The only better time than Wednesday for the Red Sox to get a blowout win would have been the night before, or the night before that, or the night before... You get it. This is a team desperately searching for anything resembling momentum, and they got it and then some on Wednesday. It only counts as one win, but everything was working. The offense was firing on all cylinders, being led by J.D. Martinez and Bobby Dalbec to put 14 runs on the board. That performance was much-needed, but shouldn’t overshadow what Nathan Eovaldi did, tossing seven huge innings to dominate Tampa Bay all night. More of this, please.
Given the way things have been going for the Red Sox of late, there was nothing that could have been more cathartic on Wednesday than a blowout. Just an absolute smackdown with little-to-no stress, featuring big hits, sustained rallies, and strong starting pitching. Granted, it seemed impossible that all of those things would happen at once, but we can dream, right?
The dream did come true, as the Red Sox absolutely rolled through Wednesday’s matchup against the Rays. Having lost their last six matchups against Tampa, the offense got going against lefty Josh Fleming right off the bat. The Rays southpaw had no ability to fool the Red Sox offense at all in this start, and Boston kept reminding him. That started with the first three batters of the game — Kiké Hernández, Hunter Renfroe, and Xander Bogaerts — all smacking doubles to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead. They’d add one more on a J.D. Martinez single to give themselves a three-run cushion through the first inning.
The barrage continued into the second as well, starting off with a Bobby Dalbec walk with one out followed by a two-out rally reminiscent of this team’s first half. Hernández hit his second double of the game, then Renfroe did the same, bringing home two more runs and extending that lead to give. Boston got another baserunner on as well, but settled for “only” five runs through two innings.
And over on the other side, Nathan Eovaldi absolutely rolled in this game. Boston has gotten a few strong starting pitching performances here and there during this run, but this may have been the best. The righty combined great stuff with strong command to get through the day efficiently. Eovaldi retired the side in the first, striking out two in the process, before stranding a runner on second in a scoreless second.
From there, it was a total groove. The righty retired 10 in a row after that leadoff single in the second, with the streak being broken up with a double in the fifth. But that would be the only ding against him, as Eovaldi retired the next two to end the inning with his shutout still in place.
Meanwhile, in the fourth inning the Red Sox were able to take their lead from somewhat comfortable to blowout status. Hernández and Renfore were in the thick of it again, leading off the inning with a single and a walk. After the first out was recorded, the Red Sox got a double, an intentional walk, a regular walk, and two straight singles. By the time the dust settled in the inning, Boston had added five more to their total and given themselves a 10-run lead.
They’d keep it going in the fifth as well, adding four more runs to their total in that inning. As if the game wasn’t over even before that inning started, the last three runs of the fifth came when Randy Arozarena lost a routine fly ball with the bases loaded, allowing it to fall in behind him with all three runners coming home.
Meanwhile, Eovaldi did lose his shutout in the sixth, not that it mattered much for the course of the game. Brandon Lowe, who hit a home run on Tuesday as well, smashed a bullet out to right field for a solo home run to give the Rays their first run of the inning. Eovaldi would retire all three of the other batters he faced in the inning and then tossed a scoreless frame in the seventh. That finished his night, righting the ship for Eovaldi in a game both he and the team needed very, very badly.
That ended the night for Eovaldi, who gave the Red Sox seven very strong innings with 10 strikeouts and just one walk. For good measure, the Red Sox added six more to their total in the eighth against catcher Francisco Mejía, including Bogaerts hitting what was somehow the team’s first homer of the night. On the mound, Yacksel Ríos tossed a scoreless eighth before Phillips Valdez struggled in the ninth, allowing seven runs before finally ending the game.
With the 20-6 win, the Red Sox pushed their record to 66-50 and pull back to within four of the division. In the wildcard race, the Athletics are currently tied with Cleveland. Boston entered the day trailing them by a game for the top wildcard spot. Meanwhile, the Yankees won, keeping the Red Sox’s edge for the second wildcard spot at two games. Toronto, who entered the day 2.5 games back, has an early lead over the Angels.
The Red Sox and Rays have a rubber match on the docket for Thursday in a late afternoon tilt. The expected pitching matchup will be between Tanner Houck and Drew Rasmussen, with first pitch at 4:10 PM ET.