Well that was fun. After the Red Sox cruised to victory on Thursday over the Angels behind great pitching, it was the offense carrying the load on Friday. J.D. Martinez led the way with a pair of homers along with two more hits while Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers each added a homer of their own as well. Boston actually fell behind 2-0 in this game and that score held until the fifth and then the Red Sox never looked back.
After Thursday’s lightning-quick victory over the Angels behind an absurdly great pitching performance from Chris Sale, it seemed almost certain that Friday’s game was going to be a bit more of a grind. It was essentially impossible for it not to be, and this one featured Brian Johnson going up against a struggling Jaime Barría. Neither offense is exactly scorching right now, but both have enough talent to make their opponents pay.
In the top half of the first, Johnson found himself having to work a bit. After a quick first out, Mike Trout was up at the plate and hit one square out to the left field corner for a one-out double. Shohei Ohtani came up after that and worked a long at bat, but it ended with the second out of the inning. With Justin Upton up next, Johnson worked through another long at bat but it looked to everyone in the park like he had finished him off with strike three. Instead, the ump missed an obvious strike call and awarded Upton first base on a walk. That proved costly as Albert Pujols came up next and launched a bad breaking ball up into the Monster Seats. The inning should have been over, but instead the Angels took a 3-0 lead into the top of the first.
The good news is the Red Sox didn’t waste much time in chipping away at this lead. Mookie Betts, who had been scuffling heading into this game, started the bottom of the first off with a laser into right-center field for a leadoff double. Boston made two quick outs after that, but J.D. Martinez salvaged the inning with a double of his own. The Red Sox couldn’t match the Angels’ first inning, but they did get one on the board to get to within two.
After that, things quieted down for a few innings on both sides. Johnson did get taken out early in this one after Alex Cora had said he hoped to get five out of the lefty prior to the game. Instead, Johnson issued a walk in the third and after getting the second out of the night Alex Cora came out to get him.
Marcus Walden came on for Johnson and he was phenomenal. Trout got caught stealing right off the bat to end that third inning, and Walden came out for two more innings after that in which he faced a total of six batters. He’s quietly been on fire of late.
Meanwhile. Barría settled into a groove for a couple innings despite, frankly, unimpressive stuff and he got through back-to-back perfect innings in the second and third. The Red Sox offense got to it in the fourth, though, starting with Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop led off the inning the right way, just missing a home run out to center field and settling for a leadoff double. Martinez was up next, and he did not settle. The slugger smashed his 26th homer of the year, and with that swing of the bat this game was all tied up at three.
The bats kept it going in the fifth, too. With Barría still on the mound, Jackie Bradley Jr. got things going with a one-out single through the right side. That brought Betts up to the plate and with this swing he officially snapped his mini-slump. Barría threw a slider that did not slide — as Remy pointed out on the broadcast, a lot of his sliders just spun but didn’t move — and Betts got around on it to send it out into the Monster Seats. That gave the Red Sox a 5-3 lead, and they weren’t going to look back from there.
It was the sixth, after Barría had left and the Angels turned to their bullpen, that things started to pile on for the Red Sox. Martinez smacked a double to lead off the inning before Andrew Benintendi drew a walk and Christian Vázquez shocked everyone and bunted for a hit. That loaded the bases with nobody out, and after Mitch Moreland popped out the Angels turned to the left-handed Adalberto Mejia. That led Sam Travis up to the plate to hit for Brock Holt, and he’d draw a walk to bring a run home. Jackie Bradley Jr. then hit a ground ball that got under the second baseman’s glove for a two-run error, and after a Betts walk Rafael Devers knocked it two more with a base hit. By the time the dust had settled it was a 10-3 lead for the Red Sox.
On the other side, Nathan Eovaldi came in after Walden. He was fantastic in the sixth with a 1-2-3 inning. He then came out for another inning in the seventh after his offense built up the seven-run lead, and this one didn’t go quite as well. The righty started to tire pretty quickly in this inning and totally lost his command. He ended up allowing a double, two walks and a hit batter before escaping the inning with just one run allowed thanks to a double play.
After the Red Sox added two more in the bottom of the seventh to make it 12-4, they shuffled the defense around a bit in the eighth. Hector Velázquez came on to pitch, Sandy León came on to catch, Christian Vázquez went to third base and Devers went to shortstop. None of them (besides Velázquez, obviously) would be involved in the 1-2-3 inning.
Boston added four more in the eighth in a rally that included homers from both Devers and Mitch Moreland, and Josh Taylor came on to pitch the ninth. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning to put a bow on the beatdown.
The Red Sox will look to clinch this four-game series with a win on Saturday. They’ll have Rick Porcello on the mound for that one while L.A. counters with Andrew Heaney. First pitch is schedule for 4:05 PM ET.
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