RECAP: Rick Porcello Pitches a Gem as #RedSox Take Series from Yankees with 6-3 Victory.

After splitting the first two games of their first series of the season, the Red Sox took the finale against the Yankees on a rain filled Thursday night.

Rick Porcello was matched up against Sonny Gray in this one, and the right hander from New Jersey looked like he was at the top of his game last night. In seven innings, Porcello allowed just two hits and a HBP while walking none and striking out six. It took six plus innings and a 40 minute rain delay for the Yankees to get their first hit off of Porcello. The 2016 AL Cy Young Champ was nearly perfect against what’s supposed to be one of the more intimidating lineups in baseball.

Before the rain delay, the only mistake Porcello made was unintentionally hitting Giancarlo Stanton in the elbow with a fastball in the fourth inning. Once the delay ended about 40 minutes after it started, Porcello was back on the mound for the sixth. He retired the side in order, and it appeared as if things were about to get interesting.

Unfortunately, Aaron Judge greeted Porcello in the seventh with a leadoff double, thus ending the no-hitter bid. Giancarlo Stanton followed that up with a single, and all the sudden the Yankees were threatening to put a dent into the Red Sox lead. Wanting to end his night on a positive note, Porcello proceeded to retire the next three batters he faced, including a dramatic eight pitch strike out against Aaron Hicks to get the Red Sox out of the inning unscathed. That last inning was a grind for Porcello, but he held his pitch count to under 100, finishing with 99 total, 69 (nice) of which went for strikes.

In relief of Porcello, Marcus Walden got into his first action since being recalled from Triple A Pawtucket earlier in the day. The reliever out of California looked like two different pitchers in the eighth and the beginning of the ninth. He allowed just one hit in a scoreless eighth, then followed that up by allowing the first four batters he faced in the ninth to reach base, with the help of two errors from Rafael Devers. The last guy Walden faced before exiting was Gary Sanchez with the bases loaded. On the first pitch he saw, Sanchez unloaded the bases with a double to center field, and all of a sudden, the Yankees had cut the Red Sox lead in half.

Luckily, that’s where things would stay. With no outs in the inning, Craig Kimbrel got the call I’m sure he was not expecting an inning earlier to go out and get the save. After getting Aaron Hicks to ground out to first for the first out of the inning, Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the next two batters he faced. That gave him his fourth save and his team the series win.

Offensively, the Red Sox got to Yankees starter Sonny Gray early, scoring four times in the second and twice in the third. Hanley Ramirez would have to exit the game in the first after he got hit in both wrists on a wild pitch by Gray.

X-Rays were negative and Ramirez was diagnosed with a contusion. Alex Cora said he could be ready to go after getting today off, so that is a positive sign. After sending five to the plate in the first, Eduardo Nunez got things started in the second with a leadoff single. A walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a wild pitch put runners on first and third for Sandy Leon with no outs. On a 1-0 count, Leon ripped a single to right field, scoring Nunez and putting the Red Sox up by one.

Later in the inning, after Brock Holt walked to load the bases, Mookie Betts drove in Bradley from third on a sacrifice fly to center field. Andrew Benintendi followed that up by driving in Leon from third on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error by Yankees second baseman Tyler Wade. The very next batter, Mitch Moreland, capped things off in the second by scoring Brock Hole from third on a single to left field.

In the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in Eduardo Nunez from second on an RBI double. Two batters later, Mookie Betts scored Bradley from third on a ground out, giving the Red Sox their sixth and final run of the game, which is all they needed.

At 10-2, the Red Sox look to be in great shape as they welcome the Baltimore Orioles into town for the first time in 2018 later today. Eduardo Rodriguez will be looking to rebound after his disappointing season debut last weekend. Chris Tillman gets the ball for Baltimore. First pitch is at 7:10 PM for the first Fenway Friday of the year.

RECAP: The #RedSox Lost to the Yankees in Eventful Fashion Last Night.

Last night really felt like a throwback. Red Sox, Yankees, cold weather, Fenway Park, bench clearing brawl, four-hour game. I would expect that in 2004, but in 2018, not really.

Right from the get go, the Red Sox were trailing in this game. Making his third start of the season, David Price allowed the Yankees to score four times in the top of the first. Half of those runs  were scored on a two-run home run off the bat of Gary Sanchez. As it turns out, the first inning is all the action Price would see in this one. The lefty had to take an early exit because of “sensations” he was feeling in his left hand. He said his arm felt great, but his hand did not. From what I’ve heard, Price plans on making his next start against the Orioles on Patriots Day.

On short notice, Alex Cora turned to another lefty in the second, that being Bobby Poyner. After allowing two to reach and retiring the side, Poyner got rocked in the third inning. Three straight hits put the Yankees up by four again, and then we had some good old-fashioned mayhem.

Shades of the Manny Machado incident with Dustin Pedroia last season in Baltimore. Although I don’t think Tyler Austin intended on injuring Brock Holt, it was a pretty careless move by him. I understand why Holt took offense to it. I mean, there’s no reason to do something like that if you’re not trying to start something. What’s worse is the Red Sox could not get a double play out of this after it was reviewed.

Fast forward to the top of the seventh inning and we had even more drama. After scoring two more runs in the sixth, the Yankees entered the inning with a 10-6 lead. Joe Kelly was on the mound, and after he got the first batter he faced to ground out, Tyler Austin was up next. After swinging at the first pitch he saw, Austin took two straight balls, one which came close to hitting him. On the very next pitch, madness…

Gotta love the way Kelly handled this. Compared to the Manny Machado situation last year, I believe this was handled much better. No head shots, solid shot to the ribs, full on madness. Christian Vazquez probably should have restrained Tyler Austin from getting to the mound, but we got this glorious moment out of it:

Joe Kelly, man. He’s a bit of an odd ball, but he’s our odd ball.

In the aftermath of all this, Brian Johnson came in for Kelly with one out in the seventh. Working on zero days rest, I was thoroughly impressed with the outing the lefty put together. He allowed just one hit over 1.2 innings of work while fanning three, keeping his team in the game in the late stages.

Speaking of impressive outings, Carson Smith, like Johnson, kept the Red Sox in the game late. He tossed a scoreless top of the ninth, walking one and striking out one along the way.

Offensively, seven runs was not enough for the Red Sox to pick up their tenth straight win. Like I said, they were down by four right from the start, and although they got to Masahiro Tanaka and chipped away at the deficit more than once, they could not catch up.

Hanley Ramirez got things started in the home half of the first, as he blasted his second home run of the year over the Green Monster to make it a 4-1 game.

After going scoreless the next three innings, the Red Sox lineup erupted for five runs in the fifth. A Mookie Betts RBI double scored Jackie Bradley Jr. from second with one out in the inning, Yankees lead down to six. Two batters later and the bases loaded, JD Martinez entered himself into this rivalry with a huge hit. On the first pitch he saw from Tanaka, Martinez took a 89 mile per hour splitter and launched it over the center field wall.

Third grand slam for the Red Sox as a team this season. Just a reminder, they hit NONE in 2017. All of the sudden, we had ourselves a new ball game. Red Sox down 8-6 going into the sixth, things were looking up. Unfortunately, the Yankees knocked on two more runs to make it a four run game.

Moving ahead to the bottom half of the ninth, the Red Sox were down to their last three outs against Aroldis Chapman, a pitcher who has struggled at Fenway Park in the past. Two straight hits from Jackie Bradley Jr. and Christian Vazquez put runners on second and third with no outs. Pinch hitting for Brock Holt, Sandy Leon failed to score either run and popped out to right field. After Mookie Betts struck out on six pitches, a wild pitch with Rafael Devers at the plate allowed Bradley to score from third and cut the deficit to three runs. Unlike last season, Devers could not catch up to Chapman’s fastball, as he struck out to end the game.

Unfortunate result, but a very memorable game. I doubt anything will transpire tonight, but I’m looking forward to what these two teams have in store for the rest of the season.

Rick Porcello gets the ball against Sonny Gray in the rubber match later tonight. First pitch is at 7:10 PM.

RECAP: In Their First Meeting of the Season, the #RedSox Blew out the New York Yankees.

On a chilly Tuesday night over at Fenway Park, the 8-1 Boston Red Sox hosted the 5-5 New York Yankees for the first matchup between the two this season. On the mound, we had Chris Sale and Luis Severino, the second and third place finishers in the 2017 American League Cy Young race. To be honest, I was expecting a low scoring pitcher’s duel last night, but that’s the opposite of what we got.

In his first Fenway start of 2018, Chris Sale built on the early success he has had so far by keeping the Yankees lineup in check. The southpaw went six innings deep in this one, scattering eight hits and one run to go along with no walks and eight strikeouts. That lone run was just about the only mistake Sale made, as Yankees slugger Aaron Judge made him pay on a 1-0 fastball in the fifth inning, which Judge blasted over the center field wall. But like I said, that’s the only run Sale gave up, which is more than acceptable given the threats in the Yankees lineup. Speaking of that lineup, Sale managed to strike out new Yankee Giancarlo Stanton twice and Gary Sanchez once with this nasty slider:

When he departed after the sixth, Sale was at 87 pitches, 55 of which went for strikes. He probably would have come out for the seventh, but the Red Sox lineup put the game away in the bottom half of the inning by scoring nine times.

Instead of Sale, it was Joe Kelly who got the call for the seventh inning. First off, I dig his new walk in music.

And second, it was great to see Kelly pitch a scoreless inning. He did give up a leadoff single to Shane Robinson, but he also lowered his ERA all the way down to 8.31. Baby steps.

With the game already in hand, Brian Johnson was responsible for the last two innings of work. Making his second career relief appearance, Johnson actually got bloodied up pretty bad.

Pitching wise, he gave up a double and a walk while striking out two over the last two innings, securing his team’s ninth straight win.

Offensively, the Red Sox lineup got to Yankees ace Luis Severino early and often. Once again, Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the first inning with a double. Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez drove him in on an RBI single, putting the Red Sox on top by one. In the second, Christian Vazquez led things off with a single. Two batters later, Mookie Betts advances Vazquez to second on a single. With runners on first and second and one out, Andrew Benintendi cleared the bases on his first triple of the season, putting the Red Sox up by three. To wrap things up in the second, Hanley Ramirez knocked in his second run of the night with another single, scoring Benintendi from third and giving the Red Sox their fourth and far from last run of the night.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Hanley Ramirez is still driving in runs. This time, he did it on a sac fly to right field. With Mookie Betts already at third base, that run scored easily.

Remember how the Red Sox exploded for six runs in the eighth inning this past Sunday? Well, they kind of did the same thing last night. Except this time it was earlier in the game and they put up more runs.

With Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle on the mound, Mookie Betts got the sixth started by ripping a double down the left field line. After back to back walks to Benintendi and Ramirez, JD Martinez found himself in an ideal situation. Down 1-2, Martinez took a 94 mile per hour fastball from Kahnle and nearly sent it out of the ballpark. Instead, the ball was slapped off the Green Monster, and two more runs came into score.

Another run and a few batters later, Mookie Betts found himself in nearly the exact same situation. Two outs, bases reloaded, with Chasen Shreve in for Kahnle. The result? Just a grand slam to put the Red Sox up by 13 runs.

Betts would finish with four hits and four RBIs in this one. In fact, the top third of the lineup did not record a single out last night. When the Red Sox have that going for them, I assume it’s going to be very hard to beat them. I mean, they’ve won nine games in a row for a reason.

Next up, David Price takes the hill against Masahiro Tanaka for the middle game later tonight. Price has been stellar so far, so I’ll be interested to see how he handles this Yankees lineup. First pitch is at 7:10 PM.

 

 

 

Full 2018 #RedSox Season Preview: Expectations and Predictions

It’s the day before the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season. For the first time I can remember, all 30 clubs (except the Reds and Nationals) will be playing on Opening Day to start the season. The Boston Red Sox kick their season off in Tampa Bay to square off against the new-look Rays at 4:00 PM on Thursday.

This campaign looks to be a promising one for the Red Sox, and expectations are high as ever with the team owning the highest payroll in baseball at more than $234 million. With that in mind, losing in the ALDS this season really isn’t an option, no matter how many games they win in the regular season. I mean, John Farrell won 93 games each in the past two seasons, that clearly doesn’t guarantee anything. Now, with new manager Alex Cora at the helm, things are looking more optimistic. Although this will be Cora’s first go around managing a big league club, the native of Puerto Rico has three things going for him. One, he was the bench coach for the 2017 World Series Champion Houston Astros. Two, he has managerial experience in winter ball. And three, he spent more than three seasons with the Red Sox as a player from 2005-2008. The Red Sox needed a change from John Farrell and Alex Cora was the best managerial candidate available, so that’s a positive start.

Lest we forget that Cora is inheriting a team that has won the AL East two years in a row now. A team that won 93 games in 2017, yet it felt like they underachieved throughout the season. If he can rejuvenate this team the way I think he can, we may be looking at 95+ wins this year. I’ll get to that later, for now, let’s move on to the pitching.

The Rotation:

The rotation is going to look a bit different to start the year, as Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are slated to miss time on the disabled list. When fully healthy though, a rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez can compete with any team for one of the best rotations in baseball.

Sale is coming off a year where he struck out 300+ batters and finished second in AL Cy Young Voting. Both of those results sound good, but if you watched Sale at all last season, you know he left something to be desired at the tail end of 2017. His starts may be less entertaining, but if the lefty can leave more in the tank for September and October, the starts that really matter, it would all be worth it.

As for David Price, health is key. He missed a good portion of the 2017 season, thus explaining why he only appeared in 16 games. Off the field issues were affluent as well for Price. The Dennis Eckersley “Yuck” confrontation was ugly, and that didn’t help Price in terms of what fans think of him. In my opinion, what would be best for Price would be to put your head down, avoid the distractions, and pitch your ass off. The only way he can get fans on his side now is by performing, especially in the postseason. And if he does all that, he has the option to get out of his current contract at the end of the season. It’s hard to imagine a free agent entering his age 33 season could make more than $31 million per season, but we’ll have to wait and see how this season plays out for him first.

Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, and Eduardo Rodriguez all have two things in common; Upside and inconsistency. Porcello followed up his 2016 Cy Young Award winning campaign by putting together a stinker of a season. If you look at Porcello’s WHIP each year he’s been with the Red Sox, you’ll notice that it starts at 1.36, goes down to 1.01 the season he won Cy Young, then inflates back up to 1.4 last season. Does that mean the 29-year-old New Jersey native is due for another Cy Young caliber season? I doubt it. With Sale and Price on the staff, Porcello does not need to shoulder that kind of work load. He needs to be a solid No. 3 starter. That’s it.

This thing is going to be longer than I expected. Okay, next up we got Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez. Both have had health and consistency issues in the past and both will miss the start of the season. Surprisingly, Pomeranz exceeded expectations last year and had stretches where he looked like a top ten pitcher in the American League. He may not go deep into too many of his starts, but if he can give this team five to six innings of quality stuff on a consistent enough basis, he will be a valuable part of the rotation. As for Rodriguez, there’s not as much pressure on him as there he used to be. The combination of missing time and acquiring guys like David Price and Chris Sale have made more Rodriguez more expandable. He’s no longer a vital lefty, the Red Sox have three of those that are all arguably better than he is. I don’t mean to put ERod down, because when he’s on he is on, but I just don’t want to set my expectations too high. I would be happy if he were able to make 20-25 starts this year.

The Bullpen:

For the sake of this blog, I’m going to include Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez in this section because that’s where I think they will be spending their time once Pomeranz and Rodriguez return from the disabled list.

The Red Sox bullpen was one of the best in the majors last year, can’t take that away from them. They finished with the second best bullpen ERA in the league, trailing only the Cleveland Indians. Craig Kimbrel is coming off one of the best seasons a Red Sox closer has ever had. Carson Smith is here for his first full season with the Red Sox since he was acquired two offseasons ago. Tyler Thornburg is alive, I think. Two of the biggest surprises of Red Sox spring training have to be Marcus Walden and Bobby Poyner making the Opening Day roster. I honestly don’t know much about them other than they performed well this month to earn those spots. All and all, I expect this unit to be just as good as they were last season. They might not be as good as the Indians bullpen, but maintaining the success they found last year would be more than enough.

The Lineup:

With the Opening Day lineup officially looking like this…

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  3. Hanley Ramirez, 1B
  4. JD Martinez, DH
  5. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  6. Rafael Devers, 3B
  7. Eduardo Nunez, 2B
  8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  9. Christian Vazquez, C

…It’s hard not to get excited for what this season could bring. The addition of JD Martinez gives the Red Sox the power threat they so very much missed last season. The success this lineup has mostly depends on if some players can bounce back from their 2017 seasons. Mookie Betts was the only everyday player to post an OPS higher than .800. Compare that to the 2016 the Red Sox lineup had and it just doesn’t make sense. If losing David Ortiz affected the team that much hopefully Martinez will revitalize them.

The top five here have a ton of potential. Betts, Benintendi, Ramirez, Martinez, and Devers. We could easily be looking at 20+ home runs for each of these guys. That may be what this lineup needs most of all, some power. Last season, the Red Sox ranked 27th in team home runs. I am hoping that the addition of Martinez as well new philosophies while at the plate will lead to a surge in those power numbers in 2018.

The Depth:

Depending on what your view is, you could make the case that the Red Sox have an above average bench and minor league depth at some positions. To start the season, it’s looking like Mitch Moreland, Sandy Leon, Blake Swihart, and Brock Holt will be coming off the bench. In Pawtucket, Tzu-Wei Lin and Sam Travis have already shown what they can do with a small sample size in the big leagues. Credit to Travis for putting together yet another solid spring training, but it’s going to be a challenge to find him any at bats with the big league club. Lin is more of an interesting case. He made the jump from Double A Portland to Boston without much notice. In his 25 games with the Red Sox, he hit .268 while playing three positions.

In terms of pitchers in the minor leagues, there really is nothing to boast about, at least not yet. Brandon Workman, Robby Scott, and maybe Roenis Elias are the only pitchers who have the most realistic chance to pitch with the Red Sox this season, and that’s mostly because all three have before. As for the others, Jalen Beeks was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year over the winter, and he looks to be the ace of the pitching staff in Pawtucket right now. He posted a 5.06 ERA in two starts this spring, so he may need more time to develop with the PawSox before getting a chance to start a Major League game.

Two of the biggest names to watch in the Red Sox farm system are both pitchers and both will not pitch for the Red Sox this season. Those two would be none other than Jason Groome and Tanner Houck, the last two first round selections the Red Sox have made in the last two amateur drafts. Groome’s short professional career has already been riddled with injuries, but spent his offseason training with Chris Sale. Houck spent all of the 2017 season with the Lowell Spinners, where he appeared in ten games as a starter and posted a solid 3.63 ERA and .239 BAA. They may not have been on the bubble for a roster spot this season, but I expect next spring to be very different.

The Injured:

Marco Hernandez, Dustin Pedroia, Drew Pomeranz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright. Those are all the players who will begin the season on the disabled list. For Pedroia, this will be the veteran’s first missed Opening Day since 2007, when he wasn’t on the team yet. As long as Pedroia is with the team, I’m fine. He will be traveling with the team for the start of the season, and should be making his return sometime in May, barring any setbacks.

Going into the season missing three pitchers who started for the team last year is certainly unsettling. Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello will have to carry a heavier burden on their shoulders for the time being. When everyone gets back though, I would expect Steven Wright to be the one sent to the bullpen.

My Predictions:

Here are my predictions for this year’s Red Sox team:

Record: 95-67 (1st in AL East)

Team leader in Home Runs: JD Martinez (38)

Team leader in RBIs: JD Martinez (112)

Team leader in Hits: Mookie Betts (189)

Team leader in Wins: Chris Sale (17)

Team leader in Strikeouts: Chris Sale (245)

Craig Kimbrel Saves: 32

Player most likely to win MVP: Mookie Betts

Player most likely to win Cy Young: Chris Sale

Alright, that will do it for me. Opening Day is tomorrow, get PUMPED!

 

 

RECAP: The #RedSox only scored twice last night and that wasn’t good enough to beat Luis Severino and the Yankees.

Going into last night, I was pretty excited for this game. Sure, the Red Sox haven’t looked great in this series, but they had the chance to leave New York with a 5.5 game lead without another game against the Yankees on the schedule. Another reason to be excited, we had Chris Sale and Luis Severino facing off against each other on national television. Sale was great last time out in Toronto, and has had a good time facing the Yankees this season. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Bronx Bombers did some serious damage off of the southpaw and Severino looked a whole lot better. In the 4.1 innings he pitched, Sale surrendered three earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out six Yankees. Honestly, I did not see this coming. Yeah, the pitch count was pretty high, but it looked like Sale was going to get through it. Three of those seven hits were solo home runs, two being back to back in the fourth, where the Yankees got all their runs off of him. That’s the first time in his career that Chris Sale has given up back to back home runs, for what it’s worth. Like I said, the pitch count was up, so by the time Sale exited with one out in the fifth, he had thrown about 109 pitches, probably shouldn’t have come out for the fifth, but that’s whatever.

After Sale, the Red Sox baseball was just a mess. Joe Kelly, Robby Scott, Addison Reed, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Blaine Boyer were all used in just 3.2 innings of work. The game got away from the Red Sox in the sixth, where the Yankees scored six times. The home plate umpire, Scott Holbrook, certainly wasn’t helpful in this one, and he even got Carl Willis tossed from the game. It was clear to see how tight his strike zone is, but what really hurt was his inconsistency. Sale didn’t seem to make a big deal out of it, but Sandy Leon and some in the dugout certainly made their voices heard. All and all, after the final out of the bottom of the sixth, which took about 40 minutes, this one was over.

Offensively, the Red Sox did not do much, which has been a recurring theme since Thursday. They scored in the sixth on a passed ball, which actually made it a 3-1 game at the time. The only other run they scored in the ninth, on a Sandy Leon RBI single, which did not make any difference whatsoever. What that RBI single did do though is end the 0fer they had going with Runners In Scoring Position.

Nine runs, that’s all the runs the Red Sox scored since Thursday. Averaging less than three runs per game, the lineup needs a spark. Hopefully they’ll find it starting tonight back home against the Blue Jays with Rick Porcello on the mound.

77 down, 18 to go.

RECAP: Masahiro Tanaka outpitches Drew Pomeranz as #RedSox drop third game in series 5-1.

I don’t have many words to describe what I just watched. It wasn’t awful by any means, but at no point, did I find myself really getting in to and enjoying this game. That’s the way it was Thursday night too, and those games went about the exact same way. They lost 6-2 on Thursday, and they lost 5-1 today, so the same run differential. Eduardo Rodriguez was okay in the first game, and Drew Pomeranz would’ve been too if it were not for one mistake pitch to Matt Holliday. You could make the case that John Farrell should have removed Pomeranz before he faced Holliday in the sixth, but that was not the case. In the first five innings, the lefty managed to scatter six hits and one walk while surrendering just one run, a home run, and striking out four. Going into the sixth, Pomeranz’s pitch count was in a good place, so there was no problem there. A leadoff walk was not a great sign, then he allowed Chase Headley to reach on a single. This all made way for Matt Holliday, who launched a three-run shot over the left field wall to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. Pomeranz would strikeout Greg Bird before getting lifted from the game with only one out in the inning. Brandon Workman would come into the game, end the bottom half of the sixth, then allow a run in the seventh before getting lifted in favor of Fernando Abad with one out in the inning. The seldom used Abad would end the inning on a pop out and a fly out, then we got to see Austin Maddox for the first time since July 16th, and he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Since he got hit with the loss, Pomeranz’s streak of eight straight winning decisions came to an end. Despite a solid month of August, Pomeranz’s ERA is right where it was at the beginning of the month at 3.36. It looks like the southpaw will make his next start Friday against the Rays, a team he has somewhat struggled against this season, so hopefully he can rebound in a positive way.

As the title reads, Masahiro Tanaka was great today against the Red Sox, as he usually is. In the seven innings they saw him, the Red Sox bats could only muster one run off the righty from Japan. That only run came in the sixth inning, when Eduardo Nunez scored from third on a wild pitch with Mookie Betts at the plate. So, not one member of the Red Sox drove in a run today, and only six recorded hits. Andrew Benintendi and Betts were the only ones to reach base more than once, and Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tzu-Wei Lin both recorded hits in their respective returns to the big league club. The run production just has not been there since Thursday, scoring only seven runs in three games and going a combined 0-15 with Runners In Scoring Position. This problem could persist tomorrow, with the ace of the Yankees staff, Luis Severino, on the mound.

To counter Severino. Chris Sale will make the start for the Red Sox in a semi-important game. A win salvages the series with a split and gives the Red Sox a 4.5 game lead over those Yankees with no games left between the two. That game has a special start on ESPN, 7:35 instead of 8:05, should be a good one.

77 down, 18 to go. 

RECAP: Doug Fister stays hot; leads #RedSox to 4-1 win in The Bronx.

First off, I apologize yet again for not blogging Thursday’s loss, that’s on me. The Red Sox lost that game in a pretty depressing fashion, but last night was a whole different story with Doug Fister on the mound. The righty looked great for the third straight time, going back to the start on August 22nd against the Indians. He threw a one hitter in that one, and his performance last night was pretty much on par with that. He got off to a rough start, allowing one run on two straight doubles to start the game, but really settled down after that. In the six innings he pitched after that fiasco, the Yankees reached base a total of three times while not crossing the plate at all and striking out five times. Also, in his first game since August 8th, Dustin Pedroia made a really nice play behind Fister to leadoff the fifth.

That marks his third straight quality start, and over that span, Fister has pitched 23 innings, surrendering only 4 earned runs on 10 hits with 5 walks and 18 K’s to go along with that. Since he arrived in Boston back in June, Fister has gone from end of the rotation starter, to a long relief guy, all the way up to a valuable starter in this rotation. While he’s been on this run, he has made those three starts against three teams that could all be playing playoff baseball in October, the Indians, Yankees, and Orioles. If the Red Sox were to start playing in the ALDS next week, I’d say Fister would have to be the third starter, behind Sale and Pomeranz. He’s been great and he’ll look to continue this success next time out against the Blue Jays back in Boston.

In relief of Fister, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel locked down the win by pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth. Reed retired the Yankees in order in his inning, and Kimbrel did the same with a strike out in his inning, picking up his 32nd save of the season. After an all around bad pitching performance on Thursday, it was refreshing to see a performance like this out of Fister and the ‘pen last night.

On the other side of things, the lineup handled Sonny Gray better than they did when they saw him August 20th at Fenway. It took until the third, but Eduardo Nunez got the scoring started in style, mashing his 12th home run of the season over the left field wall. This is unrelated to the game, but I feel like Nunez is good at showing opposing pitchers and teams up. Back in Cleveland, he got hit in the back by Corey Kluber for taking a big swing. Next time up, Nunez hit a big home run. On Thursday, Nunez bunted against CC Sabathia, and Sabathia took offense to it. How does Nunez respond? He goes deep in his second at-bat of the game, giving the Red Sox the lead.

Love to see it. The other two runs the Red Sox scored were both home runs and both came against Sonny Gray. Andrew Benintendi hit the first of the two, his 19th of the year, in the fifth.

Then Hanley Ramirez hit his third home run since Monday in the seventh, his 22nd.

Like I said up top there, Dustin Pedroia is back, and not only did he make a defensive play, but he also got a base hit in his first game back. The Red Sox are going to ease him back into this thing so he can be ready to go in October, so his playing time will be limited over the next few weeks. I just read that Tzu-Wei Lin will join the team tomorrow, so I’m pretty pumped that Tzunami will be making a comeback because he was great before the arrival of Rafael Devers.

Drew Pomeranz makes the start against Masahiro Tanaka later this afternoon, would be nice to guarantee a split in the series with a win.

77 down, 18 to go.