This was a nice change of pace and the kind of explosion we have been waiting for from the Red Sox. For most of this game, things were actually looking pretty rough, with Boston seemingly taking one step forward and two steps back throughout the night. They even lost David Price after the lefty was hit by a comebacker in the third, which is still a concern to watch the next day or two. Things turned around on a dime, though. The Sox entered the bottom of the seventh losing 5-3, and after an absolute pummeling of Marlins pitching they left the frame with a 14-5 lead. It was...awesome.
Even before Price had to leave the game, he didn’t quite look like the dominant force he had been for so much of this second half. Granted, he certainly wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it wasn’t the same guy. His changeup, which had been his go-to offering throughout most of this run, wasn’t quite as sharp both in terms of command and movement. In fact, his command in general wasn’t as impeccable as we’d gotten used to. The lefty was hitting the middle of the zone a bit more, and the Marlins were ready for it. Again, he wasn’t bad, and the Red Sox clearly would have preferred he stayed in the game, but he didn’t look to be en route to another dominant performance.
That being said, things did get off to a strong start for the lefty. The first inning wasn’t perfect, with J.T. Realmuto smoking a two-out single, but it only included the one baserunner and 12 pitches. In the second, we saw the first instance of that relative lack of command coming back to bite him. Derek Dietrich led off the frame for Miami, and Price left a changeup right in the middle of the zone. The Marlins infielder was ready for it, absolutely crushing one into the right-field corner for a solo homer. Just like that, it was 1-0. Price would come back with three quick outs after that, to his credit.
In the third, there was some real and extended trouble. At this point Price seemed to be getting a little too into his fastball, and Miami was ready. Their first baserunner was somewhat lucky, to be fair, as Rafael Ortega hit a chopper over Price’s head for an infield single. A couple batters later, Realmuto jumped on a pitch for the second time in the game and this time sent a double into the left-center field gap. That gave Miami their second run of the game. Starlin Castro then followed that up with a bloop single to score the third run. After Price hit Dietrich in his second at bat of the game, Austin Dean lined one right back through the middle. It caught Price right off the wrist, and while they’d be able to convert the out the southpaw immediately went down the tunnel with a trainer, and he wouldn’t return. It goes without saying that this is the absolute last thing the Red Sox wanted to see in this game.
While this was happening, the Red Sox offense was having a bit of trouble against Trevor Richards. Miami’s rookie righty did have his changeup working, and it had some Red Sox hitters off balance for much of this night. He retired the first five batters he faced in a run that included three consecutive strikeouts. Eventually, with the Red Sox trailing 1-0, Eduardo Núñez came up with two outs in the third. He worked the best at bat of the night, fouling off pitch after pitch and eventually getting to a twelfth offering of the plate appearance. Richards made a mistake there, leaving a changeup right over the heart of the plate. Núñez smoked it into the Monster Seats, and just like that the game was tied at one thanks to the infielder’s second homer in as many days.
After Price allowed those two runs in the third, the Red Sox were looking for another answer from their offense in the bottom half of the inning. Two weak pop ups to left field started the inning, and it seemed like the answer wasn’t coming. Mookie Betts had other ideas, however, getting a fastball at the top of the zone and hitting a laser into the seats in left field. That cut the Marlins lead to one, but Boston couldn’t get any more going.
After that homer, Richards settled into a groove. He’d retire the next nine batters he faced. On the other side of things, Hector Velazquez came on in relief of Price, and looked pretty okay. He faced only three batters in his first inning of work, though a connection between Sandy León and Ian Kinsler to catch a would-be base-stealer helped with that. In the fifth, Velazquez would hit the second batter he faced before throwing a wild pitch. That would be important, with the runner moving to second and soon after he’d score on a single. Miami had a 4-2 lead, which Velazquez held from there.
Meanwhile, the groove from Richards would end in the bottom of the sixth when Betts came back around. This time, the rookie walked him on four pitches and followed that up with another free pass to Andrew Benintendi, putting two on with one out for Steve Pearce. He would strike out, leaving it up to J.D. Martinez with this chance. He did come through, poking a chopper through the middle to plate Betts and cut the deficit to one.
Velazquez came back on for a fourth inning of work trying to hold that deficit, but after allowing a walk and a single, his night was over. Tyler Thornburg got the call to clean up the mess with two on and nobody out. The righty wasn’t able to keep runs off the board, but it wasn’t a disaster. He allowed a fly ball to move the runner to third base, and then a soft ground ball to shortstop extended Miami’s lead back to two.
So, the Red Sox had nine outs to try and at least tie this game up. They got off to a good start in the seventh when Núñez stayed hot with a single and Kinsler followed that up with a double off the Monster. Suddenly, they had two in scoring position with nobody out and Blake Swihart came out to pinch hit for León. He came through with a single of his own, and the Red Sox were back within one with runners on the corners and still nobody out. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up with a double, and the game was tied with two runners in scoring position. Betts kept the rally going with a double of his own, and just like that it was a two-run lead for the Sox. Benintendi bunted Betts over to third for some reason, bringing up Brock Holt as a pinch hitter. He’d show off with a stand-up triple, and then he’d come in to score on a single to make it 9-5. A whole lot would happen after that but long story short the Red Sox scored 11 runs and after starting the frame down 5-3 they’d leave it up 14-5.
This sudden explosion meant that the bullpen wouldn’t have to stress us out in this game. Ryan Brasier came out for the eighth after being unavailable on Tuesday, and he did allow a solo homer but nothing else. Drew Pomeranz then came on for a scoreless ninth to finish it off.
The Red Sox didn’t need to win both of these games against Miami, but after the sweep in Tampa it was going to make all of us feel a whole lot better. They got the job done, and now they’ll look to take care of business again in Chicago. That series starts tomorrow night with Rick Porcello taking on Lucas Giolito. First pitch is at 8:10 PM ET.
The good news keeps coming, as the Red Sox look like they could be one their way to picking a game back up in the division. The Yankees are currently losing 4-1 to the White Sox in the ninth inning. If that score holds, Boston will be back up 7.5 games in the AL East.