BALTIMORE — Three games in 24 hours took their toll on some of the Red Sox regulars this weekend at Camden Yards.
Andrew Benintendi (rest) and Xander Bogaerts (jammed left pinkie) were both out of the starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale with the Orioles. Scheduled off days on Monday and Thursday around a brief two-game series at Philadelphia will give Boston manager Alex Cora two additional chances to keep some of his key players off their feet.
“There are a lot of negotiations going on in the office with guys coming in,” Cora said. “One thing about them, and I’ve told you guys — they love playing.”
Cora finds this to be a bit of a unique quality among his current group of Red Sox. Boston’s players routinely attempt to talk their way into the lineup instead of asking for a day off to rest nagging aches and pains. Bogaerts was chief among them following Saturday’s finale of the day-night doubleheader, playing the day’s final 13 innings after hurting his hand on a head-first slide into third base.
“He fought it and I was like, ‘No,’ ” Cora said. “ ‘We’ll give you a day off so you can have two.’ It’s just a matter of taking care of the players.”
Benintendi pinch hit for Dan Butler leading off the ninth inning of the nightcap and struck out swinging. That ended the outfielder’s 10-game hitting streak, with Sandy Leon coming into the lineup to catch in the bottom half. Joe DiMaggio and his record 56-game hitting streak in 1941 remained safe for now from another potential challenger.
“After I pinch hit him, I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ ” Cora said. “They were giving me a hard time. I think he had a 10-game hitting streak, and I killed it. So he was what — 46 away?”
J.D. Martinez is likely to play both games in the field in Philadelphia, as the designated hitter isn’t an option under National League rules. Cora said Mookie Betts is likely to get Wednesday off against the Phillies, giving him 48 hours of rest ahead of a series with the Rays to open the next home stand.
A real workhorse
The Red Sox had won 27 of Leon’s last 29 starts behind the plate including Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Orioles, appearances that have been forced to become more frequent over the last month.
Christian Vazquez (fractured right pinkie finger) remains in Fort Myers, Fla., and has started performing catching drills. He’ll begin throwing when Boston returns home on Friday. Blake Swihart (right hamstring strain) was scheduled to play a rehab game with Single-A Lowell on Sunday and is expected to join the Red Sox in Philadelphia this week.
“(Leon) wants to play every day,” Cora said. “He wanted to play the first game here. He wanted to play the second game [on Saturday night]. I get all that. I know how it is. It’s your opportunity to go out there and perform.”
Leon leads the big leagues in catcher’s earned-run average this season at 3.09. His 3.27 ERA since the start of 2017 is also the best in the majors.
“We wanted Sandy to play at least once every five days,” Cora said. “Little by little we started going to (Chris) Sale and Sandy because it started matching up that way. Now that Christian is hurt he’s catching everybody.”
Forced to relocate
Steven Wright (left knee inflammation) and Ian Kinsler (left hamstring strain) worked out with the Lowell Spinners due to a run of concerts at Fenway Park last week and weekend. Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel and a double bill of Def Leppard and Journey forced Wright, who threw a bullpen session, and Kinsler to work with with the minor- league affiliate.
Burden on bullpen
Brian Johnson was among those warming in the bullpen late Saturday night and he pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Sunday.
The left-hander remains tentatively scheduled to start on Wednesday against the Phillies, but Cora hasn’t made a firm commitment as of yet. Rick Porcello will pitch Tuesday and Nathan Eovaldi could take the ball on regular rest for the second game against the Phillies.
“(Johnson) is in the bullpen today because we’re still scrambling,” Cora said. “Most likely Rick for sure on Tuesday, and then we’ll see what we do on Wednesday.”
Eovaldi lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Friday night against the Orioles. Porcello didn’t make it out of the fifth in his last start at Toronto. All that led to a long run of work during the road trip for Boston relievers.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25