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Red Sox put together near-complete performance to top Tigers, sweep series

Amin Touri
July 07, 2019 - 4:53 pm

In serious need of some consistency heading into the All-Star break, the Red Sox put together a nearly complete performance in a 6-3 win to sweep the Tigers on Sunday, with a lineup continuing to click, David Price throwing five strong innings and the bullpen falling one pitch short of closing it down quietly.

Aside from a rough day for Ryan Brasier, who gave up a two-run homer on a full count with two outs in the eighth, things came together nicely as Boston heads into the break having won five of six on this road trip.

Price has quietly been the Red Sox’ best and most consistent starter, and while he left the game earlier than he might’ve liked as his pitch count reached 99 in the fifth, he gave up just one run and four hits while striking out six in one of his better starts of the year.

The big lefty got off to a shaky start, walking Victor Reyes to open the game before Nicholas Castellanos doubled Reyes home to put the Red Sox in an early hole, but Price hung up nothing but zeroes from there.

Price’s ERA dropped to 3.24 in his seventh win of the season, as he continues to turn in quality outings for a team in desperate need of them. If you exclude a four-out shelling against Texas on June 13, Price has gone at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in his last seven other starts. While he hasn’t quite put up seven or eight-inning gems, he’s consistently put the Red Sox in a position to win every fifth day.

The Boston bats took advantage of that position on Sunday, striking for six runs on nine hits to put the team up 5-1 after Price’s exit following the fifth.

Christian Vazquez stayed hot, taking an 0-2 breaking ball from Gregory Soto to right-center for his 14th homer of the season in the scond inning, continuing what has been by far his best offensive season to date.

Since April 23, when Vazquez really got rolling, his slash line is an excellent .325/.460/.518, one of the strongest lines of any catcher in that span.

Xander Bogaerts, who will be on the American League roster for the All-Star Game this week, doubled home Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts in the fifth to give Boston some breathing room, and Andrew Benintendi brought Bogaerts home to round out a big fifth. J.D. Martinez scored on a wild pitch in the eighth, and the bullpen had a five-run lead to protect.

A hot button topic in recent weeks, the bullpen seemed poised for a clean day, with Josh Taylor throwing two scoreless innings, striking out four without allowing a baserunner. Ryan Brasier walked the first batter he saw — command has been an issue for him — but fanned back-to-back Tigers to settle things down. He ran the count full on Brandon Dixon, but threw one bad slider that Dixon belted in the bullpen to cut the lead to 6-3.

Brasier’s been up and down for a few weeks, throwing several scoreless innings but making the occasional mistake like he did Sunday for the two-run homer, or having the occasional nightmare like he did walking home two runs as part of a bullpen collapse against Toronto in late June, and one bad pitch was all that separated Brasier and the Red Sox from a complete performance.

Brandon Workman got the last out of the eighth after Cora hooked Brasier, and Heath Hembree shut down the ninth in his second appearance since he was activated from the injured list. He needed 26 pitches to do so, but he managed to pick up his second save of the year.

The win put the Red Sox eight games over .500 for the first time all season, having won four in a row and five out of six, and they were a pitch away from putting it all together, which they’ll hope to do on the other side of the break with some momentum on their side.

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