Game 44: Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox (May 17, 2018)

Wow, I did not see that coming! If you had told me before this game that David Price would pitch an absolute gem, even against a struggling team like Baltimore, I wouldn't have believed you yet that's exactly what he did. After the disappointing way the Red Sox opened up this homestand by dropping two of three to Oakland, I had no idea what to expect when the Orioles came to town. Given Price's recent struggles and the ridiculousness of the whole video games/carpal tunnel story from last week, nothing would have surprised me...except for what ended up happening.

After a long day at work and then coaching my son's travel baseball team, I got home to see the Red Sox take an early lead off of JD Martinez' two-run homer in the bottom of the first. He has been absolutely scorching with the bat over the last few weeks...this is the guy we were hoping to get during the offseason and he hasn't disappointed. He did have to leave the game later with what was described as "an illness," but after the game Alex Cora said it was precautionary and that he should be back in the lineup for the next game. Andrew Benintendi drove in Jackie Bradley with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to make it 3-0, and then Xander Bogaerts gave a repeat of last night's performance by crushing a three-run homer over the Green Monster later in the inning to open it up to 6-0. Three-run homers on back-to-back nights...I think Xander is back to where he was before he injured his ankle in April. That was all the offense David Price would need as he absolutely cruised through the game. It was one of the most efficient and dominant performances he's had in a Red Sox uniform. Price went the distance, throwing a complete game without walking anyone, striking out eight and only surrendering five hits (two of which were in the top of the ninth). He did it all on only 95 pitches and was this close to tossing a shutout. After giving up a double in the ninth, he had two outs and two strikes on Manny Machado before Manny belted a homer over the Monster to make it 6-2. Price got the next batter to fly out to centerfield and the game was over. I was hoping to see him get the shutout, but the win was the most important thing. Additionally, by going the distance Price gave the bullpen a much needed night off, which is something they needed with all of the 4-6 inning starts the starters have been turning in lately. Since Drew Pomeranz is due to start the next game, it's good that they'll be well-rested since anything more than five innings from him is a bonus.

The Red Sox offense was solid in this one...besides the homers from JD and Xander, Mookie Betts went 3-4 (raising his average to .364), Hanley Ramirez and Xander both went 2-4, and we even got some production from the catcher spot thanks to Sandy Leon's 2-4 night. Jackie Bradley continued to struggle, going 0-3 with a walk and a run scored, but his defense in centerfield was a joy to watch as usual. If he could finally get on one of his hot streaks at the plate, this offense would be even better than it is. Due to the Yankees being idle again last night, the Sox pulled into a tie for first place in the division with this win. With three more home games against the O's before they hit the road, the Sox should be able to keep pace with or vault over the Yankees in the standings. The main things I'll be looking in the next game are whether Pomeranz bounces back after his disappointing previous start and if the offense continues to heat up. Could the next hot stretch of baseball be right around the corner for these Red Sox? We shall see...