Saturday, August 11, 2018

Game 117: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (August 10, 2018)

Was that a football game or a baseball game? What it was was absolute insanity. In a season where we've seen just about everything from the Red Sox, this first game in the series against Baltimore might have been the wackiest game yet. I was at the Pawtucket Red Sox game in Indianapolis rooting on the Sox AAA team last night and watching the big league club on my phone at the same time. While the minor league game was a more typical baseball game that Pawtucket won 3-2, the parent club's game had so many wild swings and so much back and forth that I could barely keep up. It certainly wasn't what I was expecting against a bottom feeder like Baltimore, especially with the way Nathan Eovaldi had been pitching lately.

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Speaking of Eovaldi, let's get it out of the way right now: he was awful. 2.2 innings pitched, ten hits and eight runs given up (four of them earned), no strikeouts and two walks. He just didn't have it on this night, but let's face it: no pitcher on either team did. A pitcher's duel this wasn't. It actually looked like the Sox would be the ones running away with it early in the first inning when Xander Bogaerts clubbed a three run homer (his 17th of the season) to put the Sox up by three runs. The Orioles came storming back in the second beginning with Chris Davis' solo homer. Owner of perhaps the worst contract in all of baseball (at least from a team perspective), Davis pretty much only hits homers or strikeouts out...unfortunately he did the former. Cedric Mullins doubled to bring in a run and then Adam Jones singled to drive in two more. Just like that, Baltimore was up 4-3 and the madness was only getting started. A rare fielding error by Jackie Bradley (I guess he's human after all) resulted in a run scoring on a Caleb Joseph hit. It was a ball Bradley absolutely should have caught and I'm still stumped as to how he didn't, but no one's perfect so just chalk it up to happenstance. It hurt the Sox, though, because Baltimore plated a few more runs beginning with Mullins singling one in. This was followed by Jonathan Villar using a sacrifice bunt to push one across before the scoring finally ended with Tim Beckham's single. After that nightmarish sequence, the O's were up 8-3 and Eovaldi's night was finished. Bradley atoned for his error with an RBI triple in the fourth and subsequently scored on a passed ball during Mookie Betts' at bat. Brock Holt hit a solo homer in the sixth and Mitch Moreland's sacrifice fly brought in Bradely and the Sox were only down a run. With the bases loaded later in the inning, Xander walked to bring in the tying run and Rafael Devers walked to bring in the go ahead run. It's been a long time since I've seen consecutive walks with the bases loaded...that's usually what happens in my son's Little League games, not in the majors. Holt singled to bring in two and help clear the bases and give Boston the lead at 11-8. It was a lead they wouldn't give up the rest of the night, but they certainly weren't able to sit on it either. In the bottom of the sixth Beckham hit a homer and Davis hit a sac fly to pull Baltimore within a run, but it was in the seventh when Boston finally began to run away with it. Andrew Benintendi hit a three run homer to give them some breathing room and then in the eighth Mookie doubled to clear the bases. To wrap up the Red Sox scoring, JD Martinez hit his 100th and 101st RBI of the season when his single brought in two to make it 19-10. The O's got one in the eighth on Mark Trumbo's homer and one in the ninth when Villar singled, but that would be it (finally!) as the Sox held on for the 19-12 win. In one more bizarre twist to this game, who got the pitching win for the Red Sox? Drew Pomeranz.

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Boston was outhit in this game 17-16 but they made the ones they got count more than Baltimore did. There's absolutely nothing of note to say with the pitching in this one other than it utterly and totally stunk. As far as hitting, this game was a batter's dream as both teams seemed to be doing little more than pitching live batting practice to the other. Mookie went 3-4 with three runs scored, three RBI, two walks, and raised his league leading average to .352. Benintendi only went 1-5 but picked up the three RBI on his home run. He also scored three runs and walked once. JD and Mitch Moreland each went 2-5, Bogaerts went 1-4 (but with four RBI), Holt went 3-4 (three RBI, three runs scored, two walks), and Jackie Bradley went 3-4 with four runs scored, an RBI, and a walk. The important thing is that the Sox showed no quit and fought back in a game that was a pitching disaster (against an awful team) in order to take advantage of a night when the Yankees were also getting crushed by a bad team (the Rangers). The end result was Boston adding a game to their division lead and pushing it back up to nine games. The win also mathematically eliminated the Orioles from the postseason.

The series continues with a doubleheader on Saturday. David Price will get the ball for the first game and Chris Sale is supposed to return from the DL and pitch the nightcap (although that seems up in the air now). A split would be nice but a sweep of the day would be even better. I'm not concerned at all with the Sox trying to tie or break the single season record for wins, but I do want them to keep the pedal to the metal and keep the Yankees far enough back in the division to let them (New York) worry about the Wild Card play-in game. As I mentioned yesterday, the schedule gets tougher for the Sox after this week so taking advantage of teams like the Orioles and picking up easy wins is paramount, no matter what style of play it takes.

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