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Red Sox hold off Mets, snap losing streak

@feinsand
July 30, 2020

For a team mired in a four-game losing streak in a season only five games old, the prospect of facing Jacob deGrom is less than ideal, but that’s precisely what the Red Sox were presented with on Wednesday night at Citi Field. Nathan Eovaldi did his part to hold serve

For a team mired in a four-game losing streak in a season only five games old, the prospect of facing Jacob deGrom is less than ideal, but that’s precisely what the Red Sox were presented with on Wednesday night at Citi Field.

Nathan Eovaldi did his part to hold serve against deGrom, allowing Boston's offense to break out against the Mets’ bullpen, scoring four times in the seventh and eighth to seize a skid-busting 6-5 win.

“Having a big win against deGrom, it’s a big deal for us,” Eovaldi said. “We were able to rally together.”

Box score

That rally almost went for naught. Closer Brandon Workman loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth and let the Mets claw within one run, but he fanned Yoenis Céspedes (who had homered one inning earlier) and retired Robinson Canó to strand the bags full for his first save of the season.

“He was sweating a lot, he told me,” said catcher Christian Vázquez, who hit a game-tying home run in the seventh and a two-run single in the eighth, the latter of which proved to be the decisive runs. “But he got the work done, and we won the game.”

The Red Sox knew what a 1-5 start could mean, having opened the 2019 campaign with that exact record. It took 38 games for them to climb back to the .500 mark, though in a 162-game season, there was plenty of time to bolster the win column. In this year’s 60-game sprint, five losses in the first six games could have been reason to push the panic button.

Wednesday's contest was the first of seven straight games on the road for the Red Sox, though given what just happened at Fenway Park, manager Ron Roenicke felt that a change of scenery may have benefited his club.

“I think actually it was nice leaving Fenway,” Roenicke said. “We've been there for so long with the training camp and then opening up there. It was probably a nice thing for them to feel a little different atmosphere. It's a nice ballpark, we're playing a really good team, and when you face deGrom, you can't just go at it casually. You'd better be on your game, or you don't have much of a chance.”

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Entering the game, deGrom hadn’t allowed a run in his past 28 innings dating back to last Sept. 9, and based on the early innings, there was reason to believe that streak would remain intact. The Mets' ace came out dealing triple-digit fastballs -- he hit a career-high 101.1 mph twice, the fastest pitch by any starter since 2017-- while featuring a filthy changeup, holding the Red Sox to just one hit through the third.

Eovaldi was up to the challenge, limiting the Mets to one run during that same stretch. Rafael Devers and Mitch Moreland finally got to deGrom in the fourth with consecutive doubles, then a pair of wild pitches gave the Sox a lead.

“I thought we did a great job battling,” Roenicke said. “[deGrom] comes out throwing 100 with a 95 mph slider and a great changeup, you’re in for a battle. I thought our guys had a great game plan against him.”

Eovaldi was unable to hold the lead, but he did his job to keep the Red Sox in the game against deGrom, employing a similar approach that teams used to take against Pedro Martinez during his glory days in Boston: Stay close until he’s out of the game.

Eovaldi was done after five innings of two-run ball; deGrom allowed two runs over six innings. Mission accomplished.

“I didn't think he was quite as sharp with his stuff as we've seen him, but I still thought he battled great,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi. “We're going against one of the best pitchers in the game, and he kept us right there with him.”

Both sides had plenty of chances in the battle of bullpens, but it was Vázquez and the Red Sox who cashed them in when it counted.

Vázquez’s homer in the seventh inning tied the score at 3, and his bases-loaded single highlighted Boston’s three-run eighth. The Mets, on the other hand, stranded 11, four of them in scoring position over the final three innings.

“Vazqy has put himself in the category with the best catchers,” Roenicke said. “Defensively, we know he does a good job. Offensively, last year he really stepped it up. He showed us what we can do, and it’s looking like he’s that type of player again.”

Vázquez’s toughest job came in the ninth, when Workman struggled to find the zone with a two-run lead. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, but Workman grinded his way through the inning, allowing just one run before nailing down Boston’s second victory of the young season.

“Coming out on top in this one, it’s a big one for us,” Eovaldi said. “Hopefully, it’s going to get the ball rolling. We had a lot of guys step up and do things we needed them to do.”

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.