Less than 24 hours after their first win of the second “half” of the season in Detroit on Friday night, the Red Sox were back at it against the Tigers at an early 6:00 PM start time yesterday.
Making his fifth start of the season and second career start against Detroit, Brian Johnson continued to prove he is more than capable of filling in the rotation with yet another solid outing on Tuesday evening.
In his longest appearance since being activated from the disabled list on July 15th, the lefty surrendered just two runs, both unearned, on five hits in five innings pitched.
Over that span, Johnson did not walk a single batter while tying his season-high in strikeouts with five on the night.
The only real mistake Johnson made came in the bottom half of the second inning, when with runners on first and second, old friend Jose Iglesias ripped a two-run double down the left field line to put his team on the board, which is all they would need to pick up the eventual win.
Other than that though, it certainly could have been worse for Johnson, but with the help of Mookie Betts making this catch to rob Leonys Martin of a home run in the third…
…the Florida native managed to hold the Tigers scoreless over the last three innings he pitched while retiring nine of the last 12 batters he faced.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 77 (53 strikes), Johnson went to his four-seam fastball 35 times and topped out at 91 MPH with it in the fourth inning. It has yet to be announced by the team yet, but I would expect the 27 year-old hurler to make his next start against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday back at Fenway Park.
In relief of Johnson, Tyler Thornburg got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin the bottom half of the sixth inning, and he was not at the top of the game.
Walking the leadoff hitter is never a good sign, but that’s exactly what Thornburg did to kick off his lone frame of work. After a Victor Martinez single put runners on first and third with still no outs, Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario tacked on an insurance run for his team with a sac fly to left field, making it a 3-0 game now.
Two batters later, old friend Jose Iglesias struck again, as he essentially put this game out of reach by blasting a two-run homer, his third of the season, into the Tigers bullpen to put his team up by five runs. All of this coming off of Thornburg, who now owns a 10.38 ERA in five appearances with the Red Sox.
From that point on, Ryan Brasier and Hector Velazquez combined to toss two scoreless innings to wrap this thing up and at least give the Red Sox some sort of chance in the ninth, although that did not come to fruition.
On the other side of things, following a one run effort against the Tigers on Friday, the Red Sox lineup was held completely scoreless in nine tries last night.
Facing off against veteran starter Mike Fiers for Detroit, Boston did collect their fair share of hits and walks, but could not capitalize on any scoring opportunity.
With JD Martinez out of the lineup on Saturday, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi were responsible for half of the teams eight hits.
As I mentioned, the scoring chances were there for the Red Sox, like how two runners reached base each inning from the fifth until the seventh, but a las, nothing came of it.
Scattering seven hits and three free passes over 6.1 innings pitched, Fiers was definitely far from the toughest opponent the Red Sox have faced this season, yet they could not plate a single run off of him or the Tigers bullpen in a frustrating effort.
Some notes from this one:
Rafael Devers made his return from the 10-day disabled list and batted sixth last night. He went 1/4 with two strikeouts to go along with an E5 on a throwing error in the second inning.
100 games into the season, the Red Sox still have a nice 69-31 record, meaning they have won exactly 69% of their games thus far in 2018.
In five outings as a starter, Brian Johnson owns a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched. The Red Sox are 4-1 when he starts.
With a 1/3 night at the plate, Blake Swihart extended his hitting streak to six games. In those six games, he’s slashing .438/.471/.563 with one RBI.
The Red Sox have scored one run in 18 innings since returning from the break, not great.
Looking for win number 70 this afternoon, it will be Chris Sale making his first start since he tossed a scoreless inning for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game. With a career 3.05 ERA against the Tigers, the lefty will be matched up against fellow southpaw Blaine Hardy for Detroit, who has surrendered six runs in 7.2 career innings pitched against the Red Sox.
JD Martinez is back in the lineup, DHing, and batting third today while Mitch Moreland sits in favor of Steve Pearce at first base. First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET as the Red Sox go for their fifth straight series win.