Red Sox Squander Another Fine Start from Chris Sale as Bullpen Falls Apart in 4-3 Extra Innings Loss to Rangers

After dropping three of four to the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox got the second leg of their eight-game homestand off to a less than promising start, as they fell in their first of four against the Texas Rangers in 11 innings Monday by a final score of 4-3.

Making his 14th start and coming off his best outing of the season for Boston Was Chris Sale, who fanned 12 to the tune of a complete game shutout against the Kansas City Royals this past Wednesday.

This time around, the left-hander put together yet another solid performance, limiting the Rangers to just one unearned run while scattering three hits and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts in seven quality innings of work Monday.

That lone run came in Texas’ half of the sixth, when a leadoff walk to Rougned Odor, followed by back-to-back punchouts and a successful stolen base attempt on a subpar throw from Sandy Leon that allowed Odor to move up to third, came in to score on a Danny Santana RBI single.

The thing is, Sale may have gotten Santana to whiff on the fifth pitch of the at-bat in a 2-2 count, but home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt appealed to Angel Hernandez at first, and he ruled that the batter held up his swing in time.

And on the very next pitch from the Boston starter, an 83 MPH slider down the heart of the plate, Santana capitalized and plated his team’s first run of the night.

Other than that one mishap though, Sale maintained the dominant form we have been accustomed to seeing from him since about the beginning of May.

He took a perfect game into the fourth, retired 14 of the first 16 hitters he faced, got some help from Sandy Leon,…

….and capped off his outing after a rough sixth inning by retiring the side in order in the seventh with that 10th and final strikeout, marking three straight starts with double-digit K’s.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider more than 39% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing seven swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 35 times and got five swings and misses on, with Leon behind the plate.

Hit with another tough luck no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.52, Sale will look to build on what’s been a strong start to June in his next time out, which should come against the Baltimore Orioles this weekend.

In relief of Sale, Brandon Workman came on in the eighth with a 2-1 lead to protect, and he did just that by sitting down the only three Rangers hitters he faced in order to make way for Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Going for his fifth save of the season, Barnes got the first out of the inning fairly quickly on one pitch, but melted down from there, as he yielded back-to-back hits to Santana and Andrus before allowing the then go-ahead run to score on a 3-1 two-run single from Nomar Mazara to make it a 3-2 contest.

The UCONN product would strikeout and intentionally walk the next two hitters faced, and in came Heath Hembree attempting to keep the deficit at one.

All the sudden rising to a key component of Alex Cora’s bullpen, Hembree succeeded in punching out the lone hitter he faced in the ninth before also working a 1-2-3 10th after his team tied things up the inning prior to send it to extras in the first place.

In the 11th, still trying to keep this one knotted at three runs a piece, Ryan Brasier, like Barnes, was dealt a less than favorable blow from Santana and Andrus yet again, with the former leading the frame off with a line drive double and the latter driving him in on an RBI single to give the Rangers a 4-3 advantage, which would turn out to be all they would need.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander Mike Minor, who has quietly put together an impressive campaign in his second season with Texas. That much was evident Monday.

Andrew Benintendi got the scoring started for Boston right away in the first inning, scoring Mookie Betts as well as himself on his seventh home run of the season, this one a two-run, 420 foot shot to put his side on the board first.

That blast came on Minor’s seventh pitch of the contest, and it would wind up being all the damage done against him.

They had additional chances to add on to those two runs, but could not take advantage of those opportunities.

Such was the case when Mookie Betts reached second with one out in the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. singled to leadoff the fifth, and JD Martinez did the same an inning later. All appeared to set Boston up in a prime spot to score, and nothing came out of it.

Once Minor’s night finally came to a close after eight strong innings of work, the Red Sox came to the plate in their half of the ninth down a run with Rangers reliever Shawn Kelley on the hill.

Consecutive base hits from Martinez, who Michael Chavis pinch-ran for, and Xander Bogaerts to leadoff the frame placed the tying-run in scoring position, and a GIDP off the bat of Rafael Devers advanced said tying-run up to third.

Down to their last out, Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bench with Sam Travis’ spot in the order due up, and Brock Holt came through in the clutch big time by blooping an opposite field RBI single to left on a 1-1 four-seamer from Kelley, plating Chavis from third to pull his team even.

Holt nearly scored the winning run as well four pitches later on a pinch-hit RBI double from Marco Hernandez, but instead ran through a stop sign from interim third base coach and current assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett and was out by a mile at home, thus sending this one into extras.

There, in the 10th, a one-out single and walk from Leon and Betts, followed up by a two-out free pass drawn by Chavis, filled the bases with Red Sox for Xander Bogaerts against Rangers reliever Jesse Chavez.

Having faced Chavez 12 times in his career before Monday, Bogaerts took the first three pitches he saw, with two being hittable-looking pitches down the heart of the plate, and the other being a ball.

On the fourth pitch he saw from the Rangers right-hander, Bogaerts hacked at an 87 MPH slider outside the strike zone and lined out to center, sending this one to the 11th.

In that 11th, after going down by a run in the top half of the frame, Chris Martin discarded Devers, Holt, and Hernandez in order, and another frustrating night for the Red Sox came to a close in a 4-3 loss.

Some notes from this loss: 

JD Martinez went 2-for-3 with a walk in his first start since June 6th after dealing with back spasms.

Rafael Devers is 0-for-his-last-17.

Matt Barnes in June: Five games, 4.2 innings pitched, 11.57 ERA, .300 batting average against.

Heath Hembree in June: Five games, 3.2 innings pitched, 0.00 ERA, .000 batting average against.

Red Sox with Runners in Scoring Position Monday: 1-for-8. Seven men were left on base. Both are not great!

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to bounce back in the second of this four-game set Tuesday night.

The club’s top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez is expected to make his first big league start for Boston, while right-hander Ariel Jurado will get the ball for Texas.

This will mark Hernandez’s third stint with the Sox this season. So far, the 22-year-old left-hander has only made one relief appearance while in the majors, although he has made nine starts with Double-A Portland in 2019.

Jurado, meanwhile, currently sports a 2.78 ERA through 13 appearances (four starts) with the Rangers this season. He has never faced the Red Sox nor pitched at Fenway Park before in his young career.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox need to get back on track.

 

 

 

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RECAP: Steve Pearce Hits First Homer in a Red Sox Uniform, JD Martinez Blasts 28th Home Run, and #RedSox Win Seventh Straight.

Coming off a road trip in which they went 7-2, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park last night to take on the Texas Rangers, who currently sit in last place in the American League West.

Looking for his team’s seventh straight win, Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for his 18th start of the season on Monday.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the lefty held the Rangers scoreless while scattering three hits and three walks while recording five strikeouts in exactly 5.2 frames.

With another shutout performance, although it certainly was not his best, Rodriguez has now extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.2 going back to the final two innings of his start against the Yankees.

In his full two starts since then, both in July, the Venezuela native has a pitching line that looks like this: 2-0, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K.

It would be nice if he could consistently pitch deeper into games, but at this point, I think it’s time to accept that is not going to happen as frequently as the Red Sox would like. But when you toss back-to-back shutouts, it becomes less of an issue.

Finishing with a final high pitch count of 105 (68 strikes), Rodriguez departed from last night’s contest in the sixth after recording the first two outs of the inning and allowing two straight Rangers to reach. Out of those 105 pitches, the 25 year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time, topping out at 95.5 MPH with it in the fourth inning. He’ll look to carry over this recent success in his last start before the All-Star Break, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen saw the shutout through to its completion. Heath Hembree got out of the jam in the sixth, Brandon Workman gave up a leadoff triple in the seventh but did not allow that potential run to cross the plate, Joe Kelly struck out two in the eighth, and making his Red Sox debut, Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap up his new team’s 63rd win of the season. Brasier, who had not pitched in the majors since 2013, was actually responsible for eight of the 12 fastest thrown pitches all night, according to Statcast.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup needed just two swings of the bat to take care of Texas on Monday night.

The first came in the bottom half of the first inning. In his first at bat in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park, Steve Pearce took Rangers starter Mike Minor deep to left on a 3-2 fastball right down broadway. His fifth big fly of the season, a two-run shot, was also his first since being acquired by Boston on June 28th.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth now, with Jesse Chavez on the mound for the Rangers, and JD Martinez essentially put this game out of reach.

Following two singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to leadoff the inning, Chavez tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate and paid for it dearly, as Martinez scorched his 28th big fly of the season 374 feet into the Monster seats, making it a 5-0 game.

Some notes from this win:

The top four hitters in the Red Sox lineup last night, Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Pearce, went a combined 8/16 with five RBI and five runs scored. Other than that, Sandy Leon was the only other hitter to reach base.

Speaking of Andrew Benintendi, you should be voting for him right now. If I can’t convince you, maybe Brock Holt can.

redsox.com/vote

Looking for the series win along with their eighth straight win, Hector Velazquez gets the ball for the Red Sox tonight. Making his first start since April 14th against the Orioles, he’ll be matched up against fellow Mexico native Yovani Gallardo for Texas. First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.