Mitch Moreland and Christian Vazquez Homer as #RedSox Open up May by Completing Sweep of Athletics

After finishing off a forgettable April by clinching their first home series win of 2019 on Tuesday, the Red Sox went ahead and kicked off the new month by completing their three-game sweep over the Oakland Athletics with a 7-3 victory on Wednesday afternoon.

Making his fourth start and ninth overall appearance in this on was Hector Velazquez, who served more as the opener Wednesday after working out of the bullpen as recently as Monday.

Working just the first two innings, the right-hander surrendered one run on two hits, no walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the day.

That one Oakland run came around to score on a two out RBI single off the bat of Ramon Laureano in the second, and that would wind up being the second to last hitter Velazquez faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 43 (28 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw just 9% of the time he was on the mound in this brief outing.

In relief of Velazquez, Marcus Walden was really the star of the show from the third inning on, as he ended up tossing three scoreless frames while also fanning three and allowing one of the 10 hitters he faced to reach base in that span.

An effort certainly worthy of the winning decision, which is exactly what the right-hander got for the fourth time this season. His ERA now stands at a miniscule 1.65 through 11 appearances so far.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially nails sans another rough ninth for Tyler Thornburg.

Brandon Workman struck out one in a clean sixth, Colten Brewer worked his way around a two out single from Chad Pinder in a shutout seventh, and Heath Hembree retired the only three hitters he faced in order in the eighth.

Entering the final frame with another sizable lead to protect, Thornburg nearly made something out of nothing for the second time in less than 24 hours by allowing the Athletics to trim their deficit down to four with run-scoring doubles from Khris Davis and Pinder.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, the ex-Brewer was able to hold his own enough to get the aforementioned Laureano to ground out to Tzu-Wei Lin for the third and final out, wrapping up the 7-3 win as well as the three-game sweep.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar opponent in Athletics right-hander Mike Fiers, who held Boston scoreless over six innings in his last start against them in early April. But, like I have mentioned before during this series, things were different this time around.

Kicking off the scoring in the second, Mitch Moreland got a productive day at the plate started by driving in Rafael Devers from third on a sacrifice fly to left field.

None of that would have been possible, however, had not it been for this crazy hop the ball took off the second base bag on a Michael Chavis single one at-bat prior, which allowed Devers to advance to third in the first place.

Fast forward to the fourth, Moreland struck again by continuing his run of dominating A’s pitching and launching his team-leading ninth home run over the Monster for his second dinger of the series. 399 feet and 103 MPH off the bat, per Statcast.

In the fifth, a Tzu-Wei Lin leadoff double would later result in Boston’s fifth run of the afternoon crossing the plate on another sac fly from Mookie Betts for his 16th RBI of the season. 3-1.

An inning later, with JB Wendelken now in for Oakland, back-to-back two out, bases loaded singles from Lin and Andrew Benintendi drove in three more Red Sox runs, with Lin accounting for one and Benintendi for two, to make it a 6-1 contest.

And in the eighth, Christian Vazquez put the finishing touches on this one by greeting new A’s reliever Ryan Dull with a 372 foot moonshot to left on the very first pitch of the inning for his fifth big fly of the year already.

That gave Boston a 7-1 advantage, and after a mini rally from the A’s in their half of the ninth, 7-3 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Somehow, some way, the Red Sox won the season series against the A’s 4-3.

Playing in six of those games, Mitch Moreland slashed .313/.400/.750 with two home runs and six RBI.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on April 19th, Marcus Walden owns a 0.00 ERA and a .111 batting average against over his last six appearances.

The Red Sox are 8-4 in their last 12 games.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox on the South Side in the first stop of a two-city road trip.

Left-hander David Price is set to get the ball in the opener for Boston, while right-hander Lucas Giolito will do the same for Chicago.

In his career at Guaranteed Rate Field, Price owns a lifetime 4.41 ERA over eight starts.

Giolito, meanwhile, has only started against the Red Sox once before in his young career. An outing last August in which he allowed one run over 6.1 innings in a losing effort.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their fourth straight win.

 

 

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Rick Porcello Twirls Eight Shutout Innings as #RedSox Win First Home Series of 2019

For the first time in five tries, the Red Sox have finally won their first home series of the 2019 season, wrapping up their April with a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night.

Making his sixth start of the year in the middle game of this series was Rick Porcello, who did not pitch in the Red Sox’ first series against the A’s out in Oakland earlier in the month.

Coming off his first quality outing in his last time out against the Detroit Tigers, the right-hander was even better in this one, holding the Athletics scoreless on just two hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts over eight superb innings of work. It is the longest start for a Red Sox starting pitcher so far this season.

One of those two free passes came in the second inning, but nothing came of it. That final walk though, which came in the third against Robbie Grossman, put runners on first and second with two outs in a two-run game.

Porcello was able to get out of the jam by getting Matt Chapman to ground into an inning-ending force out at second, and that would turn out to be the only frame the righty allowed multiple runners to reach base.

Retiring 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced from the start of the fourth inning on, Porcello nearly lost the final batter he faced in Marcus Semien with two outs in the eighth, but ended up getting the Athletics shortstop to line out to Mookie Betts in right to retire the side, thus capping off the hurler’s fine night in emphatic fashion.

Finishing with a final season-high pitch count of 114 (78 strikes), Porcello relied heavily upon his slider with Sandy Leon behind the plate, as he turned to the pitch 36% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday and induced five swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 92.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 23 times.

Improving to 2-3 on the season and lowering his ERA from 7.43 down to 5.52, Porcello’s next start should come against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

In relief of the New Jersey native, Tyler Thornburg was the only Red Sox reliever used for the ninth, and despite giving up a home run to Robbie Grossman, managed to preserve his team’s 13th win of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar opponent in right-hander Aaron Brooks for Oakland.

Brooks, 29, tossed six innings of scoreless baseball in his previous start against Boston back on the first of April. This time around, things went a little more in the Red Sox’ favor.

Starting right away in the first inning, Mookie Betts stayed hot and got the Sox on the board almost immediately in this one, launching a one out, 396 foot solo shot off Brooks for his sixth home run of the season.

An inning later, the bottom of Boston’s lineup came through this time around, with Sandy Leon collecting his second RBI of the year on a two out single to score Michael Chavis, who reached base on a one out single himself, from third. 2-0.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Mitch Moreland followed up another one out single from Chavis and broke out of a little 1-for-20 slump by mashing his team-leading eighth big fly of the season on a 3-1 fastball from Brooks.

423 feet to dead center, 110 MPH off the bat, 4-0 Red Sox.

And in the fifth, after JD Martinez reached base on a fielding error and Xander Bogaerts was walked on six pitches, Rafael Devers wrapped up a solid night of solid offensive play by ripping a line drive RBI double down the right field line to plate Martinez and make it a 5-0 contest.

According to Statcast, that hit had an exit velocity of 105 MPH, and it all but provided the Red Sox with the protection they needed to pick up the 5-1 win Tuesday night.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

Rafael Devers accounted for three batted balls on Tuesday, one of which went for an RBI double. The three exit velocities of those batted balls are as follows: 104.7 MPH, 104.7 MPH, 110 MPH.

Finishing April with a 12-14 record, it was certainly a month to forget for the defending World Series champions, but with two straight wins to close things out, May could be the time to really get back on track in a tremendous way.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll go for the three-game sweep of the A’s Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park.

In a pitching matchup featuring two right-handers, it will be Mike Fiers going for Oakland, and Hector Velazquez going for Boston.

First pitch of the series finale Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.

#RedSox Come Back from Early Four-Run Deficit in Series Opening Win over Athletics

After getting swept by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox bounced back in the opener of the last series of their homestand with a 9-4 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the week with two consecutive quality outings at Fenway Park under his belt.

This time around though, things it did not go as well for the left-hander, as he surrendered four earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts while pitching into the fifth inning of this one.

Right from the jump, it was pretty clear that the A’s had the advantage over Rodriguez in their second time seeing him already this season.

The first inning wasn’t all that bad, but when the lefty began his second frame of work by walking back-to-back hitters, both of whom were down in an 0-2 hole, that is where it got a bit ugly.

Plating four runs on two straight one out RBI singles from Jurickson Profar and Josh Phegley, as well as a two out run-scoring double off the bat of Matt Chapman to give the A’s the early advantage, it seemed as though Rodriguez’s night would be short-lived.

However, the 26-year-old did rebound after that second inning by retiring the next six batters he faced in order before running into more trouble in the fifth.

There, a Marcus Semien leadoff single was canceled out thanks in part to Rodriguez and rookie Michael Chavis, who was making his first career big league start at first base, on a pickoff attempt that ended with Tzu-Wei Lin getting the runner at second.

Following a Matt Chapman ground out moments after that successful pickoff attempt, Rodriguez was just one out away from getting through give full innings with his team in the lead, meaning he had the chance to earn his third winning decision of the year.

Instead, back-to-back two out singles from Stephen Piscotty and Khris Davis prevented that from happening, and the Venezuela native’s night came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 97 (63 strikes), Rodriguez relied on his four-seam fastball 42% of the time he was on the mound Monday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch. His next start should come against the Chicago White Sox this coming weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, Heath Hembree was released into the fire right away with one out to get, a two run lead to protect, and runners on first and second.

Known for his ability to succeed with inherited runners on for parts of the 2018 season, Hembree did just that this time around by getting Chad Pinder to ground into an inning-ending force out at second base.

From the beginning of the sixth inning on, Colten Brewer, Brandon Workman, Ryan Brasier, Hector Velazquez, and Matt Barnes combined to work the final four innings of this contest without yielding a single run.

Brewer faced the minimum three hitters despite a walk in a scoreless sixth, Workman walked the first two hitters he faced in the seventh and struck out the final two before making way for Brasier, who fanned Khris Davis to end the inning and also tossed a 1-2-3 eighth.

With the Red Sox up by a comfortable five runs, Hector Velazquez came on to begin the ninth, but inevitably allowed three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base to load the bases for the Athletics.

Needing to get outs quickly all of a sudden, Alex Cora turned to Matt Barnes to get out of the jam, and the right-hander needed just two pitches to pick up the final two outs and secure his second save of the year.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander and former Boston international signee Frankie Montas for the A’s.

Having never pitched inside Fenway Park before in his young career, the Red Sox eventually got to Montas starting in their half of the third, after grounding into a pair of double-plays in their first two attempts at the plate.

Kicking off the scoring for Boston was Christian Vazquez, whose one out walk wound wind up being the catalyst for a six-run inning.

It all could have been avoided, really. Jurickson Profar could have made a quality throw over to Marcus Semien covering second on a grounder off the bat of Tzu-Wei Lin to both nab Vazquez and make the throw over at first to turn the DP, but Profar instead threw the ball into the dirt, meaning everyone was safe for the top of the Boston lineup.

Again, a dribbler from Andrew Benintendi could have resulted in another out for Oakland, but it turned out that Montas actually missed the bag with his left foot on the attempted put out, which in turn loaded the bases for Mookie Betts.

On a 2-2 heater from Montas, the reigning AL MVP lined an RBI single to right, plating Vazquez from third and putting the Red Sox on the board.

One batter later, after missing the weekend series against the Rays due to back spasms, JD Martinez made his presence felt by driving in Lin from third on another RBI single to make it a 4-2 game and keep the line moving.

That base knock was followed by a two-run double to center off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to tie this contest up, which only lasted briefly because Michael Chavis gave the Sox a 6-4 lead two batters later on a two out, two-run single of his own. And just like that, six runs had come around to score in an inning Boston sent 10 hitters to the plate. All six of those runs were unearned, by the way.

Fast forward to the fifth, after a Rafael Devers one out double, and Chavis was at it again, this time collecting his third RBI of the night on a pop fly single to right field to simultaneously score Devers and put an end to Montas’ outing.

Two innings later, Jackie Bradley Jr. broke out of a 3-for-19 skid with a one out RBI single off old friend Fernando Rodney to drive in Devers yet again, who led the seventh off by drawing a walk and stealing second base.

And in the eighth, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on this one by plating Boston’s ninth and final run of the night on an RBI sac fly, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third and giving his team a 9-4 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.

Some notes from this one:

In his last seven games (six starts), Rafael Devers is slashing .409/.500/.500 with four RBI. The power has not been there yet, but the run the third-year infielder has been on at the plate has been exciting to see.

Including a three-hit performance Monday, Mookie Betts is slashing .423/.521/.692 with one home run and six RBI in his last seven games.

Through his first nine career big league games, Michael Chavis is sporting a .643 slugging percentage. Minimum 25 plate appearances, that is currently the 10th best SLG in the American League.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set against the A’s.

Right-hander Aaron Brooks is set to get the ball for Oakland, while fellow righty Rick Porcello will do the same for Boston.

Looking for just their second series win of the year, first pitch Tuesday is schedlued for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Collects First Big League Hit in Blue Jays Debut

While the Red Sox were getting rained out for the second time this week before their series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, the rest of the American League was much abuzz to kick off the weekend thanks to Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s top prospect, making his big league debut for the Toronto Blue Jays north of the border Friday.

Son of hall of famer Vladimir Guerrero, the 20-year-old had himself a day to remember, starting with an electric round of BP.

Batting out of the five-hole against the Oakland Athletics, Guerrero may not have filled up the box score, but he provided Blue Jays fans with an atmosphere that hadn’t been experienced at Rogers Centre since the club last made the postseason in 2016. That much was evident by the ovation he received just from fielding a foul ball and tossing it into the stands in the early innings.

In the top half of the fourth of this one, the Dominican native’s defensive abilities were put to the test on a 94 MPH grounder off the bat of A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty. Guerrero fielded it on the hop and made the out at first with the leaping throw.

Speaking of his arm, Guerrero showed that tool off once again later in the seventh, this time fielding a grounder from Chad Pinder. The 2015 international signee fielded it cleanly, collected the ball, and rocketed it across the diamond just in time to nab the runner at first to preserve Marcus Stroman’s seven shutout inning performance.

On the other side of things, Guerrero did not get on the board until his final at-bat of the night, although he did come close to going bridge twice.

Anyway, in the ninth, with his team knotted up with Oakland at two runs a piece, Vladito got what would end up being the winning rally started with a leadoff opposite field double down the right field line on a 2-2 count to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. First career hit, with many more to come.

Guerrero, who would have represented the winning run, was replaced by Alen Hanson to run in his place, but that wouldn’t really matter with Brandon Drury giving the Blue Jays their 12th win of the year on a two-run walkoff home run.

At the end of the day, Guerrero went 1-for-4 with a double in his major league debut. He faced 17 total pitches, took eight balls, two called strikes, and did not swing and miss once. It’s safe to say it was a debut to remember for the city of Toronto and the country of Canada as a whole.

As for how this relates to the Red Sox, well, the two clubs don’t see each other again until the Red Sox travel north of the border for a four-game series in late May. The Blue Jays do not visit Fenway Park again until June 21st.

So, it will be awhile before we see this phenom up close and personal, but until then, I’m just going to go ahead and enjoy the show.

Happy Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Day, everyone.

 

#RedSox Activate Steve Pearce from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

After starting his first full season with the Red Sox on the 10-Day injured list, Steve Pearce is back, as the club activated him from the IL prior to Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.

As the above tweet reads, to make room on Boston’s 25-man roster, first baseman Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.

Pearce, 35, strained his left calf while running out a ground ball in the first inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 17th.

He was removed from that game seemingly as a precaution, but did not appear in any other big league games for the remainder of the spring.

Now, after getting some work in at the minor-league level down in Fort Myers, the South Carolina native appears ready to make his 2019 debut. He re-joined the club in Oakland Wednesday.

Given his .304/.400/.559 slash line to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI in 120 plate appearances against left-handers last season, it would not be surprising to see Pearce in the three-hole against southpaw Brett Anderson and the Athletics Thursday afternoon.

In Pearce’s place, Sam Travis went 2/7 with two singles in two games played while making Boston’s Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on NESN.

Blake Swihart Celebrates Birthday with Home Run, Three Hits as #RedSox Snap Four-Game Skid in Oakland

After going the first two nights of April without a win or even a run scored, the Red Sox broke out in style in Oakland Wednesday night, putting an end to their four-game losing streak with a clutch 6-3 victory over the Athletics.

Making his second start of the season and second consecutive start against an American League West foe in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who entered Wednesday with three previous career starts at the Oakland Coliseum under his belt.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander was essentially in damage control all night, limiting the A’s to three runs on four hits, four walks, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the evening.

Similar to his last outing against the Mariners, Eovaldi was a bit erratic yet again, but he was able to keep the ball in the ballpark for the most part, yielding just one two-run home run to Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano in the fourth inning.

After giving up that homer to Laureano though, which made it a 3-0 game in favor of Oakland at the time, the 29-year-old settled in a bit by retiring the final six hitters he faced through the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 96 (51 strikes) Eovaldi topped out at 98.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 35 times. His next start should come next Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen turned in yet another solid performance, as Colten Brewer, Matt Barnes, and Ryan Brasier combined to hold the A’s scoreless over the final four frames of this one.

Brewer, in his third appearance for Boston, fanned a pair over the sixth and parts of the seventh before making way for Matt Barnes with one out to get in the inning.

Barnes, who we last saw close out the Red Sox’ first win of the season last Friday, punched out the only batter he faced in the seventh before stranding a runner at third in the eighth with the help of Brock Holt.

Holt, filling in for Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, dazzled with a cross-body throw as his momentum was taking him towards third to get Laureano out at first. That kept Marcus Semien from scoring from third and thus kept this contest tied at three runs a piece headed into the ninth.

It officially goes down as a 6-3 ground out, but it was really much more than that from Holt, who did not start at shortstop during the spring.

After Boston jumped out to a three-run lead of their own in their half of the ninth, in came Ryan Brasier to shut the door on the A’s in the bottom half of the frame.

Making his third appearance out of the bullpen this season, the 31-year-old hurler worked his way around a leadoff HBP to sit down the final three hitters of the night, notching his first career save in the process.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Athletics right-hander Marco Estrada to start things out.

An old friend from his days with the Toronto Blue Jays, the seasoned Estrada held the Boston bats in check up until the fifth.

With their scoreless-innings streak reaching 22, Blake Swihart broke the club’s offensive slump by launching his first home run of the season with two outs in the fifth.

A 415 foot shot to center field to put his team on the board for the first time this month, that is quite a way to celebrate a 27th birthday.

An inning later, a Mookie Betts leadoff walk would ultimately spell the end for Estrada, who was pulled after surrendering another free pass to JD Martinez to load the bases for Boston with just one out in the sixth.

With A’s reliever Ryan Buchter now in, Mitch Moreland did not waste any time with a pitcher he had only faced off against once before Wednesday, as he squared up on a first pitch fastball and ripped a double down the right field line.

That allowed Betts and Rafael Devers to score from second and third, and just like that, the Red Sox were back in it.

Fast forward all the way to the ninth, with things still tied and another old friend in Fernando Rodney now on the mound for Oakland, Swihart came to the plate having already collected two hits.

With just one out to work with, the Red Sox backstop singled on a ground ball to right, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up by doing the same.

A wild pitch from Rodney allowed the pair of runners to advance to second and third, meaning the go-ahead run was only 90 feet away from scoring.

Mookie Betts, who was at the plate for that wild pitch, made the A’s pay for their mistake by turning a grounder that just so happened to deflect off the third base bag into a game-winning two-run double.

If that ball was hit to Matt Chapman, the inning presumably ends without a Red Sox crossing the plate.

Instead, the 2018 AL MVP came through big time, and Andrew Benintendi showed some signs of life by driving in Betts from second on an RBI triple to make it a 6-3 contest, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Happy belated 27th birthday to Blake Swihart!

JD Martinez has started his second season in Boston with a seven-game hitting streak. He is 10/28 with two home runs and seven RBI to kick off the 2019 campaign.

According to ESPN, the Red Sox bullpen has posted a 2.42 ERA over their first 26 innings of work. That is the fifth-best mark in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to depart from the Bay Area with a series-split against the A’s in hand.

It will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers for the series finale, as Eduardo Rodriguez and Brett Anderson are slated to start for their respective sides.

Rodriguez (0-1, 10.38 ERA), owns a 1.69 ERA in two career starts and 16 total innings of work at the Oakland Coliseum.

Anderson (1-0, 0.00 ERA), meanwhile, owns a lifetime 3.48 ERA over 11 career starts against the Red Sox.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on this getaway day.

#RedSox Officially Announce Six-Year Extension for Xander Bogaerts

After hammering out the final details and agreements Sunday night, the Red Sox officially announced Monday that they had signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to a six-year, $120 million contract extension through the 2025 season. The club tweeted the following to make it official.

Bogaerts, 26, will in fact still earn the $12 million he is due in 2019 before the new contract goes into effect beginning next year.

According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the six-year pact includes two key components, with the first being an opt-out after the 2022 season, and the second being a $20 million vesting option for 2026, as long as Bogaerts compiles at least 535 plate appearances and is healthy at the end of the 2025 campaign.

Originally set to become a free agent this winter, the Aruba native will look to provide the Red Sox with solid offensive and defensive production for the forseeable future.

Four games into his sixth full season with the club, the two-time World Series champion and one-time American League All-Star is 3/16 with one double, one home run, and one RBI.

As things stand right now, the $20 million average annual value of Bogaerts’ new deal would make him the highest paid shortstop in all of baseball in 2020.

A press conference regarding Bogaerts’ extension with the Red Sox is scheduled for later Monday out in Oakland.