Game 122: Red Sox at Philadelphia Phillies (August 15, 2018)

The Phillies are good this year, but are they really good enough to play the Red Sox to a draw? Yes, they're in first place in the NL East, but the NL is down across the board this year when compared to the AL and overall the best teams in the AL are much better than the best teams in the NL. Still, to this point the two teams have scored five runs apiece against each other and the Red Sox have won two of the three games. The final game between the two squads looked to be another close affair but I was hopeful that Boston could eke out a win and sweep this two game set.

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His previous start notwithstanding, Nathan Eovaldi has been solid for the Red Sox at the back of the rotation since he was acquired in July. For the first few innings of this game he looked to be continuing his strong play when the Sox jumped out to a three run lead while knocking out Phillies starter Vince Velazquez in the third inning. After walking the bases loaded by giving a free pass to Eovaldi, plunking Andrew Benintendi in the back, and surrendering an infield hit to Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland ripped a single to center field that made it to the fence and emptied the bases. The Sox loaded the bases again in the inning but weren't able to come away with more runs and in the end, it cost them. Eovaldi looked alright but not particularly sharp and the Phillies finally got to him in the fourth inning. Wilson Ramos (who had a damaging night against the Sox) hit a double that plated Rhys Hoskins and got Philadelphia on the scoreboard. Obduel Herrera grounded out to Moreland but that allowed Nick Williams to score from third, while weak hitting Carlos Santana (who entered the game hitting .214 on the season) hit a pinch hit RBI single that tied the game. Eovaldi's final line was three runs on seven hits, five strikeouts and no walks in five innings. Not stellar, but certainly serviceable and on most nights, good enough to potentially get your team a win. The Phillies would never trail again though and a huge reason why was, you guessed it, the Red Sox bullpen. Joe Kelly surrendered the go-ahead run in the sixth when he allowed a sacrifice fly to Scott Kingery to put Philly up by a run. Even worse was Drew Pomeranz in the bottom of the seventh. Ramos doubled off of him on a ball that was surprisingly badly misplayed by Jackie Bradley to score two runs. Mikael Franco followed it up by roping a single to bring in Ramos and push the Phillies' lead to 7-3. It was quintessential Pomeranz, who even in relief labored to get through a single inning needing thirty-two pitches to get out of a frame where he game up four hits and three runs. It looked like the Sox were going to get back in this game when Mookie Betts (who had gotten the night off) came in to pinch hit with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. He was able to drive in a run on an infield hit to cut the lead to three runs, but the Sox couldn't capitalize on anything after that and went down quietly to the 7-4 loss. 

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With the Yankees losing to the Rays there wasn't any damage done to the Red Sox division lead, but it was really frustrating to see the Sox continue to struggle against a good (but not great) team that they should've beaten. You can't win them all and tonight was a prime example of a game where the bounces just happened to go Philly's way and not Boston's. Every Sox starting position player had a hit in this game and Brock Holt had two (2-3 on the night), but the Sox couldn't capitalize when it mattered and left twenty-three men stranded on base. That's not going to win you many games no matter who you play. For now, these two teams are done playing each other and the Sox get another day off Thursday before opening a home series against Tampa Bay on Friday. That game will have Brian Johnson taking the mound for the Sox and hopefully will see a return to timely hitting and increased scoring, two things that were curiously lacking in all four games against the Phillies this season. I guess Philly is just one of the rare teams who (like Oakland) have Boston's number in 2018.

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