The Boston Red Sox picked up another series win on the season, this time over the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the first two games before dropping the finale. Despite winning the series, the Sox now find themselves with the same record as the Tampa Bay Rays, holding the tiebreaker over them after sweeping them in their only series on the season. It was a good series for the most part for the Sox, as both the lineup and pitching staff did their part in the first two contests, before nobody really showed up for today’s action.
The Sox opened the series with a blowout victory against Phillies ace Aaron Nola. The Sox got to Nola early with two runs in the first, but Philadelphia got a two-run homer in the third from Jean Segura to tie the game back up. Nola seemed to be cruising, until Danny Santana, fresh off the injured list, smacked a home run with two outs in the fifth inning to open the floodgates. Two more runs would come around in the inning off of a throwing error from Alec Bohm, pushing the lead out to 5-2, and ending Nola’s night after five innings. Boston would then pounce on Philadelphia’s bullpen, mainly through two big at bats. Rafael Devers pushed the lead to five with a two run shot in the seventh, and Christian Vazquez would put the game out of reach with a bases clearing double in the ninth inning. Martin Perez cruised through six innings, only needing 79 pitches to get there, and the Sox rolled to an 11-3 victory.
Last night’s contest was a much more competitive affair, but Boston prevailed once again to get another series win. It seemed like things could get out of hand quickly, as Spencer Howard got the start and only lasted three innings for Philly, as he struggled with his control for much of the outing. Devers doubled in Nathan Eovaldi, who drew one of Howard’s four walks on the night, in the third, and Xander Bogaerts hit a sac fly to give Boston an early 2-0 lead. Philadelphia would get a run back in the fourth, but Bogaerts and Santana would hit back-to-back solo shots in the sixth inning to give Boston all the runs they needed. Things got hairy in the seventh inning with Phillips Valdez loading the bases, which led to Darwinzon Hernandez getting called on and promptly hitting Rhys Hoskins, leading to a run scoring and making it a one run game. But Hernandez buckled down and held the 4-3 lead, which would be set in stone after Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes would shut the door in the eighth and ninth innings.
The Sox went for the sweep this afternoon, but were kept at bay thanks to a dominant performance from Zack Wheeler. Wheeler went 7.1 innings, striking out 12, and giving up only a solo shot to Franchy Cordero to lead off the eighth inning. Eduardo Rodriguez continued his recent stretch of subpar outings with another dud today, as he threw 103 pitches in just 4+ innings of work. While he gave up all four of his runs in the first inning, he was playing with fire for most of the afternoon, and never seemed comfortable in this one. Hirokazu Sawamura and Matt Andriese did a good job of keeping Boston in the game over the next three innings, before Phillips Valdez struggled for the second straight day, giving up two runs in the eighth inning. Rafael Devers would lead off the ninth with a solo homer off of Archie Bradley, but that was all Boston could get, as they ended up falling 6-2 in the series finale.
For the most part this was another great series for Boston. Their lineup mashed through the opener, before doing just enough to pick up a win last night. It was tough to lose today’s game, but J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Alex Verdugo were all sitting out, so it’s not surprising that the lineup struggled to produce today. Boston got some good outings from the rotation and the pen in this one too, as it was definitely encouraging to see Eovaldi bounce back after a couple of rough ones. The pen had a good series, especially last night, with Darwinzon Hernandez getting two huge strikeouts with the bases loaded while holding a one run lead. The tandem of Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes at the back seems to be coming to fruition, as Ottavino has looked really solid lately, including striking out the side last night.
The Sox will head back to Fenway for two series, with the first being a quick two game set against the Atlanta Braves. Much like the Phillies, the Braves have gotten off to a slower than expected start, but find themselves just a game and a half out of first place despite sporting a sub .500 record. With the amount of talent, headlined by the early season NL MVP Ronald Acuna Jr., on the roster, the Braves cannot be taken lightly. With the Rays breathing down the back of the Red Sox necks, it will be important for Boston to show up and maintain their slim lead a top the AL East.