Another day, another way to win for this Red Sox team. In some ways this was a typical win. They got a couple of big swings from the offense, with Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers each hitting homers to lead the way at the plate. On the mound, Martín Pérez wasn’t dominant, but he was solid. Put those two together, and a win isn’t crazy. Except the offense did waste a whole lot of chances, and Pérez did get into a few jams. The latter was solved with great outfield defense, as the group came through with two big outfield assists for Pérez along with a leaping grab at the wall. And the not capitalizing on chances? Well, that was solved by the bullpen once again getting the job done and shutting doors, for the most part anyway.
Monday’s matchup between the Red Sox and Angels put two of the hottest teams in the game up against each other. We know what Boston has been doing of late, snapping a win streak over the weekend but still winning three straight series. Los Angeles has been making easy work of the rest of the AL East of late, however, getting themselves back over .500. With two teams playing so well, it was important for both sides to get on the board first to try and carry whatever momentum they can for as far into this series as possible.
Neither side was able to do much of anything in the first inning, though the Red Sox did work a couple of walks and made José Suarez build up his pitch count early on. And they continued to be relentless against the Angels lefty, who was making his first start of the season, for the rest of the night. In the second, they did make a quick first out, but then they would indeed get on the board first. Christian Arroyo stepped to the plate for his first at-bat since returning from the injured list, and on a fastball that sat middle-in he turned around on it for a no-doubt shot out to left-center field. The solo blast gave the Red Sox that momentum and a 1-0 lead.
They continued to keep the pressure on Suarez after that, drawing another walk and smacking a base hit to put two men on, still with just one out. Kiké Hernández struck out, but Rafael Devers made sure not to totally waste the chance, coming through with a base hit of his own. The single brought home Marwin Gonzalez and made it a 2-0 game.
As for the other side, Martín Pérez got the start for the Red Sox, pitching much better since his roadblock in the middle of June. He’s looking like a strong back-end arm again, and he had another strong showing here on Monday. His first inning was quick and easy, though the second did present some issues. After being handed the 2-0 lead, he got beat by the bottom of the lineup, walking Max Stassi before giving up a base hit to old friend José Iglesias.
With men on the corners, Juan Lagares hit a deep fly ball out to center field. It was caught, but it was deep enough to cut Boston’s lead in half. To make matters worse, Luis Rengifo appeared to have perhaps given his team the lead in the next inning with a shot out to left-center, but Hernández made a big leaping grab at the wall to end the inning with the lead still in hand.
That lead was only one run, though, so the offense needed to get back to work. They didn’t in the third, but with the score still 2-1 in the fourth they worked some two-out magic. Those two outs were recorded quickly to start that frame, but Hernández was able to keep things alive by drawing a walk. That brought Devers back to the plate, and he was able to work a 3-0 count. The Red Sox wisely gave him the green light, and he was waiting for a fastball down in the zone. That’s exactly what he got, and it was lifted out to straightaway center field for a solo shot, putting the Red Sox up by three.
Boston would continue to add on in the fifth as well, getting some help from the Angels defense when an error from Rengifo put Xander Bogaerts on to lead off the inning. He wouldn’t move up until a two-out walk put a pair on, and then Danny Santana — who came in for Marwin Gonzalez after the latter exited with hamstring tightness — poked a soft base hit into right field, bringing Bogaerts home and making it a 5-1 game.
Pérez had cruised through the third and fourth innings for the Red Sox, but he started to get hit around a bit more as his outing came to a close. In the fifth, the Angels got their first two men on with a base hit and a double, and suddenly there was a pair in scoring position with nobody out. L.A. did get one runner in on a ground out, but then on a Shohei Ohtani base hit into left field, Josh Rojas decided to challenge the arm of Santana. The Red Sox outfield has been money with their throws of late, and it continued in a big way Monday night, including here as Santana cut down the runner at the plate and Pérez escaped the jam with just one run coming across.
The Red Sox southpaw came out again in the sixth, and again he’d get in trouble, and again he’d get some help from his outfield. This inning started with back-to-back singles, but the second single was a ball in the gap from Max Stassi, who thought he’d get two. Hernández played it very well by the wall, however, and made a perfect throw into second base for another outfield assist. But even with the big play, the Angels still had a man on third with just one out.
It wouldn’t be Pérez getting the call to escape that jam, with Hirokazu Sawamura getting summoned from the bullpen to finish out the inning. He did just that, getting a pop-up and a ground ball to somehow end the frame without any runs, keeping the Red Sox up 5-2.
After the offense got a man to second but failed to bring him home in the top of the seventh, Sawamura came back out for the bottom of the inning. He got the first out he was looking for, but then left a 1-1 fastball right over the heart of the zone for Rojas to demolish into right field. That solo homer cut the Red Sox lead down to two. Sawamura did get one more out, but then Josh Taylor was brought in to face Ohtani. Taylor won that battle with a fly out, and we were headed to the eighth with the lead still at two.
The offense once again had a chance to add on some insurance in the eighth with two men on, but once again they failed to capitalize and continued to count on their bullpen. Fortunately, Taylor also continued to hold up his end of the bargain, coming back out for the bottom of the inning and retiring the side in order.
It was still 5-3 as we entered the bottom of the ninth, and it was Adam Ottavino getting the call with the Red Sox trying to avoid using Matt Barnes. The righty didn’t get the start he was looking for, issuing a four-pitch walk to begin the inning. He’d bounce back with two straight outs after that, but the runner also moved up to third base before coming home on a base hit to bring the Angels to within one. That was followed up with another base hit, and suddenly both the tying and winning runs were on base with Ohtani coming to the dish. Ottavino fell behind 3-1, but was eventually able to get the MVP favorite to ground into a well-positioned shift for the final out.
The 5-4 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 54-32. The Rays were able to pick up a win on Monday as well, keeping Boston’s lead in the division at 4.5 games.
The Red Sox will look to clinch a fourth straight series win in an All-Star pitching matchup on Tuesday, with Nathan Eovaldi taking on Shohei Ohtani. First pitch is set for 9:38 PM ET.