RECAP: Chris Sale, #RedSox bullpen surrender nine runs as division lead shrinks.

Remember that great road trip the Red Sox just had in Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Cincinnati? The one where they won 8 out of 9 and 6 in a row? Well, they have looked like a different team since returning to Fenway Park on Monday. Drew Pomeranz looked bad in the first game and the ace was not much better last night. Chris Sale got the start in this one, and I really hope this was his last start of the regular season. The strikeouts were there, but so were the home runs. Yup, the Blue Jays took Sale deep FOUR times. The lefty simply did not have it going on as he usually does against Toronto. He pitched five full innings, allowing eight hits, five runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts. Josh Donaldson greeted him with a solo shot in the first, then hit another one in the third. Dude is just unreal back in his MVP form. He’s going to be 32 by Opening Day next season, but there are not too many third baseman that can do what Donaldson can. He wasn’t the only player to go deep twice though, as outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, former Astros prospect, hit his sixth and seventh home runs of the season as well. Sandwiched in between those two was Kendrys Morales’ two-run blast in the fifth. Like I said, four of those belong to Sale, but the bullpen gave up runs for the second night in a row. Matt Barnes pitched a scoreless sixth while Joe Kelly and Heath Hembree surrendered four runs in a combined two innings of work. Hector Velazquez made his first appearance in three weeks and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but the game was already out of reach. With all the talk about how great this bullpen is, we’ve seen Addison Reed and Joe Kelly, arguably the two most important guys not named Craig Kimbrel, give up runs in consecutive nights.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox offense did not fare well against Blue Jays veteran JA Happ. One run and four hits is all they could get off of the lefty and they also whiffed nine times. Chris Young tied the game in the first with an RBI double, but that’s all the bats could do until the eighth inning. Having just gone down by eight runs, it looked like this one was out of reach. Sandy Leon led the inning off with his seventh home run of the year, and that was followed by a Rajai Davis RBI double. Next man up, Hanley Ramirez, shrunk the deficit to five runs with his two-out RBI single, but the lineup could do no more.

Having lost the first two games of the series, this will mark the first time since September 3rd that the Red Sox have failed to win a series. With each team having five games remaining, the Yankees trail the Red Sox in the division by three games. In order to give the division away, the Red Sox would have to lose four of their next five games while the Yankees win all five. If both teams finish with the same record, a play-in game will be hosted by the Yankees to determine who faces the Astros in the ALDS and who faces Minnesota in the Wild Card game. If the Red Sox do blow this three game lead, and Chris Sale had to pitch in the Wild Card game, that is a very bad scenario. Yeah, the one game thing is exciting, but it would be very hard to watch if my team was in it. One mistake and the season is over. I know the ALDS has a tendency to go quick, but at least you have multiple chances.

Anyway…Rick Porcello gets the ball tonight against Marco Estrada, hopefully the Red Sox can salvage something from this series with a win tonight.

91 down, 3 to go. 

RECAP: The #RedSox defeated the Orioles 1-0 in 11 innings last night without an RBI.

First things first, the Red Sox have got to stop making a habit out of these games. I know they’re 15-3 in extra inning games, but you have to attribute at least a handful of those, like last night, to luck. Imagine if they were only 10-8 in extras this year? That’s not bad but they would be in second place behind the Yankees right now. Honestly, I was lucky to be able to watch that whole game. Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman really picked up the pace, and they’re the main reason this eleven inning game only took three hours and twenty-seven minutes. A good way to avoid these long games would be to have a game-changing power bat available. Hanley Ramirez was supposed to be that guy, Mookie Betts isn’t going to hit 31 ding dongs like he did last year, and David Ortiz is no longer here. Those were your three biggest power threats last year, and two-thirds of them have not lived up to the expectations they had going into the year. Bryce Brentz hit 31 HR with the PawSox this season, but he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster for whatever reason. What I think this all boils down to is the acquisition of a power bat this offseason. Giancarlo Stanton would be nice, but you’re not going to meet the Marlins asking price, hopefully. I’m really talking myself into JD Martinez of the Diamondbacks. He’s a free agent after this season, he has a history with Dave Dombrowski, and he has hit 40 home runs this year. Sure, he’s thirty and can probably get a deal worth more than $20 million a year, but the Red Sox are going to need a game changing type of bat, and he fits that need. I know I’m getting too far ahead of myself, but it’s something to think about.

Okay, I got that off my chest, let’s talk about the game that was played last night. Like I said above, Drew Pomeranz was matched up against Kevin Gausman in this one, two SEC guys. Gausman outpitched Pomeranz, but not by much. The lefty put up six and a third solid innings, scattering five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over that span. He got hit pretty hard, but managed to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard with the help of his outfielders. In the third, Andrew Benintendi ended the inning by picking off old friend Manny Machado at the plate with this great throw:

Later on in the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Chris Davis of a solo shot with this very casual catch:

I was hoping Mookie Betts would rob the Orioles of a run, since the other two outfielders made great plays. That didn’t happen though, and Pomeranz couldn’t pick up his 17th win of the year either, despite the great effort. It was surprising to see him come back out for the seventh, but I actually like how John Farrell only had him face Chris Davis, a lefty. He got Davis to fly out, thus ending his day on a positive note.

For the second night in a row, the bullpen was relied on heavily, and they came through yet again. Carson Smith, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes combined to pitch nearly five innings of perfect baseball. No hits, no walks, nothing for the Orioles, a real shut down. It was a bit nerve-racking watching Road Matt Barnes try and close out the game, but he did it to perfection and picked up his first save of the season. With all the use the bullpen has been dealing with lately, the off day on Thursday will be a good opportunity for rest.

Offensively, Kevin Gausman held the Red Sox in check. It took until the fifth inning for them to get their first hit, a Rafael Devers single, and they could only reach base three other times while facing Gausman. Once he left though, more scoring chances came, but they couldn’t capitalize right away. A leadoff single from Sam Travis in the eighth turned to nothing, a one out double from Andrew Benintendi could not turn into a run, and a one out Rafael Devers single couldn’t be turned into a run. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Devers had a really rough night at third with his throwing error in the eleventh that could have led to the tying run scoring for the Orioles. Anyway, it wasn’t until the eleventh when the Red Sox finally capitalized on a scoring chance. A leadoff single from Brock Holt was cancelled out by JBJ grounding into a fielder’s choice, putting him at first with one out. After Xander Bogaerts advanced him to second, two straight walks loaded the bases. With Mitch Moreland at the plate, a wild pitch from Brad Brach allowed the runners to advance, scoring JBJ from third. Moreland grounded out after that and that was the inning.

The win marks five straight series wins, and keeps them three games above the Yankees. Chris Sale, who owns a 4.25 ERA since the start of August, gets the start in this pretty important series finale later tonight.

87 down, 7 to go. 

RECAP: Mookie Betts homers twice, drives in six as #RedSox dominate A’s in 11-1 win.

After an off day on Monday, I was looking forward to last night’s game, even if it was against the Oakland Athletics. The Red Sox looked like a first place team in every aspect last night, while the lowly A’s maintained their last place reputation. Eduardo Rodriguez made his 21st start of 2017 last night, and he was matched up against fellow southpaw, Sean Manaea. If you take away the four walks, ERod was nearly perfect in the six innings he pitched. One hit is all he gave up, and that came in the first inning, along with the only run he surrendered. From the second to the end of the sixth, the Venezuelan was great, only scattering three walks over that span. I didn’t think he’d be able to make it through six given the fact that his pitch count was north of 100 after five, but he did by ending his outing by only facing three batters in the sixth. The last time ERod got a win was all the way back on May 26th, which has to be something to feel good about.

Brandon Workman would be called upon for the seventh inning, and he struck out the only three batters he faced. Carson Smith, making his third appearance since being activated on September 5th, was not nearly as good as Workman. His control was off, and that lead to him loading the bases while facing five batters. Austin Maddox came in with two outs in the inning, and he got out of the jam with a strikeout, then went on to pitch a scoreless ninth to secure the win. Watching Carson Smith struggle was not very comforting, but you gotta like what you have seen out of Austin Maddox. Since he was recalled on September 1st, the righty has appeared in five games while pitching seven innings, and he has yet to allow an earned run in his young career. Similar to how Robby Scott performed last September, Maddox’s performance this season could really benefit him going into 2018.

On the other side of things, Sean Manaea stood no chance against Mookie Betts and the Red Sox. In his two career starts, Manaea has a line that he probably wouldn’t want to share; 6.1 IP, 21 H, 15 ER, and three home runs allowed. Last night, he managed to pitch a clean first, then things began to unravel. Five of the first six batters in the second reached base, which led to three runs scoring. A two-out, Mookie Betts triple scored the final two runs of the inning, and Mookie was just getting started. In the fourth, Betts went deep for his 20th long ball of the season, scoring Dustin Pedroia and giving his team a six-run lead. Two more runs crossed the plate in the fifth thanks to Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr., then Mookie was back on his bs in the sixth. He connected with his second home run of the day and drove in his fifth and sixth runs of the day by doing so.

We haven’t seen a performace like this from Mookie since July 2nd when he drove in eight runs against the Blue Jays. Recently though, Betts has been looking better coming off that month-long slump. In the ten games he has played in this month, the right fielder has already hit three home runs while driving in nine runs. I know more than half of this production came last night but still, it looks like he’ll get to 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

Doug Fister gets the start later tonight, and I believe the Athletics are a team he has had success against in his career. It also helps that the opposing pitcher, former Dodgers prospect, Jharel Cotton, owns a 5.82 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 119 IP this season. A win guarantees a series win, which would be the third one this month. I’ll leave you with this:

82 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: It took more than six hours, but the #RedSox ended their slump with a 3-2 win over the Jays.

I’ll be honest, I did not stay up to watch how this game ended. I had a class at 8:00 this morning so I shut my TV off after the final out of the twelfth inning. What I saw before that was not great. Eduardo Rodriguez was good, but the offense did nothing for him, against a starting pitcher with an ERA north of 5. In the six innings he pitched, the lefty scattered two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out eight. The only real costly mistake ERod made came in the sixth, when Kendrys Morales took him deep and gave the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead. The pitch count was high, so he was done after six. In the 20 games he has started this season, none of them have been for more than six innings, which is a shame because he has been good in a solid amount of those starts. In relief of ERod, the bullpen did a great job in holding the Blue Jays to nothing. In a combined 13 innings of work, we saw Joe Kelly, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Workman, Austin Maddox, Heath Hembree, Robby Scott, Blaine Boyer, Fernando Abad, CARSON SMITH, and Hector Velazquez all record at least one out and hold the Jays to zero runs. In his first appearance with Boston since July 18th, which was another marathon game against the Blue Jays, Velazquez racked up his third win of the season. Like I said, I was asleep so I din;t see this or Carson Smith make his 2017 debut. I seriously doubt there will be a game today with the rain that’s coming in so I guess I’ll have to wait and see when Smith will make his next appearance. All and all, a great performance from the pitching staff against a team that’s had a down year offensively, but still has the capability to score runs in bunches.

Offensively, the Red Sox looked lifeless for the duration of this game. Marco Estrada, who had an ERA of 5.23 going into this one, looked like the 2015 version of himself with the way he pitched last night. He held the Red Sox to nothing in the seven innings he pitched, and it wasn’t until the ninth when the Red Sox scored. With Roberto Osuna pitching, an Andrew Benintendi leadoff walk and a Mookie Betts double put runners on second and third with no outs. Hanley Ramirez drove in Benintendi on a ground out to third, and Mitch Moreland drove in Betts on a groundout to second. That run tied the game, and the score stayed that way for another ten innings. In the 19th, another double from Betts led to a Hanley Ramirez walk-off single, giving the Red Sox the W. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but I think most Red Sox fans will take it given the way the team has been playing lately.

The rain should postpone the game tonight, but if they are to play, Doug Fister would make the start against Joe Biagini. The Yankees lost late last night to the Orioles, so the Red Sox lead in the division grows to 3.5 games.

78 down, 12 to go. 

RECAP: Chris Sale records 17th game with at least 10 K’s as #RedSox shutout Jays 3-0.

Last time we saw Chris Sale take the mound, the Cleveland Indians gave him a ton of trouble in his shortest and worst start of the season. On Tuesday, Sale looked to bounce back against a team he has owned this year, and that is exactly what he did. In the seven plus innings the lefty pitched, the Blue Jays reached base a total of three times, and two of those were in the eighth. As the title reads, Sale struck out eleven Blue Jays, and one of those were pretty historic. With one out in the bottom of the second, Kevin Pillar struck out looking on three pitches, giving Sale 1,500 career punch outs. He passes Kerry Wood for the quickest number of innings to reach that milestone with only 1,290 needed.

Oddly enough, Sale has yet to face the Jays at Fenway, but in the three starts he’s made at the Rogers Centre, he has been outstanding. Racking up 22 innings in three starts, Sale did not allow a single run on eleven total hits and 35(!) strikeouts. With the work the bullpen has had to do recently, Sale came out to start the eighth, but could not record an out after facing two batters. This made way for Addison Reed, and he got out of the inning damage free despite giving up a single. With a three run lead going into the bottom half of the ninth, Craig Kimbrel came in the day after allowing two earned runs, but he bounced back from that with a 1-2-3 inning, collecting his 31st save of the season. Reed and Kimbrel have both been used in three straight games, so don’t expect to see them anytime tonight.

Offensively, the Red Sox saw Brett Anderson, a good follow on Twitter, make the start for the Blue Jays. Anderson couldn’t even make it through the sixth inning, but he was far from bad. They could have scored in the top of the first, but Jose Bautista threw out Eduardo Nunez at home plate to end the inning. Nunez would redeem himself later though, driving in Rajai Davis from second on an RBI double in the sixth, scoring the only run the Red Sox needed. In the seventh, Hanley Ramirez launched his team-leading twentieth home run of the season, so at least he has that going for him. That made it 2-0, and Andrew Benintendi tacked on another in the eighth, driving in Rajai Davis on an RBI single, his 72nd of the season. Like I said, the Red Sox only needed one run, but it was nice to see guys like Hanley, Davis, and Benintendi get involved as well.

Two wins in a row after a four-game losing streak, and Rick Porcello will look to complete the sweep later tonight.

Also, he’s been here for like a week but welcome to the Red Sox, Rajai Davis…

75 down, 20 to go. 

RECAP: Doug Fister gives up leadoff home run, proceeds to pitch complete game as #RedSox take Game 2 9-1.

Tuesday night was pretty emotional in both Boston and Cleveland. Prior to the start of this game, the Celtics made a trade with the Cavaliers, sending the likes of Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas along with others, for Kyrie Irving. Isaiah Thomas was beloved in Boston, and I’m pretty certain Kyrie was beloved in Cleveland, too. With that all transpiring, the attention kind of shifted away from the baseball game taking place at Progressive Field, and it was a great one. After the way Monday night went down, Doug Fister looked to right the ship against the Indians, a team he has faced three times since the start of August. The righty gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Francisco Lindor, and it looked like the game was about to get away quick. Amazingly though, Fister responded by retiring three of the next four hitters and getting out of the inning. He then went on to pitch eight shutout innings while only allowing two baserunners to reach via a walk and a HBP. Fister was highly effective, keeping his pitch count down in order to pitch all nine innings. He’s had a few good starts while with the Red Sox, but this was certainly the best, and it could end up being the most important. With the way the bullpen collapsed on Monday, Fister provided those guys an opportunity to rest and regroup. That could be big as the final full month of the season approaches. It looks like he’ll make his next start against the Orioles on Sunday, so it should be interesting to see if he build on this start later in the week.

On the other side of things, Carlos Carrasco made the start for The Tribe, and I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I don’t think the Red Sox are a team he has a ton of success against. Hanley Ramirez picked up where he left off Monday, driving in the first run of the game in the first on a RBI single, scoring Andrew Benintendi from third. In the second, Xander Bogaerts, who did record two hits last night, scored from third on a Sandy Leon sacrifice fly. Later on in the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. added a run to the Red Sox total by mashing his fourteenth home run of the season 408 feet to center field. Unfortunately for JBJ, he had to leave the game with a hand issue in the seventh, after both he and Sandy Leon scored on a Eduardo Nunez double. Andrew Benintendi drove in Nunez on an RBI double in the seventh, and Nunez would cap this one-off with a three-run home run in the eighth, giving the Red Sox a 9-1 lead. Carrasco still pitched into the seventh inning, but he gave up six home runs, which is something you don’t see too often. It was good to see Nunez break out of his 0 for 13, and Xander Bogaerts seems to be figuring things out as well with his two hits.

Nice rebound performance, hopefully Drew Pomeranz can make his start later tonight.

72 down, ? to go. 

RECAP: #RedSox turn triple play, pour it on in 10-4 win over Cardinals.

In their first visit to Fenway Park since Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals, who entered Tuesday winning eight of their last nine, opened up a two-game series against the Red Sox. Starting for St. Louis was Mike Leake, and he was matched up against Rick Porcello. Neither starter was great, but Porcello ended up pitching significantly better than Leake. In the seven innings he pitched, Porcello scattered eight hits and two walks, surrendering three earned runs while also striking out six. The Red Sox righty had great defense playing behind him on Tuesday night, including a triple play that was turned in the fourth.

Every run the Cardinals got off of Porcello came in the sixth inning, and half their hits off of Porcello came in the sixth as well. Luckily, the seventh inning was much better and that’s how the defending Cy Young Award winner would end his day. In his 25 starts this season, only twice has Porcello failed to pitch at least six innings. Joe Kelly would be inserted into the game in the eighth, in a much different situation than last Friday in New York. Kelly completed the inning, but not before giving up one run on two hits while striking out one. To secure the win, Robby Scott pitched a scoreless ninth.

Offensively, it looked like the Red Sox were going to struggle to score off of Mike Leake. Rafael Devers drove in the first run of the game in the first, scoring Andrew Benintendi on an RBI single. After that though, they left the bases loaded and didn’t score again until the fifth. This time, the scoring started when Leake loaded the bases again. With Hanley Ramirez up, Leake served up a hard double off the Monster, allowing both Eduardo Nunez and Mookie Betts to score. An intentional walk of Devers reloaded the bases, which led to Xander Bogaerts driving in Benintendi from third and keeping the bases loaded. A Mitch Moreland RBI single booted Leake out of the game, making way for Matt Bowman. That change didn;t affect the Red Sox though, as three consecutive hits led to three more runs, giving them a total of eight in the inning and a 9-0 lead. Another run would cross the plate in the sixth with a bases-loaded walk of Jackie Bradley Jr., and that was more than was needed for the win. Everyone who started this game recorded at least one base hit. The 5-7 hitters, Devers, Bogaerts, and Moreland went a combined 7 for 13 with 3 RBIs. The three hits out of Xander Bogaerts were good to see since the shortstop has been in a bit of a slump since the middle of last month. Eduardo Nunez also impressed with yet another multi-hit game at Fenway Park. It looked like a precaution, but Andrew Benintendi was removed from the game after he got hit by a pitch in the fourth.

Eduardo Rodriguez gets the start against Lance Lynn tonight, as the Red Sox go for the mini sweep.

68 down, 27 to go.