By The Sports XChange
BOSTON — Brian Johnson, summoned from Triple-A to make a spot start with David Price set to return, turned in a gem at Fenway Park on Saturday.
The young left-hander, Boston’s No. 7 prospect according to Baseball America, pitched a five-hit shutout and got help from strong defense as the Red Sox recorded their sixth straight victory, a 6-0 win over the floundering Seattle Mariners.
Johnson, 26, pitched Boston’s first complete game of the season, the team’s first shutout since Steven Wright last Aug. 5 and Boston’s first at Fenway Park since Rich Hill on Sept. 25, 2015.
Only two runners reached scoring position in Johnson’s 109-pitch effort, both in the fifth inning. He walked none and struck out eight.
Johnson (2-0) became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his Fenway debut since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998.
The Red Sox have blanked the Mariners in each of the first two games of the series and have outscored their opposition 47-15 during the winning streak that has them two games out of first place.
Johnson, winning for the second time this season, was making his third major league start.
The help came from right fielder Mookie Betts, who extended his glove over the right field wall to take a home run away from Nelson Cruz, and Jackie Bradley Jr., who went to the center-field wall to take extra bases away from Robinson Cano — and then made a tumbling shoestring catch against Cruz and a running catch of a Kyle Seager drive in left-center to end the game.
In addition, Dustin Pedroia, on the verge of committing his first error in 80 games, recovered from his failure to catch a grounder and flipped to second for a force play.
Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning that ended the day for Mariners starter Rob Whalen (0-1), who made his debut with Seattle. The right-hander allowed three runs in the first inning, but survived because both Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez were thrown out on the bases — Ramirez at the plate after running a stop sign from third base coach Brian Butterfield. The play wasn’t close and ended the inning, perhaps keeping Whalen in the game.
Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon all stroked RBI singles in the first inning while Mitch Moreland added one in the eighth.
The Mariners have lost seven of their last eight games, scoring just nine runs in those games — five in the seven losses.
NOTES: Some good news for members of the injury battered Seattle pitching staff on the DL: LHP James Paxton (forearm) will start Wednesday at home Wednesday night while RHPs Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iawkuma (both shoulder) threw 25-pitch bullpen sessions Saturday at Fenway Park. While Iwakuma’s was his first, Hernandez reported, “I felt very good,” and hinted he’s close. … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia returned after missing a game and a half to keep his surgically repaired left knee off wet grounds. … Boston 3B Pablo Sandoval (knee) is finishing his Triple-A rehab and could return as soon as the series that starts in Chicago against the White Sox on Monday, with LHP David Price (elbow) making his 2017 debut in the opener of that series. … The Red Sox had two runners thrown out on the bases and lead the league in that category — led by Pedroia (one of the two Saturday) with five. … RHP Christian Bergman faces the Red Sox for the first time when he goes against RHP Rick Porcello in Sunday’s series finale.