Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Game 108: Philadelphia Phillies at Red Sox (July 30, 2018)

After work and dinner, I took my son and oldest daughter to the cages to get some swings in. We missed the first five innings of the game by the time we got home, but little did I know that there would still be eight more innings of baseball to watch! For as much as I hate interleague play, I was actually intrigued by this game for a couple of reasons. First was that it was a matchup of two teams who were leading their divisions, and second was the pitching matchup of David Price vs. Aaron Nola. As it turned out, the game delivered in just about every way.

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Price and Nola gave us something that is increasingly rare in modern Major League Baseball: an honest to goodness pitcher's duel. Both of them pitched eight fantastic innings and each man only gave up a single run. Nola struck out six and walked one while giving up four hits, while Price struck out five, walked one, and gave up eight hits. Philadelphia scored when Maikel Franco drove in Asdrubal Cabrera with an RBI single in the second, and Boston's run came on an RBI triple from Eduardo Nunez that brought Jackie Bradley home in the fifth. Both teams had legitimate scoring threats from there on out but neither could convert. A great play by Sandy Leon and Brock Holt to throw out a runner stealing second in the ninth inning rubbed out a Philly chance, and Brock Holt doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth and twelfth innings but was left stranded on base both times. The game winner came when Blake Swihart hit a ground rule double in the bottom of the thirteenth with Eduardo Nunez (who had singled and stolen second) on base. By that point, both bullpens had been emptied and the still sizable crowd at Fenway Park went nuts (as did my wife and daughters and I on our couch). I was happy for the win and for the chance to finally go to bed!

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The Red Sox were outhit in this game 10-7 and the top of the order went completely hitless, with Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, JD Martinez, Mitch Moreland, and Xander Bogaerts all having 0-fer nights. The Boston hits came entirely from the bottom of the order: Bradley (1-5), Nunez (2-5), Holt (2-4), Sandy Leon (1-3), and Swihart (1-2). The fact that the Sox survived a night like that from their sluggers and still held on to beat a good team speaks volumes as to how good they are. The win extended their lead in the AL East to a season high six games over the Yankees and was their 75th win of the season. This mini series concludes tonight when Drew Pomeranz makes his second start back from the DL. I've got to think this is a do or die start for him...I know he's been hurt, but he's been lousy all season and looked awful in his previous start. If he spits the bit in this one, the team has to shut him down and/or send him away for the rest of the season. Whether that means he goes to the bullpen or back on the DL with a phantom injury I don't know, but what's clear is that they can't afford to give away any more wins every time he starts. It would be so nice to sweep the Phillies and head into the rest day on a high before the Yankees come to town on Thursday. I'll be looking to see if Drew and the top of the order can bounce back tonight.

(One last thing: it was announced immediately after the game that the Red Sox acquired Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler for a pair of minor league prospects. It'll be interesting to see how this move works out, but on paper it's a good one as our defense up the middle instantly got a lot better. This also means that Dustin Pedroia's future is even murkier than before. Stay tuned.)

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