RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Dominates with 12 Strikeouts in First Start Back from DL as #RedSox Cruise to 6-1 Win over White Sox.

On a day where rosters expand all across Major League Baseball, the Red Sox welcomed a total of eight players from both Triple A Pawtucket and the 10-day disabled list to increase their roster size up to 33.

Yes, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, and Christian Vazquez were all activated from the disabled list on Saturday, while Sam Travis, Tzu-Wei Lin, Robby Scott, Bobby Poyner, and William Cuevas were all recalled from the PawSox.

Getting the starting nod in last night’s contest was none other than Rodriguez himself, and his battery mate for his first big league in-game action in exactly seven weeks was none other than Christian Vazquez, who caught E-Rod in one of his rehab starts in Portland.

In what was his 20th start of the season, the left-hander looked as though he had not missed a beat on Saturday, as he tossed nearly six innings of one run ball while scattering three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high 12 strikeouts.

For never pitching against the White Sox on the road before, Rodriguez began his night by fanning 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced while taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.

After giving up a leadoff single to Matt Davidson and a seven pitch walk to Ryan LaMarre in an otherwise clean fifth, the 25-year old’s evening would come to an end an inning later when Nicky Delmonico ripped a two out RBI double to score Adam Engel from first for Chicago’s lone run.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (60 strikes), Rodriguez would depart from this one with two outs and a runner on second.

Out of those 90 pitches, the Venezuela native turned to his four-seam fastball 44% of the time he was on the mound on Saturday. He topped out at 96.1 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Improving to 12-3 and lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.34, Rodriguez’s scoreless innings streak did ultimately come to an end at 24.2, but regardless of that, Alex Cora and the Red Sox have to be encouraged with what they saw from their young lefty in his first meaningful start in over a month.

He’ll look to build on this dominant performance in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 10 outs last night, and Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, and Joe Kelly dealt with the White Sox bats in decently short order to secure their team’s 94th win of the year.

For Barnes, a nice bounce back after surrendering seven earned runs in his previous four appearances.

And for the Red Sox pitching staff as a whole, well, they faced 32 total batters on Saturday and struck out 18 of them. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against arguably the best starting pitcher the White Sox have to offer in Carlos Rodon.

A left-hander like Rodriguez, Rodon made his 2018 debut against Boston on June 9th, where he surrendered four runs (two earned) over six innings in a losing effort.

Unlike Friday night, when they were held to one run, the Red Sox were able to score multiple runs last night, and it started with a solo home run off the bat of Eduardo Nunez in the fifth.

An absolute line drive of a long ball, Nunez’s 10th of the season had a launch angle of 19 degrees.

Three batters later, Jackie Bradley Jr. took the first pitch he saw from Rodon, a 84 MPH, slider, and sent it 402 feet to right field to make it a 2-0 game.

Fast forward to the seventh, an inning that has treated the Red Sox quite nicely these past few days, and Christian Vazquez led things off by drawing an eight pitch walk.

After a Jackie Bradley Jr. fly out, Mookie Betts was able to advance Vazquez all the way to third on his 39th double of the year.

With runners in scoring position, Andrew Benintendi appeared to ground into a 1-3 put out for the second out of the frame, but an ugly throw from Carlos Rodon that got over the first baseman’s head allowed Vazquez to easily score from third to make it a 3-1 game.

Just a few moments after that all went down, Steve Pearce put an end to Rodon’s night by ripping a one out single to left field to plate Mookie Betts and advance Benintendi to third.

Following a pitching change that saw rookie Ryan Burr take over for Rodon, JD Martinez tacked on another insurance run and added on to his league-leading RBI count by singling to center and scoring Benintendi from third. Martinez now has 115 RBI on the season.

Finally, in the eighth, just for fun, Ian Kinsler went ahead and launched his first home run in a Red Sox uniform on a rocket sent to the White Sox bullpen. 6-1.

Some notes from this 6-1 win: 

The Red Sox won their 94th game of the 2018 season on Saturday night. That is more than they had in both 2016 and 2017 and there are still 25 games left.

Over his last 10 appearances, Joe Kelly has posted a 0.93 ERA in 9.2 innings of work.

In his last five games, Ian Kinsler is batting .474 with one home run and three RBI.

With hits in eight of his last 10 games, Mookie Betts owns a 1.061 OPS with two homers and six runs driven in since August 22nd.

JD Martinez has 9 RBI in his last 10 games. Like I mentioned above, his 115 RBI on the year is the most in all of baseball.

Going for the series win later this afternoon, it will be Brian Johnson getting the start for the Red Sox in the Windy City finale.

Now, Johnson has neither pitched at Gauranteed Rate Field nor against the White Sox in his three-year career, but he did post a 5.27 ERA in six appearances (five starts) over 27.1 innings pitched in August.

Opposite Johnson will be veteran right-hander James Shields for Chicago, who owns a 4.54 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 29 games, 28 of which are starts, in what is his 13th year in the big leagues.

Known mostly for his time with the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals, “Big Game James” has faced off against the Red Sox 28 times in his career, and is 9-14 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in those starts.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET.

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RECAP: Mookie Betts Leads Comeback Effort as #RedSox Take Opener from White Sox in Third Straight Win.

After exploding for 14 runs to complete the two-game sweep of the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night, the Red Sox headed to the Windy City to embark on yet another road trip.

Getting the start in the series opener was Rick Porcello, who has faced the  53-80 White Sox plenty of times over his 10-year career, and entered Thursday with a 3.57 ERA in 11 career starts at Guaranteed Rate Field.

In what was his 28th start of 2018, the right-hander wrapped up his month of August with another shaky outing.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, Porcello surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

All four of those White Sox runs crossed the plate within the first two frames of this one, as an Avisail Garcia two-run home run and Matt Davidson RBI single in the first followed by a sacrifice fly off the bat of Garcia to score Yolmer Sanchez in the second gave Chicago an early three-run advantage.

Fortunately, Porcello settled down a bit, and despite still dealing with a solid amount of traffic on the base paths, held the White Sox scoreless over the final three-plus frames he pitched in.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (63 strikes), the New Jersey native saved his best for last by retiring the side in order in the fifth, which probably should have been his final frame of work.

Instead, he came back out for the bottom half of the sixth, walked Matt Davidson on eight pitches, the last three of which were all balls, and that is how is night would come to a conclusion. Given the fact the Red Sox were still trailing at this point in the contest, I probably would have started the sixth with Brandon Workman. That’s just me though.

Out of those 95 pitches, the 29-year-old relied heavily on his two-seam fastball, as he threw it 39% of the time he was on the mound on Thursday. He also topped out at 93.6 MPH with his other fastball, the four-seamer, in the second inning.

Unable to pick up the winning decision while his ERA jumped up to 4.27 on the season, let’s go ahead and look back at Rick Porcello’s August:

6 GS, 2-3, 5.11 ERA, 37 IP, 29 H, 21 ER, 8 HR, 9 BB, 45 K.

Those numbers include two starts against the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies in which Porcello combined to give up two earned runs over 16 innings pitched. He’ll look to get back on a more consistent track in his next time out, which should come against the Atlanta Braves next week.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen held the White Sox in order in four scoreless frames of work.

Yup, Brandon Workman, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, who picked up the win, and Heath Hembree combined to give up just two hits while fanning five en route to their team’s 92nd win of the season.

Shoutout to Xander Bogaerts for some great defense over at shortstop as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against young White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito, who had never faced Boston in his three-year career between Washington and Chicago before Thursday.

A former 2012 first round draft pick who was part of the trade that sent Adam Eaton to the Nationals, Giolito, 24, has not been outstanding in any means in his first full season as a big league hurler, but he impressed last night.

Holding the Red Sox hitless through four scoreless innings, it was not until Ian Kinsler singled with two outs in the fifth when the potential no-hitter came to an end.

Still, Giolito remained in the game up until the point when he walked Brock Holt with one out in the seventh. That is how his night would end and that is where things really started to turn around quickly for Boston.

With one out, one runner on, and Jeanmar Gomez now on the mound for the White Sox, an Ian Kinsler put runners on the corners for Blake Swihart, pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon.

In a similar role on Wednesday, Swihart came through with a big pinch hit, and he did the same last night, as he drove in Holt from third on an RBI to right center field. 4-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. was up next, and he cut into the White Sox lead some more by driving in Kinsler from third on a sacrifice fly to center field. 4-2.

Back to the top of the order now came Mookie Betts, who had only faced Gomez three times in his career prior to Thursday, yet came away with arguably the clutchest hit of the contest.

On a 1-1 92 MPH slider, Betts launched his 29th home run of the season 373 feet to the left field seats to knot things up at four runs a piece.

Fast forward to the ninth, still in a 4-4 game, with one out and runners on first and second, Jackie Bradley Jr. played hero, as his RBI single off of White Sox reliever Thyago Vieria plated to the go-ahead run in the form of Ian Kinsler, but that was just the beginning.

In fact, three more runs would come around to score in the top half of the ninth, one on an Andrew Benintendi RBI single to add on some extra insurance, and the next two coming courtesy of JD Martinez, who put this game on ice with his 39th big fly of the season.

Some notes from this 9-4 win: 

During the seventh inning of their last two games, the Red Sox have scored 15 total runs.

Over his last four games, Mookie Betts is batting .583 with two home runs and six RBI. So much for that slump.

In only 127 games this season, JD Martinez has hit 39 home runs and driven in 114 runs. We’re not even in September yet.

Ian Kinsler recorded his second three-hit game in a Red Sox uniform on Thursday. He is also batting .583 in his last three games.

Blake Swihart is slashing .304/.333/.391 with six RBI in his last 10 games. Probably time for him to start getting more regular playing time behind the plate.

Joe Kelly has now gone seven straight relief appearances without giving up a run.

Looking to guarantee a series split later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for the Red Sox.

Over his last four starts, Eovaldi owns a 7.41 ERA in only 17 innings pitched. That is not great, but with some help from Pedro Martinez, it would not be surprising if Eovaldi bounced back with a solid outing against a team he has not seen much of over his career.

Opposite Eovaldi will be rookie right-hander Michael Kopech for the White Sox, who was once part of the Red Sox organization himself.

Traded to Chicago along with current second baseman Yoan Moncada among others for Chris Sale back in December 2016, Kopech was recently called up on August 21st.

Ranked as the White Sox’s best pitching prospect, the former 2014 first round draft pick owns a 1.13 ERA in eight innings pitched over his first two career starts, the first of which was shortened due to rain.

Known for the speed of his four-seam fastball, a pitch he throws nearly 70% of the time, according to Statcast, this Red Sox lineup will undoubtedly be the toughest opponent Kopech has faced in his very young career.

I, for one, am very excited to see how it goes down.

First pitch of the second game of the series is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP: Eduardo Nunez Walks It off in the Ninth as #RedSox Bounce Back Multiple Times to Put an End to Losing Streak.

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.

RECAP: Nathan Eovaldi’s Struggles Continue as #RedSox Get Swept for First Time This Season Against Rays.

Having already dropped their first series in over a month with a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night, the Red Sox closed out their season series against a red-hot Rays team at Tropicana Field by getting swept for the first time this season.

Getting the starting nod in this one was a former Ray himself in RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who made 10 starts with the club before being traded to Boston on July 25th.

Since he started his Red Sox career by twirling two consecutive gems against the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, Eovaldi has been struggling to maintain that same form over the past few weeks, and that was evident once again on Sunday.

Pitching just four innings against his former team, the right-hander surrendered six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits to go along with zero walks and five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Before he even had the chance to settle in, Tampa Bay had already pushed across their first of nine runs thanks to three straight hits to begin the first.

That set the tone early on, and the Rays found themselves with a two-run advantage going into the second inning.

By the time he retired the side in his fourth, Eovaldi had already faced 21 batters.

Out of those four disastrous frames, the Texas native could only manage one clean inning on Sunday, which came in the second. Tampa Bay sent at least five batters to the plate in the other three.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (65 strikes), Eovaldi relied heavily on both is four-seam and cut fastball this afternoon, as he turned to the two pitches a combined 63% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 99.5 MPH with that four-seamer in the third inning.

Falling to 5-6 with a 4.15 ERA on the season, let’s take a look at how Nathan Eovaldi’s Red Sox tenure has gone just over a month since the trade that sent him to Boston was completed.

First two starts:

2-0, 15 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, .143 BAA

Last four starts:

0-2, 17 IP, 35 H, 14 ER, 3 BB, 12 K, 7.41 ERA, .407 BAA

Obviously a sizable discrepancy there.

He’ll look to get back on track in his next time out, which should come against the Chicago White Sox next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had another tall task ahead of themselves on Sunday with 12 outs to record, and they did not have the best of times.

Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Craig Kimbrel combined for three earned runs on four hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts in those four innings of work.

Special shout out to Craig Kimbrel though. For not seeing any in-game action since last Saturday, the Red Sox closer looked solid in a 1-2-3 eighth, fanning all three batters he faced. Four straight scoreless appearances for Kimbrel now too.

On the other side of things, Boston’s lineup was held to one lone run for the second straight day on Sunday.

Facing off against Rays ace Blake Snell, a left-hander, that one run came off the bat of a Mookie Betts sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth that plated Sandy Leon from third.

Other than that, Snell, along with Diego Castillo and Andrew Kittredge out of the Rays bullpen, limited the Red Sox to three total hits and two free passes while inducing nine strikeouts on the day.

Some notes from this 9-1 loss:

This is the first time the Red Sox have been swept since August 25-27th of last season, which also happened to be Players’ Weekend. Meaning, the Red Sox are 0-6 in Players’ Weekend games.

Over their last eight games, in which they are 2-6, the Red Sox have averaged 3.6 runs per game while starters own a 6.47 ERA in that span.

On the flip side of that, the Rays have won eight straight games and are now 70-61 on the season.

Mookie Betts took the first step in getting out of his slump by recording his first base hit since Thursday on a fourth inning single.

Finishing their season series against the Rays with a solid 11-8 record despite the sweep, the Red Sox will turn their attention to another Florida team for a quick two-game set against the 53-79 Miami Marlins, but not before enjoying a much-needed off day on Monday back in Boston.

Starting pitching matchups for that series go as follows:

Tuesday: RHP Jose Urena (4-12, 4.50 ERA) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (4-3, 4.12 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Trevor Richards (3-7, 4.23 ERA) vs. LHP David Price (14-6, 3.50 ERA)

Going back to April, the Red Sox took both games from the Marlins in Miami.

Johnson, who got the start in the first game of that two-game series, tossed six frames of one-run ball in a winning effort, while Urena, who started for Miami in the second game, tossed seven one-run innings in a no decision.

First pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday at Fenway Park.

 

 

 

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.

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Homers Twice as #RedSox Halt Losing Streak at Three in 10-4 Win over Indians.

Everybody, take a deep breath and relax, the three-game losing streak the Red Sox had is over. Let’s get into how they got it done.

Looking to avoid their first four-game losing streak since last season, the Red Sox turned to Brian Johnson against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.

Making his 10th start of the season and first ever against the Indians in his three-year career, Johnson had himself a so-so evening on the mound.

Pitching into the fifth inning of this one, the left-hander surrendered three earned runs on five hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with three punch outs.

In those near five-frames of work, Johnson was greeted right away by the top of the Indians lineup in a not so pleasant manner, as Francisco Lindor ripped a leadoff double in the top half of the first, which was followed up by a two-run home run off the bat of the just-activated Edwin Encarnacion, who has a history of dominating at Fenway Park, to make it a 2-0 game early.

Fortunately, the Florida native settled down a bit and held the Tribe scoreless up until the fifth inning, when six of the first eight pitches he threw went for balls against Lindor and Michael Brantley.

With one out and Lindor at first, Johnson’s night would come to a rather short conclusion just 82 pitches into his outing.

Out of those 82 pitches (51 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball, a pitch he topped out at 92.7 MPH with, 37 times on the night. And that resulted in five total swinging strikes.

Unable to pick up the winning decision because of the length of his start, Johnson will look build on this outing in his next time out, which should come against the Miami Marlins sometime next week.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen had another decently long night ahead, and Heath Hembree was the one to get the first call.

Able to get out of the fifth, but not before serving up another two-run dinger to Edwin Encarnacion to both close the book on Johnson’s night and cut his team’s lead down to two runs, Hembree struck out the final batter he faced in Yandy Diaz to retire the side.

From that point forward, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, who picked up the win, Joe Kelly, and Ryan Brasier held down the fort while the Red Sox extended their lead in a combined effort that consisted of four scoreless frames to wrap up the team’s 89th win of the year.

Shoutout to Jackie Bradley Jr. for this fine outfield assist in the sixth that nabbed Yan Gomes trying to turn a single into a double as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who entered Wednesday with a 7.07 ERA in four career appearances at Fenway Park. Those struggles continued once again last night.

Starting right away in the first, minutes after the Tribe had jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, JD Martinez cut that in half by driving in his 107th run of the season on a two out RBI single that plated Andrew Benintendi from third.

Fast forward to the fourth, and in what turned out to be a five-run inning, it was a Xander Bogaerts one out solo home run that got the rally started.

Eventually chasing Carrasco out of this game in the same inning, additional RBI knocks from the likes of Blake Swihart and Andrew Benintendi, who cleared the bases on a two out three RBI double, mixed in with three more hits and two walks, saw Boston go from trailing to jumping out to a 6-2 advantage in a matter of minutes.

Two innings later, after the Indians had made things interesting again thanks to Encarnacion’s second home run, Mitch Moreland essentially put this game to bed by mashing a two-run homer off of Dan Otero in the sixth.

A two-run shot that scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from third along with Moreland, was good for the first baseman’s 15th big fly of the season.

In the seventh, Bogaerts struck again by blasting his second homer of the evening to leadoff the inning against Otero.

That home run, Bogaerts’ 19th of the year, upped the Aruba native’s RBI total to 80.

Finally, after failing to get to Indians closer Cody Allen on Monday, JD Martinez put the final nail in the coffin of this one in the eighth with an RBI single, his 108th, to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from second and plate Boston’s 10th and final run of the night.

And there you have it, the three-game losing streak is over. Back to 50 games over .500.

Some notes from this win:

Per @Indians, Edwin Encarnacion’s last three games at Fenway Park: .500 BA (6-12), 5 HR, 10 RBI. Preposterous numbers.

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox remain the only team without a losing streak of 4+ games this season.

Xander Bogaerts’ last multi-homer game took place on June 18th, 2017 against the Houston Astros.

Going for the series-split later this afternoon, it will be David Price getting the ball for the Red Sox.

Owning a solid 2.24 ERA in 14 career starts against the Indians, Price has been on fire since the All-Star break.

Over his last five outings, the left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and .210 BAA in 33.1 innings pitched.

Opposite Price will be another rookie starter for Cleveland in RHP Adam Plutko, who has never faced the Red Sox nor pitched at Fenway Park in his young career.

On the season as a whole, Plutko, 26, owns a 4.62 over ten games, seven of which were starts.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Thursday.

RECAP: Nathan Eovaldi Gets Hit Hard as #RedSox Drop Third Straight for First Time since April.

For the first time since April, the Red Sox have lost three consecutive games. Everybody panic!

Yes, the team with the best record in all of baseball has hit a bit of a skid recently, so let’s get right into where things went wrong on Tuesday night.

Making his fifth start with the Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi entered the night with a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings pitched at Fenway Park this season.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the right-hander seemingly breezed through the first three frames of this one, but the fourth was where things turned out for the worst.

All coming with two outs, the Indians reached base four straight times off of Eovaldi on three singles and a double, which plated their first two runs of the evening.

After working his way around a leadoff double in a scoreless fifth, Cleveland struck again right away in the sixth on a solo home run off the bat of Melky Cabrera, his second in as many nights.

One out and two straight singles from Yan Gomes and Greg Allen singles later, Eovaldi’s night would come to a disappointing end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (63 strikes), the Texas native surrendered ten hits for the second time in his last three outings to tie a season-high. He also walked one and only recorded two strikeouts.

Out of those 87 pitches, Eovaldi relied on his fastball, both cut and four-seam, a combined 69% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 100.1 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning.

Since he got his Red Sox career off to a blazing start with those two stellar outings against the Twins and Yankees in late July and early August, Eovaldi has certainly come back to earth over the past two weeks. It will be interesting to see how he responds in his next time out against his old team this weekend in St. Petersburg.

In relief of Eovaldi, Joe Kelly entered the sixth with runners on first and second and closed the book on the 28-year-old’s night by giving up an RBI single to Michael Brantley that could have been a double had Sandy Leon not thrown him out at second to end the inning.

From that point on, Brandon Workman gave up a run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Tyler Thornburg, albeit it came on a quality pitch, served up a solo home run to Indians catcher Yan Gomes, minutes after the Red Sox had scored three runs of their own, to make it a 6-3 game heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Finally, despite walking one and giving up one base hit, Drew Pomeranz had himslef a scoreless ninth inning to give his team one last chance to rally in the bottom half of the frame, although it did not amount to much.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a starter they had never seen before in Cleveland’s Shane Bieber.

Bieber, 23 and a right-hander, is in his first season with the Indians and as you may have already guessed, had never pitched at Fenway Park before last night.

Despite that fact though, the former fourth round pick out of UC Santa Barbara had his way with Boston through the first six innings of this one.

In fact, it wasn’t until the fourth inning when Andrew Benintendi ripped a one out single to break up the no-hitter Bieber had going.

Fast forward to the seventh, with no outs and runners at first and third, Xander Bogaerts came through with an RBI double down the line in left to cut into the Indians lead and put his team’s first run of the night on the board.

One batter later, a Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly that could have been so much more had it not been for this great catch by Greg Allen drove in JD Martinez from third to cut Boston’s deficit to three.

That would be how Bieber’s night would come to a conclusion, but the Red Sox were not done scoring. Not until Xander Bogaerts came into score on a Ian Kinsler RBI groundout, anyway.

With the score of this one at 5-3 going into the eighth, it’s probably worth mentioning that the aforementioned home run from Yan Gomes off of Tyler Thornburg may have been the final nail in the coffin, as it upped the Indians lead back to three.

Anyway, old friend Andrew Miller sat down all three batters he faced in order in the eighth, and ex-Padres closer Brad Hand maneuvered his way around an E4 to notch his 29th save of the season in the ninth and final frame.

Some notes from this 6-3 loss:

Over the span of this three-game losing streak, the Red Sox have scored seven total runs. That is not ideal. All while the Yankees have won their last four games, also not ideal.

That Mitch Moreland sacrifice fly had a hit probability of 91%. According to Statcast, it was the only batted ball that had a hit probability north of 90%, yet it was caught.

I must admit, losing two straight games to one of the better teams in the American League is far from encouraging, but the Red Sox have been here before. Go back to that four-game series against the Astros in Houston back in June.

They dropped the first two games while not looking all that great, yet they bounced back and left with a series split that Sunday night. That’s what needs to happen now over these next two days.

Brian Johnson gets the nod in the third game of the series with Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco toeing the rubber opposite him.

While Johnson has never faced off against Cleveland in his young career, Carrasco has had his fair share of difficulties in his matchups against the Red Sox.

Over a span of seven career appearances (five starts) against Boston, the Venezuela native owns a 6.83 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in 27.2 innings pitched, 14 of which of come at Fenway Park.

First pitch of the third game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Wednesday. Time to put this losing streak to a halt.

 

 

 

RECAP: #RedSox End Road Trip with 7-4 Loss in Philadelphia Following Tough Night for Bullpen.

After taking the first of two against the Philadelphia Phillies in a close 2-1 win on Tuesday night, the Red Sox looked to end their nine-game road trip on a positive note on Wednesday, but that simply was not the case.

Making his fourth start of the season with the Red Sox in this one, Nathan Eovaldi took a step in the right direction five days after the Baltimore Orioles lit him up for eight runs on 10 hits last Friday.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander surrendered three runs, one of which was earned, while scattering seven hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

As he faced four hitters each in what went down as three pretty smooth frames, the bottom half of the fourth did not treat Eovaldi as nicely.

The worst part about a three-run rally for the Phillies that tied the game in that fourth inning was the fact that it was all started by a throwing error.

Yes, Rafael Devers, who leads the team in errors, could not make the throw over to first in what appeared to be a 5-3 put out at first on a Rhys Hoskins grounder to leadoff the inning.

From that point, three of the next five Phillies Eovaldi faced managed to reach base, and thanks to RBI knocks from Wilson Ramos and Carlos Santana and a RBI groundout from Odubel Herrera, this game was tied at three runs a piece heading into the fifth.

Fortunately for Boston, the Texas native ended his night on a solid note by sitting down three of the final four batters he faced on Tuesday.

Had this game not been played in a National League ballpark, Eovaldi probably could have pitched further, but with his spot in the lineup due up with runners at first and second in a tied game in the sixth, going with the pinch-hitter was clearly the right choice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (61 strikes) the 28-year-old turned to his cut-fastball about 43% of the time he was on the mound last night, which resulted in just three swings and misses. He also topped out at 99 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 27 times, in his fifth and final inning of work.

Now with 14 starts under his belt this season, Eovaldi will look to build on a solid outing in his next time out, which should come sometime against the Cleveland Indians next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen, mainly Joe Kelly and Drew Pomeranz, did not have the best of nights in the City of Brotherly Love.

Kelly, who got the call for the sixth in his sixth appearance of August, allowed what would turn out to be the go-ahead run for the Phillies in the form of a Scott Kingery sac fly that scored Wilson Ramos from third.

Speaking of Ramos, the former Rays backstop was making his first start with the Phillies since being traded there in July, and he went 3/4 with three RBI in another great day at the plate against the Red Sox, something he has become accustomed to.

Anyway, Kelly gave up the run to bump his ERA on the season up to 4.29 and he would later be dealt his fourth losing decision of the year as well because of it.

Drew Pomeranz made his third relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen last week, and it was certainly his worst of the three.

In what has the chance to be his last outing in a Red Sox uniform, the lefty allowed the Phils to score THREE times in one inning, which essentially, despite their best effort, put this game out of reach for Boston.

During that seventh inning, it was clear that Pomeranz was struggling to locate his pitches, as he left a lot of them up in the strike zone. Topping out at 91.5 MPH with your four-seam fastball is not the best of signs either.

Finally, with his team trailing by three, Hector Velazquez sat down the only three batters he faced in the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was without Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot and matched up against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez.

Velasquez, 26, had only made one career start against Boston prior to Wednesday night, and that came all the way back in 2015.

Starting the scoring in the third inning of this one, a one out walk drawn by Nathan Eovaldi, followed by an Andrew Benintendi HBP and a Brock Holt infield single set up Mitch Moreland in an ideal scoring spot.

On the third pitch he saw from Velasquez, Moreland ripped a 94 MPH fastball all the way to the center field wall for a three-RBI double, and just like that, the Red Sox were up early.

Velasquez would depart from the game after reloading the bases in the same inning, but with Hector Neris on the mound for Philadelphia, nothing came of that scoring chance for the Red Sox.

Fast forward to the top half of the sixth with things knotted up at three, two straight two out singles from Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon had Boston threatening to jump ahead once again with pinch-hitter Steve Pearce due up.

With Tommy Hunter on the mound for the Phils, it looked as though Pearce managed to beat out an infield single that would have loaded the bases again, but upon further review, Pearce was ruled out and the inning came to a close.

After going down quietly in the seventh, the top of the eighth would turn out to be the last real opportunity for the Red Sox to cut into a brand new four-run Phillies lead.

JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all reached to leadoff the inning with reliever Pat Neshek on the hill, but all they could muster in the end was one run off a Mookie Betts pinch-hit RBI single.

That was that, and they went down quietly in the ninth as well to end an encouraging road trip in rather disappointing fashion.

Looking at the final box score, the Phillies ended up using SEVEN pitchers out of their bullpen. Gabe Kapler out here managing like it’s game seven of the World Series or something.

Some notes from this one:

Over the nine-game road trip, here is how the Red Sox stacked up (via NESN):

7-2 record

7.2 runs per game

.279 team batting average

2.54 starters ERA

4.00 bullpen ERA (Obviously the most discouraging figure)

Andrew Benintendi apparently hit a bill twice on one swing last night. That’s pretty cool.

Splitting the four-game season series while getting outscored 12-9 by Philly in those four contests, the Red Sox will not have to see the 66-53 Phillies for the remainder of the regular season.

Instead, they head back home to enjoy another off day on Thursday before welcoming the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

Brian Johnson, David Price, and Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox in that order while the Rays still have a series to wrap up in New York.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

 

 

RECAP: JD Martinez Comes up Clutch with Two Homer Night as #RedSox Sweep Doubleheader in Baltimore.

After taking care of business against the Orioles in a 5-0 shutout win earlier Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox were back at it at Camden Yards later in the evening to wrap up the day-night doubleheader in Baltimore.

Hector Velazquez,who hadn’t started a game since July 11th while also making just three relief appearances since July 30th, got the nod in this one, and as some may have expected, did not go deep into Saturday night’s contest.

Pitching into the third inning, the right-hander had his fair share of ups and downs, as he sat down the first three batters he faced on 11 pitches, but proceeded to allow the next three Orioles he faced to reach in the second, which led to Baltimore tacking their first run of the night on a Renato Nunez RBI double.

In in his final frame of work, the Mexico native walked Jace Peterson to lead things off, then got Jonathan Villar and Adam Jones to ground out to second and third base for the first two outs of the bottom half of the third. That is how Velazquez’s night would come to somewhat of a surprising end, all while he failed to record a single strikeout.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 41 (56% strikes), the 29-year-old certainly was not pressed in his 34th outing of the season, which makes sense when you consider that he will be returning to his role in the bullpen in the coming days.

Out of those 41 pitches thrown, Velazquez relied heavily on his sinker, changeup, and slider, as he went to those three pitches a total of 33 times. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, which he threw seven times, in the first inning.

In relief of Velazquez, Brandon Workman got the first call in what would be a very busy night for the Red Sox bullpen.

Workman, who was later optioned down to Triple A Pawtucket, officially closed the book on Velazquez’s night by giving up an RBI single to Trey Mancini that scored Jace Peterson, who drew a leadoff walk earlier in the inning, from second and make it a 2-0 game.

After walking the next two batters he faced in Chris Davis and Renato Nunez to load the bases, Workman escaped any further damage by getting rookie Cedric Mullins to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

Drew Pomeranz, making his second straight appearance as a reliever in as many days, settled things down a bit by tossing two scoreless frames in the fourth and fifth and was in line for another winning decision with the Red Sox jumping out to a 3-2 lead while the left-hander was in the game.

Unfortunately, Heath Hembree, who has been struggling as of late, messed that up by surrendering the game-tying home run to Orioles left fielder Joey Rickard with two outs in the sixth, which could have been worse had Hembree not picked off Mullins on an attempted steal of second base while Rickard was at the plate.

Joe Kelly got the call for the seventh, and he worked his way around a one out single and two out walk for his first clean relief appearance since August 8th and fourth winning decision of 2018 to make way for William Cuevas in the eighth.

Cuevas, the 26th man on Saturday’s Red Sox roster for the doubleheader, made his first appearance with the big league club in over a month, and he too worked his way around multiple base runners in a scoreless frame of work.

Finally, in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel continued to frustrate by serving up a solo shot to Trey Mancini that cut Boston’s lead down to two, but ultimately saw his team’s 84th win through to the end by notching his 34th save of the season and 100th save in a Red Sox uniform on a four pitch strikeout of Chris Davis.

All and all, Alex Cora turned to seven pitchers in total, and despite only recording four strikeouts and an unsightly eight walks, I would say things worked out for the better.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a young pitcher they have already seen multiple times this year in Baltimore’s Yefry Ramirez

Ramirez, a right-hander in his rookie season, owned a career 5.79 ERA in two previous starts against Boston coming into Saturday, but he held his own in five innings pitched last night.

Without JD Martinez, the Red Sox more than likely would not have won this game, and he got the scoring started for his team in the fourth by blasting his first of two home runs to cut the Orioles lead in half at the time.

An inning later, Dan Butler, who was starting behind the plate in the night cap, drove in his first big league run since 2014 on a sac fly that scored Eduardo Nunez, who tripled to lead off the fifth, from third and tie things up at two runs a piece.

In the sixth, with Steve Pearce at third and Martinez at second, a wild pitch from Orioles reliever Cody Carroll on ball four of Rafael Devers’ third at bat of the night allowed Pearce to come in from third. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a one-run lead.

A lead that would not last long though, as Baltimore answered right back with a run of their own in their half of the sixth off of Heath Hembree to re-tie the game.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Mike Wright on the mound for the Orioles, and JD Martinez essentially put this contest to bed by coming through with a clutch two-run shot to left field. 410 feet off the bat for Martinez’s second big fly of the evening and league-leading 37th of the season.

To put this thing out of reach for good, Brock Holt provided some necessary insurance in the ninth on a two out RBI single that scored Mookie Betts from second and gave the Red Sox a 6-3 lead they would not have to look back from to sweep the twin bill.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 84-35 on the season. They are also 13-2 against the Orioles.

JD Martinez drove in his 102nd, 103rd, and 104th RBI last night. In his eight-year career, the most runs he had driven in in a single season was 104 in 2017.

Craig Kimbrel has given up runs in five of his last six appearances. That is actually bad.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be going for the four-game sweep in Baltimore later this afternoon. Guess who is getting the start for Boston?

That’s right. Chris Sale is BACK from the 10-day disabled list after missing nearly two weeks with left shoulder inflammation as he gets the nod in the Sunday finale.

As I mentioned earlier, Brandon Workman to Pawtucket will be the corresponding roster move.

Backed up by a career 2.18 ERA in ten games (seven starts) at Oriole Park, Sale will be facing off against another lefty in Baltimore’s Alex Cobb.

Although he may not be having the greatest of seasons (5.55 ERA in 21 GS), Cobb, a Boston native himself, has seen plenty from the Red Sox over his seven-year career with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.

In two starts against them in 2018, Cobb has surrendered a total of 11 runs on 20 hits in ten innings pitched.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Sunday.

 

 

RECAP: Rafael Devers Homers in Return from Disabled List as #RedSox Remain Unbeaten in August.

On the night following a 10-7 win despite a disappointing performance from Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox hung another 10 runs on the Blue Jays while Wednesday’s starter Brian Johnson had himself a much better time on the mound at Rogers Centre.

Making his eighth start of the season and pitching north of the border for the first time since he took the loss on a Luke Maile walk-off home run on May 11th, Johnson breezed through the first five innings of this one.

Retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced while holding the Jays scoreless, it looked as though the lefty was going to cruise to his third winning decision on Wednesday night.

It turned out that way in the end, but not before the Blue Jays gave Johnson a fair amount of trouble in both the sixth and seventh innings.

Starting in that sixth inning, a two-run home run off the bat of Teoscar Hernandez, who has now hit seven homers in 19 career games against the Red Sox, that was preceded by a Justin Smoak single gave Toronto their first two runs of the contest.

An inning later, which is the furthest Johnson has pitched into a big league game since last May, another home run, this one good for three runs off the bat of Randal Grichuk cut Boston’s lead in half and ended Johnson’s night on a rather sour note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (67 strikes), the former Florida Gator relied on his offspeed curveball heavily on Wednesday, as he went to it 44% of the time he was on the mound. His four-seam fastball, a pitch Johnson went to 40 times, topped out at 90.1 MPH in the second inning. Both home runs given up were a result of 86 and 87 MPH fastballs.

As he did end up improving to 3-3 on the season despite the five runs given up for the second consecutive outing, I would assume that Johnson will be able to maintain his spot in the rotation and make another start against the Philadelphia Phillies next week.

In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen, fresh off more than five innings of work on Tuesday, did not need to be turned to that frequently last night.

Both Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly tossed scoreless frames of work in the 10-5 win. Brasier worked his way around two base runners to retire the side in the eighth, and Joe Kelly did the same in the ninth to wrap up his team’s 81st win of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was mas matched up against a 28-year-old rookie right-handed pitcher in Toronto’s Mike Hauschild.

Hauschild, making his first career big league start, managed to hold Boston scoreless through the first two innings, but things really blew up on him starting in the third.

Rafael Devers, who was making his first start since being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day, got a four-run rally started by reaching second on a leadoff double.

One walk of Sandy Leon and one Mookie Betts HBP later to load the bases, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Devers from third with ease.

Mitch Moreland, fresh off a four RBI night on Tuesday, followed that up by ripping another double off the wall in center field to drive in both Leon and Devers and make it a 3-0 game.

Following a JD Martinez single that advanced Moreland to third and a Blue Jays pitching change that saw Luis Santos take over for Hauschild, Xander Bogaerts capped off the early rally with another sac fly to right field that allowed Moreland to score from third. 4-0.

In the fifth, Bogaerts came through again with runners in scoring position, as he drew a bases loaded walk from Santos that let Mookie Betts, who led the inning off with a single, plate Boston’s fifth run.

An inning later, Rafael Devers put on exclamation point in his first game back from injury by blasting a 2-2 slider from new Jays reliever Jake Petricka 425 feet into the left field seats. Devers’ 16th big fly of the season was good for two and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH, the second hardest hit ball of the evening.

Fast forward a bit to the seventh, and back-to-back doubles from JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s eighth run while Bogaerts was able to pick up his third RBI of the contest.

Finally, in the ninth, JD Martinez capped off what was another offensive onslaught from the Red Sox lineup by driving in Sandy Leon from second on a two out RBI single, his league-leading 98th of the season. Andrew Benintendi also came around to score in the inning thanks to a wild pitch from Toronto reliever Joe Biagini to plate his team’s 10th and last run of the night.

Some notes from this win: 

During his current seven-game hitting streak, JD Martinez is slashing .464/.559/.893 with one home run and nine RBI over that span.

From @MLBStatoftheDay: The are the 7th AL team EVER to win at least 81 of their first 115 games.

At 81-34, the Red Sox have won their last six games, all of which have come in August, 10 out of their last 11, and 25 of their last 30. Their winning percentage on the season is a robust .704.

Going for the series win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for the Red Sox against Blue Jays rookie southpaw Ryan Borucki.

Coming off perhaps the best start of his career last Friday against the New York Yankees in which he tossed nine innings of one run ball, Porcello will be in search of his 15th win of the season on Thursday.

Opposite Porcello will be Ryan Borucki, who also matched up against the righty in his last start against Boston on July 13th, a start in which he surrendered seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks in what turned out to be a 13-7 win for Toronto.

The Red Sox are red-hot and first pitch of the series finale at Rogers Centre is once again scheduled for 7:07 PM ET Thursday.