RECAP: Rick Porcello Tosses Seven Shutout Innings, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi Homer, and #RedSox End Road Trip with a 9-2 Win in Minnesota.

Having dropped the first two games of a three game series to the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox looked to end their ten-game road trip with a win and head back home 6-4 in their last ten.

With Rick Porcello on the mound and making his 16th start of the season, they did what they had to do to clinch a winning trip.

In seven masterful innings, the Red Sox righty held the Twins scoreless while giving up just one hit, one walk, and one HBP. The most high stress situation Porcello ran into came in his first frame of work, when he hit Eduardo Escobar and Logan Morrison ripped a single off of him to put runners on first and second with two outs. After getting Robbie Grossman to groundout to end the inning, the New Jersey native walked another batter in Ryan Lamarre with two outs in the second. From that point on, he sat down the next 16 Twins he faced from the second up until the conclusion of the seventh.

Finishing with five strikeouts on the day, Porcello needed just 97 pitches (65 strikes) to get through seven scoreless frames. Out of those 97 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler utilized his slider the most, as he went to it 25 times on the day. His four-seam fastball, which he threw 24 times, topped out at 93 MPH in the first inning.

In four starts in the month of June, Rick Porcello has actually been quite good. In those four starts, the Cy Young Award winner is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and .191 BAA in 25.1 innings pitched. He’ll look to build on this successful run as of late in his next outing against the Anaheim Angels early next week.

In relief of Porcello and with a nine run lead to work with going into the bottom half of the eighth inning, Hector Velazquez was responsible for wrapping this thing up. The righty held the Twins scoreless in the eighth, but got beat up a bit for two runs in the ninth. Those runs were meaningless, but after yesterday, Velazquez has given up 10 hits in his last seven appearances. His numbers still look respectable, but I can understand why we really have not seen him in all that many high leverage situations this season. Like I said though, they got the win, their 50th of the season, ensuring a happy flight back to Boston.

On the other side of things, it was looking as if it was going to be another frustrating day for the Red Sox lineup.

Facing off against Twins starter Kyle Gibson, the Red Sox were held scoreless until the fourth inning, when, after Mitch Moreland led things off by drawing a walk and advanced to second on a Brock Holt single, Sandy Leon came through with an RBI single, his second of the series, to drive in Moreland from second and put his team on the board first.

An inning later, Mookie Betts awoke from a little power slump my mashing his 19th home run of the season, a rare opposite field blast hit into the right field seats.

Fast forward to the top of the seventh, with Gibson out of the game now, the Red Sox had the chance to separate themselves by adding on some insurance runs and that’s exactly what they did.

A one out single off the bat of JD Martinez followed by a Mitch Moreland walk led to a two-RBI double from Xander Bogaerts. Having advanced to third base on the throw back to infield, Bogaerts came into score on a Rafael Devers RBI groundout. 5-0.

In the seventh, the Red Sox tacked on another three runs thanks to Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland. For Benintendi, he collected his second hit of the afternoon by blasting a two-run home run, his 13th, 417 feet to right field.

Back to back doubles from JD Martinez and Mitch Moreland after that Benintendi bomb put the eighth run of the day on the board for the Red Sox.

And in the ninth, with an already commanding eight run lead, Jackie Bradley Jr. got in on the action and did something productive at the plate by notching his 18th RBI of the season to score Brock Holt from second and make it a 9-0 game.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox improved to 15-3 in series finales on the season yesterday.

In his last four games started, Mitch Moreland is 6/14 with three RBI and three walks.

Brock Holt is slashing .297/.374/.414 in 44 games this season. Eduardo Nunez is slashing .247/.277/.348 in 64 games this season. I think I know who deserves more playing time at second base.

At 50-26, no team in Major League Baseball has more wins than the Boston Red Sox. Despite all the freaking out this past week, that fact remains true.

Also, shout out to Mookie Betts showing off his scouting report after playing a ball perfectly in the shift.

Heading into the weekend with a three game set against a familiar foe in the Seattle Mariners on deck, the Red Sox will turn to knuckeballer Steven Wright for the series opener. He’ll be matched up against M’s righty Wade LeBlanc, who tossed seven shutout innings against Boston last Saturday in Seattle. In three career starts against the Red Sox , LeBlanc owns a 3.24 ERA in 16.2 innings pitched. Hopefully, with more information on him, the lineup will be able to get off to a quick start and backup what should be another fine night for Steven Wright. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Disastrous Eighth Inning Leads to 6-2 Loss for #RedSox.

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox were back at it for a three-game series Minneapolis before heading back home for the weekend. In a series opener they most definitely should have won, it was the bullpen that let the team down once again.

Making his 16th start of the season last night and coming off a nine strikeout game in Baltimore last Wednesday, Chris Sale looked like the dominant ace he is in this one. Taking the mound against a familiar foe in the Minnesota Twins, the Red Sox ace took a perfect game into the fifth inning yesterday. It was not until, with two outs in the inning, Twins shortstop Ehire Adrianza reached first on a dinky little single for his teams first hit of the ballgame.

That ended any shot at a perfect game and the Twins did come around to score twice in the sixth, but Sale still put together a solid night for himself. After giving up that pair of runs in the sixth, the lefty ended his start on a more positive note by retiring the side in order in his final frame of work.

Finishing with a total of 105 pitches (78 strikes), here’s what Sale’s final pitching line looked like: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 HBP, and 11 strikeouts. Once again, the Florida native had his four-seam fastball working, as he threw it 39 times and topped out at 98.9 MPH in the sixth inning. A performance 100% deserving of a win, but with his lineup only giving one run of support, Sale got hit with the no decision.

With the contest now tied at two runs a piece heading into the bottom of the eighth, Alex Cora turned to a pitcher who had yet to make an appearance for Boston this season in left-hander Robby Scott.

Scott, who was recalled from Pawtucket earlier in the day, had a rough go of it during spring training, which is part of the reason he did not make the Opening Day roster. In 24 games with the PawSox this season, the lefty owns a 1.48 ERA and 1.87 BAA in 24.1 innings pitched, so I can see why the Red Sox would want to give him a look.

Unfortunately, the lefty was inserted into a high leverage situation, and crumbled. Leading the eighth inning of by walking the number nine man in the Twins order, Scott proceeded to hit Joe Mauer to put runners on first and second with no outs. He did manage to get the first out of the inning, but he quickly got the hook in favor of Joe Kelly.

A questionable move by Alex Cora to say the least. The Twins lineup isn’t setting the world on fire, but with Joe Kelly available, putting Scott in that situation with the game tied is a bit of a head scratcher. According to Cora, “”If we had the lead in the eighth, he (Kelly) was coming in. He was the one coming in. But tied or down one, it was going to be Robby.”

Matchups wise, I guess it made sense using a lefty with two of the first three batters due up for the Twins being left-handed hitters, but it backfired. Kelly came in any way, allowed both inherited runners to score and gave up two runs of his own to put the Red Sox out of reach for a potential comeback.

We did get something out of this bullpen debacle though, and that was the hardest thrown ball from an outfielder this season. Yup, Jackie Bradley Jr., mere minutes after making a costly fielding error in center field, cut down Robbie Grossman at home on what would have been a sacrifice flyout.

That’s what makes Bradley such a frustrating player to watch. At all times, he is capable of making plays like that, yet on the other side of the ball, he’s a below average major league hitter. Have to imagine this play would be talked about more if it came in a more meaningful situation.

So anyway, Hector Velazquez acted as the saving grace of the Red Sox bullpen and, with the help of that JBJ missile, needed only five pitches to send this one to the ninth inning.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup did not fare well against Twins starter Jose Berrios last night. They had plenty of opportunities (23 runners left on base total), but could only muster one run off of the Minnesota ace and that came on Rafael Devers 12th home run of the season in the sixth.

Fast forward to the eighth with the Red Sox trailing by one and Twins reliever Zach Duke on the hill, and Devers came around to cross the plate again on a Sandy Leon RBI single.

That RBI knock tied the game at two going into the bottom half of the eighth, but as you already know, that tie did not last long.

With the series opener out of the way, the Red Sox will look to David Price to even this thing up. Over his last seven starts, not only are the Red Sox undefeated, but the lefty owns a 2.64 ERA in 44.1 IP as well. He’ll be matched up against Twins righty Lance Lynn, who is currently in the midst of his worst season after spending the first six years of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals. First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT.

The #RedSox Wrapped up Grapefruit League Play Today by Defeating the Twins 6-1.

Although they are not done playing exhibition games, the Red Sox did move one step closer to playing meaningful baseball today, as they defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-1 in their last Grapefruit League game of the spring. They finish Grapefruit League play at 20-8-1.

Like Chris Sale did yesterday, David Price made his final start before the regular season begins today. The lefty tossed three innings of one run ball while facing 12 batters and fanning four of them. The only run he gave up came on a solo shot off the bat of Twins slugger Brian Dozier in the second inning. He’ll be on the mound again next Friday, facing off against the team he began his career with in the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bobby Poyner, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Barnes, and Dedgar Jiminez also got some work in today, and they all combined to throw six shutout innings while only allowing three total runners to reach base.

Offensively, the Red Sox were carried by the top half of the lineup. Mookie Betts, JD Martinez, Hanley Ramirez, and Andrew Benintendi were responsible for all six runs scored. The three home runs the team hit today belong to just Betts (2) and Benintendi. To put it simply, all three were hit far.

As for what’s next, the Red Sox will be hosting the Chicago Cubs over the next two days at Fenway South. After that, it’s an off day, then we finally arrive at Opening Day in St. Pete on Thursday. It took a while, but we are just FOUR days away from meaningful baseball being back in our lives for the next seven months. I’ll make sure to have a season preview out soon.

RECAP: David Price pitches seven quality innings; #RedSox take series from Twins in 6-3 win.

For the first time in exactly two weeks, the Red Sox have won a series. The Twins came into Boston as a first place team, and they leave as a team that is most likely going to be out of contention by September. That’s not a jab at the Twins, it’s just the truth for a team that has one of the worst Run Differentials in baseball. David Price made his seventh start of the season for the Red Sox, and it was another solid outing for the southpaw. Another quality start, Price’s final line looks like this: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K’s. Despite that fourth inning, this was clearly one of his better starts. It wasn’t lights out stuff, but I don’t think the Red Sox need that from Price all the time in order to succeed. He had 100 pitches after 6, so it was surprising to see him come out for the seventh, luckily for Manager John, that decision did not backfire. Joe Kelly got the call for the eighth, and all he did was pitch another scoreless outing, his 22nd in a row, NBD. Lastly, you know the drill. Save situation, Kimbrel available, Kimbrel gets the save, his 22nd of the season, most in the American League.

By the time the Red Sox took their first at bats, they were already trailing. By the time they scored their first run, they came into their half of that inning down by three. Mookie Betts got the scoring started with his thirteenth home run of the season. This home run was important for two reasons, first, it’s the three-year anniversary of when Mookie Betts got called to the bigs by the Red Sox, and it could help get him more votes to start in the All-Star Game. (Check out my roster predictions here) In the fifth, the Red Sox took the lead and did not look back. Jackie Bradley Jr., Deven Marrero, and Mookie Betts drove in a total of three runs. Hanley Ramirez tacked on another run in the six when he launched his eleventh home run of the season over the center field wall. Linsanity struck in the seventh, as Tzu-Wei Lin nearly hit his first career home run. Unfortunately, the ball did not go far enough, but Lin still hit his first career triple. Deven Marrero drove him in on an RBI double, and that was all the Red Sox needed. I mentioned JBJ earlier, but I just want to commend him for his three-hit game and how he has turned around his season at the plate. On June 1st, his BA was only at .226, but after today, it’s all the way up to a solid .272.

Big 10 game road trip ahead before the All-Star break. First up, Toronto and Doug Fister is making his first road start for the Red Sox. The Blue Jays looked like they were going to be a bottom feeder the last time the Red Sox were in Toronto, but they have come back and are now more of a mediocre team.

44 down, ? to go. 

Also, sup?

Feelin' some kind of way. 💪 - #VoteRedSox (@redsox)

RECAP: #RedSox can only muster one run against Twins in frustrating 4-1 loss.

After winning two consecutive games for the first time in about two weeks, the Red Sox failed to get to three straight wins on Wednesday night. Rick Porcello was outpitched by 24 year-old Adalberto Mejia, a rookie pitcher for the Twins who was only making the eleventh start of his career. Porcello did not have himself an awful night, it wasn’t as good as his last start, but he wasn’t getting hit around or anything like that. He went six innings, allowed six hits and four earned while walking two and K’ing six. The first inning was rough, the Twins scored half of their runs on consecutive RBI hits, and that was it until the sixth. Porcello got into a nice rhythm, limiting the Twins to two hits over the next four innings he pitched. Similar to the first, the sixth inning was rough for Porcello, as a lead-off walk resulted in a two-run blast off the bat of Max Kepler, which doubled the deficit to four runs. Porcello’s day would end after he escaped the sixth without giving up anything else. Despite all the struggles he has gone through in 2017, I will give Porcello these two things;First, the run support he got last year was outstanding, and it simply has not been there for him this season, which I’m sure has some psychological effect on him while he’s on the mound. Secondly, he has consistently gone moderately deep into his starts, as in only one of his seventeen starts has Porcello failed to at least pitch six full innings. So, at the very least, he is limiting some of the workload for the bullpen in his starts.

Speaking of the bullpen, the group of guys who got the call tonight kept the Red Sox in the game over the last three innings. Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, and Matt Barnes combined to only allow the Twins to reach base three times total from the seventh to the ninth.

Like I said in the first few sentences, Twins starter Adalberto Mejia was great in the 5.2 innings he pitched. He didn’t allow a run, and the only run the Red Sox scored came off Tyler Duffey in the seventh. They had plenty of opportunities, leaving a total of eleven runners on base Wednesday night. In the one inning they scored a run they had the bases loaded with only one out, but could only score once on a Xander Bogaerts RBI ground out. It even looked like they could have done something in the ninth, but left the tying run on deck when Bogaerts struck out to end the game.

With David Price starting to come into his own and pitching tomorrow, the Red Sox have a legitimate chance to win their first series since two Sundays ago in Houston.

43 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz and Christian Vazquez lead the way for #RedSox in long 9-2 win.

I live about 20 miles away from Fenway Park, so when I turned on my television around 7, I was surprised to see the game was delayed. That first system that rolled through didn’t really affect me, but it affected Boston, as the game did not start until 8 PM. Drew Pomeranz made the start for the Red Sox, and under unusual circumstances, he had a solid night. The southpaw rolled through the first two innings, retiring all six Twins he faced. After another delay that lasted more than an hour, it was surprising to see him come back out for the third. Although not as sharp as before the delay, Pomeranz got the job done, escaping a few jams along the way to his seventh victory of 2017. The only run he gave up came in the fifth, but great defense from Christian Vazquez limited the damage. This is the third outing in a row where Pomeranz has gone more than five innings while allowing two or fewer earned runs. If he keeps this up, the boost he gives this rotation is huge.

The Red Sox bullpen didn’t have to do much to keep the Twins out of the game. By the time Blaine Boyer took the mound in the sixth, the Red Sox had already built a 6-1 lead. Boyer got hit, but he escaped his two innings of work without giving up a run. Fernando Abad was responsible for the eighth and ninth, and he ended the game while giving up the second run of the game for the Twins.

Offensively, the only starter who didn’t get a hit was Andrew Benintendi, but he still reached base with an intentional walk in the fifth. The big stars of the night, in my opinion, were Christian Vazquez and Chris Young, who accounted for five of the seven runs driven in by Red Sox hitters. Vazquez hit his first home run of the season in the second, a two-run shot that gave them the lead. Chris Young also went deep, blasting his fourth home run of the season in the sixth, a three-run shot that secured this win. Dustin Pedroia also had a noteworthy performance at the plate, recording three hits and reaching base in all four of his at-bats. The Twins bullpen is one of the worst in baseball, and the Red Sox took full advantage of that, scoring seven times in the six innings a Twins reliever was on the mound.

This is the first time in nearly two weeks where the Red Sox have won consecutive games. With two more against the Twins, they can complete their first sweep since they swept the Rangers on May 25th.

Also, the Yankees blew a 3-1 lead they had entering the bottom of the eighth against the White Sox, so the Red Sox now have sole possession of first place.

43 down, ? to go. 

 

RECAP: Chris Sale strikes out nine and Mitch Moreland goes yard again as #RedSox defeat Twins 4-1.

Not gonna lie, this team has kinda just been okay over the past week. A nice weekend in Houston resulted in two straight series losses to inferior teams. Now, the first place Twins come to town looking to separate themselves from the AL Central. They didn’t get a good start to the series though, as Chris Sale made his sixteenth start of the season, and he looked really good. The American League strike out leader pitched into the seventh inning, only allowing four hits and one run while striking out nine on his way to his tenth victory of 2017. The only real mistake Sale made was a solo home run in the third off the bat of Chris Gimenez, which cut the Red Sox lead in half at the time. Other than that though, nothing to complain about from the ace. It looks like Sale will be making his next start on Saturday in Toronto, where he has already thrown eight shutout innings earlier in April.

Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Red Sox bullpen was great once again last night. Heath Hembree got out of a two on, one out jam in the seventh, Matt Barnes struck out the side in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel notched his twenty-first save of the season. With that save, Kimbrel has now recorded at least one save against all 30 teams in his excellent career.

The bats got things started quickly on Monday, scoring half their runs in the first. Mookie Betts scored on a Xander Bogaerts double play, and for the third straight game, Mitch Moreland hit a home run in his first plate appearance. Those would be the only Red Sox runs until the seventh. The starter for the Twins, Jose Berrios, got off to a rough start, but calmed down after the first and pitched into the seventh. That kid is going to be a stud, by the way. Has to be the best pitcher to start his Major League career with that organization since Johan Santana. He reminds me a lot of the late, great Jose Fernandez as well.

Anyway, Berrios allowed two of the first three batters to reach in th seventh, and he was relieved for Matt Belisle. The first batter he faced, Dustin Pedroia, drove in Sandy Leon on an RBI single. Xander Bogaerts was intentionally walked, and Buddy Boshers came in for Belisle. The first batter he faced, Mitch Moreland, capped off his night by driving in the last run of the game on a sac fly to center.

Pretty solid night on both sides to at least keep that share of first with the Yankees, who are going to beat the White Sox. Also, shout out to Tzu-Wei Lin for recording his first career Major League hit on a bloop single in his first career at-bat.

42 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Chris Young leads the way for #RedSox in 11-1 win.

The day after one of the toughest losses of the season, the Red Sox put on their best offensive perfromance so far in 2017. Rick Porcello was on the bump Saturday, matched up against Nick Tepesch for the Twins. It doesn’t take an expert to know who won this battle. Porcello wasn’t great, wasn’t lights out, but he did his job, limiting the Twins to one run, which came on a Robbie Grossman solo shot in the third inning. Other than this mistake, Porcello managed to scatter six hits over seven innings, all while giving up no walks and striking out seven Twins. With Porcello’s day done after seven innings pitched, Ben Taylor and Fernando Abad would be called on for the eighth and ninth respectively. Combined, the two relievers pitched two shutout innings while just allowing one hit total. This really felt like a 2016 start from Rick Porcello, as he had his way with the Twins lineup most of the time he was pitching. He also got a ton of run support, which is what we’ll dive into next.

With all the scrutiny this offense has received from the fans and media, the Red Sox bats broke out on Saturday. Chris Young got the scoring started with a solo shot off Tepesch in the second, his first of the season. After loading the bases with two outs, Dustin Pedroia would drive in Sandy Leon, Josh Rutledge, and Mookie Betts on a bases-clearing double. Andrew Benintendi would then reach third on a 2 RBI double, which scored Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts. After Tepesch got taken out of the game, Hanley Ramirez would single to left, scoring Benintendi from third. The scoring in the second would conclude after Hanley scored on an RBI double off the bat of Mitchy Two Bags, Mitch Moreland. Chris Young would strike again in the fifth, blasting his second solo shot of the day. In the seventh, the Red Sox would tack on another run with Deven Marrero scoring from second on an RBI double from Josh Rutledge. Sandy Leon would put an exclamation point on the scoring outburst, mashing his second home run of the year to lead off the ninth.

This was honestly one of the most satisfying games of the season for the Red Sox, in my opinion. They pretty much did everything right, with all the runs scored and Porcello’s solid outing. This game should set the tone for the rest of the season. The Red Sox have the capability to be as good as we saw them on Saturday for the entire season. With the good news coming in about David Price, you’d like to see this team go on a run in the next few weeks. With tomorrow’s game deciding who the series goes to, we should be treated to a pitching delight. Chris Sale vs. Ervin Santana, 3rd in the AL in ERA vs. 1st in the AL in ERA, should be a good one.

16 down, 78 to go. 

RECAP: Joe Mauer hits his first career walk-off home run as #RedSox lose 4-3.

I’ll make this brief. I’m writing this on a Friday night, and I’m gonna be pretty busy the next six days, so, keep that in mind.

It turns out that Eduardo Rodriguez may be a legitimate starter, whoa. After giving up two runs in the first, which weren’t really his fault, ERod limited the Twins to four hits and zero runs over the next four innings. Rodriguez would be taken out in the sixth, failing to record an out while allowing a triple to Eddie Rosario. Joe Kelly would come in to relieve Erod, and he got the first two outs while allowing Rosario to score off a Joe Mauer double. Robby Scott would finish the inning, pitch the eighth, and get the first out in the ninth. Matt Barnes would then record the second out. With Joe Mauer at the plate, Barnes lost the matchup by serving up a nice home run to the veteran first baseman. Instead of going with Kimbrel, John Farrell made the decision to go with Barnes and paid dearly for it.

The Red Sox offense sucked up until the very end on Friday night. Before that, the only run they scored came on Andrew Benintendi’s fourth home run of the season, which came in the top of the third. With one out int the eighth, Chris Young came in the game to pinch hit for Christian Vazquez, and he came up clutch with a game-tying double that drove in Deven Marrero and Josh Rutledge. This offense really stinks, man. They made Phil Hughes look much better then he actually was. They need a spark of some kind. I mean, I’d eventually like to see Chase d’Arnaud play eventually, that would be nice. I’ve already voiced my opinion on acquiring a guy like Mike Moustakas. I don’t know, try offering David Ortiz a stake in ownership if he comes back? What I do know is that Jackie Bradley, Jr. is in a major slump, and should probably sit for a few days.

15 down, 79 to go.