Defensive Gems from Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. Propel Red Sox to Eighth Consecutive Win.
Picture: Billie Weiss
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 way 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…
Mr. Steal Your HR pic.twitter.com/ktNvWKx4CA
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 11, 2018
…and Jackie Bradley Jr. in the sixth.
If a ball's hit anywhere to center field at Fenway, @JackieBradleyJr has a chance!
— #Statcast (@statcast) July 11, 2018
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.
High five! pic.twitter.com/eLANRc5WLv
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) July 11, 2018
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.
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.