Friday night’s headlines were dominated by a transaction rather than what happened on the field, as the Red Sox made their first move of the deadline in sending both Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree to Philadelphia in exchange for Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold. While that was happening, though, there was actually a game underway as well. The Red Sox had a bullpen game down in Baltimore as they were looking to win three games in a row for the first time all season. They managed to get the job done on the backs of their three biggest bats and got strong performances from all but one of the handful of pitchers they used.
The Red Sox offense had a bit of a test in this one, at least if you look at what happened on the field last season. John Means was the starter for Baltimore in this one, and the second-year lefty had dominated Boston’s offense time and time again in his rookie 2019 campaign. They faced him five times last year and managed three ones just once, and never more than that. They would be looking for revenge in this one.
Fortunately, Means hasn’t been quite the same pitcher in this 2020 season, and the Red Sox offense took advantage of this fact. It didn’t look like it right away as they went down in order to start things off, but Xander Bogaerts changed the tide in the second. He led things off in that inning, and on a 1-1 count the shortstop got a changeup right down Broadway. Bogaerts doesn’t miss those pitches, and he sent this one into the Orioles bullpen for a solo shot, giving the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.
Moving onto the third, Kevin Pillar got things going in that inning with a one-out single and he’d move on up to second on a wild pitch. A couple batters later, J.D. Martinez stepped to the dish looking to bring that run home. The slugger worked a full count and Means tried to sneak a fastball by him. It did not work. Martinez got ahold of the offspeed pitch down in the zone and sent it way out to center field for a two-run shot as he continues to heat up after a slow start.
So those are two of the three big bats in this lineup, which leaves us with just one more for all of my math heads out there. That final big bat is Rafael Devers, who came to the plate against Jorge López with two men on and just one out. López caught a little too much of the plate with a 1-0 changeup, and Devers unloaded on it and sent a no-doubt shot out to right-center field. That opened the game up with a 6-0 lead, with all runs coming via the long ball. They’d get two more in the sixth, too, with Michael Chavis knocking in a pair with a base hit to make it eight on the night.
On the other side, the Red Sox had one of their dreaded bullpen games, which has generally not been an enjoyable experience in 2020. Though, to be fair, the traditional starts haven’t exactly been a ball of joy to experience either. Colten Brewer was the first man to pitch in this one, and he looked about as good as he has all year. He did get into a little bit of trouble in the first after a pair of two-out singles, but he’d get out of that with a big ground out. He’d go three more innings after that, too, and didn’t allow a runner to advance beyond first base the rest of the way to finish a strong, four-inning outing.
After that, we got our first look at Darwinzon Hernandez of the year. It’s unclear what his role is going to be by the end of the year, but right now it looks like they want to take advantage of his ability to go a couple of innings at a time. The lefty came on for the fifth and his velocity was a bit down compared to last year (he averaged 94.4 mph on the pitch compared to 95.5 last year). Despite that, he got the results, striking out one and allowing just a single in the fifth before striking out two and just issuing a walk in the sixth.
Josh Osich was in next, and this was when a blowout turned into something a little less comfortable. The lefty was, frankly, terrible. In the seventh, he started things off with a strikeout, but then gave up back-to-back homers — both on cutters left up in the zone over the middle of the plate — to Pat Valaika and Cedric Mullins. That brought Baltimore to within six. Osich came back out for the eighth, and he lost the zone with two walks in his first four batters. That brought Chance Sisco to the plate with two on and two out, and Osich made yet another mistake with the cutter. This one left the yard for the third homer off the Red Sox lefty of the night, and suddenly it was a three-run game.
Fortunately, the back-end of a Workman and Hembree-less bullpen was still able to get the job done, Austin Brice came on after Osich to get the final out of the eighth before Matt Barnes, the new closer, allowed a base hit and tossed a wild pitch but avoided trouble beyond that for a scoreless ninth to lock things down and finish off the 8-5 victory.
With their first three-game win streak of the year, the Red Sox now sit at 9-18. They’ll look to make it four in a row on Saturday as they send Martín Pérez to the mound to take on Alex Cobb. First pitch is set for 7:35 PM ET.