Red Sox Lineup: Colten Brewer Making Second Start of Season in Second of Four Against Orioles

After picking up their second straight victory on Thursday, the Red Sox will look to kick off the weekend with another win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will make his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by Orioles left-hander John Means.

In his first start of the year, Brewer surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings of work against the Yankees last Friday. Outside of that, the 27-year-old owns a 3.97 ERA and .756 OPS against as a reliever this season.

Upon completing anywhere from two to four innings against the O’s on Friday, Brewer will be followed by the recently-activated Darwinzon Hernandez out of the Boston bullpen.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, the plan for the 23-year-old southpaw, who was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Thursday, is to pitch one or two innings in his season debut.

As for Boston’s opposition, fellow southpaw John Means owns a lifetime 4.02 ERA and .704 OPS against in six career outings (five starts) and 31 1/3 total innings pitched against the Red Sox.

The 27-year-old, who was Baltimore’s lone All-Star last season, has posted a 10.57 ERA and 6.56 FIP through his first three starts of 2020.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Brewer and against Means to begin things on Friday:

With a left-hander on the mound for Baltimore, Kevin Pillar moves up to the leadoff spot while Alex Verdugo slips to the six-hole and Mitch Moreland takes a seat in favor of Michael Chavis at first base.

Among these nine hitters, Xander Bogaerts has by far seen Means the best, as the 27-year-old shortstop owns a lifetime .417/.429/.750 slash line with one home run in 12 career at-bats against the Orioles starter.

J.D. Martinez has also taken Means deep twice before.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their third consecutive victory.

Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Seven Strong Innings, Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland Both Homer as Red Sox Open Series Against Orioles With 7-1 Victory

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Red Sox have won two consecutive games following a 3-1 victory over the Orioles on Thursday night.

Nathan Eovaldi made his sixth start of the season for Boston, and he put together a strong outing after getting rocked for eight runs in his last time out against the Yankees.

Working a season-best seven innings against Baltimore on Thursday, the right-hander yielded just one run while scattering five hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts on the night.

That lone O’s tally came in Eovaldi’s final inning of work when the hurler served up a leadoff homer to Pat Valaika to make it a 3-1 contest at the time.

Other than that one blip though, Eovaldi settled down after a rather rocky top half of the first in which he escaped a bases loaded jam by retiring 18 of the last 21 hitters he faced from the middle of the second up until the end of the seventh, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (64 strikes), the 30-year-old fireballer turned to his four-seam and cut fastball 68% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing six swings-and-misses with the combination of pitches while topping out at 99.2 mph with his heater.

Able to pick up his second winning decision and lower his ERA on the season down to 4.98, Eovaldi will look to build off this impressive performance in his next time out, which should come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo on Wednesday.

In relief of Eovaldi, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the bottom of the eighth, and he fanned a pair in a quick, painless, and scoreless frame of work.

From there, Phillips Valdez was dispatched in the ninth in what had turned out to be a runaway for Boston, and the right-hander tossed a 1-2-3 inning to lock down the 7-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, someone who had given the Sox trouble in the past.

This time around, Wojciechowski was not quite as effective, and the Boston bats put that to the test right away in their half of the second.

There, a Christian Vazquez leadoff single that likely could have been caught was followed by Kevin Pillar drawing a six-pitch walk.

That sequence brought Jose Peraza to the plate with one out and a runner in scoring position, and the second baseman capitalized fully on the scoring chance by driving in Vazquez on a blooper of an RBI single to shallow center field.

Alex Verdugo doubled his side’s early lead with a groundout to second that brought in Pillar from third, and just like that, the Red Sox were up 2-0.

An inning later, Xander Bogaerts added on to that lead by taking Wojciechowski 366 feet deep to left field off a 1-2, 84 mph changeup near his hands for his fifth long ball of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time ripping an RBI single off Miguel Castro to drive in Verdugo from third and make it a 3-1 contest.

With runners at first and second now, Mitch Moreland followed suit by putting this one to bed with a 402-foot three-run homer to deep center field off Castro.

Moreland’s team-leading seventh big fly of the year, as well as the Red Sox’ first three-run home run, put Boston up 7-1, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

From’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Alex Verdugo’s streak of recording an extra-base hit may have ended at seven consecutive games, but he still has an 11-game hitting streak going.

Xander Bogaerts is 5-for-his-last-11 at the plate over his last three games.

The Red Sox’ 4-5-6 hitters (Bogaerts, Moreland, Vazquez) went a combined 7-for-14 with two homers and five RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this four-game weekend set against the Orioles on Friday night.

Right-hander Colten Brewer will serve as the opener for Boston, while left-hander John Means will get the traditional start for Baltimore.

Brewer opened for the Sox against the Yankees back on August 14 and he allowed two runs over 2 2/3 innings in that outing.

Means, meanwhile, owns a 10.57 ERA and 6.54 FIP through his first three starts and 7 2/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their third straight win.

Orioles Rule Out John Means for Opening Day, Red Sox to Face Tommy Milone Instead

As Opening Day for the 2020 season draws ever closer, the Red Sox were originally planning on facing Orioles left-hander John Means this coming Friday night at Fenway Park.

Those plans have since changed though, as O’s manager Brandon Hyde announced Tuesday that fellow southpaw Tommy Milone will get the Opening Day nod for Baltimore in place of Means.

That being the case because, as Hyde noted over the weekend, Means is dealing with dead arm “fatigue,” something that plagued him last season as well, but should not be viewed as a serious concern in the long-term.

As disappointing as it is that Means will not be making his first career Opening Day start, it has to come as somewhat of a relief for the Red Sox that they will not have to face the 27-year-old hurler later this week.

On his way to finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2019, Means posted a 2.89 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over five starts and 28 innings of work against Boston last season.

With Means now sidelined, the Sox can prepare to face his replacement in the form of Milone, a 33-year-old veteran journeyman who owns a lifetime 9.33 ERA in four career starts at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke Views Jose Peraza, Kevin Pillar as Potential Options to Lead off Against Left-Handed Pitching

Although the Red Sox roster is just about set for the start of the 2020 season, manager Ron Roenicke still has some decisions to make in terms of who will be hitting where in the team’s lineup.

More specifically in this case, Roenicke is looking for other candidates not named Andrew Benintendi who could potentially lead off against a left-handed starter. Two players he has in mind for that role are Jose Peraza and Kevin Pillar.

Peraza has been someone the Red Sox have been impressed with since the team regrouped for Summer Camp at Fenway Park earlier this month. Roenicke even said two weeks ago that he’s been “so impressed” with what the 26-year has been doing offensively.

Prior to signing a one-year deal with Boston back in December, Peraza batted out of the leadoff spot in 98 games for the Reds going back to the start of the 2016 season.

Over those 98 games, the Venezuela native accrued 120 plate appearances against left-handed pitching and posted a decent .318/.361/.400 slash line to go along with a 5.8% walk rate, a 7.5% strikeout rate, and a wRC+ of 102. In terms of counting stats, Peraza collected seven doubles, one triple, and four RBI while scoring 15 times.

Pillar, meanwhile, has accrued 387 career plate appearances out of the leadoff spot over seven big-league seasons between the Blue Jays and Giants. 118 of those plate appearances have come against left-handed pitching.

In that relatively small sample size, the now-31-year-old, who also signed a one-year deal with the Sox in February, slashed .303/.339/.541 while walking 5.1% of the time, striking out 12.7% of the time, and posting a 131 wRC+. He hit three homers and collected 14 RBI over that same time frame as well.

“I know Pillar can do it. I feel good with him up there against the left-handers,” Roenicke said of the veteran outfielder batting leadoff against southpaws. “And then we’ll just kind of see.”

The reason why Roenicke is pondering using a different leadoff hitter besides Benintendi is mainly because he is wary of deploying two left-handed hitters — Benintendi and Rafael Devers — at the top of the lineup against left-handed starters.

“I think we have some options. But right off the bat, I may go with the two left-handers and give those guys a chance to do it,” added the Sox skipper. “And I know we’ve talked about the short season, how we need to get off to a good start. But I still know that if those two guys are hitting well, Andrew and Devers like we’ve seen so far — they’re hitting left-handers and right-handers right now — so I feel pretty comfortable with both of them.”

Following the same criteria used for Peraza and Pillar, Benintendi owns a career .752 OPS and 103 wRC+ in 91 plate appearances against left-handed pitching while batting out of the leadoff spot since making his major-league debut in August 2016.

As you may already be aware, this all comes as the Red Sox prepare for their Opening Day opponent: Orioles left-hander John Means, who really had his way with the Boston bats during his rookie year last season, posting a 2.89 ERA over five starts and 28 innings of work in 2019.

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Six Solid Innings in Final Tune-Up Before Opening Day

In his final tune-up before his first career Opening Day start this coming Friday, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi put together six solid innings of work in Sunday night’s intrasquad game at Fenway Park.

Over those six frames for the Home Sox, Eovaldi yielded two runs on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the evening.

Both of those runs surrendered by the 30-year-old came in the top half of the third, an inning in which Eovaldi served up a solo homer to Cesar Puello and an RBI single to Jackie Bradley Jr. while only being able to record one out before it was called for pitch count purposes.

Other than that shaky frame though, Eovaldi was rather impressive, as he retired nine of the final 10 batters he faced to end his outing on a positive note.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom postgame, Eovaldi said that his third-inning struggles were “a little bit mechanical” and that his splitter and breaking ball were “better towards the end” of his start.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke agreed with that sentiment, telling reporters in a separate postgame Zoom call that he thought Eovaldi’s last two innings “were really good.”

In terms of where he is at ahead of the start of the 2020 season, the Houston native added that he’s “excited” to start on Opening Day and he has no recollection of making any sort of other Opening Day start during his high school or minor-league career.

In an ideal world, Eovaldi would likely be the Sox’ No. 3 starter behind left-handers Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez. But, with Sale out for the year while recovering from Tommy John surgery and Rodriguez out for the beginning stages of the season while recovering from COVID-19, the flame-throwing righty has been thrust into the spotlight.

Eovaldi has certainly been the subject of plenty of criticism since he signed a four-year, $68 million deal with Boston two Decembers ago, but he now has the chance to silence some of his doubters starting on Friday night, when he’ll be opposite Orioles left-hander John Means on Opening Day at Fenway Park.

First pitch for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

Nathan Eovaldi Named Red Sox’ Opening Day Starter

After plenty of speculation, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has been named the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter, manager Ron Roenicke officially announced Saturday afternoon.

Eovaldi, 30, is entering his second full season with Boston and will be making his first career Opening Day start this coming Friday against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park.

The Houston native had a fine showing at spring training in Fort Myers earlier in the year, and he’s picked up right where he left off in Florida by continuing to impress the Sox at Summer Camp in Boston.

It looked like left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was initially going to be the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter to begin the truncated 2020 season, but due to his testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, he will presumably begin the year on the 10-day injured list.

With Rodriguez on the shelf for the opening stages of the season, Boston’s starting rotation will likely look something like this to at least begin the 2020 campaign:

Nathan Eovaldi
Martin Perez
Ryan Weber
Brian Johnson
Opener/Maybe Zack Godley?

In regards to Friday’s match-up against Baltimore, Eovaldi will be opposite Orioles left-hander John Means, who went 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA over five starts and 28 innings pitched against Boston in 2019.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, surrendered eight earned runs over seven total innings pitched in two separate starts against the Orioles last season. The flame-throwing righty owns a career 4.57 ERA in 18 outings (10 starts) and 61 innings pitched at Fenway Park since coming over from the Rays in a July 2018 trade.

First pitch on Opening Day is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez Both Homer but Red Sox Drop Second Straight to Orioles

After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.

Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.

Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.

An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.

In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.

Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.

From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.

Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.

Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.

A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.

An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.

In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.

Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.

And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.

In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.

Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.

The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.

The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.

In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.

Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.

Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.

With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.


David Price Gets Shelled for Six Runs as Red Sox Get Blown out by Orioles in Baltimore

After taking three out of four from the Toronto Blue Jays this past week, the Red Sox came into the weekend with a three-game weekend set against the Baltimore Orioles on deck. As it was with the Toronto series, the main objective was to sweep Baltimore, especially with a stretch of 14 straight games against the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays beginning of Monday. Instead of a sweep though, the best the Sox can hope for going forward is a series win, as they dropped the opener in disappointing fashion by a final score of 11-2 Friday.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston and second against the O’s was David Price, fresh off throwing a season-high 113 pitches in his last time out against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tossing just four full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts on the humid night.

The first three of those Baltimore runs came right away in the bottom half of the first, when with two outs and runners on the corners following a one-out single and walk in consecutive order, Price served up a three-run home run to Anthony Santander on a 2-2, 93 MPH two-seam fastball over the outer half of the plate.

An inning later, after the Red Sox responded with two runs of their own, more two-out trouble arose for the Tennessee native, this time with Richie Martin ripping a triple off the right field wall and coming into score on a fielding error committed by J.D. Martinez, making it a 4-2 game.

In the fourth, Keon Broxton doubled his team’s lead, taking Price deep to left off a 2-2, 84 MPH changeup for a 407-foot, two-run blast.

Here are the locations of the two pitches Price gave up for home runs. Notice where Sandy Leon is set up. Not great.

If there are any positives to take away from Price’s performance, he did end his evening by punching out the last three Orioles he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 88 (58 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing six swings and misses and topping out at 95.5 MPH with the pitch while Leon was at the plate.

Losing at Camden Yards for the first time in his career, Price is now 7-3 on the season to go along with a 3.61 ERA. His next start should come next Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Price, Colten Brewer entered the fifth with the Red Sox trailing 6-2, and he filled the bases with the three first Orioles who came to the plate before allowing a run to cross the plate on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Stevie Wilkerson.

A six-pitch walk of Broxton to re-load the bases led to another change, this time with Ryan Weber taking over for Brewer.

Weber did yield another Baltimore run by getting Martin to ground into a force out at second, but ultimately escaped the frame without further damage.

From there, with the Red Sox already behind six runs to begin with, Weber took one for the team as they say, as he saw three more Orioles runs runs (two earned) cross the plate in a three-run seventh for Baltimore before tossing a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep any hopes of a nine-run comeback alive.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander John Means, who was Baltimore’s lone representative in the 2019 All-Star Game earlier this month.

Sam Travis, getting the start in left field with the southpaw on the mound, got the scoring started for Boston in the second, when with no outs and Christian Vazquez at first following a leadoff walk, the 25-year-old belted his first home run of the season. A two-run blast that had an exit velocity of 98 MPH and traveled 396 feet, per Statcast.

Travis’ second career big league homer cut the Orioles’ deficit from three runs to just one, but the Sox failed to capitalize on any run-scoring chances the remainder of the night.

Means sat down 15 of the next 18 Red Sox hitters he faced following the home run, stranding runners at first and second in the fifth in the process of doing so.

The Boston bats didn’t fare much better against the Orioles bullpen either, despite Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sandy Leon putting runners at the corners with one out in the seventh.

Nope, left-hander Richard Bleier got out of that mess, while Jimmy Yacabonis fanned two in a shutout eighth inning of work and Miguel Castro gave up a two-out single to Bradley Jr. in an otherwise clean frame of relief to close this 11-2 blowout loss for the Red Sox out.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position Friday. They left seven men on base.

Xander Bogaerts’ 10-game hitting streak came to an end, while Mookie Betts extended his to 11 with a leadoff single in the first inning.

J.D. Martinez’s last seven games: .103/.212/.207 with one home run and one RBI.

From NESN’s Guerin Austin:

Simply put, the Red Sox got outplayed by the Orioles in nearly every facet of the game on Friday. And that seems to be the theme with this 2019 team, one minute, you think they’re about to go on a tear, then they go ahead and take a step backwards like this.

Next up, Rick Porcello gets the start for the Sox on Saturday night. He’ll be opposed by Orioles righty Tom Eshelman.

In his only other start against the O’s this year, Porcello surrendered three runs on five hits over four innings, eventually taking the loss back on April 13th.

When pitching at Camden Yards, Porcello has posted a lifetime 4.38 ERA and .219 batting average against over 10 outings and 61 2/3 total innings pitched.

Eshelman, meanwhile, was originally drafted by the Houston Astros in 2015 and was part of the deal that sent Ken Giles from the Philadelphia Phillies to Houston in December of that same year.

Acquired by the Orioles from the Phillies in exchange for international bonus slot money on June 9th, Eshelman’s first two major league starts have come against the Rays, where he has allowed a total of six runs over 10 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking for a much-needed win.

Also, it’s hot in Baltimore this weekend.

Late Home Runs from Marco Hernandez and Rafael Devers Propel Red Sox to 8-6 Extra Innings Win over Orioles to Complete Three-Game Sweep on Father’s Day

In a game that took nearly five hours and an extra inning to complete, the Red Sox came away with their fifth consecutive victory and a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, as they took the series finale by a final tally of 8-6.

Making his first start of the season and first appearance since April 5th for Boston was Brian Johnson, who was just activated from the injured list this past Friday after missing more than 2 months of major league action due to inflammation in his throwing elbow.

Working his way into the fourth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded one earned run on five hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon.

Despite dealing with a decent amount of traffic on the base paths in such a short span of time, Johnson only gave up that lone Orioles run in their half of the third, when Keon Broxton came around to score on a one-out RBI single from Hanser Alberto.

Other than that, Johnson stranded runners at first and second to end the frame before allowing Anthony Santander and Jonathan Villar to reach with no outs in the fourth, which is the point where his day came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (41 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his curveball more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.2 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 25 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Given the current state of the Red Sox’ rotation with Nathan Eovaldi still shelved for the foreseeable future, expect Johnson to make his next start against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday if he isn’t used out of the bullpen before then.

In relief of Johnson, Colten Brewer was inserted into this contest with three outs to get in the fourth and runners on first and second.

With the help of Broxton interfering while running out a successful bunt attempt that would have plated the Orioles’ second run, the right-hander managed to escape the jam in the fourth with his team still in front. Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde, however, was ejected for arguing the ruling of that play.

From there, Mike Shawaryn got the first two outs of the fifth while loading the bases on a pair of walks and a single, and left-hander Josh Taylor, just recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, saved him by inducing a grounder off the bat of Villar to retire the side.

Taylor also worked his way around a fielding error in the sixth in an otherwise clean inning to make way for Marcus Walden in the seventh.

Making his 28th appearance out of the ‘pen, Walden sat down three of the four Orioles he faced in his first inning of relief before running into some trouble in the eighth, where Villar led things off by drawing a six-pitch walk and eventually scored courtesy of two swiped bags and a wild pitch.

That knotted things up at two runs a piece at the time, and Travis Lakins proceeded to give that up by serving up a pinch-hit triple to the first man he faced in Stevie Wilkerson before Hanser Alberto drove him in on another RBI base knock. Just like that, the Red Sox were trailing.

Fortunately though, Marco Hernandez pulled them even in the top half of the ninth, while Brandon Workman sent this one into extras with a scoreless bottom half.

And in the 10th, after they pretty much blew this one open to 8-3, Josh Smith nearly gave it all back by giving up a pair of homers, but held on to close out his third game of the season to secure an 8-6 win for Boston.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar and fairly tough opponent in Baltimore left-hander John Means, who entered Sunday having given up just two total runs in two prior starts this season against Boston.

This time around, Means held his own through the first three innings, but the Sox bats finally got to him in the fourth, with Xander Bogaerts getting his team on the board by driving in Rafael Devers all the way from first on a one-out line drive RBI double to left.

Bogaerts nearly scored the Sox’ second run as well, but was hung up to dry when trying to come home on a single from Michael Chavis. Instead of scoring, the young shortstop got caught in the middle of a rundown, all while Chavis advanced into scoring position.

So, with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, the red-hot outfielder went ahead and extended his hitting streak to seven games, plating Chavis from second on a run-scoring double to give Boston their first lead of the afternoon.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, after they had fallen behind by a run yet again, and Marco Hernandez came through in the clutch by blasting a game-tying, 395 foot solo shot to center off new Orioles reliever Mychal Givens. His first homer since May 30th of 2016, which also happened to come off of Givens in Baltimore, to eventually send this contest into extras.

There, in the 10th, Devers broke the stalemate in his first at-bat against Givens, leading off the frame by depositing a 1-0 fastball 458(!) feet to the opposite field for his 11th big fly of the season.

Still in the same inning, a fielding error that allowed Bogaerts to reach safely, a Michael Chavis single, and a walk drawn by Brock Holt off Orioles reliever David Hess filled the bases with Red Sox for Mookie Betts,

Already with two hits of the day, the reigning American League MVP broke this one open with number three, ripping a two-run single to left to plate Bogaerts and Chavis to put his team up by three.

Christian Vazquez opened up that lead a little further with another two-run double to drive in the two men on ahead of him, and that would later prove to be vital.

That being the case because even though they went up 8-3 on Vazquez’s clutch two-base hit, the Orioles almost staged a rally of their own in their half of the 10th, cutting Boston’s advantage back down to two runs before Sunday’s contest ultimately came to a close with a final score of 8-6.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi was originally starting in left field and batting second Sunday, but was scratched due to a sore left quad. That’s why JD Martinez was out in left field.

From Red Sox Stats:

Rafael Devers during his six-game hitting streak: 11-for-27 with one double, one triple, two homers, and five RBI.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .357/.400/.714 with two stolen bases, two home runs, and six RBI.

For the third time this season, Michael Chavis has recorded multiple hits in three straight games.

The Red Sox swept the Orioles, as expected. Now comes the true test. We’ve seen it before from this team, they dominate an inferior opponent, then proceed to struggle against better teams, such as the Astros, Rays, or Yankees.

This time, it will be a three-game set in Minnesota against the rising 47-23 first place Twins.

Led by ex-Red Sox outfielder and first-year manager Rocco Baldelli, the Twins have taken off in 2019, and entered Sunday leading the American League in runs scored (411), doubles (149), home runs (135), team slugging percentage (.514), and team OPS (.854) among other categories.

For the opener on Monday, it will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of right-handers, with Rick Porcello getting the ball for Boston and Jose Berrios doing the same for Minnesota.

Porcello is coming off his best start in weeks in his last time out against the Texas Rangers, and brings with him a lifetime 2.96 ERA over 13 career starts and 82 total innings pitched at Target Field.

Berrios, meanwhile, has had himself a solid 2019 thus far. That much is evident bow how the Twins are 11-3 in games he starts.

In three career starts against Boston, the 25-year-old is 0-2 with an ERA of 4.15 over 17.1 total innings of work.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox have plenty to prove as they go for their sixth straight victory.



#RedSox Come out Flat in 4-1 Series-Opening Loss to Orioles

Coming off a successful weekend in Chicago, the Red Sox headed to Baltimore with the chance to improve their record to over .500 by the time they got back to Fenway Park this Friday, but instead took a few steps back in a frustrating 4-1 loss at the hands of the last place Orioles on Monday.

Making his first start and second appearance for the Red Sox in this one was Josh Smith, who last worked out of the bullpen in the club’s 6-1 win over the White Sox this past Friday.

Signed as a minor league free agent in January, the 31-year-old right-hander surrendered four runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts over the first 3.1 innings Monday.

All four of those Baltimore runs came on one swing of the bat, when, after loading the bases with the first three hitters he faced in the second and striking out the next two, Smith served up a bases-clearing grand slam to Orioles second baseman Jonathan Villar.

He nearly escaped the jam, but that granny would wind up being all the offense the O’s would need in this one.

After sitting down the next four Orioles in a row, Smith’s night would come to an end after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced to reach in the fourth, making way for Heath Hembree.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 70 (42 strikes), Smith relied on his four-seam fastball 33% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 92 MPH with the pitch.

In relief of Smith, as previously mentioned, Heath Hembree came on with runners on first and second and two outs to get.

Last working on Saturday, Hembree needed just four pitches to retire the side and lower his ERA on the year down to 3.86.

From the middle of the fifth inning on, Ryan Weber, who was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket Monday in correspondence with David Price being placed on the 10-day injured list, throughoughly impressed in his Red Sox debut.

Like Smith, Weber, 28, signed a minor league pact with Boston back in December and made five starts with the PawSox, where he posted a 5.04 ERA over 25 innings pitched.

Last appearing in the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018, the right-hander held the Orioles scoreless in four innings of relief, yielding just three hits and one HBP as well as four punch outs on the night.

The Orioles had two real opportunities to pad their lead off Weber, once with a runner on third and one out in the seventh, and once with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth right after Steve Pearce robbed them of a run by nabbing Renato Nunez trying to score from third on a grounder off the bat of Stevie Wilkerson. They came up empty on both occasions though, sealing the solid debut for the newest member of Boston’s pitching staff.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held in check by Orioles left-hander John Means and company, and that couldn’t be highlighted more by the fact that Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Michael Chavis, and Rafael Devers went a combined 0-for-19 with five strikeouts Monday. Not great.

The only two Red Sox to collect hits in this one were Christian Vazquez and Eduardo Nunez, whose fifth inning sacrifice fly to plate Vazquez from third provided Boston with their only run of the night.

No one even drew a walk.

Some notes from this 4-1 loss:

In two starts against the Red Sox this season, Means is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA over 12 total innings pitched.

Over his last 10 games (nine starts), Christian Vazquez is slashing .387.472/.516 with one home run and three RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to rebound in the middle game of this three-game series Tuesday night.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez will be getting the start for Boston in the place of David Price, while right-hander David Hess will do the same for Baltimore.

In three career appearances (one start) at Orioles Park, Velazquez owns a lifetime 3.00 ERA over six total innings.

Hess, meanwhile, is 0-3 in three career starts against the Red Sox, so at least they have that going for them.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN.