Monday, July 30, 2018

Game 107: Minnesota Twins at Red Sox (July 29, 2018)

Would the Red Sox go for the series win or would they have to settle for a split? That was the question on my mind as I got ready to watch this game. Newcomer Nathan Eovaldi would be making his Red Sox debut and while he seemed like a solid pickup on paper, I had to remind myself that he was the fourth or fifth starter in this rotation and as such, we shouldn't be expecting too much. New Yankees reliever Zach Britton was booed by the New York crowd in his debut appearance a couple of days ago...would the same fate befall Eovaldi at Fenway Park?

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His day was made easier when JD Martinez drove in two runs (Brock Holt and Mookie Betts) in the second inning with a bases loaded double. JD drove in another run in the fourth when his single pushed Andrew Benintendi across. That gave him a league leading 89 RBI on the season and ended up being more than enough for Eovaldi, who was stellar in his Boston debut. He pitched seven innings (which in and of itself seems to be a Herculean feat in 2018) and struck out five while walking none and giving up four hits. Even better, Matt Barnes was able to hold the lead and keep the Twins hitless in his inning of work before turning the ball over to Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel did the same and notched save number 33 on the season as the Sox took the series and their third win in a row with a 3-0 victory. The Yankees win kept the Red Sox lead in the AL East at 5.5 games.

Boston outhit Minnesota 10-4 and when you stop and think about it, it's perhaps a bit concerning that they only scored three runs (there were a LOT of runners stranded on base in this game...ten to be exact), but their ability to win games in so many different ways means that no matter what, the Sox always have a chance. Alex Cora put a rather strange lineup out there, with Blake Swihart making his first career start at third base in place of the injured Rafael Devers, Brock Holt at shortstop, and Eduardo Nunez at second base. It still worked because this team is very talented and has good depth. The highlight was yet another dazzling defensive play by Jackie Bradley in the third inning where he made a diving catch and crashed into the Green Monster. He was unharmed but it seems like he's been making at least one play like this every day over the last few weeks. He's certainly made a bunch of them throughout the season and if this isn't the year he finally wins a Gold Glove, I don't know if/when he ever will.
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David Price will get the ball for the first game of a two game series against the Phillies on Monday (have I mentioned how much I hate interleague play?). Since he got rained out in the second inning at Baltimore during his previous start, he's had a rather long layoff. I'll be looking to see if he can be as good as he was the last time he took the mound. I will point out that it seems more than a bit coincidental that he's not in line to pitch at all in the Yankees series (or if he does, that it will be the final game of the series). The Sox have these two games against Philadelphia before a much needed off day Wednesday. After that short rest, the showdown with the Yankees begins on Thursday. It'll be four games where Boston can really do some damage and bury the Yankees. It's going to get fun, that's for sure!

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