Friday, April 6, 2018

Game 7: Tampa Bay Rays at Red Sox (April 5, 2018)

Finally, the home opener for the Sox although typical for a game at Fenway in early April, it's cold! Forty degrees and windy isn't baseball weather, but you can't fight Mother Nature. It's strange to see the Rays again so soon this early in the season, but a quick glance at the April schedule shows it to be a weird one anyway. The home opener today, a day off tomorrow (after a day off yesterday) before continuing the series on Saturday and then another day off Monday...very odd.

David Price once again pitched great and looks very intent on atoning for his atrocious 2017 season both with his performance and his attitude. He had another strong outing, going seven innings and giving up three hits and no runs. However, the infuriating tendency for the Red Sox to run into outs on the basepaths in 2017 appears to be alive and well during this young 2018 season. Andrew Benintendi had a bad performance on the bases that erased what could have been the Red Sox first run early in the game. It was scoreless until the eighth when Carson Smith (surprise, surprise) gave up a two-run home run to Matt Duffy to give Tampa a 2-0 lead. However, the Red Sox made a thrilling comeback in the bottom of the ninth when they scored two to tie the game. Then, with the bases loaded and two outs it looked like Jackie Bradley was going to win the game when he legged out a chopper to first. The initial call on the field was that he was out, but replay clearly showed his foot was on the bag before the ball was fully in first baseman Brad Miller's glove. However, the replay officials saw differently and upheld the call (to a chorus of boo's from the Fenway crowd) and the game went into extras. Finally, in the bottom of the twelfth inning, Hanley Ramirez hit a long single with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run. Red Sox won 3-2, and the winning streak is now up to six games.

While I know that the competition they've faced so far hasn't been the most impressive, I am impressed with the different ways in which the Red Sox have managed to win. They've seemed much more focused and relaxed during these games than at any point during last season, and I attribute this to Alex Cora, who is a complete 180 from John Farrell in terms of personality and baseball acumen. They've had the talent the last few seasons, but the mental approach has been severely lacking. That seems to have changed in this young season. While the Rays and Marlins are lousy teams, these are the games that good teams win to pad their records and that's exactly what the Sox are doing. Once this series is over on Sunday, I'm really looking forward to seeing how we stack up to the Yankees when they come to town on Tuesday. It should be a great series!


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