Game 87: Red Sox at Washington Nationals (July 3, 2018)

First of all, Happy Independence Day! While the Red Sox will be playing later today, I'd like to wish everyone a safe and fun fourth of July. The name of the game for me yesterday was relaxing. My wife and I ran some errands with the kids and then came back to our house and the comfort of air conditioning. It was so disgustingly hot and humid that all I wanted to do after dinner was to plop down on the couch and watch the Red Sox game which is exactly what I did. I think the Red Sox were excited to play on the fourth because they got the fireworks started a day early!

Eduardo Nunez got the party started when he hit a three-run bomb in the top of the second to instantly put the Red Sox up 3-0. The Red Sox wouldn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way, even with Brian Johnson pitching. Johnson was actually pretty good, pitching 4.2 innings (more on this in a bit) and only giving up two runs. Washington made it close in the fourth when Mark Reynolds and Tanner Roark hit RBI singles to cut it to 3-2, but they'd never get closer. The Sox blew it wide open with a six run fifth inning started by Brian Johnson getting on base with the first hit of his major league career. I will say that the first two games of this series have shown some good hitting from the pitchers on both sides. Between Porcello's bases-clearing double last night and the important hits by both pitchers in this game, it was almost enough to make me want to get rid of the DH in the AL. Almost. (For the record, I like it the way it is, with both leagues having slightly different rules). Back to the fifth inning, JD Martinez drove in Johnson and Mookie Betts with a single while new addition Steve Pearce (who came into the game in the second inning after Mitch Moreland had some back spasms) drove in a run with a single of his own. Xander Bogaerts provided the exclamation point on the inning with a three-run blast to center field. 9-2 Red Sox and it was smooth sailing from there. Even when Washington pushed a couple of runs across (on a Pedro Severino solo shot in the sixth and a Brian Goodwin solo shot in the ninth), it didn't matter. As if to prove the point, JD hit his 26th homer of the season, of the two-run variety, in the top of the ninth. He now leads the league in both home runs and RBI (71), all while hitting .325. The final score was 11-4 Red Sox and it never even felt that close.

Tanner Roark was in the tough position of taking one for the team for the Nats, who needed to rest their bullpen. Even though he was getting knocked around and gave up nine runs, he stayed out there and took his lumps giving his team seven innings of work. On the flip side, I'm not sure why Alex Cora felt the need to take Johnson out of the game with two outs in a seven run game. It robbed Johnson of the win and just seemed more than a little unnecessary. Conversely, I have to give Cora some credit because before the game started I was very critical of his lineup for this game, but they proved me wrong. While both teams ended the game with twelve hits, the Sox got the ones that did the most damage. The Yankees unfortunately also won, so the Sox lead in the division remained at a game. They go for the sweep of Washington this morning and I can't think of a more patriotic thing to watch today than a team from the birthplace of America playing our national pastime in the nation's capital. Go America and go Red Sox!