Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Game 93: Texas Rangers at Red Sox (July 10, 2018)

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If there was one game in this series that the Red Sox were going to lose, it was going to be this one. With the fifth spot in the rotation a revolving door since both Drew Pomeranz and Steven Wright went down with injuries, it's typically been a spot-start-and-then-turn-it-over-to-the-bullpen type of game. For this second game against Texas, it was Hector Velazquez' turn to fill in. I was supposed to drive my oldest daughter to her two and a half hour travel team practice, but it was cancelled at the last minute so after our family ate dinner I was able to sit down and watch the game. 

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When Texas scored first off of Rougned Odor's solo homer in the second inning, I thought my fears may have been confirmed, but the combination of Boston's offensive firepower and Texas' shaky pitching showed me there was nothing to worry about. Jackie Bradly's RBI double in the third tied the game and a couple of batters later, Andrew Benintendi drove him in for the lead. The Sox added more that inning when Mitch Moreland's single drove Benintendi in and Xander Bogaerts triple drove in two more. Just like that, the Sox were up 5-1 and it never felt in doubt after that. The Rangers added a run in the fourth on a fielder's choice, but Boston added one in the bottom of the fifth on a Moreland sacrifice fly. Texas made it interesting in the sixth when Joey Gallo's double drove in two to make it 6-4 Red Sox, but Jackie doubled again in the bottom of the inning to drive in Blake Swihart (who surprisingly started at catcher). Benintendi's double in the seventh drove in Mookie Betts and made it 8-4 which was how the game ended. The Sox outhit the Rangers 12-7 and every batter had at least a hit except for Rafael Devers. Mookie, Benintendi, Bradley, and even Swihart all went 2-4 and the game showed the relentless attack this team has when the whole order is clicking like they're capable of.

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As for the pitching in this one, it was ugly but it got the job done. Velazquez only went three innings before Alex Cora turned it over to the bullpen and it took five more pitchers to wrap up the win (don't you just love modern baseball?). Only Jalen Beeks pitched more than an inning (he went 2.1); everyone after him pitched an inning or less. It was Beeks who gave up the most runs to Texas with three scored off of him, but on a night where the bats were hot and there was plenty of run support they were able to withstand it. There were some sterling defensive plays in this game, too, perhaps none as important as Mookie robbing a sure two-run home run right at the wall in the fifth inning. Had Nomar Mazara's hit gone over the fence, it would have been 5-4 Red Sox and the entire complexion of the game may have changed.

The win put Boston's record at an incredible 64-29 and was their eighth win in a row. With the Yankees losing in extra innings to Baltimore (when I was sure they were going to win) the Red Sox opened up a 3.5 game lead in the AL East. While no lead will feel safe against the Yankees this season, I'm all for increasing it by whatever means possible. With Chris Sale going up against the ageless Bartolo Colon in the series finale, the Sox are in great position to sweep their third series in a row before heading into the last set of games against Toronto before the All-Star break. I keep telling myself that this team needs to play this way in the postseason before I'll truly believe in them, but when they're this good and this fun to watch I'm going to just enjoy the journey of the regular season.

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