The Red Sox and Tigers had to stop playing due to rain about halfway through this game, with the delay eventually lasting two hours. Prior to the delay, it was more of a pitcher’s game with Rafael Devers hitting a two-run shot early and Eduardo Rodriguez shining on the mound en route to a 3-1 lead for the Red Sox. Once the delay was over, the bullpens were in and the offenses were unleashed. Boston’s bullpen and defense did threaten to give this one up in the sixth, but they held on and Xander Bogaerts added the insurance with a big homer. That’s three of the last four for the Sox.
After Hector Velázquez failed to make it through three innings on Thursday and then having to fly to Detroit after that game, the Red Sox were looking for a long outing from Rodriguez on Friday. They do have a four-day break coming up with the All-Star game, of course, but any extra rest that can be given to the bullpen is going to be appreciated. The offense has been swinging the bat well of late, but the pitching has been the wildcard. Because of all that, all eyes were on the Red Sox starter for this series opener against the Tigers.
It wasn’t a big test for the lefty, to be fair, as Detroit has one of if not the worst offense in all of baseball. He came out of the gate looking strong, too, getting himself some momentum on which to build for the rest of the game. The Tigers did get their leadoff man in the first on an infield single on which Rodriguez failed to cover the bag quickly enough, but thanks to a double play he still only faced three batters in the frame.
He settled in further from there, too, getting a 1-2-3 second. The southpaw did allow a leadoff double in the third that had the potential to cause trouble, but he followed that up with back-to-back strikeouts. Victor Reyes had the last chance to get the run home, but he grounded out and Rodriguez had gotten through three scoreless.
That wouldn’t last through a fourth inning of work, however. He did get two quick outs to start that inning, but then Brandon Dixon kept the line moving with a base hit. That brought Jeimer Candelario to the plate, and the third baseman smacked a double out to left field. Dixon is not a very fast runner, but he still went for the score all the way from first base. The Red Sox got the relay in, but Dixon got in just before Sandy León’s tag, and Detroit had their first run of the game. Rodriguez did come back with a strikeout to end the inning and then came through with a 1-2-3 fifth before a rain delay kicked in.
On the other side, the Red Sox were going up against a, frankly, bad left-handed pitcher in Ryan Carpenter. As mentioned above, Boston has been swinging hot bats of late and they had a chance to keep that going in this game. They didn’t quite unload in the early going, though the top of the lineup did get them a lead and added on a bit later.
It was Mookie Betts getting things started out of the leadoff spot on Friday, working an eight-pitch at bat that ended with a double out to left field. Rafael Devers then moved him along with a ground ball to the right side before Xander Bogaerts had a ground out of his own to get the run home. It wasn’t the flashiest way to score a run, but it was a 1-0 lead all the same.
After leaving runners on the corners in the second inning, the Red Sox got back to work in the third. It was Betts getting things started again, this time leading off the frame with a base hit. This time, the Red Sox didn’t use small ball and productive outs to get the run home. Instead, Devers made it a little easier on everyone by taking a first-pitch slider down and away and hitting it out over the wall in left field. The opposite-field home run gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
After the homer, however, the Red Sox bats started to cool off a bit. They did get a single later in that inning but nothing more. They’d get a runner in each of the next two innings as well, but neither was able to advance beyond first base.
From here, rain was starting to move in with dark clouds foretelling serious weather, and the rain delay lasted just about two hours. When we returned, the Red Sox offense didn’t waste time getting right back into the game. Leading 3-1 at the start of the sixth, Christian Vázquez got the inning started with a double. After a Michael Chavis singled to get two on and Jackie Bradley Jr. knocked a double of his own, making it 5-1. An error by Candelario would give Boston one more, and after three more runs were added to their total the Red Sox had a 6-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for those runs to be important, either. Obviously, with the long delay Rodriguez was not going to be able to come back out, so Marcus Walden got the call for the sixth. He had a terrible night, and his defense was no help whatsoever. After a quick first out, the righty issued a walk and a base hit to put two on. Candelario then struck again, putting a single through the right side to score Miguel Cabrera. Betts also had some trouble with the ball jn right field, allowing Candelario to get to second. Harold Castro came up next and hit a well-struck line drive that should have been out number two. Instead, Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t field it and had the ball bounce off his wrist. That would score two more, bringing the score to 6-4. Detroit would get one more against Ryan Brasier on a single out to left field that could have been an out at the plate, and by the time the dust settled it was suddenly a 6-5 game.
The seventh went more smoothly for both sides, as the Red Sox got a pair of two-out singles but no runs before Brasier came back out for the bottom of the inning and tossed a scoreless frame. In the eighth, the Red Sox got their multi-run lead back thanks to an absolute monster of a three-run homer from Xander Bogaerts to make it 9-5.
After that, it was just six more outs for the bullpen to protect the four-run lead. Matt Barnes was up first for his second straight day of action, a situation that has caused him trouble this year. That was not the case this time as he tossed a 1-2-3 inning. In the ninth, Heath Hembree came on for his first outing since coming off the IL. He did not get off to a good start when he allowed a solo shot to John Hicks, but he settled down after that to get three straight outs and finish off the victory.
The Red Sox and Tigers will continue this three-game set on Saturday, hopefully without any delays. Boston will send Rick Porcello to the mound to take on Jordan Zimmermann. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM ET.