JD Martinez Goes Yard Twice, Michael Chavis Drives in Five Runs as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Mariners for Fifth Straight Win

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13 games, as they extended their current winning streak to five on Sunday afternoon with an 11-2 Mother’s Day triumph over the Seattle Mariners to finish off the weekend sweep.

On what was more of a bullpen day for the Sox, it was Hector Velazquez making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one.

Pitching in mostly unfavorable conditions at Fenway Park, the right-hander twirled five solid innings of work, limiting the M’s to just two runs on two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the day.

Right from the get go, it did not look as though Velazquez was going to go too deep into his outing, as Seattle led things off in the first by having runners on second and third without an out yet recorded.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, the Mexico native held the opposition to one run in the frame on an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly before really settling in.

Retiring 10 of the next 11 he faced following that Encarnacion at-bat, Velazquez did not run into any more trouble up until the start of the fifth inning, when Omar Narvaez launched a leadoff homer to right field for Seattle’s second run of the afternoon.

Still, Velazquez showed the ability to bounce back by again sitting down the M’s 7-8-9 hitters in order to retire the side in the fifth and end his outing on a more positive note by being eligible for the winning decision, which he did eventually pick up.

Finishing with a final economical pitch count of 63 (37 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 30% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing zero swings and misses and getting three called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 13 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Finally able to pick up that first W and improve to 1-2 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 3.95, the whereabouts on Velazquez’s next start are not yet known. I would expect him to make his next appearance out of the bullpen, though.

In relief of Velazquez, as has been the case regularly, Marcus Walden received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin the sixth inning.

Making his 14th appearance out of the ‘pen this season, the right-hander continued to impress with two more scoreless innings of relief on Sunday in addition to just one hit given up and three punch outs.

That made way for Josh Smith, who worked his way around a single and a fielding error in the eighth before shutting things down with a clean ninth to secure the 11-2 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, who picked up the win against the Sox in his second start of the year back on March 28th.

This time around, the Boston bats had a much better time of figuring out the Seattle southpaw, and the scoring got kicked off right away in the first inning.

Already trailing by a run, JD Martinez erased that deficit very quickly with a two out, 384 foot solo shot off of Gonzales to put the Red Sox on the board.

Three batters later, after Xander Bogaerts reached on a five-pitch walk and Rafael Devers advanced him to third on a line drive single, Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-19 slump by driving in Bogaerts on an RBI line drive single that should have been caught by Mariners rookie second baseman Shed Long.

That was followed up by another defensive miscue on Seattle’s behalf, with Rafael Devers coming in from third on a passed ball with Christian Vazquez at the plate. And just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-1 lead.

An inning later, more two trouble for the Mariners led to more scoring for the Red Sox, this time with Andrew Benintendi scoring all the way from first on a Mookie Betts pop up that again should have been caught by right fielder Jay Bruce. Instead, Bruce never really had control of the ball, dropped it, and in came Benintendi on the fielding error. 4-1.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Chavis was set up in a prime RBI spot again thanks to Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers reaching base with two outs against Mariners reliever Parker Markel.

With both runners in scoring position, the Red Sox rookie infielder snuck a single through the right side of the infield, plating Bogaerts and Devers to give his team the 6-2 advantage.

Two innings later, three straight walks drawn by Betts, Martinez, and Bogaerts off righty Dan Altavilla put the Red Sox in a spot to put this one out of reach, and they did just that with a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Devers and a two-run single from Chavis to make it a 9-2 game.

For Chavis, those two runs marked his fourth and fifth RBI of the day, setting a new-career high for a single game. Quite a way to break out of an offensive slump.

And in the eighth, just like how he started this one off, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on his team’s fifth straight win by depositing his second big fly of the afternoon over the Green Monster to plate both Mookie Betts as well as himself.

That put the Red Sox ahead 11-2, which would go on to be the final score in this series finale. Sweep completed.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 16-6 in their last 22 games.

With yet another three-hit performance on Sunday, Rafael Devers is slashing .426/.462/.638 with two home runs and 13 RBI over 11 games this month.

Two from Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before welcoming the Colorado Rockies into town for a quick, two-game interleague series on Tuesday.

The first of those two will feature a starting pitching matchup between left-hander Kyle Freeland for Colorado and fellow southpaw Chris Sale for Boston.

Coming off eight innings of one run ball in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, Sale has posted a 1.73 ERA, .165 batting average against, and 14.54 K/9 over his last four starts. The Red Sox are unbeaten in the lefty’s last two outings.

Freeland, meanwhile, has never pitched at Fenway Park, nor against the Red Sox, as this is just his third season in the majors.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

 

Advertisements

#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.

 

Tzu-Wei Lin Homers, Collects Three RBI in Seven-Run Fourth as #RedSox Cruise past Nationals

The Red Sox improved to 6-5 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following an 8-4 win over the Washington Nationals in West Palm Beach for their third consecutive victory.

Hector Velazquez got the start in this one five days after his last outing, which also came against the Nationals.

This time out, the right-hander had a bit of an easier time of things, limiting Washington to one run on four hits, no walks, and one HBP while striking out three over two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

After allowing two of the first four hitters he faced in the third to reach base and plate the Nationals’ first run of the afternoon, Velazquez’s day came to an end and in came right-hander Trevor Kelley.

Kelley retired the only hitter he faced, Victor Robles, to end Washington’s rally in the third, which ended up being good enough to notch his first winning decision of the spring.

From there, Bobby Poyner, Travis Lakins, Jenrry Mejia, Domingo Tapia, and Josh Taylor combined to surrender three runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts.

Mejia, who last pitched five days ago like Velazquez, allowed the first three hitters he faced to reach base in the seventh, which resulted in the Nationals scoring their second and third runs of the day on an Austin Vloth two RBI single.

The ex-Met finished the inning without surrendering another run with the help of a double play, but it was far from the three-strikeout performance he put together in his Red Sox debut.

Taylor, who was responsible for the ninth and final inning, wrapped things up on Tuesday by allowing another Nats run to score on an additional two hits before securing the victory for Boston by getting Chuck Taylor to line out to Cole Sturgeon.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was once again matched up against ace right-hander Max Scherzer for the Nationals.

After shutting the Boston bats out over three frames of work last Thursday, the three-time Cy Young Award winner did not have that dominating of an outing today.

Instead, Scherzer finally cracked in the fourth inning this time around, as leadoff man Tzu-Wei Lin got the scoring started for the Red Sox by launching a solo home run, his first of the spring.

That homer would turn out to be the catalyst of a seven-run inning from Boston, as Bobby Dalbec, Chad De La Guerra, and Tate Matheny went back-to-back-to-back with RBI base knocks, all while chasing Scherzer from this contest.

And the cherry on top of this offensive onslaught came from Lin as well, who drove in De La Guerra and Matheny on a two RBI single off of journeyman hurler Vidal Nuno.

Fast forward all the way to the top half of the seventh, and a Blake Swihart leadoff single would later result in Boston’s final run of the afternoon coming around to score on an RBI double off the bat of Oscar Hernandez to essentially put this contest away at 8-3.

As the final score indicates, the Nationals would score another run in their half of the ninth. So, in case you are confused, the final score of this one was 8-4.

Some notes from this win:

Through 16 at bats this spring, Tzu-Wei Lin is slashing .438/.500/.813 with one home run and five RBI.

In his first game back since leaving Red Sox camp for a few days to remember his brother, Blake Swihart went 2/4 with a pair of singles and two runs scored batting second and playing first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head back to JetBlue Park to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

RHP Nick Kingham will make the start for Pittsburgh, while fellow right-hander will do the same for Boston.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Again, ESPN is the way to go.

 

Top Prospect Michael Chavis Homers as #RedSox Open up Grapefruit League Play with 8-5 Win over Yankees

The Red Sox opened up Grapefruit League play with an 8-5 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday afternoon.

Non-roster invitee Josh Smith got the starting nod for Boston in this contest. The 31-year-old right-hander surrendered three earned runs on six hits, including a solo home run off the bat of Gleyber Torres, in less than two innings of work.

Trevor Kelley came in relief for Smith and retired the lone batter he faced to escape the top half of the second.

From there, Marcus Walden, 15th-ranked prospect Travis Lakins, and former Mariners hurler Erasmo Ramirez combined for five frames of scoreless work heading into the middle of seventh.

New York tacked on an additional pair of runs off of Kyle Hart in the eighth, but former 2015 37th round selection Adam Lau was able to record the needed out to end the inning and preserve Boston’s slim one-run lead at the time.

Brian Ellington, who the Red Sox signed to a minor league deal at the beginning of the month, worked his way around two walks in the ninth to preserve the save and the win.

On the other side of things, Tzu-Wei Lin got the scoring started for the Red Sox with a one out RBI single in the second that plated Bryce Brentz from first and cut the Yankees deficit to two.

An inning later, three straight one out hits, capped off by a Rafael Devers RBI single in his first start of the spring, saw Boston pull to within one run.

Following a Rusney Castillo strikeout and a pitching change that saw veteran right-hander Drew Hutchinson take over for starter Nestor Cortes, the Red Sox bats picked up right where they left off.

Another RBI single, this one coming off the bat of Bryce Brentz, allowed Sandy Leon to score from second and knot this contest at three runs a piece.

That stalemate did not last long though, as top Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis unloaded on a 3-2 pitch from Hutchinson and blasted an opposite field three-run shot to put the Red Sox ahead 6-3.

Chavis, 23, slashed .298/.381/.538 with nine home runs and 27 RBI in 46 games between Low A Lowell, Double A Portland, and Triple A Pawtucket. He was handed an 80-game suspension for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program last April.

Fast forward to the bottom half of the eighth, and non-roster invitee Juan Centeno provided some much-needed insurance with a one out two-run single off of Yankees reliever Joe Harvey.

That saw Boston’s advantage inflate from 6-5 to 8-5, which would go on to be the final score in this Grapefruit League opener.

Next up for the Red Sox is a Sunday afternoon contest against the Minnesota Twins. It will be the club’s first chance to see new first-year Twins manager Rocco Baldelli in person.

Baldelli, 37, is a native of Woonsocket, RI. and spent the 2009 season with Boston. He had been on Kevin Cash’s staff with the Tampa Bay Rays for the last four years.

First pitch on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET.

RHP Ryan Weber is expected to start for the Red Sox.