RECAP: Andrew Benintendi Makes Game-Saving Catch in Ninth Inning as #RedSox Jump up 3-1 on Astros in ALCS.

In a game that took over four and a half hours to complete, the Red Sox found themselves just one win away from clinching the American League pennant following an enthralling 8-6 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Making his second start (fourth appearance) of the postseason in this one was Rick Porcello, and he did not have it going on early.

Tossing four innings seemingly out of necessity, the right-hander got hit hard, as he surrendered a postseason-high four earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Right from the get go, it was clear to see Porcello was struggling to find any sort of rhythm. The Astros were making hard contact and getting on base, which could have led to two runs crossing the plate in their half of the first, right after the Red Sox scored a pair of their own, had it not been for Joe West ruling this ball off the bat of Jose Altuve as fan interference.

I don’t want to get into this too much, since like Tuesday’s controversy, it really did not make a difference in the end, but I do believe it’s pretty obvious that Mookie Betts would have made that spectacular catch had that fan not shut his glove closed.

Any who, Porcello got out of the first unscathed. Great, maybe he’ll start to settle in a bit after getting that out of the way, I thought.

Nope, instead Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa greeted the New Jersey native in their half of the second by consecutively reaching base, and that led to Houston’s first run of the night coming around to score on a Correa RBI single.

An inning later, George Springer, who seemingly hits a home run in almost every postseason game he plays in, was at it agin with a leadoff solo shot to right field that cut Boston’s lead to one momentarily.

After a Jose Altuve double to follow that up and two straight outs, Josh Reddick continued his revenge tour against the team he came up with by ripping a line drive RBI single to left to drive in Altuve. Tie game.

In his final frame of work, Porcello failed once again to retire the side in order, as he served up a one out, solo home run to Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who put his club up by a run with his first homer of the series.

Finishing his night by getting Jose Altuve to pop out to first for the final out of the fourth, Porcello would finish with a final pitch count of 68 (46 strikes).

Out of those 68 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, relied on his slider the most at 31% of the time and topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the first inning. He only induced seven total swings and misses as well.

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Whether we see Porcello again in this series will probably be indicative on whether or not it goes back to Boston.

If the Red Sox clinch the pennant tonight, then there’s obviously no need for him until the World Series. But, it would not shock me to see Alex Cora turn to Porcello in a late, close game at Fenway either.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for locking down the final five innings of Wednesday night’s contest.

Joe Kelly (1-1) got the first call in the fifth with the game tied at four runs each, but surrendered the then go-ahead run on another Carlos Correa RBI single in the lone inning he appeared in.

Eduardo Rodriguez was next up with left-handed bat Tony Kemp set to leadoff the sixth, and he walked him on seven pitches, the last three of which were all balls. Not ideal.

That made way for Ryan Brasier to clean up that small mess, and he did just that by sitting down the 1-2-3 hitters in the Astros lineup in consecutive fashion.

With his team up 7-5 by the time he took the mound again for the seventh, Brasier would be unable to do his job this time, as he gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and a two out double to the pesky Carlos Correa to put runners at second and third.

Matt Barnes got the next call from Alex Cora in this crucial spot with the pinch-hitting Tyler White at the plate for Houston, and he managed to strikeout White while his bat never left his shoulder. Inning over.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on in an extremely rare SIX out save situation with a three-run lead to protect, and somehow, someway he did it.

It was far from easy and certainly very stressful with the Astros cutting their deficit down to two in the eighth and then loading the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Kimbrel was bailed out twice by his stellar outfield.

The first came in eighth, when the aforementioned Tony Kemp tried to stretch a leadoff single into a leadoff double, but his childhood friend, Mookie Betts, had other ideas.

And in the ninth, with two outs and an Astro on every base, Andrew Benintendi made the catch of his life on a screaming line drive off the bat of Alex Bregman that was falling rapidly.

Absolutely unreal. That’s how this ballgame would end only four and a half hours after it started.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who hadn’t seen any in-game action since the end of September.

Like they did off of Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, the top of the lineup got things started right away in the first, as Mookie Betts and JD Martinez drew a pair of walks to put runners on first and second with one out.

A wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate would allow both runners to advance into scoring position, but Bogaerts was unable to bring them home.

Fortunately, Rafael Devers, who has seemingly turned into an elite hitter in the postseason, came through with a two out, two RBI single to left field that saw his club take an early 2-0 lead.

Over the next four innings, not only was Morton knocked out of this contest, but a pair of Xander Bogaerts RBI base knocks, one in the third and one in the fifth, gave the Red Sox a two-run lead and then pulled them even with Houston at four runs each.

In the sixth, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came up looking for his first hit of the evening with two outs and Christian Vazquez at second following a double, and he did just that by smoking a 89 MPH changeup from Astros reliever Josh James 385 feet down the right field line.

That put Boston up 6-5, and they would not have to look back on that lead despite some late inning concerns.

To add on what would become much needed insurance, a Brock Holt bases loaded walk in the seventh, followed by a JD Martinez RBI single in the ninth, would eventually be all the Red Sox would need to go up 3-1 in this American League Championship Series.

Some notes from this 8-6 win:

From @SoxNotes: Most multi-RBI games in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 4 (2004) Jason Varitek – 3 (2004) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 3 (2018)

Most RBI in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 11 (2004) Manny Ramirez – 10 (2007) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 9 (2018) Mike Lowell – 8 (2007)

Including the Postseason, the Red Sox are 14-0 in 2018 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a home run.

The Red Sox are 4-0 on the road this postseason.

With the opportunity to clinch a spot in the World Series with a win tonight, it will be David Price, not Chris Sale, on the mound for Boston.

Pitching on only four days rest, it appeared as though Price was available to come out of the bullpen if needed on Wednesday, but that did not happen.

In his only other appearance of this series, the southpaw nearly earned the winning decision in 4.2 innings of four-run ball in Game Two at Fenway Park last Sunday.

Opposite Price will be Astros ace Justin Verlander, who allowed just two runs to score over six quality innings of work in a Game One win for Houston.

A lot is on the line Thursday, and first pitch of Game Five is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on TBS.

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RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr. Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Take 2-1 Edge over Astros in ALCS.

The Boston Red Sox are two victories away from heading to their 13th World Series following an 8-2 blowout win over the Houston Astros in the first of three games at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start for Boston in this one, his second of the postseason, and he put together yet another solid outing in enemy territory as he did last Monday night in New York.

Pitching six full innings, the right-hander surrendered all but two earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, Eovaldi managed to hold his own against a team that can capitalize on mistakes in an instant by holding them to those two runs, the first of which came in the first and the second of which came in the fifth.

Ending his outing by retiring three of the final four hitters he faced in Houston’s half of the sixth, Eovaldi’s night came to an end with his pitch count at 92.

Out of those 92 pitches, 60 of which were strikes, the Houston native threw 30 cutters, 27 four-seam fastballs, 14 cutters, 11 splitters, and 10 sliders, which induced 10 total swinging strikes.

 

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He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning and was responsible for eight of the game’s fastest 10 pitches on either side.

For his first ever time in a postseason, Eovaldi has proven that he is very capable of performing at a high level on a bigger stage.

In two starts this October, the 28-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and only two walks over that span.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another memorable night, as they accounted for three scoreless innings to close this thing out.

Ryan Brasier got the first call to start the seventh with a one-run lead to protect, and despite allowing the tying run to reach scoring position on a Jose Altuve bunt single and passed ball, was able to escape the jam by getting Alex Bregman to line out to center field to end the inning.

Matt Barnes was next up for the eighth, moments after his team jumped out to an 8-2 advantage, and he followed up a leadoff walk by recording the first two outs of the frame.

That made way for Joe Kelly, who retired the lone hitter he faced on a Carlos Correa, 6-3 ground out.

Finally, Eduardo Rodriguez was responsible for the ninth in his first appearance of this series, and he closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion to secure an impactful win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, and they put up runs before the first out of the contest was even recorded.

Back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the first set up a coolish JD Martinez in a nice run scoring spot, and the Red Sox’ DH came through with an RBI double to plate Betts and move Benintendi up to third.

Just a few moments after that, Xander Bogaerts doubled his team’s early lead by scoring Benintendi on an RBI ground out. 2-0 game.

Two innings later, with Martinez and Bogaerts on base following two straight walks from Keuchel, Steve Pearce appeared to come up with a crucial two out RBI knock on a sharp fly ball to left field, but Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who is listed at 5’7”, made an improbable catch to end the third, or did he?

Whether or not you think Kemp caught that ball clean or it hit the wall before it landed in his glove, I’m just glad it ended up not making all that much a difference in the final score.

Fortunately for Pearce, he would have a chance to redeem himself in the sixth, and that he did on a one out, 1-0 88 MPH fastball from Astros reliever Joe Smith.

That ball, Pearce’s first of the postseason, was sent 456 feet down the left field line, which according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, is “the 4th longest Statcast-tracked postseason homer (2015-18), and the longest by a Red Sox.” It also put his team up 3-2, which is a lead they would not have to look back on.

As a matter of fact, that lead inflated some more in the eighth inning, all with closer Roberto Osuna, who entered Tuesday with a career 5.28 ERA when pitching against Boston, on the mound for Houston.

Igniting the rally was Rafael Devers, who didn’t even start this game, with a two out single to move Steve Pearce up to second.

That was followed by consecutive HBPs of Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland, both of whom were pinch-hitting for Ian Kinsler and Christian Vazquez.

The Holt HBP loaded the bases and the Moreland HBP served two purposes. One, it drove in Pearce from third, and two, it reloaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Already with a bases-clearing extra base hit under his belt in this series, the scorching Bradley Jr. capitalized on another huge RBI chance by unloading on a 94 MPH fastball that was up and in and pulled it to right for the game-sealing grand slam.

David Ortiz’s reaction:

Some notes from this 8-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce has recorded at least 1 hit and scored at least 1 run in each of his 6 starts in the 2018 postseason. The only other Red Sox player ever to do that in 6 consecutive starts in a single postseason is Mike Lowell (2007).

From @PeteAbe: Red Sox have outscored teams 28-6 on the road in three postseason games.

From @Sean_McAdam: Bradley was 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded during season. Last two ABs: 3-run double Sunday; grand slam tonight.

Looking to go up 3-1 in this series tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the starting nod for the Red Sox.

Coming in with a 1.35 ERA over 6.2 innings pitched this October, Porcello has done a little bit of everything at an effective level. Starting, coming in as reliever, it really doesn’t seem to matter for the right-hander.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran right-hander Charlie Morton for the Astros.

Morton, 34, did not pitch for his club in their three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, and his last regular season start came on September 30th, so it will be interesting to see if there is some rust there.

First pitch of the fourth game of the ALCS is scheduled for 8:39 PM ET Wednesday on TBS.

 

RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Go-Ahead Three-Run Double Lifts #RedSox to 7-5 Win over Astros in Game Two of ALCS.

After dropping a frustrating Game One to the Houston Astros on Saturday night, the Red Sox looked to head to Houston and an off day with this American League Championship Series tied at one game a piece, and that they did.

Making his first start since serving up three runs in a losing effort in Game Two of the ALDS against the New York Yankees last Saturday, David Price attempted to once again exercise his postseason demons against a club he has had more success against over his career.

Pitching into the fifth inning of this one, the left-hander was charged for four earned runs on five hits and four walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.

Similar to Chris Sale on Saturday, control was an issue for Price last night, and that was evident with two walks right away in the top half of the first.

Despite those two early free passes, the Astros didn’t get to the Tennessee native until the second, when with two outs and runners on second and third, George Springer ripped a two-run double to right field.

That tied this contest up at 2-2, but given the circumstances of what happened beforehand, I would not put all of the blame on Price up to that point.

What I would criticize about Price’s performance came an inning later, when with two outs again and a runner at first, Marwin Gonzalez leaned into a 3-2 92 MPH fastball and sent it 397 feet over the Green Monster.

That two-run shot gave Houston their first lead of the night, but that did not last all that long.

As for how the rest of David Price’s night went, well, he sat down six of the final eight Astro hitters he faced following that home run, and was pulled with two outs in the top of the fifth with Marwin Gonzalez due up next.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 80 (50 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball the most on Sunday, as he turned to it approximately 35% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 93.6 MPH with the same pitch in the first inning and induced seven total swinging strikes.

Although he was unable to officially pick up the winning decision in this one, with the Red Sox coming away with the victory, David Price has finally won one of his postseason starts after 10 career failed attempts beforehand. It certainly wasn’t his best effort, but it was enough to give his team a chance to win, which they capitalized on.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 4.2 innings last night, and Matt Barnes got a solid all around performance from Boston relievers started by striking out Marwin Gonzalez to end the top half of the fifth and strand runners on first and second.

From that point on, Barnes (1-0) recorded three more outs in consecutive order in the sixth to make away for Ryan Brasier in the seventh.

Brasier, making his second appearance of the series, worked his way around a two out walk in an otherwise clean frame of relief.

Rick Porcello, who last served as the set up man for Boston in Game One of the ALDS, took on the role once again in the eighth inning, and he needed just 18 pitches to sit down the side in order.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save opportunity with a fresh three-run lead to protect in the ninth.

Despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate after cutting the Astros deficit to two runs, the flame throwing closer managed to hold on and pick up his third save of this postseason by getting Alex Bregman to fly out to left for the third and final out. Disaster averted once again.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who had never pitched in a LCS before last night.

Starting the scoring right away in the bottom of the first, back-to-back leadoff hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi plated Betts and gave the Red Sox an early advantage seemingly right away.

Four batters later, with the bases loaded and only out in the inning, Rafael Devers, not Eduardo Nunez, came to the plate as the starting third baseman, and instantly deliverd in his first at bat of the night by beating the shift and lining an RBI double to left field that drove in Benintendi from third. 2-0.

Two innings later, after the Astros had gone up by a pair of runs themselves, the Red Sox bats responded by loading the bases off of Cole for the second time in three innings.

Coming to the plate with runners on each base and two outs in the bottom of the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered with the clutchest hit of the night, a bases-clearing three RBI double down the left field line that put his team up 5-4.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh now, with Cole out and Lance McCullers Jr. in for Houston, Mookie Betts provided some late game insurance by scoring from third on a passed ball with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. 6-4.

And in the eighth, Mookie Betts wrapped up a fine night of scoring from his team by lining a sharp RBI double to center field.

That allowed Rafael Devers, who led the inning against Astros reliever Josh James off with a single, to score all the way from second, and that is all the Red Sox would need to even this series up in a 7-5 victory.

Some notes from this 7-5 win: 

It was reported in the middle of this game that Chris Sale had been sent to Mass General Hospital earlier in the afternoon due to a stomach ailment:

Obviously, that caught everyone a bit off guard and no further updates have been released as I am writing this.

On a more positive note though, Matt Barnes, who earned the winning decision last night, has yet to yield a run over four total relief appearances this postseason.

It’s an off day in Houston for the Red Sox on Monday, but it’s back to business for Game Three of this ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.

Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel are set to be the starters in what has transitioned into the opening game of a now best-of-five game series.

First pitch of the third game is scheduled for 5:09 PM ET Tuesday on TBS.

Also, shout out to the Patriots for winning their third straight game. It was a good Sunday night in Boston.

RECAP: A Pair of First Career Home Runs from Sam Travis and Tzu-Wei Lin Power #RedSox to 7-5 Win over Indians for 105th Victory of Season.

After clinching  and celebrating their third straight American League East title with an 11-6 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night, the Red Sox headed to Cleveland looking to make more history in their last road series of the regular season against an Indians team that clinched their division weeks ago.

Making his 26th start of the season in and third since returning from the disabled list on September 11th in this series opener was Chris Sale.

Entering Friday with a lifetime 4.63 ERA in 14 career outings at Progressive Field, the left-hander’s night, although on the short side, went decently well.

Pitching into the fourth inning of this one, Sale held the Indians to two runs on five hits, one of which was a home run, and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

Facing 15 total batters, the Florida native really did not run into any trouble until that bottom half of the fourth, when with one out and the bases empty, newest Indian Josh Donaldson unloaded on a 2-1 95 MPH fastball and pulled it 396 feet into the left field bleachers.

That was followed up by a Yandy Diaz single, and that is how Sale’s night would come to a conclusion, at least on the field of play.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (48 strikes) the most he has thrown since returning from the DL, the 29-year-old turned to his four-seam seam fastball 25 times on the evening, and topped out at 95.7 MPH with that same pitch in the third inning.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of last night’s start, Sale will take his square 2.00 ERA into his final start of the regular season in his next time out, which will come against the Baltimore Orioles this Wednesday at night at Fenway Park. Expect the ace to ramp it up to somewhere around 85 pitches in that one.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen with one out and one on in the fourth, and he officially closed the book on the starter’s night by serving up a two-run homer to Indians catcher Yan Gomes that gave Cleveland a 3-1 advantage.

From the middle of the fifth inning on, Bobby Poyner, Matt Barnes, Drew Pomeranz, Brandon Workman, Hector Velazquez, and Robby Scott combined to toss four innings of two-run ball to set up Craig Kimbrel for the save in the ninth.

Working for the second time in as many days with a two run lead to protect, the Red Sox closer sat down all three batters he faced to notch his 42nd save and secure his team’s 105th win of the season.

All and all, not including Sale, Alex Cora turned to EIGHT total relievers on Friday night. Matt Barnes also made his first appearance out of the bullpen in over two weeks and picked up his sixth win of the year with a scoreless sixth inning of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer, who was making his first start since August 11th after fracturing his right fibula.

Before we get into this, I just want you to go ahead and take a look at Friday’s lineup to get an idea of what the expectations were going into this one.

  1. Tzu-Wei Lin, CF
  2. Brandon Phillips, 2B
  3. Rafael Devers, 3B
  4. JD Martinez, DH
  5. Steve Pearce, 1B
  6. Brock Holt, SS
  7. Blake Swihart, RF
  8. Sam Travis, LF
  9. Sandy Leon, C

As you can see, not exactly what the ALDS lineup is going to look like. It makes sense given the fact most of the everyday guys were a bit hung over from the postgame festivites on Thursday to go along with an early morning flight to Cleveland.

Anyway, Bauer, like Sale, was on a pitch cap, and he only made it into the second inning before getting the hook in favor of Matt Olson, who finished the frame without surrendering a run.

That made way for RHP Shane Bieber to begin the top half of the third, and Sam Travis greeted him right away by launching his first ever big league home run to put Boston on the board first.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Bieber still on the hill for Cleveland, and Rafael Devers stayed hot by mashing a two out solo homer good for his 18th of the season to cut the Indians lead to two.

An inning later, two straight one out hits set up Sam Travis in another prime run scoring opportunity, and he delivered by drilling a two RBI double to right center that plated both Brock Holt and Blake Swihart to tie this contest up at four runs each.

A few moments later, leadoff man Tzu-Wei Lin drove in Travis, who represented the go-ahead run, on a hard hit infield single that deflected off of Bieber’s heel and could not be fielded in time. 5-4 game.

Following a Brandon Phillips single and a pitching change that saw right-hander Neil Ramirez take over for Bieber, Rafael Devers came through once again by lining a run-scoring single to left field that allowed Lin to come in from third and give his team a two-run edge.

After the Indians bounced back with a run of their own in their half of the seventh, Tzu-Wei Lin essentially put this game on ice by demolishing his first career big fly off of Dan Otero with one out in the top of the ninth.

A 396 foot shot to right field that put the Red Sox up 7-5, which would go on to be the final score in their 105th win of the season, in case you missed that the first time.

Some notes from this 7-5 win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox improve to 105-49, tying the franchise’s all-time single-season wins record (105-47 in 1912). Their magic number to clinch MLB’s best record is 1.

In the month of September, Craig Kimbrel is 5/5 in save opportunities over eight relief appearances. He has not allowed a single run to score in that span.

Rafael Devers is 6/16 (.375) in his last four games.

Dating back to September 9th, Brock Holt is slashing .455/.520/.909 with three home runs and eight RBI.

Since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on September 1st, Tzu-Wei Lin owns an OPS of 1.200.

Going for a record-setting 106th win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the starting nod for Boston.

Over the course of his 10-year career, Porcello has pitched at Progressive Field 12 times, where he owns a 2.84 ERA over 73 innings pitched.

Opposite Porcello will be another Indians right-hander in Mike Clevinger, who has seemingly emerged as one of the more underrated hurlers in the American League thanks to a breakout season in which he has posted a 3.06 ERA over a span of 30 starts with Cleveland.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Saturday. Time to make some history.

 

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Scores Winning Run on Fielding Error as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Blue Jays.

Following a historic Wednesday night in which they saw their win total reach 100 for the first time since 1946, the Red Sox went into Thursday looking to complete the series sweep in their last game against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

Making his 22nd start of the year on Thursday, Eduardo Rodriguez looked much better than he did in his last time out against the Houston Astros, an outing in which he surrendered five earned runs in less than four innings.

Pitching six full frames in this one, the left-hander allowed just one Toronto run to cross the plate while scattering five hits and zero walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

That lone run came in the top half of the third inning, when with two outs and a runner at second, Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak grounded an RBI single up the middle to drive in Lourdes Gurriel.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Rodriguez bounced back after that by retiring 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced, including a four pitch strikeout of Randal Grichuk with two outs in the sixth, to wrap up his evening on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final efficient pitch count of 78 (52 strikes), the Venezuela native, who was caught by Christian Vazquez once again, had a more solid pitch mix than he did this past Saturday.

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Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez threw 17 changeups, 16 two-seam fastballs, 16 sliders, 16 four-seam fastballs, and 13 cutters, which resulted in a total of nine swinging strikes and 17 called strikes.

He also topped out at 93.9 MPH with both the two and four-seamer in the third and fifth innings.

Unable to pick up a well-deserved winning decision despite leaving with his team ahead, Rodriguez did manage to lower his ERA on the season down to 3.53 in his third start since returning from the disabled list.

He’ll look to build on this solid outing in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees sometime next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final three innings of Thursday night’s contest with a two run lead to protect.

Ryan Brasier was first up for the seventh inning, and he retired the only three hitters he faced in order. That was fine, but what happened in the eighth was not.

Bobby Poyner, who has seemingly been paving his way for a spot on any postseason roster with his performance as of late, made one mistake pitch to Lourdes Gurriel, who hit his eighth home run of the season to make it just a one-run game.

The left-hander did manage to record the first two outs of the frame along with that homer, and Joe Kelly was next up after him.

Kelly, who had already surrendered runs in two appearances this month alone, could not record the inning-ending out.

Instead, he loaded the bases on one walk, one single, and one HBP before allowing the tying run to cross the plate on another HBP.

Out of the 15 pitches Kelly threw on Thursday, only FIVE of them went for strikes.

Brandon Workman would have to enter this one with two outs and a Blue Jay on every base, but he was able to escape the jam by fanning Billy McKinney on three straight strikes.

After the Red Sox retook the lead at 4-3 in their half of the eighth inning, it was Craig Kimbrel’s time to shut the door on Toronto for the final time in 2018.

Making his second appearance in as many days, the flame throwing closer needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order, earning his 40th save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio, who only allowed one run in 3.1 innings pitched in his last start against Boston on July 14th.

For the second consecutive night, the bats were not all there, but they really didn’t need to be thanks to a pair of home runs.

That first homer came in the bottom of the second, when JD Martinez took a swing at a 2-2 83 MPH slider on the outer half of the plate and sent it 397 feet into the Red Sox bullpen.

Home run number 41 for Martinez had an exit velocity of 105.5 MPH.

An inning later, a Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff double would later result in the team’s second run of the night after Ian Kinsler drove him in on a one out sacrifice fly to left field.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth now, and Rafael Devers, who entered the game as a pinch runner for Eduardo Nunez in the fourth, absolutely crushed his 17th big fly of the season off of Mark Leiter.

According to Statcast, that ball was hit 394 feet and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH.

In all honesty, that probably should have been the final nail in the coffin for the Blue Jays, but they pulled their way back into this thing, for a few minutes anyway.

Moments after Toronto evened this contest up at three runs a piece in the top half of the eighth inning, Xander Bogaerts responded right away by ripping a one out double off of Danny Barnes to put the go-ahead run in scoring position.

After a successful attempt of stealing third base, Bogaerts would come into score on what appeared to be a routine pop fly off the bat of Blake Swihart.

Instead, Jays second baseman Yangervis Solarte had trouble locating the ball during its descent, and it ended up clanking off his glove and dropping to the ground.

No RBI credited to Swihart there, but it was still good enough to get the job done.

For the second straight night, the game-wining run for Boston has been scored without recoding an RBI.

Some notes from this 4-3 win:

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox (101-46) have won each of their last 4 games. They have a 10.5-game lead over the Yankees, tied for their largest of the season. This is only the 2nd season in which they have been as many as 55 games above .500 (also 1912).

In 10 games this month, Jackie Bradley Jr. owns a .915 OPS.

JD Martinez and Khris Davis of the Oakland Athletics are currently tied in the league lead for home runs with 41 a piece.

The Red Sox finish their season series against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 15-4 record. Their magic number to clinch the American League East is down to six games.

Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day with soreness in his right knee.

Winners of four straight, the Red Sox welcome the New York Mets into town for the first time since 2009 for a three-game weekend series.

Getting the start in the series opener for each side will be RHP Hector Velazquez for Boston and RHP Noah Syndergaard for New York.

In one career start against the Red Sox, which came back in 2015, Syndergaard surrendered four earned runs on six hits and one walk in 6.2 innings pitched. He did not factor into the decision.

Velazquez, on the other hand, has never faced the Mets in his career, but he does own a 4.26 ERA over seven appearances (one start) in interleague play this season.

UPDATE: Velazquez is out, RHP William Cuevas is in.

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

 

RECAP: David Price Twirls Another Gem as #RedSox Reach 100 Wins for First Time Since 1946.

The last time the Red Sox won 100 games in a single season, there were 16 teams team in Major League Baseball, the Braves played in Boston, the Giants played in New York, and the Dodgers played in Brooklyn.

Obviously, a lot has happened since then, but seeing the baseball team you grew up watching and still watch on a daily basis do something they have not done in over 70 years, that is something else.

How did the Red Sox reach this historic milestone? Well, David Price can take most of the responsibility for that.

Making his 28th start of the season on Wednesday, the left-hander picked up on where he left off in what has been a great second half of the 2018 season with another dominant performance.

Pitching seven scoreless innings in this one, Price scattered just three hits and no walks to go along with seven punch outs on the night.

After sitting down the first 13 batters he faced, the Tennessee native did give up those three hits, all of which were singles, over those final three frames of work, but the furthest base a Blue Jays hitter reached was second following a passed ball.

With his pitch count inching closer and closer to 100 in that seventh inning, Price dramatically ended his night on a positive note by fanning Teoscar Hernandez for the third and final out.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 (63 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball a total of 33 times on Wednesday. He topped out at 94.5 MPH with that same pitch in the seventh inning.

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More notable, out of the 31 changeups he threw, Price induced a swing and a miss 32% of the time.

Improving to 15-6 with a 3.42 ERA on the season now, the 2012 Cy Young Award winner will look to build on what’s been a superb start to September in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees at dreaded Yankee Stadium sometime next week.

In relief of Price, Steven Wright got the call for the top half of the eighth inning with a slim one-run lead to protect.

Despite allowing the first two hitters he faced to reach base, the knuckleballer danced his way around the jam on his way to a scoreless frame.

Craig Kimbrel was next up for the ninth looking to lock down the save, and did just that, although he did walk one and only throw 10 strikes out of 20 total pitches.

Regardless, 39th save of the season for Kimbrel secured, but more importantly, win number 100 of the season for the Red Sox secured as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez, who entered Wednesday with a lifetime 4.35 ERA in eight appearances (five starts) at Fenway Park.

Similar to Price, a former teammate of his, Sanchez also had himself a quality night on the mound.

In fact, the only run that crossed the plate for the Red Sox came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when with two outs, runners at the corners, and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate, a 2-2 wild pitch from Sanchez rolled to the backstop.

 

That allowed Rafael Devers to easily come in from third to score what would end up being the lone run of the entire contest for either side.

The Red Sox were held to just four hits, but they did draw five walks.

Some notes from this 1-0 win: 

In his last nine starts since the All-Star break, David Price is 5-0 with a 1.56 ERA, which is tops among qualified American League starting pitchers. His .188 batting average against over that span is also second best in the AL.

The Red Sox are 8-1 in Price’s last nine starts.

From @SoxNotes: The Red Sox have won 100 games for the 1st time in 72 years, and for the 4th time in franchise history (105 in 1912, 104 in 1946, 101 in 1915).

Alex Cora is the 1st person to lead a team to 100+ wins in his 1st season as an MLB manager since Dusty Baker in 1993 (Giants, 103-59).

Going for win number 101 and the sweep later tonight, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the start for Boston.

Since returning from the 10-day disabled list on September 1st, the young left-hander has surrendered six earned runs over nine total innings pitched, with five of those runs coming in his last time out against the Houston Astros.

In three outings against the Blue Jays this season, Rodriguez has posted a 2.41 ERA over 18.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Rodriguez will be RHP Sam Gaviglio for Toronto, who was only charged with one earned run over 3.1 innings in his last start at Fenway Park on July 14th, a game that Rodriguez also started in and the Red Sox won by a final score of 6-2.

First pitch of the final game against the Blue Jays this season is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Thursday.

Brandon Phillips and Rafael Devers Both Set to Join #RedSox in Atlanta on Tuesday.

The Red Sox officially announced on Tuesday that infielders Brandon Phillips and Rafael Devers will join the big league club in Atlanta, with Phillips being added to the active roster and Devers being activated from the 10-day disabled list.

Phillips, 37, signed a minor league contract with Boston on June 27th after spending the first 16 years of his professional career with the Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves, and Los Angeles Angels, where he made three National League All-Star teams, won four Gold Gloves, and won one Silver Slugger.

In 44 minor league games this season, the former second round pick of the Montreal Expos is slashing .304/.348/.474 with five home runs and 26 RBI with both Low A Lowell and Triple A Pawtucket.

Known mostly for his time in a Reds uniform, the savvy Phillips will look to provide his new team with a boost off the bench for this final home stretch of the 2018 season.

Since he was added to Boston’s active roster this late into the year, the North Carolina native will unfortunately be ineligible for any postseason roster next month. But still, it should be fun to watch what he can do given the opportunity during these last 23 games.

Over his career, Phillips has played in just six games at Fenway Park, where he owns a .507 OPS in 26 plate appearances.

As the tweet above reads, Phillips will wear the number zero, meaning he will be the first such player in Red Sox history to do so.

On the other side of this news was the activation of 3B Rafael Devers from the 10-day disabled list.

Having been on the DL with a strain of the left hamstring since August 17th, there is no guarantee that Devers will get regular playing time. He has to earn it, according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

With the heavy volume of infielders currently on this team’s active roster in the likes of Ian Kinsler, Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, and now Brandon Phillips, it’s understandable why Devers may see his role diminish a bit over the next handful of weeks.

If he’s up to the task of playing at the level he did towards the latter half of last season though, then I’m sure he will still get regular at bats.

In his first full season in the majors, the 21-year-old is slashing .242/.298/.422 with 16 homers and 15 RBI.

First pitch of tonight’s game against the Braves is scheduled for 7:35 PM ET.