Saturday, June 16, 2018

Game 71: Red Sox at Seattle Mariners (June 15, 2018)

To borrow from a happier, more famous moment in baseball history: "I don't believe what I just saw!" On a Friday night where my youngest daughter's softball season came to an end (we just didn't have it and got knocked out of the playoffs but finished fourth out of thirteen teams) and where my family went out to see a movie afterward (Incredibles 2...wonderful!), we got home and turned the game on to see the Red Sox leading 6-3. They seemed to have the game well in hand so imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and saw what the final result was!

I watched the middle innings of the game on TV before succumbing to sleep, something which I needed to do since I had to coach my son's travel team the next morning on a day that's going to top out around 95 degrees with some nasty humidity. I did follow updates on my phone when I was out with my family and saw that the Mariners took a quick 3-0 lead in the first two innings. Jean Segura hit a solo homer in the first followed by Ben Gamel driving in a run on a fielder's choice in the second. Mike Zunino got an RBI in the same fashion a couple of batters later and just like that, Rick Porcello had given up three early runs. Brock Holt drove in the first Boston run with an RBI single in the third which was followed by a fielding error on a Mitch Moreland hit to bring in Mookie Betts and Brock Holt. In an instant, it was tied at three. When Xander Bogaerts crushed a three run home run immediately after to put the Sox up 6-3, it looked like they were well on their way to the easy win. They'd knocked James Paxton out of the game and put up six runs in a hurry. Surely they'd hold on for this victory, right? Wait...you have been watching the middle relievers all season, right?



The remainder of this game was like watching a slow motion car crash. Seattle picked up a run in the fifth on a Mitch Hangier single to chip away at the lead and Zunino hit a solo homer in the seventh to cut it to 6-5. In the bottom of the eighth, Denard Span (him again?!) hit an RBI double to drive in two and just like that, it was suddenly 7-6 Mariners. Span had hurt the Sox earlier this season when he was with the Tampa Bay Rays, and now he hurt them again after his trade to Seattle. That's how the game ended as Boston somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this one. With the Yankees winning (can they ever lose on the days we actually win?!) the Sox are tied in the win/loss column but still in second place based on winning percentage. 

Rick Porcello wasn't particularly sharp but he was adequate in this one. He went six innings and while he gave up four runs, he also struck out nine and only walked one. It was the bullpen that completely and utterly blew this game. The always wretched Heath Hembree walked one and gave up a run in the seventh while the Jekyll and Hyde experience that is Matt Barnes had his Mr. Hyde moment, giving up two runs in his inning of work. Alex Cora also trotted a strange lineup out, with the red hot Andrew Benintendi sitting and the struggling Eduardo Nunez at DH. Still, the lineup certainly produced enough to put six runs up on Seattle and should have been more than enough for the win. Also, I understand (even if I don't agree with) Cora's approach to resting guys throughout the season, but to bench a guy who has been hitting as well as Benintendi has been just because it was his "scheduled" day off seems ludicrous to me. You don't take a bat as good as that out of the lineup and potentially mess up his rhythm at the plate just because it was penciled in for him to rest that day. The kid is 23 and healthy...playing him in this game wasn't going to hurt him.

This one is over and done so I'll stop agonizing over it now. While it was frustrating, it's time to move on to the next one. I'll be looking for the Sox to bounce back tonight and grab a convincing win (I hope).

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