The Red Sox have been playing some good baseball the last few days, and they carried that momentum into Philadelphia for a pitching matchup that did not favor them. They were able to win despite that fact, getting a couple of big home runs including one from Danny Santana, of course playing in his first game with the Red Sox. The real key, though, was the Phillies defense, which was just a disaster all night long. Boston may have won either way considering the margin, but at the very least the poor defense lessened any stress for this victory, which is the third in a row for the Red Sox.
After the Red Sox had won the last two games with the help of some big innings, it seemed likely they were going to have to have a different approach in this game. For one thing, they were facing a very good pitcher in Aaron Nola who has been one of the better pitchers in the National League for years now. On top of that, they were playing in Philadelphia so they had a pitcher in the lineup, in this case Martín Pérez. They were a little bit right, though they did come out hot to start off the game.
Danny Santana, who was just called up prior to the game, did start the game off with an out, but then Alex Verdugo stayed hot with a one-out single. Then, with Verdugo off on the pitch, J.D. Martinez had a single of his own to put runners on the corners. Xander Bogaerts was able to come through there, putting the ball in play and bringing a run home on a ground out. They didn’t stop there, either, with Rafael Devers just missing a home run out to left field and settling for an RBI double to give Boston the early 2-0 lead.
So that was a really nice start off of a very good pitcher, but Nola started to look more like himself for the next few innings. He struck out the side in the second — including a strikeout of Pérez in which the Red Sox starter swung at strike three on a pitch that hit him — and then allowed just one baserunner over the next two innings.
On the other side, Pérez was coming off his best start of the season and was looking to build off that here. Early on he was achieving just that, allowing just a single over the first two innings. But the third got a little dicier, albeit after two strikeouts to start the frame.
With two outs, the Phillies struck. First, Andrew McCutchen kept the inning alive by advancing the first Phillies runner beyond first base, smacking a two-out double into left field. That brought Jean Segura to the plate, and he got a changeup that just stayed too high up in the zone. He was all over it, destroying a no-doubt homer out to left-center field, and just like that we were all tied up at two runs apiece.
There was a chance Pérez could let that inning snowball, but that’s not what happened. He did walk the leadoff man in the fourth, but a line drive at Santana gave him a big double play after that, and he’d get out of the inning without a run.
That brought the Red Sox back up to the plate in the fifth, looking to get Nola out of his rhythm. They didn’t do it to start the inning, as each of their first two batters went down on strikes. That brought Santana to the plate, and he had his welcome to Boston moment. The new leadoff man smacked a hanging curveball out to right field for a solo shot, and the Red Sox went back up by a run.
The inning would keep going from there as well, and the Phillies defense had a moment. First, Verdugo smacked a base hit and Martinez drew a walk to put two on for Bogaerts. Xander hit a base hit into left field, and the throw went home. If the ball had been allowed to travel through to the plate, it looked like Verdugo was out at the plate. Instead, Alec Bohm cut it off to try and get Martinez between second and third. He could have had that play, too, instead his throw was high and Segura got a piece of it but it still traveled into shallow center field. Rather than chase the ball, Segura laid there staring at it for... reasons. That let Martinez come around to score and Bogaerts to get to third. It was bizarre.
So it was now a 5-2 ballgame, and Pérez kept the momentum on his side with a perfect bottom of the fifth. The Red Sox then came out swinging again in the sixth, with Nola out of the game and Christian Vázquez starting things off with a leadoff double. Hunter Renfroe then smacked a base hit into left field, and again the Phillies defense struck. This time McCutchen couldn’t corral it, allowing Vázquez to easily score and Renfroe to advance to second. He’d be left there, however, and the Red Sox settled for the 6-2 lead.
That brought Pérez back out for the bottom of the sixth, and there was another change with Verdugo leaving the game due to tightness in his left hamstring. Kiké Hernández came in to replace him. Meanwhile, Segura led the inning off with a bunt single before moving up to second on a ground out. After a strikeout it looked like Pérez was going to get out of it, but then Vázquez let a passed ball go by and Bohm poked a base hit into left field to make it a three-run game. That was all they’d get, and it finished a solid outing for Pérez.
In the seventh, the Red Sox were able to get that run back and then some, with the rally starting with more poor defense from the Phillies. Hernández hit a ground ball over to third base, but Bohm’s throw just barely took Rhys Hoskins off the bag, putting the leadoff man. Hernández then stole second base, where he’d stand while two outs were recorded. Devers wasn’t going to end the inning, though. Instead he turned on a 3-2 changeup left over the plate and put it into the seats in right field, making it an 8-3 game.
With Pérez out of the game, it was Garrett Whitlock getting the call for the bottom of the seventh. He did issue a walk, but that was all in the scoreless inning in which he got some help with a great defensive play by Bogaerts at shortstop.
Whitlock would come back out for the eighth (after striking out to end the top of the inning), but he only recorded two outs in the inning while giving up a base hit and a walk. He also had his velocity dip tonight compared to earlier in the season. In the end, Josh Taylor had to come on to get the last out, which he did to keep the lead at five.
After the Red Sox added three more on a bases-clearing double from Vázquez on a ball that should have been caught by Harper (Bogaerts also hit his 250th career double in that inning), it was Darwinzon Hernandez coming out for the bottom of the inning looking to finish this one out. He did just that, and the Red Sox finished up a relatively stress-free win. The 11-3 victory pushed their record to 28-18.
The Red Sox will look to make it four in a row and guarantee a series win tomorrow night. They’ll have Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to take on Spencer Howard, with first pitch coming at 7:05 PM ET.