Red Sox Go 0-For-7 with Runners in Scoring Position, Struggle Against Aaron Nola in 3-2 Loss to Phillies

After sweeping the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox saw their five-game winning streak come to an end on Tuesday, as they opened up a two-game, interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 loss to fall back down to 67-60 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and 11th overall appearance was Brian Johnson, taking the spot of the now-shelved Chris Sale, who appears to be out for the remainder of 2019.

Working into fourth inning of this one, the left-hander yielded three runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Philadelphia tallies were plated right away in the top half of the first, beginning with a one-out, two-run double off the bat of Jean Segura that drove in Rhys Hoskins and Bryce Harper from second and third.

Two batters later, Johnson was just one strike away from getting out of the first with just the two runs, as he had Scott Kingery in an 0-2 count on the first two pitches of the at-bat.

Instead of escaping though, the Florida native persisted with three straight balls before hanging a 74 MPH curveball over the heart of the plate, one in which Kingery roped down the left field line to drive in Segura and make it a 3-0 contest.

Another single from Cesar Hernandez put a runner in scoring position for Philadelphia once more, but Johnson did not falter this time around, as he got Adam Haseley to fly out to center to put an end to the first.

That flyout began a run for Johnson in which he retired eight of the last 11 Phillies he faced with the help of a successful inning-ending pickoff attempt on the part of Mitch Moreland to snuff out Kingery in the third.

In the fourth, with one out and Hasely at second following a wild pitch, Johnson managed to punch out Andrew Knapp on five pitches, and that would be how his evening came to a close as Sox manager Alex Cora turned to his bullpen with the Phillies lineup turning over.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (42 strikes), the 28-year-old relied on his curveball more than 40% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 90 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 19 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his second losing decision while inflating his ERA on the year up to 6.58, Johnson’s next start should come against the Colorado Rockies next week.

In relief of Johnson, Marcus Walden entered with an inherited runner on second and one out to get in the top of the fourth, and he got that out by fanning J.T. Realmuto on three straight strikes after giving up an infield single to Hoskins.

Walden also worked a 1-2-3 fifth before making way for left-hander Josh Taylor in the sixth, who also tossed a perfect inning of relief.

From there, Ryan Brasier struck out one in a scoreless seventh, Darwinzon Hernandez did the same in the eighth, and Matt Barnes worked his way around two straight hitters reaching base with two outs in a shutout top of the ninth.

All in all, Red Sox relievers sat down 16 of the 19 Phillies they collectively faced from the fourth until the middle of the ninth to keep the deficit at one run. Too bad it went in vain.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies ace right-hander Aaron Nola, whose only other appearance at Fenway Park before Tuesday was an eight-inning gem back on July 30th of last season.

Down by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, Mitch Moreland got things started against Nola beginning in the third inning with a leadoff single.

A Brock Holt flyout brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate with one out in the frame, and he came through by unloading on a first-pitch, 93 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate from Nola and depositing it 402 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Per Statcast, Bradley Jr.’s 15th home run of this season and third in his last six games had an exit velocity of 108.4 MPH, the hardest hit ball from either side all night.

That two-run blast cut Boston’s lead down to just one, and it certainly seemed as though they had Nola on the ropes on multiple occasions from there.

Like in the bottom of the fifth, when Christian Vazquez led off with a line-drive double. Moreland, Brock Holt, and Bradley Jr. all had their chances to drive the runner in, but neither of the three could deliver.

An inning later, Mookie Betts singled and stole second to lead off the sixth, setting up the Red Sox’ 2-3-4 hitters in a prime run-scoring spot. Again, none of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, nor J.D. Martinez answered with what would have been a game-tying knock.

Fast forward to the eighth, with Nola out and left-hander Jose Alvarez in for Philadelphia, and Bradley Jr. again reached base on one-out single, turning the lineup over against new reliever Mike Morin.

Betts looked helpless as he fanned on three straight hittable strikes, and Devers didn’t fare much better with an inning-ending lineout to center.

And in the ninth, all frustration boiled over as Xander Bogaerts laced a leadoff double off of Phillies closer Hector Neris.

Things were looking promising for Boston yet again, but on the very next pitch thrown by Neris, Martinez lined a grounder to Segura at short, prompting Bogaerts to try and advance to third despite the play being right in front of him.

Segura took advantage of this, as he snubbed out his positional counterpoint with a quick toss over to Kingery at third.

Bogaerts was out by a decent amount, and just like that, the Sox were down to their final two outs with a runner at first instead of at second.

Chris Owings came on to run for Martinez at first, but that did not make much of a difference, as Benintendi lined out to Segura in the shift more towards second, and he was able to double up Owings at first to end the ballgame with 3-2 being Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left three men on base as a team.

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s last seven games: .292/.333/.750 with three homers and six RBI.

With the Tampa Bay Rays falling to the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday, the Red Sox still remain six games off the pace for the second American League East.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second and final game of this two-game series, with right-hander Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston and left-hander Drew Smyly doing the same for Philadelphia. The two were part of the same starting rotation for the Detroit Tigers from 2012 until 2014.

Since the calendar flipped to August, Porcello has been, for the most part, solid, posting a 3.71 ERA and .206 batting average against over his last three starts and 17 innings pitched.

In his career in interleague play, the 30-year-old owns a lifetime 4.29 ERA and .277 batting average against over 42 total outings (40 starts) and 241 1/3 innings of work. He will not get to bat this time out.

Smyly, meanwhile, has surrendered 17 runs (15 earned) on 26 hits in five starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched since joining the Phillies on July 21st.

When pitching at Fenway Park over the course of his career, the 30-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.87 ERA and .198 batting average against over five prior starts that amount to 31 1/3 innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to rebound and start a new winning streak.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket, Option Travis Lakins in Corresponding Move

Before kicking off a two-game interleague series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Josh Smith had been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

In a corresponding move, right-hander Travis Lakins was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday.

Smith will be making sixth stint with Boston this season and first since being optioned down to Pawtucket on August 4th.

In his most recent stretch with the PawSox, the 32-year-old allowed eight earned runs on 15 hits over two starts and nine innings pitched.

With the Sox this year, Smith has been used as both a starter and reliever, posting a 4.84 ERA and .283 batting average against through 11 appearances (two starts) and 22 1/3 total innings of work.

Per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, the Red Sox’ Smith is up to provide some length out of the bullpen in the event that Tuesday’s starter Brian Johnson does not pitch deep into the game.

On the other side of this move, Travis Lakins was sent back down to Pawtucket eight days after being recalled for his fourth big league stint of 2019.

In those eight days with Boston, the 25-year-old yielded one unearned run in two relief appearances and four total innings pitched against the Baltimore Orioles this past weekend.

On the 2019 season as a whole, Lakins owns an ERA of 4.05 and batting average against of 2.45 through nine appearances and 13 1/3 innings with the Red Sox.

 

Philadelphia Phillies and RHP David Robertson Agree to Two-Year Deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent reliever David Robertson on a two-year, $23 million dollar contract, per the team’s official Twitter account. As the tweet reads, the contract also includes a club option worth approximately $12 million for a potential third year.

Robertson, 33, had spent the past season and a half with the Yankees before signing his deal with Philadelphia on Thursday.

Back in November, it was reported that the right-hander was looking to sign on with a club near his home in Rhode Island, thus the Red Sox were viewed as legitimate suitors for Robertson’s services.

Instead, the University of Alabama alum more than likely chose the team that offered him the most money in the Phillies, while also not straying off too far from the Ocean State.

Known for providing quality work out of the bullpen in a variety of roles throughout his 11-year major league career, Robertson posted a 3.23 ERA and 11.8 K/9 over 69 relief appearances and 69.2 innings pitched with New York in 2018. He also recorded five saves.

With this news, one would have to assume that Philadelphia is out of the running for free agent closer Craig Kimbrel after adding Robertson to the back-end of the bullpen.

Whether or not that increases the chances of a reunion between the Red Sox and the seven-time All-Star remains to be seen, but President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has essentially kept that door open for the time being. And as we near closer and closer to spring training, Kimbrel’s price is sure to go down.

The Red Sox have also remained interest in free agents Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton. If I were to guess on where each would be going, I would venture to say one signs with Boston, while the other winds up in the Bronx, best case scenario.

RECAP: #RedSox End Road Trip with 7-4 Loss in Philadelphia Following Tough Night for Bullpen.

After taking the first of two against the Philadelphia Phillies in a close 2-1 win on Tuesday night, the Red Sox looked to end their nine-game road trip on a positive note on Wednesday, but that simply was not the case.

Making his fourth start of the season with the Red Sox in this one, Nathan Eovaldi took a step in the right direction five days after the Baltimore Orioles lit him up for eight runs on 10 hits last Friday.

Tossing five full innings, the right-hander surrendered three runs, one of which was earned, while scattering seven hits and zero walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

As he faced four hitters each in what went down as three pretty smooth frames, the bottom half of the fourth did not treat Eovaldi as nicely.

The worst part about a three-run rally for the Phillies that tied the game in that fourth inning was the fact that it was all started by a throwing error.

Yes, Rafael Devers, who leads the team in errors, could not make the throw over to first in what appeared to be a 5-3 put out at first on a Rhys Hoskins grounder to leadoff the inning.

From that point, three of the next five Phillies Eovaldi faced managed to reach base, and thanks to RBI knocks from Wilson Ramos and Carlos Santana and a RBI groundout from Odubel Herrera, this game was tied at three runs a piece heading into the fifth.

Fortunately for Boston, the Texas native ended his night on a solid note by sitting down three of the final four batters he faced on Tuesday.

Had this game not been played in a National League ballpark, Eovaldi probably could have pitched further, but with his spot in the lineup due up with runners at first and second in a tied game in the sixth, going with the pinch-hitter was clearly the right choice.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (61 strikes) the 28-year-old turned to his cut-fastball about 43% of the time he was on the mound last night, which resulted in just three swings and misses. He also topped out at 99 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 27 times, in his fifth and final inning of work.

Now with 14 starts under his belt this season, Eovaldi will look to build on a solid outing in his next time out, which should come sometime against the Cleveland Indians next week.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen, mainly Joe Kelly and Drew Pomeranz, did not have the best of nights in the City of Brotherly Love.

Kelly, who got the call for the sixth in his sixth appearance of August, allowed what would turn out to be the go-ahead run for the Phillies in the form of a Scott Kingery sac fly that scored Wilson Ramos from third.

Speaking of Ramos, the former Rays backstop was making his first start with the Phillies since being traded there in July, and he went 3/4 with three RBI in another great day at the plate against the Red Sox, something he has become accustomed to.

Anyway, Kelly gave up the run to bump his ERA on the season up to 4.29 and he would later be dealt his fourth losing decision of the year as well because of it.

Drew Pomeranz made his third relief appearance since being demoted to the bullpen last week, and it was certainly his worst of the three.

In what has the chance to be his last outing in a Red Sox uniform, the lefty allowed the Phils to score THREE times in one inning, which essentially, despite their best effort, put this game out of reach for Boston.

During that seventh inning, it was clear that Pomeranz was struggling to locate his pitches, as he left a lot of them up in the strike zone. Topping out at 91.5 MPH with your four-seam fastball is not the best of signs either.

Finally, with his team trailing by three, Hector Velazquez sat down the only three batters he faced in the eighth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was without Mookie Betts in the leadoff spot and matched up against Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez.

Velasquez, 26, had only made one career start against Boston prior to Wednesday night, and that came all the way back in 2015.

Starting the scoring in the third inning of this one, a one out walk drawn by Nathan Eovaldi, followed by an Andrew Benintendi HBP and a Brock Holt infield single set up Mitch Moreland in an ideal scoring spot.

On the third pitch he saw from Velasquez, Moreland ripped a 94 MPH fastball all the way to the center field wall for a three-RBI double, and just like that, the Red Sox were up early.

Velasquez would depart from the game after reloading the bases in the same inning, but with Hector Neris on the mound for Philadelphia, nothing came of that scoring chance for the Red Sox.

Fast forward to the top half of the sixth with things knotted up at three, two straight two out singles from Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon had Boston threatening to jump ahead once again with pinch-hitter Steve Pearce due up.

With Tommy Hunter on the mound for the Phils, it looked as though Pearce managed to beat out an infield single that would have loaded the bases again, but upon further review, Pearce was ruled out and the inning came to a close.

After going down quietly in the seventh, the top of the eighth would turn out to be the last real opportunity for the Red Sox to cut into a brand new four-run Phillies lead.

JD Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. all reached to leadoff the inning with reliever Pat Neshek on the hill, but all they could muster in the end was one run off a Mookie Betts pinch-hit RBI single.

That was that, and they went down quietly in the ninth as well to end an encouraging road trip in rather disappointing fashion.

Looking at the final box score, the Phillies ended up using SEVEN pitchers out of their bullpen. Gabe Kapler out here managing like it’s game seven of the World Series or something.

Some notes from this one:

Over the nine-game road trip, here is how the Red Sox stacked up (via NESN):

7-2 record

7.2 runs per game

.279 team batting average

2.54 starters ERA

4.00 bullpen ERA (Obviously the most discouraging figure)

Andrew Benintendi apparently hit a bill twice on one swing last night. That’s pretty cool.

Splitting the four-game season series while getting outscored 12-9 by Philly in those four contests, the Red Sox will not have to see the 66-53 Phillies for the remainder of the regular season.

Instead, they head back home to enjoy another off day on Thursday before welcoming the Tampa Bay Rays into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park.

Brian Johnson, David Price, and Chris Sale will start for the Red Sox in that order while the Rays still have a series to wrap up in New York.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Friday.

 

 

 

RECAP: Brock Holt’s Eighth Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Lifts #RedSox to Tight 2-1 Win over Phillies.

Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox headed north for some tougher competition in the form of the 65-52 Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Coming off an outing in which he surrendered seven earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, Rick Porcello looked much more like the Rick Porcello we saw two starts ago when he threw a complete game against the New York Yankees.

Making his 25th start of the season in this one, Porcello ended up tossing seven innings of one run ball after taking a perfect game into the fifth.

The only real costly mistake the right-hander made last night was the hit that broke up the perfecto and no-no simultaneously, a leadoff solo shot off the bat of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins to leadoff the fifth.

A 1-1 72 MPH hanging curveball located towards the bottom of the strike zone, Hoskins did not miss in what turned out to be his 23rd homer of the season and lone run of the evening for Philadelphia.

Other than a two out single he gave up in the same inning, Porcello was perfect en route to his 15th winning decision of the season, as he set a new-season high in strikeouts with 10 on the night.

Like the typical quick worker he is, the 2016 Cy Young Award winner found himself in one three-ball count all night and never dealt with the same one batter for too long a time.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (61 strikes), Porcello was pinch-hit for in the top half of the seventh inning, which would go down as the correct decision to make in that spot.

Before that happened though, the 29-year-old added on to his fine day on the mound with a second inning double off of Phillies starter Nick Pivetta for his second two-bagger of the year.

Out of those 91 pitches thrown, Porcello relied on both of his fastballs a combined 51% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 92.5 MPH with his four-seamer in the first inning.

Improving to 15-5 and lowering his ERA on the year to 4.04, Porcello will look to build on what has thus far been an inconsistent month in his next time out against the Cleveland Indains on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for closing out the final two frames on Tuesday night, and Heath Hembree did his part with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which ended with this Odubel Herrera whiff.

Craig Kimbrel, on the other hand, was a different story.

Entering the ninth with a 1.071 OPS against over his last seven appearances, the flame throwing closer got his night started in a one-run game by walking the first batter he faced on six pitches.

With the help of Sandy Leon though, Kimbrel was able to secure his 36th save of the season by retiring the final three Phillies he faced to wrap up a 2-1 win for the Red Sox.

All and all, in nine total innings, Boston pitching held the Phillies to one run on two hits and one walk to go along with 13 punch outs. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who owned a 4.51 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) this season.

A right-hander in his second year in the majors, Pivetta held Boston scoreless in seven innings pitched in his only other career start against them at Citizens Bank Park last season.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it was more of the same from Pivetta on Tuesday night, as they could only tack on one run in the six innings he appeared in.

That run, a 384 foot solo shot off the bat of Sandy Leon with one out in the third, put Boston on the board first in this one.

Although they had another opportunity to score in the inning, nothing came of it after Andrew Benintendi grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with Pivetta out and reliever Tommy Hunter in for Philadelphia, Brock Holt came through with the biggest hit of the night.

Batting in the pitcher’s spot with one out in the inning, Holt swung away at the first pitch he saw from Hunter, a 94 MPH cutter located on the inner half of the plate, and sent it 424 feet to right field to score what ended up being the winning run.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 86-35, 10 games up in the American League East, and have won five games in a row.

From @SoxNotes: This is the first time Red Sox starting pitchers have ever recorded 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in consecutive team games (source: ). Rick Porcello had 10 K and 0 BB tonight, after Chris Sale had 12 K and 0 BB on Sunday.

That home run from Brock Holt was his second career pinch-hit homer. The last time he did that came nearly two seasons ago against the Padres in San Diego.

Over the span of his six-game hitting streak, Holt is slashing .364/.440/.636 with two long balls and six RBI in 22 at bats.

Rick Porcello owns a 1.200 OPS this season.

Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi looking for redemption in his first interleague start with the Red Sox.

In case you have forgotten, Eovaldi got his bell rung for eight runs on 10 hits in two innings last Friday against the Orioles.

In four career outings at Citizens Bank Park, the newest Red Sox hurler owns a 4.57 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, who, like Pivetta, has only made one start against the Red Sox in his four-year career.

That start, which came back when Velazquez pitched for the Astros during part of the 2015 season, was an outing in which the California native gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched in an eventual 8-3 win for Houston.

That was a long time ago though, and things have definitely changed in the last three years.

First pitch of the series finale in Philly is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP: #RedSox Held to One Run by Phillies’ Jake Arrieta in 3-1 Series Splitting Loss.

On a day where Chris Sale was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, Drew Pomeranz did not put forth his best effort to make Red Sox fans feel a little more comfortable with the fact they will be with out their ace for the time being, although Sale’s injury does not appear to be all that serious.

Anyway, making his 10th start of the season last night, Pomeranz was far from awful against the Philadelphia Phillies, that much is certain, but he was from great as well.

In five full innings, the lefty somehow managed to hold the Phils to just two runs while surrendering four hits, four walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with three punch outs on the night.

It was not pretty by any means, but by the time Pomeranz’s day came to an end in the middle of the fifth with his team trailing by just two runs, it’s difficult to say that he did not give the Red Sox a chance to win this game, because he kept them in it and worked around plenty of traffic on the base paths to hold Philadelphia to two runs.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95, the 29-year old hurler only threw strikes about 53% of the time on Tuesday night. He also topped out at 92.3 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to 30 times, in the third inning while lowering his ERA on the season to an unsightly 6.56.

Due to the fact that Brian Johnson has taken over for Chris Sale while he is on the DL, all signs point to Pomeranz maintaining his spot in the Red Sox rotation. If nothing were to change, the Tennessee native would start again sometime next week against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Pomeranz, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another solid night up until the ninth inning.

Joe Kelly, with the help of Blake Swihart’s cannon of an arm, worked his way around a leadoff single to face the minimum three batters in the lone inning he pitched in the sixth.

Heath Hembree too worked his way around a leadoff walk to toss a scoreless seventh and Matt Barnes, despite loading the bases, escaped any damage in the eighth inning with a big time strikeout of Cesar Hernandez.

In the final frame though, with the Red Sox trailing by just one run, Hector Velazquez, who had pitched on Monday, allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base, which drove in the Phillies’ third and final run of the night to create some distance between them and the Red Sox going into the bottom half of the inning.

On the other side of things, similar to what Aaron Nola did for the Phillies in the series opener, Jake Arrieta had his way with the Red Sox lineup on Tuesday.

Tossing seven innings of one run ball, the ex-Cub held Boston to one lone run on six hits and one HBP with seven strikeouts.

That one run came in the sixth inning on a Xander Bogaerts RBI groundout. That’s all the scoring the Red Sox could manage in this one, although they did have plenty of opportunities.

I won’t break down all of them, but I will highlight the most crucial of these scoring chances that came in the ninth.

With Seranthony Dominguez on the mound for Philadelphia to protect a two run lead, a leadoff walk drawn by JD Martinez appeared to be a step in the right direction for a second walk-off hit in as many nights.

However, that optimism was quickly wiped away when Xander Bogaerts took a 99.1 MPH fastball off his right hand in the very next at bat. The same right hand that impacted Bogaerts’ 2017 campaign when he was hit with a pitch in Tampa Bay right before the All-Star break.

Despite the obvious pain he was in, Bogaerts was able to stay in this game and represent the tying run at first base with no outs.

From that point, Dominguez really buckled down for the Phillies, as he consecutively sat down the next three hitters he saw to pick up the save.

Ian Kinsler, who was making his Red Sox debut, Mookie Betts, who came on to pinch hit for Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt were all retired on just 11 pitches, and that was how last night’s contest would come to a close with a final score of 3-1.

Some notes from this one:

From @EvanDrellich: Right hand contusion for Xander Bogaerts. X Rays negative. Same spot as last year. He sounded worried just because of the similarity but good news again is X Rays are negative.

From @PeteAbe: Dombrowski said Sale was “adamant” he would miss only one start. Suspicion is how he throws his slider could be the cause. Team is being cautious. MRI was not needed.

In his aforementioned Red Sox debut, Ian Kinsler went 1/4 at the plate with two strikeouts batting in the six-hole. He was also solid at second base.

Extending his hitting streak to 11 games with a sixth inning single, Blake Swihart finishes his month of July with an outstanding slash line of .412/.474/.618 in 14 games.

Ending July with a 19-6 record, the Red Sox have Wednesday off before hosting the New York Yankees for a four-game set that begins tomorrow.

With a 4-5 record against the Bombers this season and a five game division lead to protect, you don’t need me to tell you that this upcoming series is meaningful.

Brian Johnson starts in the place of Chris Sale in the opener on Thursday. He’ll be matched up against CC Sabathia for New York, who has both struggled and succeeded against Boston in two separate starts at home this season.

As for Johnson, well, he’s never started against the Yankees, but he has yet to give up a run against them in three relief appearances as well. Should be an interesting matchup of two left-handers.

First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Thursday.

Ian Kinsler Set to Bat Sixth in #RedSox Debut.

There you have it. Less than 24 hours after the trade was completed, Ian Kinsler will make his debut with the Red Sox later tonight.

Taking over as the everyday second baseman and batting sixth on Tuesday, Kinsler will wear the number 5.

Among American League second baseman, the 36-year old infielder ranks fourth in terms of fWAR (2.0) and first in Defensive Runs Saved (10).

In his career against the Phillies, Kinsler is slashing .357/.438/.607 with one home run and two RBI in seven games.

At Fenway Park, in 41 career games, he is slashing .260/.306/.441 with seven homers and 26 RBI.

As a corresponding move, the Red Sox optioned Tzu-Wei Lin to Triple A Pawtucket, hence Kinsler taking his number.

The trade deadline is less than 15 minutes away now. It’s looking less likely that the team will be able to land a reliever with guys like Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler landing with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

RECAP: Blake Swihart Walks It off for #RedSox in Extra Innings Win over Phillies.

Playing in their first interleague series since sweeping the Washington Nationals earlier this month, the Red Sox came into the week fresh off three straight wins and a quick two-game set against a first place Philadelphia Phillies team next up on the schedule.

David Price, who has big game experience pitching against the Phils during his rookie year in the 2008 World Series, made his 21st start of the season last night and extended what has been a near-dominant run for Red Sox starters.

In a full eight innings pitched, the lefty held Philadelphia to just one run while scattering eight and hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the night.

Things did not appear as though they were going to go as smoothly as they did for Price early on, as he surrendered five hits and that one run within the first three innings. But, with the help of some careless Phillies base running…

the Tennessee native settled down with a stretch of nine straight retired batters from the top of the third all the way to the sixth.

After escaping two more respective jams and stranding multiple runners on base in the sixth and eighth innings of this one, Price’s night would come to an end with his pitch count reaching 97.

Out of those 97 pitches (66 strikes), the 32 year-old hurler relied on his cut fastball the most on Monday, as he went to it nearly 31% of the time while also topping out at 93.3 MPH with his two-seamer in the third inning.

Unable to pick up the win due to this game going 13 innings, Price will look to carry over this recent success into August, where he is slated to make his next start against the New York Yankees this upcoming Sunday. *gulps*

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen did a fantastic job of limiting what the Phillies could do at the plate, and that prevented them from scoring the go-ahead run at any time last night.

Tossing a combined five scoreless frames, Tyler Thornburg, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Joe Kelly, and finally Hector Velazquez, who picked up the win to improve to 7-0 on the season, were all part in a fine effort in the eventual 75th win of the year for the Red Sox.

My biggest takeaways here were how Thornburg continued to impress, as his scoreless appearance streak now stands at six, and how Joe Kelly worked his way around a two out walk in the twelfth to avoid any damage. Hembree was also solid.

On the other side of things, I have to start off by tipping my cap to Phillies starter Aaron Nola. Similar to what Tyler Gibson did on Thursday night for the Twins, Nola mostly had his away against a dangerous Boston lineup.

Had it not been for a Jackie Bradley Jr. single and an Eduardo Nunez RBI triple that should have been caught in center field in the bottom of the fifth, Nola more than likely would have held the Red Sox scoreless in the eight frames he pitched in. He’s that good.

Anyway, we’ll pick this thing up in the 13th inning, when with one out, Eduardo Nunez at second, and Philadelphia reliever Luis Garcia on the mound, Blake Swihart had the chance to send everyone home happy.

Stepping up to the plate for the second time that night after pinch-hitting for Sandy Leon in the tenth, Swihart swung at the first pitch he saw from Garcia, a 99 MPH fastball right over the heart of the plate, and launched a scorching 106 MPH ground-rule double into the Red Sox bullpen, driving in Nunez from second and ensuring his team’s second walk-off win in the last four days with the 2-1 victory.

Some notes from this win:

From @SoxNotes: Including tonight, Red Sox starting pitchers have a 1.41 ERA in their last 12 games. According to , that is the club’s lowest starting pitcher ERA over any 12-game span since 1933 (1.31 from 7/20-8/3).

Extending his hitting streak to 10 games with that walk-off double, Blake Swihart is slashing .429/.484/.679 over that span with one home run and three RBI.

In his last five games, Eduardo Nunez owns an OPS of 1.213.

At 75-33, the Red Sox are 42 games over .500. Absurd.

Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Drew Pomeranz getting the start for the Red Sox. He’ll be matched up against fairly new Phillie Jake Arrieta.

Known for his time spent with the Chicago Cubs, Arrieta owns a 3.45 ERA in 20 starts in his first year in Philadelphia.

Last season, when the Cubs were at Fenway in April, this same pitching matchup took hold for a game on April 28th. I remember because I was there.

Surprisingly, Pomeranz outpitched Arrieta in what turned out to be a close 5-4 win for the Red Sox.

Regardless of that, first pitch of the second and final game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET tonight. Could be Pomeranz’s last start for a while if he continues to struggle.

Also, the Red Sox traded for Ian Kinsler last night. You can read about him here. The trade deadline is at 4 PM ET today.

RECAP: Chris Sale pitches another gem; #RedSox offense does nothing in 1-0 loss in series finale.

Five out of their last six. That’s how many games the Red Sox have won since Friday. Against a pretty bad team in the Phillies, it was looking like a team led by Chris Sale was about to go into Houston fresh off a four game sweep. Since the beginning of May, Sale has an ERA north of 4, which is unlike him. Thursday’s start was peak Chris Sale, as the southpaw pitched a complete game of one-run ball. He also struck out ten batters for the first time since May 19th. The only damage the Phillies did off of Sale came in the eighth, when pinch hitter Ty Kelly drove in Andrew Knapp on a one out RBI double. Sale only allowed four other hits, so this loss cannot be pinned on him, especially since he almost helped his own cause with a bat in his hand. The greatest takeaway from this start is the fact that Chris Sale gave the bullpen a day of rest before an important series in Houston, in which Drew Pomeranz is pitching in today.

As it has already been said, the Red Sox offense did virtually nothing last night. Tip off the cap to the pitcher Nick Pivetta and Howie Kendrick, who both played huge roles in limiting the Red Sox to zero runs and only five hits over nine innings. They had their chances, but strike outs in key situations and bad base running didn’t do any good. The last good opportunity to score any runs came in the eighth, where Chris Sale lined a double to left to lead off the inning and smiled.

He got to third on a line out, but Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts failed to score him. Another chance presented itself in the ninth, with Jackie Bradley on first with two outs, Pablo Sandoval came to the plate representing the go-ahead run. To nobody’s surprise, Sandoval struck out on three ugly pitches, like the waste of money he is.

Next up, the Red Sox spend the weekend in Houston. A decimated Astros rotation should help the cause, but that lineup is still pretty lethal. Eight o’clock start, Pomeranz on the mound, what could go wrong???

37 down, ? to go. 

 

RECAP: Brian Johnson exits early; Mookie Betts homers twice; #RedSox take Game 3 7-3.

After winning the first two games of this home-at-home series, the Red Sox made a visit to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, their first since 2015. Brian Johnson got the start, and Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval were on the field together for the first time in nearly two years. Johnson did not stay in the game long, as the 26 year-old left in the third with left shoulder discomfort. It doesn’t appear to be too severe, but Johnson will be heading back to Boston for more tests anyway. Prior to the game yesterday, Hector Velazquez was recalled from Pawtucket while Deven Marrero was sent down. As it turns out, the Red Sox needed Velazquez to limit the work of the bullpen. The Mexico native finished the third, and then went on to get through the sixth while only surrendering one hit. The bullpen wrapped things up from there, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, and Robby Scott pitched three scoreless innings, only allowing three baserunners over that span. With Johnson’s health in question, it looks like Velazquez could make his second start of the season next time Johnson’s spot comes up in the rotation.

Jeremy Hellickson did not stand a chance against the Red Sox offense last night. Five runs crossed the plate over the first two innings, highlighted by RBI doubles from Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts. Speaking of Betts, what a night he had. In the first four innings, Betts already had three quarters of the cycle down, only needing a triple. No more runs would come until the ninth. With Mookie Betts up with the chance to hit for the cycle, he went deep again, his eleventh of the season, giving the Red Sox a 7-3 lead and essentially the win.

Now a season best nine games over .500, The Red Sox have the best record in Major League Baseball since they won that finale in Oakland. Last year at this time, they actually had the same record as they do now. So, for as frustrating this season has seemed at times, it’s not that bad.

37 down, ? to go.