It was far from easy, but for the first time since last Friday, the Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they defeated the Mets by a final score of 6-5 on Wednesday night in their first road game of the season at Citi Field.
Making his second start of the season for Boston in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, fresh off tossing six quality frames in his last time out against the Orioles, which also happened to be his first career Opening Day start as you may remember.
Tossing five full innings this time around, the right-hander certainly wasn’t as dominant as he was against Baltimore, but he still got the job done by holding the Mets to just two runs, both earned, on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts on the night.
Those two Mets tallies came in Eovaldi’s first and final innings of work, with Dominic Smith grounding into a bases-loaded forceout in the first and Brandon Nimmo crushing a one-out solo home run in the fifth.
Seeing how the bases were loaded for Eovaldi almost right away in the bottom half of the first, it was certainly encouraging that he was able to get himself out of that early mess with just one run on the board for the opposition.
As for the Nimmo home run in the fifth, that was a result of a 3-1, 93 mph cutter on the inner half of the plate from Eovaldi that the Mets outfielder took 414 feet to right-center field. All things considered, the bottom of the fifth could have been even worse for Boston, but after serving up that solo blast, walking Pete Alonso, and putting Jeff McNeil on first on a one-out single, Eovaldi again evaded any serious damage by getting the dangerous Michael Conforto to ground into an inning-ending 4-3 double play.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (57 strikes), Eovaldi relied on his four-seam and cut-fastball a combined 74% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing nine total swings and misses with the two pitches while topping out with 98.4 with the heater.
Hit with the no decision, the 30-year-old flamethrower will look for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg on Tuesday.
In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for the sixth, got the first two outs of the inning pretty easily, but then gave up back-to-back hits to Robinson Cano and Andres Gimenez, with the latter driving in the former on an RBI triple to make it a 3-2 game in favor of New York.
From there, left-hander Josh Osich allowed two of the first four Mets he faced in the seventh to reach base, which led to Ron Roenicke dispatching Heath Hembree, who got out of the two-out jam in a tied game by fanning J.D. Davis on three straight fastballs.
That tie turned into a 6-3 advantage for Boston following a three-run top of the eighth, which we’ll touch on later, but Matt Barnes allowed that lead to shrink to two in the bottom half by surrendering a leadoff solo shot to old friend Yoenis Cespedes in an otherwise scoreless inning of relief thanks to a nifty twin-killing started by Jose Peraza and turned by Jonathan Arauz.
The ninth inning is where things got really dicey, as Red Sox closer Brandon Workman came in with his side up 6-4 while looking for his first save of 2020. It took quite a while to get there, but after loading the bases with no outs, allowing Davis to drive in a run on an infield single to third that was well-played by Rafael Devers, and punching out Cespedes on five pitches, the right-hander got Cano to lift a pop fly to Peraza in shallow center field and that was that. Workman gets his first save and the Red Sox get their second win of the season in one-run fashion as 6-5 is your final score.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the best pitcher in the National League in two-time Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom for the Mets, who like Eovaldi pitched on Opening Day.
It took until their half of the fourth inning, but the Boston bats finally got to deGrom courtesy of back-to-back one-out doubles from Devers and Mitch Moreland, with the first baseman plating the third baseman for the Sox’ first run of the evening.
Two wild pitches from deGrom allowed Moreland to advance to third with Christian Vazquez at the plate and to score from third with Alex Verdugo at the plate. Just like that, the Red Sox had themselves their first lead in nearly five days at 2-1.
Fast forward to the seventh, with Seth Lugo in for deGrom, and Vazquez continued his hot start to the 2020 season by taking the Mets reliever 396 feet deep to left field off a one-out, 3-2 80 mph curveball that was essentially down Broadway. 3-1 Boston.
An inning later, Roenicke dove into his bench while the Mets turned to left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. Kevin Pillar, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., led the eighth off with a single to left, while Xander Bogaerts, pinch-hitting for Lin, drew a four-pitch walk and was immediately replaced by Arauz at first.
Andrew Benintendi advanced both Pillar and Arauz into scoring position with a beautifully-executed sacrifice bunt down the first base line, and an intentional walk of J.D. Martinez filled the bases for Devers.
Devers only managed to strike out on five pitches, but Moreland and Vazquez made the most of their opportunities with two outs in the inning by lacing consecutive run-scoring singles off Wilson to ultimately drive in all three of Pillar, Arauz, and Martinez to make it a 6-3 contest.
As it turns out, that would end up being much-needed insurance with the Red Sox just barely holding onto this one in 6-5 fashion to lock down their second win of the 2020 campaign.
Some notes and observations from this victory:
From The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch:
It’s still early in the season, obviously, but Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez and Kevin Pillar have OPS’ of 1.214, 1.304, and 1.571, respectively.
Rafael Devers has collected four doubles and one single over his last four games.
With a two-out double in the ninth inning, Andrew Benintendi collected the 500th hit of his major-league career. Congratulations to him on that.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Alex Verdugo make more hard contact soon.
The Red Sox are unbeaten in games away from Fenway Park this season.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this four-game, home-at-home series against the Mets on Thursday.
Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his second start of the season for Boston, while fellow southpaw Steven Matz will be doing the same for New York.
Perez struggles for the most part in his Red Sox debut on Saturday, but he did end his outing with three consecutive scoreless innings, so perhaps he can carry that momentum over into this start against the Metropolitans.
Matz, meanwhile, will be making his first career start against the Sox.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on FOX and WEEI. Red Sox going for the series-split.