It was all about the rain at Fenway on Wednesday night, with weather coming into play right away by delaying the start by 30 minutes. Once we finally got things underway, it was clear the rain was going to come back at some point. Both sides got early home runs, and pitching with the lead Martín Pérez wanted to at least make it through an official game. Thanks to great defense from Kiké Hernández and three big double plays, the Red Sox did hold the lead by the time the tarp came out midway through the sixth. They were able to weather a long, long delay, and eventually the Red Sox got win number 50 in game number 81.
Heading into Wednesday’s game, which marked the exact halfway point of this season, the Red Sox were not only looking for their halfway point to 100 wins, and not only looking for their sixth straight victory, but they were looking for a little break for their bullpen. While the team has been winning, they have been doing so despite their starting pitching. It’s been a lot of innings for the bullpen of late, and they were looking for a good, and efficient, start from Martín Pérez.
You ask and you shall receive. Pérez had seen the Royals not much more than a week before this meeting, and he had performed well in that one too. Here on Wednesday, with the rain coming down, he had solid command for most of the night and was able to cruise through the first few innings of this game.
The southpaw had no trouble at all in the first inning, retiring all three batters he faced with relative ease. The one mistake he made in this game was in the second, though. Salvador Perez led off that inning, and Pérez wanted to get him with a changeup. He kept it off the outer corner of the plate, but it wasn’t quite as far down as he wanted. Perez is a good bad-ball hitter, and he went out and got this one off the plate. The ball was sent way out to center field, and the Royals were able to strike first in this game.
In fact, it took a couple of innings for the Red Sox to get things going against Mike Minor on the other side of things. The lefty was inducing a lot of weak contact in the first two frames, hitting one batter but allowing no other baserunners. But in the third, the Red Sox bats were ready to get going. It started with Marwin Gonzalez ripping a line drive into left field for a base hit. After a fly out and a walk, Alex Verdugo hit what looked like it could potentially be an inning-ending double play. However, it was hit just softly enough to beat out and keep the inning going.
And that ended up being a huge deal that he did keep the inning going. J.D. Martinez stepped into the box with men on the corners and two outs, looking to at least get one run in and tie the game. He’d do even more than that. Minor tried to get a changeup by the Red Sox slugger but left it right over the heart of the plate, and Martinez drove it out to straightaway center field for a three-run blast, and the Red Sox had a two-run lead.
Now with the rain clearly starting to come in, with some thunderstorms potentially alongside, it was a race for Pérez to make this game official as quickly as possible. After a perfect third inning, it looked like he might get into trouble in the fourth when he gave up a leadoff single. But instead he got things right back on track when he picked a ball shot back up the middle, starting a huge double play and leading to a three-batter inning.
He just needed one more inning to make this one an official game, and he got some help from his defense to do it. The southpaw did give up a couple of singles, but thanks to a double play and an otherworldly catch by Kiké Hernández going into the triangle the Royals couldn’t get any runs across, and it was 3-1 after four and a half.
The rain was coming down heavily at this point and the assumption from me at least was that the tarp would come out after that inning, But things continued, and the Red Sox bats got going again in the bottom of the fifth. Thanks to a couple of hits and a walk, two runs came across to make it a 5-1 game after five full.
We continued playing through the weather into the sixth, and the Royals bats came alive. Whit Merrifield started the inning off by smacking a double out to right-center field (Hernández just missed another incredible play) and a base hit from Jorge Soler put men on the corners with nobody out. Pérez did get a weak ground ball in the next at bat for the first out in the inning, but it also brought home a run while also ending his night.
With the lead now at three and a runner still at second with one down, Brandon Workman came in for Boston. The righty did give up a base hit to start the inning, but the runner had to stop at third, and that was followed up with a double play. It was the third double play of the evening for Boston, and it ended the inning with the lead still at three.
At this point, the tarp was finally pulled out with the rain continuing to come down hard at Fenway. Somewhat surprisingly, they’d continue to play after a delay of nearly two hours, picking things back up at 11:35 PM local time.
After the Red Sox went down in order in the bottom of the sixth, Darwinzon Hernandez got the call for the seventh and came through with a perfect inning of his own. Josh Taylor had the eighth, and he’d do the same thing. Boston extended the lead to four in the bottom of the eighth on a Hunter Renfroe moonshot of a home run, and that left just one more inning. Matt Barnes got the call for that one, and while he did allow one runner on an infield single that was all as he did close out the win.
The 6-2 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 50-31. With the Rays dropping one to the Nationals, Boston’s lead in the division grows to three full games.
The Red Sox now go for seven in a row and another sweep on Thursday, weather-permitting. They’ll have Nathan Eovaldi on the mound for this one while Kris Bubic goes for Kansas City. First pitch set for 7:10 PM ET.