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Red Sox 5, Nationals 3: Bending, but no breaking

The Red Sox gave up a ton of baserunners but kept them away from home plate.

Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Red Sox sure don’t win pretty (or really win much at all), but we’ll take what we can get. This one started out simple enough, with the Red Sox offense simply crushing Aníbal Sánchez for an early lead. Then, things got more complicated. Chris Mazza had a terrible third inning and was on the verge of giving the lead up, but Darwinzon Hernandez cleaned it up. Then, the rest of the bullpen continued to bend but didn’t break. In all, the pitching staff gave up a whopping 11 hits and six walks but only allowed three runs. That made it so a couple of monster home runs from the offense was enough for win number 11 on the year.

After getting blown out on Friday, the Red Sox were looking for some early momentum on Saturday going up against their former prospect in Aníbal Sánchez. It has been a slog for this offense to get going in most games this year, but fortunately that was very much not the case in this one, with the offense getting going early and often. In the bottom half of the first, Alex Verdugo got things going with a solid base hit to lead things off. A couple batters later, J.D. Martinez ripped one high off the Monster in left-center field, and just like that there were two in scoring position. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate, and Sánchez tried to sneak a high fastball by him. He doesn’t have the velocity to pull that off, though, and Bogaerts demolished it for a 440-foot homer. It was only the second three-run homer of the year for the Red Sox, but it gave them the early 3-0 lead.

They came out looking to add to that lead in the second, too. Kevin Pillar started things off with a blast into the triangle that got over Victor Robles’s glove for a leadoff triple, and he was quickly brought home on a ground out from Jackie Bradley Jr. They did get another hit on top of that, but they settled for the 4-0 lead.

On the other side, Chris Mazza was keeping runs off the board, as you can obviously tell from the 4-0 score. It wasn’t always pretty, working around a double and a walk in the first and then a single in the second, but it was two shutout innings. The Red Sox can’t complain about how they get there.

Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The third, well, they can complain about that. Mazza struggled mightily in this one, with Trea Turner starting things off with his second double of the game. That was followed up with a weak ground ball to the right side that was picked up by Mazza in no-man’s land. The smart play was to grab it and eat it, leaving runners on the corners. Instead, he tried to do a glove flip to Mitch Moreland at first but flipped it way over his head. That let Turner come in to score and put Juan Soto at second. After that, the Nationals got a single, a walk, and another single. Mazza did get a strikeout after that, but that was the end of his night.

Darwinzon Hernandez was then forced to come in with the Nationals suddenly within one and two men on. The lefty did walk one batter to load the bases, but he also struck out two and somehow the Red Sox escaped that third inning with the lead still in hand.

Phillips Valdez came on next, and he allowed a couple of base runners but also struck out three in a scoreless fourth. After the Red Sox added another run to their lead in the bottom of the inning thanks to a monster solo homer from Pillar that cleared everything in left field, Valdez came back out for another inning of work. He got into more trouble here, giving up a leadoff single and then issuing a one-out walk. Eventually, Austin Brice had to come in with two on and two out. He didn’t get it done, either, giving up a huge single that had a chance to bring the Nationals back to within one. Alex Verdugo made a tremendous play, though, quickly getting to the ball and making a perfect throw to the plate. It was his seventh outfield assist of the year, which leads baseball, and ended the inning with the score still 5-3 good guys.

Brice got into a little more trouble in the sixth, too, with Rafael Devers making another throwing error to start off the inning and another runner reaching on a one-out walk. Brice got the ground ball he needed, though, inducing a double play and ending another potentially troublesome inning with the lead.

The seventh then belonged to Josh Osich, who gave up a single on the first pitch he threw but then got two big outs. That was it for the lefty, though, as he made way for Ryan Brasier, who came on to face Robles. The Red Sox righty got it done, inducing a ground ball to end the inning and keep his team up two.

Brasier would come back for the eighth with the same score, and once again the Nationals got the leadoff man on. This time it was a single for Turner, his fifth hit of the game. Brasier came back to again keeps runs off the board, though, getting three straight outs, with two being scary long fly balls.

After another scoreless inning from the offense, it was up to Matt Barnes to close it out in the ninth in what could potentially be his last outing in a Red Sox uniform. His name, of course, has come up in trade rumors. The righty got a strikeout to start the inning, but then issued a walk to bring new Nationals signing Brock Holt up to the plate representing the tying run. Barnes won this battle, getting another strikeout to leave it up to Eric Thames. Barnes got the ground out into the shift, and that was that. The Red Sox somehow pulled out the victory to push their record to 11-22.

The Red Sox and Nationals have their rubber match on Sunday with Zack Godley going up against Austin Voth. First pitch is set for 1;30 PM ET.


Courtesy of FanGraphs