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Red Sox 7, Phillies 3: Mookie Betts so hot right now

Mookie Betts.

Boston Red Sox v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Overall, this was a very positive game for the Red Sox. The offense did its thing early and jumped out to a quick lead against a pitcher who is very susceptible to bad stretches. That gave the pitching staff enough breathing room with which to work, and while the final margin wasn’t huge it seemed like Boston was in control of this one from start to finish. The victory gives them three in a row as well as five in their last six and it clinches a series victory against the worst team in baseball. Good teams have to win these types of series, and the Red Sox achieved that goal this time around.

With all of that being said, let’s start with the one big negative from this game: Brian Johnson. It wasn’t really the lefty’s performance here that was the issue. In fact, he got off to a good start and it looked like the Red Sox bullpen was headed for some much-needed rest. He got through a 1-2-3 first inning with just eight pitches and allowed just one baserunner in the second.

Then, the third inning came around and things took a major turn. With the Red Sox already up with a 5-0 lead — more on that soon — Johnson started to unravel. He began things by allowing a double to Freddy Galvis, and after recording two quick outs the Phillies kept rallying. First it was Howie Kendrick with a single to score the first run. Then, it was Aaron Altherr, who has been on fire of late. The Phillies outfielder took a curveball up in the zone and launched it over the left field wall to cut Boston’s lead down to two. After that, Tommy Joseph crushed a double and that was it for Johnson.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t over for Johnson simply because he had started performing poorly. Instead, the trainer came out to see him and they decided he could no longer pitch. Later, the club would announce he left the start with “left shoulder discomfort.” It’s unclear at this point how serious this injury is, but it goes without saying that this is not what the Red Sox need right now. We’ll keep you updated with any other information that comes out.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Other than the third inning for Johnson, things were good for the Red Sox. As I said above, the offense got off to a hot start and jumped all over Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson. They got started right away with two straight singles to open the game followed by an RBI double from Xander Bogaerts to give them a 1-0 lead before even recording an out. Andrew Benintendi would record the game’s first out in the next at bat, but it was a productive one flying deep enough into the outfield to score Dustin Pedroia from third and give Boston a 2-0 lead.

The second inning was a similar one with the two leadoff batters getting on once again. After a failed bunt attempt by Johnson (NL baseball catch the fever!), Mookie Betts crushed an RBI double to extend the lead to three. They’d tack on two more two batters later when Bogaerts hit a two-RBI single. The sixth run came in the top of the fourth when Betts absolutely punished a hanging slider for a solo home run

They’d add yet another run on yet another home run from Mookie. Boston’s superstar had a chance at a cycle and yet he settled for a multi-homer game. I’m shaking my head over here.

Meanwhile, Hector Velazquez came on for Johnson after the latter left with his injury. The former, of course, was just called up to the big leagues this afternoon to help a tiring bullpen. Good timing for that call-up, it seems. If you’ll recall, the former Mexican League star was shelled in his first career major-league outing, that one being a start in Oakland. He was much better this time around.

In all, the righty tossed 3 13 shutout innings against the Phillies, allowing just one hit (a double to Galvis) and one walk while striking out two. Velazquez is similar to Johnson in a way, as he relies far more on command than stuff. Though, to be fair, Velazquez did spin a couple of nice curveballs and mixed in a solid changeup as well. It goes without saying that this outing was far better than his start in Oakland, even when you consider the subpar lineup he was facing on Wednesday. My assumption is that he’s the favorite to take Johnson’s rotation spot should the southpaw need to miss some time with his shoulder injury, and Velazquez certainly made his case in this outing.

While the righty is stretched out, he was only pitching on three days rest after tossing 90 pitches in his last start with Pawtucket, which is why he was pulled after only 50 pitches this time out. In the seventh, John Farrell turned to Joe Kelly, who did walk one in his inning of work but got out of the inning without a hitch. Matt Barnes was similarly effective in the eighth and Robby Scott ended things in the ninth.

To get a full idea on how successful this night was for the Red Sox we’ll need more information on the extent of Johnson’s injury. For now, though, let’s celebrate the good times for the Red Sox. Velazquez looked good in his second major-league outing, and the bullpen in general continues to impress. The defense made outstanding play after outstanding play. The offense jumped out to an early lead, largely thanks to Mookie Betts, who is starting what seems like it’s going to be a hot summer. It’s good times in Boston. They’ll have Chris Sale on the mound on Wednesday as they look for the sweep.