Xander Bogaerts’ Two-Homer Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Get Swept by Rays to Extend Losing Streak to Four

The Red Sox were swept in a three-game series at Fenway Park for the first time this season on Thursday, as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 9-4 to mark their fourth consecutive loss overall.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston was Andrew Cashner, who came into this series’ finale fresh off his best outing in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the sixth inning this time around, the right-hander yielded a season-worst seven runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits and a season-high five walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and a runner at third following a Ji-Man Choi leadoff double, Matt Duffy reached first safely on an infield single, narrowly beating out the throw from Cashner to drive in Choi for the early lead.

In the second, Cashner put himself in a tough spot by allowing the first three Rays he faced in the frame to reach base on a pair of walks and an Eric Sogard single, which in turn resulted in three more Tampa Bay runs crossing the plate on a Choi bases-loaded walk, a wild pitch with Tommy Pham at the plate, and an RBI double off the bat of Pham that very well could have gone for two had it not been for Andrew Benintendi and Michael Chavis completing a nice relay to nab Choi at the plate.

To Cashner’s credit, he did settle in a bit by sitting down eight of the next 10 Rays hitters who came to the plate from the start of the third up until the sixth, but that is the point where things really started to fall apart.

That being the case because two-straight hits from Jesus Aguilar and Eric Sogard, as well as a four-pitch walk drawn by Mike Zuninno filled the bases for Tampa Bay once more, and Willy Adames nearly bailed Cashner out by grounding out to Xander Bogaerts at short, but since Bogaerts had to play the ball on the hop, only one out was recorded at second and Aguilar scored from third.

So, instead of escaping another tight spot with the help of an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play, Cashner’s disappointing evening came to a close with still one out to get in the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 110 (64 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied on his changeup nearly 41% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 96.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 44 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, Cashner has taken the loss in three of his four outings with Boston. Over that span, he has allowed 19 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.93, which is not ideal.

His next start should come against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

In relief of Cashner, Darwinzon Hernandez entered with runners on the corners and still one out to get in the sixth, and he allowed two more Rays runs to cross the plate on a wild pitch and a RBI double from Pham to officially close the book on Cashner’s night before retiring the side with a five-pitch punchout of Austin Meadows.

From there, Colten Brewer tossed a scoreless seventh before serving up a leadoff homer to Zunino in an otherwise clean eighth, while Heath Hembree did the same by serving up a leadoff solo shot to Meadows in the ninth.

Meadows’ 17th home run of the season put Boston in a 9-4 hole, or a hole they could not dig out of, in other words.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie left-hander Brendan McKay for the Rays, someone ranked as Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect who had never pitched at Fenway Park before Thursday.

Perhaps taking advantage of that unfamiliarity, Xander Bogaerts came to the plate with his team down by one run early and got that one-run lead right back by mashing a one-out, two-run homer 383 feet over the Green Monster to score Mookie Betts, as well as himself, to make it a 2-1 contest.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time taking McKay deep off a two-out, 2-0, 94 MPH for his 25th big fly of the year. A new career-high for the 26-year-old.

Bogaerts’ second blast of the evening cut Tampa Bay’s lead to just one run at 4-3, but a three-run rally of their own a half-inning later essentially put this one out of reach.

Still, that did not stop Mookie Betts, as the reigning AL MVP came through with a rare opposite field homer off of Rays reliever Oliver Drake with one out in the seventh.

Betts’ 19th of 2019 trimmed Boston’s deficit back down to three runs at 7-4, but as already mentioned, the Rays plated a run of their own in the eighth and ninth innings, and 9-4 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

There were three instances on Thursday where Andrew Benintendi led an inning off with a double. He did not score in any of those situations.

The Red Sox went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Thursday. They left seven men on base as team.

The Red Sox have been outscored 32-20 during their four-game losing streak.

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .516/.545/1.000 with three homers and nine RBI. He has multiple hits in five of those games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Having dropped four straight, the Red Sox now sit 10 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 3 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a four-game, three-day series against those Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw James Paxton will do the same for New York.

Both of these starters will be facing the same opponent on Friday as they did in their last time out.

Rodriguez picked up his 13th win of the year this past Saturday by holding the Yankees to three runs over 5 2/3 strong innings.

Paxton, on the other hand, got shellacked for seven runs on nine hits, four of which were homers, in a 10-5 loss this past Friday.

In his career at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez owns a lifetime 3.74 ERA and .240 batting average against over eight career starts and 45 2/3 total innings pitched.

Paxton’s first start as a Yankee against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium came back on April 16th, where he tossed eight shutout innings en route to the 8-0 win for New York.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to play with some urgency and put a stop to this skid.

 

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Rick Porcello Surrenders Six Runs in Less Than Six Innings as Red Sox Drop Third Straight in 8-5 Loss to Rays

After doing nothing as the trade deadline came and went earlier in the day, the Red Sox dropped their second straight to the Tampa Bay Rays and third straight overall in an 8-5 loss on Wednesday to fall to 59-50 on the season.

Making his 22nd start of the season and third against Tampa Bay for Boston was Rick Porcello, who came into the middle game of this three-game set fresh off his best outing in weeks in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the sixth inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered six runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The first of those six Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with one out and a runner at second following a Ji-Man Choi double to lead off the contest, Travis d’Arnaud got his team on the board with a line-drive RBI single to center. Two monitors in the Red Sox dugout were totaled by Porcello as a result of that run crossing the plate.

An inning later, the first pitch out of Porcello’s hand went for a home run, as Kevin Kiermaier punished a 90 MPH four-seam fastball on the inner half of the plate to make it a 2-0 game.

Porcello nearly escaped the second without yielding any more damage, but a two-out, broken-bat single from Willy Adames and seven pitch-walk drawn by Choi resulted in more trouble for the New Jersey native with Austin Meadows also sending the first pitch he saw, a 91 MPH heater at the top of the zone, 393 feet into the right field seats.

Once more in the sixth, Porcello was again just one out away from tossing his first 1-2-2 inning of the night, but served up his third big fly of the night, this one a solo shot off the bat of Adames.

That put the Rays up 6-2, and that would be how Porcello’s disappointing outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (70 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball nearly 28% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing and miss with the pitch. He also topped out at 92 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch he threw 26 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 9-8 while inflating his ERA on the season up to 5.74, Porcello’s July went like this: five games started, 28 1/3 innings pitched, 43 hits, 25 earned runs, four walks, and 23 strikeouts. That’s good for an ERA of 7.94, which is far from ideal.

He’ll look to try and turn things around in his next time out, which should come against the Kansas City Royals on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, Darwinzon Hernandez entered with one out to get in the top of the sixth, and he got that out by fanning Meadows on five pitches immediately after giving up a two-out double to Choi.

From there, Heath Hembree allowed two more Rays runs to cross the plate on back-to-back, two-out RBI knocks from Kiermaier and Matt Duffy, and those runs would prove to be costly later on.

Left-hander Josh Taylor impressed by punching out a pair in a scoreless eighth to keep the deficit at three runs, while Marcus Walden struck out the side to do the same in the ninth, although it did not make much of a difference when all was said and done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was first matched up against Rays opener and right-hander Andrew Kittredge, who eventually made way for the left-handed Ryan Yarbrough in the bottom of the third after Jackie Bradley Jr. reached on a one-out fielding error committed by Nate Lowe and Mookie Betts moved him up to third on a single.

Rafael Devers got the scoring started for Boston by greeting the just-entered Yarbrough with a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Bradley Jr. to come in and score from third.

In the fourth, J.D. Martinez led things off by taking Yarbrough deep to right off an 0-2, 79 MPH curveball for his 23rd big fly of the season to cut the deficit down to three runs at 5-2.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh, after the Rays had added three runs to their lead in the top halves of the sixth and seventh, the Red Sox got all three of those runs back, and it started with a one-out solo shot off the bat of Michael Chavis. His 17th of the year made it an 8-3 game.

Consecutive two-out hits from Betts and Devers trimmed the Rays’ lead to four, with Devers collecting his second RBI of the night on a run-scoring, line-drive single to center.

Following a pitching change that saw Diego Castillo take over for Yarbrough, Xander Bogaerts and Martinez kept the line moving, as Martinez too picked up his second RBI by driving in Devers from third on a run-scoring, bloop single of his own.

That put runners at the corners in an 8-5 contest for Andrew Benintendi, representing the tying run.

Rays manager Kevin Cash responded by turning to the left-handed Colin Poche out of his bullpen, and I have to tip my cap to Poche, as he fanned Benintendi on five pitches to escape the jam in the seventh before getting each of Christian Vazquez, Chavis, and Bradley Jr. to whiff in order in the eighth as well.

Down to their final three outs in a three-run game in the bottom of the ninth, a Betts leadoff single and two-out walk drawn by Martinez off of Chaz Roe brought Benintendi to the plate in another crucial spot.

Having faced off against Roe four times before Wednesday, Benintendi fell behind in the count at 0-2, took a third-pitch ball outside, and struck out looking on a 1-2, 92 MPH two-seamer that was nearly in the same spot the first pitch was.

A rather anticlimactic way to end things, but that is how 8-5 would go on to be Wednesday’s final score. A night of frustration and missed opportunities.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Sam Travis, since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 15th: .317/.419/.690 with two homers and five RBI.

The Red Sox have lost three straight to fall 10 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 2 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Between the lack of activity ahead of the trade deadline and the results on the field, Wednesday was not an encouraging day for this club.

Right-hander Andrew Cashner will take to the hill for Boston in this series’ finale on Thursday, while rookie left-hander Brendan McKay will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Since joining Boston’s rotation earlier in the month, Cashner is 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA over his last three starts, all of which have come against AL East opponents.

That trend will continue on Thursday, as the 32-year-old will bring with him a lifetime 4.03 ERA and .266 batting average against over five career starts against the Rays.

McKay, meanwhile, entered the 2019 season ranked as Tampa Bay’s number-two prospect after being drafted fourth overall in the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of Louisville.

McKay is a two-way player, meaning he both pitches and DH’s.

Through his first four career starts, the 23-year-old is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.72 over a total of 19 1/3 innings pitched.

As a hitter, McKay is 0-for-4, with all four-at bats coming July 1st against the Baltimore Orioles.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to put an end to this skid.

Red Sox Stand Pat at Trade Deadline

The 4 PM EDT trading deadline has come and gone and the Red Sox did not make a single move, according to president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

Dombrowski went into further detail in front of reporters on Wednesday, explaining that, “If we were closer to first place, I would have been more open-minded,” meaning more premium prospects may have been up for grabs if the Red Sox were closer to the New York Yankees, as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith notes.

“We’re battling for a spot. … Realistically, you’re playing for a one-game wild card. I look at that a little bit differently,” Dombrowski added. “The club here needs to play better on a consistent basis.”

At 59-49 on the season, the Red Sox currently sit nine games behind the New York Yankees for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League wild card spot.

The expectation was for the Red Sox to add at least one reliever before the 4 PM deadline on Wednesday. Instead, they will be turning to internal options, such as Nathan Eovaldi and Darwinzon Hernnadez.

“If we play up to our capabilities, we can beat anyone.” That seemed to be the sentiment Dombrowski was echoing Wednesday.

The 2019 Red Sox are set. No reinforcements from the outside are coming. If this club is going to compete for another World Series title, everyone needs to step up. The rotation, the bullpen, even the lineup.

First pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN.

David Price Can’t Make It Through Five Innings as Red Sox Falter with Runners in Scoring Position in 6-5 Loss to Rays

After taking three out of four from the New York Yankees over the weekend and an off day on Monday, the Red Sox dropped their second straight on Tuesday, as they opened a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays with a 6-5 loss to fall back to 59-59 on the season.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston and fifth against Tampa Bay was David Price, who came into Tuesday fresh off allowing three runs over six quality innings in his last time out against this same Rays club.

Working into just the fifth inning this time around, the left-hander surrendered four runs, all of which were earned, on nine hits and two walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

The first of those four Rays tallies came in the top half of the third, when with two outs and a runner at second following a one-out double from Matt Duffy, Austin Meadows drove him in by ripping a 1-1, 92 MPH two-seam fastball from Price to right field for an RBI triple.

In the fifth, with his team up by two runs, the Tennessee native gave that lead up by first grooving a first-pitch, 90 MPH two-seamer to Travis d’Arnaud, who led the frame off by depositing said pitch 453 feet over everything in left field.

Just seven pitches and one out later, Avisail Garcia punished another first pitch from Price, this one a hanging, 89 MPH cutter that was sent 394 feet over the Red Sox bullpen.

That knotted things up at 3-3, and Price’s evening came to a close quickly thereafter with the last two Rays he faced both reaching with one out.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (61 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seamer more than 34% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing four swings and misses and topping out at 94.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while his ERA on the year jumped up to 3.86, Price’s July probably did not end the way he planned. In his final three outings of the month, the southpaw yielded 13 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 8.16.

He’ll look to right the ship in his next time out, which should come against the Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Price, Marcus Walden entered the fifth with runners at second and third and two outs to get, and he allowed that runner to score from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of newest Ray Eric Sogard before getting out of the inning.

From there, Walden came into the sixth with Boston now up 5-4, and got the first two outs before walking d’Arnaud on five pitches, which in turn led to Sox manager Alex Cora going with the left-handed Josh Taylor against the left-handed Meadows.

Unfortunately, that move did not pan out as expected, as Meadows ripped a single to right to advance d’Arnaud to second with still one out to get.

So, Colten Brewer got the next call, and he saw his side’s lead disappear by serving up a two-run double off the Green Monster to Garcia.

d’Arnuad and Meadows came around to score as a result of the crushing two-bagger, and that gave Tampa Bay a one-run lead at 6-5.

Darwinzon Hernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Matt Barnes combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief to keep the deficit at one, but the damage had already been done.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar foe in Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, who opposed Price the last time these two clubs met this past Wednesday.

Getting the scoring started right away in the first, Mitch Moreland came through with two outs and the bases loaded by lacing a two-run single off Morton to right field for an early 2-0 lead.

Fast forward to the third, and the middle part of the order delivered once more, this time with a red-hot Andrew Benintendi plating Rafael Devers from third on a one-out, RBI single that just got through the right side of the infield. 3-1.

In the fifth, after Tampa Bay had claimed a one-run lead of their own in their half of the fifth, Benintendi got that right back in the bottom half, and the way it happened was pretty spectacular.

That being the case because, with Devers at first and two outs in the inning, Rays manager Kevin Cash wanted to turn to lefty reliever Adam Kolarek with the left-handed Benintendi due up next to hit for Boston.

Morton, with a pitch count of 85, was clearly displeased with his manager’s decision as they argued in the visitor’s dugout.

While that was happening though, Benintendi didn’t waste any time and crushed his 11th homer of the season off the first pitch he saw from Kolarek, an 88 MPH sinker over the heart of the plate.

The Red Sox went up 5-4 on that 358-foot blast, but failed to score again the rest of the night.

Sure, they had their chances, like with runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh.

Again, Cash turned to left-hander Colin Poche with Benintendi due up, and it paid off in that instance.

Or in the eighth, when Devers came to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, his team trailing by one run and the bases loaded.

Up against righty Emilio Pagan, the young infielder swung for the fences on a 1-0, 97 MPH heater, came up empty-handed, and eventually flew out to left on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

Finally, in the ninth, back-to-back two-out singles from Benintendi and Sam Travis off Pagan gave the Sox one more shot in the form of Christian Vazquez.

Having faced Pagan three times before Tuesday, Vazquez worked the count in his favor at 2-1, but could only come away with a pop fly to the warning track in left off an 86 MPH sinker.

That was good for the final out of the ninth, and that is how this one ended with a final score of 6-5.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday. They left 11 men on base as team.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

Over his last seven games, Andrew Benintendi is slashing: .500/.531/.900 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

Since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on July 15th, Sam Travis is slashing .360/.407/.720 with two homers and five RBI.

Well, that was the final game before the 4 PM EDT trade deadline on Tuesday afternoon. As things stand right now, the Red Sox sit 1 1/2 games back of the Rays for second place in the American League East and 1 1/2 games back of the second American League Wild Card spot.

Despite dropping their last two games, I still think it’s safe to say that the Sox will be buyers at the deadline. Whether that means major or moderate upgrades are coming has yet to be determined, but it will probably be more moderate ones.

Tuesday night’s loss also proved that this Red Sox bullpen could definitely use some reinforcements. It’s up to president of baseball operations of Dave Dombrowski whether to go for the premium relievers such as Edwin Diaz or Shane Greene, or the cheaper options such as Andrew Chafin or Daniel Hudson.

Anyway, the Red Sox will be hosting the Rays Wednesday night regardless.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Andrew Kittredge will open for Tampa Bay before left-hander Ryan Yarbrough takes over.

Porcello recently ended a stretch of four straight outings with four or more runs given up in his last time out against the Yankees, where he allowed just three runs over six quality innings of work.

In two starts against the Rays this season, the New Jersey native has surrendered a total of six runs over 11 2/3 innings of work. The Red Sox are 1-1 in those games.

Yarbrough, meanwhile, has both started and been used after the opener for Tampa Bay this year.

Through 12 appearances as a “reliever,” the 27-year-old is 7-1 with an ERA of 3.64 and batting average against of .218 over 47 innings pitched.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

David Price Allows Three Runs over Six Innings as Red Sox Drop Series Finale to Rays Under Protest

After just hanging on to take the middle game of their three-game set on Tuesday night, the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were engaged in another one-run contest in the series’ finale on Wednesday. The only difference this time around being that it was Boston, not Tampa Bay, that fell by a final score of 3-2 under protest to drop back to 56-47 on the season.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston and fourth against his former club was David Price, who saw his streak of five straight outings with at least five innings pitched and two or fewer earned runs given up come to an end in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles.

Tossing six full innings in this one, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned, on four hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first of these three Rays runs came across in the bottom half of the fourth, when after maintaining a no-hitter up until that point, Price served up a leadoff home run to outfielder Tommy Pham off a 1-1, 83 MPH changeup to cut the Sox’ lead in half at 2-1.

An inning later, three straight hits, with the last two going for RBI, from Michael Brosseau, Joey Wendle, and Guillermo Heredia to lead off the fifth gave Tampa Bay their first lead of the day at 3-2. A wild pitch was mixed in there as well.

It appeared as though Price’s then-solid start was on the brink of blowing up, but fortunately for Boston, the Tennessee native buckled down, got out of the fifth with an inning-ending double play, and sat down the side in order in the sixth, the point in which his day came to a close on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (63 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball nearly 35% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 94.9 MPH with the pitch He also topped out at 93.7 MPH with his four-seamer, a pitch thrown 28 times while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately falling to 7-4 while raising his ERA on the season from 3.61 to 3.66, Price’s 20th start of the year should come against this same Rays club once again next Tuesday.

In relief of Price, Heath Hembree came on for the bottom of the seventh and got the first two outs of the frame, but not before allowing a pair of Rays to reach on a one-out double and intentional walk of Ji-Man Choi, which in turn led to Colten Brewer coming on to face Travis d’Arnaud.

Brewer proceeded to walk d’Arnaud on six pitches to fill the bases for a dangerous Pham, but won that battle by getting the outfielder to ground out to Rafael Devers at third.

The bottom half of the eighth inning is where things got a bit sticky, and that was due to what transpired in the top half of the frame, which I’ll explain later.

Regardless of that, left-hander Josh Taylor had to wait nearly 10 minutes until this contest was ready to resume, and with it now under protest, worked his way around a one-out walk in an otheriwise clean frame of relief to keep his side within the one run they trailed by.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays right-hander and two-time All-Star Charlie Morton, someone who entered the finale on Wednesday with a league-best 2.90 ERA on the season.

Starting the scoring in the third inning for Boston, a Brock Holt leadoff single and Mookie Betts two-out double brought Rafael Devers to the plate with runners at second and third.

On the third pitch he saw from Morton, a 2-0, 80 MPH curveball, Devers snuck a two-run single to left field with the Rays infield playing in, allowing both Holt and Betts to easily score to give the Red Sox their first lead of the afternoon at 2-0.

Other than that though, Morton dominated the rest of the way, as he retired 14 of the final 15 Red Sox hitters he faced after giving up that single to Devers.

Heading into the eighth trailing by one run, the Boston bats were greeted by Rays left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek to begin the inning.

Sam Travis, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley Jr., popped up to first for the first out of the frame, and that led to Rays manager Kevin Cash making the call to his bullpen for right-hander Chaz Roe with Betts due up next for Boston.

The only thing was, instead of making a conventional change, Cash put Kolarek in as the first baseman, thus removing Choi from the game.

Betts, too, flied out to left for the second out, so Cash went back out to bring Kolarek back in to pitch against the left-handed Devers, which in turn led to Nate Lowe replacing Roe at first.

What ensued after that was somewhat head-scratching, as Sox manager Alex Cora argued that since Kolarek took the spot of Austin Meadows in Tampa Bay’s lineup, the Rays should then have to forefiet the designated hitter. Essentially, the Rays could have had 10 players in a nine-man lineup.

I’m not the most fit to explain this, so here are some tweets from WEEI’s Rob Bradford to clarify:

Either way, all that came out of this was that the game was protested by Cora and Kolarek was able to remain in the game as the pitcher. He got Devers to ground out to first of all places for the final out of the inning after a 20-minute delay. Fun times!

Finally, in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Andrew Benintendi all went down in order against right-hander Emilio Pagan, and 3-2 would wind up being Wednesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss, which is still under protest:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Rafael Devers’ July thus far: .321/.382/.704 with eight home runs and 29 RBI.

J.D. Martinez has multiple hits in four of his last five games.

So, the Red Sox finish their six-game road trip with a 3-3 record and have won two of their first three games as part of this pivotal 14-game stretch against the Rays and New York Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, the Red Sox will welcome the American League East leaders to Fenway Park for the first time this season to kick off a four-game weekend series on Thursday night.

Right-hander Rick Porcello will get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow righty Masahiro Tanaka will do the same for New York.

Last time these two hurlers matched up against each other, their teams combined for 30 total runs in the opening game of the London Series back on June 29th. Porcello and Tanaka themselves combined to record just three total outs.

In his career against New York, Porcello owns a lifetime 3.68 ERA and .250 batting average against over 24 total starts and 146 2/3 innings pitched.

Tanaka, meanwhile, has posted a career 4.82 ERA and .257 batting average against in 19 previous starts against the Red Sox.

Since tossing that seven-inning shutout against the Minnesota Twins on June 27th, Porcello has yielded five, six, six, four, and six runs in each of his last five outings. That’s good for an ERA of 10.57. Not ideal.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to get back to 10 games over .500.

 

 

Christian Vazquez Comes Through with Go-Ahead, Pinch-Hit Home Run as Red Sox Hold on to Take Series from Rays and Improve to 10 Games over .500 for First Time This Season

After kicking off the most important stretch of their season with a 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, the Red Sox narrowly escaped with their second consecutive victory on Tuesday, taking the series from their divisional foes by a final score of 5-4 to improve to 10 games over .500 on the year at 56-46.

Making his 21st start of the season and second against Tampa Bay for Boston was Chris Sale, who came into Tuesday fresh off his best outing in quite some time with six scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday.

Tossing six more strong innings this time around, the left-hander surrendered just two earned runs on four hits and three walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night.

Both of those two Rays tallies came in their half of the third, when with two outs and Mike Zunino at first following a hard-fought nine-pitch walk, Sale got up 0-2 against his next opponent in Travis d’Arnaud, but could not sneak a third-pitch, 82 MPH slider past the ex-Met, and he deposited it 370 feet to left field to make it a 2-2 game at the time.

Other than that one blip, Sale stranded runners at first and third in the fourth with a five-pitch punchout of Willy Adames, stranded Tommy Pham at second following a two-out double, in the fifth, and managed to convince Sox manager Alex Cora to let him come back out for the sixth.

There, the Florida native fanned Michael Brosseau for the second out of the frame with a runner at first, and it looked as though Cora was about to turn to his bullpen.

Already with a pitch count north of the century mark, Sale told his manager that he needed just three more pitches to complete the inning. And fortunately for Boston, he delivered on that promise, as he got Guillermo Heredia to line out to short on the second pitch of the at-bat, thus retiring the side and ending his evening on a positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 116 (75 strikes) to set a new season-high, the 30-year-old hurler turned to both his four-seam fastball and slider nearly 83% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing three swings and misses with the four-seamer and 10 with the slider. He also topped out at 97.6 MPH and averaged 95 MPH with that heater while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately improving to 5-9 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.00 on the dot, Sale’s latest two starts in July certainly went better than his first two did. He’ll look to keep this recent run of success going in his next time out, which should come against the New York Yankees on Sunday.

In relief of Sale, Matt Barnes entered the seventh with a brand new one-run lead to protect, and he did just that by sitting down the only three Rays he faced in order.

Brandon Workman got the call for the eighth, and he, like Barnes, before him, came in with a new three-run lead to work with.

The 30-year-old got the job done by hurling a scoreless eighth, but when called upon once more for the ninth is where things got a bit sticky.

That being the case because Workman yielded a leadoff single to Matt Duffy, nearly induced a double-play off the bat of Joey Wendle, which instead went for just one out at second, and struck out Nate Lowe on four pitches.

All was looking fine there, but Workman proceeded to allow the next three hitters who came to the plate to reach base, with Adames drawing a seven-pitch walk, Ji-Man Choi ripping an RBI single through the middle part of the infield, and d’Arnaud taking another ball four to load the bases.

All of a sudden, Boston’s three-run cushion had been cut down to two, and in came Marcus Walden with still one out to get in the ninth.

Walden immediately walked Tommy Pham on four straight balls, allowing Adames to score from third to make it a one-run game.

It really looked like the Red Sox were about to pick up their 19th blown save of the season, but Walden did not allow that to happen, as he got Austin Meadows to sharply ground out to Christian Vazquez at first to secure the 5-4 win as well as his second save of 2019.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays right-hander Yonny Chirinos, someone who held them scoreless over eight quality innings back on June 7th.

Rafael Devers made sure history did not repeat itself on Tuesday though, as reached on a one-out, first-pitch single in the first and plated his team’s first run by scoring from third on a wild pitch from Chirinos with Andrew Benintendi at the plate.

In that same at-bat, with J.D. Martinez having advanced to second himself on that wild pitch, Benintendi laced an RBI single up the middle off a 3-2, 93 MPH sinker, driving in Martinez to make it a 2-0 contest early on.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh, after the Rays had knotted things up at two, and Cora turned to his bench with left-handed reliever Colin Poche in for Tampa Bay.

Batting in the place of Mitch Moreland, who went 0-for-2 in his return from the injured list Tuesday, Christian Vazquez came through with his side’s clutchest hit of the night, as he led off the seventh with a towering go-ahead, 403-foot solo shot for his 16th home run of the season to put the Sox ahead 3-2.

An inning later, Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and Martinez all reached with no outs to fill the bases for Benintendi against new Rays lefty Adam Kolarek.

On the second pitch he saw from Kolarek, Benintendi grounded into what should have been a crushing double-play, but instead went for just one out at first thanks to a defensive miscue from Brosseau at second.

Devers was able to score on the play as well, making it a 4-2 game.

A strikeout of Michael Chavis and intentional walk of Vazquez brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate, representing the final out of the inning.

In what should have been a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup, Bradley Jr. did not even see one competitive pitch, as he was immediately plunked by Kolarek to bring Bogaerts in from third.

That gave the Red Sox the 5-2 edge, and after a late scare from the Rays in their half of the ninth, 5-4 would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

From NESN’s Tom Caron:

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

J.D. Martinez’s last four games: .444 (8-for-18) with one home run, two doubles, and six RBI.

Rafael Devers’ last seven games: .323/.344/.774 with three homers and 11 RBI.

Through eight appearances this month, Matt Barnes has posted an ERA of 0.00 and batting average against of .105 over his last 5 2/3 innings of work.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll have the chance to go for the three-game sweep and surpass the Rays in the American League East standings on Wednesday afternoon.

Left-hander David Price is set to get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Charlie Morton will do the same for Tampa Bay.

Coming off his worst outing since that six-run blow up against the Texas Rangers in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles last Friday, Price brings a 3.61 ERA through 18 starts this season with him into Wednesday’s contest.

In 94 career appearances (92 starts) at Tropicana Field, the former Ray owns a lifetime 2.84 ERA and .221 batting average against over 628 1/3 total innings pitched.

Morton, meanwhile, has had a fantastic first season in Tampa Bay, pitching to the tune of a 2.61 ERA and an All-Star selection through his first 21 starts of 2019.

As it turns out though, the 25-year-old’s worst start of the year in terms of Game Score took place in his last time out against the New York Yankees on July 18th, where he surrendered five earned runs in less than six innings pitched and took the loss.

In six previous starts against the Red Sox, Morton is 4-1 with a 4.13 ERA and .246 batting average against over 32 2/3 total innings of work.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 12:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep.

Red Sox Activate Mitch Moreland from Injured List, Option Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket in Corresponding Move

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in the second of a three-game series on Tuesday, the Red Sox announced that first baseman Mitch Moreland had been returned from his rehab assignment and activated off the 10-day injured list.

In a corresponding move, Marco Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Moreland on the 25-man roster. The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday.

This move comes more than a month after Moreland was initially placed on the injured list due to a right quad strain back on June 8th. The 33-year-old also missed nearly two weeks of action right before that due to a lower back strain suffered on May 25th.

Through 47 games this season, Moreland is slashing .225/.316/.543 with 13 home runs and 34 RBI over 174 plate appearances. The veteran infielder led the Sox in homers up until June 7th.

On the other side of this move, Marco Hernandez was optioned down to the PawSox more than six weeks after making his long-awaited return to the majors.

This is in no way a demotion for the 26-year-old, as he posted a .339/.359/.500 slash line with a pair of home runs and seven runs driven in while providing steady defense around the infield in 27 games played with Boston.

With the possibility of rookie infielder Michael Chavis hitting the IL himself because of back spasms, it’s likely that Hernandez would be the next man up if that were the case.

For now though, Sam Travis, with two dingers in his last two starts, remains up with the big league club.

Here’s how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Chris Sale against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. Moreland is back in there, batting seventh and starting at first, while Chavis sits yet again.

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