Monday, July 23, 2018

Game 101: Red Sox at Detroit Tigers (July 22, 2018)

After only scoring a single run over the previous two games, I was hoping beyond hope that the Red Sox would score some runs for Chris Sale in the series finale. He's been the recipient of some poor run support a few times this season even while he's pitched brilliantly. I was also hoping the Sox could get back to mashing the way they had before the break. This was a lazy Sunday spent at home listening to the constant thunder and rain outside...a perfect set-up for relaxing on the couch and watching the game.

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I and many others have mentioned this season that the Red Sox are almost unbeatable in the final games of series this season and today was no different. Leading the way was Sale, who had absolutely filthy stuff and pitched six strong innings. He struck out nine, walked none, and only gave up two hits. On this day, the team gave him plenty of run support from the very beginning. Rafael Devers drove in the first run on a fielder's choice in the second and Eduardo Nunez did the same later that inning to make it 2-0 Red Sox. Nunez was at it again in the fourth with an RBI single to make it 3-0. The way Sale was pitching, that seemed like it'd be enough but Jackie Bradley had other ideas by smacking a three run homer to left field to give the Sox a 6-0 lead. Boston kept piling on in the seventh: first, Andrew Benintendi crushed a two run triple to left center field and then JD Martinez brought him in with a sacrifice fly. It was 9-0 Boston and it seemed like they'd cruise to the easy shutout win, but the bullpen let them down. Alex Cora only seems to put Brandon Workman in games this season when the Sox are either up by a lot or down by a lot and today we perhaps learned why. He gave up a solo home run to Jeimar Candelario in the bottom of the seventh and was hit hard, giving up three in his single inning of work. The struggling Joe Kelly was almost as bad in the eighth, loading the bases and looking incredibly shaky but somehow getting out of the inning unscathed. He was helped by some good heads up defensive play (and some bad Tiger baserunning). Tyler Thornburg's ninth inning to end the game was much better. It only took him seven pitches to get the three outs he needed. While keeping in mind that he did it against a bad team like Detroit, it was encouraging to see Thornburg pitching better than he has so far this season. At the plate, the Sox had nine hits on the day and got contributions from all spots in the order. Xander Bogaerts, Steve Pearce, and Bradley each had two hit games while the RBI were spread throughout the lineup. If this type of production, which we saw the few weeks before the break, is back then this Red Sox team is going to continue tearing through the rest of the league.

The win gave Boston seventy on the season and slightly increased their division lead to five games since the Yankees were rained out. They now head to Baltimore to take on the pathetic Orioles for a three game series before heading home to Fenway Park. Rick Porcello will take the mound in the series opener and honestly, not only do I expect a series win but I'm fully hoping for a sweep. I thought the same about the Detroit series, though...as the old saying goes, that's why you play the games.

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