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Lucky number 11: Bello sets franchise record, Red Sox pick up 50th win against Athletics

Gabrielle Starr, Boston Herald on

Published in Baseball

BOSTON — Brayan Bello’s limited experience against the Oakland Athletics hadn’t gone well. Over two career games (one of them a start at the Coliseum back in April), the A’s had grabbed 10 earned runs on 10 hits, including five homers, drawn three walks, and struck out nine times. He’d hit one batsman, and thrown one wild pitch.

But in Tuesday night’s series opener, the lucky number was 11: the Boston Red Sox gave their starter 11 early runs of support, and Bello answered with a new career-high 11 strikeouts and a franchise-record night. The Red Sox beat the A’s 12-9 to pick up their 50th win of the season (and the 490th of Alex Cora’s managerial career to pass Bill Carrigan for fourth in franchise history).

From start to finish, victory was neither clean nor easy; each team collected 13 hits, both starters had two wild pitches within the first two innings. Bello’s performance was a mixed bag from first pitch: he struck out three in the first, but allowed two earned runs on three hits, giving Oakland an immediate 2-0 advantage.

The visitors’ lead held for approximately 3 seconds. In his Fenway first at-bat as an All-Star, Jarren Duran blasted one 427 feet to center; it would’ve been a home run in 25 other ballparks, but the leadoff man settled for a double. (His for lightning-fast speed is clearly spreading; the A’s instinctively threw to third, but MLB’s leader in triples pulled up at second.)

David Hamilton quickly drove Duran in to get Boston on the board, then advanced to third on Tyler O’Neill’s first-pitch double to deep center. Rafael Devers drove them both in with a single for a 3-2 lead, then advanced to second on a wild pitch.

That would be all for the first inning, but the Red Sox got back down to business immediately. It would take two A’s pitchers to get through a combined 11 batters in an eight-run second inning, the most runs scored by the Red Sox in any inning since April 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, and their most in a Fenway frame since May 2019.

Dom Smith led off with a walk and scored on Ceddanne Rafaela’s triple, which bounced around the right-field corner as Lawrence Butler gave chase. Rafaela then trotted home on Duran’s sacrifice fly. O’Neill reached base because one of Joey Estes’ pitches nailed him on the behind. He advanced to second on the fourth wild pitch of the contest, then scored on Devers’ double.

A single by Connor Wong advanced Devers to third and knocked Estes out of the game. His previous start had been a complete-game shutout against the Angels on July 3. This time, his night was over after 1 2/3 innings. He exited charged with six earned runs and two additional runners belonging to him on the bases.

Masataka Yoshida greeted reliever Tyler Ferguson with an RBI single. Wilyer Abreu snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a three-run homer. Blasted 430 feet over the bullpens at 108.1 mph, it snapped the rookie’s 0-for-15 skid.

Batting for the second time in the inning, Smith turned on the very next pitch, wrapping it around the Pesky Pole; for the fifth time this season, it was back-to-back bombs away. And for the first time since May 2019, the Red Sox had put up eight runs in an inning at home. Rafaela flew out to center for the third out, but after two innings, every member of the lineup had already contributed at least one hit and scored at least once, and Boston led 11-2.

 

After needing 48 pitches to get through the first two innings, Bello responded to the tsunami of run support by striking out the side in the third. When he matched his career-high 10 strikeouts in the fourth, he also achieved a rare feat. According to Elias Sports, he’s the first Red Sox pitcher to record the first ten outs of a game via strikeout at least since the Expansion Era began in 1961; only rumored trade-deadline target Andrew Heaney (4/10/23) and Phillies homegrown star Aaron Nola (6/25/21) have matched the feat.

Bello’s night came to an abrupt end in the sixth. The A’s may be 34-59 on the season, but they entered the series ranked sixth in the Majors in home runs (109), with 49.3% of their runs scored on homers, the second-highest percentage in the Majors behind the Baltimore Orioles. Shea Langeliers and Zack Gelof opened the frame with back-to-back singles, then jogged home when Butler blasted a three-run homer 457 feet to right-center.

With their lead cut to six, Cora made a pitching change; Bello had gone 5 1/3 innings, allowed nine hits, five earned runs, walked two, struck out 11, and would ultimately be credited with the win.

“I think all in all, it was a good day for me. Yeah, the runs is one thing, but I think I gave our team a really good chance to win. It was good to get those strikeouts, so I think today was a positive,” Bello said via translator. “I work really hard to get those results, so to see what I did today makes me feel good.”

Greg Weissert, Zack Kelly, and newcomer Trey Wingenter pitched the rest of the way. As if the game couldn’t get any odder, the Red Sox didn’t score again until the eighth, when Austin Adams took over, issued a leadoff walk to Devers, then hit Wong and Yoshida to load the bases. Devers scampered home on Abreu’s sac fly before Adams got the next two outs to strand both hit batsmen.

On a night thick with humidity and intermittent rain, both teams slogged through the game. By the top of the ninth, the contest reached the three-hour mark, only the sixth time Boston has needed more than three hours to play a game that didn’t go to extra innings. Making his Red Sox debut, Wingenter gave up a three-run homer to Zack Gelof before getting the final out.

The Red Sox are 10 games over .500. They hold a two-game lead in the third American League wild-card spot, and are only two losses behind the New York Yankees for the first. Heck, they’re only six-and-a-half games out of first in the division.

“We talked about being greedy a few weeks ago,” Cora said. “We saw a window, but I think the window is getting bigger. It’s actually a door, and we can actually accomplish this. So, we’re gonna keep looking up there and keep playing good baseball, and let’s see where it takes us.”

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