The Red Sox have won three games in a row for the first time this season after their 7-3 victory Friday night over the Mariners at Fenway Park.
Trevor Story quickly picked up where he left off following his three-home run performance Thursday night. Story belted a grand slam in the third inning Friday off Seattle starter Robbie Ray that just snuck over the Green Monster, giving the Sox a 4-0 lead. He has 11 of the 18 RBIs for the Red Sox through the first two games of the series.
After the Mariners closed it to 4-3, Jackie Bradley Jr. added in a three-run shot in the eighth off lefthander Anthony Misiewicz, Bradley’s first of the season and his first homer off a lefty since May 4 of last year.
“Hopefully [the homers] are like bananas now,” Bradley said afterward. “They come in bunches.”
Observations from the game:
▪ The Mariners have proved ineffective in their plan of attack against Story, who likes the ball down in the zone. Story hunts breaking and off-speed stuff at that particular part of the plate, hitting .402 with an .877 slugging percentage. In fact, three of the Story’s four homers in the series came on off-speed or breaking pitches low in the zone, the exception being his second inning homer off George Kirby in Thursday’s game. That pitch was a middle-middle fastball, or close to it, that Story hammered to dead center field.
Ray challenged Story in the third inning with the fastball. Story can struggle with the fastball up but fouled off a tough 94 mile-per-hour fastball on the fourth pitch of the at-bat. With nowhere to put Story, Ray tried for the slider down but it caught just enough plate for Story to book his fourth round-trip ticket in two days.
“Any time you hit a grand slam it’s special,” Story said. “But coming off how it went [Thursday] night I’m just riding that wave.”
▪ The Sox couldn’t muster much offense against Ray other than Story’s blast. Ray wasn’t the sharpest. Each of his 87 pitches seemed laborious, but he still navigated his way through six innings, striking out eight Sox batters and walking two.
▪ Fresh off the 15-day injured list, Red Sox starter Michael Wacha, who had a 1.38 ERA in five previous starts, didn’t have his best stuff either but managed to get through 4⅔ innings while walking three batters. In the top of the fifth, Abraham Toro scorched a two-run homer off Wacha that traveled 430 feet to right field.
" I felt like my arm and everything felt really good,” Wacha said. “The mechanics I feel like we’re just a little bit rusty. The command on my pitches wasn’t quite how I wanted it to be.”
But Wacha had enough Story to carry the load.
“He’s an absolute stud,” Wacha said of Story. “He’s a gamer. He gets after it. You see the work that he puts in behind closed doors, it’s no surprise he’s on the tear that he’s been on.”
▪ The bullpen held it down for the Sox and Wacha for the next couple of innings. Austin Davis (1-1) recorded the final out of the fifth and then worked a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth to record the win. Jake Diekman negotiated a scoreless seventh.
▪ The Sox had some fly ball communication issues in this game. Alex Verdugo didn’t take much command of his position. On separate occasions, he let Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts drift out to short left field to record the out.
It came back to bite the Sox in the eighth with John Schreiber on the mound. Bogaerts drifted back on what should have been a J.P. Crawford fly out. Verdugo had the better angle working in, but didn’t call off Bogaerts. The two collided with Bogaerts’s legs getting wiped out beneath him. The Sox shortstop dropped the ball (Verdugo was charged with the error), allowing Crawford to reach second and eventually score on a single.
Bogaerts finished the inning, but was replaced in the bottom of the eighth by pinch hitter Franchy Cordero, who singled and eventually scored on Bradley’s home run.
▪ The trio of J.D Martinez, Devers, and Bogaerts has carried this Red Sox offense for most of this year. All three entered the day hitting well over .300 with an OPS of .860 or higher (both Devers and Martinez have OPS above .900).
“Like I said before, not all the time it’s going to be them,” manager Alex Cora said. “The other guys have to contribute and they’re still getting better.”
The Sox’ production from Story the last two evenings and Bradley on Friday should be encouraging. It’s worth noting, too, that the struggling Kiké Hernández tallied a pair of hits, including a leadoff double against Ray.
“We do believe that we will hit,’’ Cora said. “We’re going to score runs. This team is a complete team.”