In just the second game of the season the Red Sox staged a dramatic, come-from-behind win on Friday, erasing a five run deficit to beat the Mariners, 7-6.
As in Thursday’s season opener, in which Chris Sale uncharacteristically allowed a deep and early hole, the Sox got substandard performance from Thursday’s starter, Nathan Eovaldi, too.
Like Sale, Eovaldi allowed three Seattle home runs. But unlike Sale, Eovaldi’s historical troubles with the Mariners continued on Friday, getting tagged with six earned runs over just 5.0 IP. Eovaldi is now 0-0 with a 4.09 ERA in four career starts against the M’s.
But while the starter tanked, the Sox bullpen was nearly perfect with the succession of Colton Brewer, Brandon Workman, Brian Johnson, and Matt Barnes stepping up, each delivering hitless, scoreless innings. Of the four, the only blemish was two otherwise harmless walks by Brewer; the others faced the minimum three batters per inning.
As the relievers kept the game in check, the Red Sox offense chipped away at the Mariners’ lead with single runs scored in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings, the latter two coming on first-of-the-season homers by J.D. Martinez and Christian Vázquez.
Despite Vázquez’ earlier homer, Manager Alex Cora went with Mitch Moreland as a late-game substitution to face Seattle reliever Hunter Strickland. Moreland was 0-for-1 lifetime against Strickland but, as it did so many times in 2018, Cora’s arrow hit the target. Moreland blasted a 369-foot moonshot that was the hardest hit ball of the game. It was Moreland’s fourth career pinch-hit home run, his first since August 30, 2017. With 8.1 innings in the books, it was the Sox’ first lead.
After the game Cora said he had considered adding Moreland to the game sooner, but agreed with his coaching staff that it would be best to hold him for a situation with men on base. “He’s been working hard, he’s been working hard on this and he was locked in,” Cora said of Moreland, “From the seventh inning on he was preparing, he was in the cage” with coaches Ramon Vazquez and Andy Barkett.
Matt Barnes, appearing as the closer and up by just a run in the bottom of the ninth, was excellent. Barnes dispatched the Mariners in order with two strikeouts.
Odds ‘n Ends
Now, a couple RSNStats notes about Friday’s game:
Moreland became the 18th Red Sox since 1925 to club a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run in the 9th inning or later, the first since Mike Carp on September 11, 2013 at Tampa Bay…The booming Mariners have now combined for 12 home runs in the first four games of the season, the second biggest such tally after the 1998 club (13)…Not since at least 1908 have Red Sox starters allowed three home runs in back-to-back games to start a season…Only once before have two Sox starters allowed six or more earned runs in the first two games of a season (1941 in back-to-back starts by Charlie Wagner and Jack Wilson facing the Washington Senators).