Red Sox Fall Flat Against Ryan Yarbrough in Second Straight Loss to Rays

After seeing their four-game winning streak come to an end on Friday night, the Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Tampa Bay Rays in the first of a day-night doubleheader Saturday, falling back to 33-31 on the year.

Making his second start and fifth overall appearance this season for Boston was Josh Smith, who was recalled from Triple-Pawtucket to serve as the club’s 26th man for Saturday’s twin bill.

Working his way through the fourth inning of this one, the right-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits, one walk, one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

All four of those Tampa Bay runs came in their half of the second, with Travis d’Arnaud blasting a two-out, three-run home run to put his team on the board first, and Brandon Lowe following that up with an RBI single three batters later to make it a 4-0 game.

From there, Smith only faced the minimum six hitters over his final two frames, with Sam Travis making a fantastic diving play in left and Jackie Bradley Jr. snuffing out Yandy Diaz at second to retire the side in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (49 strikes), the 31-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 93.5 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Since he was Boston’s 26th man in this one, Smith will be returned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

In relief of Smith, Colten Brewer walked three in a one-run fifth, Mike Shawaryn punched out three and hit two over a scoreless sixth and seventh, and Ryan Brasier sat down the only three hitters he faced in a 1-2-3 eighth to set up Josh Taylor in the ninth.

Only trailing by a reasonable three runs entering the inning, Taylor seemingly let this contest get away from the Sox, as he yielded six singles, allowed four earned runs, and faced all nine Rays hitters before finally escaping the inning with his team now down 9-2.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who came into Saturday with a 6.23 ERA through eight outings (three starts) so far this season.

Despite what those numbers may say,  Yarbrough, like Yonny Chirinos the night before, was essentially lights out, limiting the Boston bats two just two runs on the day.

That first run came courtesy of Sam Travis in the bottom half of the second, when with Christian Vazquez at third following a fielding error that allowed Eduardo Nunez to reach base safely, the 25-year-old ripped a 2-0 changeup from Yarbrough through the middle of the infield, plating Vazquez and getting his team on the board.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, after the Rays starter retired 16 of the preceding 18 Red Sox hitters he faced, Jackie Bradley Jr. broke out of a 2-for-20 skid by mashing his fifth home run of the season, a 427 foot shot off Pesky’s Pole that at the time cut the Rays lead down to three runs.

And although they didn’t stage an epic comeback in the ninth in what would turn out to be a 5-2 loss, it was really cool to see Marco Hernandez back on the field and picking up his first base hit in over two years.

Remember, the 26-year-old underwent surgery on his left shoulder in November of that year and just got back to being able to participating in baseball activities this spring.

He was activated from the 10-day injured list Saturday and went ahead and ripped a double in his first big league at-bat since May 3rd, 2017.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the second game of this day-night doubleheader later on Saturday.

Left-hander David Price will be getting the start against his former team for Boston, while right-hander Ryne Stanek will serve as the opener for Tampa Bay.

First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for 6:10 PM EDT. Red Sox turning to David Price for an important outing yet again.

 

Mookie Betts Homers, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez Drive in a Pair of Runs Each as Red Sox Use Seven Different Pitchers in 7-5 Win to Finish off Sweep of Royals

After utterly dominating the Royals behind Chris Sale’s comeplete game shutout Wednesday night, it was a completely different story for the Red Sox in Kansas City on Thursday, as they had to battle their way to a gritty 7-5 victory in the series finale to complete the three-game sweep.

Making his third start of the season for Boston and first since May 29th was Ryan Weber, who had never pitched against the Royals or inside Kauffman Stadium in his career before Thursday.

Working into just the second inning of this one, the right-hander yielded more hits than he recorded outs, as he surrendered two runs, both earned, on five hits and no walks to go with one lone strikeout on the afternoon.

A scoreless first was not the problem for Weber, but a string of four straight one-out Royals hits was.

It began with a solo home run from Cheslor Cuthbert and was followed up by back-to-back singles before Billy Hamilton ripped an RBI double to left to make it a 2-0 game early on.

Only facing nine hitters in total, Weber’s day would come to a quick close after giving up that run-scoring two-bagger to the speedy Hamilton.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 33 (23 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his sinking fastball nearly 64% of the time he was on the mound Thursday. He also topped out at 88.5 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw twice and got one swing and miss on with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Having allowed nine runs to cross the plate in his last 5 1/3 innings of work since that wonderful job he did in Toronto on the 23rd of May, Weber’s time in Boston’s rotation may be done for the time being. With Nathan Eovaldi still out for the foreseeable future though, spot starts are needed, so who knows? If I were to guess, I would say the righty makes an appearance out of the Sox bullpen in their upcoming doubleheader against the Rays this coming Saturday.

Anyway, in relief of Weber, the Red Sox bullpen had their work cut out for them in this one, and Colten Brewer got first dibs at that by coming on with runners in scoring position and two outs to get in the second.

Fortunately for Boston, he got out of the jam just fine, as he stranded said runners at second and third before tossing a 1-2-3 third inning as well.

In the fourth, three of the first four hitters Brewer faced reached off the right-hander, meaning the Royals had the bases loaded with one out in a contest they now trailed by two.

So, in came Marcus Walden looking to put out another fire, and he, like Brewer before him, retired Whit Merrifield and Adelberto Mondesi on a combined five pitches to put an end to the fourth with the bases left full of stranded runners.

Walden continued on by working through the fifth, where he served up a one-out solo shot to Jorge Soler in an otherwise clean frame of relief.

From there, Ryan Brasier scattered two singles in a shutout sixth inning, Josh Taylor worked his way around an Alex Gordon leadoff homer in a one-run seventh for KC while also allowing a leadoff double to Nicky Lopez in the eighth, making way for Heath Hembree.

Hembree, making his 29th appearance of the year, stranded that runner in scoring position by getting Cam Gallagher, Hamilton, and Merrifield out in order to set up Matt Barnes in the ninth.

Coming on in what was initially a 7-4 contest, Barnes did allow the tying run to come to the plate for Kansas City after giving up an RBI double to Soler to make it a two-run game, but ultimately settled in by fanning the last two Royals he faced to pick up his fourth save of the seasn and his side’s fourth straight win.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in the form of Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, who had faced off against the Sox seven times before Thursday.

Like Boston’s starter in this one though, Duffy did not last long, as he took a 110 MPH comebacker from Eduardo Nunez off his left knee for the final out of the second inning.

Still remaining in this one to start the third, it was clear that the left-hander was hampered. That much was evident in how he nailed Jackie Bradley Jr. in the back of the helmet on the very first pitch he threw in the frame.

Fortunately, Bradley Jr. was fine, and his HBP would end up being the catalyst for a four-run inning, with Mookie Betts mashing a two-run shot for his team’s first two runs of the day shortly thereafter. His 10th of the season.

Four hitters later, with Andrew Benintendi and JD Martinez both in scoring position, Rafael Devers stayed hot and untied this contest with a two-run, 112 MPH double to center, plating both runners while simultaneously giving Duffy the hook.

Fast forward to the seventh, the Royals bullpen was keeping things in check up until Xander Bogaerts drew a one-out walk off Scott Barlow.

A three-pitch punchout of Sam Travis, hitting in Martinez’s spot, followed by an intentional walk of Devers, meant that Kansas City was just one out away from getting out still trailing by one, but Christian Vazquez had different plans.

On the third pitch he saw from Barlow, a 96 MPH fastball down the middle, the Sox backstop didn’t hesitate and wound up with a two-run triple that fell between Hamilton and Merrifield in right-center field.

Both Bogaerts and Devers managed to score on the play, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves with a three-run lead, which quickly inflated to four with Vazquez himself scoring his team’s final run of the afternoon on a wild pitch from Barlow with Michael Chavis at the plate.

That mishap put the Red Sox up 7-3, and after the Royals made things interesting with two runs of their own, 7-5 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

JD Martinez left Thursday’s game in the fifth inning due to back spasms. He has been ruled day-to-day.

Eduardo Nunez in June so far: 6-for-9 with one home run, four RBI, and one stolen base.

No one in Thursday’s Red Sox lineup outside of Nunez had more than one hit, but they still scored seven runs anyway.

Rookie right-hander Mike Shawaryn could have made his major league debut Thursday in relief of Weber, but Sox manager Alex Cora decided not to use him in a close game.

Finishing off a seven-game road trip with a sweep is always nice, and now the Red Sox will head back home winners of their last four for a decently important four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend.

As things stand now, the Rays sit five games ahead of Boston in the American League East standings, so these next three days present a fine opportunity for the Red Sox to gain some ground in their own division.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the start for Boston in the series opener Friday, while fellow righty Yonny Chirinos will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Porcello struggled mightily in his last time out against the Yankees, but that was coming off a nine-start stretch in which the New Jersey native posted a 3.72 ERA over 56 innings of work.

In 29 career starts against the Rays, Porcello owns a lifetime 3.42 ERA in 187 innings pitched.

Opposite Porcello, Chirinos has started six of the 12 games he has appeared in for Tampa Bay this season, putting up an ERA of 3.25 over that stretch.

In four previous meetings against Boston, two of which were starts, the 25-year-old owns a career 4.24 ERA in a 17 inning sample size.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT. Red Sox looking to extend their winning streak to five.

 

 

David Price Steps Up, Limits Yankees to Two Runs as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak and Avoid Sweep with 8-5 Series Finale Win in New York

After coming up empty-handed in their first four tries, the Red Sox have finally taken a game from the New York Yankees with an 8-5 win over their division rivals Sunday night to avoid the three-game sweep and a double-digit game deficit in the American League East standings.

That much was made possible by David Price, who made his 10th start of the season for Boston to cap off the weekend.

Known for his career struggles inside Yankee Stadium, the left-hander put a halt to that narrative for the time being by twirling 6 1/3 solid innings Sunday, limiting the Yankees to just two runs on six hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts of the night.

Both of those New York runs came around to score in the fourth, where after taking a perfect game that far into it, Price buckled a bit by serving up a one-out solo home run to Luke Voit to break up the no-no, and then proceeded to allow the next three hitters he faced to reach base as well to fill the bases with two outs still to get.

So, after a terrific start to his outing, it looked as though things were going to take a turn for the worst for Price, but the southpaw responded well, yielding only one more run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Gio Urshela before getting out of the jam with a failed attempt of stealing home on behalf of Aaron Hicks. Heads up play by Sam Travis there.

From the middle of the fifth on, Price relatively cruised through the fifth and sixth innings before more trouble arose in the seventh.

There, a pair of singles to two of the first three hitters he faced in that frame would ultimately see Price’s night come to an end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (65 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler turned to his cutter 36% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 17 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Later picking up his third winning decision while his ERA on the season remained at 2.83, Price will look for win number four in his next time out, which will come against his old club in the Tampa Bay Rays sometime next weekend.

In relief of Price, Heath Hembree took over in the seventh with inherited runners on first and second and one out in the inning.

Making his 27th appearance of the year already, Hembree needed all but five pitches to fan Austin Romine, but needed double that in an intense matchup against Brett Gardner.

Fortunately for Boston though, Hembree ultimately won the battle, as he got the Yankees veteran to sharply ground out to Michael Chavis at first, who made a great diving play to prevent a hit that would have seen at least one run cross the board.

In the eighth, Matt Barnes worked in less than favorable conditions with thrashing downpours and lightning making its way through the Bronx. It had to have been a quick moving cell though, because there was no real indication that this contest was going to go into a delay besides the effort what went into making field playable.

Still, it was clear to see that Barnes was frustrated having to pitch in such miserable conditions, even more so since he filled the bases on the first three hitters faced in the inning and balked in a run as well.

But, after allowing two more runs to cross the plate on an RBI groundout from Aaron Hicks and sacrifice fly from Gleyber Torres, Barnes did escape the eighth without giving anything else up by striking out Gio Urshela on three straight strikes.

And in the ninth, with an 8-5 lead to protect, Brandon Workman came on to close the door on the Yankees, and he did just that by working his way around a leadoff single and sitting down the last three hitters he faced to notch his second save of the season.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran left-hander in CC Sabathia for the Yankees, making his first start since being activated from the 10-day injured list that same day.

After being held to just seven total runs in their first four meetings against New York, JD Martinez got the scoring started for Boston right away in this one by launching a two-out, 387 foot solo shot to left field to put his team on the board first with his 12th home run of the season.

An inning later, back-to-back one-out singles from Christian Vazquez and Michael Chavis put runners on the corners for Eduardo Nunez, who took full advantage by swinging at the first pitch he saw from Sabathia and grounding an RBI single through the right side of the infield to make it a 2-0 game early.

In the fourth, Xander Bogaerts led things off the same way he did in the fourth inning on Saturday, that being, demolishing a solo home run to left field. This one, good for his 12th of the season. 3-0 Boston.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh, after the Yankees had trimmed their deficit down to one run and Luis Cessa had taken over for Sabathia, it was the bottom of the Red Sox lineup getting things done once again, with Nunez plating Michael Chavis all the way from first while also advancing to third on another one-out RBI single to go along with a fielding error committed by Clint Frazier in right field.

Four pitches later, in came Brock Holt pinch-hitting for Sam Travis out of the nine-hole and the 2018 ALDS hero delivered with a run-scoring base knock that probably would have been a pop out had DJ LeMahieu not been playing in with a runner at third in a tight game. But, baseball’s baseball, and Holt came away with his fourth RBI of the season to give his team a three-run advantage.

Still in the seventh, with two outs now, Andrew Benintendi came through in a big spot, scoring Holt from first on an RBI single just out of the reach of a sprawling Frazier in right field. 6-2.

And in the eighth, a Xander Bogaerts leadoff double would translate into Boston’s seventh run coming around to score on an RBI single off the bat of Rafael Devers, who would wind up being the last batter Cessa faced.

In came reliever David Hale with his team trailing by five runs, and he would see that deficit inflate up to six thanks to Michael Chavis’ first career triple that drove in Devers from second to make it an 8-2 contest.

The Yankees did make things interesting by adding three runs of their own in their half of the eighth, but not enough in an 8-5 victory for the Red Sox.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox entered Sunday having scored seven runs against the Yankees all season. They scored eight runs in their only win against them thus far.

Since his return from the injured list on May 27th, Brock Holt is 6-for-his-last-18 with one double and three RBI.

In his last 15 games, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .406/.441/.750 with five home runs and 13 RBI.

The next time the Red Sox take on the Yankees will be later this month in London, England.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals kicks off at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday.

For the opener of that three-game set, it will be left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston, while right-hander Glenn Sparkman does the same for Kansas City.

Last working on May 26th, Rodriguez’s latest turn through the rotation was skipped due to that rainout on Friday.

In one prior start at Kauffman Stadium, the 26-year-old allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in a winning effort way back on June 19th, 2015.

Sparkman, meanwhile has given up 10 earned runs in just 2.2 career innings against the Red Sox. That’s good for an ERA of 33.75.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 8:15 PM EDT on NESN.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Place Steve Pearce on 10-Day Injured List, Recall Sam Travis from Triple-A Pawtucket

After departing from Friday night’s loss against the New York Yankees in the middle of the second inning, the Red Sox on Saturday placed first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce on the 10-day injured list due to a lower back strain.

In Pearce’s place, first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis has been recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the roster move offical earlier Saturday.

According to Sox manager Alex Cora, Pearce left Friday’s game early because of back spasms, and less than a full day later, the 36-year-old veteran was shelved for the second time this year.

Initially opening his first full season with Boston on the injured list due to a left calf injury suffered back in March, Pearce is currently slashing .180/.245/.258 with just one home run and nine RBI through 29 games played and 99 plate appearances in 2019.

The reigning World Series MVP may not have missed much time with that injured calf earlier in the season, but this time around, perhaps it would be wise of the Red Sox to send Pearce out on a rehab assignment so that he could maintain his form that was so valuable to the club last year.

On the other side of this transaction, just like it was in March, Sam Travis has been recalled from the PawSox.

The 25-year-old broke camp this year by making his first big league Opening Day roster and went 2-for-7 with a pair of singles before being optioned down on April 4th.

Through 49 games with Pawtucket this season, Travis is slashing .251/.359/.371 with three home runs and 20 runs driven in.

Without both Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce on the 25-man roster for the time being, expect Michael Chavis, Brock Holt, and of course Travis to see the majority of playing time at first base for the Red Sox.

#RedSox Activate Steve Pearce from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

After starting his first full season with the Red Sox on the 10-Day injured list, Steve Pearce is back, as the club activated him from the IL prior to Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.

As the above tweet reads, to make room on Boston’s 25-man roster, first baseman Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.

Pearce, 35, strained his left calf while running out a ground ball in the first inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 17th.

He was removed from that game seemingly as a precaution, but did not appear in any other big league games for the remainder of the spring.

Now, after getting some work in at the minor-league level down in Fort Myers, the South Carolina native appears ready to make his 2019 debut. He re-joined the club in Oakland Wednesday.

Given his .304/.400/.559 slash line to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI in 120 plate appearances against left-handers last season, it would not be surprising to see Pearce in the three-hole against southpaw Brett Anderson and the Athletics Thursday afternoon.

In Pearce’s place, Sam Travis went 2/7 with two singles in two games played while making Boston’s Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on NESN.

Blake Swihart Homers and Sam Travis Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Fall to Cubs in Spring Finale

The Red Sox wrapped up their spring on Tuesday afternoon with a 14-7 loss at the hands of the Chicago Cubs, meaning they failed to pick up a win in their brief two-game exhibition series in Mesa, Az. before heading north to Seattle for the real thing.

David Price, who we have not seen much of in the past few weeks, made just his second start of the spring in this one.

Pitching into the fourth inning, the left-hander surrendered five runs on six hits and two walks to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the day.

Retiring seven of the first eight hitters he faced, it looked as though things were going swimmingly for Price up until the bottom half of the third, when four straight Cubs hitters reached base, which in turn resulted in their first two runs crossing the plate.

An inning later, a two out solo home run off the bat of Kyle Schwarber would ultimately spell the end to Price’s day, as he would depart from this one following another run of three straight Cubs hits, capped off by an Addison Russell RBI double.

Facing 18 batters in total, Price’s next and first start of the regular season will come against the Oakland Athletics on Monday, April 1st.

From the middle of the bottom half of the fourth on, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Adam Lau, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Ryan Weber, and Durbin Feltman combined to give up a whopping 11 runs (10 earned) on nine hits, four walks, two HBPs, and seven punch outs over the final 4.1 frames.

Not great numbers, obviously. Hembree, Workman, and Lau were responsible for eight of those runs in a monster fifth inning for Chicago.

On a more positive note, Weber tossed a scoreless seventh inning, so there’s that.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Cubs right-hander Carl Edwards Jr., who typically pitches in a relief role, to start things off on Tuesday.

After failing to put anything on the board in their first two trips to the plate, Blake Swihart kicked off the scoring for Boston with a one out solo home run in the third inning off Massachusetts native Tim Collins, his first of the spring.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and Sam Travis got his impressive day at the plate started by belting a line drive RBI double to left that allowed Eduardo Nunez to score all the way from first.

And later on in the eighth, after the first four Red Sox hitters had reached base to lead the inning off, including a Tate Matheny RBI single, Travis capped off his spring in exciting fashion, mashing a bases-clearing grand slam off Cubs reliever Ian Clarkin.

Granted, it ended up not making that huge a difference in the final score, but what a way for the 25-year-old Travis to head into his first ever big league Opening Day. Hard not to be excited for him.

Anyway, the Red Sox would go on to drop this one by a final score of 14-7 to put the finishing touches on what turned out to be a 12-17-1 spring.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s Opening Day as well as opening weekend in Seattle. Here are the starting pitchers Alex Cora is going with for the first series of the 2019 season.

Game 1: LHP Chris Sale vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Game 2: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 1.93 ERA)
Game 3: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez vs. RHP Mike Leake
Game 4: RHP Rick Porcello vs. LHP Wade LeBlanc

First pitch Opening Day (March 28th) is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on ESPN.

It’s almost that time.

#RedSox First Baseman Steve Pearce to Start 2019 Season on Injured List

After dealing with tightness in his left calf since March 17th, Steve Pearce will indeed not be ready for his first Opening Day with the Red Sox, as he was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday night.

The 2018 World Series’ Most Valuable Player sustained the injury in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, where he apparently strained his calf while running out a first inning ground ball out.

Pearce, 35, was removed from that game in the middle of that first inning and has not appeared in any big league spring training action since despite getting at-bats in minor league contests.

“Tt just matters how he feels moving around,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora prior to Monday’s game against the Chicago Cubs in Arizona. “You guys know we’re not going to push him. We have to be smart about this because just to push him out there just because it’s Opening Day makes no sense for what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Given the fact that Pearce’s stint on the 10-day injured list is retroactive to March 25th, there is a chance that he could return to the Red Sox in just over a week when the team is in Oakland.

With Pearce heading back to Fort Myers to get more minor league related work in before rejoining the team, Sam Travis appears set to make his first ever Opening Day roster.

The 25-year-old infielder has slashed .250/.306/.357 with one home run and eight RBI in 112 plate appearances over 52 total games since making his major league debut with Boston in 2017.

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.

 

Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis Each Hit a Home Run for the #RedSox Today.

The Red Sox celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style on Saturday. Rocking the green uniforms and clinching their fifth straight win in Grapefruit League play with a narrow 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. The lineup did not do much today, but they didn’t need to thanks to the efforts of two first basemen, Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.

Trailing by four runs, Moreland put the first Red Sox run on the board in the home half of the fifth inning, taking a 2-1 pitch from Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge and sending it over the right field wall.

In the very next inning, with runners on second and third, Sam Travis took the game into his own hands and gave the Red Sox a one-run lead by mashing a three-run home run over the Fenway South Monster.

That was all the scoring the Red Sox bullpen needed to lock down this win. With those two home runs, Moreland and Travis now have two and four long balls this spring respectively. The way things look now, it’s difficult to see how Travis will find at bats with the big league club, but performances like the one he had today certainly help his case.

Also, one more shout out to these beauties. I wish they could be worn more than once a year.