RECAP: David Price Tosses Complete Game, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts Both Homer as #RedSox Become First Team to Reach 30 Wins.

After their game back on Patriots Day was postponed due to rain, the Red Sox welcomed the Baltimore Orioles into town for a make-up of that game followed by a previously scheduled three-game weekend series. Entering last night at 13-29, the Orioles have been one of the worst teams in the American League up to this point in the season, and they showed why on Thursday.

Coming off a so-so start last time out in Toronto, David Price made his ninth start of the season in this one, and he had himself quite the night. The lefty ended up going a full nine innings for his third complete game in a Red Sox uniform. Over that stretch, Price held the Orioles to just two runs on five hits while fanning nine, a new season high, and gave up zero walks on the night. What was even more impressive out of this outing for Price, in my mind, was his pitch count. The Tennessee native needed just 95 pitches to get through all nine innings. A good reason behind that is the fact that 73% of those 95 pitches went for strikes, and Price found himself in a grand total of two three-ball counts all night.

He was moving right along on Thursday, and he really only made one costly mistake, which came off the bat of Manny Machado in the ninth. The Orioles shortstop took Price deep to left field with two outs in the inning for his league-leading 14th home run of the season. That ended the shutout and got the Red Sox bullpen going a little bit, but Price ended his night on a positive note two pitches later, as he got Jonathan Schoop to pop out for the third and final out of the game.

Since it came against the lowly Baltimore Orioles, I’m sure Price’s doubters will still be persistent, but it’s hard not to be impressed with what he did last night. Right from the get go, the 32-year-old seemed to be in control of this one, and it probably helped that he had a lead to work with from the second inning on. Without a doubt his best start of the season, Price picked up his fourth win in the process while lowering his ERA from 4.89 to 4.38.

To put what Price did on Thursday night in perspective, think about this: Prior to his start tonight, Price has made two starts this month. In those two starts, he has pitched a TOTAL of nine innings while surrendering nine earned runs. Just last night, Price pitched nine innings and only gave up two earned runs. That’s a sure sign of improvement, and he’ll look to build on this success next time out against the Tampa Bay Rays sometime next week in their upcoming series against them.

On the other side of things, the 4-5 hitters in the Red Sox lineup came through big for the second night in a row. That’s right, JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts went yard AGAIN on Thursday, and they were both pretty impressive home runs.

Facing off against O’s righty Kevin Gausman, Mookie Betts led the bottom half of the first off with a single, his first of three hits on the night. Three batters and two outs later, JD Martinez launched his second home run in as many nights to put his team up by two early.

That 431 foot shot to dead center field marked the 13th of the season for Martinez, as he now pulls even with Mookie Betts for the team lead in long balls.

Fast forward to the fifth, Andrew Benintendi kicked a four-run inning off by driving in Jackie Bradley Jr. from third on a sacrifice fly to right field. Three batters later, with Hanley Ramirez at second and Mookie Betts at third, Xander Bogaerts mashed a three-run homer to left field, very similar to the one he hit on Wednesday.

His sixth home run of the season, which was sent 383 feet over the Green Monster, was good for three and gave the Red Sox their sixth and final run of the night. Before Bogaerts even had the chance to touch home on his blast, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was already making his way to the mound to take Gausman out of the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like that before.

Speaking of things I have never seen before, the Red Sox stole five bases off of Gausman last night, and all of them were uncontested. For some reason, the Orioles starter didn’t seem too interested in holding runners on once they reached first base, and the Red Sox took advantage of that. Mookie Betts even came away with three swiped bags on the night, a season high for him.

Another note from this one:

JD Martinez had to leave this game in the seventh inning because of a stomach illness. Shouldn’t be anything too serious. His replacement, Blake Swihart, grounded out in his only at bat of the game.

So, the Red Sox have technically sweeped the Orioles in that four-game series back in April. Next up is another series against Baltimore, and it will be Alex Cobb v. Drew Pomeranz on Friday. For Pomeranz, his last start against the Blue Jays in Toronto was a rough one and I’m sure he doesn’t want a repeat of that. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

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RECAP: JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts Both Go Yard as #RedSox Salvage Series Against Oakland with a 6-4 Win.

Entering last night 12-1 in series finales this season, the Red Sox made sure to keep that trend going against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday, the team responsible for that one loss.

Chris Sale made his tenth start of the season in this one, and he picked up his fourth win. Although I would not say the lefty was at his best last night, he did hold the A’s to just two runs in five innings pitched. In that stretch, Sale scattered two hits and four walks while striking out nine. That first hit he gave up to came against the very first batter he faced in Marcus Semien, and the second hit just so happened to be a two-run home run off the bat of Semien well, which came in Sale’s fifth and final inning of work.

Other than that blunder, the Florida native held the Athletics in check. The four walks, a season high, were a bit of a surprise, and that caused Sale’s pitch count to be higher than normal. In defense of the 29-year-old, conditions at Fenway Park were not ideal for a starting pitcher on Wednesday. Temperatures in the low 50’s, some light rain throughout the game, maybe that had an effect on the lefty, I don’t know.

Anyway, with his pitch count already at 102 (60 strikes) through five innings of work, Sale’s night would come to an end. To start out the sixth, Matt Barnes got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. He tossed a scorless frame while giving up one hit and recording two strikeouts.

Next up for the seventh inning was Heath Hembree. Unfortunately, the righty’s scoreless appearance streak came to an end at two games, as he surrendered a home run to the first batter he faced in Matt Joyce. It looked like Mookie Betts may have injured his right ankle while trying to rob the solo shot from going over the right field wall, but he was able to stay in the game until the end.

Once Hembree ended things in the seventh, Joe Kelly got the call for the eighth inning for his 19th appearance of the season. The flame throwing Kelly walked Jed Lowrie on six pitches to kick off the inning, but ended up facing the minimum as he got Matt Chapman to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side and make way for Craig Kimbrel.

With a three run lead to work with entering the top half of the ninth, the pressure was off Kimbrel, and I think he showed it in the beginning. After giving up a solo home run to Matt Olson to lead off the inning, the Red Sox closer settled down and retired the next three batters he faced on 13 pitches. Although his ERA rose a little bit, Kimbrel was good enough to notch his 12th save of the season last night, still good for second in the American League behind only Edwin Diaz of the Seattle Mariners.

 

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got things started against A’s starter Trevor Cahill in the first inning last night. Two straight singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi created an ideal RBI situation for Hanley Ramirez. With runners on first and third, Ramirez scored Betts on a ground out to first base. The very next batter, JD Martinez, put his team up by a couple more runs with his 12th long ball of the season.

That 422 foot shot was good for two, and it was the last run the Red Sox would score until the sixth.

Fast forward to that point in the game, with no outs and runners on first and second for Xander Bogaerts. Facing off against A’s righty reliever Ryan Dull, Bogaerts concluded the Red Sox scoring on the night by punishing a 82 MPH slider and sending it 411 feet over the Green Monster, putting the his team up by four at that time.

Gotta love the way he pimps his home runs when he knows they are no doubters. With that three-run bomb, the Red Sox short stop now has five on the season.

Those three runs off the bat of Bogaerts pretty much put this game away for the Red Sox, as they went on to pick up their AL East leading 29th win of the season. Despite that fact, they still trail the Yankees, who have not played in a full game since Sunday, in the standings.

Some notes from this one:

In the first game since it was reported that Blake Swihart’s agent wanted his client to be traded, Swihart did not play at all.

With a two-hit performance last night, Andrew Benintendi has extended his hitting streak to nine games now.

According to Alex Cora, Mookie Betts’ right foot got stuck under the padding on the wall in right field, but, “he’s good.” That’s certainly good news.

Next up for the Red Sox is a make-up game rescheduled from Patriots Day against the Baltimore Orioles tonight. That will be followed up by a three-game weekend series against…the Baltimore Orioles. So, I don’t think it technically counts as a four-game set, but David Price will be getting the ball in the “opener” later tonight. He will be matched up against O’s righty Kevin Gausman. Two SEC Baseball alumnus going at it, first pitch of the make-up game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.

RECAP: Chris Sale Has Career Night, but #RedSox Still Find a Way to Lose to Blue Jays in Extras.

Flashback to April 24th, and you’ll find that the Red Sox were walked off in Toronto in extras in the first game of that series. Why do I bring that up? Well, the same thing essentially happened last night. That’s right, the Red Sox opened up a three game series north of the border on Friday night, and once again, they were walked off by the Blue Jays in extra innings. This one took an inning longer than the first one though, and it did not involve Craig Kimbrel and Curtis Granderson.

How we got there: Chris Sale made his eighth start of the season last night, and as he usually does at the Rogers Centre, pitched a gem. The lefty tossed nine full innings, scattered three runs on six hits, walked none, and tied his career high in strikeouts with 15 on the night. It did not appear as if things were going to go Sale’s way in the beginning of this game, as he gave up the first of those three runs before recording a single out in the first inning. The Red Sox ace was getting hit fairly hard, and after the Blue Jays tacked on another run in the second, pitching coach Dana Levangie went out and had a lengthy conversation with both Sale and Sandy Leon. They must have come to the conclusion that the Blue Jays were stealing signs, because they went with multiple signs for the rest of the night, and Sale looked like a different pitcher.

At one point, the Florida native retired 15 straight Blue Jays before surrendering the game-tying home run to catcher Luke Maile in the seventh inning. Following that blip, Sale pitched two more scoreless innings. In the ninth, it looked like the Blue Jays were about to get the go-ahead run to third on a hard hit ball by Kevin Pillar, but a great throw from Andrew Benintendi to Brock Holt and an almost perfect relay from Holt to Eduardo Nunez got Pillar out at third for the second out of the inning.

After getting the next batter, Kendrys Morales, to ground out to end the frame and send this one to extra innings, Sale’s night would come to an end. Although he tossed nine innings, the 29-year-old did not factor in the decision. He finished the night with a season high 116 pitches, 85 of which went for strikes.

In extras, the Red Sox bullpen was not at their best. Matt Barnes kicked the bottom half of the 10th off by walking the first two batters he faced to put runners on first and second with no outs. How he got out of it I don’t know but he got Josh Donaldson to strike out in a huge spot with two outs in the inning to send things to the eleventh.

An inning later, Carson Smith had the best performance of any Red Sox reliever, as he recorded the first two outs of the inning before giving up a single to Kevin Pillar. That hit would not come back to bite the Texas native though, since he struck out the very next batter he faced on six pitches.

Another inning later, and this game came to an end quickly with Brian Johnson on the mound for the Red Sox. The lefty walked the first batter he saw on four straight balls. Not ideal. The very next pitch he threw was taken 418 feet to right center field by Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile.

As they say in Toronto, the Maile man always delivers, and he sent the Blue Jays home with a series opening win last night. To put it simply, Chris Sale deserved better. Not just from the bullpen, but from the lineup too.

For Brian Johnson, I can’t imagine Friday night’s performance helps his chances of staying up with the Red Sox. In ten games as a reliever, Johnson owns an ERA of 9.00 in 13 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .321 off of the lefty, so it’s difficult to justify keeping someone with those kind of numbers on the active roster.

Anyway, on the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup got the scoring started in the top of the first. Facing off against Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez, Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi got on base right away in this one to put runners on first and third with no outs. After Benintendi stole second with JD Martinez at the plate, the third member of the Red Sox outfield scored Betts from third and advanced Benintendi from third on an RBI ground out.

Fast forward to the fourth, with the Red Sox trailing by one run, and Xander Bogaerts led the inning off by tying things up once again.

That 426 foot shot to center marked Bogaerts’ fourth of the season. Four batters later, with Brock Holt at first, Sandy Leon drove in a run in one of the most bizarre fashions you’ll see.

Technically ruled a strikeout, Leon was unfortunately not credited with an RBI on that play. What’s even funnier about it is that it was the last run the Red Sox scored all night. At one point, they went more than seven innings without a single hit. I’ll give credit where credit is due when I say the Blue Jays bullpen was stellar in the seven combined innings they tossed last night. They held the Red Sox lineup to essentially nothing once Aaron Sanchez departed in the sixth.

Next up for the Red Sox is a David Price v. Marco Estrada matchup later this afternoon. After all the carpal tunnel drama this past week, it will be interesting to see how Price responds today. Alex Cora had said that if his hand starts bothering him again, they have a plan to get Price out of the game right away and go to the bullpen. First pitch of the middle game of this series is scheduled for 4:07 PM ET. Like I said, should be…interesting.

 

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Drives in Career Best Six Runs as #RedSox Win Seventh Straight Game.

After an off day on Friday, the Red Sox picked up where they left off against the Tampa Rays Today.

Making his second start of the season, Rick Porcello impressed in his 2018 Fenway Park debut. The righty got off to a rough start, as he allowed the Rays to score twice in the top of the first, but he really settled down after that. At one point, Porcello had retired 17 batters in a row from the second to the seventh inning. He finished with a line of 7.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, O BB, and 7 K’s. With those two runs the Rays scored in the first, the Red Sox streak of seven straight games where starters allowed less than one earned run ended, but it was a solid outing from Porcello nonetheless. The New Jersey native exited in the eighth after throwing 94 pitches, 66 of which went for strikes.

When Porcello departed with one out in the top of the eighth, it was righty reliever Marcus Walden who took over for him. Walden got the only batter he faced in the inning, Mallex Smith, to ground out into a 1-6-3 double play, thus ending things in the inning. Fast forward to the ninth, and Walden retired the side in order, striking out two and getting some help from Andrew Benintendi with the second out.

This performance was good to see out of Walden compared to how he looked last week against the Rays and Marlins. He’ll be optioned to Triple A Pawtucket to make room for Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be activated from the 10-Day Disabled List and will start in the series finale tomorrow.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup had their way with Rays pitching in this one. After going down by two runs very quickly, the Red Sox headed to the second inning up by two. Mookie Betts got things started right away with a leadoff double, and that was followed by a Andrew Benintendi walk and a Hanley Ramirez bloop single. With the bases loaded and no outs, JD Martinez came extremely close to launching  a grand slam to right field, but Rays center fielder Carlos Gomez came up with it. That did allow Betts to score from third and the Red Sox were on the board. The very next batter, Xander Bogaerts, got his great day at the plate started by lacing a double off the left field wall, clearing the bases and putting his team up by one. Rafael Devers was up next, and he drove Bogaerts home with an RBI single to right, and the Red Sox were up 4-2 in a very exciting first inning.

In the very next inning, the Red Sox lineup matched the total of runs they scored in the first by putting up another four runs, all on one swing of the bat from Xander Bogaerts. After Rays starter Jake Faria had walked three of the first five batters he faced in the second inning, Bogaerts took things into his own hands yet again and delivered big. Again.

That slam was the first from the Red Sox since September 24, 2016, which Dustin Pedroia was responsible for. That also came against the Tampa Bay Rays.

With that grand slam, Xander Bogaerts had upped his RBI total in the game to six, a new career high for the short stop. He is now hitting .371 on the season with an OPS of 1.148.

The bats went silent for a while after those first two innings, as Rays pitching held them to zero runs over the next four innings. Fast forward to the bottom of the seventh though, and things started to pick up again.

With Chaz Roe on the mound and JD Martinez at the plate, can you guess who won in this matchup? If you guessed Martinez, you would be correct because the Red Sox slugger launched his first home run of the season over the Green Monster to put his team up 9-2.

Gotta love the silent treatment when Martinez made his way back to the dugout after rounding the bases.

Two batters later and we had Rafael Devers launching his first home run of the season off of Roe as well, giving the Red Sox their tenth and final run of the contest.

All and all, it was a great day for the Red Sox lineup. Not only did they score a ton of runs, but they drew a total of six walks and forced the Rays to use five pitchers, including a position player, the day before their “bullpen day”.

The Red Sox are now 7-1. This is the best start to a season they have had since 1920. Like I said, Eduardo Rodriguez will be getting the start tomorrow afternoon, with Andrew Kittredge “starting” for the Rays. First pitch is at 1:05 with the Red Sox going for their eighth straight win.

RECAP: Xander Bogaerts Collects Three Hits as #RedSox Defeat Rays by a Score of 3-2.

As famous rapper DMX once said, “X gon’ give it ya” and X gave it to the Tampa Bay Rays last night. That’s right, Red Sox short stop Xander Bogaerts continued his hot start to the season by adding three more hits, including his first home run of the season. We’ll get to that later. For now though, let’s discuss Rick Porcello’s start.

Making his 2018 regular season debut, the 2016 American League Cy Young Award winner put together a solid outing at the Trop. He tossed 5.1 innings of one run ball, allowing six hits, one walk, and fanning four along the way. That lone run came with no outs in the sixth, ending the scoreless innings streak for Red Sox starting pitchers at 18 to begin the season. Porcello wasn’t on the mound for the run, as he departed with one out and runners on first and third. The righty finished the night with 89 pitches, 61 of which went for strikes.

Heath Hembree would come on for Porcello with one out in the sixth, and he got the first batter he faced, Joey Wendle, to pop out to left field. That pop fly did allow the runner on third, Carlos Gomez, to score, giving the Rays their first run of the game. Hembree would proceed to close out the sixth and record the first two outs of the seventh before walking Denard Span. With Kevin Kiermaier, a lefty, due up next, Alex Cora made the decision to go to his lefty specialist, Bobby Poyner, to get the last out of the inning.

Poyner, making his MLB debut, got the speedy Kiermaier to pop out to third on the fifth pitch of the at bat, thus ending the inning. In the eighth, Rays outfielder Carlos Gomez welcomed Poyner to the big leagues by taking him deep to left field, cutting the Red Sox lead to just one run. The 25-year-old southpaw got the next batter he faced, Brad Miller, to pop out to first base, and that ended his night.

Carson Smith got the call next, and he was looking for retribution after his sub par Opening Day performance. Smith gave up a single to the first batter he faced, but followed that up by recording the last two outs of the inning, preserving the lead for Craig Kimbrel. Although he wasn’t as sharp as he was on Friday, the Red Sox closer still got the job done, in part because of sloppy base running by the Rays. Kimbrel walked the first batter he faced in the inning, Mallex Smith, another speedster. The very next batter, CJ Cron, lined out to Xander Bogaerts for what looked like the first out of the inning. However, Mallex Smith was hung out to dry in between first and second base, and Bogaerts doubled him up on a hard throw back to Mitch Moreland. With two outs, Kimbrel got Denard Span to pop out to the man of the night (Bogaerts), and guaranteed the Red Sox at least a split in their first series of the season.

Offensively, the Red Sox were held in check by Rays pitching yet again. The oddest part about last night’s game was the fact that the Rays did not use a starting pitcher. Andrew Kittredge, last night’s “starter”, has been a reliever for the majority of his professional career. In total, the Rays used four pitchers last night, one less than the Red Sox did.

Xander Bogaerts got the Red Sox on the board first in the top of the second. The native of Aruba took a 3-1 fastball from Kittredge and smoked it over the left field wall, giving him his first home run of the new season.

Bogaerts would go on to add two more hits after this, including an RBI double in the sixth, scoring JD Martinez from second. Speaking of Martinez, the 30-year-old outfielder made his first start in left field on Saturday night, and he finally got a hit, two actually. The first came in the sixth, when Martinez led the inning off with a double and eventually scored.

The second came in the eighth, when Martinez singled to right field. After a frustrating two games to start his Red Sox career, I’m sure Martinez is feeling relieved that he finally got his first hit out of the way. First home run is up next.

As the series wraps up later this afternoon, it would be nice to see the top of the Red Sox lineup pick up some of the slack. Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez have combined for a grand total of four hits and three games. Xander Bogaerts has been great, he currently owns a .667 Batting Average, but the top of the order needs to start setting the table.

Hector Velazquez faces off against Jake Faria today with first pitch at 1:10. Easter and day baseball make for a great combination.

Xander Bogaerts Drove in Two Runs for the #RedSox Today.

On a day where Chris Sale was pitching, I am surprisingly not writing about him. Instead, I am writing about today’s starting short stop, Xander Bogaerts. Before the lineup scored four runs in the bottom half of the ninth, Bogaerts had been the only source of offensive production for the Red Sox. In his three at bats, the 25-year-old Aruba native reached base twice while driving in two runs. The first RBI came on a solo shot in the fourth inning, the second on an RBI single in the sixth. Here they both are in this convenient video:

Today’s performance at the plate now puts Bogaerts’ batting average at .353 for the spring, to go along with an impressive OPS of 1.025.

With less than ten days until Opening Day, the Red Sox have now won seven Grapefruit League games in a row. Craig Kimbrel came back from his family emergency today as well, so things are looking up right now. A healthy Xander Bogaerts could be a big addition to this Red Sox lineup, even more so if he can get his power numbers up. In three full big league seasons, the most home runs the short stop has hit is only 21, which took place in 2016. He has already hit two in 37 plate appearances this spring, so we could be looking at Xander hitting home runs at a much higher clip in 2018. Expecting X to bounce back in a big way this year.

Thinking about those 2️⃣3️⃣ more days. - Boston Red Sox (@redsox)