On This Day in Red Sox History: Pedro Martinez Leads off With Immaculate Inning

On this day in 2002, Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez took the mound at Fenway Park for his eighth start of the season, this one coming against the 29-12 Seattle Mariners.

Entering that dreary and cold evening in Boston, Martinez owned a 4-0 record to go along with a 3.49 ERA and .616 OPS against through his first seven starts and 38 2/3 innings pitched of the ’02 campaign.

As indicated by their record, the Mariners were a pretty decent club up to this point in the 2002 season. They had just taken two out of three from Boston in Seattle the previous weekend and took the opener of the three-game set at Fenway the day before Pedro took the hill.

That said, Martinez dominated the M’s in the Sox’ lone win in the Emerald city, and he followed suit with another impressive outing in his third consecutive start against an American League West foe on that faithful Saturday.

What was even more splendid about this performance from Martinez was how he led it off: With an immaculate inning.

That’s right, by getting Ichiro Suzuki, Mark McLemore, and Ruben Sierra to all fan on three pitches each, the Dominican national became the 11th pitcher in American League history to record an immaculate frame. In other words, three batters faced, nine pitches thrown, and three punchouts. Not too shabby.

That set the tone for Martinez to best the Mariners once more, as he went on to surrender just one run over eight solid innings while scattering six hits and one HBP to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Improving to 6-0 on the year thanks to this start, Martinez went on to finish second in American League Cy Young voting and 20th in AL MVP voting in 2002.

Since Martinez accomplished the feat on this day 18 years ago, Clay Buccholz, Craig Kimbrel, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale have been the only Red Sox pitchers to also toss an immaculate inning, with Sale doing it on two separate occasions last season.

On This Day in Red Sox History: Nomar Garciaparra Crushes Three Home Runs, Two of Which Were Grand Slams, in Same Game

On this day in 1999, Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra had a performance for the ages in a Monday night game against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

Playing in front of just 21,660 fans at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark, the best position player on the 1999 Red Sox went 3-for-4 with three home runs, two of which were grand slams, and 10 runs driven in.

That first slam came right away in the bottom half of the first inning, when after being given an early one-run lead, Mariners starter Brett Hinchcliffe allowed the first three men he faced to reach base, putting up Garciaparra in a prime position.

On the third pitch he saw from Hinchcliffe, the 25-year-old Garciaparra deposited a 2-0 fastball into the visitor’s bullpen for his third home run of the season, this one being a grand slam to put his side up 4-1.

Fast forward to the third, after Brian Daubach had led things off against Hinchcliffe with a double up the middle, Garciaparra answered the call once more as he once again took the M’s right-hander deep to right field for a two-run blast which gave the Sox a 6-2 edge over Seattle.

And in the eighth, ‘Nomah’ put an exclamation point on his historic night by coming through with the bases loaded again, this time against Mariners reliever Eric Weaver.

Weaver and Garciaparra’s duel didn’t even last that long, as the 1997 American League Rookie of the Year punished the first pitch he saw from the right-hander and sent it well over the then-seatless Green Monster for his third and final home run of the night.

His third big fly, and second grand salami, resulted in the Red Sox jumping out to a 12-3 lead, which would be more than enough for Boston to secure the eventual 12-4 victory a half inning later.

“It was amazing,” Garciaparra told reporters after the game. “I’ve never hit three home runs in a game before – not in Little League, college, nowhere. I’m glad I waited until the big leagues to do it.”

By hitting two grand slams at Fenway Park, Garciaparra became the first to accomplish that feat at his home ballpark. His 10 RBI that night were also the most by a Red Sox player in a single game since 1975.

“When you’re swinging well, good things happen,” Garciaparra continued. “Today, things felt pretty good.”

The Red Sox improved to 17-14 on the season following the 12-4 victory over Seattle.

Garciaparra would go on to finish seventh in American League MVP voting that year after winning the batting title and slashing .357/.418/.603 with 27 home runs and 104 RBI over 135 games played.

Major League Baseball Suspends Remaining Spring Training Games, Delays Start of Regular Season by at Least Two Weeks Due to Coronavirus

In the midst of the concern surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball announced on Thursday that all remaining Cactus and Grapefruit League games have been cancelled and that the start of the 2020 regular season would be pushed back by at least two weeks.

“This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans,” the league said in a statement. “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our players, employees and fans. MLB will continue to undertake the precautions and best practices recommended by public health experts. We send our best wishes to all individuals and communities that have been impacted by coronavirus.”

With the MLS, NBA, and NHL are putting their seasons on hold within the last 24 hours, it was only a matter of time until Major League Baseball followed suit.

There had been discussions about potentially playing games in empty stadiums or at neutral locations that have yet to be stricken by the ever-spreading coronavirus, but postponing the start of the season seems to be the most optimal way to go here for all parties involved.

Two weeks from March 26th is April 9th, when the Red Sox are supposed to be opening up a four-game series against the Mariners in Seattle.

If April 9th is actually the new Opening Day, which appears unlikely at this point, those games would presumably not be played in Seattle given how hard the state of Washington has been hit during this pandemic.

That’s all tentative, though. For now, it looks like the Red Sox could still be hanging around the Fenway South facility in Fort Myers for the time being and still holding their own practices and workouts to remain in playing shape. That goes for the other 29 clubs as well, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered regarding all this, and when more information becomes available I’ll be sure to keep this updated. So stay tuned for that.

UPDATE: Minor League Baseball will also delay the start of their season, which was originally scheduled to begin on April 9th.

Red Sox Claim Right-Hander Phillips Valdez off Waivers From Mariners, Place Dustin Pedroia on 60-Day Injured List

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, the club announced Sunday. In order to make room for Valdez on Boston’s 40-man roster, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Valdez, 28, was claimed off waivers by Seattle back in November and designated for assignment on Friday.

The Dominican Republic native spent the 2019 campaign with the Texas Rangers organization, where he made his major-league debut in June and posted an ERA of 3.94 and xFIP of 4.64 over 11 relief appearances and 16 innings of work.

While in the minors in 2019, Valdez worked as both a starter and reliever, and owned an ERA of 4.92 over 26 outings (14 starts) for the Rangers’ Triple-A club in Nashville.

An original international signee of the Indians back in 2009, Valdez’s pitch mix includes a sinker, changeup, slider, and four-seam fastball, per Statcast.

The Red Sox will be Valdez’s sixth organization, as the righty rounds out Boston’s 40-man roster for the time being.

As for Pedroia, the 36-year-old veteran suffered a setback with his surgically-repaired left knee last month and has yet to report to big-league camp.

The move to put him on the 60-day injured list is probably more of a formality than anything at this point, but it is still not great nonetheless.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox should have 67 players at major-league camp once Valdez and outfielder Cesar Puello arrive. That clubhouse is going to be crowded.

 

JD Martinez Goes Yard Twice, Michael Chavis Drives in Five Runs as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Mariners for Fifth Straight Win

Don’t look now, but the Red Sox have won 11 of their last 13 games, as they extended their current winning streak to five on Sunday afternoon with an 11-2 Mother’s Day triumph over the Seattle Mariners to finish off the weekend sweep.

On what was more of a bullpen day for the Sox, it was Hector Velazquez making his sixth start of the season for Boston in this one.

Pitching in mostly unfavorable conditions at Fenway Park, the right-hander twirled five solid innings of work, limiting the M’s to just two runs on two hits and two walks to go along with three strikeouts on the day.

Right from the get go, it did not look as though Velazquez was going to go too deep into his outing, as Seattle led things off in the first by having runners on second and third without an out yet recorded.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, the Mexico native held the opposition to one run in the frame on an Edwin Encarnacion sacrifice fly before really settling in.

Retiring 10 of the next 11 he faced following that Encarnacion at-bat, Velazquez did not run into any more trouble up until the start of the fifth inning, when Omar Narvaez launched a leadoff homer to right field for Seattle’s second run of the afternoon.

Still, Velazquez showed the ability to bounce back by again sitting down the M’s 7-8-9 hitters in order to retire the side in the fifth and end his outing on a more positive note by being eligible for the winning decision, which he did eventually pick up.

Finishing with a final economical pitch count of 63 (37 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied on his sinker 30% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing zero swings and misses and getting three called strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he turned to 13 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Finally able to pick up that first W and improve to 1-2 on the year while lowering his ERA down to 3.95, the whereabouts on Velazquez’s next start are not yet known. I would expect him to make his next appearance out of the bullpen, though.

In relief of Velazquez, as has been the case regularly, Marcus Walden received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to begin the sixth inning.

Making his 14th appearance out of the ‘pen this season, the right-hander continued to impress with two more scoreless innings of relief on Sunday in addition to just one hit given up and three punch outs.

That made way for Josh Smith, who worked his way around a single and a fielding error in the eighth before shutting things down with a clean ninth to secure the 11-2 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, who picked up the win against the Sox in his second start of the year back on March 28th.

This time around, the Boston bats had a much better time of figuring out the Seattle southpaw, and the scoring got kicked off right away in the first inning.

Already trailing by a run, JD Martinez erased that deficit very quickly with a two out, 384 foot solo shot off of Gonzales to put the Red Sox on the board.

Three batters later, after Xander Bogaerts reached on a five-pitch walk and Rafael Devers advanced him to third on a line drive single, Michael Chavis broke out of an 0-for-19 slump by driving in Bogaerts on an RBI line drive single that should have been caught by Mariners rookie second baseman Shed Long.

That was followed up by another defensive miscue on Seattle’s behalf, with Rafael Devers coming in from third on a passed ball with Christian Vazquez at the plate. And just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-1 lead.

An inning later, more two trouble for the Mariners led to more scoring for the Red Sox, this time with Andrew Benintendi scoring all the way from first on a Mookie Betts pop up that again should have been caught by right fielder Jay Bruce. Instead, Bruce never really had control of the ball, dropped it, and in came Benintendi on the fielding error. 4-1.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Chavis was set up in a prime RBI spot again thanks to Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers reaching base with two outs against Mariners reliever Parker Markel.

With both runners in scoring position, the Red Sox rookie infielder snuck a single through the right side of the infield, plating Bogaerts and Devers to give his team the 6-2 advantage.

Two innings later, three straight walks drawn by Betts, Martinez, and Bogaerts off righty Dan Altavilla put the Red Sox in a spot to put this one out of reach, and they did just that with a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Devers and a two-run single from Chavis to make it a 9-2 game.

For Chavis, those two runs marked his fourth and fifth RBI of the day, setting a new-career high for a single game. Quite a way to break out of an offensive slump.

And in the eighth, just like how he started this one off, JD Martinez put the exclamation point on his team’s fifth straight win by depositing his second big fly of the afternoon over the Green Monster to plate both Mookie Betts as well as himself.

That put the Red Sox ahead 11-2, which would go on to be the final score in this series finale. Sweep completed.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 16-6 in their last 22 games.

With yet another three-hit performance on Sunday, Rafael Devers is slashing .426/.462/.638 with two home runs and 13 RBI over 11 games this month.

Two from Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s an off day on Monday before welcoming the Colorado Rockies into town for a quick, two-game interleague series on Tuesday.

The first of those two will feature a starting pitching matchup between left-hander Kyle Freeland for Colorado and fellow southpaw Chris Sale for Boston.

Coming off eight innings of one run ball in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles, Sale has posted a 1.73 ERA, .165 batting average against, and 14.54 K/9 over his last four starts. The Red Sox are unbeaten in the lefty’s last two outings.

Freeland, meanwhile, has never pitched at Fenway Park, nor against the Red Sox, as this is just his third season in the majors.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

 

Eight-Run Third Inning Lifts #RedSox to 9-5 Win over Mariners for Fourth Consecutive Victory

After finally getting over the .500 hump on Friday, the Red Sox took their fourth straight contest on Saturday afternoon, improving to 21-19 with a 9-5 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Making his eighth start of the season for Boston in this one was Rick Porcello, who entred Saturday unbeaten in his last four outings.

Pitching into the seventh inning on Saturday, Porcello extended that run, as he surrendered four runs, all earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts on the day.

All four of those Mariners runs and all five of those hits came around to score in the first, with Porcello getting downright bombarded, really.

Back-to-back RBI doubles from Dan Vogelbach and Domingo Santana, followed by a two-run shot off the bat of veteran slugger Jay Bruce put Porcello in a fairly deep hole early, but the righty turned things around.

In fact, from the beginning of the second all the way to the two out point in the top half of the seventh, Porcello did not yield a single hit, as he retired 17 of the final 19 Seattle hitters he faced.

A two out walk of Shed Long in that seventh inning would wind up being how the New Jersey native’s up and down afternoon came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (76 strikes), Porcello relied on his four-seam fastball 38% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, as he induced six swings and misses and topped out at 92.5 MPH with the pitch.

Improving to 3-3 on the year, Porcello will look to extend his unbeaten run in his next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park next weekend.

In relief of Porcello, Brandon Workman came on with a five-run lead to protect and one out to get with a runner on in the seventh.

Making his 20th appearance of the season, the righty worked his way around walking the first hitter he faced by getting JP Crawford to ground out to first and retire the side.

From there, Ryan Brasier needed just 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 eighth frame of work before Colten Brewer served up a solo home run to Omar Narvaez in the ninth in an otherwise clean inning, thus securing the 9-5 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran right-hander Felix Hernandez for Seattle, and for the second time in less than 24 hours, a Mariners starting pitcher was charged with seven runs.

The scoring for Boston opened in the second, when already faced with an early four-run deficit, Mitch Moreland put the Red Sox on the board with his 12th home run of the year and second of the series, a 384 foot solo shot to right field. 4-1 Mariners.

Just an inning later, as they seem to be making a habit of doing lately, the Sox bats broke out for eight runs, and it all started with Mookie Betts drawing a one out walk off of Hernandez.

Following consecutive singles from JD Martinez and Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers chipped in with RBI base hits of their own, driving in the first three hitters to reach base in the third to tie this thing up at four runs a piece.

That tie would not last long, however. Not with Michael Chavis drawing another walk to reload the bases and end the day for Hernandez after only recording seven outs.

Enter ex-Red Sox lefty Reonis Elias for Seattle, who was greeted immediately by a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single up the middle to plate Bogaerts and Devers and put the Red Sox ahead for the first time.

A few moments after that commotion, Sandy Leon, manning the ninth spot in Boston’s lineup, essentially delivered the finishing blow in this one, taking Elias deep over the Monster for a three-run dinger.

Leon’s first big fly of the season, registering at a nice 369 feet and 95.5 MPH off the bat, put the Sox ahead 9-4, and they would not have to look back in this eventual four-run victory.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox drew 11 walks on Saturday, with each starter one through nine accounting for at least one. According to @RedSoxStats on Twitter, that’s the first time that’s happened in the majors since 2010.

Felix Hernandez became the sixth-youngest and 36th overall pitcher in major league history to record 2,500 career strikeouts.

With another three-hit performance on Saturday, Rafael Devers has lifted his on-base percentage up to .402, currently second best on the team behind only Mookie Betts.

12 of Mitch Moreland’s 27 hits this season have gone for home runs. His slugging percentage currently stands at .566 on the year.

The Red Sox are 15-6 in their last 21 games.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to complete the three-game sweep of the Mariners on Mother’s Day.

Hector Velazquez will be getting the ball for Boston, as announced by Sox manager Alex Cora postgame Saturday.

As a starter this season, the Mexico native owns a 4.40 ERA over five outings and 14.1 innings of work.

Opposite Velazquez will be Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales, who surrendered four runs over six innings in a winning effort against the Red Sox back on Opening Day.

First pitch Sunday afternoon is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Both clubs will be donning pink caps and pink ribbons on their uniforms to support the fight against breast cancer.

#RedSox Homer Three Times in 14-1 Rout over Mariners to Improve to 20-19 on Season

Coming off a 5-2 road trip and an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up an eight-game homestand on Friday with a blowout 14-1 win over the Seattle Mariners to improve their record to 20-19 and pass the .500 plateau for the first time this season.

Making his eighth start of the season for Boston was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the weekend fresh off a six strikeout performance in his last time out against the White Sox.

Tossing seven full innings in this one, the left-hander held the Mariners scoreless while scattering just five hits and one walk to go along with five K’s on the night.

Retiring nine of the first 10 he faced, Rodriguez faced more than four hitters in an inning just two times in the fourth and seventh, stranding the runners on base on both occasions to preserve the shutout effort.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 103 (68 strikes), the 26-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 39% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses with the pitch and topping out at 93.8 MPH with it. He also induced a team-high eight swinging strikes with his changeup, a pitch he threw 26 times.

The Red Sox are now 6-0 in Rodriguez’s last six starts. Over that span, the Venezuela native himself is 4-0 and owns an ERA of 2.78. They’ll look to make it seven wins in a row in Rodriguez’s next time out, which should come against the Houston Astros next week.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was not faced with much pressure, as their team’s lead stood at 10 runs by the time Tyler Thornburg took the mound to begin the eighth inning.

Having given up runs in his last four appearances out of the ‘pen before Friday, Thornburg saw his ERA inflate to 8.04 on an Edwin Encarnacion RBI double in his lone inning of relief.

And in the ninth, making his second appearance for the Sox since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket last Monday, Ryan Weber closed things out in a scoreless frame to secure the blowout victory.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mariners rookie left-hander Erik Swanson, and they really had their way with them beginning in the third inning.

After collectively going 0-for-their-first-7, a Jackie Bradley Jr. leadoff double in that third would turn out to be the catalyst for a four-run inning to get the scoring started in this one.

All coming with two outs, back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and JD Martinez plated Bradley Jr. and put runners on the corners for Mitch Moreland, who absolutely demolished a first pitch fastball and deposited 436 feet into the bleachers with an exit velocity of 109 MPH. 4-0, just like that.

An inning later, Rafael Devers joined in on the moon bomb party, leading off the fourth with a 397 foot shot off Swanson to pad the Red Sox’ lead even further.

In the fifth, the pair of corner infielders were at it again, with Moreland collecting his fourth RBI of the night on a line drive double to the opposite field to score Andrew Benintendi all the way from first and Devers driving in Moreland on an RBI single off new M’s reliever Mike Swarzak to make it a 7-0 contest.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Benintendi went yard for the second time in the last two games, as he took Swarzak 393 feet deep to right for his fifth big fly of the season. That ball had an exit velocity of over 106 MPH.

Another inning later, with lefty Zac Rosscup on for Seattle, Xander Bogaerts got on the board with his 24th ribbie of the year, plating Steve Pearce, who pinch-hit for Moreland the at-bat prior, on a screamer of a double to right field.

After advancing to third on a Rafael Devers groundout, Bogaerts scored his club’s 10th run on another RBI groundout from the slumping Michael Chavis. 10-0.

And in the eighth, even with this one already out of reach, the Red Sox went ahead and struck four more times off Mariners reliever and former Baltimore Oriole Mike Wright.

Benintendi, Betts, and Eduardo Nunez got the rally started by loading the bases without recording an out to begin the inning, and Xander Bogaerts drove in the reigning AL MVP by grounding into a force out at third to put runners at first and second for Devers.

On the very first pitch he saw from Wright, the 22-year-old capped off a stellar night at the plate in style, emptying the bases on a two out, two-run, 100 MPH double to right to give Boston the 14-1 advantage, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

In nine games this month, Rafael Devers has recorded multiple hits in six of them. He is currently batting .314 with an OPS of .826.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday afternoon with a starting pitching matchup featuring two veteran right-handers.

For Boston, it will be Rick Porcello making his eighth start of the season. Since April 20th, the 30-year-old is 4-0 over his last four starts with an ERA of 2.45.

Opposite Porcello will be the 33-year-old righty Felix Hernandez for Seattle, who owns a lifetime 4.09 ERA over nine career starts and 57.2 innings of work at Fenway Park.

It took more than six weeks to get there, but the Red Sox are back to playing winning baseball with a record of 20-19.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for their first four-game winning streak of the season.