Game 47: Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox (May 20, 2018)

This was one of the rare Sox games this season where I wasn't able to watch any of it. I was at the baseball field all day coaching my son's travel team for their doubleheader. The Sox game fell right in the middle of when our two games did, so I was only able to keep up with the phone updates until late last night when I could watch some highlights. Even so, I liked what I saw and was really glad the Sox were able to end this homestand on a high note after how poorly they started it.

The big story in this game was JD Martinez, who belted two home runs to tie Mookie Betts for the league lead with 15. His first one was a solo shot in the bottom of the second, while his second was a two-run blast in the fifth. Combined with Andrew Benintendi's two-run homer earlier in the fifth, it put the Sox up 5-0 which was all the offense they'd need. Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 5.2 innings and while he gave up nine hits, he struck out seven without walking anyone and most importantly, kept Baltimore off the scoreboard. It begs the question, though: will Red Sox starters ever consistently pitch 6-8 innings? Irrespective of the talent in the bullpen, the constant need to get 3-5 innings out of the bullpen every game is going to wear them down before the summer is over. Surprisingly in this game, the Orioles outhit the Sox 13-12, but the Sox got the ones that counted. Besides JD continuing to stay hot with his 2-4, 2 HR day, Benintendi also remained hot going 3-5 and raising his average to .285. Even the last two spots in the lineup, which have been a black hole all season, chipped in with a hit each: Christian Vazquez went 1-4 while Jackie Bradley went 1-3 with a double, a run scored, and a walk (but also two more strikeouts). With the 5-0 win, the Sox finished this homestand 4-3 and have a day off before beginning their next series in Tampa on Tuesday. Since the Yankees also won, the Sox remain deadlocked with them atop the AL East. As I've said before, it looks like it's going to be one of those seasons where the two teams fight atop the standings until/unless one of them pulls away from the other. It should make for a fun summer!

One last thing touching on what I mentioned yesterday: all the home runs. This game was yet another where EVERY run was driven in via the long ball. I know I'm old school (even though I'm not old), but for me that makes it a little boring. Home runs used to be more exciting because they were a bit rarer and more special When so many are hit, especially by guys who aren't typically considered power hitters, it takes a bit of the luster off of them (again, this is just my opinion).  Now, I'm not saying that it'd be better to go back to the days of a century ago where the league leader was only hitting 15 homers in a season, but when so many players are crushing 20-40 homers in a season the numbers tend to not mean as much as they used to. Whether this is solely due to the "launch angle" revolution or also has to do with MLB juicing the balls (which I tend to think is definitely happening, as do a lot of the players) I don't know for certain, but I do know that eventually the game will even itself always has. Like I said yesterday, this home run issue will probably be the focus of a longer post which I'll write sometime later, but I just wanted to add this bit since this game against the Orioles seemed to be the perfect microcosm of the home run issue as I see it.