Brian Johnson Pitches Seven Innings, Rafael Devers Homers in First Game Back from Disabled List, and the Red Sox Are Undefeated in August.
Picture: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
On the night following a 10-7 win despite a disappointing performance from Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox hung another 10 runs on the Blue Jays while Wednesday’s starter Brian Johnson had himself a much better time on the mound at Rogers Centre.
Making his eighth start of the season and pitching north of the border for the first time since he took the loss on a Luke Maile walk-off home run on May 11th, Johnson breezed through the first five innings of this one.
Retiring 15 of the first 18 batters he faced while holding the Jays scoreless, it looked as though the lefty was going to cruise to his third winning decision on Wednesday night.
It turned out that way in the end, but not before the Blue Jays gave Johnson a fair amount of trouble in both the sixth and seventh innings.
Starting in that sixth inning, a two-run home run off the bat of Teoscar Hernandez, who has now hit seven homers in 19 career games against the Red Sox, that was preceded by a Justin Smoak single gave Toronto their first two runs of the contest.
An inning later, which is the furthest Johnson has pitched into a big league game since last May, another home run, this one good for three runs off the bat of Randal Grichuk cut Boston’s lead in half and ended Johnson’s night on a rather sour note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (67 strikes), the former Florida Gator relied on his offspeed curveball heavily on Wednesday, as he went to it 44% of the time he was on the mound. His four-seam fastball, a pitch Johnson went to 40 times, topped out at 90.1 MPH in the second inning. Both home runs given up were a result of 86 and 87 MPH fastballs.
As he did end up improving to 3-3 on the season despite the five runs given up for the second consecutive outing, I would assume that Johnson will be able to maintain his spot in the rotation and make another start against the Philadelphia Phillies next week.
In relief of Johnson, the Red Sox bullpen, fresh off more than five innings of work on Tuesday, did not need to be turned to that frequently last night.
Both Ryan Brasier and Joe Kelly tossed scoreless frames of work in the 10-5 win. Brasier worked his way around two base runners to retire the side in the eighth, and Joe Kelly did the same in the ninth to wrap up his team’s 81st win of the year.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was mas matched up against a 28-year-old rookie right-handed pitcher in Toronto’s Mike Hauschild.
Hauschild, making his first career big league start, managed to hold Boston scoreless through the first two innings, but things really blew up on him starting in the third.
Rafael Devers, who was making his first start since being activated from the 10-day disabled list earlier in the day, got a four-run rally started by reaching second on a leadoff double.
One walk of Sandy Leon and one Mookie Betts HBP later to load the bases, Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox on the board with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Devers from third with ease.
Mitch Moreland, fresh off a four RBI night on Tuesday, followed that up by ripping another double off the wall in center field to drive in both Leon and Devers and make it a 3-0 game.
Following a JD Martinez single that advanced Moreland to third and a Blue Jays pitching change that saw Luis Santos take over for Hauschild, Xander Bogaerts capped off the early rally with another sac fly to right field that allowed Moreland to score from third. 4-0.
In the fifth, Bogaerts came through again with runners in scoring position, as he drew a bases loaded walk from Santos that let Mookie Betts, who led the inning off with a single, plate Boston’s fifth run.
An inning later, Rafael Devers put on exclamation point in his first game back from injury by blasting a 2-2 slider from new Jays reliever Jake Petricka 425 feet into the left field seats. Devers’ 16th big fly of the season was good for two and had an exit velocity of over 109 MPH, the second hardest hit ball of the evening.
Fast forward a bit to the seventh, and back-to-back doubles from JD Martinez and Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s eighth run while Bogaerts was able to pick up his third RBI of the contest.
Finally, in the ninth, JD Martinez capped off what was another offensive onslaught from the Red Sox lineup by driving in Sandy Leon from second on a two out RBI single, his league-leading 98th of the season. Andrew Benintendi also came around to score in the inning thanks to a wild pitch from Toronto reliever Joe Biagini to plate his team’s 10th and last run of the night.
Some notes from this win:
During his current seven-game hitting streak, JD Martinez is slashing .464/.559/.893 with one home run and nine RBI over that span.
From @MLBStatoftheDay: The
@RedSox are the 7th AL team EVER to win at least 81 of their first 115 games.
At 81-34, the Red Sox have won their last six games, all of which have come in August, 10 out of their last 11, and 25 of their last 30. Their winning percentage on the season is a robust .704.
Going for the series win later tonight, it will be Rick Porcello getting the ball for the Red Sox against Blue Jays rookie southpaw Ryan Borucki.
Coming off perhaps the best start of his career last Friday against the New York Yankees in which he tossed nine innings of one run ball, Porcello will be in search of his 15th win of the season on Thursday.
Opposite Porcello will be Ryan Borucki, who also matched up against the righty in his last start against Boston on July 13th, a start in which he surrendered seven runs (four earned) on eight hits and four walks in what turned out to be a 13-7 win for Toronto.
The Red Sox are red-hot and first pitch of the series finale at Rogers Centre is once again scheduled for 7:07 PM ET Thursday.