Chris Sale Fans 12 over Six Innings, Rafael Devers Homers Again as Red Sox Take Series from Blue Jays with 5-0 Win

After yet again barely holding on to take a one-run contest over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night, the Red Sox wrapped up their seven-game homestand Thursday with a 5-0 victory over their divisional foes to improve to 53-44 on the season.

Making his 20th start of the season and fourth against the Blue Jays for Boston in this series finale was Chris Sale, who entered Thursday having allowed 14 runs (13 earned) over 14 2/3 innings in the previous three.

Turning things around for the better this time out, the left-hander tossed six scoreless frames, scattering just two hits and two walks to go along with 12 strikeouts on the afternoon.

Right from the jump, it appeared that Sale was on his game, as he punched out the side in order in a 17-pith top of the first.

The most trouble the Florida native ran into came in the top half of the fifth, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led things off by drawing a four-pitch walk and Brandon Drury advanced him to second on a two-out single three at-bats later.

Fortunately for Boston, Sale was able to reach back and fan Freddy Galvis on a 2-2, 96.7 MPH four-seam fastball to escape the jam.

Other than that bit of stress, Sale retired 18 of the 22 Blue Jays hitters he faced in total and capped off his stellar performance by getting Justin Smoak to softly ground out to short to put an end to the top of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 37% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch. He also induced a game-high eight whiffs with his slider, a pitch thrown eight times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

At long last, Sale’s streak of consecutive home starts without a win is over, as the lefty picked up his first victory at Fenway Park since July 11th of last year to improve to 4-9 on the 2019 season.

Lowering his ERA down to 4.05 on the season in the process of doing so, Sale’s next start should come Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on in the seventh with a four-run lead to protect, and he did just that, working his way around a leadoff HBP by inducing a 6-4-3 inning-edning double play and twirling a 1-2-3 eighth.

Finally, in his second appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 16th, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez fanned a pair in a scoreless ninth inning to secure the shutout win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays left-hander Thomas Pannone, a native of Rhode Island who had faced the Sox twice this season before Thursday and had given up four runs across those appearances.

Pannone held his own for the most part to begin things in this one, limiting the Boston bats to just two hits over the first four innings.

It wasn’t until Sam Travis reached base on a one-out double in the bottom half of the fifth when the scoring started.

That being the case because. two pitches later, Sandy Leon got the Sox on the board with an RBI single back up the middle off a 1-0, 80 MPH changeup from Pannone.

A hard–fought walk drawn by Mookie Betts put runners at first and second for Rafael Devers, who came through in the prime run-scoring spot by mashing his 19th home run of the season, a 417-foot shot that had an estimated exit velocity of 109.8 MPH off the bat, per Statcast.

That blast put Boston ahead 4-0 and ultimately chased Pannone from this contest.

Fast forward to the seventh, and Mookie Betts essentially put this game on ice, greeting new Blue Jays reliever with a 418-foot solo shot to lead off the inning.

Betts’ 14th big fly of 2019 gave the Red Sox the 5-0 advantage, and that would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MLB Stats:

Red Sox’ 1-2-3 hitters (Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts) on Thursday: 5-for-11 with two home runs, three runs scored, and four RBI.

Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts extended their hitting streaks to 10 games on Thurday. Over that span, Betts has scored 14 runs, while Bogaerts has recorded multiple hits in his last five games.

Rafael Devers in July: .345/.419/.782 with seven home runs and 23 RBI.

Darwinzon Hernandez on Thursday: 12 pitches, eight strikes, five swings and misses, and topped out at 97.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

So, the Red Sox end their seven-game homestand by taking three of four from the Blue Jays. Next up, they head out for a two-city, six-game road trip before welcoming the New York Yankees into town for the first time this season.

The first stop of the road trip is Baltimore, where left-hander David Price will get the start in the opener for Boston, and fellow southpaw John Means will do the same for Baltimore.

It will be Price’s first start since all that Dennis Eckersley drama resurfaced on Wednesday, but I can’t imagine that will serve as any sort of distraction for him.

In his only start against the O’s this season back on April 14th, the 33-year-old tossed a seven-inning shutout while striking out seven to earn the win.

Over 12 career outings at Camden Yards, Price owns a lifetime 2.72 ERA and .237 batting average against in 76 total innings of work.

Means, meanwhile, was selected to be Baltimore’s lone representative in the 2019 All-Star Game.

Through 19 appearances (15 starts) this season, the 26-year-old has posted an impressive 2.94 ERA and .227 batting average against despite surrendering six earned runs over six innings in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Three of those starts have come against the Sox, where Means is 1-2 with a 2.12 ERA over 17 total innings pitched. The Orioles are 1-2 in those games.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

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Michael Chavis’ First Career Grand Slam Sets Tone Early as Red Sox Hold on to Take Opener from Blue Jays

After dropping their series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, the Red Sox opened up a new four-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays in much more encouraging fashion Monday, taking the opener by a final score of 10-8 to snap a two-game skid and improve to 51-43 on the season.

Making his 19th start of the season and third against Toronto for Boston was Rick Porcello, who entered the week having given up six total runs in his first two outings against the Jays.

This time around, the right-hander yielded four runs, all of which were earned, on eight hits, one HBP, and zero walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts over six full innings of work.

The first two of those Toronto tallies came in the top half of the second, when with two outs and a runner on first, Porcello served up a two-run home run to the just-called up Billy McKinney on a 2-0, 90 MPH two-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate.

An inning later, with one out and runners at first and second, an RBI double off the bat of Randal Grichuk and RBI groundout off the bat of Justin Smoak in consecutive order plated two more runs, cutting the Sox’ initial five-run lead down to just one.

Things were not looking all that positive for Porcello at that point, but New Jersey native did recover nicely enough from there by sitting down nine of the final 12 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the sixth, which is where his outing came to a close. Rafael Devers helped out, too.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 112 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 27% of the time he was on the mound Monday night, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 92.7 MPH with the pitch.

Able to pick up the winning decision to improve to 7-7 on the year despite his ERA inflating up to 5.37, Porcello has quite simply not been a quality starting pitcher since he tossed that seven-inning shutout gem against the Minnesota Twins on June 17th.

In four starts since then, Porcello owns an ERA of 10.50 over his last 18 innings pitched. He’ll look to turn things around in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

In relief of Porcello, Marcus Walden came on with a six-run cushion to work with, and it appeared as though the Red Sox would cruise to a victory following a scoreless seventh inning from the right-hander.

Ryan Brasier, however, did not have as easy as a time as Walden did, as he saw his team’s six-run lead shrink down to four on a one-out Smoak double, a Danny Jansen RBI single, a McKinney single, and a sacrifice fly from Eric Sogard.

With runners on the corners and still two outs to get in the eighth, Matt Barnes was tabbed with getting out of the jam, and he did so, but not before closing the book on Brasier’s night by surrendering a two-run base knock to the first man he saw in Freddy Galvis.

Just like that, a 10-4 lead turned into a 10-8 one, whcih meant Brandon Workman coming on for the save in the ninth on a night where it looked like he would not be needed.

Up against the 4-5-6 hitters in Toronto’s lineup, Workman needed only 14 pitches to retire the side, notching his fourth save and securing the 10-8 victory for his team in the process of doing so. Bullpen meltdown avoided.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Trent Thornton, facing Boston for the third time this season and second time in a span of two weeks.

Getting things started right away in the bottom of the first, a Mookie Betts leadoff double and back-to-back one out walks drawn by Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez loaded the bases early for Andrew Benintendi.

On the second pitch he saw from Thornton, an 0-1, 93 MPH heater, Benintendi pulled an RBI single to right field to drive in Betts for his side’s first run and to refill the bases for Michael Chavis.

In a rookie-on-rookie matchup, Chavis won the first battle against Thornton, as he unloaded on a 3-2, 94 MPH four-seamer right down the heart of the plate and sent it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his first career Grand Slam and 16th homer of the season.

That put the Red Sox up 5-0 early, but as already mentioned, the Jays battled their way back to cut that deficit to one heading into the bottom half of the third.

There, with Thornton out and right-hander Sam Gaviglio in, a two-out walk drawn by Sandy Leon would turn out to be the catalyst for another five-run rally, as a Brock Holt walk and Betts free pass loaded the bases again, this time for Rafael Devers.

Devers came through with a two-run single on a 3-2, 84 MPH slider from Gaviglio, and Bogaerts followed suit by plating Betts and moving Devers up to third on a line-drive RBI single to center, making it an 8-4 contest.

Martinez’s second walk saw righty Joe Biagini replace Gaviglio, and up to the plate came Benintendi with the bases full once more.

Fittingly enough, the one who drove in the Sox’ first run of the night also drove in the last two, as Benintendi hacked at an 0-1, 94 MPH two-seamer from Biagini and slapped a two-run double down the left field line, off the base of the left field wall.

Both Devers and Bogaerts were able to score as a result, and the Red Sox had themselves a 10-4 lead.

The Sox were unable to send more than four hitters to the plate in a single frame from the fourth inning on, but despite Toronto’s best efforts, they managed to hold on and take this series opener by a final score of 10-8.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Xander Bogaerts during his seven-game hitting streak: .414/.469/.862 with four homers and 14 RBI.

A nice way to recover from a tough weekend against the Dodgers for sure, but as Sox manager Alex Cora mentions in the attached quote, his team needs to be better, especially at closing out games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second of this four-game series on Tuesday night.

Right-hander Andrew Cashner, acquired from the Baltimore Orioles this past Saturday, is set to get the start and make his Red Sox debut. The Blue Jays have yet to name a starter.

Cashner, 32, owns an ERA of 1.41 and batting average against of .168 over his last five starts and 32 innings pitched dating back to June 8th.

In eight career starts against Toronto, Cashner is 3-2 with a 2.49 ERA over 50 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking for their second straight win.

 

 

Chris Sale Fails to Get Through Five Innings, Falls to 3-9 on Season as Red Sox Get Blown out by Dodgers

After opening up an important three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with a convincing 8-1 victory on Friday, the Red Sox fell back to earth less than 24 hours later, falling to the reigning National League champions by a final score of 11-2 on Saturday to snap a five-game winning streak.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston was Chris Sale, who entered Saturday having given up four or more runs in all of his last three outings.

Working into just the fifth inning this time around, the left-hander yielded another five runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first of those five Dodgers runs came right away in the first, when a leadoff walk of Chris Taylor came back to bite Sale on a two-out, RBI single off the bat of A.J. Pollock put the Red Sox in an early hole.

Following a second inning in which he retired the side in order, Dodgers third baseman widened the gap even further by taking Sale deep to left on a one-out, first-pitch, 91 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate, making it a 2-0 game.

Again, the Florida native recovered nicely, sitting down four of the next hitters he faced before ultimately meeting his doom in the top half of the fifth.

There, a leadoff single from Kike Hernandez and an Austin Barnes HBP put runners at first and second with one out for Turner.

This time, on a 2-2 slider from Sale, Turner ripped a line-drive double to left, plating Hernandez and moving Barnes up to third.

A brief mound visit made no difference in the next at-bat, as David Freese followed suit with another run-scoring two bagger to left, this one scoring both Barnes and Hernandez to put the Dodgers up 5-1.

Sale remained in and got Cody Bellinger to line out to right for the second out of the frame, but his disappointing evening would come to a close right after that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (57 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 96.7 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-9 on the year with his ERA inflating up to 4.27, the last few weeks have clearly been a difficult time for Sale. It’s not a Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon problem. It’s a Chris Sale problem, and that falls on the Red Sox’ coaching staff, per manager Alex Cora.

Sale’s next start should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next Thursday, a team that has given him plenty of trouble so far this season.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree came on with a runner on second and one out to get, and he did just that by punching out Max Muncy on five pitches after plunking Pollock.

From there, Colten Brewer worked his way around a pair of walks in a scoreless sixth, and Steven Wright served up back-to-back one-out solo jacks to Bellinger and Pollock in the seventh before taking a comebacker off his foot on a Muncy comebacker.

Marcus Walden entered in place of Wright, and he officially closed the book on the knuckleballer’s outing by getting Corey Seager to ground out to Christian Vazquez at first, but in his first ever start at first, Vazquez made the mistake of trying to lead Rafael Devers with a throw across the field which got through to shallow left and allowed Muncy to score all the way from first.

Walden also surrendered a run of his own by walking Hernandez with two outs and giving up an RBI triple to Barnes, which should have been caught by Andrew Benintendi in the first place.

It was not, however, and the Dodgers went up 9-2 because of it.

Ryan Brasier allowed a run on a Bellinger sacrifice fly in his lone inning of work in the eighth, and Hector Velazquez got taken deep by Muncy to lead off the ninth in an otherwise scoreless frame. That Muncy homer gave Los Angeles an 11-2 advantage.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Ross Stripling, who has worked both out of the rotation and bullpen for the Dodgers this season.

Starting the scoring for Boston Saturday was Xander Bogaerts, picking up right where he left off on Friday by blasting his 19th big fly of the year 386 feet off the left-most light tower in left field to tie this contest back up at one run apiece.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Stripling done and old friend Joe Kelly in for the Dodgers, Bogaerts struck again, driving in Mookie Betts from third on another one-out knock, this one an RBI single to right field to pull his team back to within three runs.

A six-pitch walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi and wild pitch from Kelly put runners in scoring position with two outs for Christian Vazquez, but the former Red Sox flame thrower won the battle, fanning his old battery mate on a 3-2, 98.4 MPH heater to end the threat.

That was all the offense the Sox could muster, as they went 0-for-their-last-9 over the final three innings, and this one concluded with a final score of 11-2.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox are 44-29 in games not started by Chris Sale this season.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Since June 21st, Sale is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.59 over his last four starts. He has not won a decision at Fenway Park since July 11th, 2018.

The Red Sox’ 4-6 hitters (J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Christian Vazquez) on Saturday: 0-for-11 with one walk and five strikeouts.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the series finale of this World Series rematch on Sunday night.

Left-hander David Price will get the start for Boston, while fellow southpaw and National League All-Star Game starter Hyun-Jin Ryu will do the same for Los Angeles.

Holding opponents to a .233 batting average against over his last four starts going back to that meltdown against the Texas Rangers, Price enters Sunday with a rotation-best 3.24 ERA on the 2019 season.

In two prior career starts against the Dodgers, Price owns a lifetime 2.25 ERA over a small 12 inning sample size.

Ryu, meanwhile, currently owns the lowest ERA in the National League at 1.73 through 17 starts on the year.

The 32-year-old got the start for Los Angeles in Game 2 of the 2018 Fall Classic, where he allowed four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings and eventually took the loss. That’s the only experience he has at Fenway Park.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the series win.

 

Home Runs from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 9-6 Win over Tigers

After a series-clinching 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox opened another three-game set, their last before the All-Star break, in Detroit on Friday, where they topped the lowly Tigers by a final score of 9-6.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who picked up the win the last time he faced Detroit back in late April at Fenway Park.

This time around, in his first outing at Comerica Park in over two years, the left-hander surrendered just one earned run while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over five rain-shortened innings of work.

That one Detroit tally came in the bottom half of the fourth, when with two outs and Brandon Dixon at first, Jeimer Candelario came through with with his team’s first RBI of the night on a line-drive double to left that Xander Bogaerts was nearly able to snuff out on the relay from J.D. Martinez.

A las, Dixon narrowly evaded the tag from Sandy Leon, and the Tigers were on the board.

Other than that one blip though, Rodriguez retired four of the next five hitters he faced leading into the end of the fifth inning, where his outing came to a premature close due to the weather.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (49 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 95.4 MPH with the pitch while Leon was behind the plate.

Improving to 9-4 while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.65, Rodriguez will look to kick off the second half of his season in similar fashion to how he capped off his first half in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, Marcus Walden came on in the sixth more than two hours after the Venezuela native had thrown his last pitch, and he allowed the Tigers to climb their way back into this contest with a one-out walk of Miguel Cabrera, a one-out single from Dixon, and another run-scoring base knock off the bat of Candelario that was not handled cleanly by Mookie Betts in right field.

Seven pitches later, Harold Castro hit what appeared to be a hard line-drive back up the middle at Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but the ball knuckled a bit, which caused the Sox outfielder to try and make a basket catch, but that did not pan out, as the ball deflected off Bradley Jr. and two more Detroit runs crossed the plate because of it.

So, in came Ryan Brasier with two outs still to get in the inning, and he got those outs, but not before allowing one of his inherited runs to score on a two-out RBI single from John Hicks, cutting Boston’s lead to just one run.

Fortunately though, Brasier ended the sixth by fanning Jordy Mercer on three straight strikes, and the right-hander also worked his way around a two-out Miguel Cabrera single in a scoreless seventh.

From there, Matt Barnes entered with a new four-run lead to protect, and he needed just 13 pitches to hurl a 1-2-3 eighth inning, punching out two along the way.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree made his first appearance since being activated off the injured list on Thursday, and he served up a solo home run to Hicks to lead things off before settling in and locking down the 9-6 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Ryan Carpenter for Detroit, not lefty Gregory Soto as originally thought on Thursday.

With virtually no experience against Carpenter entering the weekend, Xander Bogaerts got the scoring started for Boston in the first by driving in Mookie Betts from third on an RBI groundout to short for an early 1-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, and a red-hot Rafael Devers stayed the course following a one-out single from Betts, extending his hitting streak to nine games by blasting his 16th home run of the season, a 357-foot opposite field shot off a first-pitch, 81 MPH slider from Carpenter. 3-0.

In the sixth, with Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero on the mound after a rain delay that lasted more than two hours, a Christian Vazquez leadoff double and Michael Chavis single in consecutive order put runners at the corners for a slumping Jackie Bradley Jr.

Entering the frame 0-for-his-last 13, Bradley Jr. broke out of said skid by ripping a line-drive, RBI double down the left field line on a 2-2 heater from Cisnero, plating Vazquez and moving Chavis up to third.

Two batters and one out later, Sandy Leon followed suit and drove in Chavis by reaching on a fielding error committed by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario.

Again with runners at first and third as the lineup turned back over, Betts made it a five-run contest with a sacrifice fly hit deeply enough to center field to score Bradley Jr. 6-1.

And in the eighth, Xander Bogaerts put an exclamation point on this one by launching his 17th big fly of the season, a 441-foot, three-run shot launched over everything in left field off Tigers reliever Austin Adams.

That dinger opened this one up and gave the Red Sox a 9-5 advantage, and after Detroit got one back in their half of the ninth, 9-6 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 3-1 since returning from London.

Rafael Devers has already hit four home runs this month, matching his total for all of June.

Eduardo Rodriguez against the Detroit Tigers this season: Two starts, 11 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, four walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s good for a 1.64 ERA.

Xander Bogaerts’ 441-foot home run was his longest of the Statcast era. (h/t @gfstarr1)

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle of this three-game series on Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to take the mound for Boston, while fellow righty Jordan Zimmermann will do the same for Detroit.

Porcello struggled mightily in his last start against the New York Yankees in London, where he gave up six runs and only managed to record one out, but he did pick up the win over his former club back on April 25th when he allowed three runs over six quality innings.

In his career at Comerica Park, the one-time Tiger owns a lifetime 4.53 ERA over 91 starts and 542 total innings pitched.

Zimmermann, meanwhile, opposed Porcello in that same game back in April and took the loss, as he yielded five runs, all earned, in just three innings of work.

In his career against the Red Sox, the 33-year-old is 2-2 with a 5.46 ERA over 31 1/3 innings.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight victory.

Chris Sale Allows Five Runs on Three Homers as Red Sox Fall to Blue Jays 6-3

After snapping a three-game skid with a 10-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell flat once again on Wednesday, dropping a 6-3 contest to fall back to 45-41 on the season.

Making his 18th start of the season for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series was Chris Sale, who capped off his month of June with two subpar outings against these Blue Jays and the Chicago White Sox.

That trend continued in his first action of July, as the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on a season-high nine hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with just five strikeouts on the night.

All five of those runs came courtesy of three different home run balls, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and Brandon Drury taking Sale deep in this one.

Gurriel Jr. struck first in the bottom half of the third, putting his team on the board right after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with a 406-foot solo shot off a 1-0 93 MPH fastball on the inner half of the plate.

Jansen made Sale pay for walking Justin Smoak with one out in the fourth by launching his sixth homer of the year, a 421-foot shot to deep left field on a first-pitch 95 MPH fastball from Sale.

That dinger knotted things up at 3-3, and it seemed as though Sale would be able to escape the sixth unscathed following another GIDP to erase a leadoff HBP.

Unfortunately for the Florida native, a Rowdy Tellez two-out single brought Brandon Drury to the plate for the third time, and he unloaded on a 1-1 91 MPH heater down the heart of the plate by depositing it 408 feet over the center field wall.

The Blue Jays went up 5-3 on that booming shot, and Sale’s evening quickly came to a close before Drury had even crossed home.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (69 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his four-seamer more than 44% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing and miss and topping out at 96.5 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, was behind the plate.

Falling to 3-8 with his ERA jumping up to 4.04 on the season, the first half of Sale’s 2019 did not go unexpected. Inconsistent would be a better way to put it. He’ll look to begin the second half of the year on a more positive note in his next time out, which should come against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first series out of the All-Star break.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came on with one out to get in the sixth, got that, and worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless seventh as well.

Finally, Steven Wright got the call for the eighth, yielded one run on a sacrifice fly from Freddy Galvis to add on another run to the deficit at 6-3, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Jacob Waguespack after fellow righty David Phelps served as Toronto’s opener and tossed a scoreless first.

Fast forward to the third, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his team with a two-out, two-run single off Waguespack, plating Mookie Betts and Brock Holt from second and third to make it a 2-0 game early.

An inning later, Christian Vazquez came through with two outs this time around, taking the first pitch he saw from the Jays right-hander, a 90 MPH cutter on the outer half of the plate, and sending his 13th big fly of the season 408 feet to dead center.

Vazquez’s monstrous blast gave the Sox a 3-1 advantage, but it would be the last run they scored all night.

Oh sure, they had their chances, especially in the seventh with one out and runners on second and third in a 5-3 game for the pinch-hitting Eduardo Nunez following a Michael Chavis double.

New Toronto reliever Daniel Hudson held his own though, getting Nunez to fly out to left and fanning Mookie Betts on six pitches to kill any shot of a rally.

In the eighth, Hudson stranded J.D. Martinez at first after he reached on a two-out single, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles needed just 10 pitches to retire Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Chavis in order in the ninth, all but wrapping up the 6-3 loss for Boston.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left five men on base.

On the day he was named an All-Star for the second time in his big league career, Xander Bogaerts picked up his first ever Golden Sombrero by punching out four times Wednesday.

During his seven-game hitting streak, Rafael Devers is slashing .516/.531/.935 with two homers and 10 RBI.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

In his last three starts, Chris Sale has posted a 7.02 ERA over 16 2/3 innings pitched.

The Red Sox are 6-12 in games started by Chris Sale this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Thursday.

Right-hander Hector Velazquez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Marcus Stroman is expected to do the same for Toronto.

With Brian Johnson on the shelf due to “non-baseball” reasons, Velazquez has taken over the fifth spot in the Sox’ rotation for the time being.

As a starter this season, the 30-year-old is 1-3 with a 6.41 ERA and .239 batting average against over 19 2/3 innings of work.

In five career appearances (two starts) at Rogers Centre, Velazquez owns a lifetime 2.57 ERA and .292 batting average against over a small seven inning sample size.

Stroman, meanwhile, has already faced the Red Sox twice this year, and has only allowed one earned run in those two starts and 12 innings pitched. The Blue Jays are 2-0 in those games.

In his last start against the Kansas City Royals this past Saturday, Stroman left early with a cramp in his left pectoral muscle, so it will be worth seeing if that has any impact on Toronto’s ace.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.

Happy Independence Day, everyone.

Bullpen Falls Apart Again as Red Sox Get Swept by Yankees in London Series

After combining for 30 runs in the London Series opener on Saturday, the Red Sox and New York Yankees were back at it again on Sunday, this time combining for 20 runs on 28 total hits in a 12-8 loss for the Sox.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston and first against New York was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered Sunday having gone at least 6 1/3 innings deep in three straight outings for the first time in his career.

Working into the sixth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded just two runs, both earned, on four hits and a season-high four walks to go along with five strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both of those Yankees runs came in the second inning, when after his team built an early four-run lead, Rodriguez gave two back right away by loading the bases with the first three hitters he faced to bring Gio Urshela to the plate.

Urshela drove in Edwin Encarnacion from third by grounding into a force out at second that very nearly could have been a double play had it been handled cleanly by Xander Bogaerts, and Brett Gardner made it a 4-2 game by scoring Didi Gregorius on an RBI single to right.

Other than that, Rodriguez proceeded to fill the bases again with two outs by walking Aaron Judge on six pitches, but managed to escape the jam by fanning Aaron Hicks on a 1-2, 95 MPH slider.

From there, Rodriguez sat down 10 of the final 12 Yankees he faced, and his outing came to a close on a positive note with a strikeout of Gregorius on a 94 MPH fastball for the first out of the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (64 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer nearly 42% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 96.1 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Not able to pick up the winning decision due to what transpired later, Rodriguez finishes his month of June with an ERA of 4.38 over his last six outings. He’ll look to build on this performance in his next time out, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Colten Brewer came on with two outs to get in the top half of the sixth, and he did just that by stranding a runner at first thanks to two straight punchouts.

Marcus Walden got the call for the seventh, and this is the point where things really took a turn for the worst for Boston, as DJ LeMahieu led the inning off with a double and Judge followed that up by drawing a walk.

Back-to-back RBI knocks off the bats of Hicks and Gary Sanchez put three runs on the board for the Yankees, and just like that, the Red Sox were down 5-4. Another blown save, the club’s 17th of the year.

A struggling Matt Barnes was up next out of the Sox bullpen, and he walked and fanned the two first two men he faced before giving up an infield single to Gleyber Torres and a two-run single to Urshela, making it a 7-4 contest.

Josh Taylor entered the seventh in place of Barnes, and he too put the first man he faced on base with a free pass, which set up the scorching LeMahieu in a prime run-scoring spot, and he took full advantage by lacing a two-run, ground-rule double down the eight field line. 9-4.

An intentional walk of Judge reloaded the bases for New York, and a sacrifice fly from Hicks, as well as Sanchez reaching first on a fielding error committed by Chavis, capped off a nine-run frame for the Yankees high-octane offense and gave them an 11-4 lead.

Ryan Brasier served up a leadoff solo homer to Gregorius in the eighth to make it a 12-4 game, and Steven Wright tossed a 1-2-3 top half of the ninth to give his team one last shot in their half, although that attempt came up short, which is what we’ll get to next.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Stephen Tarpley, serving as the opener for New York in this one.

Similar to what went down on Saturday, the Boston bats got the scoring started right away in the first inning on Sunday, with Rafael Devers reaching on a one-out single and Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Christian Vazquez all homering off Tarpley giving the Sox an early four-run advantage in doing so.

Since Tarpley was only the opener though, his day came to an end after that bottom half of the first, and the Yankees bullpen really limited what the Red Sox could do up until the eighth, as they did not send more than four hitters to the plate in any of the next six innings.

In that eighth, having fallen behind 12-4 with right-hander Chance Adams on the mound for New York, back-to-back one out singles from Marco Hernandez and Martinez, followed by a wild pitch, put runners in scoring position for Vazquez, who capitalized on that mistake by driving in both runners on a two-run single to left to cut the deficit to six runs at 12-6.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. single put runners at the corners for Eduardo Nunez, and he too came through in a run-scoring spot with a line-drive RBI double to right, plating Vazquez and moving Bradley Jr. up to third. 12-7.

A pitching change for the Yanks saw left-hander Zack Brittion take over for Adams, and Sam Travis promptly greeted the new pitcher by ripping another RBI single through the left side of the infield, scoring Bradley Jr. and trimming New York’s advantage down to four at 12-8.

Mookie Betts drew a walk to fill the bases for Rafael Devers, now representing the tying run, but in a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup, the young infielder could only ground a 3-2 slider weakly to first base, and the rally was dead.

Finally, in the ninth, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman yielded a leadoff double to Hernandez before proceeding to punch out the next three Red Sox hitters he faced to wrap up this 12-8 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

From The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:

The Red Sox are 1-6 against the Yankees this season and are now 11 games back of first place in the American League East.

The London Series experience was not much a positive one for the Red Sox, as they leave the United Kingdom in a worse position than when they arrived there.

Sox manager Alex Cora still has the belief that this club can compete at a high level, but given the product recently, it has become difficult to determine whether or not they can compete with the best teams in the American League.

The Red Sox lost two home games for this. Not like they were playing at a high level at Fenway Park anyway, but yeah.

It’s already been say, but the Red Sox got embarrassed on a national stage by their biggest rival. Their bullpen melted down not once, but twice, and now they have an extremely slim chance of catching up to the Yankees in the race for the AL East.

If Boston wants to get back in to this, they have to start winning games at a high rate, and that starts on Tuesday in the first of a three-game set against the lowly Toronto Blue Jays north of the border.

Left-hander David Price is expected to get the ball for the series opener, while rookie right-hander Trent Thornton will do the same for Toronto.

Since allowing six runs in 1 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers on June 13th, Price has surrendered just four (three earned) in his last two starts and 11 innings pitched.

In 18 career outings at Rogers Centre, the 33-year-old has posted a lifetime 3.17 ERA over 116 1/3 total innings of work. He is 13-1 in those starts.

Thornton, meanwhile, last faced Boston on June 21st, where he gave up two runs on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings in a losing effort.

When pitching at home this season, the 25-year-old is 0-3 with a 6.39 ERA in seven starts and 31 innings pitched.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to get on a roll.

 

Rick Porcello Allows Six Runs, Only Records One out as Red Sox Fall to Yankees 17-13 in Historic and Wild London Series Opener

NOTE: The information I would usually include from Baseball Savant was only made available while this game was happening, so that is why it is not presented here. Sorry about that.

After two days off, the Red Sox and New York Yankees finally kicked off the highly anticipated inaugural London Series at Olympic Stadium on Saturday, and the Sox lost the first ever Major League Baseball game played on European soil by a final score of 17-13 to fall 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League East.

Making his 17th start of the season and second against New York was Rick Porcello, who made history Saturday by becoming the first big league pitcher to make a start on the other side of the Atlantic.

Recording just the first out of this one, the right-hander was downright walloped by the Yankees high-octane offense, as he surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with zero strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one out came on a flyout off the bat of Aaron Judge after DJ LeMahieu had reached base to start things off.

Other than that, Porcello followed with a one-out walk of Gary Sanchez before serving up back-to-back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Luke Voit, Didi Gregorious, and Edwin Encarnacion, which put the Yankees up four.

With two outs still to get, Porcello’s outing came to an abrupt close six pitchers later when Aaron Hicks took him deep to right on a 2-2 pitch to give his side a new six-run lead.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 33 (20 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler had Christian Vazquez, not Sandy Leon, behind the plate.

Hit with the no-decision in the shortest start of his big league career, Porcello wraps up a dismal month of June in which he posted a 6.46 ERA over six starts and 30 2/3 innings of work, including that seven-inning shutout performance against the Minnesota Twins on the 17th. He’ll look for improved results in his next time out, which should come against the Detroit Tigers next weekend.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen had their work cut out for them Saturday, as they would wind up responsible for the final 8 2/3 frames of this contest.

Colten Brewer entered with one out and the bases empty in the first, and he walked the first man he faced in Gleyber Torres before retiring the last two hitters of the inning.

Steven Wright, in his second appearance since returning from an 80-game suspension, yielded a pair of Yankees runs on a two-out, two-run homer off the bat of Brett Gardner in the fourth, which gave New York a brand new 8-6 advantage, and that is how the knuckleballer was saddled with his first losing decision of the year.

From there, rookie right-hander Mike Shawaryn got rocked for eight earned runs, six of which came in consecutive order in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Gardner, a bases-clearing double from LeMahieu, and another two-run dinger from Aaron Judge to make it a 14-6 game.

In the fifth, three more Yankees runs crossed the plate on an RBI base knock from Didi Gregorious while Shawaryn was still out there, and a two-run single from the red-hot LeMahieu while the left-handed Josh Taylor, who ended the inning, was on the mound.

At 17-6, it looked like this one was all but over for Boston, but with the efforts of Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Marcus Walden combining for four frames of scoreless baseball from the beginning of the sixth up until the middle of the ninth, the Red Sox were nearly able to climb their way back, which is what we’ll get into next.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a formidable opponent in Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who had yet to face Boston this season before Saturday.

Coming to the plate for the first time already down a sizable margin, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for his side by driving in Mookie Betts all the way from first following a leadoff single on a long double to right field. 6-1.

Two walks of JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts later to fill the bases, Christian Vazquez cut into that deficit even further, plating Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to right for the second out of the inning.

Brock Holt cut the initial six-run hole in half with an RBI single to score Bogaerts and move Martinez up to second, and Michael Chavis erased the original deficit entirely by mashing a three-run home run to left center field for his 13th of the season.

That bomb knotted things up at six, but the Yankees pulled away once more, at one point padding an 11-run lead until the Red Sox got on the board again in their half of the sixth.

There, with reliever Nestor Cortes Jr. in for New York, Jackie Bradley Jr. stayed hot by leading the inning off with his ninth big fly of the year, a long solo shot to bring the Sox back to within 10 runs.

Given that large of a deficit in the later stages of this contest, manager Alex Cora went ahead and removed Andrew Benintendi and Devers to begin the seventh, replacing them with Sam Travis and Marco Hernandez respectively while also moving Vazquez to third and putting Sandy Leon in behind the plate.

In that seventh inning, the Boston bats continued to dig with four straight two-out hits against Cortes Jr., the third of which was Chavis’ second two-run dinger of the night to make it a 17-10 game in favor of New York.

A Bradley Jr. single got Cortes out and brought right-hander Tommy Kahnle in, who proceeded to walk Betts and throw a wild pitch in his matchup against Hernandez, which allowed both runners to move into scoring position.

Hernandez took full advantage of that mistake from Kahnle by driving in Bradley Jr. on an RBI infield single, and Betts scored as well on another wild pitch from the Yankees reliever on ball four to Bogaerts. 17-12

Another pitching chane for New York saw Adam Ottavino take over for Kahnle, and Martinez greeted him promptly with an RBI double, allowing Hernandez to score from second and bring the Red Sox back to within grand slam range, or four runs.

Unfortunately, that would wind up being the last Boston run to cross the plate, as Travis popped out to first with runners at second and third to end the seventh, Hernandez grounded out to third with the bases loaded to end the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman faced the minimum three batters in a scoreless ninth, sealing a 17-13 loss for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts departed in the seventh inning Saturday due to cramping in both of his calfs. He is day-to-day and is hopeful to play Sunday.

Saturday’s nine-inning game lasted four hours and 42 minutes. Both teams combined for 30 runs on 37 hits and 12 walks, all without committing a single error.

DJ LeMahieu recorded the first hit in Europe in Major League Baseball history, while Aaron Hicks recorded the first home run.

Michael Chavis’ last 15 games: .318/.357/.530 with four home runs and 14 RBI.

More from Chavis, courtesy of The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:

Rafael Devers’ last 15 games: .443/.460/.754 with three home runs and 10 RBI.

The first Major League Baseball game to ever be played in Europe was a wild one, but at the end of the day, the Red Sox dropped a contest to a divisional opponent and are now 10 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East.

With that third straight division title becoming more and more out of reach, how the Red Sox go about the next few weeks leading to the July 31st trade deadline should be worth paying attention to.

Anyway, next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game London Series against the Bronx Bombers on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for Boston, and will probably be asked to pitch deep into his 17th start of the year, while fellow southpaw Stephen Tarpley will do the same for New York by serving as their opener.

Neither Rodriguez nor Tarpley have faced the Yankees or Red Sox so far this season.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 10:10 AM EDT on ESPN. Red Sox going for the split before taking off for Toronto.