After taking a game back yesterday in dramatic fashion (thanks for the heart attack, Matt Barnes), the Red Sox take on the Mariners today, hoping for a similar result (a win) with a less similar method of getting there (no drama please). On the plus side, there was no drama.
Toeing the rubber for the Sox was “Nasty” Nate Eovaldi. The Mariners countered with Chris Flexen, who either has no nickname or has one that is so unknown that baseball-reference couldn’t help me out. For background information, Flexen entered today’s contest with a 3.38 ERA despite allowing 12.4 hits per nine innings. This is only possible because throughout the season he has done a fantastic job of limiting home runs (only one allowed in 16 innings of work) and walks (2.3 per nine).
The Red Sox started from behind. I know, you might be thinking, “Really? Again?” but that’s just how this team plays. Entering today, the Red Sox had a 7.29 ERA in the first inning (for reference, the same team entered with a 3.01 ERA in innings that weren’t the first inning). That went up to 7.36 following a Kyle Seager single that scored Ty France. Eovaldi was not sharp early. Soon after the RBI single, Eovaldi loaded the bases, after hitting Taylor Trammell, despite having a 2-2 count on him. A weak groundout kept things from getting out of hand, but the early struggles that plague the Red Sox have presented themselves once more.
The struggles continued in the second inning. After a few hits, one of which was a weak infield single, Eovaldi gave up a long drive to center field that Alex Verdugo couldn’t corral. The ball, fell, Kyle Seager ended up on third with a triple, and the Red Sox gave up two more runs to make it 3-0. Seager scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
Eovaldi did settle down, and kept things level for the next couple innings, but the Red Sox bats were unable to solve Flexen, who was “flexin” on the Red Sox all afternoon. That was until the 4th inning anyway, when Alex Verdugo hit a liner to left, and J.D. Martinez drew a walk, for the first chance at a rally in the afternoon for the Sox. Unfortunately, Xander Bogaerts hit a pop fly to left field, and Rafael Devers grounded into a double play to squander the rare opportunity.
Eovaldi did give up a fifth run in the fifth inning, thanks to a Kyle Seager double, some small ball, and a grounder that took a bad hop on Xander Bogaerts to allow a run. After five innings, Eovaldi departed with a nasty (and not in a pleasant way) line of five innings pitched, seven hits, one walk, five runs allowed (four of which were earned) and three total strikeouts.
There’s really nothing to say about the offense against Flexen. In just a handful of words, there wasn’t any. He completely dominated the Red Sox, keeping them off-balance all afternoon.
Seattle has 21 of the 25 highest exit velocities in this game.— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) April 24, 2021
The above stat was posted prior to the 7th inning. Then he accidentally plunked J.D. Martinez to lead off the 7th inning, which to this point was unfortunately the loudest contact the Red Sox were able to draw off of Flexen. Shortly thereafter, Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play, to seemingly kill whatever momentum the Red Sox may have been picking up. Devers did pick up the first extra base hit of the game for the Sox in the 7th inning, as he drove a ball high off the Monster for a double.
Finally, in the 7th inning, the Sox broke through. Marwin Gonzalez dribbled a weak grounder up the middle that found no glove. Devers chugged around third and scored easily, making it 5-1.
Flexen finally was removed from the game after the 7th inning, and the Red Sox batters were probably very thankful for it. Flexen held the Sox to four hits and a walk over his seven frames, also striking out seven, with the lone blemish being that RBI single in the 7th inning.
The Mariners brought out Keynan Middleton though, who was just as, if not more, filthy, as he set the Sox down in order, 1-2-3. On the third out, Christian Arroyo slammed down his bat and his helmet, and honestly, that’s a big mood, Arroyo. We’re all right there with you.
Austin Brice, Josh Taylor, and Phillips Valdez pitched the rest of the game for the Red Sox to mostly poor results. First came a dagger from Sam Haggerty drilling a home run off of Josh Taylor, moments after he drilled himself with a foul ball. Then Valdez lost the strike zone, and gave up a couple hits and a couple walks to allow the Mariners to enter the bottom of the 9th with a 8-1 lead. Amusingly there was an out-of-character bad decision to send a play to review, as Sam Haggerty clearly beat Valdez to the bag at first. The bullpen totaled five hits and two walks in four innings, giving up three earned runs and striking out six.
The final stand for the Sox came against Rule 5 pick Will Vest. Alex Verdugo led off with a nice double (but the hamstring may have been a factor, as he eased up coming into second instead of trying for third), and Rafael Devers drove him home with a double of his own to make it 8-2. But that was all they would get, as a shot to first ended their hopes for the day. They try again tomorrow, as they finish up what has been a mixed homestand, and salvage a split of the series. Game starts at 1:10 PM ET.