RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez’s best start of the season is key for #RedSox in 5-0 win.

Over the past few weeks, any starter not named Chris Sale or Drew Pomeranz has pretty much been auditioning for a third or fourth spot in a postseason rotation. Today, Eduardo Rodriguez got his chance to shine, and shine he did. The lefty pitched into the eighth inning, scattering three hits, two walks, and six strikeouts over that span. That first hit didn’t come until the fourth, and it didn’t even matter thanks to Andrew Benintendi’s arm.

At no point did it appear that ERod was struggling. However, I wasn’t too excited about him coming back out for the eighth inning with 101 pitches. If he’s gonna be the third guy in the ALDS rotation, then you probably don’t want him throwing 112 pitches in a game the Red Sox had a grip on. He exited with two outs in the inning, and Carson Smith came on to finish it with a strikeout. To wrap things up, Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side along with two walks. Nothing to complain about in the pitching department.

Similar to last night, the Red Sox scored five runs, four of those came against another inexperienced starting pitcher. Robert Stephenson, 24, made his tenth start for the Reds, and like Sal Ramano, he got off to a pretty good start. The Red Sox scored once in the first on a Brock Holt sac fly, but couldn’t score again until the sixth, where they scored three times. That rally was also started by Holt, who reached on an E1 to start the inning. Andrew Benintendi walked, and that set up a great situation for Mitch Moreland. 0 for his last 19, Mitchy Four Bags blasted his 20th long ball of the season over the center field wall, giving his team a 4-0 lead.

That was a thing of beauty, but the scoring didn’t stop there. With two outs and two on in the seventh, Andrew Benintendi put the exclamation point on a great day with an RBI single that scored Xander Bogaerts from second. That RBI gives Benintendi a grand total of 88 on the year. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Ted Williams holds the Red Sox rookie for RBIs with 145. Obviously, he’s not going to get there, but ending your first full year in the bigs with 90+ RBIs is still pretty nice.

Doug Fister gets the ball tomorrow afternoon, and he’ll have to be much better than he was against the Orioles if he wants to start in the ALDS.

90 down, 5 to go. 

Also, second straight year with 90+ wins calls for this:

RECAP: Porcello pitches into eighth, Betts drives in two as #RedSox take series from Rays with 3-1 win.

After another marathon of a game Friday night/Saturday morning, the Red Sox took care of the Rays in a much more timely fashion tonight. Rick Porcello got the start in this one, and he must have been happy going in because he has been great at Tropicana Field this season. Prior to today’s game, Porcello owned a 1.93 ERA in two starts at The Trop. This trend continued on Saturday, as the righty only gave up one earned run over 7.1 innings pitched. The Rays could only manage to get on base six times over that span, while also striking out three times. He easily could have finished the eighth, but John Farrell pulled him after he walked Mallex Smith. So, with this being the last time he’ll pitch in Tampa Bay this season, let’s look at the numbers. 21.1 IP, 15 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, and 17 K’s. That translates to a 1.71 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 1.26 BB/9, and 7.17 K/9. Obviously, Porcello is not having a great season, but at least his performances against the Rays on the road can be seen as a bright spot.

The Red Sox bullpen was used heavily last night, so it was good to see Porcello go as deep as he did to give them some rest. The only relief pitchers that had to be used were Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Reed, who finished the eighth, struck out one, while Kimbrel, who pitched the ninth, struck out two on his way to his 33rd save of the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox bats did need to do much with the way Rick Porcello was dealing against the Rays. Alex Cobb was holding them in check for a good while, and the game could have gone a different way if Mookie Betts hadn’t gone deep to lead off the second, but he did, and it was his 22nd of the season. That was just the beginning for Mookie, who drove in his second RBI of the game in the sixth, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third on an RBI single. Later in the inning, with Cobb out of the game, Rafael Devers ripped a double to left, allowing Betts to score from second. That was all the scoring, but I just want to give a shout out to Brock Holt for this gem in the seventh. It’s been a tough year for Holt, but I still love him.

Eduardo Rodriguez and Jake Odorizzi square off tomorrow at 1:10, right when the Patriots will be playing. Perfect for those multiple televisions, unfortunate for those with only one.

85 down, 9 to go. 

RECAP: Chris Sale quietly strikes out eight as #RedSox pile on the runs en route to their fourth straight win.

Good morning, the Red Sox have won four consecutive games.

It’s the first football Sunday of this new season, so I’ll keep this light, and I think I can do a good job of that given how last night’s game went.

Chris Sale made his 29th start of 2017 on Saturday, and he didn’t have to pitch to the best of his abilities to get the win in this one. By the time he took the mound for the top of the second, he already had a three run lead, and by the time he came out for the third, he had an eight run lead to work with. He wasn’t great in the six innings he pitched, but he looked very good. No runs on six hits, a HBP, and a walk to go along with eight strikeouts. You may consider this a hot take, but Chris Sale is usually the star on the days he pitches and I honestly don’t think he was last night. That’s not a knock on him, in fact, I like that he was not put back out for the seventh, which could have easily happened back in June or July. Instead, he gets additional rest, after already receiving an extra day this past week. In the 29 starts Sale has made, he has gone at least six while allowing two runs or fewer 62% of the time. Similar to Friday;s game, the Red Sox bullpen was not put under any pressure given a nine run lead when Sale departed after six innings. Carson Smith, Heath Hembree, and Blaine Boyer combined to go for three scoreless innings of relief, with Smith being the only one to give up any hits.

Offensively, Matt Andriese stood no chance. Dustin Pedroia got the scoring started with a two-run home run, his sixth, over the monster in the first. Mitch Moreland drove in another run in the inning, and the onslaught continued into the second. Andrew Benintendi, Moreland, and Hanley Ramirez all drove in runs in the inning. Benintendi wrapped up the scoring in the third with an RBI single in the third. Eduardo Nunez, Xander Bogaerts, Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Moreland, and Rafael Devers all recorded multi-hit games. Unfortunately, Nunez had to leave the game in the second after getting a spike off the back while successfully stealing second. Surprisingly, Xander Bogaerts, his replacement, was borderline outstanding. Two hits on three at bats, two runs scored, and some great plays made defensively. Like Jerry Remy said, hopefully this performance Bogaerts was not prepared for will get him going.

With their 81st win of the season, the Red Sox have guaranteed that they will finish the season with a winning percentage north of .500 for the second straight season. Rick Porcello will look to rebound from his last start this afternoon, as the first place Red Sox look for the sweep over the Rays.

81 down, 11 to go. 

RECAP: Masahiro Tanaka outpitches Drew Pomeranz as #RedSox drop third game in series 5-1.

I don’t have many words to describe what I just watched. It wasn’t awful by any means, but at no point, did I find myself really getting in to and enjoying this game. That’s the way it was Thursday night too, and those games went about the exact same way. They lost 6-2 on Thursday, and they lost 5-1 today, so the same run differential. Eduardo Rodriguez was okay in the first game, and Drew Pomeranz would’ve been too if it were not for one mistake pitch to Matt Holliday. You could make the case that John Farrell should have removed Pomeranz before he faced Holliday in the sixth, but that was not the case. In the first five innings, the lefty managed to scatter six hits and one walk while surrendering just one run, a home run, and striking out four. Going into the sixth, Pomeranz’s pitch count was in a good place, so there was no problem there. A leadoff walk was not a great sign, then he allowed Chase Headley to reach on a single. This all made way for Matt Holliday, who launched a three-run shot over the left field wall to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Pomeranz would strikeout Greg Bird before getting lifted from the game with only one out in the inning. Brandon Workman would come into the game, end the bottom half of the sixth, then allow a run in the seventh before getting lifted in favor of Fernando Abad with one out in the inning. The seldom used Abad would end the inning on a pop out and a fly out, then we got to see Austin Maddox for the first time since July 16th, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Since he got hit with the loss, Pomeranz’s streak of eight straight winning decisions came to an end. Despite a solid month of August, Pomeranz’s ERA is right where it was at the beginning of the month at 3.36. It looks like the southpaw will make his next start Friday against the Rays, a team he has somewhat struggled against this season, so hopefully he can rebound in a positive way.

As the title reads, Masahiro Tanaka was great today against the Red Sox, as he usually is. In the seven innings they saw him, the Red Sox bats could only muster one run off the righty from Japan. That only run came in the sixth inning, when Eduardo Nunez scored from third on a wild pitch with Mookie Betts at the plate. So, not one member of the Red Sox drove in a run today, and only six recorded hits. Andrew Benintendi and Betts were the only ones to reach base more than once, and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tzu-Wei Lin both recorded hits in their respective returns to the big league club. The run production just has not been there since Thursday, scoring only seven runs in three games and going a combined 0-15 with Runners In Scoring Position. This problem could persist tomorrow, with the ace of the Yankees staff, Luis Severino, on the mound.

To counter Severino. Chris Sale will make the start for the Red Sox in a semi-important game. A win salvages the series with a split and gives the Red Sox a 4.5 game lead over those Yankees with no games left between the two. That game has a special start on ESPN, 7:35 instead of 8:05, should be a good one.

77 down, 18 to go. 

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.