Game 135: Red Sox at Chicago White Sox (August 30, 2018)

"Something is wrong with this team right now. There, I said it, and if you're a fan who watches the games with an objective eye then you know that I'm right. Ever since they went on that tear in July and early August the Red Sox have been slumping and playing incredibly uneven baseball." That was how I formulated the introduction to this recap in my head as I watched the first few innings of the game, but as they've done so many times this season the Red Sox completely flipped the script as the it went on and I had to revise what I was going to write. As you'll see, it was a tale of early innings, late innings, and the contrasting extremes between them.

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That's not to say, though, that the White Sox were pushovers. For a team in third place (at game time) in what's probably the worst division in all of baseball, they've got a lot of talent. Along with Oakland they're the only team with a winning record against Boston this season and when they jumped all over Rick Porcello in the early innings, it looked like it was going to be another disappointing game for the Sox. Avisail Garcia hit a two run homer in the first and Chicago got another run that inning when Matt Davidson singled in Daniel Palka to stake the other Sox to a quick 3-0 lead. Porcello surrendered another run in the second when Garcia's sacrifice fly pushed Yolmer Sanchez across. It was 4-0 White Sox and the Red Sox just looked lifeless. Then, as on the night before, the seventh inning happened. Blake Swihart got things started with an RBI single to drive in Brock Holt which was followed by Jackie Bradley's sac fly to cut the deficit in half. Mookie Betts hit his 29th home run of the season, of the two run variety, to tie the game and stun Chicago. Then, with the score knotted at four in the ninth inning, Boston exploded to put the game away for good. Bradley (who has been absolutely red hot since the All Star break) singled to drive in Ian Kinsler and was followed by Andrew Benintendi who did the same to drive in Swihart. JD Martinez finished things off when he hit a three run homer (number 39 for him) to put the game out of reach. Chicago went quietly in the bottom of the ninth and the Red Sox got a thrilling 9-4 win. Combined with the Yankees loss against the Tigers (in New York!), Boston's lead in the division grew to 8.5 games.

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Even though Boston was outhit 10-9, they made every single one of those hits hurt. Kinsler had himself a night, going 3-4 with two runs scored while Mookie and Bradley each drove in two runs and JD drove in three. As for Porcello, he didn't do much to quell the concerns over his recent outings. He only went five innings (facing one batter in the sixth) and gave up the four early runs on eight hits. While he did strike out seven, he also walked three and just didn't look sharp. He's one of those guys where if he's missing his locations just a little bit, he gets hit hard. That was the case in this one until he settled down. The bullpen managed to keep the White Sox off the board and only surrendered two hits over the final four innings (although was anyone else as worried as I was to see Heath Hembree out there in the ninth? No lead, even five runs, is safe from him). Riding a three game winning streak, Boston will look to Nathan Eovaldi to get back on track in the second game of the series Friday night. He'll be up against former Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech (who went over to Chicago in the Chris Sale trade). It'll be a good chance for Sox fans to see Kopech and assess whether or not we got the better end of the Sale deal (although final judgment can't be made until we see what the kid becomes in a few years). In the meantime, the rest of the series should be interesting and hard fought before the stretch run kicks into gear next week.