Red Sox Blow 16th Save of Season, Fail to Sweep White Sox in Demoralizing 8-7 Loss

After coming from behind in a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, the Red Sox opened the official second half of the 2019 season by nearly completing the three-game sweep over the South Siders, but instead blew a one-run lead in the ninth inning on Wednesday and fell by a final score of 8-7 in their final contest before heading to London for the weekend.

Making his 17th start of the season for Boston, Chris Sale was not his usual self to begin things in the series finale, but he settled in towards the end.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered five runs, all earned, on six hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with exactly 10 strikeouts on the afternoon.

All five of those Chicago runs came within Sale’s first three frames of work, with the first four batters of the ballgame all reaching base safely while plating their side’s first two runs.

In the third, a leadoff home run off the bat of backstop James McCann, as well as a two-out RBI infield single from Ryan Cordell to score Jon Jay, who was hit by a pitch, from third made it a 5-2 game. The thing is, that fifth run never would have crossed the plate had Michael Chavis turned his attention towards home instead of focusing on the first base umpire after Cordell beat out that infield single. But, a rookie made a rookie mistake, and Jay took full advantage.

Following that whole sequence, Sale locked in and proceeded to retire the next 10 hitters he faced in order leading into the middle of the sixth inning, the point in which his outing came to a close on a much more positive note than it seemed destined to earlier.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 102 (71 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing 10 swings and misses and topping out at 97.4 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Hit with another no-decision, Sale’s streak of regular season starts without a win at Fenway Park now stands at 12, with the last one coming on July 11th, 2018 against the Texas Rangers. He’ll look for better overall results and to lower his 3.82 ERA in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays next weekend.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden came into the seventh with his side in a two-run hole, and he added on to that deficit by giving up one run on a Jose Abreu one-out RBI single in his lone inning of work.

Steven Wright, making his 2019 season debut after being activated from the restricted list on Tuesday, maneuvered around a one-out, runners on the corners in a two-run game situation by getting the pinch-hitting Yonder Alonso to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

And in the ninth, after the Red Sox had climbed their way back and taken a 7-6 lead in the bottom half of the previous inning, Matt Barnes gave it all away, blowing his sixth save and his team’s 16th by serving up a go-ahead, two-run homer to the slugging Abreu on a 2-2, 97 MPH fastball down the heart of the plate on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.

That put the White Sox up 8-7, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Chicago right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who just so happened to be opposite Sale the last time these two clubs met up in May.

Trailing by three runs before they even had the chance to take their first at-bats, JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston by pulling them back to within one run on his 17th big fly of the season, a 400-foot two-run shot in the first inning to plate both Rafael Devers and himself.

Fast forward to the third, and it was Devers getting himself involved yet again, this time leading the inning off with an opposite field double and coming in to score four batters later on a wild pitch from Lopez with Michael Chavis at the dish. 5-3.

In the seventh, Martinez struck once more with a two-out RBI double to right-center off left-handed reliever Aaron Bummer, this one driving in Devers all the way from first to pull Boston back to within two runs at 6-4.

Finally, in the eighth, with new reliever Evan Marshall in for Chicago, Eduardo Nunez reached base safely on a line-drive single up the middle.

Two batters later, after Brock Holt pinch-hit for Sandy Leon and advanced Nunez up to third on a tough, pop fly ground-rule double and was replaced by Brian Johnson, yes, Brian Johnson, as a pinch-runner, Mookie Betts made things interesting against White Sox closer Alex Colome with a single grounder to third.

Going on any sort of contact, Nunez hustled in from third and managed to evade the tag attempt from McCann to score his team’s fifth run and make it a one-run contest.

A soft grounder from Devers moved up both Betts and Johnson into scoring position at second and third for Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the frame.

On the fifth pitch he saw from Colome, the soon to be 2019 All-Star drilled a clutch single right back up the middle, giving Johnson and Betts plenty of time to come in and put the Red Sox up 7-6.

It seemed crucial at the time, but as already mentioned, the White Sox responded with two runs of their own in their half of the ninth, while the Boston bats went down quietly in theirs despite Jackie Bradley Jr. drawing a leadoff walk in what would turn out to be a crushing 8-7 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

The Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and left 10 men on base.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .538/.556/.846 with one home run, five doubles, and four runs driven in.

So, the Red Sox seem to be making blowing late leads a recurring theme. There was that loss against the Blue Jays this past Saturday, that 17-inning against the Twins on June 18th, and that loss against the Rangers on June 10th, to name a few.

The Red Sox also lead the American League with 16 blown saves on the year. That is far from ideal.

I’ve already written about how president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski needs to go out and acquire a closer, because clearly the current crop of Red Sox relievers are going to burn out pretty soon, if they have not already, a la Matt Barnes.

Wednesday was the last time the Red Sox will play a game at Fenway Park until after the All-Star break on July 12th.

Now, it’s on to London, where Boston will be hosting the New York Yankees in a historic two-game weekend set across the pond, which will mark the first time Major League Baseball has ever been played in Europe.

Right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will get the starting nods for the Red Sox, while New York has only announced one starter, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, for Saturday’s contest.

Currently sitting nine games back of the Yankees for first in the American League East, this weekend presents a huge opportunity for the Red Sox to jump start the second half of their 2019 season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:10 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to make some history in England.

 

 

 

Chris Sale Fans 10, Michael Chavis and Rafael Devers Each Homer as #RedSox Bounce Back with 6-1 Win over White Sox

After getting walked off on to open up a seven-game road trip on Thursday night, the Red Sox bounced back in impressive fashion Friday with a 6-0 shutout victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Leading the charge and making his seventh start of the season against his former club in this one was Chris Sale, who entered the weekend looking to avoid his seventh losing decision of the year already.

Working the first six innings Friday, the left-hander turned in a masterful performance, holding the White Sox scoreless on just three hits, two HBPs, and one walk to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night.

With Sandy Leon behind the plate, Sale did not face more than five hitters in any of the six innings he appeared in while retiring 11 of the first 13 hitters he faced before former Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada broke up any chance of a no-hitter with a two out single in the fourth.

That was snuffed out almost immediately though, as the Cuba native was picked off by Leon while trying to steal second for the third and final out of the inning.

Less than a full frame after that, the White Sox were threatening to get on the board with runners on first and second and three outs still get.

Fortunately for the Sox, the southpaw responded in classic Chris Sale fashion by fanning the next three hitters he faced on 12 pitches to put an end to any threat.

Ending his night by working his way around a two out double in the sixth and getting Moncada looking for his 10th and final strikeout of the night, Sale did indeed earn his first winning decision of 2019.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 104 (70 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his slider 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday while inducing three swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 96.5 MPH and averaged 93.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he went to 37 times.

Improving to 1-5 on the year and lowering his ERA by more than one run, Sale will look to keep things rolling in his next time out, which should come against the Batimore Orioles on Wednesday.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen had a relatively comfortable six-run lead to protect heading into the seventh.

Heath Hembree sat down the only three White Sox hitters he faced in order in that seventh inning, Colten Brewer allowed Chicago’s lone run of the night to cross the plate in the eighth, and Josh Smith tossed a scoreless ninth in his Red Sox debut to lock down the 6-1 win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against White Sox right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who like Thursday’s starter Lucas Giolito, was part of the trade that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals prior to the start of the 2017 season.

Only pitching against Boston one previous time before Friday in his young career, the Red Sox bats took advantage and struck right away in the first inning of this one.

As it turns out, all the damage done off Lopez in the first came with two outs in the frame, and it started with a red-hot JD Martinez roping a ground-rule double to right field.

Two batters later, after Xander Bogaerts advanced Martinez to third with an infield single, Rafael Devers came through with his first home run of the season, and it was a doozy.

Registering at 436 feet and 111 MPH off the bat, you could say Devers’ first big fly of the 2019 came at a good time following that costly ninth inning error on Thursday.

Fast forward to the sixth, after Devers led things off by reaching first on a single, Michael Chavis essentially one upped the first home run of the night by tattooing a 459 foot, 110 MPH, two-run dinger of his own to give the Red Sox a five-run advantage.

And still in the sixth, with Lopez out and reliever Jose Ruiz in for Chicago, Mookie Betts put the exclamation point on this one for the Red Sox by drawing a five pitch, bases loaded walk to drive in Mitch Moreland from third and make it a 6-0 game at the time.

The Red Sox did have the chance to add on in the ninth, but were unable to get anything across against second baseman Jose Rondon, who made his first career appearance as a reliever for the White Sox Friday.

Given the fact that Rick Renteria’s team was only trailing by five runs, it was honestly pretty odd to see a position player pitching in that situation. Still, credit to Rondon for holding his own and tossing a scoreless inning to keep his team within striking distance.

Some notes from this 6-1 win:

On a down note, Tzu-Wei Lin had to depart from this contest in the second inning after injuring his left leg while sliding into second on a failed stolen base attempt.

Later diagnosed with a sprained left knee, Lin will be placed on the 10-day injured list and infielder Eduardo Nunez will be activated from the IL in a corresponding move Saturday.

Michael Chavis has hit four home runs in 13 games with the Red Sox so far. The distances of those homers goes as follows: 374 feet, 441 feet, 441 feet, and 459 feet. His slugging percentage currently stands at .619.

Rafael Devers, meanwhile, has hits in eight of the last nine games he has played in. He is currently slashing .298/.382/.395 with 15 walks, one home run and 13 RBI this season.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game weekend set on Saturday.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Banuelos will do the same for Chicago.

Last time out at Guaranteed Rate Field on September 1st of last season, Rodriguez dazzled with 12 strikeouts and just one earned run allowed on three hits and one walk over 5.2 innings of work. The Red Sox won that game over the White Sox by a final score of 6-1.

On the other side of this lefty-on-lefty matchup, Banuelos, 29, has never pitched against the Red Sox before.

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