BOSTON -- Bullpen auditions for the postseason are in session for the Red Sox. On Friday night at Fenway Park, things went much better for Christopher Johnson and Thomas Pomeranz than they did for Tyler Thornburg.In an 8-0 loss to the Mets, Johnson was perhaps the lone bright spot. The
BOSTON -- Bullpen auditions for the postseason are in session for the Red Sox. On Friday night at Fenway Park, things went much better for Christopher Johnson and Thomas Pomeranz than they did for Tyler Thornburg.
In an 8-0 loss to the Mets, Johnson was perhaps the lone bright spot. The lefty swingman was sharp in his 4 2/3 relief innings, allowing two hits and a run while walking one and striking out four.
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"Felt good," Johnson said. "I was able to work on four pitches, and any time I'm able to do that, it allows me to be successful."
When Johnson was finished for the night, Red Sox manager Alex Cora summoned Thornburg, who has been spotty since returning from his season-and-a-half on the disabled list.
Thornburg gave up long, loud homers to Austin Jackson and Amed Rosario in the eighth as the Mets handed the Red Sox a rare home blowout.
"Location, actually," Cora said. "That was a changeup that was supposed to be down in the zone to Jackson and he left it up in the zone, and then Rosario put a good swing, but it was more about location than anything else. [Catcher Blake Swihart] felt the fastball had some life, actually, but location-wise, it wasn't his best night."
Pomeranz, who has had a tough year as a starter and reliever, completed one of his sharper appearances of the season. The lefty struck out two in 1 1/3 scoreless innings, permitting one hit.
"It looked like his arm was quicker, a lot quicker," Cora said. "He threw that fastball up and in to strike a righty out, which was a good pitch. The breaking ball was OK. He did a good job."
For the first time, Fenway Park fans got to see Noah Syndergaard pitch. The man known as "Thor" was at his best, firing seven dazzling innings in which he held the high-powered Red Sox to three hits and no runs while striking out six and walking three.
"He showed why he's one of the best," Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts said.
The Red Sox were supposed to start Hector Velazquez, but he was scratched a few hours before the game due to illness. That gave William Cuevas a chance to make his first Major League start, though it was more of an opener. Cuevas went two-plus innings and gave up two runs.
Things deteriorated when Robby Scott came in. The lefty quickly served up a three-run rocket to Jay Bruce. Scott lasted just one-third of an inning and walked two.
With the defeat, the 101-47 Red Sox saw their lead over the Yankees reduced to 9 1/2 games in the American League East. The magic number for clinching the division remains at six.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the fifth with the Red Sox down, 5-0, Swihart drew a two-out walk to bring the dangerous Betts to the plate. Betts sent a fly ball to right, but Brandon Nimmo made an impressive diving catch to get Syndergaard out of the inning.
The Red Sox continue to be strong in the running game. They stole three bases in the third inning and are 10-for-10 in their last four games.
Right-hander Rick Porcello (16-7, 4.27 ERA) gets the ball for the Red Sox in Saturday's middle game of this three-game series against the Mets. Porcello has faced the Mets twice in his career, the most recent of which was a win in New York on Aug. 25, 2013, when he gave up three runs over seven innings. The Mets counter with righty Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.62 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.