Chris Sale Strikes out Eight over Seven Innings as #RedSox Get Swept by Rays

Exactly one month into the 2019 regular season, the Red Sox have yet to win a series at home following a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, marking their second consecutive defeat to the current leaders of the American League East.

Making his sixth start of the season in this series finale after not pitching in Tampa Bay last weekend was Chris Sale.

Working the first seven innings Sunday for the first time this year, the left-hander surrendered four runs, two of which were earned, on four hits and a season-high three walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

Similar to David Price’s outing the day prior, it was the top of the Rays lineup giving a Red Sox starter a difficult time yet again, this time with Yandy Diaz doubling to lead off the first and Daniel Robertson launching a one out, two-run homer over the Monster two batters later to give Tampa Bay the early advantage.

Entering Sunday, Robertson was just 12-for-71 at the plate to begin the season without a home run.

An inning later, Diaz got to Sale once more in a situation that could have been avoided had Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers fielded a ground ball off the bat of Willy Adames.

Instead, Adames reached safely, as did Guillermo Heredia, who drew a one out walk earlier in the second.

After striking out Christian Arroyo on three straight pitches for the second out of the frame, the Rays leadoff man ripped a line drive triple that had the chance to be caught by Jackie Bradley Jr. in center, but instead landed just out of the outfielder’s reach and two more Rays runs came around to score. 4-0.

Things were not looking all that great from there for the Red Sox, but from the beginning of the third inning on, Sale showed flashes of his 2018 self, retiring 12 of the final 16 hitters he faced to end his day on a more positive note.

Finishing with a final season-high pitch count of 111 (72 strikes), the Florida native topped out at 94.1 MPH with his four-seam fastball while averaging around 92 MPH with the pitch.

In terms of pitch variety, Sale relied heavily on his slider with Christian Vazquez catching him Sunday. According to Baseball Savant, he threw 52 sliders compared to 36 four-seamers while inducing six swings and misses with the heater.

Now sporting an 0-5 record on the season, Sale will look for his first win in his next time out, which should come against his former club in the Chicago White Sox next weekend.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen had the responsibility of keeping their team within striking distance over the final two innings of this one.

Marcus Walden got the call for the eighth, and he sat down the only three Rays hitters he faced in order while working in relief for the second straight day.

Heath Hembree, meanwhile, was responsible for the ninth, and he would wind up being charged with an unearned run due to Michael Chavis’ first real defensive miscue at second base.

This happened following an Avisail Garcia leadoff double, a Mike Zunino strikeout, and an intentional walking of Kevin Kiermaier.

With a potential double play in play, Guillermo Heredia grounded into a force out at second recorded by Chavis on a ball that was fielded by Xander Bogaerts at short.

However, when attempting to make the throw over to first, Chavis aired one out way over the head of Mitch Moreland, which allowed Garcia to easily score from second and make it a three-run game.

The Red Sox’ top prospect was charged with his first career fielding error as a result.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another familiar opponent in Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who allowed two earned runs in less than six innings in his last start against Boston on Easter.

Similar to that last outing, the former Pittsburgh Pirates hurler was dominant yet again to start this one off, holding Boston scoreless over the first five innings while sitting down 14 of the first 17 hitters he faced in this one.

It wasn’t until their half of the sixth when the Red Sox finally got on the board, and that came on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mitch Moreland to drive in Christian Vazquez, who led the inning off with a single, from third and make it a 4-1 contest.

In the eighth, the aforementioned Michael Chavis continued on with his power surge by mashing his third home run of the season, a one out, 441 foot shot to dead center off Glasnow to cut the Rays’ deficit down to two.

The Red Sox threatened again in the inning thanks to a Jackie Bradley Jr. two out double that put an end to Glasnow’s day, but were unable to score again.

The same can be said for the eighth and ninth as well, with Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo tossing a scoreless frame each to finish off the sweep for the Rays and another disappointing afternoon for the 2019 Red Sox.

Some notes from this 5-2 loss:

From FOX’s Mike Monaco, on the last seven home runs Michael Chavis has hit at Triple-A Pawtucket and the major league level:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

From the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato:

It’s been tough. the Red Sox currently stand at 11-17 and after this weekend are eight games back in the loss column for first place in the American League East.

Just when you think this team is about to go on a nice run and win a few games, they roll over and play like they been these past two days.

There are still 134 games remaining in the regular season. Still time to figure things out, but it doesn’t get any easier with the pesky Oakland Athletics coming into town for a three-game series to wrap up this homestand.

Losers of their last three after getting swept by the Blue Jays in Toronto over the weekend, the A’s took three out of four from Boston the last time these two clubs met earlier this month.

For the series opener, it will be a pitching matchup featuring right-hander Frankie Montas for Oakland and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez for the Red Sox.

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

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David Price Impresses with Six Quality Innings but #RedSox Manage Only One Run in Frustrating Loss to Rays

After rain postponed their initial series opener on Friday, the Red Sox officially welcomed the Tampa Bay Rays into town for the first time Saturday, and unlike last weekend, things did not get off to that great of a start.

Former Ray David Price made his fifth start of the season for Boston in this one, and he delivered yet another quality performance, which probably goes down as one of, if not the only bright spot for the Red Sox Saturday.

Working six full innings, the left-hander yielded two earned runs on four hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the evening.

Given the way things began with Rays leadoff man Yandy Diaz taking Price deep on the second pitch of the game in the first, it certainly looked as though it could have been much worse.

But, despite the home run and the five-pitch walk that followed it, the 33-year-old settled in nicely and retired the next eight Tampa Bay hitters he faced before running into more trouble in the fourth.

There, the top of the Rays order gave Price more fits, with Tommy Pham leading off the inning with a double and Daniel Robertson drawing a walk to put a pair of runners on with still three outs to get.

After needing six pitches to strike out Avisail Garcia, Rays backstop Mike Zunino would be the one to break this one open, as he ripped a line drive RBI double to left field on a 1-2 88 MPH changeup from Price to give his team a 2-0 lead.

The Rays would threaten again thanks to a Kevin Kiermaier RBI single moments later, loading the bases with just one out in the inning, but Price pulled through and kept them off the board by striking out Guillermo Heredia and getting Willy Adames to ground into an inning-ending force out at third base. Damage limited.

From the top of the fifth on, the Tennessee native ended his outing on a more positive note, sitting down five of the final six hitters he opposed to lower his ERA down to 3.60 on the season.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (57 strikes), Price turned to his changeup 32% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing nine swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

The recipient of the bad luck losing decision to fall to 1-2 on the year, Price’s next start should come against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field sometime next week.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was nearly perfect over the final three innings on Saturday to keep the Rays within striking distance. Brandon Workman recorded the first two outs of the seventh before walking two straight and making way for Marcus Walden, who retired the side in the inning while also getting the first two outs of the eighth.

Similar to Walden, Colten Brewer came to relieve Walden with one runner on and one out to get. He did just that, but did not come back out for another frame of work in the ninth.

That inning belonged to Matt Barnes, who needed just nine pitches to sit down the only three hitters he faced to keep it a one-run contest.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Rays right-hander Charlie Morton, who they got to for five runs last Saturday. This time around, it was a different story for both sides.

With JD Martinez a late scratch due to back spasms, the Red Sox were held to just one or fewer runs for the sixth time already this season.

Morton held them to just two hits while also walking four and hitting another over the first six innings of this one, but the Boston bats could not take advantage of any early run scoring opportunities.

It wasn’t until the eighth when the Sox finally got on the board, and that came when Mookie Betts led the inning off against new Rays reliever Diego Castillo with his fifth home run of the season. A 406 foot shot to center field to make it a 2-1 game.

Five batters and two outs later, with Jose Alvarado now pitching for Tampa Bay and the bases now loaded for Boston, Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate with the chance to be a hero.

Entering Saturday with a lifetime .300 batting average against Alvarado in 10 career at-bat’s, Bradley Jr. got the count in his favor twice at both 2-1 and 3-2, but came up swinging and missing on a 92 MPH cutter low and away to end the inning and any chance at a rally.

An inning later, a Christian Vazquez leadoff single off righty Emilio Pagan gave a brief glimmer of hope with the tying run on base and the top of the Red Sox lineup due up, but a las, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Mitch Moreland all went down in order, capping off another disappointing defeat for the defending World Series champions.

Some notes from this loss:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

Since being activated from the injured list on April 4th, Steve Pearce is slashing .114/.184/143 with no home runs and one RBI so far this season.

Jackie Bradley Jr., meanwhile, currently has an OPS of .399.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to bounce back in the final game of this series on Sunday afternoon.

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow is slated to get the start for Tampa Bay, while Chris Sale will do the same for Boston.

Last time out on Easter, Glasnow limited the Red Sox to two runs in 5.1 innings pitched in a game the Rays would eventually drop.

Sale, on the other hand, has yet to receive the winning decision in any of his first five starts of the year. Even stranger, Red Sox are 0-5 in those games started by their ace.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.

David Price Strikes out 10 and Mitch Moreland Homers as #RedSox Finish off Sweep of Rays in Extras

After winning their first series of the season Saturday, the Red Sox went ahead and capped off their first series sweep of the year with a 4-3 extra innings win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Easter Sunday.

Getting the start against his former club in this one was David Price, fresh off his best start of the season in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles.

In what was his fourth outing of the year, the left-hander surrendered two runs, both earned, on five hits and two walks to go along with a season-high 10 strikeouts over five impressive innings of work on the afternoon.

Other than two walks allowed in the first, the only real trouble Price ran into came in Tampa Bay’s half of the third, when back-to-back singles to leadoff the frame resulted in the two first two runs of the day crossing the plate on a two-out, two-run double off the bat of Daniel Robertson.

Retiring seven of the last nine hitters he faced after that mishap, Price capped off his outing in style by recording his 10th and final punch out to put away the Rays in the fifth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 100 (64 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball a game-high 35 times on Saturday, inducing five swings and misses and topping out at 94.4 MPH with the pitch.

Unable to pick up his second winning decision of the season, Price’s next start should come against this same Rays club next weekend at Fenway Park.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final six of this 11 inning contest.

Brandon Workman and Colten Brewer, making his first appearance since Patriots’ Day, each worked a scoreless frame over the sixth and seventh to make way for Matt Barnes in the eighth with Boston up by a run.

Barnes, working for the third consecutive day, did just about exactly what he did on Saturday. That being, serve up the then game-tying home run to Tommy Pham, walk the next batter he faced, then strike out the final two Rays hitters he faced to at least keep the tie in tact.

From there, Marcus Walden impressed yet again, sitting down six of the seven hitters he faced while fanning two in a pair of scoreless innings. He also received some assistance from Rafael Devers over at third.

After the Red Sox jumped out to a 3-2 lead in their half of the 11th, Ryan Brasier, like Barnes, also came on to pitch for the third consecutive day and notched his sixth save of the season thanks to a 1-2-3 inning to finish off the sweep.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against former Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Tyler Glasnow for Tampa Bay, and he had it going on early.

Facing off against the Red Sox for just the second time in his young career, the 25-year-old Glasnow allowed just one run over his first five innings of work, and that came courtesy of a Mitch Moreland solo homer to lead off the fourth. Moreland’s seventh big fly of the season with no back problems present.

Fast forward to the sixth, with Glasnow seemingly in cruise control, and a one out single off the bat of Mookie Betts would surprisingly spell the end for the righty’s fine performance with a pitch count of just 76.

Maybe it was because Moreland was due up next for Boston, but a questionable decision from Kevin Cash and the Rays nonetheless.

Going with the lefty in Adam Kolarek out of the bullpen, Alex Cora countered that move by pinch-hitting Steve Pearce for Moreland.

Pearce, who also came in for Moreland due to back spasms on Saturday, drew a five pitch walk, which in turn resulted in another pitching change for Tampa Bay.

With Chaz Roe now in this contest, JD Martinez did the same as Pearce, drawing another five pitch walk to fill the bases for Xander Bogaerts.

Following a brief mound visit, Bogaerts’ eyes must have lit up on the first pitch he saw from Roe, as he ripped a 92 MPH fastball to right center, driving in Betts and giving his team a short-lived one-run advantage.

After being held quiet over the next four innings, a Rafael Devers leadoff single in the 11th eventually got the Boston bats going again with left=handed reliever Jose Alvarado on the mound for Tampa Bay for the second straight day.

That Devers walk, followed up by Michael Chavis drawing a five-pitch walk, set the stage for Jackie Bradley Jr. in a crucial spot.

Having been held hitless up to that point, the Red Sox outfielder perhaps came through with the most important plate appearance of the afternoon without even reaching base by dropping a beautifully executed sacrifice bunt down the third base line, advancing Devers and Chavis into scoring position with one out.

Christian Vazquez, already having himself a pretty solid weekend, was due up next for Boston, and he too came up clutch without reaching base, as he belted a 375 foot sac fly to center field, deep enough to drive in the go-ahead run in the form of Devers from third and give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In his first career big league start, Red Sox top prospect Michael Chavis went 0-for-4 with one walk while playing second base.

JD Martinez extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first inning single on Sunday.

Before this weekend, Rays reliever Jose Alvarado had yet to yield a run in his first 10 appearances of the season. He has now given up the game-winning run in two straight outings.

The Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins all won on Sunday. A clean Boston sweep.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head back to Boston to kick off a 10-game homestand at Fenway Park beginning on Monday, starting with a four-game set against the Detroit Tigers.

Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to make his second home start for Boston, while fellow southpaw Matthew Boyd will do the same for Detroit.

In his career against the Tigers, Sale owns a 2.94 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 32 games (22 starts) and 168.1 total innings pitched.

Boyd, meanwhile, has only made one previous career start at Fenway Park, an outing in which he allowed two runs in 6.1 innings pitched last season.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for four straight wins.

 

 

 

Andrew Benintendi Launches First Career Grand Slam as #RedSox Top Rays for First Series Win of 2019

It took nearly four weeks, but for the first time this season, the Red Sox have won a series following a narrow 6-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday night. This is also the first time this season that the team has won two consecutive road games.

Making his fourth start of the season at a place he usually finds success in for this one was Rick Porcello.

Entering the day with a lifetime 2.86 ERA at Tropicana Field, the right-hander took the first steps in turning around what has been an ugly start to his walk year, as he held Tampa Bay to just two runs on six hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with five strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work.

That lone free pass, as well as two double plays being turned, may serve as a few important indicators that Porcello is on the road to improvement.

Working with a lead from the second inning on, one of the six hits given up by the 30-year-old hurler traveled 413 feet off the bat of Avisail Garcia in the bottom half of the second to plate the Rays’ first run of the evening on a solo home run.

Later in the fourth, a pair of triples from Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe in that order gave Tampa Bay their second run and make it a 5-2 game.

Retiring six of the next nine hitters he faced after that, Porcello’s night would come to a close following a two out single from Lowe in the sixth. With Avisail Garcia, with one home run under his best already, due up next for the Rays, Alex Cora made the switch for Heath Hembree out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91 (60 strikes), Porcello turned to his two-seam fastball nearly 40% of the time he was on the mound on Saturday while also topping out at 93.6 MPH with his four-seamer.

Still without a winning decision on the season despite better results, Porcello’s next start should come against the Detroit Tigers, his former club, sometime next week.

In relief of Porcello, Hembree entered with one out to get in the sixth and did just that before surrendering a leadoff triple to the speedy Kevin Kiermaier in the seventh.

After recording the first out of the inning, Hembree made way for the recently called up Bobby Poyner, who walked the first man he faced in Rays pinch-hitter Guillermo Heredia and gave up a two-run triple to the next hitter he faced in Austin Meadows.

That cut Boston’s lead down to one run and in came Marcus Walden.

Recently called up himself, Walden had himself another impressive showing, fanning the only two Rays hitters he faced to send this contest to the eighth with his team still in the lead.

In that eighth inning, Matt Barnes, working two days in a row, allowed Tampa Bay to come all the way back from an initial five run deficit by serving up a leadoff, then game-tying homer to Yandy Diaz.

Presumably upset at himself, Barnes retired the next three hitters faced all via the punch out.

Thanks to a mini rally from the Red Sox bats in their half of the ninth, Ryan Brasier had the opportunity to come on for the save with a one run lead to protect and Christian Vazquez now behind the dish after Sandy Leon was pinch hit for.

Like Barnes, Brasier was also in his second straight game, and it showed, as he allowed the go-ahead run to reach base on a leadoff single from Robertson and a two out knock from Tommy Pham.

With Willy Adames at the plate for Tampa Bay with the chance to be a hero, Christian Vazquez made the play of the game, picking off Pham with a rocket of a throw to Steve Pearce covering first. And that’s how this 6-5 win came to a close.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against ex-Astros right-hander Charlie Morton for Tampa Bay, who had only made four career starts against Boston prior to Saturday.

Able to get the scoring started right away in the second, a JD Martinez leadoff single and a pair of walks drawn by Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. filled the bases for the Red Sox with just one out in the inning.

Following a mound visit and a Tzu-Wei Lin strikeout, Sandy Leon, in his second game back with the big league club, was able to drive in the Red Sox’ first run of the night by taking a 86 MPH cutter from Morton off his foot. That made it a 1-0 game and reloaded the bases for the top of the order.

Capitalizing on that miscue from Morton right away, Andrew Benintendi swung at the very first pitch he saw in his second at bat against the Rays hurler and wound up blasting his first career grand slam to unload the bases.

That put the Red Sox up 5-0 early on, but they were kept quiet over the next few hours, unable to score again until the ninth.

Going into that final frame having given away that aforementioned five-run advantage, Jackie Bradley Jr. of all people would begin things by ripping a leadoff single to right field off Rays reliever Jose Alvarado and representing the go-ahead run.

After another Tzu-Wei Lin punch out, the nine spot was due up next for the Red Sox, and instead of Sandy Leon, in came top prospect Michael Chavis to make his major league debut in a decently crucial spot against the left-handed Alvarado.

Called up by the Red Sox on Friday, Chavis took advantage of the unfamiliar matchup and laced a 1-2 double over the head of Kevin Kiermaier in center field, advancing Bradley Jr. to third in the process of picking up the first hit of his young career.

According to Statcast, that two-bagger from Chavis had an exit velocity of 109 MPH and traveled a distance of 401 feet. Not bad for your first AB in the bigs.

chavis.jpg

With the lineup turning over and the go-ahead run now just 90 feet away, Benintendi came through with another huge plate appearance, this time driving in Bradley Jr. on a sacrifice fly to left to collect his fifth and final RBI of the night. That put the Red Sox up 6-5, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

Mitch Moreland, who started at first, departed from this game in the third inning due to back spasms. According to Moreland himself though, he should be able to play Sunday.

From @SoxNotes, regarding JD Martinez’s 10-game hitting streak:

From the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, regarding Chavis’ ninth inning double:

From the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, quoting Alex Cora talking about Chavis:

Already with their first series win of 2019 in hand, the Red Sox will for the sweep over the Rays on Easter Sunday.

Left-hander David Price will get the start against his former club, while former Pirates hurler Tyler Glasnow is slated to take the mound on the opposite side.

Michael Chavis is also due to make his first career big league start in this series finale, although it is not clear where he will be playing.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 2:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the sweep.

 

Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland Come Through with Back-To-Back Late Home Runs as #RedSox Take Opener from Rays

Entering Friday losers of three of their last four, the Red Sox traveled down to St. Petersburg for a three-game weekend set against the team currently sitting atop the American League East in the 14-5 Tampa Bay Rays.

Facing off against the Rays for the first time this season, Eduardo Rodriguez made his fourth career start at Tropicana Field to kick off Easter weekend.

Pitching into the sixth inning, the left-hander had an up and down kind of night, surrendering four runs (three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with six strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work.

After allowing the first two batters he faced in the first to reach base, Rodriguez proceeded to retire the next four Rays hitters he faced before giving up a second inning solo home run to second baseman Brandon Lowe, which gave Tampa Bay the early lead.

An inning later, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base would come back to bite Rodriguez this time around, as Yandy Diaz tallied the Rays’ second run of the night on a two out RBI triple off the bat of ex-White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia to make it a 2-0 contest.

Later in the fifth, a superb 5-4-3 inning-ending double play started by Rafael Devers kept the Rays off the scoreboard this time, but things got sour for a bit in the next frame.

Following a four-run rally from the Red Sox bats over the course of the fifth and sixth innings, Rodriguez had the opportunity to notch his second consecutive quality start, but could not see the inning through.

Ironically enough, Devers, with a flashy defensive play under his belt already, ended up being the main reason the Rays scored in the sixth to begin with, as his fielding error on a Avisail Garcia ground ball could have resulted in another double play, but instead allowed both Austin Meadows and Garcia to reach base safely with no outs.

Capitalizing on that mistake right away, the very next hitter Rodriguez faced after that Devers mishap, Daniel Robertson, ripped a two-run double down the left field line, plating both runners while simultaneously tying this contest up at four runs a piece and putting an end to Rodriguez’s evening.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 94 (57 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his cutter and four-seam fastball a combined 68% of the time on Friday and induced 10 total swings and misses while doing so.

Still with just one winning decision this season, Rodriguez’s next start should come sometime next week at home against the Detroit Tigers.

In relief of Rodriguez, Brandon Workman came into this one fresh off his worst outing of the year on Tuesday, and was tasked with stranding the potential go-ahead run at first with two outs to get.

Needing just two pitches in the sixth alone, Workman managed to get Rays shortstop Willy Adames to ground into another inning-ending 6-4-3 double play before tossing a scoreless seventh inning with the help of a Christian Vazquez caught stealing as well.

From there, Matt Barnes collected a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 eighth to make way for Ryan Brasier, who rebounded from a rough Tuesday night in the Bronx and picked up his fourth save of the year thanks to a scoreless ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rays opener Ryne Stanek to start things out on Friday, and it took a while for the bats to get going.

Going the first four innings without a single hit, a JD Martinez leadoff walk off southpaw Ryan Yarbrough in the fifth would turn out to be the catalyst of a three-run inning, with Rafael Devers driving in Boston’s first run of the night on a one out, 107 MPH RBI double.

Just a few pitches after that, Christian Vazquez would pull his team ahead for the time being by blasting his fourth home run of the season already to make it a 3-2 game. He hit three homers all of last year.

An inning later, after Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland led things off with a pair of singles off Wilmer Font, Martinez was back at it again, this time collecting his 11th RBI of the season on a line drive single to center that scored the reigning AL MVP from third. 4-2.

That two-run lead would not last long though, and it wasn’t until the eighth when the Red Sox finally put this game to bed.

Almost exactly like the top half of the sixth, except with Rays reliever Diego Castillo on the mound this time, Betts and Moreland were responsible for Boston’s final two runs of the night, with each mashing crucial solo homers to give the Red Sox a 6-4 lead, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Betts, with his fourth homer of the year, hit the ball to the deepest part of the yard at 424 feet to dead center. That could be exactly what he needs to get on a roll after a slow start to his 2019.  You could tell hitting that meant something to him as he was rounding the bases.

Moreland, meanwhile, now leads the Red Sox with six home runs on the season, this one coming off the bat at 101 MPH with a projected distance of 411 feet to right center.

Entering Friday, Castillo had yet to surrender a home run in 11 innings of relief for Tampa Bat.

One note from this win:

JD Martinez has reached base in all 20 games the Red Sox have played in this season. He is currently batting .352 (19/54) with two home runs and four RBI over the course of his current nine-game hitting streak.

Next up for the Red Sox, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball in the middle game of this series against right-hander Charlie Morton.

Currently sporting an unsightly 11.32 ERA through three starts this season, I believe it’s safe to say that Saturday is an extremely important day for the right-hander.

In 15 career starts at the Trop, Porcello owns a 2.86 ERA and .244 batting average against over 97.2 total innings.

Starting for the Rays, as I mentioned earlier, will be ex-Astros hurler Charlie Morton, who in his first season in Tampa Bay, has given up just five earned runs in his first four starts and 20.2 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.18.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 6:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for two in a row.

 

#RedSox Manager Alex Cora on Pitching Prospect Durbin Feltman: “He’s a Work in Progress, but He’ll Be a Good One”

Durbin Feltman retired the only three hitters he faced in order on Thursday night in a perfect ninth inning of work to secure a 8-0 Red Sox win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

In three relief appearances and 2.2 total innings of work this spring, the 21-year-old right-hander has yet to surrender a run on one hit and three walks to go along with five strikeouts.

Those numbers may look good on paper, but according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Feltman still has some things to work on.

He’s still learning,” Cora said Thursday night. “Delivery-wise there are a few things Dana (LeVangie) has noticed. He’s a work in progress, but he’ll be a good one.”

The Red Sox selected Feltman out of Texas Christian University with the 100th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft.

In his first professional season, Feltman posted a miniscule 1.93 ERA over 22 relief appearances and 23.1 innings pitched between Single-A affiliates Lowell, Greenville, and Salem. He also recorded 36 strikeouts over that span while holding opponents to a .207 batting average against.

Compared to just the five walks he allowed in the minors last year, the free passes have been somewhat of an issue this spring, as the Texas native is averaging more than 12 walks per nine innings in 2019, albeit a small sample size.

Still, Feltman, who is ranked as Boston’s fifth-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has received a fair share of attention at Fenway South.

Given the likelihood he starts his first full professional season in Double-A Portland, it would not be all that surprising if we see the hard-throwing righty up with the big league club at some point later in the year if he continues to impress out of the bullpen in the minors.

The potential is certainly there, but one thing the Red Sox don’t want to do is rush Feltman’s development. The same could also be said for the club’s top pitching prospect in Darwinzon Hernandez.

Both Feltman and Hernandez have opened eyes this spring, but that does not necessarily mean they are ready to contribute on the biggest stage right now.

Granted, with the way the Red Sox bullpen is shaping out, the two could be needed sooner rather than later, but I rather see how they fare without being rushed up to Boston.

Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits, One RBI as #RedSox Cruise past Rays in Shutout Fashion

The Red Sox improved to 10-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Thursday evening following an 8-0 shutout victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in their first and only contest under the lights at JetBlue Park this spring.

Making his fifth appearance (fourth start) of the spring in this one was Hector Velazquez.

Working the first two innings, the hybrid right-hander held Tampa Bay scoreless while scattering just two hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts.

In total, Velazquez faced eight Rays hitters and retired six of them to lower his Grapefruit League ERA to 7.84.

From the top of the third inning on, Darwinzon Hernandez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Colten Brewer, Marcus Walden, and Durbin Feltman combined to toss seven frames of shutout ball on a pair of hits, six walks, and 12 punch outs on the night.

Hernandez, responsible for the third, tip-toed his way around three free passes and avoided any damage by getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground out to Dustin Pedroia to retire the side.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, picked up where he left off against the Twins on Monday by fanning three straight Rays in order in a sharp fourth inning of work.

And to wrap this win up, Feltman struck out one in a fairly simple 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against right-hander Hunter Wood to start things off.

Rafael Devers, batting third, was the offensive catalyst in this one, as his GIDP with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts on the corners in the first plated Boston’s first run of the night.

Fast forward to the third, and Devers was at it again, driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart on a hard-hit two-run triple to right field off Rays reliever Adam Kolarek.

One pitching change that saw ex-Athletics hurler Emilio Pagan take over later, JD Martinez made it a 4-0 game with a scorcher of an RBI double off the Fenway South Green Monster.

The two-time 2018 Silver Slugger Award winner would come around to score on a Joey Wendle fielding error off a ground ball from Brock Holt, who would score himself on a Dustin Pedroia RBI base knock. And just like that, it was 6-0 Boston.

Three innings later, back-to-back singles from Pedroia and Bradley Jr. in the sixth would result in Boston’s final two runs of the evening crossing the plate on a two-run double off the bat of prospect Ryan Fitzgerald to make it an 8-0 game, which would go on to be the final score in this one.

Some notes from this win:

In his first game since it was revealed that he would not be ready for Opening Day, Pedroia went 2/3 with his first RBI of the spring on Thursday.

Through 43 plate appearances this spring, Devers is slashing .395/.409/.605 with one home run, two doubles, and six RBI.

Brewer, who was responsible for the sixth, also struck out the side in order in his lone frame of relief.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to face the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium in the final installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

2019 Opening Day starter Chris Sale is set to toe the rubber for Boston, while right-hander Kyle Gibson will do the same for Minnesota.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Last Friday without meaningful baseball for the next seven months. That’s what I like to see.