Friday, March 30, 2018

Game 1: Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays (March 29, 2018)

Let's see how long I can keep up this running diary of the 2018 season...

Opening Day! All the excitement of waiting for baseball to return, spring training, the hot stove season...finally, we got down to real baseball. I got home from work and managed to only miss the first inning of this game. For eight innings, it looked like the Red Sox would easily cruise to victory. Chris Sale pitched six strong innings, striking out nine and only giving up one hit. The offense, while not spectacular, managed to put four runs up including two on a wild inside-the-park home run by Eduardo Nunez.

Then the eighth inning happened.

Joe Kelly (who I have *not* been a fan of, ever) came in and proceeded to walk batters. And walk some more. As did Carson Smith. There was even a walk with the bases loaded, which is always ugly to see. The coup de grace from Tampa was a bases-clearing triple from Denard Span, and the collapse was complete. The Red Sox middle relief, their absolute biggest weakness the last few seasons, managed to piss a four run lead down their leg and give up six runs to the woeful Rays. And that was the ballgame, a 6-4 Red Sox loss.

I've been saying it for years, but Joe Kelly is a thrower, not a pitcher. So he can hit 102 mph on the radar gun...so what? If you've watched him the last couple of seasons, you'll see he has the most hittable 100 mph stuff in the league, which sounds weird but is absolutely true. His control has always been shaky and he just doesn't seem to have the mental makeup to be a good reliever...or even a good pitcher. He's like Wild Thing from the movie Major League, except Wild Thing's control got better when he started wearing glasses whereas Kelly already wears glasses. It's long past due to pull the plug on the Joe Kelly project...it's just not going to work.

The biggest bright spot from the game, for me, was Xander Bogaerts starting off strong with two doubles and three hits. He looked very good yesterday...here's hoping he can keep it up for an entire season and not fade down the stretch the way he has the last few seasons (his hand injury last year not withstanding).

Anyway, today is a new day and a new game. A loss on Opening Day, especially in the way the Red Sox managed to do it, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but that's why they play 162 games. Let's see if they can bounce back today.

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