Game 98: Toronto Blue Jays at Red Sox (July 15, 2018)

Another hot and humid day, another day to stay inside the cool house and watch the Sox. I was able to get outside a little bit this morning when it was overcast and cool to help my son practice pitching. I just got a new catcher's mitt this past week after not having one for years and it has felt so good to help him with his pitching while having a proper mitt. I was a catcher all the years I played ball and it's felt so good getting back into it again. Once it got too hot, though, it was the perfect Sunday to run some errands and relax to watch this final game of the series before the All Star break.

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If there was one game I'd expect the Sox to lose, it would be this one. Brian Johnson returned from the DL to take the mound for Boston. I honestly wasn't expecting too much but will say that I was pleasantly surprised at what we got. He only went 4.2 innings and gave up two runs, but he did an adequate job in keeping the game close which is all you can ask for in a situation like this. Yesterday's hero Xander Bogaerts belted his 16th home run of the season, a solo shot, in the bottom of the first to give the Sox the early lead. Brock Holt followed up with a line drive RBI single to make it 2-0 and it looked like the Sox were on their way. The Jays got both runs back in the third on Teoscar Hernandez' two run homer but the Boston bullpen clamped down and kept Toronto off the board the rest of the way. In the fifth, Jackie Bradley doubled to drive in Sandy Leon and then Xander drove in another run (Bradley) on a fielder's choice. The Sox got some insurance in the sixth when Holt drove in another run with a single to right field. The 5-2 margin was plenty as five Red Sox pitchers out of the bullpen shut down Toronto culminating with Craig Kimbrel picking up his 30th save of the season.

At the plate, the Sox were actually outhit 8-6 in this game, but they made the ones they got count. Mookie Betts shockingly went hitless as did JD Martinez. Instead, the Sox got contributions from Xander, Holt, Leon, and Bradley; these four accounted for every Red Sox hit. While that may seem concerning, the way I look at it this team is so deep and talented that they can survive off days from the heavy lifters in the order. What is even more encouraging is that Jackie Bradley has been hitting great the last month or so and is now at .210 for the season. If he can keep this up and get his average up to around .230-.240 by the end of the season, this lineup will be truly fearsome.

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With the Yankees losing to Cleveland the Red Sox enter the All Star break having won 12 of 13 and with a 4.5 game lead in the AL East. They now have four days off the enjoy some rest and relaxation before starting the stretch run on Friday. Having played 98 games, they'll only have 64 left the rest of the way (and two-thirds of those will be at home). With a 68-30 record, the Sox could play .500 baseball the rest of the way and still finish with 100 wins; however, I dare you to find anyone who thinks they're only going to play .500 ball between now and October. For now, let's join the Sox in enjoying a break before the season rounds toward home. I'm planning on doing a first half recap in the next few days, so stay tuned for that as we bask in the glow of rooting for the best team in MLB.