RECAP: Chris Sale Strikes out 12 and Dominates as #RedSox Sweep Rangers for Ninth Straight Win.

Entering Wednesday night with a 3.5 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East, the Red Sox were in search of their ninth straight win and third consecutive series sweep since departing from the Bronx on July 1st. Having already manhandled the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals, the Texas Rangers were up next for Boston, and they did not back down in the series finale yesterday.

Making his 20th start of the season on Wednesday, which also happened to be the 200th start of his career, Chris Sale stayed red-hot in what turned out to be his 10th winning decision of the year.

Tossing seven scoreless innings last night, Sale held the Rangers to just six hits and one walk over that span while fanning 12, marking his fifth straight outing with at least 11 K’s.

Despite only having one frame in which he faced the minimum three batters, the lanky lefty’s dominance was fully on display against a team he has already shined against this season.

Besides the dozen punch-outs, what had to be most impressive about Sale’s night was the defensive clinic he put on in the sixth. After back-to-back hits from Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara put runners on second and third with no outs, the Florida native bounced back by striking out Adrian Beltre on five pitches, then got Rougned Odor to ground into an inning ending double play, started by none other than the ace himself to retire the side.

To cap off a stellar performance on the mound, Sale struck out the final three batters he faced in the seventh after giving up a leadoff infield single to Jurickson Profar.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 110 (80 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler went to both his four-seam fastball and deadly slider a combined 79% of the time on Wednesday, which in total, resulted in 19 swinging strikes. Out of 44 four-seamers thrown, Sale topped out at 99.7 MPH in the fifth inning, while also being responsible for seven of the 10 fastest thrown pitches all night.

As previously mentioned, Sale picked up his 10th victory of 2018 in what will be his final start before the All-Star Break. To wrap up his first half, let’s take a look at the numbers from Sale’s last seven outings via @SoxNotes:

I know I usually include this information in the end of the blog, but this was too good not to share now.

Given this recent stretch of dominance from the left hander, we’ll have to wait and see if Sale gets the nod for the American League in what would be his third straight start in the All-Star Game.

In relief of Sale, Heath Hembree got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to start the top half of the eighth.

After striking out Ronald Guzman to lead off the inning, Elvis Andrus ripped a single to right field off the South Carolina native, and thanks to a stolen base and a wild pitch, the Rangers shortstop was able to advance to third base.

He would come in to score on a Nomar Mazara RBI single, ending the shutout and putting additional pressure on Hembree, who would later depart following a walk to load the bases with two outs in the frame.

With their lead cut to three now, Alex Cora turned to closer Craig Kimbrel for the rare four-out save opportunity. Kimbrel, who had not appeared in a game since Sunday, did walk in the second run of the inning for Texas, but escaped any further damage by striking out Joey Gallo on six pitches to finally get out of the jam.

An inning later, Kimbrel, pitching in a situation I would assume he is much more comfortable in, tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out all three batters he faced to secure his 28th save and his teams 65th win of the season as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon for the Rangers. Colon, 45, surrendered four runs in seven innings against Boston in his only other start against them this season back on May 4th in Arlington.

Speaking of four runs, that’s exactly how many runs the Red Sox scored off of Colin last night, too.

Starting in the bottom half of the second, a leadoff single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts, followed by an awry pick-off attempt that allowed the shortstop to move up to second, put a runner in scoring position right away for the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup.

Two batters later, in what looked to be a routine pop fly from Eduardo Nunez, turned out to be so much more, as no one in the Rangers outfield could come up with the ball, which allowed Bogaerts to easily score from second, putting the first run of the night on the board.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth inning now, two straight one out hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi off of Colon put the Red Sox in a prime spot to tack on some more runs, and thanks to JD Martinez, that’s exactly what happened.

In a 2-0 hitter’s count, Martinez took a 88 MPH fastball from Colon and pulled it down the third base line into the left field corner, allowing both Betts and Benintendi to score for his 78th and 79th RBI of the season.

Two batters after that, Xander Bogaerts struck once again, as he drove in Martinez from second on a RBI triple, his second of the season in as many days. With the score at 4-0 in favor of the Red Sox at this point in Wednesday’s contest, they would not have to look back en route to another sweep.

Some notes from this win:

Another one from @SoxNotes: This is the first time since 1948 the Red Sox have had multiple winning streaks of 9+ games in a single season.

The last time Chris Sale did not record 10+ K in a start came on June 13th against the Orioles in Baltimore. Since then, his K/9 is an outrageous 15.6.

Sadly, Andrew Benintendi finished second behind only the Mariners’ Jean Segura for the final spot on the AL All-Star roster.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox will be looking for their TENTH straight win tonight, as they welcome in the below average Toronto Blue Jays into town for a four-game set.

Struggling in his last two starts against the Yankees and Royals, David Price will be in search of some retribution against a former club of his in the Blue Jays.

At 42-49, Toronto has certainly been an underwhelming team this season, so hopefully they will present the opportunity for Price to head into the All-Star Break on encouraging terms.

He’ll be matched up against fellow lefty and 2018 All-Star JA Happ for Toronto, who held the Red Sox to one run in the seven innings he pitched against them on April 24th.

First pitch of the first game of the last series before the All-Star Break is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

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RECAP: Two RBI Each from Benintendi, Bogaerts, Bradley Jr., and Moreland Lift #RedSox to Eighth Straight Victory.

On a night they were planning to rely heavily on their bullpen due to Brian Johnson hitting the DL on Sunday, the Red Sox looked to take the series against the Texas Rangers for their eighth straight win.

Although he was not expected to pitch very deep into this game, Hector Velazquez made his first start since April 14th on Tuesday night, and despite not being totally in command, he did a solid job to start this one out.

In three frames of work, the righty scattered one run while allowing two hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night. The only real mistake Velazquez committed came in the second, when Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor smacked a 92 MPH sinker 447 feet to right field to put his team on the board first.

Other than that, Velazquez got out of another jam in the same inning, and went on to work his away around a leadoff walk in a scoreless third. So, overall, not too shabby for the 29 year-old.

Since he was limited in what he could do, Velazquez finished with a pitch count of only 47 (32 strikes) and topped out at 93.6 MPH with his four-seam fastball.

Depending on the status of Steven Wright in this next turn around the Red Sox rotation, it will be interesting to see what the team does this coming Sunday, which would be Velazquez’s, or Wright’s, next scheduled start. But, given the fact it’s the last day before the All-Star break, it would not surprise me if we had another bullpen day on our hands. We’ll have to wait for that announcement.

Anyway, in relief of Velazquez, Jalen Beeks, who was recalled from Pawtucket Tuesday morning, made his first appearance with the Red Sox since his major league debut on June 7th.

In just over two innings of work, Beeks got hit fairly hard, as the Rangers tacked on their final three runs of the night with the Arkansas native on the mound. Despite that, it could have been worse for Beeks, had he not received some serious help from Mookie Betts in the fifth…

…and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth.

With one out in that sixth inning, Brandon Workman came on for Beeks with runners on second and third and a four run lead to work with.

On the fifth pitch he threw, noted slugger Joey Gallo nearly took a 93 MPH fastball from Workman and sent it out of the park. He did it 394 feet, but it was only good for a two-run double off the tallest part of the Monster in left field.

Cutting the lead to just two runs now, Workman recovered by retiring the next two batters he faced on six pitches to end the top half of the sixth.

From that point on, with the aid of an increased lead, the Red Sox bullpen was essentially money from the seventh until the last out of the ninth. Matt Barnes earned his third wining decision of the season thanks to a scoreless seventh, Joe Kelly held down the fort by tossing a scoreless eighth, and for the second straight night, the new guy, Ryan Brasier saw this win through with a scoreless final frame.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against 12-year veteran starter Yovani Gallardo for the Rangers, who entered Tuesday night with an unsightly 8.17 ERA on the season.

Six hits in the third inning is what got the scoring started for Boston, and surely enough, the five-run rally was initiated by back-to-back doubles from the 8-9 hitters in Blake Swihart and Jackie Bradley Jr. to put the first run on the board.

Two batters later, an Andrew Benintendi double to drive in Bradley from second started a string of four straight knocks for the Red Sox 2-5 hitters, including a JD Martinez single to advance Benintendi to third, a Mitch Moreland RBI single, and to cap it off, a 2 RBI triple off the bat of Xander Bogaerts to clear the bases and put Boston up 5-1.

Fast forward to the fifth now, with Gallardo still on the mound for Texas, and Mookie Betts led things off with his 25th double of the season to put a runner in scoring position right away. Following a JD Martinez walk two batters later, Mitch Moreland came through with his second RBI of the night on a sac fly hit far enough to center field to allow Betts to score from third and make it a 6-2 game.

In the next two innings, the Red Sox padded their lead, which did shrink a bit in the top half of the sixth, with a run in each frame.

First, in the bottom of the sixth, with the score at 6-4, it was the 8-9 hitters who showed up for Boston once again, as a two out Blake Swihart single set up Jackie Bradley Jr. with another RBI chance, and he capitalized on it with his second RBI double of the night.

An inning later, Andrew Benintendi padded on to his All-Star hopes by notching his 57th RBI of the season on another double to drive in Mookie Betts from first and wrapping up the scoring at 8-4.

Some notes from this win:

I failed to mention this earlier, but Blake Swihart started at catcher for only the second time this season. Given the fact that Christian Vazquez is out with a broken pinky finger for the forseeable future, Swihart will be getting a decent amount of playing time, and he impressed both behind the plate and with a bat in his hands last night.

The Red Sox are 35 games over .500 at 64-29.

From @SoxNotes: This is the Red Sox’ third win streak of 8+ games this season. It had been 40 years since they had as many as three win streaks of 8+ games in a single season (four in 1978).

In nine games this month, Andrew Benintendi has a 1.179 OPS. Today is the last day to vote for the final All-Star on each roster, so don’t forget to #VoteBenny before 4 PM on Wednesday.

redsox.com/vote

Going for their ninth consecutive victory and third straight sweep on Wednesday, it will be a pitching matchup featuring Bartolo Colon for Texas and Chris Sale for Boston.

At the age of 45, Colon owns a 4.65 ERA in 18 appearances with the Rangers in what is his 21st season in the big leagues.

He’ll be going up none other than Chris Sale, who in his last six starts, is putting up ridiculous numbers for the Red Sox en route to what could be his third straight start for the American League in this year’s All-Star Game.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Steve Pearce Hits First Homer in a Red Sox Uniform, JD Martinez Blasts 28th Home Run, and #RedSox Win Seventh Straight.

Coming off a road trip in which they went 7-2, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park last night to take on the Texas Rangers, who currently sit in last place in the American League West.

Looking for his team’s seventh straight win, Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for his 18th start of the season on Monday.

Pitching into the sixth inning of this one, the lefty held the Rangers scoreless while scattering three hits and three walks while recording five strikeouts in exactly 5.2 frames.

With another shutout performance, although it certainly was not his best, Rodriguez has now extended his scoreless innings streak to 13.2 going back to the final two innings of his start against the Yankees.

In his full two starts since then, both in July, the Venezuela native has a pitching line that looks like this: 2-0, 11.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 11 K.

It would be nice if he could consistently pitch deeper into games, but at this point, I think it’s time to accept that is not going to happen as frequently as the Red Sox would like. But when you toss back-to-back shutouts, it becomes less of an issue.

Finishing with a final high pitch count of 105 (68 strikes), Rodriguez departed from last night’s contest in the sixth after recording the first two outs of the inning and allowing two straight Rangers to reach. Out of those 105 pitches, the 25 year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 47% of the time, topping out at 95.5 MPH with it in the fourth inning. He’ll look to carry over this recent success in his last start before the All-Star Break, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen saw the shutout through to its completion. Heath Hembree got out of the jam in the sixth, Brandon Workman gave up a leadoff triple in the seventh but did not allow that potential run to cross the plate, Joe Kelly struck out two in the eighth, and making his Red Sox debut, Ryan Brasier tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to wrap up his new team’s 63rd win of the season. Brasier, who had not pitched in the majors since 2013, was actually responsible for eight of the 12 fastest thrown pitches all night, according to Statcast.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup needed just two swings of the bat to take care of Texas on Monday night.

The first came in the bottom half of the first inning. In his first at bat in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park, Steve Pearce took Rangers starter Mike Minor deep to left on a 3-2 fastball right down broadway. His fifth big fly of the season, a two-run shot, was also his first since being acquired by Boston on June 28th.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth now, with Jesse Chavez on the mound for the Rangers, and JD Martinez essentially put this game out of reach.

Following two singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi to leadoff the inning, Chavez tried to sneak a 2-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate and paid for it dearly, as Martinez scorched his 28th big fly of the season 374 feet into the Monster seats, making it a 5-0 game.

Some notes from this win:

The top four hitters in the Red Sox lineup last night, Betts, Benintendi, Martinez, and Pearce, went a combined 8/16 with five RBI and five runs scored. Other than that, Sandy Leon was the only other hitter to reach base.

Speaking of Andrew Benintendi, you should be voting for him right now. If I can’t convince you, maybe Brock Holt can.

redsox.com/vote

Looking for the series win along with their eighth straight win, Hector Velazquez gets the ball for the Red Sox tonight. Making his first start since April 14th against the Orioles, he’ll be matched up against fellow Mexico native Yovani Gallardo for Texas. First pitch of the middle game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Chris Sale K’s 12 as #RedSox Pick up Series Win Against Rangers.

Going into the series finale in Texas today, I was very much looking forward to the pitching matchup in this one. On one side, we had Chris Sale going for the Red Sox, and on the other, Doug Fister got the start for the Rangers. Both were teammates in Boston for the majority of last season and both work at a diligent and refreshing pace.

Between the two, it was Sale who had the better day on the mound, as the lefty tossed seven full innings of one run ball. Over that span, Sale scattered one run on four hits to go along with one walk, two HBP’s and a season-high 12 strikeouts. The Florida native set the tone right away with three strikeouts in the first to kick off his eighth start of 2018. After that, the only costly mistake Sale made came in his final frame of work, when he surrendered a leadoff home run to Ryan Rua in the seventh. Other than that, it was a phenomenal day for Sale. He had his full arsenal working, including his slider, which he was having issues with earlier in the season. At 3-1, it’s a shame Sale will miss the upcoming series in New York. Expect his next start to come Friday or Saturday in Toronto.

In relief of Sale, and with a five run lead to work with, the Red Sox bullpen was nearly perfect yet again. Matt Barnes got the call for the eighth inning, he needed just nine pitches to retire the Rangers side in order. Next up was Carson Smith, and he would be responsible for the last three innings of this one. He allowed a single with one out, but struck out the next two batters he faced to wrap things up for the Red Sox in Arlington.

On the other side of things, Mitch Moreland got the scoring started for the Red Sox early. A Mookie Betts leadoff single in the first would later lead to a run when Moreland took a 82 MPH changeup from Rangers starter Doug Fister and ripped it into the left field corner. That would score Betts from second, but the Red Sox outfielder would have to leave the game an inning later due to a right shoulder contusion.

Two innings later, after JD Martinez doubled to left field with one out, Xander Bogaerts drove in the second run of the day by sending another ground ball to left field that scored Martinez from second. Fister would settle down a little bit after that, but the bottom half of the Red Sox lineup got to the veteran righty in the sixth.

With two outs in the inning, Eduardo Nunez got the rally started on a simple single to left field. After Jackie Bradley Jr. took a 89 MPH fastball off his elbow to put runners on first and second, Sandy Leon came through with the first home run from a Red Sox catcher this season.

That 398 foot, three-run shot put the Red Sox up 5-0. JD Martinez would homer for the eighth time this season an inning later to put his team up by six runs, and that’s all the scoring they would need to pick up this series-clinching win.

Some notes from this one:

With 12 K’s on the day, Chris Sale is now fourth in baseball with 63 strikeouts on the season, trailing only Max Scherzer, Gerritt Cole, and Justin Verlander.

In 32 games played this season, JD Martinez has recorded multiple hits in 15 of them. He is in the midst of  a nine-game hitting streak after a two hit performance at the plate today.

Going into their first series of the season at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox and Yankees will own the best two records in the American League. With a one-game lead in the division, this series isn’t pivotal for the Red Sox and their season, but it does carry some importance. Drew Pomeranz will be first up on Tuesday, and he’ll be matched up against Yankees ace Luis Severino, who is coming off his first career complete game shutout. First pitch of the first game is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET on Tuesday. Should be a fun week.

RECAP: Craig Kimbrel Picks up 300th Career Save as #RedSox Win Tight One in Texas.

After dropping the first game of this series in a blowout, the Red Sox have rebounded quite nicely with two straight wins.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one, and he did not have the best of nights. In six innings pitched, the lefty only gave up four hits, but three of those were home runs. One of those being an absolute shot off the bat of Joey Gallo in the second inning. That ball was hit 466 feet.

Other than those three home runs, Rodriguez gave up one hit, a single off the bat of Robinson Chirinos in the fifth inning. He also walked two and fanned 10, so maybe this start would have gone much better for the native of Venezuela if he wasn’t pitching at Globe Life Park last night. Rodriguez finished with 107 pitches, 67 of which went for strikes, and he’ll look to rebound next time out against either the Yankees or Blue Jays, it hasn’t been announced yet.

Anyway, with the Red Sox tied up with the Rangers going into the bottom half of the seventh inning, it would be Heath Hembree getting the call to take over for Rodriguez. The righty kicked things off by striking out all three batters he faced in the inning on 14 pitches. Pretty good start, but the eighth inning was a different story for Hembree. He could only record one out while loading the bases on two hits and an intentional walk. After that walk to Nomar Mazara, it would be Joe Kelly who was given the responsibility to get out of the inning with the tie still intact.

Facing off against Joey Gallo, who had already homered twice up to that point, Kelly met fire with fire by striking out the Rangers slugger on five pitches. Next up for the Rangers was Jurickson Profar, and that had to be one of the more dramatic at bats of the season. It took Kelly all of 11 pitches, but he got Profar looking on a 98 MPH fastball to end the inning with the bases loaded.

After the Red Sox lineup tacked on the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, it would be none other than Craig Kimbrel for the bottom half of the inning, as he was looking to collect the 300th save of his career.

The flamethrower needed just 11 pitches and two strikeouts to retire the side in the ninth. Thus locking up the win for the Red Sox while also becoming the youngest reliever to reach 300 career saves and the fastest do so as well.

Offensively, it was a slow start for the Red Sox lineup, but it paid off in the end. Trailing by one run going into the fifth inning, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with an RBI single that ricocheted off the second base bag and scored Christian Vazquez from third.

An inning later, after the Rangers had gone up by three runs, Mitch Moreland pulled the Red Sox a little bit closer in a ballpark he is very familiar with. On a 1-1 fastball from Rangers starter Cole Hamels, Moreland, making his first start of the series, launched a 368 foot two-run shot that barely got over the wall in right field to pull the Red Sox within one run.

Another inning later, in the seventh, and once again after the Rangers had gone up by two runs, Mookie Betts was the catalyst of a two run inning, as he drew a walk with one out. With Andrew Benintendi at the plate and a new pitcher on the mound for the Rangers, Benintendi blooped a double into shallow left field to send Betts to third, or so we thought. Instead, Mookie took advantage of a lackluster reaction from Jurickson Profar and managed to score all the way from first base. Amazing awareness on display right there.

Two batters later, JD Martinez drove in Benintendi from third on an RBI single of his own to pull the Red Sox and Rangers even at five runs a piece.

Fast forward to the ninth, and it would be Andrew Benintendi coming through yet again, as he nearly took a one out 82 MPH curveball from Keone Kela and sent it over the wall in right field. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the wall and Benintendi had to settle for a triple, his third and final hit of the night. One batter later, Hanley Ramirez drove in Benintendi on a sacrifice fly to center field. That gave the Red Sox a one run lead ans all but locked up the win with Craig Kimbrel picking up his ninth save of the season a half inning later.

Some notes from this one:

After his three hit game last night, Andrew Benintendi has raised his batting average to .254 on the season. In four games played this month, Benintendi has either recorded three hits, which he has done twice, or gone hitless, which he has also done twice.

With a leadoff single in the sixth, his first of two hits on the night, JD Martinez extended his hitting streak to seven games. Over that span, the 30-year-old Martinez is slashing .483/.516/.724 with two home runs and six runs driven in.

And to wrap it up, here’s this great nugget from @SoxNotes:

 

Next up for the Red Sox is the fourth and final game of this series later today. Chris Sale gets the ball against old friend Doug Fister, who owns a 2.88 ERA in five starts with the Rangers. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 PM ET. Happy Sale Day.

RECAP: #RedSox Homer Four Times as Rick Porcello Cruises to Fifth Winning Decision of Season.

A day after a frustrating series opening loss, the Red Sox looked much more like a first place team against the Rangers last night. In a matchup between two different types of pitchers, it was Rick Porcello who came out on top against 44-year-old Bartolo Colon.

Porcello managed to go six strong in this one, as he gave up just one run while scattering three hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts. The funny thing is, the righty only had two 1-2-3 innings. For the other four, he was dealing with at least one baserunner, and he really only made one mistake last night. That being a solo home run off the bat of Rangers outfielder Nomar Mazara in the fourth inning. In Porcello’s defense, Mazara has been red-hot lately, as that homer marked the fourth straight game he has put one over the fence for the Rangers. Other than that though, the native of New Jersey had himself another stellar night. He lowered his ERA from 2.33 to 2.14 and improved to a perfect 5-0 on the season. The Red Sox are now 6-1 in games Porcello starts, and I think it’s safe to say that he has solidified himself as the #2 starter this season.

With Porcello’s pitch count at 96 (61 strikes) through six innings, the Red Sox bullpen would be responsible for the last nine outs of the game while protecting a two run lead at the time. In those three innings, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, and Bobby Poyner were nearly perfect. Kelly tossed a scoreless seventh while striking out one, Barnes tossed a scoreless eighth while striking out two, and Bobby Poyner, making his first appearance since April 11th, tossed a scoreless ninth while allowing one hit and striking out one. All and all, a much better night for the bullpen compared to Thursday.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup scored four of their five runs on solo home runs last night. JD Martinez got things started in the second, as he put the Red Sox on the board with a 370 foot blast to left field off of Bartolo Colon, his seventh big fly of the season.

Fast forward to the top of the fifth, with the game tied at one run a piece, Rafael Devers led things off by mashing his first of two home runs on the night 427 feet to right field. That put the Red Sox up by one and they would not have to look back.

An inning later, Mookie Betts homered in his third straight game, this time catapulting a 86 MPH two-seamer from Colon and sending it 398 feet to the seats in left field.

Four batters and an inning later, Devers collected his second home run of the night off of Colon yet again. This one was hit 415 feet and marked the second multi-home run game of the young third baseman’s career. He joins the likes of Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox players with more than one multi-homer game before turning 22-years-old (@SoxNotes). Here are both of his home runs from last night in one convenient video.

Hanley Ramirez would go on to tack on another run on an RBI double in the eighth, his 18th of the season. That scored Sandy Leon from all the way from first and gave the Red Sox their fifth and final run of this game.

With the series now even at a game each, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound for the Red Sox later tonight. He’ll be matched up against Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET.

RECAP: David Price Exits in Fourth Inning as #RedSox Drop Stinker to Rangers 11-5.

Not the best way to open up a road trip right there. Not at all. Yup, the Red Sox pretty much got blown out by a last place team in Texas last night. It’s not the best of looks, but there are three more games left in the series, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.

David Price got the start in this one, and as he has for the majority of his career, struggled against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Going into last night’s outing, the lefty owned a career 6.53 ERA in eight starts at the Rangers home ballpark. That trend would continue on Thursday, as Price got lit up for seven earned runs in less than four innings pitched. Over that span, the Rangers got to the Tennessee native for six hits, four walks, and a HBP. It started with two runs in the second, which could have been worse if not for JD Martinez chasing down this flyball he had no business catching.

Price allowed another two runs to cross the plate in the third while facing six batters. But both of those innings did not compare to just how ugly the fourth was. After the Red Sox lineup had just pulled themselves within one run a half inning prior, the Rangers went off for six runs of their own.

Leading off the inning by allowing three of the first four batters he faced to reach base and plate a run, Price loaded the bases by surrendering a single to Delino DeShields. Striking out the next batter he faced, Shin-Soo Choo, on five pitches meant that there was only one more out for Price to get. Unfortunately, he walked the last batter he faced to tack on another run, and his day was done.

For whatever reason, David Price has not looked like the same guy since he gave up that eighth inning home run to Khris Davis in Oakland a couple of weekends ago. In two starts since then, the southpaw has pitched just 9.1 total innings and given up 15 runs in that stretch.

Anyway, Hector Velazquez was inserted into this game with two outs in the fourth inning, and after a wild pitch got by Christian Vazquez, the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara launched a three-run shot to right field. That put the Rangers up by seven runs and all but locked up the win.

With one out in the bottom half of the fifth, Marcus Walden came on to replace Velazquez with runners on first and third. The 29-year-old rookie would go on to have the best night of any Red Sox pitcher, as he tossed 3.2 innings of one run ball, that run being unearned, and striking out four. After the game, he was optioned back to Triple A Pawtucket to make room on the roster for reliever Bobby Poyner.

Despite the not-so-great performance from the Red Sox pitching staff last night, the defensive performance from the left side of infield has to shoulder some of that responsibility as well. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts combined for three errors on Thursday, one fielding and two throwing. Over their past three games, the Red Sox have committed a whopping seven errors. That accounts for over 46% of their season total, which is 15. I suppose this could have been expected though, given the fact Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers play the infield almost everyday. With Dustin Pedroia hopefully making his return to the big league club later in the month, these defensive numbers could stabilize a little bit. They still rank fifth in the AL in Fielding Percentage, so maybe I’m just overreacting to a few bad games.

Offensively, Mookie Betts built from the great day he had on Wednesday by mashing his 12th home run of the season to lead off the third inning.

At that moment, I thought we had another comeback on our hands. It looked that way at first, with Christian Vazquez and Betts driving in a pair of runs in the fifth to make it a one-run game, but things got out of hand after that.

Later in the eighth, not that it had an impact on this game, but Betts drove in his third and fourth RBIs of the night by ripping a two out double to left field.

As we enter today’s action, the 25-year-old outfielder now leads the American League in home runs (12), batting average (.370), slugging percentage (.850), and OPS (1.299). We’re just over a month into the season, but Mookie is definitely looking like a legit MVP candidate right now. He may very well be the best leadoff hitter in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox is an enticing pitching matchup later tonight. It will be the 4-0 Rick Porcello squaring off the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon. And maybe, just maybe, Blake Swihart will start behind the dish tonight. *crosses fingers*

First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET.