Thursday, April 19, 2018

Game 17: Red Sox at Los Angeles Angels (April 18, 2018)

These late games are a killer! I coached my youngest daughter's team last night after work and by the time I sat down to watch the game, I only managed to make it partway through the second inning. What I did see was very encouraging, though. In the top of the first, the Sox managed to push a run across on Mitch Moreland's RBI double and they had runners on second and third before Rafael Devers popped up to end the inning. They were definitely getting to Angels starter Tyler Skaggs, who really labored throwing almost forty pitches in the first inning. In the bottom of the inning, LA loaded the bases with one out, but Rick Porcello got two huge strikeouts to get out of it unscathed. Looking at the box score, it looks like I should've toughed it out until the third inning like I did the night before because the Sox exploded for five runs, including a grand slam by Devers. Yet another Sox rout was on and there were two more homers: a solo shot from JD Martinez in the seventh and a two-run homer from Moreland in the ninth. The Angels never threatened and the Sox won 9-0 for their sixth straight win. This victory pushed the Sox record to 15-2 and this team is absolutely firing on all cylinders right now. Alex Cora has the team prepared, relaxed, playing hard, staying loose, and having fun and it's showing up on the field every night.

After the first week of the season, all anyone said was the Red Sox hadn't played any "real" teams yet. Well, they've now taken two of three from the Yankees and two straight on the road against the Angels (who were playing great ball heading into this series). They've knocked the Angels starters out of the game after two and four innings, and they've worn out the LA bullpen. They're winning with dominant pitching, relentless and clutch hitting, and excellent defense. Cora has pushed all the right buttons and seems to put the right lineup out for every game. Case in point, last night was a scheduled night off for Andrew Benintendi, so the lineup included Martinez in left field (*cringe*), Mitch Moreland at first base, Hanley Ramirez at DH, and Tzu-Wei Lin at shortstop. When I saw the lineup before the game, I thought it was a strange one and that we'd suffer from a bit of a dip at the plate and on defense. So what did they do? They dominated the game from the first pitch to the last. 

This Red Sox team is clicking and storming through their competition in a way I haven't seen in a long time, if ever. They're one bad inning from the bullpen and one bad inning from David Price from being undefeated. Even the fantastic teams of 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2013 were slow out of the gate (as the Red Sox traditionally are). This is unlike anything I can remember and I've been watching this game and this team religiously for over thirty years. While it's a certainty that they'll lose upwards of fifty games as that's what even the best baseball teams do over the course of the marathon MLB season, right now it doesn't look like there's going to be an extended swoon any time soon. I know it's early and there are still 145 games left to play, but I wouldn't be surprised if this team made a run at 100 wins this season. At this point, I'll be disappointed if they don't!

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