The Red Sox salvaged a split in the four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with their 6-3 win Sunday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Sox tagged Rays starter Charlie Morton for three runs in just 4⅓ innings.
Christian Vazquez, who hadn’t homered since July 29 vs. the New York Mets, got things going in the top of the first after his two-run shot to left center in the first inning put the Sox ahead, 2-0.
Red Sox starter Martin Perez believed he had something to do with that.
“I talked to him before the game and I told him he was going to have a great day today,” Perez said. “And I touched his bat. He got mad because he doesn’t like it when pitchers touch his bat.”
Perez pitched well in his start Sunday, throwing five innings, allowing just two earned runs (three total) while striking out six. Perez recovered from his six-walk game last week against the Philadelphia Phillies, walking two batters in this one.
“Today I was attacking the zone, especially first-pitch strikes,” Perez said. “I was trying to attack the hitter and not give them too much credit. That’s who I am. Be aggressive and throw the pitch where I want it. I think Christian did a good job behind home plate.”
The Sox hit two home runs in the contest, including Christian Arroyo’s two-run shot off Ryan Thompson in the top of the sixth, his second homer in as many days. Arroyo, who is trying to make an impression, has done that so far.
In his short time with the Sox, Arroyo said he’s already sat down with hitting coaches Tim Hyer and Peter Fatse. Together, the trio put side-by-side videos of Arroyo going well and also when he has struggled at the plate. Arroyo has since made an adjustment.
“For me, I get good hip rotation,” Arroyo explained. “That’s not really an issue of mine. But the only backlash you can get from that is kind of spinning off a ball. I’ve had a tendency to do that. For me, it’s really working on a lot of direction, staying direct through the middle of the field.”
Rafael Devers stayed hot, going 3 for 5 with an RBI double. He’s now hitting .289 on the year with an .870 OPS.
Cold as ice
If there’s one player who probably wants to just flush this season, it’s J.D. Martinez. When he snapped an 0-for-22 skid with an infield single, Martinez jokingly celebrated with his teammates after he reached first base safely. Nevertheless, Martinez wound up going 1 for 5 with three groundouts and a lineout. Martinez has struggled hitting fastballs this year. He entered this game batting just .175 on four-seamers, his lowest mark of his career. Overall, Martinez is batting just .205 with a .648 OPS.
“I tell you what, he’s working to get this right,” said Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “He’s trying to find it. It’s really good to see when you see the bench erupt on an infield single. They were really happy for him. We’re still waiting on him to take off.”
A call to arms
Monday is an off-day in Miami for the Sox before they face the Marlins on Tuesday. Tanner Houck will make his debut in his start that day and Wednesday’s starter is still to be determined. Nate Eovaldi went just three innings in his first start Saturday since returning from the injured list. You can expect him to go four or five innings in his start Sunday.
“I think we can build up to four or five innings,” said Roenicke, who noted the amount of innings Eovaldi pitches will depend on how efficient he is with his pitch count. “I think we’ll continue to do that. I think there’s no reason to extend him too fast. He would like to build back up again. We would like to do that also.”
Bobby Dalbec had his streak of six straight games with an RBI snapped. It was the longest streak by a Red Sox rookie since Nomar Garciaparra tallied six in 1997. Dom DiMaggio did it seven times which stands as the club’s rookie record . . .Xander Bogaerts passed Joe Cronin for the fifth-most innings played at shortstop in Red Sox history. Sunday’s game was his 898th at the position . . . The Sox have hit 18 homers in their last seven games, tying the Atlanta Braves for the most in that span.