Game 102: Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles (July 23, 2018)

That was one of the most baseball-filled nights I've had in a while! After work and dinner, I took my oldest daughter and son to the cages to get some work in. We got home in time to catch the first few innings of the Sox game (which had already been rain delayed once). I'd been waiting all month to watch the new PBS American Masters documentary on Ted Williams that was premiering at 9pm so I figured I'd miss most of the Sox game for that, but another rain delay hit and I was able to watch most of the Ted film before play resumed. I then watched the rest of the game which didn't finish until after almost felt like a west coast game. Before I dive in to the Sox game, a word about the Williams documentary: if you didn't watch it last night, you need to. It was excellent. It took a look at his entire life and revealed a lot of new bits of information that I didn't know. There was also amazing newly discovered color footage of his final game and at bat. It was thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating. I watched it with my son (who is a huge Ted fan) and we both loved it. I highly recommend it if you're a Williams and/or Red Sox fan.

Now, for the game. With Rick Porcello going up against Kevin Gausman and the woeful O's (even more woeful now that they've traded Manny Machado), it seemed like this would be a cakewalk. For the first seven innings, it was. Mitch Moreland put Boston on the scoreboard first with a solo shot in the second inning and in the fifth the team pushed four more runs across. Jackie Bradley walked with the bases loaded to make it 2-0, and then Andrew Benintendi doubled to knock in two and quickly make it 4-0. JD Martinez finished the Red Sox scoring with a single to drive in Bradley and give the team a 5-0 lead. That seemed like it would be more than enough until, you guessed it, the bullpen took over. Once again reminding us why Alex Cora only puts him in blowout wins or losses, Brandon Workman gave up a two run homer to the slumping Jonathan Schoop in the eighth to get Baltimore in the score column. Things got even dicier in the ninth when the rain started coming down again and Craig Kimbrel gave up a couple of hits that resulted in another run for the Orioles. Thankfully, a heads up double play by Mitch Moreland ended the threat and preserved the Red Sox 5-3 win. With the Yankees losing in comic fashion to Tampa Bay (Gary Sanchez was a true bum last night, especially on that out to end the game), the Red Sox are now six games ahead in the AL East. 

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Porcello looked much better in this game than he did in his last start before the break. He tossed six shutout innings and struck out six, only walking one. Workman had a brutal inning of work, giving up two hits and two runs, and even Kimbrel looked shaky out there in earning his 32nd save of the season. He's still one of the top closers in the game, but he hasn't looked quite as dominant this season as he was last year. On the offensive side, everyone had a hit in this game except for Brock Holt and Bradley, but they still found ways to help despite the team being outhit by Baltimore 11-7. The same can't be said of Rafael Devers. He's still slumping badly at the plate, with his average down to .239 after the game. His defense has still been suspect, but the most egregious blunder he made in this one was getting doubled up off of second base on a line drive to center field with one out. It was the type of baserunning you might see in little league (although even my son's team knows that you don't take off running on a ball in the air with less than two outs). Just inexcusable and not a good look for the rookie. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing if the Sox look for veteran help at third base before the trade deadline next Tuesday.

Anyway, the Sox now have their largest lead in the division and welcome Drew Pomeranz back to the rotation. He'll be starting the second game of the series and hoping to recapture the form that made him successful in 2017. I'll be looking for that and for the Sox to continue putting up runs as they try to win this series. My hope all along was for Boston to be at least four games ahead of the Yankees before they face off at the end of next far, so good.