Game 33: Red Sox at Texas Rangers (May 5, 2018)

After a full day of coaching baseball and softball and then watching the thrilling Celtics playoff victory, what better way to cap off the day than with the Red Sox game? After last night's dominating performance from Rick Porcello, I was all set for the Sox to carry over the momentum into this game and while they did end up getting the win, how they got there was as thrilling as the Celtics win. Eduardo Rodriguez took the mound for the Sox and overall he pitched a strong game, going six innings and striking out ten while only walking two. However, he did give up five earned runs and the biggest damage was done when he surrendered a three-run homer to Delino DeSheilds in the fifth inning that put the Rangers up 4-1. Joey Gallo also hit two solo shots off of E-Rod, in the second and sixth innings. Down 5-3, the Sox were able to come back and tie it via Andrew Benintendi's RBI double in the seventh which drove in Mookie Betts, followed by JD Martinez driving in Benintendi with a single. There was some major drama in the eighth inning when Joe Kelly came into the game with the bases loaded and one out. He picked up two huge strikeouts, the last one on a blistering 98 mph pitch that froze the batter and had Christian Vazquez immediately pumping his fist as the ump rung him up. In the top of the ninth, Benintendi hit a one out triple on a ball that missed being a home run by less than a foot. Luckily, Hanley Ramirez drove him in with a sacrifice fly to give the Sox their first lead of the game. Craig Kimbrel came in for the save and was absolutely dominant, inducing a foul pop up and blowing away the last two batters he faced to pick up his 300th career save. Just like that, the Sox took an early deficit and turned it into a 6-5 win.

Beyond how satisfying it was to get the win, this was an incredibly entertaining game. Rangers starter Cole Hamels pitched really well and matched E-Rod inning for inning (the three-run bomb to DeShields not withstanding). The Sox used clutch pitching (something we haven't been seeing a lot of lately) and timely hitting to stay within striking distance and when it counted, they made the plays they needed to in order to prevail. Even though this game featured another Alex Cora lineup I'm not crazy about, tonight it worked perfectly and I can't complain. For some reason, he likes to play Ramirez and Mitch Moreland at the same time if possible, which usually means JD in left and Jackie Bradley on the bench. While Jackie is slumping badly at the plate, it's tough to downgrade the outfield defense that much by taking his glove out and putting JD's in. It worked for this game, though. Moreland has also been red hot with the bat lately and hit another home run in this game (with a little assistance from Shin-Soo Choo's glove). 

With this win the Sox keep the Yankees (who also won) a game behind and guarantee at least a split with the Rangers. Since Chris Sale is due to pitch next, the series win is there for the taking and it would be a really nice way for the Sox to go into their off day Monday before the tilt in the Bronx Tuesday.