Thursday, July 26, 2018

Game 104: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (July 25, 2018) (POSTPONED)

It appears as though Mother Nature has found the only way to stop the Red Sox this season: rain them out. The mid-Atlantic has been receiving rain of biblical proportions over the past week which affected the first two games of this series with severe rain delays. For the series finale, David Price was on the mound to try and help the Sox get the win, and it looked like he was well on his way before the weather had other ideas.

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There's not a lot to write about this game although there was a lot of action for the Red Sox. Andrew Benintendi ripped a solo homer in the top of the first and was followed by JD Martinez who did the same. With a 2-0 lead heading into the second, the Sox piled on some more when Mookie Betts clubbed a three run shot in the second inning. Boston had raced to a 5-0 lead and looked like they were going to run away with the game and series before the rain dashed those hopes. After yet another rain delay in Baltimore, the game was called and just like that POOF those home runs were erased. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader on August 11th. The good news for the Sox was that the Yankees lost so even though they didn't get the game in they picked up a half game in the standings; they're now 5.5 games ahead in first place. The Sox will begin a new homestand tonight against the Minnesota Twins with Brian Johnson on the mound so I'm looking for them to continue their winning ways as they march through this next week in preparation for a big series with the Yankees starting next Thursday.

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Before finishing this curtailed game recap, I want to touch on one final baseball thought. You may remember early in the season how I wrote about the proliferation of home runs in the game today and how I thought it cheapened their value and excitement. It's also been a big talking point nationally over the last couple of seasons. MLB has broken the overall single season home run record season after season, Hitters are going for more all-or-nothing at bats and the result is less action taking place on the field. Strikeouts are up, home runs are up, but balls put in play are way, way down. MLB denies the balls are juiced but most players, fans, and independent testing labs (who have actually looked at the new balls and compared them to balls from years past) believe they've been changed. Combined with the over reliance on statistics and analytics and the ridiculous "launch angle revolution" where so many hitters have changed their swings to result in either pop flies or home runs, the result is a game that has become as boring and one dimensional as I can ever recall. Where this is all going is that last night my wife turned to me and said "you know, it's so boring when all of the runs come from home runs." She was dead on correct and that's exactly what I've been saying for a while now. What made her comment even more impactful for me is the fact that while she's a fan of the Red Sox and baseball, she's not a baseball junkie like me. She doesn't watch the games every night and doesn't obsess over the stats and standings and box scores the way I do. I'd say she's more than a casual fan but less than a diehard fan. And still she cut right to the chase and identified the problem. Home runs used to be somewhat rare and special and exciting, but they've been cheapened a bit with how often they're being hit (and the fact that so many lesser hitters are hitting more and more of them). When you get too much of anything, it becomes less special. How and when the league addresses this once they finally acknowledge the problem, I don't know, but I thought it was an interesting and telling observation nonetheless. I know that personally I get as excited about a stolen base, a clutch hit, a squeeze bunt, etc as I do a big home run because to me, that's real baseball. The same with watching the defense make great plays in the field. The over reliance on the long ball has taken a lot of that away and it makes me sad to see it. I have no doubt the game will correct itself as it always has throughout its history, but for now, it's made the game a bit less interesting and exciting than it should be.

(One last bit of news: the Red Sox yesterday traded prospect Jalen Beeks to Tampa Bay for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. This will give the back of the rotation some much-needed depth with Wright still out and Pomeranz a complete trainwreck. Still, I'd like to see some middle relief or infield help before the deadline if possible. Let's see if Dave Dombrowski can pull any other moves off before then. )

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