Sunday, August 12, 2018

Game 119: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (August 11, 2018)

Well folks, it's JD Martinez' world...we're all just living in it. After taking the early game in this doubleheader, the Red Sox were trying to sweep the day and win the series by taking the first three games against the Orioles. With Hector Velazquez getting the start and recent call up Dan Butler starting at catcher to give Sandy Leon some much needed rest, it wouldn't have been at all surprising if the Sox dropped this game and split the twin bill. But as we've seen time and again with this team in 2018, there is no quit in them no obstacle seems too insurmountable for them to overcome. Leading the way was the best slugger in the league who put the Sox on his back and delivered when it mattered most.

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When the O's scored first in the second inning off of Renato Nunez' double, it seemed as though the Orioles just might win a game in this series. Trey Mancini added to the lead with an RBI single of his own in the third. JD was having none of that and added to his league leading home run total by hitting number 36 in the fourth to cut the Baltimore lead in half. Butler's sacrifice fly tied the game in the fifth and in the sixth the go-ahead run for Boston scored on a wild pitch ball four to Rafael Devers that allowed Steve Pearce to score. However, the usual suspect (Heath Hembree) allowed a home run to Joey Rickard which tied the game. For everything that Alex Cora has done right this season, which is almost everything, I will never understand why he continues to go with Heath Hembree game after game and especially in close situations. He has been utterly brutal this month and I would honestly rather see a struggling Joe Kelly, an inconsistent Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Brandon Workman, ANYONE else out there besides Hembree. Lucky for him, JD saved him from being the goat when he crushed his 37th home run of the season, this one with Pearce on base to break the tie and give the Red Sox some breathing room. Brock Holt added an insurance run in the ninth when his hit drove in Mookie Betts (though Holt himself was erased at second trying to stretch it out). Mancini hit a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth off of Craig Kimbrel, but Craig picked up his 34th save of the season (and the 100th of his Red Sox career) by striking out three and slamming the door shut on the 6-4 Red Sox win.

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While Mookie had a good game (2-5 and pushing his average up to .351), JD was the hero in the nightcap. He was an on base machine, going 2-2 with two runs scored, three RBI, and two walks while bumping his own average up to .332. He added to his league leading totals in home runs and RBI and is currently second in average behind Mookie...a legitimate Triple Crown threat. This guy has been worth every penny the Sox paid him (and probably more) not only for his hitting prowess but his leadership in the clubhouse. He's one of those rare players (like Mookie or Mike Trout) where every at bat is a must see just so you don't potentially miss seeing something incredible. The doubleheader sweep increased the division lead over New York to 9.5 games and sets the Sox up nicely to sweep the O's with Chris Sale pitching in the finale. While I wouldn't be surprised at all to see some rust on Sale given his layoff, with as good and deep as this team is (and as bad as Baltimore is) I'm confident that another win is in the cards.

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