Mookie Betts Opens, Closes Scoring for Red Sox with Pair of Homers in 7-6 Win over Angels in Extras

After sweeping the Colorado Rockies in a two-game interleague series and an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up the final leg of their west coast swing with a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels in 15 innings on Friday.

Making his seventh start of the season for Boston and third since returning from the injured list last month was Nathan Eovaldi, who only lasted three innings in his last time out against the San Diego Padres.

Tossing four full innings this time around, the right-hander yielded just one earned run on three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts on the night.

That lone Angels run came in the bottom half of the third, when with one out and the bases empty, Brian Goodwin took Eovaldi deep to right-center off a 3-2, 98 MPH heater at the top of the zone to get his team on the board.

Other than that one blip though, Eovaldi rebounded by retiring five of the final six hitters he faced leading to the conclusion of the fourth, the point in which his evening came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 81 (54 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 100.3 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season down to 6.23, Eovaldi will look to go deeper into his next start, which should come against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday back at Fenway Park.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Josh Taylor entered the middle of the fifth with a three-run lead to protect, and he loaded the bases on a leadoff single and back-to-back walks before getting Mike Trout to pop out to second and Shohei Ohtani to ground into a 3-2 forceout at home for the first two outs of the frame.

From there, Marcus Walden came into try and clean the mess left behind by Taylor, and he allowed two of the runners he inherited to score on a two-run single off the bat of Albert Pujols. Both of those runs were charged to Taylor.

Walden was able to escape the fifth with an inning-ending groundout from Kole Calhoun, and he also worked a 1-2-3 to make way for Matt Barnes in the seventh.

There, with his side up three runs once more, Barnes let that lead shrink back down to two by serving up another one-out solo shot to Goodwin, thus making it a 6-4 contest in an otherwise clean frame of relief.

Ryan Brasier got the call for the eighth, and he fanned two of the first three men he faced, but walked the fourth, Andrelton Simmons, on five pitches, to put the tying run on base for the pinch-hitting Justin Upton, which led to Brandon Workman coming on and looking to lock down the four-out save.

Workman did load the bases on an infield singe from Upton, but he also got out of the sticky spot by getting Kevan Smith to ground out to second.

In the ninth, the right-hander created some more trouble for himself, walking the first two men he faced in the frame before allowing one of those runners to advance to third on an Ohtani force out.

So, with two outs to get and runners on the corners, Workman had the perfect chance to end this one by getting Pujols to ground into an inning-ending double play, but instead served up a 1-1, 82 MPH curveball on the outer half of the plate, one in which the future Hall of Famer slapped through the right side of the infield and J.D. Martinez misplayed in right.

That fielding error gave way to the tying run, Ohtani, crossing the plate, and Workman was dealt his sixth blown save of the year.

Fortunately for Boston though, 6-6 is where Friday’s contest stood for a while, as lefr-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out five over two innings of scoreless relief in the 10th and 11th.

Andrew Cashner continued to impress out of the ‘pen as well, eventually earning the victory while tossing four no-hit frames from the middle of the 12th until the end of the 15th to secure the 7-6 victory.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie left-hander Jose Suarez for the Angels, who came into the weekend owning an ERA of 7.89 in seven outings since the All-Star break.

Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first, Mookie Betts led things off by going yard off the fifth pitch of the night from Suarez, a 3-1, 91 MPH heater on the outer half of the plate. Per Statcast, Betts’ 22nd homer of the year had an exit velocity of 108.3 MPH

An inning later, A Sam Travis leadoff walk, an Andrew Benintendi HBP, and Christian Vazquez GIDP set up Brock Holt with two outs and a runner on third, and he came through by driving in Travis on a simple RBI single through the left side of the infield. 2-0.

In the third, J.D. Martinez stayed hot and doubled his side’s edge, as he scored himself, as well as Betts, on his 33rd big fly of the year. This one, a two-out, two-run shot, coming off a 3-1, 76 MPH cutter from Suarez, put the Sox up 4-0 over the Halos.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Suarez out and old friend Noe Ramirez in for Los Angeles, and Martinez capitalized on another prime run-scoring chance, this time plating Xander Bogaerts, who was on following a leadoff single, all the way from first with an RBI double down the left field line. 5-3.

A Marco Hernandez HBP while pinch-hitting for Travis led to the Angels turning to left-hander Muguel Del Poze out of their bullpen.

That decision did not faze Benintendi though, as he drove in Martinez from third with a sacrifice fly hit deep enough to center to re-up the lead to three at 6-3.

The Angels were able to mount a late comeback to knot this contest up at six runs apiece in their half of the ninth, and as already mentioned, the 6-6 stalemate stood pat for quite some time.

Fast forward all the way to the 15th, after running into a string of 19 straight outs at one point, and Betts came up to the plate for the seventh time.

Down to their last out in the 15th with Trevor Cahill on the mound for the Angels, Betts took the first pitch he saw in his eighth career matchup against the righty, an 88 MPH cutter down the heart of the plate, and deposited it 401 feet over everything in left field.

The reigning American League MVP’s second homer of the evening and 23rd of 2019 gave the Red Sox the 7-6 lead they were desperately in search for, and that would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Stats by STATS:

Friday’s game took five hours and 23 minutes to complete, the third-longest game for the Red Sox this season.

J.D. Martinez’s last 10 games: .375/.447/.800 with five homers and 17 RBI.

Andrew Cashner, since moving to the bullpen on August 13th: 6 games, 10 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 9 strikeouts, 0.90 ERA.

With the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both winning on Friday, the Red Sox remain 5 1/2 games off the pace behind Oakland for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game weekend set, with an unnamed starter getting the ball for Boston and left-hander Dillon Peters doing the same for Los Angeles.

Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to name a starter for Saturday’s game at this point in time. Left-hander Brian Johnson and right-hander Josh Smith were the only two hurlers not used by Boston on Friday, so my money is on one of them getting the starting nod.

Peters, meanwhile, held the Sox to three runs over six innings while taking the tough luck loss the last time he faced them on August 8th.

Since that time, the recently turned 27-year-old has posted a 5.52 ERA and .267 batting average against over his last three starts and 14 2/3 innings of work, including back-to-back five-run outings at the hands of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 9:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.

Advertisements

Brock Holt Comes Through with Game-Winning Homer in Ninth Inning as Red Sox Take Series from Padres with 5-4 Victory

After blowing the doors off the San Diego Padres to open up a three-game weekend series on Friday, the Red Sox needed some late-inning magic to win their second straight on Saturday, as they topped the Pads by a final score of 5-4 to improve to 70-61 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and second since returning from the injured list on July 20th was Nathan Eovaldi, who came into the weekend having yielded five runs in just two innings in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles this past Sunday.

Working into the fourth inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Both of those Padres runs charged to Eovaldi came in the bottom half of the fourth, when after retiring eight of the first 11 hitters he faced, Manny Machado led things off with single back up the middle to put a runner on for Eric Hosmer.

On the fourth pitch of his second at-bat against the Sox starter, Hosmer unloaded on a 2-1, 94 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate and sent it 409 feet into the right field seats to cut his side’s deficit in half at 4-2.

With his velocity dwindling as that Padres rally was formulating, Eovaldi’s evening came to a quick close following that two-run homer from Hosmer.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (36 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 53% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 100.1 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 6.64, “Nitro” will be expected to pitch deeper into his next outing, which should come against the Los Angeles Angels next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden entered the bottom of the fourth with the bases empty and still three outs to get.

The right-hander did eventually get those three outs, but not before allowing the third run of the inning for San Diego to score on a Hunter Renfroe double and run-scoring groundout off the bat of Luis Urias.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out one in a scoreless fifth, Ryan Brasier fanned two in a scoreless sixth before allowing two of the first three Padres he faced in the seventh to reach on a leadoff walk and one-out HBP.

Those signs of struggle led to another Boston pitching change, and in came left-hander Josh Taylor with the tying run in scoring position at second.

A one-out RBI single from the first man who greeted him in Ty France did knot things up at four runs a piece as the Red Sox blew their 24th save of the year, but Taylor did come through in a huge spot with two outs and the bases loaded by striking out Hosmer on four pitches to extenguish the threat.

Matt Barnes maneuvered his way around a two-out single in the eighth to eventually earn his fourth winning decision.

And after his side took the lead in their half of the ninth, Brandon Workman wrapped things up, stranded the tying run at second, and notched his eighth save of 2019 on a three-out punchout of Hosmer to lock down the 5-4 victory.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet, someone they had never seen before going into the weekend.

Kicking off the scoring in the top half of the third, a Mitch Moreland leadoff single and Brock Holt HBP, followed by a Nathan Eovaldi forceout at third on a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, put runners at first and second for Mookie Betts as the lineup turned over for the first time.

Perhaps taking into account what he learned in his first trip to the plate Saturday, Betts laced an RBI single through the right side of the infield to plate Holt from second and give his side their first lead of the evening.

An inning later, with J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi leading off the fourth by both reaching base, back-to-back run-scoring knocks from Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland off of Lamet upped the Sox’ advantage to four runs, as Vazquez drove in two and Moreland one.

The Padres responded with a three-run rally of their own in their half of the fourth though, and eventually tied things up at four in their half of the seventh as well.

At 4-4, the stalemate led to San Diego turning to their All-Star closer Kirby Yates in the ninth.

Leading off the final frame for Boston was Brock Holt, who was 0-for-2 headed on the night headed into his first career at-bat against Yates.

That unfamiliarity may have played in Holt’s favor though, as the 31-year-old took the first pitch he saw from Yates, a 93 MPH four-seamer down and in, and belted a 372-foot, go-ahead solo shot just over the wall in right field.

“BH’s” third big fly of the season put the Red Sox up 5-4 late, and that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi departed from this game in the sixth inning due to tightness in his left side, per Sox manager Alex Cora. He will not play on Sunday.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: .360/.385/.440 with four runs scored and four runs driven in.

Before Saturday, Kirby Yates had served up one home run to the first 201 hitters he faced this season.

With the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics both falling on Saturday, the Red Sox move to six games behind Tampa Bay for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the Players’ Weekend series finale on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Brian Johnson gets the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Joey Lucchesi will do the same for San Diego.

Since being activated off the injured list earlier in the month, Johnson has posted a 6.75 ERA and .358 batting average against over his last four starts and 12 innings pitched.

In eight career interleague appearances (five starts), the 28-year-old owns a lifetime 5.40 ERA and .306 batting average against over 30 total innings of work. He has never faced the Padres nor pitched at Petco Park before in his career.

Johnson is also a lifetime .167 (1-for-6) hitter with two runs scored.

Lucchesi, meanwhile, owns an ERA of 4.86 in seven starts and 37 innings since the All-Star break. The Padres are 1-6 in those games.

The 26-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his two-year career, but he does own an ERA of 4.24 and batting average against of .227 in seven career interleague starts spanning over 34 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the three-game sweep before heading off to Denver.

Rafael Devers Homers, Surpasses 100-RBI Mark as Red Sox Complete Sweep of Orioles in 13-7 Comeback Win

After shutting out the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox fell behind by six runs early against the O’s on Sunday, but battled their way back to both complete the three-game weekend sweep and extend their winning streak to five games with a 13-7 victory.

Making his fifth start and 16th overall appearance for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who, before Sunday, hadn’t started a game in over four months.

Tossing just two full innings in this one, the right-hander yielded five runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and three walks to go along with one strikeout on the afternoon.

The first three of those Baltimore runs came on one swing of the bat right away in the top half of the first, when with one out and runners at the corners following a Jonathan Villar leadoff double and Trey Mancini walk, Renato Nunez unloaded on a 3-2, 79 MPH curveball from Eovaldi and sent it 415 feet over the Green Monster.

An inning later, ball four came back to bite Eovaldi once more, with Chris Davis drawing a walk to lead things off and Villar drawing another with two outs, which allowed Mancini to make it a 5-0 contest on a two-run single that also ended the top of the frame as he was thrown out at second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 43 (23 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler relied on his cut fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing one swing and miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 97.7 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 13 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with the no-decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to a not-so-nice 6.69 ERA, command, or lack thereof, played a major role for Eovaldi in his first start since April 17th. He’ll look for improved results, as well as an increased workload, in his next time out, which should come against the San Diego Padres next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez entered the top of the third with his side trailing by five runs, and he bumped that deficit up to six by serving up a two-out RBI double to Hanser Alberto in his lone inning of work.

From there, Ryan Brasier worked his way around a one-out walk in a scoreless fourth, Josh Taylor allowed back-to-back two-out singles in an otherwise clean fifth, Marcus Walden tossed a scoreless sixth, which eventually led to him picking up his eighth winning decision of the season, and Andrew Cashner put together his third straight scoreless appearance since moving to the bullpen with the help of an inning-ending 1-4-3 double play in the seventh.

And finally, with this one already well in hand, Travis Lakins surrendered one run on one hit over two frames of relief to secure the 13-7 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles left-hander Ty Blach, who was claimed off waivers by Baltimore from the San Francisco Giants earlier in the month.

Already trailing by three runs before they took their first at-bats, five runs before taking their second, and six before taking their third, back-to-back RBI groundouts from Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts following a walk and double from Chris Owings and Mookie Betts to lead off the bottom half of the third netted the Sox their first two runs of the day.

In the fourth, Sam Travis continued to trim the deficit, as he took Blach deep to dead center off a one-out, first-pitch, 90 MPH sinker down the middle of the plate for his sixth home run of the season.

Fast forward to the sixth, and a leadoff double off the bat of J.D. Martinez and one-out walk drawn by Travis knocked Blach out of this contest and brought right-hander Gabriel Ynoa in for Baltimore.

That move would wind up favoring Boston more though, as Christian Vazquez greeted the new O’s reliever by knocking in Martinez from third on a line-drive RBI double down the left field line.

The emergence of Mitch Moreland hitting in the place of Sandy Leon led to another Orioles pitching change, this time with lefty Paul Fry taking over.

Again, the run that Red Sox pinch-hitters have been on this season continued, with Moreland being the beneficiary of sloppy defensive play from Baltimore on a routine pop fly to shallow left field.

What should have been the second out of the sixth instead went for an RBI single while both Travis and Vazquez scored to knot things up at six runs apiece.

An Owings strikeout and Betts walk brought Devers to the plate with the chance to give his side their first lead of the afternoon, and he came through with the go-ahead, run-scoring double off the Green Monster to do just that and drive in Moreland from second.

Bogaerts and Martinez followed suit with back-to-back RBI singles in between another Orioles pitching change, with Bogaerts’ knock coming off Fry and Martinez’s off of Shawn Armstrong.

All in all, the Sox entered their half of the sixth down 6-3. By the time the third out was recorded on a Travis punchout, 12 hitters had come to the plate and the score was now 9-6 in favor of Boston. Talk about turning a game on it’s head.

The offensive outpour did not stop there though, not with Vazquez and Moreland leading off the seventh with back-to-back singles and Betts plating Vazquez on a sacrifice fly to center.

Devers followed that by absolutely punishing a 1-1, 94 MPH four-seamer on the outer half of the strike zone from Armstrong and depositing it 399 feet to right for his 27th big fly of the season.

That two-run shot had an exit velocity of over 111 MPH, per Statcast, and it also marked the 100th and 101st RBI of the year for Devers, as he became the first player in baseball this season to reach the century mark in runs driven in.

A Bogaerts double and Martinez run-scoring single put the Red Sox up 13-6, and after the Orioles tacked on another run in their half of the ninth, 13-7 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

Josh Taylor’s last 15 appearances: 14 1/3 innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs, five walks, 18 strikeouts, 1.88 ERA.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .563/.600/1.094 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

J.D. Martinez’s last 15 games: .414/.485/.707 with four homers and 10 RBI.

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: .409/.458/.682 with one homer and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays topping the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, the Red Sox still stand 6 1/2 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another off day on Monday before welcoming the 64-60 Philadelphia Phillies into town for a two-game interleague series beginning on Tuesday.

Left-hander Chris Sale was supposed to start in the opener, but has since been placed on the 10-day injured list due to left elbow inflammation. Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to name a replacement.

Right-hander Aaron Nola will get the start for Philadelphia.

Since the beginning of August, the Phillies ace owns an ERA of 2.07 and batting average against of .194 over his last three outings and 19 innings pitched.

In one prior start at Fenway Park back on July 30th of last year, Nola hurled eight masterful innings of one-run ball in a contest the Phillies lost by a final score of 2-1.

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

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses and Rafael Devers Homers as Red Sox Blank Orioles to Extend Winning Streak to Four

After cruising to a 9-1 win to open up a three-game weekend set with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox took the series with a 4-0 shutout win over the O’s on Saturday to extend their winning streak to four and improve to 66-59 on the season.

Making his 26th start of the season for Boston and third against Baltimore was Eduardo Rodriguez, who came into the weekend having given up a season-high 10 hits in his last time out against the Cleveland Indians.

Working into the eighth inning this time around, the left-hander kept his former club off the scoreboard, scattering just four hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

The most trouble Rodriguez came into on Saturday came in the top half of the fourth, when a leadoff walk of Trey Mancini and two-out walk of Jonathan Villar put runners at first and second for Pedro Severino.

Rodriguez did not waver though, as he got the Baltimore backstop to ground into an inning-ending out at second and proceeded to sit down 10 of the next 12 Orioles he faced before yielding a one-out single to Hanser Albeto in the eighth, which is the point where the Venezuela native’s evening came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (70 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on both his four-seam fastball and changeup a combined 58% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing four swings and misses with the heater and five with the change. He also topped out at 95.7 MPH with the four-seamer while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately earning his 14th winning decision to reach a new career-high while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.10, Rodriguez will look to build on this strong performance in his next time out, which should come against the San Diego Padres next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes entered the eighth with a four-run lead to protect and an inherited runner on at first, and he allowed that runner to advance to third on a Mancini single and wild pitch before escaping the jam by punching out Anthony Santander and Renato Nunez in consecutive order.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman preserved the 4-0 shutout win by fanning a pair himself in a scoreless frame of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against O’s right-hander Adrian Wojciechowski, someone who held them scoreless in Baltimore just last month.

Able to get on the board against the Orioles starter in his first ever appearance at Fenway Park, Brock Holt kicked off the scoring in the fifth with a bang, as he led the inning off by mashing his second home run of the season off a first-pitch, 90 MPH four-seamer at the top of the zone.

That was also Holt’s first homer since returning to the Sox after mourning the loss of his junior college baseball coach Derwood “Pops” Penney. A pretty special moment for him to say the least.

A Jackie Bradley Jr. triple to follow up that big fly kept the pressure on Wojciechowski, and he faltered even further by allowing Bradley Jr. to score from third on a wild pitch with Mookie Betts at the plate.

Fast forward to the seventh, with left-handed reliever Paul Fry in for Baltimore, and Betts put a runner in scoring position for Rafael Devers with a two-out double off the left field wall.

Three pitches later, Devers came through and doubled his side’s lead with a two-run, 365-foot blast off an 0-2, 93 MPH heater from Fry.

Devers’ 26th home run of 2019 put the Red Sox ahead 4-0, which would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From the Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .500/.543/.969 with three homers and 10 RBI.

With the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays both winning on Saturday, the Red Sox still stand 6 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

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

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in his first start since April 17th, while left-hander Ty Blach will do the same for Baltimore.

Eovaldi is expected to throw between 55-60 pitches and hopes to work the first four innings Sunday before increasing his workload next week.

In his career against the O’s, the 29-year-old is 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA and .310 batting average against over seven prior starts and 34 2/3 innings of work.

Blach, meanwhile, allowed seven runs, six of which were earned, in his Orioles debut against the New York Yankees on August 12th after being claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants earlier in the month.

The 28-year-old has never faced the Red Sox nor pitched at Fenway Park before in his career.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the weekend sweep.

J.D. Martinez Crushes Two of Red Sox’ Five Homers in 16-4 Blowout Win over Angels

After shutting out the Los Angeles Angels behind eight dominant innings from Chris Sale on Thursday, the Red Sox picked up their second straight win over the Halos on Friday, as they took the second of the four-game set by a final score of 16-4 to improve to 62-56 on the season.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston and second since being activated off the injured list this past Saturday was Brian Johnson, now taking the spot of the recently shelved David Price in Boston’s rotation.

Working into the third inning on Friday, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on two hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.

All three of those Angels runs came around to score right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and runners on first and second following a one-out double from Mike Trout and two-out walk drawn by Justin Upton, Albert Pujols unloaded on a 1-2, 77 MPH slider from Johnson and deposited it well over the Green Monster.

That three-run blast put Los Angeles up 3-0, but Johnson should have been out of the first before all that went down. Why? Because ball four on that walk to Upton should have gone for strike three for the final out of the frame. Instead, it wasn’t called a strike by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, Upton was granted first, and that set up Pujols.

Other than that one major blip though, Johnson recovered nicely enough to sit down six of the next seven hitters he faced after serving up that bomb before getting the hook with Shohei Ohtani on first, two outs in the third, and Upton due up next to hit for the Angels.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 50 (28 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 90.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while bumping his ERA on the season up to 7.32, Johnson’s next start should come against the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered the top half of the third with one out still to get and one runner on, and he got that out thanks to Vazquez, who nabbed Ohtani at second on an unsuccessful stolen base attempt.

Walden also came back out for the fourth and fifth innings, where he faced the minimum of six Angeles hitters over two scoreless to eventually earn his seventh winning decision of the year before making way for Nathan Eovaldi in the sixth.

There, the right-hander began his evening by sitting down David Fletcher, Trout, and Ohtani in order on 20 pitches. Not too shabby.

Eovaldi’s second inning of work in the seventh though? Well, it could have gone better, as a leadoff double off the bat of Upton, a one-out HBP of Kole Calhoun, and two straight walks of Luis Rengifo and Brian Johnson brought Los Angeles’ fourth run of the night.

The Texas native did manage to escape any further damage in the seventh by getting Matt Thaiss to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play, but it certainly wasn’t pretty.

Regardless of that, Hector Velazquez and Josh Taylor wrapped things up in a contest the Sox ended up running away with by combining for two perfect innings of relief in the top halves of the eighth and ninth to secure the 16-4 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels right-hander Jaime Barria, who came into the weekend having yielded 17 runs in his last four starts since the All-Star break.

Kicking off the scoring started right away in the bottom half of the first, J.D. Martinez responded to an early three-run deficit by driving in Mookie Betts from second on a two-out, line-drive RBI double. 3-1.

Fast forward all the way to the fourth, and Martinez struck again, this time plating Xander Bogaerts, as well as himself, on a 402-foot, two-run shot off a 3-1, 93 MPH heater down the heart of the plate from Barria to knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, a one-out single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. would turn out to be the catalyst for another two-run rally in the fifth, as Betts followed suit with his 20th big fly of the year off a 3-2, 87 MPH slider on the inner half of the plate to give the Sox their first lead of the night at 5-3.

In the sixth, Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, and Vazquez all reached to fill the bases with one out for the pinch-hitting Sam Travis, who greeted new Angels reliever Adalberto Mejia by drawing a five-pitch walk, which brought Martinez in from third and made it a 6-3 contest.

Bradley Jr. collected an RBI despite driving in a pair with a grounder that got under the glove of Rengifo. 8-3.

A six-pitch walk of Betts re-loaded the bases for Rafael Devers, and the 23-year-old took full advantage by lacing another two-run single through the right side of the infield, putting his side up 10-3 in the process of going so.

A red-hot Martinez stayed hot in the seventh, mashing his second homer of the night and 27th of the season to lead the inning off against Angels right-hander Trevor Cahill. 11-4.

Benintendi and Vazquez followed that up by both reaching base on a HBP and walk, and Mitch Moreland came through with an RBI double of his own to drive in Benintendi and make it an eight-run game at 12-4.

In the eighth, after taking over for Bogaerts defensively in the top of the inning, Devers took the first pitch he saw from Cahill and led off with not only his 24th dinger of 2019, but also his first career homer as a shortstop.

Four batters later, a wild pitch allowed Martinez to go from second to third after he reached on a throwing error, and Vazquez proved once more that mistakes can be costly, as he plated Martinez with an RBI single to left. 14-4.

And finally, Moreland put the exclamation point on this blowout with his first home run in nearly three months. This particular one, his 14th of the year, was good for two runs as it soared over the Green Monster.

That opposite field blast gave the Red Sox a 16-4 edge, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

J.D. Martinez’s August thus far: .469/.553/.938 with four homers and eight RBI.

The Red Sox are 14-1 this season when scoring 10-plus runs in a game.

The Red Sox are 3-1 in their last four completed games.

With the win on Friday, the Red Sox now sit five games back of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Sox, it’s the third of this four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while left-hander Andrew Heaney will do the same for Los Angeles.

Porcello is coming off his best outing in weeks in his last time out against the Kansas City Royals, as he held the opposition to just one run on four hits over six strong innings of work.

In his career against the Angels, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 5.56 ERA and .291 batting average against over 18 starts and 103 2/3 total innings pitched.

Heaney, meanwhile, will be making his first start in over three weeks after being sidelined due to inflammation in his left elbow.

In one prior start at Fenway Park back on June 27th of last season, the 28-year-old allowed six runs in less than four innings in an eventual losing effort.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their third straight win.

 

Rick Porcello Allows One Run over Six Strong Innings as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak at Eight Games with 7-5 Victory over Royals

At long last, the Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they opened a seven-game homestand on Monday with a 7-5 win over the Kansas City Royals to halt their losing streak at eight.

Making his 23rd start of the season for Boston to begin the new week was Rick Porcello, coming off a month of July where he went 4-1 despite allowing 25 earned runs over his last five starts and 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the right-hander surrendered just one earned run on four hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night, marking the first time since Friday that a Sox starter had made it to the sixth.

That lone Kansas City tally came in the top half of the sixth inning, when with two outs and the bases empty, Porcello served up a solo home run to Cheslor Cuthbert off a 1-2, 84 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate.

The New Jersey native had retired nine of the the last 10 hitters he faced before giving up that bomb to make it a 4-1 contest, but Porcello did not falter, as he got Ryan O’Hearn to pop out to first to end the frame and thus end his evening on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (67 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 31% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 93.2 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 10-8 while lowering his ERA on the year down to 5.54, Porcello now has quality starts in two of his last three outings, both of which have come at Fenway Park. He’ll look to keep that trend going in his next time out, which should come against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.

In relief of Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi entered the seventh with a three-run lead to protect, and he, in his first action since Friday, saw that lead shrink to two by giving up a one-out solo homer to Meibrys Viloria off an 0-2, 97 MPH heater at the top of the zone.

That made it a 4-2 game, but Eovaldi rebounded well enough to strand another runner at first following a two-out walk and get out of the inning with the two-run lead still intact.

Matt Barnes came in right after his team had gone up 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh only to give all three of those runs back on a three-run homer off the bat of Bubba Starling. Granted, it was a bit of a Fenway Park special, as it only traveled 332 feet and had an expected batting average of .040, but it was good for three runs nonetheless, and that cut Boston’s lead down to 7-5.

Like Eovaldi, Barnes was also able to recover by punching out Viloria on five pitches, making way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

There, Workman allowed the tying run to come to the plate following a Whit Merrifield one-out double, but ultimately finished things off by getting Alex Gordon to ground out to first before striking Dozier out on six pitches to secure the 7-5 victory and notch his sixth save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Mike Montgomery, someone who had surrendered 10 runs in his first three starts as a Royal since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs last month.

Kicking the scoring off in the bottom half of the third after Xander Bogaerts was called out at home for the final out of the first, Bogaerts made up for his earlier mistake by lacing a hard-hit grounder to Nicky Lopez over at short, one hit so hard that the rookie infielder could not field it cleanly, and that allowed Mookie Betts to score from third for his side’s first run.

Two batters later, with two outs in the frame and Rafael Devers at third, Sam Travis unloaded on a 2-1, 92 MPH sinker from Montgomery and sent it a booming 429 feet over the Green Monster to make it a 3-0 game.

Fast forward to the fifth, Rafael Devers put his opposite field power on display, as he deposited a one-out, 1-0, 77 MPH curveball 364 feet to left for his 23rd big fly of 2019. 4-0.

And in the seventh, Sandy Leon and Betts both greeted new Royals reliever Tim Hill by reaching base on a leadoff walk and single, allowing Devers to move Leon up to third on a fly out to right field.

Another Kansas City pitching change saw right-hander Scott Barlow take over for Hill, and he proved to be pretty wild, as he let Leon coast in from third in the process of walking Bogaerts on four straight pitches.

With runners at first and second now, Andrew Benintendi came to the plate having faced off against Barlow on three separate occasions before Monday, and he came through by dropping to one knee and ripping a two-run double through the right side of the infield.

That two-RBI double put the Red Sox ahead 7-2, and after the Royals made things a bit interesting in the eighth, 7-5 would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Mookie Betts had to be removed from Monday’s game before the start of the eighth inning after taking a foul ball off his left shin in the bottom of the seventh. He was later diagnosed with a left shin contusion and has been ruled day-to-day, but is expected to be good to go for Tuesday. This comes on the same night that J.D. Martinez was scratched from Boston’s starting lineup due to back soreness.

From Red Sox Notes:

Andrew Benintendi’s last 15 games: .415/.433/.785 with five homers and 17 RBI.

With the Red Sox winning on Monday night and the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays all losing, the Sox are back to within 5 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Now that that eight-game nightmare is done and over with, the Red Sox should adopt a one-game-at-a-time kind of mentality for the remaining two months of the 2019 season.

As things stand right now, the defending World Series champions are viewed as long shots to make it back to the postseason. That much is evident by how Fangraphs is giving the Sox just a 20.4% chance to get back to October baseball.

With that, Boston needs to take advantage of all the doubt surrounding them.

It starts with this soft spot in their schedule, but picks up next week when they head to Cleveland for a pivotal three-game series against the Indians.

Many have said that the Red Sox are done. I’m saying that they are 1-0 in their last one game.

Anyway, this series against the Royals picks up again on Tuesday night, with right-hander Andrew Cashner getting the ball for Boston and fellow righty Jakob Junis doing the same for Kansas City.

This will be Cashner’s first start as a member of the Red Sox where he is not facing off against a division rival.

In his career against the Royals, the 32-year-old owns a lifetime 3.29 ERA and .271 batting average against over five prior starts and 27 1/3 innings pitched.

Junis, meanwhile, has surrendered 11 earned runs over 26 innings in four starts since the All-Star break. That’s good for an ERA of 3.81.

In one prior start at Fenway Park, Junis took the no-decision while allowing two runs on seven hits over six quality innings in a game the Royals eventually won back on May 1st, 2018.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to make it two wins in a row.

 

 

Red Sox Starting Pitching Has Been Abysmal Since the All-Star Break

The Red Sox entered the 2019 All-Star break winners of five of their last six after returning from London. At 49-41 headed into the four-day hiatus last month, they stood just two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Since that time, the 2019 campaign has begun to unravel for the defending World Series champions. That much is evident by how this current eight-game tail spin now has them at 10-14 since the break, which is the fourth-worst record in the American League over that span behind only the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, and Seattle Mariners, three teams not trying to compete for anything this year.

Despite those poor results, the Red Sox lead all of baseball over that time in runs scored, as they have plated 143 runs over their last 24 games. or in other words, are averaging 5.94 runs per game since the All-Star break.

Sure, there have been some blowouts mixed in there that may skew the numbers, but it goes without saying that the Sox have one of the better offenses in baseball that can compete with anyone at any given time.

That said, it becomes difficult to continuosly produce at a rampant rate when you’re falling behind early in games, which leads me to my next point.

To put it simply, Red Sox starting pitchers have not carried their weight this season.

David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, and Chris Sale are four of the highest paid non-position players on this staff, earning $31 million, $20.6 million, $16.9 million, and $15 million in 2019 respectively.

Per FanGraphs, Boston starters rank 20th out of the 30 big league clubs in ERA (5.07) and 14th in fWAR (8.3) since the start of the season. Going back to the start of the second half, they rank 27th in ERA (6.40) and 27th in fWAR (0.3) over these last 24 games.

The rotation was supposed to be the strength of this Red Sox team and instead has turned into one of their bigger weaknesses. The fact that the Sox are 17-27 in games started by Price or Sale this year is crazy enough.

Among qualified American League starters, Porcello ranks second-to-last in ERA (5.74) and third-to-last in xFIP (5.27) through 22 starts and 122 1/3 innings pitches so far this season.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, has been moved to the bullpen after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow back in April.

Andrew Cashner was brought over from the Baltimore Orioles in a three-player trade last month in hopes of stabilizing the back-end of Boston’s rotation.

The 32-yar-old has averaged close to six innings per start since making his Red Sox debut on July 16th, but he has also surrendered 18 earned runs over 23 1/3 innings pitched in that four start span, which is good for an ERA of 6.94.

Eduardo Rodriguez has been one of the few bright spots pitching-wise for Boston overall, as he leads the team in starts (23), wins (13), innings pitched (135 1/3), and ERA (4.19).

All in all, if the Red Sox have any shot of digging themselves out this hole they have dug for themselves in the Wild Card race, starting pitching needs to improve immensely. If it doesn’t, the 2019 season will more than likely go for naught.