Friday, June 8, 2018

Game 63: Detroit Tigers at Red Sox (June 7, 2018)

This one had the feeling of a game the Sox were kind of intentionally throwing away from the get-go, didn't it? It sure did to me, at least. Alex Cora gave the start to Jalen Beeks who has been tearing up AAA with the Pawtucket Red Sox, and while the timing seemed a bit strange, it was the resulting performance and the reaction to it that made me scratch my head. When I sat down to turn the game on after coaching my son's travel team practice, the Sox were already down 5-0 and didn't seem too bothered about it which didn't make me too excited to keep watching (but I did anyway).



Beeks gave up five runs in the top of the first in a variety of ways. He gave up RBI doubles (Jeimer Candelario) and RBI singles (John Hicks) and home runs (Leonys Martin) and just like that, the Sox were in a 5-0 hole. Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely), Cora left the kid in there to pitch four full innings. Beeks gave up another run in the third on a Jose Iglesias RBI double, while the Sox only mustered a single run in the bottom of the first on Andrew Benintendi's 11th home run. Xander Bogaerts drove in another run on a fielder's choice in the fifth, but that was it for Boston. Detroit tacked on a meaningless run in the eighth when Iglesias drove in another and the Sox went down meekly on this night, 7-2.

The loss actually put the Yankees ahead in the division based on winning percentage (since the Sox have still played more games than them) and while I understand wanting to get Beeks some big league experience, it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. From the moment I saw the starting lineup, this game screamed throwaway and that's what Cora seemed to be going for. He didn't pull the kid after the disastrous first inning and he certainly didn't put the best lineup out there behind him: no Bradley or Holt, and starting Blake Swihart, Sam Travis, and Eduardo Nunez all on the same night? JD Martinez also left the game late with the same back tightness he had earlier in the week, although after the game he said it was just precautionary and not as bad as it was last time (which is a relief). Since the Sox were so cavalier about tanking this game, they'd better sweep the White Sox, who are one of the worst teams in all of baseball, at home this weekend because after that series they've got an absolutely BRUTAL schedule: a tough road trip against two good teams (Seattle and Minnesota) and the lousy Orioles (who always seem to play them tough) followed by home series against the Angels and Mariners before they go back on the road to face the Yankees and Nationals. That is a tough stretch of games where all the teams they'll face are either first in their respective divisions (Washington, Seattle, New York for now) or within striking distance (Minnesota and Los Angeles). The only dog in that entire stretch are the woeful Orioles. Give the competition over the next month and how tight the division race with New York is going to be, the Sox had better hope this "meaningless" game against Detroit doesn't come back to bite them in October.

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