Bello gives Sox much-needed innings in gritty outing

24-year-old righty gives up two runs over seven frames en route to win over AL West leaders

July 6th, 2023

BOSTON -- For Brayan Bello, Wednesday night wasn’t about flirting with a no-hitter like he did last time out, albeit in a losing effort.

This was about guile and grit, and Bello making every pitch he needed to on a night nothing seemed to come easy.

As he got ready to throw his 107th and final pitch, the blossoming righty was in a precarious spot, behind in the count 3-1 to a dangerous hitter in Marcus Semien, who represented the tying run.

Bello fired a changeup on the lower, inner half of the plate and Semien harmlessly flied out to left to end the top of the seventh inning with the Red Sox en route to a 4-2 victory over the American League West-leading Texas Rangers.

“Those two guys at the top of their lineup, [Semien and Corey Seager], they're so hard to maneuver, they’re so hard to pitch to. And for him to be able to do that, he’s been getting more [of a leash] than others because I do believe his stuff is good,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “And he'll keep it in the ballpark. [Adolis] García put a great swing on a pitch and hit it out of the ballpark to right field. Usually, late in the game, the ball is staying in the ballpark, which is very important.”

For the fifth straight start, Bello pitched into the seventh inning. For the 11th time this season, he allowed two earned runs or less. 

With starters Chris Sale, Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock all on the injured list, the quality innings being provided by Bello are invaluable. 

It is impressive that Bello, at the age of 24, has instilled such faith in his manager.

“I feel grateful for him to give me that confidence,” said Bello. “In the seventh when they hit that double, I looked into the dugout and looked to him saying, ‘Hey, I don’t want you to take me out of the game,’ and I appreciate the confidence [he had in] letting me finish that inning.”

When Bello faced five batters in the first and five more in the second, Cora wasn’t banking on another seven-inning performance. Through three innings, Bello was at 53 pitches.

“They hit some balls hard today, it seemed like [Fenway] played big today,” said Cora. “But at one point [in the third], he had 50 pitches and I was like, ‘Well, we’re going five today.’ And then he goes seven. He used the cutter, slider and changeup and was able to use his sinker. Like I said, his stuff wasn't great, command wasn't great, but to do that against that lineup, that's impressive.”

Bello’s ability to read and react is impressive for someone who is in his first full season in the Major Leagues.

“Of course, that’s one of the best things that I have this year because you go into a game with a plan, but it doesn’t always work that way, and you have to be able to adjust on the fly,” said Bello. “And that’s been something I’ve been able to do this year, and I’m glad that things are working out that way.”

Shutting down an elite lineup like the one that Texas boasts was another impressive element of Bello’s latest sparkling performance.

Bello led with his top two pitches, throwing 36 sinkers and 33 changeups. He rounded out his assortment with 17 sliders, 16 four-seamers and five cutters.

Pitch ability is already a strength -- one that Bello’s teammates have noticed. 

“I think the first couple outings, he had missed the first part of the season, and then coming back a little amped up, [he was off],” said Justin Turner, who had a pair of RBI singles in support of Bello on Wednesday. “Just to see him kind of hone it in and start pitching, not trying to just ‘stuff it’ out there has been key. His last six, seven starts have been outstanding.”

Unsurprisingly, Bello is becoming a fan favorite at Fenway. As he walked off the mound at the end of the seventh, the crowd gave him a loud ovation.

“Of course you feed off that energy and being able to pitch here is an amazing experience,” said Bello. “And to be able to give them a good show so they can watch a good baseball game, that’s something I really appreciate and enjoy. And I always say that the Boston fans are the best fans in baseball, and I’m happy that I’m throwing for them.”