Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland Combine to Drive in Five Runs as Red Sox Hold on for 6-5 Win Over Mets

It was far from easy, but for the first time since last Friday, the Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 6-5 on Wednesday night in their first road game of the season at Citi Field.

Making his second start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, fresh off tossing six quality frames in his last time out against the Orioles, which also happened to be his first career Opening Day start as you may remember.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander certainly wasn’t as dominant as he was against Baltimore, but he still got the job done by holding the Mets to just two runs, both earned, on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Those two Mets tallies came in Eovaldi’s first and final innings of work, with Dominic Smith grounding into a bases-loaded forceout in the first and Brandon Nimmo crushing a one-out solo home run in the fifth.

Seeing how the bases were loaded for Eovaldi almost right away in the bottom half of the first, it was certainly encouraging that he was able to get himself out of that early mess with just one run on the board for the opposition.

As for the Nimmo home run in the fifth, that was a result of a 3-1, 93 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Eovaldi that the Mets outfielder took 414 feet to right-center field. All things considered, the bottom of the fifth could have been even worse for Boston, but after serving up that solo blast, walking Pete Alonso, and putting Jeff McNeil on first on a one-out single, Eovaldi again evaded any serious damage by getting the dangerous Michael Conforto to ground into an inning-ending 4-3 double play.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (57 strikes), Eovaldi relied on his four-seam and cut-fastball a combined 74% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing nine total swings and misses with the two pitches while topping out with 98.4 with the heater.

Hit with the no decision, the 30-year-old flamethrower will look for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth, got the first two outs of the inning pretty easily, but then gave up back-to-back hits to Robinson Cano and Andres Gimenez, with the latter driving in the former on an RBI triple to make it a 3-2 game in favor of New York.

From there, left-hander Josh Osich allowed two of the first four Mets he faced in the seventh to reach base, which led to Ron Roenicke dispatching Heath Hembree, who got out of the two-out jam in a tied game by fanning J.D. Davis on three straight fastballs.

That tie turned into a 6-3 advantage for Boston following a three-run top of the eighth, which we’ll touch on later, but Matt Barnes allowed that lead to shrink to two in the bottom half  by surrendering a leadoff solo shot to old friend Yoenis Cespedes in an otherwise scoreless inning of relief thanks to a nifty twin-killing started by Jose Peraza and turned by Jonathan Arauz.

The ninth inning is where things got really dicey, as Red Sox closer Brandon Workman came in with his side up 6-4 while looking for his first save of 2020. It took quite a while to get there, but after loading the bases with no outs, allowing Davis to drive in a run on an infield single to third that was well-played by Rafael Devers, and punching out Cespedes on five pitches, the right-hander got Cano to lift a pop fly to Peraza in shallow center field and that was that. Workman gets his first save and the Red Sox get their second win of the season in one-run fashion as 6-5 is your final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the best pitcher in the National League in two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom for the Mets, who like Eovaldi pitched on Opening Day.

It took until their half of the fourth inning, but the Boston bats finally got to deGrom courtesy of back-to-back one-out doubles from Devers and Mitch Moreland, with the first baseman plating the third baseman for the Sox’ first run of the evening.

Two wild pitches from deGrom allowed Moreland to advance to third with Christian Vazquez at the plate and to score from third with Alex Verdugo at the plate. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves their first lead in nearly five days at 2-1.

Fast forward to the seventh, with Seth Lugo in for deGrom, and Vazquez continued his hot start to the 2020 season by taking the Mets reliever 396 feet deep to left field off a one-out, 3-2 80 mph curveball that was essentially down Broadway. 3-1 Boston.

An inning later, Roenicke dove into his bench while the Mets turned to left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. Kevin Pillar, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., led the eighth off with a single to left, while Xander Bogaerts, pinch-hitting for Lin, drew a four-pitch walk and was immediately replaced by Arauz at first.

Andrew Benintendi advanced both Pillar and Arauz into scoring position with a beautifully-executed sacrifice bunt down the first base line, and an intentional walk of J.D. Martinez filled the bases for Devers.

Devers only managed to strike out on five pitches, but Moreland and Vazquez made the most of their opportunities with two outs in the inning by lacing consecutive run-scoring singles off Wilson to ultimately drive in all three of Pillar, Arauz, and Martinez to make it a 6-3 contest.

As it turns out, that would end up being much-needed insurance with the Red Sox just barely holding onto this one in 6-5 fashion to lock down their second win of the 2020 campaign.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:

It’s still early in the season, obviously, but Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez and Kevin Pillar have OPS’ of 1.214, 1.304, and 1.571, respectively.

Rafael Devers has collected four doubles and one single over his last four games.

With a two-out double in the ninth inning, Andrew Benintendi collected the 500th hit of his major-league career. Congratulations to him on that.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Alex Verdugo make more hard contact soon.

The Red Sox are unbeaten in games away from Fenway Park this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game, home-at-home series against the Mets on Thursday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start of the season for Boston, while fellow southpaw Steven Matz will be doing the same for New York.

Perez struggles for the most part in his Red Sox debut on Saturday, but he did end his outing with three consecutive scoreless innings, so perhaps he can carry that momentum over into this start against the Metropolitans.

Matz, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series-split.

 

 

Red Sox Lineup: Xander Bogaerts Sits, Tzu-Wei Lin Gets Start at Shortstop in Series Opener Against Mets

As the Red Sox look for their first victory in five days, they will be without arguably their best all-around player in Xander Bogaerts against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

According to manager Ron Roenicke, Bogaerts is still sore from the play he made in the first inning of Monday’s loss to New York when he dove to tag out Amed Rosario in between second and third base.

On said play, Bogaerts said postgame that he jammed his back, neck, and hips. Despite getting that roughed up so early on, he still managed to hit a home run in the sixth inning on Monday and also played Tuesday’s game in its entirety.

Fortunately, Bogaerts’ absence is only expected to last one game. Tzu-Wei Lin will start at shortstop in his place and bat out of the nine-hole against Jacob deGrom and the Mets on Wednesday. Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox are lining up behind right-hander Nathan Eovaldi. Andrew Benintendi is back in the leadoff spot and Kevin Pillar is sitting:

In two career starts against the Sox, deGrom, who was won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards, is 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA and a .188 batting average against over 13 innings pitched.

Among the hitters in Wednesday’s Red Sox lineup, Jose Peraza is the only one who has ever faced the Mets ace before and is 4-for-14 off him lifetime.

As for Eovaldi, the owner of Boston’s lone winning decision thus far has made four career starts at Citi Field and owns a lifetime 3.05 ERA at the venue over 20 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Looking forward to watching J.D. Martinez serve as designated hitter in a National League ballpark.

 

Matt Hall Struggles in First Career Start as Red Sox Drop Fourth Straight

For the fourth right in a row, the Red Sox gave up seven-plus runs while scoring four or fewer runs in an 8-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Mets at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Matt Hall made his first career big-league start for Boston in this one, and unlike originally planned, he did not pitch five full innings. Instead, the 27-year-old only made it into the third while giving up three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Mets tallies scored off Hall came in his second inning of work when the former Tigers hurler served up a one-out RBI double to Robinson Cano and moments later, a two-out, two-run single to Amed Rosario. Just like that, the Sox found themselves in an early hole.

Hall did manage to escape the second without yielding anything else and also recorded the first two outs of the third, but a four-pitch walk of Michael Conforto put an end to his evening as manager Ron Roenicke gave him the hook in favor of Austin Brice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51 (32 strikes), Hall relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 51% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing one swing and miss while topping out at 89.8 mph with the pitch. If the Missouri State product does get another start, it would likely come against the Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Hall, as previously mentioned, the right-handed Brice entered with two outs in the third and fanned old friend Yoenis Cespedes on four pitches to retire the side. From there, the ex-Marlins reliever proceeded to sit down four of the next five Mets he faced, but a one-out single off the bat of Jeff McNeil in the fifth put an end to that impressive run.

J.D. Davis followed McNeil’s single with a cheap Fenway Park two-run homer off of Pesky’s Pole, which inflated the Sox’ deficit to four runs at 5-1.

With that, in came Colten Brewer for Boston, and he impressed with four punchouts over 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief headed into the middle of the seventh. Unfortunately, Brewer’s admirable effort did not rub off on Ryan Brasier, as the 32-year-old got walloped for three runs on three hits and a walk in the eighth, which put his side in an even deeper hole at 8-2.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman came on for his 2020 debut, and he worked his way around a leadoff single while facing the minimum three batters thanks to a 5-4-3 double play that came off a Cespedes grounder.

A las, as nice as it was to see Workman in a regular season game for the first time since last September, his effort was not enough for the Red Sox to mount a comeback in this one, as 8-3 would go on to be your final.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another hurler making his first career major-league start in the form of Mets left-hander David Peterson, who was actually drafted by Boston in 2014 but instead opted to attend the University of Oregon.

Once again trailing by multiple runs early on, the Sox’ first run of the night off Peterson came in rather confusing fashion in the bottom half of the third.

There, with one out and the bases loaded, Rafael Devers grounded out to Robsinson Cano at second base, although to the naked eye, it almost looked like he lined out. Keeping that in mind, Andrew Benintendi, who was at second, saw Cano flip the ball to Amed Rosario for the force out at second, then proceeded to take off for third and wound up in the middle of a rundown while Kevin Plawecki, who was at third, scored his side’s first run of the night in the midst of all the madness.

All in all, what looked to be a promising inning for the Boston bats came to a premature conclusion, but not before one run was able to cross the plate at least.

Fast forward to the sixth, and a pair of two-base hits from Devers and Kevin Pillar off Peterson cut the Sox’ deficit to three at the time as the former drove in the latter with two outs in the frame.

Nothing more came of that opportunity, though, and the only other run Boston pushed across the plate was essentially one of the garbage time variety in the ninth, when with one out and Hunter Strickland on the mound for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. scored Pillar from third on an RBI groundout.

That made it an 8-3 game in favor of the Mets, and that was that.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Rafael Devers has four hits in his last three games so that is definitely a step in the right direction.

Next up for the Red Sox, it doesn’t get any easier as this home-at-home bout against the Mets shifts to Queens. That being the case because back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom will be getting the start for New York in Wednesday’s series opener.

Fortunately enough, Boston will be countering with right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who through one turn through the rotation has put together the best outing of any Red Sox starter in the team’s lone win of the year thus far.

The Red Sox are 1-4. The season is already more than 8% of the way over. It’s time to turn things around. First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

 

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.