Game 67: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (June 11, 2018)

That was a marathon game, wasn't it? Even though the Sox have played longer games, this one felt like a slog once the pitcher's duel ended after the seventh inning. I had a rare night off with no games or practices to coach, so in a way this was a nice long game for me to relax and watch to the bitter end. The fact that it took such a Herculean effort to beat the team with the worst record in the majors means this wasn't one for the scrapbook, though.

The big news of the night was the return of Mookie Betts after two weeks out. Oh, how the Sox offense has missed him and unfortunately, it still does because there was absolutely nothing going on at the plate in this game. Part of that was due to the excellent pitching duel between Red Sox starter Steven Wright and Baltimore starter Dylan Bundy. Wright made it through 6.2 innings and only allowed four hits against five strikeouts and three walks. He was lifted in the seventh when he loaded the bases with two outs, but Joe Kelly came in to get a big strikeout which kept the O's off the board. Bundy went eight innings for Baltimore, only allowing three hits against seven strikeouts and two walks. Both teams had their chances, especially once it went into extra innings, but it wasn't until the top of the twelfth inning when a runner finally crossed the plate. Brock Holt drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly to center field to bring Xander Bogaerts in. Rafael Devers advanced to third on the play and was driven in by Jackie Bradley via another sac fly. That's how the game would end as Craig Kimbrel picked up the save to preserve the 2-0 Red Sox win.

Mookie was 1-5 in his return but I expect it'll take him a little time before he's back in his groove. For the first nine innings of the game, the Sox only had three hits and four baserunners and it was almost all by Benintendi (2-3 and a walk, getting on base three times to that point). Only Bogaerts joined Benintendi in having a two hit night, while Devers made up the final Red Sox hit. By the time the game went into extras, it didn't look like either team wanted to win as both clubs couldn't get anything going at the plate. Sometimes that's how baseball is, but it's more than a bit concerning that the Red Sox had to expend such effort against a truly awful team like Baltimore. Since the Yankees lost, Boston moved  into a tie for first place. With Eduardo Rodriguez and Sale pitching the next two games, as long as the Sox can start hitting again they should be able to make some hay (and let's just forget about what happened in Sale's last start, shall we?). They'd better, because after the Baltimore series the degree of difficulty in the schedule goes up exponentially. One game at a time, one game at a time...