Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price throws a pitch in the first inning against the New York Yankees on July 1, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
BOSTON -- Having survived a complete meltdown by their bullpen to escape with a victory Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox send a red-hot David Price to the mound in an effort to sweep the two-game interleague series with the Miami Marlins at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
The first-place Red Sox, who maintained their 6 1/2-game lead over the winning New York Yankees atop the American League East, blew a 4-1 lead as the bullpen surrendered five runs in the top of the eighth. Boston rallied for three in the bottom half -- the go-ahead run scored on a wild pitch -- and saw Craig Kimbrel blow the save in the ninth before the walk-off win came on a throwing error.
"A win is a win, no matter how we win," Eduardo Nunez told the NESN television audience after his double play grounder turned into the error that produced the winning run and an 8-7 victory.
Craig Kimbrel continued his tough August (two homers, nine walks, 5.56 ERA in 11 1/3 innings over his last 11 outings) by coughing up the lead in the ninth but then got the win on JT Riddle's throwing error.
Asked if the bullpen has been spotty lately, Kimbrel said: "It has been. There's no denying that. We can all see it but our team's been able to step up and keep winning through it. Going forward there's a lot of games left and if we're going to be a successful team we're going to have to turn it around.
"We don't want to come out here and give up runs like we did tonight. All we can do is learn from it, take it and go forward from there because this is the team that we have and this is the team that we're going to make a run with, so we gotta figure it out or we're not going to win. I've got a pretty good feeling we're going to figure it out."
The dramatic ending marked the second time in recent weeks the Red Sox avoided what would have been their first four-game losing streak of the season. They are the only team in baseball without a losing streak of at least four games.
Now they send Price, who is pitching like a $31 million-a-year pitcher, out to face rookie Trevor Richards in the finale of the brief set.
Price hasn't loss since July 1. Since the All-Star break, he is 5-0 and has allowed five earned runs in 41 1/3 innings over six games.
He makes around $1 million every time he takes the mound and he's truly been earning it, raising his record to 14-6 and lowering his ERA to 3.50.
Price is 15-12 all-time in interleague play but 1-3 with a 3.42 ERA in four starts against the Marlins. Miami's Starlin Castro is 8-for-20 against Price.
Richards is 3-7 with a 4.23 ERA on the year but is 0-2 in his last six starts. But he allowed only two runs over the first three of those starts and has struck out 40 in 33 innings over the six-game span.
In his last start, against the Yankees in the Bronx, Richards pitched 5 1/3 effective innings in a no-decision that ended in a Marlins win. He allowed two runs on three hits and struck out nine on the big stage.
"It's always fun to throw against the Yankees and in front of a crowd," Richards said after that start. "Once the game started, it's another team. Just focus on the hitters and execute pitches."
As his bullpen melted down in the eighth and ninth innings, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game that reliever Ryan Brasier was not available because of a sore left foot.
Before the game, Cora announced Eduardo Rodriguez (ankle sprain) will come off the disabled list to start one of the four games in Chicago this weekend.
The Marlins announced Garrett Cooper, who hasn't played since July 20 because a sprained right wrist, will have season-ending surgery Friday. He appeared in only 14 major league games this season.