Friday, June 29, 2018

Game 82: Los Angeles Angels at Red Sox (June 28, 2018)

I'm pretty sure the Angels couldn't wait to leave Boston by the time this game was over. The Sox swept them in LA back in April and were on the verge of doing it again at Fenway Park heading into this game. They put a bit of a scare into Boston the night before but ultimately came away with the loss, so they were hoping to avoid the series (and season) sweep going into the finale. With Brian Johnson filling in for the injured Steven Wright, I fully expected this game to be a throwaway. I've been down on Johnson all season and didn't have much faith he'd be any better in this spot start as he has been out of the bullpen. After dinner I went for a walk with my family to enjoy the summer evening and got back in time to catch the game in between going out to the yard to chat with some of our neighbors. By the time I finally sat down for good to watch the game uninterrupted from the fourth inning on, I was treated to a pretty entertaining contest.

When the Angels went up 1-0 in the top of the fourth on Andrelton Simmons solo homer, I thought this might be the game where they finally broke through and won a game against us. Johnson had been solid if not unspectacular, going just four innings and giving up that run against just two strikeouts and a walk. However, Rafael Devers clubbed a ball to straightaway center field in the bottom of the fifth to tie it up and we had a game. Angels rookie Jaime Barria was pretty damn good in this one, but this Red Sox lineup is just relentless and they eventually wore him down. In the sixth inning, Brock Holt had a great at-bat where he battled and battled against reliever Jose Alvarez and walked with the bases loaded to bring in JD Martinez and gave the Sox their first lead of the night. They then got some much needed breathing room in the seventh when Jackie Bradley hammered a two run homer into the bullpens to make it 4-1 Boston. Bradley has been hitting great during this homestand, 8 for 17 with two home runs and some great hits. Now would is a good time for him to be getting hot at the plate. Albert Pujols drove in a run off of Joe Kelly in the eighth to cut it to two runs, but Craig Kimbrel picked up the save in epic fashion, striking out three batters and punctuating it by whiffing the great Mike Trout (who had a quiet series) for the final out. I can't finish the game recap without mentioning two fantastic defensive plays by the Red Sox outfield, one by Jackie Bradley in the first and another by Andrew Benintendi in the eighth. Both were highlight reel leaping grabs at the wall and saved runs and are yet another reminder that along with Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have the best defensive outfield in the league.

With the win, the Sox swept the season series with the Angels (outscoring them 49-12 over six games!) and picked up another half game on the idle Yankees in the division. With a one game cushion heading into the big weekend series in the Bronx, the Sox are well set up to increase their lead if they can take two of three. The first pitching match up pits Eduardo Rodriguez against CC Sabathia and should be a good one. I can't wait!

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