD Martinez for the team lead in RBIs with 20 of them on the season.

So where do the Red Sox go from here, coming off their fifth loss in their last seven games? Well, taking the finale against the Rays today would be great, and then the Kansas City Royals come to town for three games before this homestand ends.

Rick Porcello gets the start later today against Rays righty Matt Andriese. Hopefully Mookie Betts will be alright after he exited yesterday’s game with tightness in his right hamstring. First pitch is at 1:05 PM, if the rain holds up.

 

 

RECAP: Two Swings of the Bat Is All #RedSox Need to Win Eighth Straight.

After completing the three game sweep of the LA Angels on Thursday night, the Red Sox arrived in Oakland on Friday to take on the 9-10 Athletics, who were coming off a sweep of their own.

Drew Pomeranz was activated from the 10-day disabled list prior to this one, and he had an interesting 2018 debut to say the least. The Athletics got to Pomeranz for three runs in the first, and the lefty needed 45 pitches just to get through the inning. After that though, Pomeranz settled down for a bit. The Mississippi native held the A’s to just three hits, one walk, and no runs. After recording the second out of the fourth inning, Pomeranz was given the hook in favor of Hector Velazquez. Finishing with a total of seven strikeouts, the southpaw needed 88 pitches to get through his first start, 58 of which went for strikes. If things go according to plan, I’d assume Pomeranz will make his next start on Thursday in Toronto.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen was fantastic yet again. Hector Velazquez tossed three shutout innings while scattering four hits, he departed with runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Brian Johnson would get the call next, and he gave up a single, that quite honestly, should have been caught by Eduardo Nunez, to Matt Olson, the only batter he faced. That loaded the bases and made way for Matt Barnes to get into some game action for the first time since last Sunday.

Facing Matt Joyce with the bases loaded, Barnes definitely created some angst among Red Sox fans watching this game last night. He loaded the count on the first six pitches of the at-bat, but got Joyce to swing and miss on a 94 MPH fastball, ending the inning and preserving the four run lead the Red Sox had.

Barnes went on to collect one more strikeout while tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning. That made way for Joe Kelly in the ninth, and he too pitched a perfect inning to lock up the win.

Over the last 24.1 innings they have appeared in, the Red Sox bullpen has given up a grand total of one run. To put it into perspective, that’s a 0.37 ERA.

Offensively, like the title reads, the Red Sox lineup only needed two swings of the bat to beat the Athletics in this series opener. The first swing came in the second, after the Red Sox had just gone down by three runs in the bottom of the first, how would they respond? Well, after Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez both singled with one out in the inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. took a Kendall Graveman 94 MPH cutter and cleared the bases with his second home run of the season. A 436 foot shot over the wall in right field with a 106 MPH exit velocity.

That tied the game at three. Later on in the sixth, after the top third of the lineup began the inning by loading the bases on three straight singles, Mitch Moreland stayed hot. On the first pitch he saw from A’s reliever Emilio Pagan and cleared the bases once again.

That marks the FIFTH grand slam the Red Sox have hit already in just 19 games. With that slam, that would be all the scoring the Red Sox would need to pick up their 17th win of the season.

Some notes from this one:

Since April 11th, Mitch Moreland has raises his slugging percentage more than .350 points. His OPS now sits at 1.015.

Since April 10th, Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .324/.425/.559 in 40 plate appearances. He got off to a slow start, but it’s nice to see JBJ picking things up at the plate lately.

Chris Sale will be making his fifth start of the season later tonight, as he faces off against Athletics ace Sean Manaea. First pitch is the earliest its been since the Red Sox embarked on this road trip, 9:05 PM ET.

 

I Don’t Like This Proposed Jackie Bradley Jr. for Edwin Encarnacion Trade.

Earlier today, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox have had trade discussions over the winter revolving around outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and designated hitter/ first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. Nightengale did not go into depth on this, but it’s still something to think about. When I first saw this, I immediately was against it. If these two were the only big league players involved, it’s tough to say who wins this trade. On one hand, the Indians are losing their best power hitter, as Encarnacion lead the club in HRs, RBIs, and OBP in 2017. On the other hand, they are getting one of the best defensive center fielders in all of baseball. The Indians lost Austin Jackson to free agency, so it’s understandable why they would want to upgrade at that position. Is that defense worth parting ways with one of the best home run hitters in the American League? Probably not.

From the perspective of the Red Sox, acquiring Encarnacion while parting ways with Bradley creates holes and log jams. If this were to happen, I would need to see some corresponding moves and those moves would revolve around Hanley Ramirez and JD Martinez. First, I can’t imagine Hanley Ramirez would stick around if Encarnacion were acquired, he’s essentially an upgrade. Take Hanley away and replace him with EE, and you’re looking at him as the primary DH and Mitch Moreland as the primary first baseman. With that in mind, a hole is created in center field. Sure, Benintendi or Betts could be moved over there, but there is no other player on the Red Sox 40-man who could play a corner outfield position everyday. Brock Holt, Bryce Brentz, and Rusney Castillo all have positive qualities, but I would not want any of those guys handling a full-time position with the Red Sox. That’s why, ideally, JD Martinez would be brought in via free agency to take over for Benintendi in left field. Although his defense is lacking, Martinez and Encarnacion would be one hell of a power duo.

This is the ideal situation. A “big three” of Betts, Martinez, and Encarnacion would be awesome, but it could have happened sooner, and at a lesser cost. Remember, there was interest between Edwin Encarnacion and the Red Sox last year, but nothing transpired because of luxury tax complications. Now, we’re talking about giving up one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball for a 35 year-old Encarnacion, who will be making much more than JBJ will over the next two years both are under contract. If it were me, and Martinez was not signed yet, I don’t think I would do it. Give me the bargain in Bradley and let me try to plug power into my lineup through other avenues.