Game 56: Toronto Blue Jays at Red Sox (May 30, 2018)

Another rare midweek day game...maybe they're not as rare as I think? I was able to listen to the game on the radio as I worked which is a treat I enjoy whenever the Sox play on a weekday afternoon.

With a big four game series in Houston starting the next day, the Red Sox still had a game against the Blue Jays to wrap up the series. Eduardo Rodriguez looked to bounce back from his last few disappointing starts while the Sox would have to continue to hit without Mookie Betts who was held out again as a precaution (Mookie should be back in the lineup for the Houston series). That wouldn't prove to be a problem as the offense again came through with run support. The suddenly hot Jackie Bradley got the Sox into the scoring column with an RBI double in the third and Eduardo Nunez added a solo homer in the fifth to make it 2-0. With the way Rodriguez was cruising along, it seemed that might be all the offense the Sox needed, but in the top of the sixth Teoscar Hernandez hit a two run homer to tie the game up at 2. That was quickly erased when JD Martinez hit an moonshot to left centerfield with Andrew Benintendi on base to put the Sox back up by two runs. With that home run, JD tied Mike Trout for the league lead with 18 homers. The Sox added some insurance runs with Nunez' flare RBI double to right field and Brock Holt's RBI single in the eighth. It was a good thing, too, because the Jays got two back in the top of the ninth off of Craig Kimbrel who inherited runners while again had to come into the game to clean up someone else's mess (more on that below). After that, Craig got the final outs and the Sox held on to win the game 6-4 and earned the series sweep. Unfortunately, the Yankees also won so the division lead stayed at two games. 

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched very well, going 6.2 innings on 100 pitches, striking out seven and only walking one while allowing 2 runs on three hits. Matt Barnes pitched an inning and a third of strong relief. Once again, though, Brian Johnson screwed things up and forced the Red Sox to use Craig Kimbrel for the second straight day when they shouldn't have had to. Heading into the ninth with a four run lead, Kimbrel again had to come in to clean up somebody's mess, entering the game with runners on the corner and no outs. Kimbrel was squeezed by the umpire on a full count to load the bases with no outs. After giving up an RBI double (both runs were charged to Johnson), he settled down and earned his 18th save of the season. I'm not sure why Johnson is still on the roster apart from being out of options, because he is atrocious and has been just about every time he comes into a game. Why Cora continues to go to him apart from him bring a lefty I'll never understand, but I hope we don't see him in any situations other than blowout wins or losses. By having to use Kimbrel in the ninth when they didn't plan on it two games in a row, I hope it doesn't impact his availability in the next series against Houston. On a positive note, Jackie Bradley continued his torrid week by going 2-3 with an RBI and has just about gotten his average (.196) over the Mendoza Line. Blake Swihart surprisingly started at first and shocked me by going 2-3 as well...I'm not sure why he got the start other than to give Moreland a day off, but that was an unexpected surprise. With Mookie coming back to start the Houston series, I hope Cora can get back to putting our best lineups on the field.

This next series against the Astros should be exciting! Four games against the defending champs will be a great test for the Red Sox and with the Astros on a bit of a skid, it just might be the perfect time for the Sox to be facing them.