The Red Sox have won two in a row and clinched a series victory, though it never seemed easy. On offense, they got themselves a relatively early lead and added enough to it that most of the contest was spent with a somewhat comfortable lead. The pitching, meanwhile, did a good job of limiting the damage, though there wasn’t a smooth inning. Eduardo Rodriguez gave up a whole lot of baserunners and wasn’t as efficient as one would hope. Still, the results were good even if it left you yearning for more. The bullpen pitched similarly, but they (mostly) got the job done. A win is a win is a win is a win.
As we all know, it’s been a really rough week for the Red Sox offense as they really haven’t been able to get much of anything going since the start of last week’s homestand. That continue in a long game Monday night that included eleven scoreless innings before they finally broke through in the twelfth. They didn’t exactly explode or anything in Tuesday’s game in Baltimore, but they brought the home run bats out and were able to put forth their best offensive performance in at least a few games. It was a step in the right direction, and on a day in which Mookie Betts sat to boot.
Going up against an unproven and, if we’re being honest, unimpressive pitcher in David Hess, Boston was looking for a hot start to shake off their recent slump as quickly as possible. That didn’t quite happen, as they managed just one runner on a walk in the first. The second would go better after they fell down 1-0 early. Xander Bogaerts led off that frame with a walk, and Rafael Devers came up next. The scuffling third baseman got a fastball up in the zone and he smashed it way out to right-center field to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. The next three batters would go down in order, but the damage was already done.
Fortunately, the power came right back in the third and the Sox were able to extend their lead thanks to a familiar producer. Andrew Benintendi came up with the bases empty and just one out, and he got a changeup down in the zone. It really doesn’t matter what or where you throw anything to Benintendi these days as he’s crushing whatever is thrown his way. This was no different as he smoked a ball out to straightaway centerfield for a solo shot to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
After the Orioles picked up another run in the bottom of the third, the Red Sox had their best sustained rally of the game in the fourth. That one started with the bottom of the lineup, as Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Eduardo Núñez followed that up with a one-out single of his own, and that loaded the bases for Benintendi. He didn’t have the big swing this time, instead watching four balls go by for a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead back to two. That ended the night for Hess, but the inning kept going. J.D. Martinez came up next, and as he was at the plate Miguel Castro was called for a balk to lead to another run. It looked like it would be a huge rally with the score already standing at 5-2, particularly after a Martinez walk re-loaded the bases, but Mitch Moreland grounded into an inning-ending double play.
They got another rally going in the fifth, too, and Bogaerts started this one as well. The shortstop kicked off the inning with a single, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With first base open and one out, the Orioles opted to intentionally walk Holt, and Vazquez didn’t take kindly to that. The catcher poked a line drive down the left field line to score one and put runners on the corners with one out, giving Jackie Bradley Jr. a chance to break the game open. Instead, he grounded into a double play and the score stood at 6-2.
Fortuntately, while the Red Sox had a couple of disappointing double plays on offense their pitching was good enough that it didn’t turn out to matter. Rodriguez was, as I said, good while feeling like he should have been better. This time around I think it was closer to him just getting good results while not being that great, as the Orioles were able to square him up a bit more than you’d like to see. However, to his credit he always seemed to settle down in big situations and prevent any real rallies. Obviously it’s his fault for getting into those situations to begin with, but it’s still encouraging to see him navigate them.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Rodriguez, and it looked like it was going to get out of hand before it even got going. Joey Rickard led off the game for Baltimore and he got a two-strike fastball that didn’t get high enough in the zone. The outfielder punished it by putting it over the left-field wall for a leadoff, solo homer. Adam Jones then followed that up with a single, but Rodriguez got a couple of big ground balls after that to end the inning.
The second looked like it could be more trouble for the young southpaw when he started things off by allowing back-to-back singles, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. This was one example of Rodriguez escaping trouble, however, as he got a pair of strikeouts along with flyout to get out of the inning without allowing a run. The third didn’t go as well, as Rodriguez gave up a leadoff walk and the run would eventually come around to score after a ground out and an RBI single.
After that, he settled in for a bit. The lefty never quite got a clean innings, but he didn’t let anymore Orioles cross the plate. He’d allow a pair of two-out singles in the fourth before ending the inning, and in the fifth he only allowed a walk. Though Rodriguez was approaching 100 pitches after five, Alex Cora sent him back out for the sixth. Boston’s starter got a couple of outs before allowing a single, and that ended his night. In all, he allowed the two runs in 5 2⁄3 innings on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. As I said, not quite as dominant as he’s been in most of his outings this year, but the results were still solid.
Hector Velazquez came on to finish off the sixth with relative ease, but then came back out for the seventh and got himself into some trouble. After getting the leadoff out in that inning, the righty allowed back-to-back singles followed by a walk to load the bases and give Baltimore a chance to tie the game with one swing. Velazquez got a big strikeout against Trey Mancini, and from there Cora called upon Joe Kelly to get the final out. He did just that by inducing a weak grounder right back to the mound to escape the jam unscathed.
After the Red Sox failed to score in the eighth — an inning that saw Núñez thrown out by a mile at home for the final out — Matt Barnes came on for the bottom half. The righty got into some trouble when he started the inning with a walk and then allowed another baserunner when Devers made an error on a double play ball. With two on and no outs, Barnes came back with a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to make it another scoreless inning.
The ninth belonged to Craig Kimbrel with a four-run lead, and it didn’t go as we expected. The Red Sox closer walked two batters to bring Mark Trumbo to the plate. Trumbo came through with a big double, knocking in a pair and bringing the tying run to the plate in Pedro Álvarez. Kimbrel came back with a strikeout to end it and we all exhaled.
The Red Sox will be looking for a sweep on Wednesday afternoon for a getaway day before traveling to Seattle. They’ll send Chris Sale to the mound, and it’s unclear who Baltimore will counter with after placing scheduled starter Andrew Cashner on the disabled list. First pitch will be at 3:05 PM ET.