The Red Sox need a rebound this week in the worst way. They hit what we hope was rock bottom over the weekend, dropping two of three in Baltimore against the Orioles including a particularly ugly loss on Sunday. One game is not going to reverse fortunes for this team right now, but we’ll take a win anytime we can get it. Boston got another great performance from Michael Wacha, who led the way in a shutout effort for the Red Sox staff. Offensively, Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez each hit solo homers to help lead the way in a much-needed 4-0 win.
More robust game notes below.
Put this under the category of nobody saw this coming heading into the season, but with the Red Sox in need of a rebound series this week, they had the man they wanted on the mound in Michael Wacha. By the results, he has been their best starter this season, though as Phil wrote this morning there is a real case for this performance being largely smoke and mirrors.
Well, if it is indeed smoke and mirrors, it did not dissipate for Tuesday’s game against the Angels as he once again was able to cruise, this time against a lineup that featured the likes of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Red Sox pitchers have been coming out of the gates hot over their last week or so, and this night was no difference with Wacha retiring the first eight batters he faced. It looked like he’d turn the lineup over in order the first time through, but former Yankee Andrew Velazquez kept that inning alive with a walk. That would actually be the first of two straight walks, but Wacha worked around the two batters to reach base, striking out Trout on a nasty changeup.
Of course, we all know that the story with this team right now is not the pitching, but rather the nonexistent lineup they’ve trotted out for most of April. They did get some momentum going at the end of a blowout loss in Baltimore on Sunday, so the hope was that they’d carry that over against Noah Syndergaard at Fenway here for this series opener. It didn’t quite work that way early on. The Red Sox did get a couple of hits through the first three innings on an Alex Verdugo single and a Jackie Bradley Jr. double, but they came in separate innings and the game was still scoreless after three.
But after Wacha worked around a leadoff single in the fourth, in part thanks to a double play, the offense got going a bit for the Red Sox. It started with Rafael Devers, who provided a reminder as to what exactly he can do for this group. Syndergaard made the mistake of throwing a fastball right down the pipe, and Devers obliterated one 437 feet to straightaway center, breaking the tie in emphatic fashion with a solo shot. They’d keep the momentum alive as the inning went on as well, with Xander Bogaerts drawing a walk and J.D. Martinez poking a single out to right field. They weren’t able to use that to build a big lead, but two ground outs were enough to bring home Bogaerts and give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
Wacha would have 1 2⁄3 innings left after that, facing only three batters in the fifth thanks to a second double play, and then getting two outs to start the sixth. Alex Cora gave his starter a chance to get through the inning if he could get Trout to finish things off, but the former MVP reached on an infield single over to third base, and moved on up to second when Devers’ throw got past Franchy Cordero. With the runner in scoring position, Ohtani was coming up, and Cora wasn’t taking any chances against the lefty.
At just 60 pitches, Wacha was pulled with Jake Diekman coming in to finish off the reigning MVP. Diekman got the job done, getting Ohtani to line out before coming back out for the seventh and facing only three batters to keep the Angels off the board once again, with the defense turning their third double play of the game.
Thanks to singles from Franchy Cordero and Kevin Plawecki, and then a sacrifice fly from Trevor Story, the lead extended to three, and Ryan Brasier got the call for the eighth. The righty continued the strong night of pitching for the Red Sox, retiring the side in order.
Martine would add one more for the Red Sox in the bottom half of the eighth on a solo homer, leaving it up to Hirokazu Sawamura to close out the game. He retired the Angels in order in the ninth, closing out a 4-0 win for the good guys.
The Red Sox now look to clinch a series win on Wednesday. The Angels will roll with lefty Reid Detmers, while the Red Sox turn to Garrett Whitlock. First pitch is at 7:10 PM ET.