The Streak Continues On
The Red Sox offense had laid dormant for what felt like an eternity. Tonight, the team spewed hot lava everywhere, wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting Cleveland pitchers. It was a masterclass in clutch hitting, and the Red Sox pitching did enough to come away the win.
Chris Sale is the undisputed ace of the Boston Red Sox, and when healthy, is arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. Sale isn’t just good; he’s MLB record-breaking good. Nate Eovaldi has been the best pitcher for the Red Sox in 2021, and yes, a lot has to do with Sale rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but let’s not sell the righty short.
In this game, Eovaldi was sensational through six innings. His only struggle began when he approached the 90-pitch mark in the seventh inning. For whatever reason, pitching more than 90 in a game is Eovalodi’s Kryptonite. The line on Eovaldi for the evening was ultimately 6 1⁄3 innings, six hits, two walks, nine strikeouts, two home runs, and three earned runs.
That line, however, isn’t truly indicative of how well Eovaldi pitched. The 2021 All-Star was legitimately cruising through the first six innings, allowing only a single run on a homer from José Ramírez. Up until the seventh inning, the only two hits Eovaldi had given up in the game came thanks to a Ramírez double and home run. No matter how you try and figure it, Ramírez is elite, and tonight he did exactly what elite players do, mashing the ball. He went three for five in the game.
For the offense, they weren’t exactly putting up a ton of big rallies early in the game, but a few big swings were able to give them an early lead. They had a 3-1 lead through six innings thanks to three solo homers from Kyle Schwarber (whose homer was of the leadoff variety), Kevin Plawecki, and Jonathan Araúz.
Eovaldi then entered the seventh inning with little trouble, and he still looked sharp at the start as he got Oscar Mercado to ground out to second. Bobby Bradley then singled, and from there Austin Hedges hit a home run into the second row of the Monster to tie the game at three for Cleveland. Andrés Giménez singled and that was the end of the night for Eovaldi. Adam Ottavino came in and continued to dominated, striking out both Myles Straw and Amed Rosario to end the seventh.
The volcano that is the Red Sox offense answered Cleveland’s seventh-inning comeback by erupting in their half of the seventh. Travis Shaw pinch hit for Jack López and drew a big walk before coming out of the game for pinch-runner Danny Santana. Araúz continued his domination of Cleveland — in addition to the homer earlier in this game, he won a game against Cleveland last week on a homer — with a fly ball double, getting Santana to third.
Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill, who up until this moment was nearly matching Eovaldi pitch for pitch, was taken out of the game and replaced with Trevor Stephan. Quantrill ended his night with six innings pitched, seven hits, five earned runs, two walks, six strikeouts, but he allowed three home runs. Trevor Stephan was not able to limit the bleeding for his starter, giving up a double to Schwarber, which scored Santana and Araúz. The Red Sox took a 5-3 lead. Stephan was able to strike out both Devers and Martinez before issuing an intentional walk to Alex Verdugo. The Red Sox now had two men on and Renfroe at the plate, and after a lengthy at-bat, the outfielder demolished a pitch into the Monster seats. It changed the game on its head, giving the Red Sox a five-run lead
From there it was up to the bullpen, and Ryan Brasier made his 2021 debut. It was not as smooth as he or anyone else would have wanted, though. The righty came on in the eighth inning after the Red Sox regained the lead in the seventh, and was able to get the thorn in the Red Sox side, José Ramírez, to ground out to first. But then Bradley Zimmer singled, Daniel Johnson walked, and Bobby Bradley singled to left field to score Zimmer. Brasier, unfortunately, could not get the final out of the inning, and Alex Cora brought in Garrett Whitlock to shut it down, getting Austin Hedges to fly out to Renfroe in right. Boston was still up four.
Whitlock was brought back out to close it out in the ninth, and gave up a line-drive single to Giménez but was able to get Straw to fly out for the first out of the inning. With one on, and one out, Whitlock faced Amed Rosario, who greeted him to with a sharp liner to center. With two on, one out, and the thorn is up at bat, that could only mean that Ramírez was going to make Whitlock pay with a single that hugged the line in right to bring home another run and push Rosario to third. The score was now 8-5 with the tying run at the plate in slugger Franmil Reyes. Whitlock was able to turn it up a notch and strike out both Reyes and Zimmer swinging. Game over. Red Sox win. The winning streak at three.
Tomorrow Tanner Houck is on the bump and will look to build on his last start against Cleveland. Hopefully, Houck can successfully limit damage and pitch into at least the sixth inning. Eli Morgan gets the starting nod for Cleveland. The Red Sox were great tonight, great even without their A team on the field. Look for the Sox to take the series win tomorrow at Fenway.