Garrett Whitlock made his eighth start of the season for the Red Sox, entering the game at 1-1 with a 3.49 ERA. The Sox got their first look at right-handed rookie flamethrower Hunter Greene, who entered the night with a 2-6 record, 5.89 ERA, and a National League-leading 15 home runs allowed.
The first three innings saw both young pitchers at their best, each throwing up efficient zeroes. Whitlock faced the minimum through three innings, allowing a one-out single in both the first and second innings and then erasing them both with an inning-ending double play. He threw seven, nine, and nine pitches, respectively, in the three innings. On the other side, Greene was dominant with the whiffs the first time through the order. He struck out the side in the first and set down six of the first nine outs via the strikeout. The only baserunner through three was from a Trevor Story double in the second inning.
In the top of the fourth, Whitlock allowed a one-out single to Brandon Drury. After improbably missing out on two home runs Tuesday night, each by an inch, Joey Votto’s bad luck continued by ending the inning on a line out that had a .690 expected batting average.
The second time through the order had been the downfall of Hunter Greene all season long, and tonight was no different. Greene’s slash line allowed the first time had been .188/.309/.391, followed by .282/.358/.592. In the bottom of the fourth, Rafael Devers led off the inning with a double off the Monster, followed by a J.D. Martinez single into center field. Bogaerts laid off a tough 1-2 slider, and then singled the next pitch into left field, driving in Devers for a 1-0 lead. Alex Verdugo followed with the biggest hit of the night, which happened to be the only changeup that Greene threw on the night, a 106.8 mph exit velocity two-run double that one-hopped the right-field wall. Martinez and Bogaerts both scored to open up a 3-0 lead, with still nobody out in the inning. After a Trevor Story K, and a Vazquez ground out, Jackie Bradley rifled a single into center field to score Verdugo and open up a 4-0 lead.
Greene’s night finished allowing six hits and four runs on 3 2⁄3 innings while striking out eight, a microcosm of his season thus far. Despite averaging 99.5 mph with his fastball (topping out at 101.4), Greene only gained four whiffs on 19 swings with his fastball (21%) compared to 11 whiffs out of 20 swings on the slider (55%).
In the fifth inning, Whitlock allowed a one-out single, followed by a double play for the third time in the game. On this occasion, Mike Moustakas grounded into a 5-6-3 twin killing. Luis Cessa, who had retired the final out of the fourth, retired the Sox in order in the bottom of the inning.
The Reds scrapped together their only run of the night in the sixth. Aristides Aquino led off with a single and soon found himself at third after an errant throw by Christian Vázquez on Aquino’s stolen base attempt. Nick Senzel knocked in the run on a ground out, an unearned run against Whitlock. Incredibly, all three runs that the Reds scored in the entire series were unearned, occurring on each of the three errors that the Red Sox made in the series. Whitlock’s night ended after six innings, throwing 50 of his 70 pitches for strikes. He allowed five hits, one run, none earned, and did not record a walk nor a strikeout. His ERA now stands at 3.02 and WHIP at 1.10. One thing to monitor is that Whitlock’s velocity was down a bit, averaging 93.6 mph on the fastball/sinker, after averaging 95.4 mph both in his last start and on the season.
Boston had a chance to extend the lead in the sixth off new reliever Vladimir Gutierrez, getting two on with nobody out, from a Bogaerts walk and another Verdugo double inside the left-field foul line. However, after Story and Vazquez grounded out, the latter cutting down Bogaerts at the plate on a “contact play”, the Reds summoned Ross Detwiler from the bullpen who retired Bradley on one pitch to ground out and end the inning.
Tanner Houck entered in the seventh and was dominant over two innings. He only allowed one hit, struck out a batter, and forced Moustakas to swing at a sweeping slider that hit the batter in the leg. Only throwing 25 pitches, the Sox were able to remove Houck thanks to their efforts in the bottom of the eighth inning. Relief pitcher Jeff Hoffman walked the bases loaded, one intentionally, before Jackie Bradley iced the game with a three-run triple to left-center field. Nick Senzel laid out but could not make the play and Bradley dove head-first into third, much to the excitement of Dennis Eckersley, and the score was 7-1.
John Schreiber threw a shutout inning in the ninth, despite allowing a lead-off single, and the game ended with an outstanding sliding stop in short right field by Story, who threw from his knees to retire Votto at first. The Red Sox will now head out to the west coast for ten games in ten days against AL West foes, starting with three in Oakland, followed by four in Los Angeles, and finishing up with three in Seattle.