Game 104: Minnesota Twins at Red Sox (July 26, 2018)

I'm just going to cut to the chase and say that this was a bad loss for the Red Sox. The first game of a homestand against a bad team and not only did they lose, but they lost in a complete offensive power outage. Even worse, it was on a night where they were actually getting a good outing from Brian Johnson. I know it was only one game and the Sox are still in great shape, but it was also a microcosm of valid concerns (mainly the bullpen) that could continue to hurt this team come the postseason. After a long, tiring day at work and coaching my son's practice for a couple of hours, the last thing I needed was the utter aggravation of a game like this, but as the Rolling Stones sang "you can't always get what you want."

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As I said, Johnson started in this one and he did a fine job. 5.2 innings pitched, no runs, five strikeouts, and three walks...that's a better line than anything Pomeranz has given us this season and completely acceptable for a start out of the fifth rotation spot. However, the offense only gave him one run of support which came when Blake Swihart scored on a fielder's choice hit by Mookie Betts. That single run was all the Sox could muster the entire night and I tweeted out once Heath Hembree came on in relief in the sixth inning that I had a bad feeling that the bullpen would blow the lead. I'm sorry to say that I was right once again. Robbie Grossman scored on a fielder's choice to tie the game in the seventh and then in the eighth Mitch Garver drove in the winning run with a double to left field off of Matt Barnes. The Sox threatened in the bottom of the ninth by loading the bases with two outs but Jackie Bradley couldn't deliver at the plate (although he made a fantastic defensive play in the first inning) as he struck out to end the game. With that, the Sox went down meekly with a 2-1 loss.

On the other side, Kyle Gibson completely shut the Red Sox down. He went eight innings and only gave up for hits and the single run while striking out seven and walking two. He wasn't throwing heat, but his off-speed stuff and his slider just kept the Sox off balance and out of sorts all night. It got more frustrating as the game went on, but sometimes the other team just has your number regardless of how good or bad they are and that was the case with the Twins in this game. Boston was outhit 8-5 and even the hits they had were nothing special. Even their one run was scored on a fielder's choice when Mookie hit into a double play. As I'm sure those of you who read my posts regularly are tired of hearing, I always say that if your pitcher is only giving up one or two runs, you'd damn well better win that game. All you can do is tip your cap to Minnesota, forget about this one, and move on to the next game. Chris Sale will be taking the mound in game two so the Sox should be set up to bounce back with a win as long as they can score some runs.

With the Yankees winning, the Boston lead in the AL East was cut down to 4.5 games. What makes a night like this really frustrating is that with the Yankees scuffling , the Sox were primed to really bury New York deeper in the division, but they haven't been able to capitalize and are letting them hang around. The Sox have played .500 ball since the All Star break (3-3) and while there's still a lot of the season left to play, the loss of momentum that I was afraid of due to that layoff is starting to be a bit of a concern. As yet another one of my old baseball mantras goes, you have to beat up on the bad teams and there have been spells this season when the Sox haven't done that. They did get a bit of a break (no pun intended, I swear) when Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch last night and suffered a broken wrist. He's out for at least three weeks (and I've read some reports that say for the rest of the season), so even though I hate to see guys get hurt, that will definitely benefit the Red Sox. Judge is actually one of the few players on the Yankees who I like and it's always exciting to watch him play, but anything that hurts the Yankees is fine with me. Now we just have to see if Boston can take advantage of it.