RECAP: CC Sabathia outpitches Chris Sale as #RedSox drop middle game 4-3.

Leading up to this one, I would have guaranteed the Red Sox would be six games up in the division at the conclusion of Saturday night’s game. Unfortunately for me, that prediction did not age well as the Red Sox dropped the second game of this series in a rather frustrating fashion. Chris Sale, making his 25th start of 2017, was matched up against the longest tenured Yankee, CC Sabathia. Sale was not bad, but that means he wasn’t great either. In the seven innings he pitch, the lefty surrendered four earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out nine. Two of those hits were home runs, and that is where the Yankees scored all their runs. Tyler Austin took Sale deep for two runs in the second, and Todd Frazier just sneaked one over the Monster in the sixth. We were so close to seeing Sale notch another quality start, but that Frazier home run really sucked. Although he picked up his fifth loss, Sale did reach the 250 strikeout mark for the season as well. With all those K’s. Sale joins both Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers to record 250 or more K’s in 25 or fewer starts in a single season. Elite company for sure for Chris Sale. One thing I want to bring up about Sale though is how up and down he has been in August. In two road starts at Tampa and New York, Sale has been fantastic, allowing a total of one earned run over fifteen innings pitched. But, while pitching at Fenway Park this month, Sale has been well below average, allowing eleven earned runs in only twelve innings pitched. I don’t know if it’s anything to be concerned about, but Sale has been known to pitch worse as the season gets into the later stages.

After Sale exited, the bullpen did much better than they did on Friday night. Matt Barnes bounced back with a scoreless eighth inning, then Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, and Joe Kelly each got an out in the ninth. It’s too bad the offense couldn’t pick them up, but the bullpen did do their job in keeping the Red Sox in the game.

Offensively, CC Sabathia pretty much had his way with the Red Sox lineup. It wasn’t until the fifth when the Red Sox scored their first runs of the game. Other than that though, I was pretty surprised with what I saw out of Sabathia, who is way past his prime. The first run of the game came off the bat of Sandy Leon, who drove in Xander Bogaerts on an RBI ground out. Jackie Bradley Jr. then drove in Rafael Devers on an RBI single in the same inning. Later on in the seventh, Rafael Devers, playing in his 20th big league game, mashed his eighth home run of the season right over the Red Sox bullpen.

This cut the Yankees lead to one, and Xander Bogaerts had the chance to give his team the lead in the eighth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Bogaerts looked awful against David Robertson, striking out on three pitches. They had another chance to at least tie the game in the ninth, after Sandy Leon reached on a strikeout. Brock Holt came in to pinch run, and he tried to steal second. I don’t know why, but trying to steal on a 2-0 count seems pretty dumb. Betances was struggling to find the strike zone in that at bat and that caught stealing took any momentum away. The fact remains, the Red Sox are awful on the bases, making more outs than any other team. It did not COST them this game, but still, it hurt.

Rick Porcello is on the mound this afternoon against new Yankee Sonny Gray. Time to take this series and go up by five games.

70 down, 25 to go. 

RECAP: Andrew Benintendi drives in SIX runs as #RedSox bounce back with 10-5 win.

After a disastrous Friday night, the Red Sox were in need of a rebound performance, and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday. Making his twenty-third start of 2017, Drew Pomeranz put together yet another solid outing for the Red Sox. The lefty managed to scatter seven hits and two walks over 6.2 innings while racking up five strikeouts. Despite the quality start, there were avoidable moments in this game for Pomeranz. Such as the two-run home run he served up to Gary Sanchez in the first, and loading the bases with no outs in the fourth. Luckily, the Yankees only got one run out of that and none after the fourth. Pomeranz was pulled in favor of Brandon Workman with Aaron Judge coming up and two outs in the bottom half of the seventh. Workman retired Judge, then went on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning as well. Returning from Pawtucket, Robby Scott got the call for the ninth. Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury both took him deep to start the inning, but Scott retired them in order after that.

Everyone in todays lineup reached base at least one time. With ten runs crossing the plate, you would think there’d be enough RBIs to go around but only three guys, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Rafael Devers, recorded at least two RBIs. The scoring began in the third, with Mookie Betts at the plate. Before that, a critical error committed by Todd Frazier allowed Eduardo Nunez to reach first, which loaded the bases. With the bases loaded, Mookie Betts singled to left, allowing Christian Vazquez to score from third, and Jackie Bradley Jr. to score from second. The next man up was Andrew Benintendi, and he took Luis Severino deep to shallow right, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 lead.

From being down 2-0 to taking a 5-2 lead, all thanks to Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi. Benny Biceps didn’t stop there, though. Moving forward to the fifth, Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts started the inning with a single and double. This paved way for Benintendi to take Severino deep AGAIN for another three-run home run.

Later in the inning, with one out, Rafael Devers lined a double to center field, scoring Mitch Moreland from third and Xander Bogaerts from first. With the lead inflating to 10-3, things were kind of on cruise control for the Red Sox after their half of the fifth.

Since the start of August, Andrew Benintendi is slashing an outstanding .484/.540/.968 if I did the math right. He also has four home runs and 11 RBIs this month.  If he keeps up this pace, he’ll for sure win AL Rookie of the Month.

Today is Sunday, the Red Sox are 4.5 games up on the Yankees, and Chris Sale is pitching later tonight. That’s a pretty positive outlook right there.

66 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: JBJ and Andrew Benintendi both go deep as #RedSox win fifth straight.

The Red Sox have not lost a game since Sunday, which was the last time Drew Pomeranz made a start. On Saturday night, Pomeranz put together another solid performance against an AL Central team. After a leadoff home run, Pomeranz did not allow anything, scattering seven hits and a walk over 6.1 IP while striking out eight. There were times where it looked like the White Sox could score a few, but Pomeranz got out of everything until the seventh, when Blaine Boyer came in with one out in the inning. Boyer finished the inning with a double play, then faced the minimum in the eighth with the help of Andrew Benintendi and Brock Holt. With a three run lead in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel entered the game and was absolutely electric.

So, he hit a guy, did this, struck out two, and got the save, his 26th of the season. Back to Pomeranz, he got his eleventh win, lowered his ERA to 3.36, and looks like a legit number two guy in this rotation.

The lineup only produced five hits on Saturday, but that’s all it takes sometimes to beat bad teams like the White Sox. Old friend James Shields was on the bump for the ChiSox, and he was not all that bad. Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. both hit two-run home runs in the first two innings, giving the Red Sox a 4-0 lead and all they needed to secure the win.

Unfortunately, the Yankees won last night so the division lead remains at three. Still, five straight wins is great, and Doug Fister will look to finish the week undefeated against the White Sox today. I’ll be at Fenway, so I’m excited for it.

62 down, ? to go. 

 

RECAP: Eduardo Nunez, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon play key roles for #RedSox in 9-8 win in extras.

In a game that took just under five hours to complete, the newest addition to the Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez, drove in the winning run. Eduardo Rodriguez made his third start since coming off the disabled list, and he struggled to say the least. The pitch count was an issue, but ERod was surprisingly limiting the damage despite that. It wasn’t until the fourth when the Royals scored four times, including a cheap three-run home run off the bat of Lorenzo Cain. With ERod’s pitch count around 100 after pitching just four innings, the Red Sox bullpen would have to be relied on heavily. Fernando Abad and Blaine Boyer both gave up two runs, but that was all the Royals got the rest of the game. Robby Scott, Heath Hembree, Craig Kimbrel, and Matt Barnes combined to pitch five scoreless innings while scattering four hits and striking out five Royals in the process. Since coming back off the DL, Eduardo Rodriguez has an ERA of 6.75 and a WHIP of 1.91. Could that and David Price’s health lead to Dave Dombrowski acquiring a middle of the rotation type of starter? Perhaps. Jaime Garcia just got traded to the Yankees, but Lance Lynn is a viable option as well. Personally, I’d prefer a proven veteran reliever whose asking price isn’t too steep. On paper, the Red Sox bullpen has been great, but I find it hard to trust them in big games, that’s why I want the reliever.

Anyway, Trevor Cahill did not do much to outpitch ERod, so the Red Sox were in the game despite his struggles. As the title says, Christian Vazquez came up huge yesterday, and he drove in the first run of the game for the Red Sox in the second, scoring Jackie Bradley from third on an RBI triple. Eduardo Nunez had a big day as well, as he hit his first of two home runs in the third, a solo shot which gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead at that point. After the Royals took a 4-2 lead in their half of the fourth, that was matched with a Christian Vazquez RBI double and a Rafael Devers RBI single, tying the game. Nunez went yard again in the fifth, and Mitch Moreland drove in JBJ on a fielding error as well. In the sixth, the Royals tacked on another four runs, giving them a 8-6 lead. Jackie Bradley drove in Andrew Benintendi on a sac-fly in the seventh, and Mookie Betts tied the game in the eighth, driving in Brock Holt from third on another sac-fly. Since Holt pinch ran for Vazquez, who nearly hit for the cycle, Sandy Leon entered the game behind the plate, and he led off the tenth with a double. After Devers struck out, the Royals put on Mookie Betts intentionally with one out. A wild pitch with Nunez up allowed Leon to reach third, and he scored the game-winning run in an unusual way.

In his first two games with the Red Sox, Eduardo Nunez has done a lot. Not too many fans were thrilled when this trade happened earlier last week, but it seems to be paying off now.

Drew Pomeranz pitches today, as the Red Sox have the chance to win their first series since the All-Star break.

57 down, ? to go. 

RECAP Chris Sale pitches a gem in marathon game as #RedSox lose 4-1.

That was as frustrating as it gets for the Red Sox. Chris Sale was nearly untouchable, and they can only score one run for him. Luis Severino was great too, so it’s unfortunate that this pitcher’s duel could not go the Red Sox’ way. In the 7.2 innings he pitched, Sale scattered five baserunners while striking out thirteen holding the Yankees to nothing in the runs column. With those thirteen K’s, it marks the thirteenth time the lefty has started a game and struck out at least ten batters. It was surprising to see Sale come out for the eighth, and he ended up throwing a season-high 118 pitches. It would have been fun seeing him face Aaron Judge again, but I can understand going to Craig Kimbrel for the four out save in that situation. Kimbrel finished the eighth and had to wait what I though was a decent amount of time before going out to face the Yankees in the ninth. The first batter he faced, Matt Holliday, took him deep, tying the game and handing Craig Kimbrel his first blown save at Fenway Park this season. After Kimbrel, the bullpen was great from the tenth through the thirteenth, as Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Blaine Boyer, and Brandon Workman combined to hurl four no-hit, scoreless innings. There was some controversey in the eleventh, though. When Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out to Mitch Moreland with Matt Holliday at first, Holliday retreated and slid into first base instead of going to second. This move seemingly broke up any chance of a double play since Holliday made it impossible for Moreland to cover first. You would figure interference would be called and there would be a double play, but after a long review, it was not called. Luckily, it had no impact on the result of the game so it is not that relevant. Fernando Abad started the fourteenth, did nothing useful, and Doug Fister came in to finish the inning. It looked like Fister was about to have a great relief outing, but Fister gave up the go-ahead run in the sixteenth, and to more after that. I think the only guy available in the bullpen was Matt Barnes, who pitched two innings yesterday, so leaving Fister in was the only option. To summarize all this, Chris Sale was awesome, the bullpen did their job, and things got away late. Rick Porcello and David Price pitch tomorrow, so there should be an opportunity to win both games.

The Red Sox bats went a combined 8-53 tonight, including two walks. They left a combined 21 runners on base, and left much to be desired. Luis Severino was a little more vulnerable than Sale, but the still put together a great performance. The lone run scored came in the third, when Mitch Moreland drove in Mookie Betts on a sac fly, which gave them the lead at the time. Base runners were a plenty and the Red Sox failed to provide more run support for their ace, kind of like they did in April. Andrew Benintendi got three hits, that’s the headline from this one from the offensive side of things. Todd Frazier would be pretty nice right about now…

Double-header tomorrow, will probably be ugly since they basically played two games today. I’ll have one blog covering the whole thing.

51 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: Chris Sale owns the city of Toronto; #RedSox guarantee series win with 7-1 victory.

Remember back in April, when the Red Sox made their first trip to Toronto and Chris Sale threw eight shutout innings? Well, it looks like Toronto has a Chris Sale problem, because Sale has yet to give up a single run north of the border this season. On Saturday, Sale pitched seven innings, allowed seven Blue Jays to reach base, and struck out eleven, yet another double-digit strikeout game. If you look at his numbers when he has pitched in Toronto this season, then you’ll see that he has struck out 24 over 15 IP, a resounding 14.4 K/9. There is no doubt that he is the ace, the guy who would get the ball for an important playoff game, not the guy who is getting paid $31 million dollars per year and can’t handle the media here. When Sale left after the seventh, there was really no pressure on the bullpen since they had a comfortable lead to work with. Blaine Boyer pitched a scoreless eighth, and Robby Scott gave up a solo home run while finishing things up in the ninth.

Offensively, scoring seven runs in back-to-back games looks pretty good. Hanley Ramirez, Chris Young, Sandy Leon, and Deven Marrero all had multi-hit games. Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the first runs of the game, scoring Mookie Betts and Hanley on an RBI double in the first. Dustin Pedroia drove in another pair of runs in the second on another double, scoring Deven Marrero and Mookie Betts this time around. In the fifth, Mookie Betts scored again on a Xander Bogaerts sac fly. Bogaerts would also drive in the last runs of the game in the ninth, scoring Sandy Leon and Deven Marrero on an RBI single. Looking at the box score, it’s funny to see how Mookie Betts scored three runs without recording a single hit, which does not happen often. It looks like Hanley Ramirez has awoken from his first half slumber. On June 21st, Hanley was batting .239, after today’s game, it’s all the way up to .252. He hit 22 home runs after the All-Star break last season, and it looks like something similar to that could happen this season.

Three wins in a row, season-best eleven games over .500, could end the first half of the season on a hot streak. Drew Pomeranz makes the start for the finale tomorrow, then it’s on to Arlington to face the Rangers.

46 down, ? to go.