Kimbrel Picks Up Historic Save as Sox Squeeze By With Win
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 were 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 and the fastest reliever to reach 300 career saves.
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— Red Sox (@RedSox) May 6, 2018
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 and 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.