The Sox needed last night’s win, that in ways felt like a playoff game. It had your #3 starter outdueling pretty much the best starting pitcher in baseball, that #3 starter connecting for a bases clearing double, and a one run game with the nails closer Kimbrel getting the last 4 outs. Kimbrel and Mariners’ Edwin Diaz are the only pitchers in baseball to have 25 or more saves. The Braves outlasted the Yankees in extra innings, so 1st place belongs to the Sox yet again.

Brian Johnson takes the mound for the Sox. Day after Yankees had their way with Price, Pomeranz was lit up in Pawtucket to the tune of 4 HRs given up. Currently looking like Johnson will get another start before the All-Star Break. After postings ERAs of 4.76 in April and 6.30 in May, Johnson had a solid month of June.

6 games (1 starts) 2.08 ERA — 13 innings, 13 Hits, 3 Runs, HR, 3 Walks, 12 Ks

Johnson has been a better pitcher on the road this far. Pitching at Fenway Park in 14 games he has 5.33 ERA. But away from Fenway Park in 9 games, his ERA is at 2.45.

Tanner Roark takes the ball for the Nationals. The talented 31 year old right hander can sometimes be baffling. Now I say baffling because in 2014 & 2016 he pitched like a top of the rotation stud (sub 3.00 ERA, 200 innings). But 2015, 2017 and this current season, pitches like a middle of the rotation guy. Last year was his worst season, having a 4.67 ERA. Five of his starts has seen him give up more than 3 ER. Most recently against the Phillies, they routed him for 6 runs in 4.1. The most of the damage against him this season has happened at Nationals Park (4.75 ERA), promising factor for the Sox offense.

Brian Johnson — First career start vs the Washington Nationals.

Washington Nationals:

Johnson hasn’t faced any of the current Nationals batters before.

Tanner Roark — Career vs Boston in 1 game, 2.45 ERA. That was a relief appearance where he gave up 1 ER in 3.2 innings. Career at Nationals Park in 81 games (60 starts), 29-23 with a 3.52 ERA.

Boston Red Sox:

Andrew Benintendi —–

Mookie Betts – 0 for 1

Xander Bogaerts – 1 for 1 (1.000 avg)

Jackie Bradley Jr. —–

Rafael Devers —–

Brock Holt —–

Brian Johnson —–

Sandy Leon – 1 for 1 (1.000 avg)

J.D. Martinez —–

Mitch Moreland —–

Eduardo Nunez – 1 for 2 (.500 avg) K

Steve Pearce – 0 for 1, Walk

Blake Swihart —–

Christian Vazquez —–