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.