Mitch Moreland, Red Sox salvage split in two-game series with Jays

Nick Friar
April 11, 2019 - 10:47 pm

Ken Giles wanted no part of Mitch Moreland in the ninth inning. Boston’s No. 3 hitter had already tagged a home run into the Red Sox bullpen in the seventh, and with Mookie Betts on third, Giles was doing everything he could to keep the reigning MVP from getting a big lead.

By focusing on Betts, Giles made a mistake against Moreland, which turned into a game-tying double to center field.

“That’s going to rattle, I think, the best of them,” Moreland said on Giles’ situation. “Those types of situations aren’t easy. I think it’s that way for everybody. It’s just trying to figure out a way to slow it down enough and stay within yourself and stay in the game.”

Two batters later, the bases were loaded for Rafael Devers, who secured the 7-6 win for the Red Sox on a chopper that landed about three feet in front of the plate and took a huge hop over Jays second baseman Lourdes Gurriel before touching down again just in front of the outfield grass. That was Devers’ his first of walk-off RBI of his career.

The Red Sox chipped away at a Toronto lead started at 5-0 in the third inning, where Nathan Eovaldi gave up two home runs. (For a complete recap, click here.) That would not fall under the definition of minimizing the damage.

“I felt like I threw the ball really well today,” Eovaldi said. “I felt like I had pretty good fastball command. My curveball was really good today. It was just, it came down to literally two pitches, the one to (Justin) Smoak and then Rowdy (Tellez). I felt like Smoak, he battled and fought off a bunch of good pitches and unfortunately he was able to put one out, and (same) with Tellez, as well.”

Both bombs clocked in at over 105 miles per hour. Justin Smoak hit the first, but it was Rowdy Tellez’s two-run missile to right field that stole the show.

Statcast clocked Tellez’s home run at 115.2 miles per hour, Toronto’s hardest hit home run since 2015. It was also initially measured at 505 feet, which meant his bomb was the farthest hit ball in the history of Fenway Park, surpassing Ted Williams’ 502-foot home run back in 1946.

Again, that’s Rowdy Tellez, a 30th round pick for the Jays in 2013 that’s played in 34 games since breaking into the bigs last season. Either he’s the next big deal, or Statcast made a mistake.

The latter turned out to be true. Unfortunately, Statcast could not recalculate the distance.

Boston’s offense would bounce back in the bottom of the third to cut it to 5-3 thanks to a pair of RBI-doubles from J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, along with an RBI-single from Dustin Pedroia. Devers and Pedroia’s RBIs in the third were their first of 2019.

Eovaldi lasted five innings for the Red Sox, giving up the five earned on six hits and four walks. He left the game down 5-4, but wasn’t a factor in the decision well before the ninth thanks Moreland’s 403-foot homer. (Of course, assuming Statcast got the distance on that one right.)

Moreland’s home run came two innings after the Red Sox scratched across a run thanks to a Xander Bogaerts single, a Rafael Devers walk and two wild pitches from Jays starter Aaron Sanchez.

After Bogaerts scored and Devers advanced to third on the second wild pitch, Dustin Pedroia hit a fly to shallow center. Rafael Devers was tagging at third, seemingly ready to bluff an attempt at the plate.

But the Red Sox third baseman wasn’t bluffing. He tested Randal Grichuk’s arm and lost. Well, he didn’t just lose; Devers got absolutely hosed at the plate:

Maybe it’s time for the Red Sox to stop testing opposing center fielders’ arms.

Heath Hembree and Colton Brewer were the first two Red Sox to come on in and put up numbers that were almost identical to one another. Each tossed an inning, struck out two and threw 13 pitches. The only difference was Brewer threw 10 strikes and Hembree only tossed eight. (Nitpicking at its finest.)

Ryan Brasier came on for the eighth inning and gave up his first run of the season on a Freddie Galvis home run to make it 6-5. Galvis went 4-for-4 on Thursday, 6-for-9 in the two-game series.

Marcus Walden finished the win for the Red Sox after navigating his way through a self-created bases-loaded jam in the ninth.

Regardless of the finish, the starting rotation continues to be the problem. The ninth inning heroics should not have been necessary. Five runs in support should be plenty. Wins may be an archaic stat, but when a team goes 13 games without a starting pitcher earning a W, something isn’t right.