Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Game 109: Philadelphia Phillies at Red Sox (July 31, 2018)

I suppose they can't win every game, right? A night after the exciting walk off win in extra innings, the Red Sox were back at it against Philly to wrap up this short two game series with Drew Pomeranz on the mound. I mentioned yesterday that it was almost a do-or-die type of start for him given how bad he's been this season and the result ended up being a mixed bag.

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The Phillies once again got on the scoreboard first when Jorge Alfaro doubled to drive in Maikel Franco in the top of the second. They added to their lead in the fourth off a sacrifice fly from Scott Kingery with the bases loaded to drive in Franco again. By some miracle Pomeranz was able to get out of that jam only giving up the one run and in fact, by the time he left the game after the fifth inning the Sox were only down 2-0. For as poorly, inefficiently, and erratically as he pitched Drew left his team in a great position. And what's that old baseball adage I have that regular readers of mine are probably sick of hearing? "If your starting pitcher only gives up one or two runs, you'd damn well better win the game." Unfortunately for Boston, their mysterious and sudden power outage was on full display again. They were outhit for the second game in a row (this time, to the tune of 10 to 6) and even when they hit the ball hard and put it in play, they hit it right at a Philly fielder. Worse than that, they continued to shoot themselves in the foot by squandering prime scoring chances. A few times they had the leadoff batter on base in an inning and advanced them into scoring position only to come away empty handed. Even the one run they did score came on a fielder's choice in the sixth inning when Xander Bogaerts grounded out to first base. The Phillies tacked on another run in the ninth when Carlos Santana's RBI single drove in Rhys Hoskins and the Red Sox went down quietly 3-1.

Pomeranz' final pitching line looks pretty ugly: five innings, four hits, four walks, and three strikeouts, but he only gave up two runs. His velocity was down to the high eighties, his control was bad (two hit batters), and he just looked lost out there. You'd think that surviving a terrible outing like that and only being down two runs would keep the team within striking distance, but despite the score this game never felt that close. Phillies starter Jake Arrieta was very good (but not spectacular) in giving up six hits over seven innings (and he struck out out seven without walking anyone). Yes, Philly is a good team and they're battling for first place in the NL East, but they're not in the same class as Boston. Still, the Red Sox are lucky to have split this series despite being outscored 4-3 and outhit 20-13. The Boston bats suddenly going quiet in this series is an ominous sign and hopefully a minor blip because with four games against the Yankees (who are now five games back) starting on Thursday, they're going to need to score all the runs they can. Granted, Mookie Betts sat this game out as a scheduled rest day and every starter (including new guy Ian Kinsler) got a hit except for Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez, and Brock Holt, but the team couldn't convert when they had runners on base. They stranded eighteen runners in this game and twenty-eight total in the two games against Philly...and only scored three runs combined. That's not going to cut it.

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One last little bit of bad news: before the game, the team announced that Chris Sale would be going on the 10 day DL with left shoulder inflammation. Sale and the team insisted it's a minor precautionary move and that he'll be fine, but it seems as though right on schedule a repeat of last season is unfolding where Sale may be wearing down as the end of the season nears. Alex Cora and the coaching staff talked all spring about how they were going to reduce Sale's usage and keep his innings and pitches down so that he'd be fresh in October, but if you look at the numbers he's basically exactly where he was last season in both categories. We can only hope that it really is minor and that he'll continue to dominate the rest of the way because if he can't, this team will be in big trouble. 

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