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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some notes from this win:

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

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

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

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

Rick Porcello owns a 1.200 OPS this season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

RECAP: David Price Surrenders Career-High Five Home Runs as Struggles Against Yankees Continue for the #RedSox Starter.

David Price and the New York Yankees. Name a more disastrous duo.

Yes, on a night where the Red Sox could have left the Bronx with a two game lead in the American League East pennant race, David Price came up extremely short.

Known for his struggles at Yankee Stadium since signing with Boston prior to the 2016 season, Price certainly did not do himself any favors yesterday.

Lasting just 3.1 innings, the lefty was walloped for EIGHT earned runs on nine hits, with five of those being home runs, while only recording three strikeouts.

In a 25-pitch first inning, the Yankees reached base four times off of Price, and got four runs out of it. The first of those four came on an Aaron Judge 409 foot blast to center field for the first run of the game. The other three runs came three batters later on one swing of the bat from rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres, who, on a 93 MPH two-seam fastball from Price, belted his 15th long ball of the season 380 feet to right field to put his team up by a bunch early.

An inning later, the Yankees struck again with another homer, this one coming from center fielder Aaron Hicks on a two-run shot, his first of three on the night.

After a surprising scoreless frame in the third, things got ugly for Price in an inning he would not be able to finish.

To truly show how miserable of a night the Vanderbilt alum had, just look at the events that transpired in the bottom half of the fourth.

First batter of the inning, Kyle Higashioka, 0/22 to start his career, takes Price deep to left for his first big league hit and home run on a 1-2 89 MPH cutter. 7-0 Yankees.

Two batters later, Aaron Hicks, career .208 hitter against Price prior to yesterday’s contest, blasts his second homer 373 feet to dead center. 8-0 Yankees and that is what put an end to David Price’s awful outing.

Finishing with a pitch count of only 71 (51 strikes), the 32 year-old hurler topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.

Let’s take a closer look at those struggles Price has had at Yankee Stadium since joining the Red Sox.

5 GS
25 IP
47 H
29 ER
10 HR
10.44 ERA

Image result for not great bob

Nope, it really isn’t! And in all honesty, I have no confidence at all in giving the ball to David Price in a potential ALDS or ALCS game at Yankee Stadium. If that were to be the case later on in October, I’d be interested to see how Alex Cora and the Red Sox would go about not utilizing their $30 million man in a situation he should be able to handle. but clearly can’t.

You also cannot make stuff like this up.

Anyway, last night’s debacle ended a solid run for Price in which he allowed three or fewer runs in nine straight starts. He’ll look to hopefully rebound from this in his next outing against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. For now, let’s just hope one bad start does not derail the quality season Price has had to this point.

In relief of Price, Justin Haley was first out of the Red Sox bullpen and gave up one run in 2.2 innings of work.

Brandon Workman came through with the best performance of any Red Sox pitcher on Sunday, as he threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

And in the eighth, Hector Velazquez gave up an additional two runs on three hits, including Aaron Hicks’ third homer of the evening, to wrap up what was a dismal evening for Red Sox pitching.

On the other side of things, the Yankees pitching staff had themselves a GREAT night against a team that just scored 11 runs off of them on Saturday.

Let me tell you though, Luis Severino is in a whole other category of pitchers when compared to Sonny Gray. The Yankees ace shut down the Red Sox lineup while pitching into the seventh inning of this one. Over that stretch, Severino surrendered just two hits and three walks while fanning six to improve to 13-2 on his season.

The only run of the night for the Red Sox came in the ninth, when after Sandy Leon reached second on a double and Blake Swihart advanced him to third on a single, Rafael Devers collected his 47th RBI of the year by scoring Leon on a  5-4 force out at second base. All this coming with Aroldis Chapman, who hadn’t appeared in a game in nearly a week, on the mound for New York.

Some notes from this loss:

In a highly anticipated series between two of the best teams in all of baseball, here are the results from all three games.

Friday: BOS 1-8 NYY
Saturday: BOS 11-0 NYY
Sunday: BOS 1-11 NYY

Not much consistency between these two clubs over the weekend, and neither game was close because of it.

Nine games into the season series, the Red Sox own a 4-5 record against New York in 2018. The good news is, seven of the next ten games against the Yankees will be played at Fenway Park, including the last three of the season on the last weekend of September.

Having dropped two of their first three games on a decently long road trip, things will not get easier for the Red Sox when they land in the nation’s capital sometime this morning. In a three-game series against the Washington Nationals kicking off on Monday, the Red Sox will be greeted by one of the best pitchers in the National League in Mad Max, Max Scherzer. He’ll be matched up against an old teammate in Rick Porcello for Boston, and first pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET tonight.

 

 

RECAP: Rafael Devers Sets Tone Early and Chris Sale Fans 11 as #RedSox Shut out Yankees.

Coming off a game in which they were held to just one run by CC Sabathia and the Yankees pitching staff, the Red Sox made sure that was not the case on Saturday night. With Chris Sale on the mound though, they didn’t need much to pick up a series-evening win.

Making his 18th start of the season last night, Chris Sale wrapped up his stellar month of June with yet another superb performance against a team he has a solid track record against.

Going into what was his 14th career start against the Yankees, Sale owned a 1.73 ERA in 93.2 innings against New York over nine seasons, including one outing this season in which he allowed one run in just six innings pitched back on April 10th.

Right from the get go, it was clear that Sale meant business in a decently important game. And given the fact he had a four run lead to work with before he even took the mound, the lefty was not put in all that many stressful spots on Saturday.

In a full seven innings pitched, Sale held the Yankees to just three total baserunners on one hit, one walk, and one HBP while recording a healthy 11 strikeouts on the evening.

What was most impressive about the Florida native’s night would have to be his sixth frame of work, in which he struck out the side on 20 pitches, the most he threw in an inning. Can’t forget to mention the help he got from Jackie Bradley Jr. in the bottom half of the third as well.

Retiring the last 16 batters he faced, Sale finished with a final pitch count of 101 (72 strikes) after ending the seventh. Topping out at 100 MPH in that seventh inning, the 29-year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 36% of the time on Saturday.

A performance certainly worthy of a win, Sale improved to 8-4 on the season last night. He’ll look to build on a successful June in his next time out, which should come against the lowly Kansas City Royals on Friday.

In relief of Sale, Alex Cora turned to two relievers out of the Red Sox bullpen for what was essentially mop-up duty in a blowout game. First, Heath Hembree tossed a scoreless eighth inning, then Hector Velazquez tossed a scoreless ninth to wrap this thing up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup made people forget about their one run clunker on Friday night very quickly.

Facing off against a pitcher who has struggled against Boston in the past in Sonny Gray, Rafael Devers got the scoring started right away in the first.

After recording the first two outs of the inning, Gray allowed the next three batters he faced to reach base on two singles and a walk. That set up an ideal scoring situation for Devers, and he capitalized on it.

Mookie’s reaction:

That grand slam was the first from the Red Sox since April 30th. With that slam, Devers became the youngest player in the history of Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups to go yard in that fashion.

An inning later, a leadoff double from Sandy Leon followed by a Mookie Betts walk set up another great scoring spot, this time for Andrew Benintendi. On the third pitch of his at bat, Benintendi ripped a single to right field to score Leon from Second and collect his 53rd RBI of the year.

Speaking of RBI, JD Martinez had three of them on Saturday, and he picked up his first in the second when a 322 foot sacrifice fly to right field scored Betts from third and put the Red Sox up by six runs early.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth now, with Gray well out of this game, and Martinez struck again. This time on an RBI single to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from second.

In the seventh, after Rafael Devers lined a one out double off of Yankees reliever Giovanny Gallegos, Sandy Leon blasted is his second home run is as many starts 388 feet into the right field seats.

From that point on, JD Martinez notched his 3rd RBI of the night in the eighth, and Brock Holt picked up one in the ninth on a pinch-hit RBI single to score his teams 11th and final run of the game. Not like it was needed, but it was still nice to see that production come from the bottom of the lineup after a quiet night on Friday.

Some notes from this win:

Alex Cora on the big win, “”The guys came out with an attitude today. It was fun to watch. There was something different with this group today.”

From @SoxNotes: Chris Sale has a 1.03 ERA in his last 5 starts. Among the 500+ pitchers who have made at least 10 starts vs. NYY in the Live Ball Era (1920-pres.), Sale owns the lowest career ERA (1.61) against the Yankees, as well as the highest SO/9.0 IP ratio (11.62).

With his five-hit performance at the plate on Saturday, Rafael Devers raised his batting average by 12 points, his OBP by 10 points, and his SLG by 22 points.

Entering July, JD Martinez leads all of baseball in HR (25) and RBI (67).

In this first day of July, the finale of this Red Sox-Yankees series will receive plenty of attention via Sunday Night Baseball. For David Price, this particular start looms large. A career 4.27 ERA in 19 starts at Yankee Stadium, the lefty will have plenty to prove in what should be a playoff atmosphere in the Bronx tonight.

He’ll be matched up against the best pitcher on this Yankees staff in Luis Severino. New York specifically moved their rotation so Severino would start tonight’s contest, so you know it means a lot for them as well.

First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET on ESPN.

 

 

RECAP: JD Martinez Makes History as #RedSox Halt Angels Comeback Attempt in 9-6 Win.

In a game that took exactly four hours complete, the Red Sox found themselves alone in first place in the American League East by the end of Wednesday night. It took a while to get there, but at the halfway point of the season in terms of games played, no team in Major League Baseball has more wins than the Red Sox.

Making his 17th start of the season last night, Rick Porcello was certainly not at his best in this one. The righty pitched into the sixth inning for the sixth time in a row, but yielded four runs, all earned, on eight hits and two free passes while striking out five.

Things were going decently smooth for the Red Sox hurler up until his fifth frame of work. With a six run lead to work with, you would figure that Porcello, who is arguably at his best when pitching with a lead, would cruise to his 10th winning decision of the year. Instead, he gave up a solo shot to the first batter he saw in the inning in ex-teammate Ian Kinsler.

That homer gave the Angels just their second run of the series up until that point and cut the Red Sox lead to five runs. An inning later, that lead shrunk some more when, after recording the first out of the inning on three pitches, three straight Angels reached base off of Porcello, with the last one being a three-run jack off the bat of catcher Martin Maldonado. 6-4 game now.

In my mind, this was the turning point of the game. Easy to say I know, but up until that point, it appeared as if the Red Sox had this thing in the bag. They have stomped on the Angels in all of their meetings this season, and it looked like we were headed in that direction once again last night up until that home run.

Porcello’s night would come to an end after he followed up that homer by getting outfielder Michael Hermosillo to ground out to short for the second out of the sixth.

Finishing with 104 pitches (66 strikes), the New Jersey native topped out at 93.4 MPH on his four-seam fastball in the first inning. He’ll miss this upcoming series against the Yankees in New York, but expect Porcello to bounce back in his next time out against the Washington Nationals on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, Heath Hembree got the first call of the Red Sox bullpen. Entering the game with two outs and the bases empty, Hembree retired the only batter he faced on three pitches to end the top half of the sixth.

Joe Kelly was next up for the beginning of the seventh, and he greeted the Angels by allowing four straight batters to reach base after recording the first out of the inning. Two singles from Justin Upton and Albert Pujols put runners on first and third with one out.

Kelly had the opportunity to turn a double play after Luis Valbuena grounded a comebacker right to him, but the Red Sox flamethrower made an awful throw to Xander Bogaerts covering second base, which allowed the ball to roll into the outfield and Justin Upton easily scored from third.

Now with Andrelton Simmons at the plate, who had already collected two hits on the night, Kelly could not sneak a 88 MPH slider by the Angels shortstop, as he drove in Pujols from second on an RBI double to knot this thing up at six runs a piece.

The Red Sox would escape any further damage thanks to two clutch strikeouts to retire the side in the top half of the seventh. The first coming from Kelly against Kole Calhoun for the second out of the inning and the second coming from Matt Barnes against Martin Maldonado for the final out.

Speaking of Barnes, the UCONN product came back out for the eighth inning as well, this time with a two run lead to work with. Unfortunately for him, sandwiched in between the first two outs of the frame were an E5 committed by Rafael Devers and a six pitch walk to Mike Trout.

That put the Angels in an ideal scoring spot, so Alex Cora made the bold decision and turned to his closer in the eighth inning.

In a rare situation, Craig Kimbrel got his night started by loading the bases after throwing a wild pitch and walking Albert Pujols.

The drama ensued into the next at bat with Luis Valbuena at the plate. After getting ahead in the count with a first pitch strike, Kimbrel missed three straight times to move the count to 3-1. Thankfully, the other Red Sox flamethrower rebounded by getting the next call in his favor on what could have been ball four, then got Valbuena swinging on a 98 MPH heater to retire the side.

Coming back out for the ninth, Kimbrel had a much easier go at it, as he retired the side in order to pick up his 23rd save of the season, the first for him since June 14th.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup had their way against another Angels starting pitcher in lefty Andrew Heaney.

Going off for three home runs in the second inning, Eduardo Nunez got the scoring started by blasting his fifth of the season to lead things off.

After Rafael Devers reached first on a single, Sandy Leon drove him in along with himself on his third homer of the year.

Four batters later, with runners on first and third, JD Martinez capped off the home run frenzy by mashing his 25th big fly of the season, making him the first player in Red Sox history to hit as many as 25 home runs before the first of July.

Heading into the third inning with an early six run lead, the bats went quiet for a bit. There was a time in the bottom of the fifth where it looked like another rally was about to take shape when Eduardo Nunez led the inning off on what should have been an infield single.

The original ruling was an out, but after the replay from NESN, it was pretty clear that Albert Pujols missed the tag and the Red Sox challenged it. I don’t know what they saw in Hoboken, but after the review, Nunez was ruled out. So, what’s the point of replay review if the call ends up being wrong AFTER the review? Very confusing.

Anyway, once the Angels stormed back to tie things up in the top of the seventh, the Red Sox lineup responded by tacking on two of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

With two outs, a walk drawn by Eduardo Nunez and back-to back RBI knocks for Rafael Devers and Sandy Leon put some distance between the Red Sox and Angels, and they would not have to look back.

In the ninth, a wild pitch with Mitch Moreland at the plate allowed JD Martinez to score from third after he reached base on a force out. Unfortunately, the Angels pitcher who slid into home trying to get the out, Jake Jewell, took a nasty tumble and landed awkwardly on the right handle. I won’t share the video, but I wish him the best.

On a less somber note, here are some notes from this win:

JD Martinez has already hit more home runs this season (25) than anyone on the Red Sox had in 2017 (Mookie Betts led the team with 24).

The 6-9 hitters in the Red Sox lineup (Nunez, Devers, Leon, and Bradley Jr.) went 7/15 with two home runs and five RBI last night.

With the series already in hand, the Red Sox will look for the sweep later tonight before a huge series against the Yankees this weekend. Brian Johnson gets the start in Boston in place of the injured Steven Wright. It will be his first start since April 2nd when he gave up one run in six innings pitched against the Marlins in Miami. He’ll be matched up against Angels rookie Jaime Barria, who owns a 3.40 ERA in 10 starts this season. First pitch of the finale is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

 

 

RECAP: Chris Sale Fans 13 in Seven Shutout Innings as #RedSox Take Series from Mariners.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, a left-handed pitcher tossed a shutout at Fenway Park. Mike Leake did it for the Mariners with eight scoreless innings in a win last night, and Chris Sale did it for the Red Sox with seven scoreless frames this afternoon.

In his 17th start of the season on Sunday, Sale looked as dominant as ever. Coming off a performance against the Twins in which he took a perfect game into the fifth inning last Tuesday, the lefty did not give up his first hit in this one until there were two outs in the third.

Ending his day with a line of 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB Sale never found himself in too much troubles in his ninth career start against the Mariners. After he gave up his first hit of the game to Denard Span in the third inning, the 29-year-old escaped any further stress with a nice pick-off move on Span to retire the side.

An inning later, another two out situation arose when Nelson Cruz ripped a triple off of Sale. Regardless of the fact that Cruz should have been out at third base, the Red Sox hurler rebounded by striking out Ryon Healy on four pitches to escape the jam.

In the sixth, it looked as though the Mariners were about to tack on their first two runs of the day when, after Andrew Romine reached first on a bunt single, Mitch Haniger hit a sharp line drive towards Seattle’s bullpen. Instead of  a home run though, Mookie Betts came up with the clutch inning-ending snag to rob Haniger of what would have been his 17th long ball of the season.

If not this catch, the highlight of the afternoon might just be how Sale ended his day in his final frame of work. It was more than likely the Florida native’s toughest inning, as he allowed two to reach on a single and a walk and needed 19 pitches, but it was all worth it thanks to his last pitch against Mike Zunino.

100.5 MPH(!!!) on that fastball, the fastest pitch recorded by Sale on 93 attempts, 71 of which went for strikes. Going to his four-seamer 44% of the time on Sunday, 20 of the 21 fastest recorded pitches in this game belonged to Sale.

With the Red Sox lineup actually giving the southpaw some run support today, Sale was able to notch his seventh winning decision of the season.

And thanks to two additional scoreless innings from Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes out of the bullpen, the Red Sox recorded their sixth shutout win on the year as well.

On the flip side of things, Mariners starter Marco Gonzales was the one starter the Red Sox did not see in Seattle. With a cumulative .685 OPS against lefties this season, it was going to see how the lineup would stack up the day after getting shutout by another left-handed starter.

After being held to one hit over the first four innings, Xander Bogaerts got a three-run rally started in the fifth with a leadoff double. Following that up with a single off the bat of Eduardo Nunez, Rafael Devers put his team on the board first by ripping an RBI double to the right field corner to score Bogaerts from third. Two sacrifice flies from Sandy Leon and Mookie Betts later, and the Red Sox found themselves up by three going into the sixth inning.

In the bottom half of the sixth, Mitch Moreland stayed hot and wrapped up the scoring on the afternoon by mashing his 11th home run of the season, a 415 foot two-run missile hit to dead center field.

That put the Red Sox up by five runs, which is all they would need to pick up their 52nd win of the season.

Some notes from this W:

The Red Sox improved to 2-4 in games started by Chris Sale when he records 10 or more strikeouts. Maddening stuff.

Per @RedSoxStats: Most swing and misses by a Sox starter in the pitch tracking era:
26 of 93 Chris Sale, today
26 of 114 Clay Buchholz, April, 2010
26 of 116 Chris Sale, May 2018

With that home run, Mitch Moreland extended his hitting streak to seven games. Over that stretch, the Red Sox first baseman is 12/27 with seven RBI.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3/3 at the plate batting ninth today, his first multi-hit game since June 5th against Detroit.

After an off day on Monday, the Red Sox will welcome the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim into town for a three-game series set to kick off Tuesday night. In a matchup of elite outfielders in Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, I’m fascinated to see how much national attention this series will receive.

For the opener, it will be another starting pitching matchup featuring two lefties. John Lamb will be making his third start of the season for the Angels, and David Price will be making his 16th start of the season against the Red Sox. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET on Tuesday.

 

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon Launch Late Inning Home Runs as #RedSox Take Care of Business Against Blue Jays.

Coming off an impressive 8-3 win on Memorial Day, the Red Sox tacked on another eight runs against the Toronto Blue Jays last night. Having now won their past four series, the 38-17 Red Sox will look to sweep the Jays this afternoon before heading off to Houston.

Going into last night with an ERA of 5.40 in May, Rick Porcello made his 12th start of the season in this one, and he closed his month out in style. The righty nearly made it through seven full innings while surrendering three runs (two earned) on five hits, two walks, and two HBPs while fanning five.

Before pitching into the seventh, the only costly mistake Porcello made came in the top of the fourth, when he served up a one out solo shot to Jays first baseman Justin Smoak. As the game progressed, it looked like that was all Toronto would get off the Red Sox starter, but things got a bit interesting in the seventh.

Already up by four runs, Porcello hit the second batter he faced in the inning, Russell Martin, to put a runner on first with one out. Martin did not take too kindly to that, as that was the second time Porcello got a Blue Jay with a pitch, but the confrontation did not elevate past a few words between the two.

The New Jersey native followed that little adventure up by allowing the next two batters he faced in Kendrys Morales and Devon Travis to reach base via a walk and a single. That loaded the bases up for Luke Maile, but he struck out swinging on five pitches. Now with Curtis Granderson at the plate, who has already done a good deal of damage against the Red Sox this season, Porcello could not get a 2-2 92 MPH fastball past the veteran outfielder, and he drove in two runs on a single to right field.

With his pitch count at 96 (66 strikes), Porcello’s night would come to an end. I’m sure it did not end the way he wanted it to, but after the rough month he had, this outing is certainly encouraging headed into June.

Joe Kelly got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he would be tasked with getting the final out of the inning with runners on second and third. Thankfully, Kelly retired the only batter he faced in the seventh, Kevin Pillar, on a three pitch strikeout. The Red Sox flamethrower would come back out for a second frame of work in the eighth, and despite hitting a batter, got out of the inning unscathed.

Entering the ninth with a five run lead to work with, Hector Velazquez was able to get some work in, but he loaded the bases before recording an out. In a bit of a jam, Alex Cora had to turn to Craig Kimbrel when it didn’t look like he was going to be needed a half inning prior.

Facing the top of the Blue Jays order, Kimbrel struck out the first batter he saw in Kevin Pillar on seven pitches. Down to their last out, Kimbrel got Yangervis Solarte to ground out to third, and Rafael Devers made the throw to Dustin Pedroia for the force out at second. Ballgame over.

On the other side of things, Mitch Moreland got the scoring started for the Red Sox right away in the first inning. He drove in Xander Bogaerts on a hard hit double, then JD Martinez drove in Moreland from second on a double of his own.

Speaking of doubles, Sandy Leon had two of them last night. The first one came with one out in the second inning, and he came across to score two batters later when Andrew Benintendi picked up his 38th RBI of the season on another two-bagger off of Jays starter Marco Estrada.

Fast forward to the fourth, and the bottom of the Red Sox lineup came through again. A single and stolen base from Brock Holt put a runner in scoring position with two outs for Jackie Bradley Jr. On the first pitch he saw from Estrada, Bradley ripped a single to left field, and that allowed Holt to easily score from second.

In the sixth, with new pitcher Joe Biagini on the mound for Toronto, back to back singles from Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia, his first hit of the season, put runners on first and third with no outs. After Brock Holt struck out looking, Sandy Leon added on to his big day at the plate by grounding a RBI double past both the pitcher and the second baseman.

An inning later, Xander Bogaerts led things off by mashing his eighth home run of the season. He had 10 all of last year.

Finally, in the eighth, Sandy Leon capped off his incredible night with a two-run missile to the Red Sox bullpen to put this game out of reach.

Having won four of their past five games, Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball this afternoon in the series finale against the Blue Jays. He will be matched up against righty Sam Gaviglio. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Mookie Betts should be back in the lineup on Thursday.

RECAP: Chris Sale K’s 12 as #RedSox Pick up Series Win Against Rangers.

Going into the series finale in Texas today, I was very much looking forward to the pitching matchup in this one. On one side, we had Chris Sale going for the Red Sox, and on the other, Doug Fister got the start for the Rangers. Both were teammates in Boston for the majority of last season and both work at a diligent and refreshing pace.

Between the two, it was Sale who had the better day on the mound, as the lefty tossed seven full innings of one run ball. Over that span, Sale scattered one run on four hits to go along with one walk, two HBP’s and a season-high 12 strikeouts. The Florida native set the tone right away with three strikeouts in the first to kick off his eighth start of 2018. After that, the only costly mistake Sale made came in his final frame of work, when he surrendered a leadoff home run to Ryan Rua in the seventh. Other than that, it was a phenomenal day for Sale. He had his full arsenal working, including his slider, which he was having issues with earlier in the season. At 3-1, it’s a shame Sale will miss the upcoming series in New York. Expect his next start to come Friday or Saturday in Toronto.

In relief of Sale, and with a five run lead to work with, the Red Sox bullpen was nearly perfect yet again. Matt Barnes got the call for the eighth inning, he needed just nine pitches to retire the Rangers side in order. Next up was Carson Smith, and he would be responsible for the last three innings of this one. He allowed a single with one out, but struck out the next two batters he faced to wrap things up for the Red Sox in Arlington.

On the other side of things, Mitch Moreland got the scoring started for the Red Sox early. A Mookie Betts leadoff single in the first would later lead to a run when Moreland took a 82 MPH changeup from Rangers starter Doug Fister and ripped it into the left field corner. That would score Betts from second, but the Red Sox outfielder would have to leave the game an inning later due to a right shoulder contusion.

Two innings later, after JD Martinez doubled to left field with one out, Xander Bogaerts drove in the second run of the day by sending another ground ball to left field that scored Martinez from second. Fister would settle down a little bit after that, but the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup got to the veteran righty in the sixth.

With two outs in the inning, Eduardo Nunez got the rally started on a simple single to left field. After Jackie Bradley Jr. took a 89 MPH fastball off his elbow to put runners on first and second, Sandy Leon came through with the first home run from a Red Sox catcher this season.

That 398 foot, three-run shot put the Red Sox up 5-0. JD Martinez would homer for the eighth time this season an inning later to put his team up by six runs, and that’s all the scoring they would need to pick up this series-clinching win.

Some notes from this one:

With 12 K’s on the day, Chris Sale is now fourth in baseball with 63 strikeouts on the season, trailing only Max Scherzer, Gerritt Cole, and Justin Verlander.

In 32 games played this season, JD Martinez has recorded multiple hits in 15 of them. He is in the midst of  a nine-game hitting streak after a two hit performance at the plate today.

Going into their first series of the season at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox and Yankees will own the best two records in the American League. With a one-game lead in the division, this series isn’t pivotal for the Red Sox and their season, but it does carry some importance. Drew Pomeranz will be first up on Tuesday, and he’ll be matched up against Yankees ace Luis Severino, who is coming off his first career complete game shutout. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Tuesday. Should be a fun week.