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The Red Sox got exactly what they needed on Friday: A strong performance from their starting pitcher, runs, and most importantly, a win.
Following a dreadful three-game sweep to the Yankees, the Red Sox shutout the Rangers 6-0 on Friday night to take the first game of a three-game set. Here’s what happened at Fenway.
Boston’s bats got going from the jump, scoring a run in each of the first two innings to get a 2-0 lead. A Xander Bogaerts single knocked in Kiké Hernández from second in the first inning while Hernández singled to score Christian Vázquez from third in the second inning.
A three-run fifth inning started with a Bogaerts home run and continued when Alex Verdugo doubled to score Kyle Schwarber and J.D. Martinez. The Sox got their final run of the night in the next inning when Hernández’s fielder’s choice allowed Jarren Duran to score from third.
On the mound, Chris Sale made his second start of the season. Just like his first start, Sale just went five innings, striking out five hitters, allowing one walk and five hits.
Xander Bogaerts — 2-for-4, one home run, two RBIs.
Bogaerts showed why he hits in the coveted third spot in the lineup on Friday night. His first-inning single to score Hernández following his leadoff double was a nice showing of situational hitting to ensure the Sox didn’t leave runners in scoring position early on.
After getting shutout for two-plus innings, Bogaerts roped one down the left-field line and straight over the Green Monster to get Boston’s bats going again.
“I feel we play our best baseball here,” Bogaerts told NESN after the game. “We had a tough couple games back in New York. It doesn’t matter who we play right now. We need wins.”
Bogaerts also complimented the Sox’ offense.
“It makes the pitcher a little bit uncomfortable,” Bogaerts said of the Red Sox’s extra-base hits. “Obviously no pitcher wants to be in any type of trouble with runners on. I think we did a good job at not swinging at balls and staying with our approach.”
At the very least, the Red Sox weren’t completely demoralized following their three-game sweep to the Yankees. Losing to a 42-79 Rangers team with Sale on the mound would’ve made anyone who hasn’t hit the panic button smash it.
But Boston was in control throughout, getting back into the win column. The Red Sox continue to show they can defeat the bad teams, with this win coming a week after their three-game demolition of the Orioles.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they won’t gain ground on the Yankees for one of the wild card spots on Friday as they defeated the Twins. The Athletics begin a three-game series against MLB-leading Giants on Friday.
1. The Red Sox didn’t increase Chris Sale’s workload in his second start back. As mentioned earlier, he threw the same amount of innings in Friday’s start (five) as he did in his first start against the Orioles last Saturday.
One noticeable difference in Friday’s start was that Sale threw just 71 pitches following his 89-pitch outing last Saturday. Prior to Sale’s first start back, Red Sox manager Alex Cora stated that the team would treat him like it’s the beginning of the season. Through two games, they’ve stuck with that.
With Sale looking solid in relatively limited action, Cora’s excited to see how his ace will look when he starts to pitch more innings.
“There’s more in the tank. We know that,” Cora told reporters. “Although we felt that same way in 2019 and it never happened. The more repetitions he gets, the more he plays in this environment — nothing against the minor leagues — it’s not the same thing. The competition, the preparation, it takes a toll on you. I think he’s going to keep getting better.”
“We’re very pleased with where he’s at. At one point, we’re going to let him go and he will contribute.”
2. After a rough Tuesday in The Bronx, the Red Sox bullpen put up a second straight impressive outing with a high workload. Boston’s bullpen didn’t give up a run on Friday, allowing just two hits and a walk over four innings.
Hansel Robles and Austin Davis each put up a solid inning in the sixth and seventh, respectively. Robles struck a hitter out and Davis avoided trouble when Andy Ibanez was tagged out on the basepaths after allowing a hit.
Hirokazu Sawamura had his best outing in over two weeks, striking out two Rangers and didn’t allow any on base in the eighth inning. Matt Barnes followed that up by striking out the side in order in the ninth. Friday’s game was just Barnes’s second appearance in the last nine games, showing signs of his pre-All-Star break self following much-needed rest.
3. The Red Sox’s bats got back on track Friday night. Six doubles, each coming from different hitters, plus a home run from a seventh hitter (Bogaerts) strung together six runs for Boston on Friday, one more than what it scored in its three-game set against New York.
Cora was a fan of what he saw from his team’s hitters.
“It was a good one,” Cora said. “We still have to get better in certain situations. But Bobby with a sac fly to right field with a man at second, Kike going the other way, Christian doing the same thing. The contact play with Jarren, that worked too. There were a lot of positives. Not too many negatives. But we still have to get better in certain aspects and we will.”
4. While Kyle Schwarber has yet to make an impact on the field, his bat is certainly making one. Playing as a designated hitter for his fifth game with the Red Sox, Schwarber continued to get on base. He went 2-for-2 with a double and drew two walks.
Since joining Boston, Schwarber’s reached base in 10 of his 18 plate appearances. He’s doubled three times and has scored at least once in each of his three games at Fenway.
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