After a tough weekend in the Bronx, the Red Sox weren’t able to turn things around on Tuesday as the offense scuffled in what was ultimately a series-opening loss. They headed into the series finale in this short two-game set looking to avoid a five-game losing streak. They needed a big start from Martín Pérez, and while he was far from perfect he worked around some baserunners for five shutout innings. On the other side, Michael Chavis had a big day at the plate including a home run and Alex Verdugo hit his first dinger in a Red Sox uniform. All told, Boston cruised to a big 5-0 victory.
The Red Sox were as much in need of a win as just about any team in baseball heading into Wednesday’s series finale in Tampa Bay, having lost each of their last four including Tuesday’s series opener against the Rays. To make matters even worse, they had lost the game started by Nathan Eovaldi, which had been their best chance of winning the first time through the rotation. Now, they needed a big outing from Martín Pérez to stop the slide.
Fortunately, the lefty was up to the task. It didn’t always appear like it was going to be an easy night for the southpaw, though, as he started things off by immediately giving up a double to Yandy Díaz. Pérez did come back with a couple of outs after that, but then issued a walk to put two on in the first. He got out of the jam, though, getting a ground ball to strand the runners.
Pérez wouldn’t exactly be perfect the next couple of innings, but thanks to a pair of well-timed double plays he did face three batters in each of the second and third inning. The fourth would be the toughest inning for the lefty, as José Martinez started things off with a double. That was immediately followed by another walk, and suddenly there were two on with nobody out. Once again, though, Pérez worked his way out of the jam, getting a pop up, a line out and a strikeout to keep his shutout going.
The southpaw would get one more inning, working his way around a two-out double in the fifth to keep the Rays off the board and finish his night. In all, Pérez tossed the five scoreless innings on four hits, three walks and four strikeouts. So it wasn’t exactly a dominant outing for the lefty, but the Red Sox will take what they can get right now.
On the other side, the offense was going up against Ryan Yarbrough and as a unit they have been far too inconsistent compared to their expectations. It took them a bit to get on the board in this one, too, as they got a hit in each of the first two innings — including a J.D. Martinez double in the first — but no runs.
That would chance in the fourth with the score still knotted up at zeroes when the inning started. They would record two quick outs to start the inning, but Michael Chavis kept the frame alive with a two-out single. That brought Alex Verdugo to the plate, and he had his first big swing in a Red Sox uniform. The right fielder got a curveball down in the zone and jumped all over it, sending a towering fly ball up and over the wall in right field for his first homer of the year, giving Boston the 2-0 lead.
That was still the score as things headed into the sixth, and Yarbrough was still on the mound for the Red Sox. Xander Bogaerts continued to swing a hit bat to start the inning, smacking a double out to right field. Christian Vázquez then immediately brought the run home with a base hit through the right side to make it a 3-0 game. Chavis was the next man to step in the box, already with two hits in the game. His third would be the loudest, as he got a 3-2 changeup that was left up and over the plate. That ball was sent to the moon with a no-doubt, two-run shot and just like that it was a 5-0 lead.
From here, it was up to the bullpen to protect Pérez’s lead. Colten Brewer got the call for the sixth, and after a leadoff walk he got a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to end the inning without a run. Austin Brice then handled the seventh and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. The eighth belonged to Matt Barnes, who had been struggling so far this year, and came through with a much-needed 1-2-3 inning.
That just left things up to Brandon Workman, who came on to protect the five-run lead in the ninth. He did give up a leadoff walk, but came back with three straight strikeouts to finish off the win.
The Red Sox will be rewarded for their efforts with a day off on Thursday before heading home to take on the Blue Jays. They’ll have Ryan Weber on the mound as Toronto/Buffalo has yet to announce their starter. First pitch for that one is at 7:30 PM ET.