These Red Sox are a resilient bunch, as we talked about just this morning. They certainly are not a team without their flaws, but they continue to find ways to overcome said flaws. That was on display yet again on Tuesday, with the offense jumping out to an early 5-0 lead before Eduardo Rodriguez coughed it back up. Atlanta would eventually tie the game, but the Red Sox don’t back down. It was Alex Verdugo playing hero tonight, smashing a three-run shot with two outs in the eighth, and that was pretty much that. It’s becoming a daily occurrence, it seems.
The Red Sox didn’t exactly have loads of momentum heading out on the road to start an eight-game road trip with a two-game excursion to Atlanta. They were coming off a bit of a rough weekend, but they were at least flying high after a walk-off victory Monday, and the hope was that would at least be enough to wake them up after a short turnaround traveling down south after Monday night’s game.
I would say that word, as the offense came out firing. They were facing off against Tucker Davidson, who has impressed in his three starts this year but who Boston got to in a big way last summer in his major-league debut. They got him again here, starting off with back-to-back singles to start the inning. J.D. Martinez moved one runner over to third on a deep fly out, but after a Xander Bogaerts strikeout it looked like the Red Sox would squander the chance.
The opportunity looked closer to loss after Rafael Devers fell behind 1-2, but then the tide turned in a hurry. Davidson had gotten to that point in the at-bat with all fastballs, but then tried to sneak in a slider. Unfortunately for him, he hung it and Devers was ready. The ball was sent way out to straightaway center field and easily cleared the wall. Instead of a wasted opportunity, Boston had a 3-0 lead. It didn’t stop there, either, as Hunter Renfroe jumped on a middle-middle fastball for a no-doubt shot out to left field, and just like that Boston had opened up a 4-0 lead.
Davidson came back strong in the second for a perfect inning, but the Red Sox offense got right back to work in the third. Martinez started the inning with a shot out to left field. It stayed in the yard, but Abraham Almonte couldn’t make a lunging catch, allowing Martinez to get to third on a rare triple. After Davidson issued a walk to Bogaerts, he had a visit from the trainer and eventually left due to what was later called left forearm tightness. With Sean Newcomb in, the Red Sox gave him a warm welcome as Devers smacked a base hit to make it a 5-0 game. They’d get another baserunner to load the bases, but couldn’t add to their total.
So, it was a nice lead for their starting pitcher, which on this night was Eduardo Rodriguez. He was looking for a strong performance on which he could build a nice run, as he’s never really been able to get going over the last couple of months. It wasn’t going to be this night, unfortunately.
He was able to keep the Braves off the scoreboard early, and even if there were a few more pitches than he’d normally like to see, he allowed only one baserunner and struck out five through those first two innings. Then things started to get tougher in a heartbeat. In the third, Atlanta got a leadoff double before the pitcher’s spot came up. Newcomb then dropped a sacrifice bunt, but the Red Sox couldn’t get an out as Christian Vázquez overran the ball. So with runners on the corners and nobody out, Atlanta had a chance for a big inning with the top of the order coming up. They settled for just one run, but the cracks were starting to show.
The cracks made themselves much more well-known in the fourth. With Boston still up four, Atlanta started the inning with back-to-back doubles to make it a 5-2 game. Rodriguez answered back with two big outs, but then issued a massive walk to Ehire Adrianza, who was pinch-hitting in the nine spot. That gave Ronald Acuña Jr. a chance with two on, and he smacked a double to score two runs, and just like that the Braves were able to pull within a run. Rodriguez got out of the inning with the lead still in hand, but the damage was done and his night would be over after four.
On the plus side, the Red Sox offense came to play all night, and they were able to answer back after the big inning for the other side. Xander Bogaerts came up with the bases empty and one out, and he turned around on an inside fastball. The hands were quick enough to keep it in fair territory, and the solo shot put Boston back up by two. A Devers double followed by a Renfroe base hit extended the lead out to three before the inning was up.
With Rodriguez out of the game, Garrett Whitlock got the call for the fifth and was dominant. Pitching in front of his family down in Georgia, he tossed a perfect inning with a strikeout. The sixth wouldn’t go as smoothly. Whitlock started things off with a walk, and then Kiké Hernández overran a slow roller on the right side for an error, putting two on with nobody out. Guillermo Heredia followed that up with a base hit to through the right side, cutting the Red Sox lead to two. Even worse, Hunter Renfroe made the throw home and it got away, allowing the runners to each move up into scoring position.
Whitlock then issued a walk to old friend Pablo Sandoval, and suddenly the bases were loaded with Acuña stepping to the dish. The rookie won the battle, getting a huge strikeout for the first out. That would be his last pitch of the night, with Darwinzon Hernandez coming in to face Freddie Freeman. The very first pitch he threw got too far inside, bouncing off Vázquez’s glove for a passed ball and allowing a run to score. That made it a 7-6 game. The runner from second also advanced to third, which turned out to be big because Freeman hit a sacrifice fly out to left field, and just like that we were tied.
Now, the offense needed to get some of that momentum back on their side, but it wouldn’t happen in the seventh as they went down in order. Hirokazu Sawamura then returned the favor in the bottom of the inning to keep the game knotted up.
In the eighth, the offense was able to get a little momentum on their side, starting with back-to-back singles from Vázquez and Bobby Dalbec. That brought Marwin Gonzalez to the plate as a pinch hitter, and on an 0-2 pitch he perfectly executed a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Atlanta then brought the infield in, and it paid off as Kiké Hernández smacked a ground ball right up the middle, but also right where Albies was playing, holding the runner at third and grabbing the second out of the inning at first.
That left things all up to Alex Verdugo with two outs, and he came through in a big, big way. After Chris Martin fell behind 1-0 for going to his mouth while on the mound (I’m honestly not sure the last time I saw that, if ever), he threw another ball to make it 2-0. After that, he left a changeup up in the zone, and Verdugo launched it way out to center field. It left the yard for a three-run shot, and it was a 10-7 lead for Boston.
With the lead back in hand, it was Adam Ottavino coming out for the eighth. He had no issues at all with the bottom of the lineup, tossing a perfect frame to keep the lead at three.
It was still a three-run lead for Matt Barnes as he looked to close it out against the top of this Atlanta batting order. He gave up a leadoff single to Acuña, but then came back with a big strikeout against Freeman and got a pop up in shallow center field from Albies to put his team one out away. Austin Riley kept the game going with a slow roller that got by a charging Rafael Devers, scoring a run and bringing the tying run to the plate.
Barnes was able to get Dansby Swanson looking, though, and that would close things out. The 10-8 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 41-27.
Boston will look to finish out a little two-game sweep on Wednesday with Garrett Richards on the mound. Atlanta will counter with Ian Anderson. First pitch is set for 7:20 PM ET.