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Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Home field is clinched and a franchise record is set

Nathan Eovaldi leads Boston to victory

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The playoffs officially have to go through Boston. With their win on Monday, the Red Sox have clinched home field throughout the postseason, they set a new franchise wins record and they’ve accomplished all they can in the regular season. Nathan Eovaldi looked good again in his start, and it’s looking more and more like he’ll make a postseason start. If he pitches as well as he did in this game, it will be a wise choice. Eduardo Rodriguez also came out of the bullpen in this game and looked very good in that role. The offense got going to boot, and it was overall a very good night in Boston.

With the news that Nathan Eovaldi could be working his way into the playoff rotation plans, Monday’s start against the Orioles suddenly turned into a pretty intriguing game beyond just being able to watch this Red Sox team in action. Obviously, a start against one of the worst teams in major-league history isn’t a big test, but Eovaldi was hit very hard by Baltimore the last time these two met. So, if nothing else we just wanted to see him avoid disaster. He was able to do that and much more. The righty was getting whiffs and hitting the zone again, and while the competition wasn’t what he’ll be seeing in the postseason, those whispers for him making the October rotation are sure to be louder after this outing.

The righty made quick work of the Orioles in the first inning, allowing just a single in a nine-pitch effort that also included a three-pitch strikeout. The second required a few more pitches, but he also allowed just a single in that frame and struck out two Baltimore hitters, and in the third he picked up his first 1-2-3 inning of the day as well as two more K’s. Eovaldi’s cruise control continued into the fourth with a second consecutive 1-2-3 frame with two more strikeouts.

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

In the fifth, he experience his only bit of trouble of the night as the Orioles started to catch up to him. That one started with a hard-hit ground ball over to third base that Rafael Devers couldn’t handle. An out could have been made on the play, though it was ultimately ruled a hit. Another single put runners on the corners with nobody out, and in the next at bat Eovaldi tried to sneak a splitter in. Instead, it bounced short of the plate, got by Christian Vazquez and Baltimore had their first run of the night on the wild pitch. With a runner now at second and still nobody out, Eovaldi came back strong, striking out the next three batters he faced to finish his night. The last inning wasn’t great — he tossed another wild pitch amid those three strikeouts, too — but overall it was a strong showing. He finished with five innings and ten strikeouts with just the one run allowed.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was not having any trouble with Dylan Bundy and the Orioles pitching. They had a chance to break out with a lead right off the bat when Andrew Benintendi drew a one-out walk, stole second and moved over to third when the throw down ended up in the outfield. Boston couldn’t cash in, though, and he was stranded 90 feet from home.

They wouldn’t waste any chances in the second. There, a couple of guys who could displace Mitch Moreland at first place in October got into the action. Steve Pearce and Brock Holt hit back-to-back doubles with one out, and Boston had a 1-0 lead. Christian Vazquez then followed that up with an RBI single, and with two outs Mookie Betts came to the plate. He was two stolen bases away from a 30-30 season, but he settled for another home run this time. The star smashed one over the wall in left field, and just like that it was a 4-0 lead for the good guys.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After the Red Sox wasted a pair of two-out walks in the third, they got back into action against Donnie Hart out of the bullpen. Boston got two straight singles to start that inning, one of which came from Betts and he’d steal second shortly after for 29 swiped bags on the year. Benintendi would knock in another run with a single, and after a J.D. Martinez walk loaded the bases, Xander Bogaerts knocked in one more with a single of his own. The Red Sox certainly could have scored more, but it was a 6-0 lead after four.

Back on the pitching side, Eduardo Rodriguez came out of the bullpen as he could transition to that role next week. The lefty looked good. He cruised through his first inning of work getting three fly outs on eight pitches. His second frame wasn’t quite as impressive, but he did strike out two Orioles and allowed just a single.

In the eighth, Joe Kelly came on to protect the five-run lead, but he did not look good. It’s been an up-and-down year for the righty, and he’s been particularly inconsistent of late. This was one of the bad ones, as he allowed a base hit and a walk to start things off. After getting the first out by way of the K, he issued another walk to load the bases and Alex Cora had seen enough. Ryan Brasier got a chance to try and get out of the bases loaded jam. He got two consecutive outs to end the inning, though one of them was on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead down to four. Matt Barnes got the ninth, and while he allowed the leadoff batter to reach when he committed an error on a little ground ball up the first base line, he immediately got a double play and faced only three batters to finish out the game, clinch home field and set the franchise wins record.

The Red Sox are going to be battling the weather as well as the Orioles for the next couple of days, but if they are able to get Tuesday’s game in it will feature David Price going up against, well, that’s TBD. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.


Courtesy of Fangraphs