After dropping 2 of 3 to the Oakland Athletics earlier in the week, the Boston Red Sox were looking to improve their record against the AL West coming into this weekend. The Los Angeles Angels provided some exciting competition for the majority of the series, but the Sox would quickly come away with the series victory, eventually settling for winning 2 of the 3 games.
The first game of the series was a low scoring affair, due in part to some good pitching from both sides. Hunter Renfroe gave the Sox a quick 2-0 lead with a two run shot on a line out to center, but Los Angeles eventually brought the game back to 2-2. Nick Pivetta continued his hot start to the season with a solid six inning performance, giving up only two runs, while racking up seven K’s. Griffin Canning matched those numbers exactly however, and it set up an exciting finish to the game. Matt Andriese would come on in relief of Pivetta and give up the lead, but Bobby Dalbec would give Boston a lead they wouldn’t relinquish with a two run bomb over the Green Monster in the bottom of the seventh. Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes would each hurl a perfect inning in the eighth and ninth to close out the Angels, giving the Sox a 4-3 win.
Yesterday’s tilt wasn’t nearly as close, as the Sox routed the Angels with a solid offensive day. Alex Verdugo would celebrate his 25th birthday with a solo shot in the bottom of the first, that ended up being all the Sox would need. Bobby Dalbec would follow up his heroics from last night with a two run double off the monster in the fourth, and was then driven in by Franchy Cordero on a double of his own. The game was blown open by a three run blast from Xander Bogaerts over the monster, and was followed by another RBI double from Cordero the next inning. Rafael Devers would put the cherry on top with a solo shot of his own in the seventh. Martin Perez finally picked up his first win on the season after firing six scoreless innings, and Boston cruised to a 9-0 victory.
Looking to finalize a series sweep, the Red Sox sent Nate Eovaldi to the mound Sunday afternoon. Eovaldi was less than stellar, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits through 5 innings of work, but nonetheless kept the Red Sox hopes alive long enough for the offense to deliver in the bottom of the 5th. Trailing 4-1 at the time, Kevin Plawecki stepped up to the plate and juiced a ball over the green monster to cut Angels lead to two. The offense stayed hot in the inning, as Michael Chavis and Jonathan Arauz would get on base and set up Rafael Devers for a three run shot that was clobbered over the bullpen in right field.
Things were going well for the Sox after that, and it was perfectly set up for Matt Barnes to close the game out in the top of the 9th. Barnes, who has been arguably the best closer in the MLB this season, allowed Mike Trout to reach base with two outs to bring Shohei Ohtani to the plate. Ohtani ripped a homer down the right field line to give the Angels a 6-5 lead. The Sox were able to get the winning run on base in the bottom of the 9th, but Mike Mayers was able to work out of the jam and close the game out for the Angels as they spoiled the Red Sox sweep.
As disappointing as Sunday afternoon’s loss was, the Red Sox played well in the series for the most part. Bobby Dalbec showed that he has the clutch gene with his late home run Friday night and seems to be working out of his rocky start to the season. The offense is giving the team a chance to win every night, with Rafael Devers in particular having a really good series. The one big question mark is still the bullpen however. Matt Andriese put the Red Sox in a compromising position Friday night giving up the lead that Nick Pivetta worked hard to earn. And Matt Barnes pretty much perfect start to the season hit it’s first road bump this afternoon, ultimately costing the Sox a win. It’s still early in the season, but Alex Cora needs to start figuring out who will pitch in certain spots out of the pen.
The Red Sox get an off day tomorrow before hitting the road for the next six games, with the first three coming against the Toronto Blue Jays. The teams split their mini two game series earlier in the season, and with Toronto, along with most of the AL East for that matter, starting to get hot, this should be a compelling series. The Sox pitching staff will look to recover from a rough day today and pick up another series victory over a divisional opponent.
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