I’m so tired. The Red Sox and Angels went 15 innings on Friday into Saturday. The Red Sox had the lead for most of the first nine innings before blowing it in the ninth thanks to poor control and bad defense. They would come back to win, though, thanks to Mookie Betts’ second homer of the night and a phenomenal performance from Andrew Cashner and Darwinzon Hernandez in extras. Go get some sleep.
The Red Sox pitchers were in for a long couple of days for the first two games of this series by design. It’s not due to the Angels being any kind of great lineup — they have tremendous talent in the middle including the best player in the game, but overall they’re more of an average group — but just the fact that they didn’t have stretched out starters in these games. For Friday’s contest, they were sending Nathan Eovaldi to the mound. The righty had struggled in his first two starts after moving back to the rotation from the bullpen, and admitted to tiring out in the fourth of his last start.
So, there were major questions for Eovaldi and the Red Sox ahead of a scheduled bullpen game on Saturday for Boston. In the first, it looked like it could be another long night, though it wasn’t without its encouraging signs. Eovaldi did strike out a pair in this inning, showing crisp stuff on all of his pitches. However, his command was wavering, which has been an issue for him all year. He walked Mike Trout with one out and allowed a base hit to Albert Pujols, but escaped the inning with no runs being scored.
With 23 pitches under his belt, Eovaldi needed a quick second inning and he got exactly that. It was a perfect frame for the righty with a pair of strikeouts. He did give up his first run of the day in the third when Brian Goodwin’s fly ball to right field just barely cleared the yellow line in right field — the right field ground rules in L.A. are a little weird, not that any fan of the team that plays in Fenway can really talk — but struck out the other three batters he faced.
Now, he headed into the fourth and it was hard not to think of his last outing. Like I said, he admitted to fatigue at this point in the last game, and even with the success on Friday night he was still getting up there in pitch count. Despite all that, he got the job done and allowed just a single. It was the best we’ve seen Eovaldi in a long time, and he was done after those four innings with just the one run allowed on eight strikeouts and a walk.
On the other end, the Red Sox offense was really just trying to keep doing what they’ve been doing all month. It took basically no time for that to come to light. Mookie Betts led off the game like always, and he blasted a solo shot to kick things off for the Red Sox. One batter in, Boston had a 1-0 lead. Rafael Devers did get on after that when he was hit by a pitch, but the Red Sox wouldn’t add to their lead.
They did add to it in the second, however. Angels starter José Suarez struggled with his control in this start, and he started the second with a walk and another hit batter. After a double play looked like it could spoil the inning, Brock Holt came through with a big single to drive one in and give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
The Red Sox would go back to the long ball in the third to keep piling on Suarez, this time with the big bats doing the damage again. Betts once again led off the inning, this time doing so with a base hit. After a couple of outs were recorded, J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate and continued his absurd hot streak, smashing a two-run shot out to left field. Just like that, it was a 4-0 lead for the Red Sox.
The Angels did add that run in the bottom of the third on Goodwin’s homer, so it was 4-1 when Alex Cora turned to his bullpen in the fifth, with Josh Taylor getting the first call. The southpaw has been largely outstanding this year, but he struggled here. Los Angeles got a leadoff single before back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Trout. It looked like sure trouble for the Red Sox, especially after Cora opted to keep Taylor in the game. He got a big pop up for the first out before Shohei Ohtani grounded into a fielder’s choice for the out at home. Marcus Walden then came on to face Pujols and was one strike away from escaping this impossible jam. He left one over the plate, though, and Pujols drove it into center field for a base hit, scoring two and bringing the Angels to within one.
Walden, to his credit, did get out of the inning after that. The Red Sox then came out and added two runs to their lead in the top of the sixth thanks to an RBI and a run scored from Martinez before Walden came back out for a perfect bottom of the inning.
With the score still 6-3, Matt Barnes was on for the seventh. It wasn’t a perfect inning for the righty, with Goodwin hitting his second homer of the game — this one more of a no-doubter. That was it, though, and Boston led by two with two innings to go.
After the offense went down in order in the top of the eighth, Ryan Brasier came on for the bottom half. He did record two outs but also issued a pair of walks, leaving two on with two out for Brandon Workman. Justin Upton hit a ground ball, but it deflected off the pitcher and suddenly the bases were full for Kevan Smith. Workman would make the pitch he needed, though, getting a routine ground ball to end the inning and keep the Sox up two.
Workman would then come back out for the ninth, trying to finish off the four-out save. He did not get off to the start he was looking for, walking the first two batters he faced. The righty got Ohtani to ground into a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners with one out. Then, Pujols got the job done. Ohtani was off on the pitch and Pujols slapped a line drive into right field. That got one run home and it should have resulted in runners on the corners. Instead, Martinez — who shouldn’t have even been in the game with Bradley being an obvious candidate for a defensive replacement in the inning — let the ball get by him. That allowed Ohtani to come all the way around from first and put Pujols on second representing the winning run.
After intentionally walking Kole Calhoun, Workman did get a strikeout but the final strike came on a wild pitch, allowing Pujols to get to third. That was huge, as he doesn’t have the speed at this point in his career to score from second on most singles. Andrelton Simmons was then intentionally walked, leaving it all up to Matt Thaiss. Workman got a ground out, and we were heading for extras.
Neither side got anything going in the tenth with Darwinzon Hernandez doing the pitching for Boston. He came back out for the eleventh, too, and worked around two baserunners to push the game into the 12th.
And then, well, not a whole lot happened. The offense totally went quiet with the Angels retiring 20 in a row in a run that went into the 12th. Brock Holt did break that up, but he didn’t score. They would again go runner-less heading into the 15th. On the other side, Andrew Cashner took over for Hernandez and was phenomenal.
Then, in the 15th, the tie was finally broken. It happened just as the game began, too, with Betts smashing his second homer of the game. This one gave the Red Sox a one-run lead that would hold into the bottom of the inning, when Cashner came back out. He did walk Trout to put a runner on with one out, but that was as far as he’d get as Cashner shut the door for a fourth inning of work and gave the Red Sox the win.
The Red Sox and Angels continue their series on Saturday. Boston has yet to announce a starter while L.A. will send Dillon Peters to the mound. First pitch is set for 9:07 PM ET.