Red Sox attempt to sweep aside Angels
BOSTON — Their bats clearly on fire, the Boston Red Sox head to New York this weekend for the latest chapter of the rivalry with the New York Yankees.
But first, there’s work to do at home.
After blowing a 6-0 lead but surviving to move back into first place in the American League East, the Red Sox go for the series and season sweep of the floundering Los Angeles Angels at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
With Steven Wright hitting the disabled list with left knee inflammation, left-hander Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.50 ERA) gets the start for Boston against rookie righty Jaime Barria (5-3, 3.40) in Thursday night’s finale — before the three games in the Bronx.
The Red Sox, who have scored 48 runs in their last six games, hit the halfway mark of their schedule by moving a half-game ahead of the Yankees at 54-27. They have outscored the Angels 45-10 in five games this season.
Johnson started in the fifth game of the season, allowing one run on six hits in six innings at Miami. He now makes his eighth career start and second of the season. This will be his first start against Angels, although earlier this season, Johnson pitched three scoreless innings of relief in Boston’s three-game sweep in Anaheim.
The Red Sox are a season-high 27 games over .500. They are 3-3 against the Yankees, who are off Thursday before the third series of the season between the rivals.
J.D. Martinez hit his 25th homer of the season Wednesday, already one more than Mookie Betts‘ club-leading total last season. Martinez is the seventh Red Sox player with at least 25 homers in half a season.
“He’s becoming a leader of the team in the clubhouse,” Boston manager Alex Cora said after Wednesday’s game.
Martinez, asked if he sets offensive goals before the start of the season, said, “Nah. My goal is to not give an at-bat away, you know?”
While his team did rally from six runs down to make a game of it Wednesday, Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia didn’t have much to be happy about following the 9-6 defeat.
The Angels, who have lost five straight and 12 of their last 16 games, got bad news before the game regarding Zack Cozart and then saw just-recalled reliever Jake Jewell carted off the field after suffering what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
“Hoping everything is OK with Jewell,” Cora said. “Everyone in the dugout and clubhouse will be praying for him.”
Cozart will likely miss the remainder of the season after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder.
“Zack Cozart received a second opinion on his left shoulder after experiencing continued discomfort during his progressions,” the Angels said in statement. “After additional imaging and clinical examination, it was recommended that he undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Zack will undergo surgery in Los Angeles in the near future. We will update with additional information when appropriate.”
As far as the Angels’ current situation, Scioscia said, “We’ll keep battling, but at some point obviously we need to put both ends together, get the pitching we need and get some early runs, get the game on our terms and start to do things the way we can.”
Jewell, appearing in his third major league game after arriving earlier in the day, was injured covering home plate on a wild pitch in the eighth inning.
“It was sad, really sad,” Los Angeles catcher Martin Maldonado said. “Young guy or an old guy, it’s hard to see a teammate go down like that.”
It was back in 2014 that Angels right-hander Garrett Richards suffered a season-ending injury while covering first base at Fenway.
Jewell and infielder Nolan Fontana had been recalled, while Akeel Morris was sent back to Salt Lake City and Tuesday night loser John Lamb hit the 10-day disabled with left shoulder and elbow inflammation.
The Angels also said rookie Shohei Ohtani with have his left elbow re-evaluated Thursday — amid talk he could return as a hitter this season while not pitching.
“If he was solely a DH, he would have been cleared right away,” general manager Billy Eppler said on MLB Radio, “but because you are wanting that ligament to heal, to get that impact he brings on the mound, you want to — I don’t want to coin it the danger zone — but you want to get to the point where you are feeling that area has plenty of time to scar and heal.
“That’s what the three-week prescription is for, to buy you that time of scarring and healing.”
Barria, who allowed one run in five innings in his last start,has gone an impressive 3-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the road. He has never faced the Red Sox.