The Red Sox offense was intent on a sweep this weekend. There were a couple of bad innings for Boston’s pitchers in this game that allowed Baltimore to keep the day interesting throughout, and one of them included an injury to Garrett Whitlock that could certainly have implications beyond this game. But the good news is the offense just kept coming in this game. Most notably they came through with a huge three-run seventh to regain a lead they had just lost, and it was enough to give them a sweep and five straight wins overall.
You never enter a series fully expecting a sweep, because no matter how bad a team is it is still a major-league club, and it is hard to be any major-league club three times in a row. However, it is certainly an attainable goal when you’re playing a team like the Orioles, and after winning the first game they just had to come out ahead in a Nathan Eovaldi game to end the series.
And early on, it was all Red Sox on Sunday. Eovaldi wasn’t perfect through the first two innings, but he wasn’t far off as he allowed just a single in each frame without allowing any runs. Over on the other side, meanwhile, the offense got going right away. They immediately loaded the bases in the bottom half of the first, and while two straight strikeouts made it look like they’d blow the chance, Bobby Dalbec was hit by a pitch to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
They’d add on two more runs on a Kevin Plawecki single as well, but the inning also ended there with Dalbec being thrown out at third base on a wonky play by the baserunner. The offense kept coming in the next inning as well. Alex Verdugo got the second started with a double, and Kiké Hernández would hit one of his own a couple batters later to make it a 4-0 game.
Unfortunately, Eovaldi got himself into some trouble in the third and the Orioles were able to make sure Boston didn’t run away with this game. After starting the top of the third with a strikeout, the Red Sox started gave up a single, a walk, and a double to give Baltimore their first run of the afternoon. A couple batters later, Austin Hays came up with a pair in scoring position and brought them both home with a base hit, and Baltimore was back to within one.
The good news is the damage started there, and J.D. Martinez helped get at least one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning. Coming up with one out and the bases empty, the first pitch he saw was a curveball that hung right out over the plate, and he blasted it for a solo shot to put the Red Sox back in front by two runs.
From there, the game got silent for a little bit. The Red Sox offense went quiet for the next three innings, sending nine to the plate and having all of them go down to keep their run total at five through the fifth inning. On the other side, Eovaldi only allowed a single in the fourth and fifth to ensure the third was the only speed bump for him in the outing.
The righty was only at 78 pitches at this point in the game, but Alex Cora wants to be aggressive with his pitching staff here down the stretch and he went to Garrett Whitlock in the sixth. It worked out in that inning with the rookie allowing just a double in a scoreless frame.
But then things got bad in the seventh. Whitlock came back out to start the inning, but after a leadoff walk he left the game with the trainer. It was later announced that he was suffering from right pectoral tightness, but the severity of the injury remains unknown.
With Whitlock now out of the game, Cora went to Hirokazu Sawamura, who just had no control whatsoever. He walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases, and then Trey Mancini doubled down the third base line to clear the bases, and things went from bad to worse with the Orioles now taking a 7-6 lead. To Sawamura’s credit he did strike out the next two to end the inning, but the damage was done.
Things didn’t feel too bad for too long, fortunately, as this Red Sox offense showed little interest in losing this game. José Iglesias started things off in the bottom of the seventh with a double high off the Monster, and then Kiké Hernández swung at the first pitch he saw to bring Iglesias home and quickly tie the game. Hunter Renfroe then followed that up with a double of his own, also high off the Monster, to give Boston their lead right back. Throw in a base hit from Rafael Devers as well, and the Red Sox were up 8-6 by the time the inning concluded.
Now, the bullpen just needed to hold tight for two more innings, starting with Hansel Robles in the eighth to face the bottom third of Baltimore’s order. He had minimal trouble, allowing just a single in a scoreless inning. That left it up to Garrett Richards to protect the two-run lead in the ninth. He was going up against the heart of the Orioles lineup, but he came through and closed out the win without allowing a run.
The 8-6 win pushed the Red Sox record to 86-65. The Blue Jays also won on Sunday, which means Boston will stay one game up on Toronto for the top wildcard spot. Meanwhile, the Yankees are on their way to a second straight loss, which would put them 2.5 games behind Boston and 1.5 games out of a playoff position. Seattle started the day four games out of a postseason spot and would stay there if they hold on to their five-run lead. Oakland is just getting started in their game today, and they started the day three behind Boston and two out of a postseason spot.
The Red Sox now have their first of two days off in the coming week, with their next game coming on Tuesday at home against the Mets. They’ll have Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound for that one with Marcus Stroman going for New York. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.