January 17, 2018
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Red Sox boost winning streak to six behind rookie pitcher

By Matthew Carroll, The Sports Xchange
David Butler II | USA Today Sports | BDN
David Butler II | USA Today Sports | BDN
Boston Red Sox second baseman Jonathan Herrera (10) bunts to drive in a run against the Tampa Bay Rays in the fourth inning at Fenway Park in Boston Saturday night.

BOSTON — Brock Holt had a closeup view of right-hander Rubby De La Rosa’s development in the minor leagues over the past couple of seasons.

Boston’s rookie third baseman got another front-row seat on Saturday night, this time at Fenway Park, and even helped out his fellow rookie a few of times along the way.

De La Rosa pitched seven shutout innings in his first start for Boston, Holt hit his first career home run and the Red Sox extended their winning streak to six games with a 7-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I saw him in (Triple-A) Pawtucket when he was doing the same thing down there,” Holt said. “He came up and hasn’t skipped a beat.”

With the exception of Boston’s 11 hits, it was a relatively quiet game one night after both benches cleared and three coaches and one pitcher were ejected in yet another chapter of the long-running feud between the American League East rivals.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said no pregame warnings were issued, although crew chief Ted Barrett did meet with both managers to ensure a smooth game.

“It was really nice to go out there and not be concerned with a bunch of garbage and just play the game,” Maddon said.

It has been a wild two-plus weeks for the Red Sox, who were mired in a 10-game losing streak — their longest in nearly two decades — before jump-starting their current season-long run, a stretch fueled by the timely hits they lacked during their double-digit slide.

Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his first homer of the year, catcher A.J. Pierzynski had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 10 games and second baseman Jonathan Herrera delivered three hits in place of injured Dustin Pedroia.

“We never lost sight of the team we could be,” said Holt, filling in for injured Will Middlebrooks. “Nobody obviously wants to lose 10 in a row. I think that the David Ortiz home run in Atlanta kind of put a little jolt in us and kind of told us we can come back and win this game, and when we did that, we kept rolling from there.”

This time, it was Holt who got things rolling with a two-run homer off Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi in the third inning, and De La Rosa (1-0) did the rest.

Making his first start since July 31, 2011, while with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 25-year-old allowed four hits and retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. He used a dangerous changeup to strike out eight with no walks.

“I had everything working,” he said. “I was attacking the hitters with my pitch.”

Maddon acknowledged his team isn’t hitting very well, but he didn’t want to take anything away from the young pitcher.

“High-velocity fastball with a Bugs Bunny changeup, great command of everything,” Maddon said. “He was outstanding.”

Holt saved a run with his glove in the second inning and then plated a couple with his bat an inning later.

With two outs and runners on the corners in the second, Holt kept the game scoreless with a sensational diving stop and subsequent throw to first on a sharp grounder by second baseman Sean Rodriguez.

After Herrera singled leading off the third, Holt drove Odorizzi’s 3-2 offering into Boston’s bullpen for a 2-0 lead.

“He makes a key defensive play earlier in the game to shut off a big inning. He gets a fastball in the middle of the plate that he hits for a home run,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “He’s done an outstanding job on both sides of the ball since he’s come back to us.”

First baseman Mike Carp’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0 and Herrera’s perfectly placed safety squeeze bunt scored right fielder Grady Sizemore in the fourth. An RBI single by Pierzynski gave Boston a 5-0 edge.

Bradley belted a two-run homer off reliever Cesar Ramos in the fifth.

Odorizzi (2-5) lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and six hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier hit an inside-the-park home run off reliever Alex Wilson leading off the eighth. Bradley leapt against the Green Monster in an attempt to catch the ball, but it bounced off the wall and hit him in the face, allowing Kiermaier to come all the way around.

Tampa Bay has lost five straight.

NOTES: Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia was not in the starting lineup after leaving Friday’s game because of a right hand injury. X-rays came back negative Saturday and an MRI exam confirmed there was no fracture or structural damage. Jonathan Herrera started in his place. … Tampa Bay OF Wil Myers also was out of the lineup because of a right hand injury suffered in the 10th inning Friday. … Boston RHP Rubby De La Rosa had a 3.04 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 10 starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season. … Rays C Ali Solis made his first career start after being recalled on Tuesday. Solis left the game in the third inning after an 0-2 pitch bounced off the ground, glanced off C A.J. Pierzynski’s glove and then hit Solis in the nose. … Tampa Bay LHP Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.10 ERA) will oppose Boston LHP Jon Lester (5-6, 3.45) in the finale of the three-game series Sunday.


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