Game 40: Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays (May 13, 2018)

First of all, a very Happy Mother's Day yesterday to all of the moms out there, including the special ones in my life. The kids and I had a relaxing day around the house and took care of Mrs. Chemist, making her lunch and dinner, some cupcakes, and letting her relax however she wanted to. I had time to watch the Sox game in the afternoon and as I sat down on the couch, I was hoping that they could continue their solid play and leave Toronto with a series win.

Drew Pomeranz started for the Sox and even though he didn't get the win his last start in the Bronx, he pitched very well so I was hoping he would carry that over against this less fearsome Blue Jays lineup. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I used to complain about how Jon Lester used to labor just to get through five or six innings, but Pomeranz makes Lester look like Chris Sale. EVERY INNING of this start was an absolute slog, with Pom only pitching four full innings and topping 100 pitches. He pitched into the fifth before being lifted having not recorded an out so he wasn't eligible for the win and while he struck out six, he also walked five and was responsible for three earned runs. That was a shame because to that point the Sox had built a 4-0 lead for him. JD Martinez continued to swing a hot bat by crushing a two-run homer to rightfield in the first, and he added an RBI single in the fifth to drive in Mookie Betts. Combined with Mitch Moreland walking with the bases loaded after an epic battle of an at bat, the Sox were sitting pretty at 4-0 as the bottom of the fifth started. However, Toronto would pick up three on a Justin Smoak RBI double that drove in two runs followed by Russell Martin driving in Smoak. It remained that tight until Xander Bogaerts drove in Andrew Benintendi in the eighth for a much needed insurance run. The bullpen was surprisingly good in this game, with Hector Velazquez, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree (no joke), and Joe Kelly combining to hold the Jays scoreless and preserve the 5-3 win. Unfortunately, the Yankees annoyingly won again, so the two teams remain tied atop the division.

What else can I say about Drew Pomeranz? When the Sox game started at 1pm, I figured it would be just about over when the Celtics game started at 3:30pm, but it still had another hour to go when the C's tipped off! The guy has some nasty stuff, but he works so slowly that it's almost enough to drive me crazy. I typically resist any efforts by MLB to change the game in order to speed up the pace of play unless it means reducing the commercial breaks (which is never going to happen), but maybe Rob Manfred could ban Pomeranz from pitching instead (I kid, I kid). He has a tendency to nibble around the plate which makes for long at bats and really runs up his pitch count. Any time he gets into the sixth inning is a shock. For his sake and the team's, I hope the coaches can somehow teach the guy to be more efficient and to attack hitters more. He's got the stuff to do it, especially with that incredible curveball he has...he just needs to harness it properly and efficiently. 

Offensively, the team continued to get the hits (mostly) when they needed them. Mookie Betts continued his torrid season with two hits and also made a spectacular diving catch to end an inning. JD Martinez drove in three of the five Red Sox runs and even Jackie Bradley got a hit and scored a run (no, seriously!). Bradley also made a couple of excellent plays in centerfield, showing us why he needs to get his hitting in order so that he can be back in the lineup on an everyday basis. One last note on this game...the Sox were VERY aggressive on the bases, stealing four times on Jays catcher Martin (two for Mookie, one for Benintendi, and one for Bradley). Brock Holt got caught stealing third which was a bit surprising because Martin's weak arm was the reason the Sox ran like crazy, but the replay showed Brock didn't even get a jump...he just took off from his standing lead. I hope to see more of this at long as it's done smartly (Holt's was not a good idea...he had hit a leadoff double and it ended up costing the Sox a chance for an easy run as Bradley hit a single right after). Overall, though, the baserunning has been better as of late so let's hope that continues.

Starting tonight is a seven game homestand (including a make-up game from earlier in the season) against two bad teams, Oakland and Baltimore. As I said yesterday, this is a good stretch for the Sox to feast on two bad teams and pile up some wins. It'd also be nice to get a little revenge on Athletic's pitcher Sean Manaea, who no-hit them in Oakland a few weeks should be a good game with Rick Porcello on the mound for the Sox. I can't wait!