Sunday, July 15, 2018

Game 97: Toronto Blue Jays at Red Sox (July 14, 2018)

After the previous game's debacle I really wanted to see a bounceback performance from the Red Sox in this third game of the series. Eduardo Rodriguez got the start and had been throwing the ball really well lately so I was hoping that would translate into a win to help move on from the end of the streak last night. It was a hot and humid summer day, perfect for staying inside in the air conditioning and watching the game so that's just what we did. My wife spent the afternoon baking cookies with a couple of our kids while I sat on the couch with two of my daughters to watch the Sox.

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JD Martinez got things off to a great start with his 29th home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth, a solo shot to put the Sox up 1-0. The way Rodriguez had been throwing the ball it seemed like that might be enough, but in the sixth inning things got a little scary. Rodriguez was running to cover first on a grounder and ended up colliding with the runner. He seemed to have tweaked his plant ankle and leg on the landing and had to leave the game. It was a real shame as he had been pitching great and had kept his pitch count down, only throwing 67 (47 of them for strikes). In his 5.1 innings of work he struck out five without walking any and only had given up four hits. It ended up hurting the Sox since the bullpen manged to give up runs to Toronto in the seventh (Joe Kelly, what happened?!). Kendrys Morales scored on a fielder's choice to tie the game followed by a Lourdes Guriel RBI single to put the Jays up 2-1. The Sox had a great chance in the eighth to tie the game when Mookie Betts made it to third base with one out, but they couldn't capitalize and so went into the bottom of the ninth down a run. Jackie Bradley made sure that missed opportunity wouldn't linger in the memory when his double drove in Xander Bogaerts (who himself had doubled to lead off the inning). Boston couldn't push across the winning run, though, and the game went into extra innings knotted at two. The major drama came in the bottom of the tenth. Mookie Betts led off the inning and hit a single. The Sox then executed a perfect hit and run with Brock Holt at the plate to put runners on the corners. With one out, the Jays intentionally walked JD to load the bases for Xander. At this point, all he needed to do was loft a deep fly ball to the outfield to win the game on a sacrifice fly; instead, he crushed a pitch to dead center field for a dramatic walk-off grand slam. Incredibly, that was his third grand slam of the season (and the team's seventh overall). The crowd went crazy at Fenway Park and so did we in my living room!



Every Red Sox hitter had at least a hit except for Sandy Leon and once again Mookie was a one-man wrecking crew. He went 3-4 and raised his average to a sizzling .362; the way he's been hitting this season, maybe he'll make a run at .400. It may seem crazy but the highest batting average for a right handed hitter in the post-WWII era was Nomar's .372 in 2000...Mookie has a real shot at breaking that. Xander went 2-5 and scored two runs, but it was the four RBI he drove in with a single swing of the bat that were his biggest contributions. The Red Sox are an incredible 67-30 after this game and yet still only 3.5 games ahead in the division because the Yankees are winning at almost an equivalent clip. Brian Johnson will be back from the DL and getting the spot-start for the series finale. Let's get a win and have some nice momentum heading into the All Star break, shall we?

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