Game 148: New York Mets at Red Sox (September 14, 2018)

You would think that fans of a team that has won over 100 games this season wouldn't have much to complain about, but then again we're Red Sox fans. There is one thing that no fan of this team has felt good about all season and that's the bullpen. In fact, as the season has gone on we've felt worse and worse about the relief corps and with good reason. Their inconsistency and inability to hold on to leads as they bridge from the starting pitchers to Craig Kimbrel has made many games this season more difficult than they needed to be; it's also outright lost more games than it should have. With the news a few hours before game time that spot starter Hector Velazquez was going to be scratched (due to illness) and replaced by recent call-up William Cuevas, that meant this opening game against the Mets would be a bullpen game and a chance for Alex Cora to see what he had (or didn't have) in preparation for setting the postseason rosters. The results were predictably ugly.

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Of just as much concern as the bullpen has been the sudden erratic performance of the Red Sox offense. Over the last month or so they just haven't looked as sharp and consistent as they had all season. That was the case again on Friday night as this game was all Mets and in particular, all Jay Bruce. He hit an RBI double in the first inning to bring in the first Mets run and then he clubbed a three-run homer in the third to make it 4-0. That home run in the third was off of recent call-up Robby Scott who should promptly be sent back down to the minors never to be seen again (I haven't been a fan of his at all over the last few years). In the fourth, Brian Johnson gave up a solo homer to Jeff McNeil and then Tyler Thornburg completely imploded in the eighth when he gave up three runs. First, Austin Jackson went deep with a two-run homer and then Amed Rosario smacked a solo shot to finish the scoring. The Red Sox went down in ugly fashion 8-0 and were outhit 9-4. They couldn't get anything going at the plate against Noah Syndergaard who pitched seven solid innings and only gave up three hits while striking out six and walking three. Meanwhile, the Red Sox pitching was just putrid. When the only reliever who didn't give up any runs was Drew Pomeranz, you know you had a bad night. Thornburg was the worst of a rotten bunch and I think we can now say with 100% confidence that we completely and utterly got swindled on that trade. Thornburg has been awful this season after finally coming back from injury while Travis Shaw hit 31 homers last year, has hit 29 so far this year, and is playing third base (a huge area of need with Rafael Devers' growing pains) for a playoff team in Milwaukee. I"m sure if Dave Dombrowski had a do-over he wouldn't make that trade...I know I wouldn't. Of equal concern is the Sox continued inconsistency at the plate. With as good as the pitching is in October, the Sox won't be able to afford offensive lulls in a short series the way they've been able to weather them over the course of a long regular season.

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Things should get back to normal for game two of this series on Saturday when Rick Porcello gets the ball for the Red Sox. Hopefully he can continue to try and regain his form from the first half of the season because with this bullpen, Boston will need all of their starters to be at their best and go deep into games once it's playoff time. I realize this series against the Mets doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things but it would be nice for the Sox to take care of business so they can have good showings against the Yankees and Indians next week. Those are two teams they will face in the postseason (depending on how far they get) and I'm a big believer in momentum carrying over into the postseason. With the way John Farrell had this team backing into October the last two seasons, I'd like to see something different this year. (I just realized I made it to the end of an entire interleague recap without saying how much I hate interleague play! But I just did...and I still do.)

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