RECAP: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the #RedSox won again.

Yes, those Red Sox won again on Wednesday night. Rick Porcello, making his twenty-fourth start of the season, was matched up against Rays righty Jake Odorizzi. Last time Porcello pitched at the Trop, he had his best start of the season, pitching a complete game in a losing effort. He wasn’t this good last night, but he was good enough, getting through six innings before being lifted in the seventh. In those 6+ IP, Porcello allowed only four hits and two earned runs, both home runs, while walking two and striking out seven. The best part of his start, easily, was the immaculate inning he threw in the fifth. Nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts. Along with Craig Kimbrel, Porcello is the second Red Sox pitcher to accomplish this feat this season.

The only real mistakes Porcello made came in the sixth, when both Adeiny Hechavarria and Brad Miller took him deep. After coming out for the seventh and allowing the first two batters to reach, Matt Barnes would be inserted the game. Barnes would finish the inning without allowing a run to score. Brandon Workman pitched a scoreless eighth, and Joe Kelly secured the win with a 1-2-3 ninth. It was nice to see this start out of Porcello considering how much he struggled against the Indians last time out. It looks like he’ll be making his next start against… the Indians. That’s a makeup game, hopefully Porcello can perform better on Monday then he did last Thursday.

Offensively, the bats gave Porcello a decent amount of run support. Andrew Benintendi scored the first run of the game in the third, scoring on a fielding error by Odorizzi on a Mitch Moreland pop out.  In the fifth, Mookie Betts drove in Eduardo Nunez with an RBI single, his 70th of the season. A passed ball and a wild pitch allowed two more runs to score, then Sandy Leon drove in two more, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, on a 2 RBI single. Next time he was up, Leon did it again with another RBI single, this time just scoring Brock Holt. A wild pitch with Eduardo Nunez up allowed Leon to score, and that would be it for the scoring.

The top two guys in the lineup, Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Benintendi, accounted for 55% of the hits, 33% of the runs scored, but 0% of the run production. Despite scoring nine runs, Red Sox hitters were only responsible for three of them, and Sandy Leon drove in two of them.

Another off day today, this one being in New York. First place is not on the line in this three-game weekend series, but you got to think it’s still relatively important against a team like the Yankees. ERod gets the start on Friday, and he’ll be followed by Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale on Sunday Night Baseball.

65 down, ? to go. 

 

RECAP: Chris Sale strikes out 13 Rays; #RedSox win seventh consecutive game.

After a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox kicked things off against the third place Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday. Chris Sale, coming off his worst start of the season last Tuesday, made the start and he was matched up against Rays righty Austin Pruitt. Maybe it’s because Chris Sale is out-of-this-world good or the fact that Pruitt is not well-known, but this game did not really feel like a pitcher’s duel even though it was. At no point in this game did it look like Chris Sale was about to give in. It wasn’t until there was one out in the fifth when the Rays got their first hit, a single, off of Sale. The southpaw faced 28 batters total over the eight innings he pitched, and he struck out 13 of them. If I did the math correctly, Sale’s K/9 now stands at 12.8, so for every nine innings the guy pitched, he’s essentially striking out thirteen guys. Back in 2001, Randy Johnson set the record for K/9 at 13.4. With just less than two months to go in the season, I’d say that record is within Sale’s reach if he keeps striking out batters the way he has this year.

With a two-run lead going onto the bottom of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel was inserted into the game to secure the win. In typical fashion, Kimbrel struck out the side, reaching 90 strikeouts on the season and notching his 28th save of the season.

Like I said, this was kind of a pitchers duel, so the bats weren’t doing much. Dustin Pedroia, fresh off the 10-Day DL, scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Rafael Devers in the fourth inning. Later on in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts scored a very important insurance run on an RBI single off the bat of Jackie Bradley Jr. Although he did not score or drive in a run, Eduardo Nunez continued his dominance with the Red Sox by recording three hits in five at bats and raising his BA to .422 in the ten games since he was traded to Boston.

The winning streak now stands at a season-high seven games. The Yankees lost last night, so the division lead now stands at four games. One more in Tampa later today, Rick Porcello will be making the start, and he was great last time he pitched at the Trop.

64 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: For second day in a row, #RedSox waste great starting pitching in 5-3 loss.

Yesterday, Rick Porcello pitched eight great innings and got a loss out of it. Today, David Price limited the Rays to two runs and he could not get the win. Price got off to a rough first, allowing the Rays to tie the game after the Red Sox scored once in the first. After that though, the southpaw only allowed one run while scattering  three hits and two walks over the next five innings he pitched. Today’s outing marks the fourth consecutive time Price has gone out and had a quality start. Unfortunately for Price, he got hit with some bad luck, from the Red Sox bats as well as the bullpen. In the first six innings, the Red Sox only scored once, but a two-run seventh which gave them the lead made it look like Price was going to get his fifth win. But in the bottom half of the inning, Matt Barnes allowed a walk, a sac bunt, and a single, putting the tying run at third with only one out. Joe Kelly would come in and he would get the final two outs. In the eighth, Kelly’s streak of scoreless appearances would end as Brad Miller took the righty deep, driving in the go-ahead run as well as himself and giving the Rays the 5-3 lead. Not a good day for the ‘pen, for as good as the numbers look, I still find it hard to have confidence in them in any big game situation. Matt Barnes currently owns a 5.91 ERA in 21.1 IP while pitching on the road. I haven’t heard anything about Carson Smith for a while, so I assume Dave Dombrowski will be on the look out for veteran relievers over the next three weeks.

Surprisingly, the three runs the Red Sox scored all came on home runs. The first one came in the first, as Mookie Betts hit his eleventh career lead-off home run, passing Jacoby Ellsbury for most in Red Sox history. The second home run appeared to be clutch at the time it was hit. Trailing by one in the top of the seventh, Dustin Pedroia took Chris Archer deep for his fourth long ball of the season. There were plenty of times when the Red Sox had runners on base with only one or fewer outs, but nothing could be done with the twenty base runners who were left on base.

A frustrating way to end the first half to say the least. Now the Rays are only 3.5 games out of first place along with the Yankees. No more meaningful games until Friday against those Yankees. Chris Sale and Mookie Betts are starting for the American League on Tuesday, so I’m looking forward to that.

50 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Rick Porcello pitches a gem in losing fashion as #RedSox drop game three 1-0.

Yesterday evening, the Red Sox had a chance to get to 51 wins. Instead of capitalizing on that chance, they are left scratching their heads after another game that was easy to win. In somewhat of a surprise, Rick Porcello looked like the guy who won the Cy Young Award last season. His first complete game of 2017, and what does he get for it? His eleventh loss of the season and we’re not even at the All-Star Break yet. Porcello was outstanding, scattering six hits and 2 HBP’s while striking out seven over eight innings pitched. Unfortunately for Porcello, the Rays starter, Alex Cobb, also had one of his best starts this season. Cobb only allowed two hits and one walk while striking out three in his 7.2 innings of work. In relief of Cobb, Alex Colome was shaky, but the Red Sox failed to get anything off of him.

After ending the eighth, Colome loaded the bases while getting the first two outs, including an awful at-bat from Hanley Ramirez to get the second out. In a situation where it looked like Jackie Bradley Jr. would come on to pinch hit for Chris Young, who was 0-3 up to that point and does not fare well against right-handed pitchers. Instead, John Farrell went with Young, and he popped out to short to end the game.

Obviously Manager John does not deserve all the blame for this loss, the Red Sox bats could not do anything against Cobb. Led by David Price, they’ll look to even this series and go into the break with a win while also holding a sizeable lead in the division race.

50 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz tosses another quality outing; home runs help #RedSox even series with Rays in 8-3 win.

Coming into tonight’s game, it looked like the Red Sox had hit a mini skid. Nothing to get overly concerned about, but still, two straight losses. Making his seventeenth start of the season, Drew Pomeranz had the chance to end the skid, and he capitalized on it. The southpaw didn’t dominate the Rays lineup, but he didn’t need to. The only runs he allowed came in the fourth, when he gave up an RBI double to Wilson Ramos and an RBI single to Brad Miller. The Red Sox defense had a pretty significant role in the way Pomeranz’s outing went, as key double plays in the second and fifth kept the Rays off the board. It wasn’t his best stuff, but today’s start lowered his ERA to 3.60, and it is his fourth quality start since that stinker against Detroit on Sunday Night Baseball. The bullpen would be responsible for the final three innings. Heath Hembree had one of his worst appearances of the season, allowing three hits and one run while only recording one out. Matt Barnes ended the seventh with one pitch which turned into a double play, and he pitched a scoreless eighth as well. In a non save opportunity, Craig Kimbrel made his first appearance since the blown save in Texas, and he had a great rebound, striking out the side in order to end the game and get Drew Pomeranz his ninth win of the season. If you told me that Drew Pomeranz would be the second best pitcher in this rotation before the season started, I would have laughed in your face. Truth is, despite all the early struggles, he has been. All the other injuries and the inconsistency of Rick Porcello has put Pomeranz in that spot. I don’t know what Manager John told him after his awful start in Oakland, but whatever it was, it has been effective up to this point in the season.

Besides Christian Vazquez, every one in the lineup reached base at least one time, and even Vazquez drove in a run. The catalyst of this offensive outpour would have to be Dustin Pedroia. After Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi had already driven in two runs, Pedroia takes Jake Odorizzi deep for his third long ball of the season, making it a 4-0 game at that point. I don’t follow the Rays too closely, but I’d say Odorizzi is their best pitcher behind Chris Archer. Compared to what that Faria kid did last night, Odorizzi was awful. He gave up two home runs in the first four innings and walked three straight to give the Red Sox a run and load the bases. Jackie Bradley hit the second home run in the fourth, his twelfth, and he drove in the first run in the fifth on that walk. Vazquez drove in the second run of the inning in the fifth. To wrap things up, Hanley Ramirez went deep for his thirteenth of the season, all part of his three hit night.

I would just like to point out the fact that Andrew Benintendi has 51 RBIs and we’re not even at the break yet. He’s no Judge, but you can’t ignore what Benintendi has done for this team as a rookie. He just turned 23 yesterday, so happy belated Benny.

The big 50 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Chris Sale strikes out twelve; #RedSox drop Game 1 in Tampa 4-1.

The Red Sox played their first game at the Trop this season, which is uncharacteristic of their typical schedules. Chris Sale got the start, matched up against Rays rookie Jacob Faria, who has made a great first impression with five straight quality starts going into tonight to start his career. Sale was not his usual self to say the least, seven hits in seven innings is not like him. Still, the strikeouts were there, twelve total against the Rays, including striking out the side in the first and third innings. The biggest problem Sale had was with the long ball. The Rays took the southpaw deep twice, in the fifth for one run, and in the sixth for two runs. Logan Morrison and Wilson Ramos were the ones who got to Sale the most, Morrison did not record an out against him, and Ramos drove in three runs against him. Blaine Boyer would come in to pitch the eighth, and he pitched a scoreless frame. For Sale, his next start will come in Miami, pitching for the American League in the All-Star Game. It was one hell of a first half, twelve starts with 10 or more strikeouts is something else. Can’t wait to watch how he pitches down the stretch after the break.

For the second night in a row, the bats could not push across enough runs to keep the game close. Like I said above, Jacob Faria may be the real deal and the Red Sox could not do much against him. Big scare in the first with Xander Bogaerts getting hit by a pitch in the right hand, later being removed from the game because of it. The only run the Red Sox could muster against the Rays came in the top of the third, when Deven Marrero drove in Tzu-Wei Lin on a sacrifice fly, which gave them a 1-0 lead at the time. They had a good amount of opportunities, but could not do anything with them. Jake Odorizzi is pitching tomorrow, and he owns a 5.19 ERA over his last three starts, so the Red Sox should have a good chance to snap out of this two-game rut.

Drew Pomeranz is on the mound tomorrow as well, had a great start last time out int Toronto, could lower that ERA some more in St. Pete.

49 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: Drew Pomeranz exits early as #RedSox lose ugly one 11-2.

After picking up a win for Chris Sale on Saturday, the Red Sox looked to take the series from the Rays on Mother’s Day Sunday. Drew Pomeranz made his seventh start of the season, and it was his shortest. After allowing two runs through the first three innings, Pomeranz would have to leave the game with tightness in his left triceps. According to Pomeranz, he thinks he will be able to make his next start, which would be in Oakland I believe. This trade really has not looked good for the Red Sox since it happened last July. Pomeranz has been at his most valuable when he came out of the bullpen towards the end of last season and the postseason. What makes it worse is Dace Dombrowski had the opportunity to rescind the trade last year since the Padres disclosed injury information.

With Pomeranz only lasting three innings, John Farrell had to rely on his bullpen for two-thirds of this game. To make it short, the bullpen was pretty awful on Sunday. Ben Taylor, Fernando Abad, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross, and Heath Hembree combined to pitch six innings, give up 13 hits, 9 runs, and one home run. The performance of the bullpen recently adds to the issues that this team has. The bridge from the starter to Kimbrel is a shaky and unreliable one right now.

The Red Sox offense has been picking things up over the past few days. Hopefully, Sunday’s performance was just an outlier. After Mookie Betts scored on an RBI double from Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox only scored one run over the next eight innings. That run would come in the fifth when Dustin Pedroia drove in Deven Marrero on a RBI single to center. The scoring opportunities were there on several occasions, but the Red Sox failed to capitalize. Andrew Benintendi continues to go through a slump, arguably the first of his young career. Overall, I really never expected this team to be this mediocre. Without Chris Sale, this is a sub .500 team right now. The level at which this team is underperforming is almost unacceptable. With an important road trip coming up this week, including stops in St. Louis, home of the first place Cardinals, and Oakland, which is always an interesting series. Finishing the trip with 3 or more wins will be pretty important for this team.

19 down, 75 to go.