The Red Sox rallied to erase a five-run deficit with a four-run outburst in the fifth and broke the tie in the eighth on Christian Vazquez’s RBI single in a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.
It might have been unfathomable some weeks ago, but with the pages of the calendar turning to summer months, the Sox bats have decided to heat up, too.
Rafael Devers kept the Sox in it, belting his eighth homer of the season in the bottom of the third inning. Devers made it 5-3 when he hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth. That sparked a four-run inning for the Sox against Mariners starter Chris Flexen.
For Devers, it was his 11th multi-homer game. The only players with more multi-homer games with the Sox prior to turning 26 are Jim Rice (16) and Mookie Betts (13).
Vazquez’s RBI single to center in the eighth scored Franchy Cordero, who reached on a one-out triple, with the go-ahead run.
The bullpen did its part, as well, with five relievers — Tyler Danish, Jake Diekman, Hansel Robles, John Schreiber, and Matt Barnes — combining to throw six scoreless innings to help the Sox cement their season-high fourth straight win, fifth in the last six games, and their third consecutive series win.
I know the team that we have,” Devers said afterward. “We can come from behind and score at any time.”
The Sox will go for the sweep on Sunday.
Observations from the game:
▪ One sequence in the eighth inning is what keeps the Red Sox intrigued about Franchy Cordero. His triple off the left-center field wall left his bat at 110.5 miles per hour. It was the hardest hit ball of the game for either team. Cordero saw the weird bounce the ball took toward center field and that is when he went to another gear on the base paths, which helped him reach third base easily.
“It’s always really exciting to get that hit in that situation, that late in the game, and be able to put myself in scoring position,” Cordero said. “It was a great feeling and a great opportunity to help my team.”
▪ Garrett Whitlock is experiencing some growing pains as a starter. He lasted just three innings against the Mariners and was roughed up for five runs on 10 hits, both career highs. Whitlock tossed 71 pitches, drawing just five swings and misses.
He got tagged for four runs in the first, beginning with three straight hits.
The third base hit was an RBI single by Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez. It came on Whitlock’s changeup which, to that point, had kept hitters at bay, going 0 for 27 against that pitch. Whitlock did induce some weak contact, with half of Seattle’s 10 hits coming on the ground.
▪ Whitlock had three strikeouts. If you couple that with the lack of whiffs and the Mariners’ high contact rate, it was an indication Seattle wasn’t fooled by Whitlock’s stuff. The Mariners had the right game plan. Before the game, in fact, manager Alex Cora said that would be the main hurdle Whitlock would have to endure in moving from the bullpen to the rotation.
“[As a starter the opposition] has a chance to look at tendencies and how he’s attacking guys,” Cora said before the game. “The running game comes into play. Obviously he’s a strike thrower. From the bullpen, it’s always fast, right. The at-bats are solved in three pitches most of the time with him. When he comes out of the bullpen, you don’t know when he’s coming in and what situation.”
In his six starts since becoming a starter, Whitlock has allowed 24 hits and 12 runs, pitching to the tune of a 4.70 ERA.
“Yeah, I sucked,” Whitlock said regarding his day.
▪ Despite not scoring until Devers’s homer in the third, six balls in play came with an exit velocity of 94 m.p.h. or higher off Flexen. Three were over 100 m.p.h. It was only a matter of time until the Red Sox offense pounced. The Sox’ bats stung 11 balls in play that registered at 100 m.p.h. or higher.
“Offensively, it felt like we were putting together good at-bats early on in the game,” Cora said. “And it was going to be one of those big games. We’re getting that feeling back.”
▪ Prior to this homestand, the Sox were 4-9 at Fenway. After the team’s road series against the Rangers, Cora alluded to his team’s struggles at home, adding that they need to play better. The Sox responded, winning four of their last five home games, including two of three vs. the Astros.
“It felt good today,” Cora said. “It was a great atmosphere. From our end, we have to do this. We have to play better at home.”