Game 158: Baltimore Orioles at Red Sox (September 26, 2018)

Originally scheduled for the day before, this game was postponed due to rain in Boston and ended up being rescheduled as the first game of a day/night doubleheader on Wednesday. In a way, it was a blessing for the Sox since it gave them an extra day off with another off day scheduled for Thursday. True, they'll have to play two games on Wednesday, but sandwiched between two off days doesn't seem too bad. David Price was scheduled to pitch the matinee after getting rained out Tuesday night and most likely enjoyed the extra day of rest. The sun was finally out in Boston and it looked to be a beautiful autumn day for baseball at Fenway Park as I listened on the radio in my office.

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With the first inning the Red Sox had, it seemed like this would be a laugher of a game. They batted through the order and put up five runs in a seemingly effortless manner. After Andrew Benintendi and JD Martinez got on base, Xander Bogaerts ripped a double into left field to bring them in for a quick 2-0 lead. Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Rafael Devers smoked a double of his own to clear the bases and make it 5-0 Sox. It looked like it was going to be a runaway rout, but Baltimore had a little something to say about that in the top of the second. First, Trey Mancini hit a solo homer off of Price. Okay, no big deal. But later in the inning Renato Nunez homered with a man on to cut the Boston lead to 5-3 and it looked like it was going to be one of those days where neither side could pitch to save their souls. Price threw a lot of pitches in the second and at one point had the bases loaded with only one out, but he worked out of the jam to prevent any more scoring for the O's. JD crushed his 42nd homer of the season in the fourth with Mookie Betts and Benintendi aboard to push the lead to 8-3 and from there, the rout was well and truly on. In the fifth, the severely slumping Ian Kinsler smacked a double to left field to drive in Mitch Moreland and was subsequently driven in by a Devers RBI single. In the sixth inning Xander crushed a homer of his own (his 22nd) with JD on base to make it 12-3 Boston, but incredibly they weren't done yet. Devers hit a solo homer in the seventh for his 20th on the season and was followed by Blake Swihart doing the same. Then, Benintendi doubled in Tzu-Wei Lin and when the dust settled, it was 15-3. At that point I figured they'd just cruise through the final two innings in order to end the game and get ready for the nightcap, but they had other ideas. Devers clubbed home run number twenty-one in the eighth while Lin doubled later in the inning to drive two more runs in. The scoring finally ended when Benintendi singled to drive Lin in. Not even the Red Sox bullpen could blow that lead as the team absolutely pummeled the Orioles to the tune of 19-3. Everyone got in on the act, but it was nice to see Benintendi break out and get back on track after a power outage that goes back to the All Star break (although he's still only hit two homers since then). The real star was Devers who went 4-5 with six RBI, two runs scored, and two home runs. Price wasn't at his best but was more than adequate to get the job done, striking out six (but walking three) and giving up those two home runs (and three earned runs total) in his five innings of work.

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Besides going into the record books as the team's 107th win of the season, the big milestone came when Mookie stole second base in the second inning to earn his 30th theft and become only the second Red Sox player in history to have a 30/30 season (Jacoby Ellsbury being the other one, in 2011). It's hard to see how he won't win the American League MVP award this season and the scary thing is that his numbers could be even better if he wasn't hitting leadoff; it boggles the mind. Chris Sale will go in the nightcap and hopefully be allowed to pitch a full game (which these days means 5-7 innings) in his final tune up before the ALDS starts next week.  I enjoyed the day game on the radio and plan to relax on the couch and watch the nightcap...two games in a day, does it get any better? Count me as among those old enough to remember scheduled doubleheaders and as someone who wishes Major League Baseball would have more of them throughout the season. Anyway, on to the second game...