Game 92: Texas Rangers at Red Sox (July 9, 2018)

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Other than some time at the batting cages with my oldest daughter after work last night, I took advantage of another free evening to relax and watch some baseball. My one concern heading into this game was that with a six game winning streak and back-to-back series sweeps on the road, the Red Sox might have a bit of a letdown and play down to the level of their competition in this game. Think of the classic NFL "trap game" and you'll understand my fears about this series opener against Texas. It's certainly what I would have expected from the 2016 or 2017 Red Sox, but this 2018 just feels different right now and they proved that to me yet again.

Steve Pearce has been one of the best midseason acquisitions the Sox have made in years and he continued to show his worth when he socked his first home run as a member of the team, a two-run shot in the bottom of the first to quickly get the team in the scoring column. That was really all that the team and Eduardo Rodriguez needed as they blanked the Rangers. JD Martinez wanted in on the fun, though, and clubbed his league leading 28th home run of the season with Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi on base. It was a nice punctuation to a dominating 5-0 Boston win. Rodriguez was good, not great, but enough to get the job done. As is his wont, he didn't even make it through six full innings (sadly, I think the days of starters routinely going 7 or 8 innings are gone for good) and wasn't particularly dominating. He only struck out five while walking three, but it was more than enough against Texas. Rodriguez has the same problem that Drew Pomeranz does, namely that they're both very inefficient and labor to only get through five or six innings while throwing a ton of pitches. I suppose that as long as they're effective and as long as the offense gives them support, it's not worth complaining about, but it sure is irritating to watch. The Sox had nine hits in this game, but eight of them came from the top four in the order, with Mookie, Benintendi, JD, and Pearce each going 2-4. Sandy Leon had the only other hit for the team. Speaking of Leon, his hot bat has come at the right time for the team, especially with the news that Christian Vazquez will be out 6-8 weeks after having surgery on his broken pinky finger. Knock on wood, but the Sox have been relatively immune from the injury bug this season, so hopefully the Vazquez injury won't be anything other than a small bump in the road for the rest of the season.

The Yankees split their doubleheader with the Orioles, so the Red Sox picked up a half game in their division lead and sit 2.5 games ahead. This win over Texas made it seven straight and pushed their MLB-best record to an incredible 63-29. It boggles the mind to think how many more wins they would have had they played in May at the same clip they did in April and June. Still, there's not much to complain about with this team right now. Dare I hope for a third series sweep in a row with these next two games against the Rangers? Hector Velazquez will be the next man up in the rotating fifth spot of the rotation, but he's been damn good this season; he's followed by Chris Sale in the series finale so it's a real possibility. One game at a time, though, right?