Call-up Brian Johnson twirls shutout as Red Sox silence sinking Mariners
The Red Sox starting pitching is so hot even their spot starters are tossing gems.
Triple-A call-up Brian Johnson threw a five-hit shutout in his third major league start and the Sox extended their winning streak to six games with a 6-0 win at Fenway Park on Saturday.
Sox pitching hasn’t allowed a run since Texas scored in the sixth inning on Thursday, a run of 21 scoreless frames. Meanwhile Sox starters have earned the win and pitched at least six innings in each of the games during their winning streak.
The 26-year-old Johnson (2-0), who had thrown 91/3 innings total and recorded an ERA of 7.71 in his first two big-league appearances, exploited a Mariners offense that has now scored nine runs in its past eight games (seven losses). He struck out eight batters and walked none while throwing 109 pitches, 85 of them for strikes in his Fenway debut.
Johnson, who the Sox selected 31st overall in the 2012 June Draft, consistently hit the high-80s with his fastball and low-70s with his curveball. All but two of his strikeouts were on fastballs, with only his strikeout of Nelson Cruz in the sixth ending on a pitch of 90 miles per hour.
Still Johnson is all but guaranteed to be returned to Triple-A Pawtucket when David Price comes off the disabled list to make his season debut on Monday at the Chicago White Sox.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was front and center in support of Johnson. Bradley hit a two-run home run in the sixth. In the field, Bradley made three great catches, including two in the ninth inning to help preserve the shutout.
The Sox scored three runs in the first inning against Mariners starting pitcher Rob Whalen, who was making his season debut — but it could’ve been more as two Sox were thrown out on the basepaths. Mookie Betts started the inning with a walk and Dustin Pedroia was hit by a pitch on his right arm before Xander Bogaerts made it 1-0 with a RBI single. Pedroia, though, was thrown out going first to third.
Andrew Benintendi followed with a RBI single to make the score 2-0. Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch, Mitch Moreland flew out to right field and Bradley walked to load the bases with two outs. Sandy Leon singled to right field to score Benintendi with the third run, but Ramirez was thrown out at the plate by so much he didn’t bother to slide.
In the top of the fourth, Johnson got some help. With one out Cruz hit a long fly ball to right-center, where Betts made the catch reaching above the short wall to deny a home run.
Bradley matched Betts’ effort with a leaping catch of a Robinson Cano fly ball in front of the wall in center field for the second out in the sixth.
Bradley’s two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the sixth made it 5-0 and knocked Whalen out of the game. It was Bradley’s fifth home run of the season and first since May 17.
Moreland added a RBI single in the eighth for a 6-0 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Bradley made a shoestring catch to rob Cruz of a hit, and then a running catch in the gap to take extra bases away from Kyle Seager and end the game.