#RedSox Game Summary (August 19) A momentary loss of focus. That’s all it takes. And when one of the premier pitchers in baseball, who makes his living with his fastball, loses focus for even a moment, bad things can happen. For Chris Sale, that moment came in the 2nd inning, twice; once when he gave up a ground-rule double (that Eck rightly pointed out would have been a “johnson” in Yankee Stadium) to the Yankees’ Didi Gregorius, then hit Todd Frazier and yielded a 3 run bomb to Tyler Austin. He got himself together after that, but it was too late for the Red Sox. The Sox got 2 runs back in the 5th when a walk of Xander Bogaerts by New York starter CC Sabathia was followed by sharply hits singles from Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley, Jr. But the Yanks scored again in the 6th on another homer off Sale, this one a solo job by Frazier. A solo dinger by Devers off Yankee reliever Adam Warren cut the Yankee lead to 1. The Sox threatened in the 8th, when Andrew Benintendi struck out but reached first on a wild pitch by reliever David Robinson, who subsequently gave up a double to Hanley Ramirez and intentionally walked Mitch Moreland to load the bases with 2 out. But the Sox did not score. Mookie Betts also doubled for Boston, as did Austin for New York. New York beat Boston, 4-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 70-52. Game 122/30.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 18) A game in three acts. The Bronx Bombers are back, and while I doubt they will get to the ALCS this year, they are well poised for strong runs in coming seasons. They have a fearsome lineup that can be compared to the famed Murderers’ Row of ages past, anchored by Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez. The power of this team contributed to the drama of game, which can be broken out into 3 acts. Act I: In the first 5 innings, Boston starter Drew Pomeranz and Brandon Workman kept the Yanks off the board (Pomeranz had to leave the game in the 4th inning, suffering from back spasms). Meanwhile, the Sox methodically built up a 3-0 lead on the strength of a 2nd inning double by Xander Bogaerts off Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery, followed by a 2 run bomb by Rafael Devers, followed by a 5th inning solo dinger by Christian Vázquez. Act II: Matt Barnes relieved Workman in the 6th, and immediately got into deep trouble. He gave up a 2 run blast over everything by Todd Frazier, and then 2 quick singles with 2 out ended his night. On came Joe Kelly. Kelly has a 104 MPH fastball, but has not demonstrated good control since he came off the DL about a week back. That issue was immediately on display when he hit Aaron Hicks. He got out of that inning, but in the 7th, Gary Sánchez smacked a solo round-tripper to tie the score at 3. After a single and a walk, Kelly managed to whiff Austin Romine, and his evening was over. Heath Hembree then walked Todd Frazier to load the bases, then promptly unloaded them by giving up a 2 RBI single to Ronald Torreyes. Robby Scott then reloaded the bases by walking Brett Gardner, and hit Aaron Hicks to force in another run. Yankees lead, 6-3. Act III: New York reliever Chad Green gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases in the 7th. Mookie Betts’s sac fly then cut the lead to 2. Andrew Benintendi then drove in a run. Hanley Ramirez then walked to load the bases for Mitch Moreland, who was pinch hitting (he had been platooned out due to the lefty starter). Mitch hit a 2 RBI single to give the Sox the lead back. Then, just for good measure, in the 8th Jackie Bradley, Jr. hit a 2 RBI single to ice the game for Boston. Craig Kimbrel did the rest. Boston beat New York, 9-6, at Fenway Park. Record: 70-51. Game 121/41.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 16) A sure Betts. This was as hard-fought game, in which the Cards grabbed an early lead and held on until the 9th, when Mookie Betts finished things off with a wall-ball walk-off. Eduardo Rodríguez struggled in this one, and things came apart for him in the 2nd, when Yadier Molina doubled to lead off the inning, and after a walk, scored on a Kolten Wong single. A second run scored on a Luke Voit double, and Wong scored on a passed ball by Christian Vázquez. Vázquez then muffed a catch on a Matt Carpenter single, to allow the fourth St. Louis run. Eduardo settled down after that, and provided 3 1/3rd scoreless innings before leaving the game. The Sox scored 2 runs in the 3rd off Cardinal starter Lance Lynn on 2 singles and a walk, aided by a Lynn throwing error, to make the score respectable. Things remained the same, 4-2 St. Louis, until the bottom of the 9th, when Xander Bogaerts homered off reliever Trevor Rosenthal to cut the Cardinal lead to 1. After he walked Mitch Moreland, Rosenthal was done, and on came Zach Duke, who walked Jackie Bradley, Jr. with 1 out. Then, another pitching change as John Brebbia came on to face Eduardo Núñez. Some sort of confusion about a called time-out resulted in a major row between St. Louis Mike Matheny and home plate umpire Chris Segal, which ended with Matheny being given the heave-ho. Núñez popped out, but Mookie hit a game-winning double off the left field wall to end the game. Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong also doubled for the Cards, and Rafael Devers doubled for the Sox. Boston beat St. Louis, 5-4, in interleague play at Fenway Park. Record: 69-51. Game 120/42.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 15) Triple threat. Move over, “Tinker to Evers to Chance”, and make way for “Devers to Núñez to Moreland”. They completed a rare triple play, only the 714th in the 141 year history of the major leagues. The Sox also had two double plays, all of which punctuated an excellent game in the field against the St. Louis Cardinals. They were no slouches at the plate either, going 15-for-38 with two doubles. For Boston starter Rick Porcello, all that support was most welcome, as he was dominant in the early innings, but seemed to lose velocity and control as the game wore on, ultimately giving up 3 runs in the 6th inning. Those runs came on a double by Dexter Fowler and 3 singles. Joe Kelly coughed up a 4th run in the 8th when Luke Voit doubled and scored on a Paul DeJong single. The Sox opened the scoring in the 1st when 3 successive singles plated Andrew Benintendi. The 5th inning must have been one of those moments when Cards starter Mike Leake said to himself, “Mom always wanted me to be an accountant.” It was a cavalcade of 5 hits, including a Hanley Ramírez double, a HBP, and an intentional walk, to yield 5 runs, and he left the game on the hook for 3 more. Sandy León took care of 2 of those with a 2 RBI double off reliever Matt Bowman, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. drove in the third. Bowman then gave up a run of his own when Eduardo Núñez drove in León with a single. The Sox got one more in the 6th when a succession of singles loaded the bases for JBJ, and reliever Brett Cecil walked him to force in a run. They’re looking good at the plate and in the field, they’re smiling, and they’ve got some swagger. These Red Sox are now officially on a roll. Boston beat St. Louis, 10-4, in interleague play at Fenway Park. Record: 68-51. Game 119/43.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 14) Fister cuffed. Doug Fister was not on top of his game vs. the Cleveland Indians today, and got hammered. In the 2nd inning, he gave up 2 walks and 2 hits for one run, and then, with the bases loaded, gave up a 2 RBI single to Francisco Lindor. After a couple of scoreless innings, he surrendered a double to José Ramírez, followed by a monster shot by Edwin Encarnación, for a total of 5 earned runs, after which he departed, thankfully. Boston took 3 runs back on a succession of solo home runs off Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings including 2 by wunderkind Rafael Devers, and one by Andrew Benintendi. In the 6th came the back-breaker: José Ramírez reached on an error by Devers, and then Edwin Encarnacion blasted a dinger over the Monster. Despite doubles by Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland, the Sox were unable to respond effectively against Cleveland pitching. Cleveland beat Boston, 7-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 67-51. Game 118/44.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 13) The rivalry is back. C’mon. Admit it. You miss those white knuckle moments: Red Sox vs. Yankees, everything on the line. We’re not quite there yet, but close. New York has a fine team, and once those guys get a little more experience, they are going to be very scary. Even in this game, the Sox had all they could handle. Boston ace and dead-lock for the Cy Young Award Chris Sale was fantastic in this game, going 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks, with 12 strikeouts. That one run came in the 5th inning, when Mookie Betts, uncharacteristically, muffed a fly ball near the right field fence. It was called a hit, but really, he should have had it. It ended up as a triple, which allowed Chase Headley, who singled, to score. Boston scored off Yankee starter Jordan Montgomery (who also had a fine game) in the top of the 5th when Brock Holt walked, reached 2nd on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Jackie Bradley, Jr. After Sales was done, Matt Barnes came on in the 8th, and after getting the first man out, allowed a hit and 2 walks to load the bases for Todd Frazier, whose sac fly untied the game, 2-1. In the 9th, it looked like Aroldis Chapman, whose pitchers were AVERAGING over 100 MPH, was going to dispatch the Sox fairly quickly, but no one told that to rookie Rafael Devers, whose solo bomb to left center tied the score. In the bottom of the 9th, Addison Reed walked the leadoff man, but after a sacrifice bunt moved him to 2nd, Reed got a ground out off our old friend Jacoby Ellsbury, and Craig Kimbrel came on to whiff Brett Gardner. In the 10th, Chapman, still on, and now (technically) hitting since his DH (Gary Sánchez) assumed a fielding position (catcher) hit JBJ, walked Eduardo Núñez, and walked Betts to load the bases for Andrew Benintendi who, of course, singled in what would prove to be the winning run. In the bottom of the 10th, Kimbrel dispatched the Yanks in order to pick up the win. Boston beat New York, 3-2 in 10 innings, at Yankee Stadium. Record: 67-50. Game 117/45.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 12) O rare Ben’s johnsons! (Apologies to English lit majors everywhere) Andrew “Benny” Benintendi accomplished an unusual feat in today’s game, hitting 3 run homers (which Dennis Eckersley likes to call “johnsons”) in two consecutive at-bats, powering the Red Sox to a big win over the Yankees. Sox starter Drew Pomeranz struggled in the first inning against New York, giving up a 2 run jack to Gary Sanchez (it was one of those weak fly balls that just barely made it past the corner of the short porch in right field) to put the Sox in an early hole. He settled down after that, with just one other truly rough patch coming in the 4th, when he gave up 2 singles and a walk to load the bases, allowing one run to score on a fielder’s choice. Pomeranz finished with 3 runs on his record off 7 hits and 2 walks with 5 Ks over 6 2/3rds innings. For the Sox, the fun started in the 3rd when, after Yankee starter Luis Severino walked two with one out, Eduardo Núñez reached base on a throwing error by Todd Frazier to load them up for Mookie Betts, whose line drive to left plated 2 runs. Then came Benny’s first blast, to make it a 5 run inning. In the 5th, after a single by Núñez and double by Betts, Benny did it again. But the Sox weren’t done scoring yet. Mitch Moreland doubled, and an error by Didi Gregorius made it 1st and 3rd for Rafael Devers, who doubled in 2 more. In the 9th, Boston reliever Robby Scott decided to make things a little more interesting by serving up solo home run balls to Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury in succession. But as Craig Kimbrel began warming in the ‘pen, he settled down and got 3 outs in succession to end the game. Boston beat New York, 10-5, at Yankee Stadium. Record: 66-50. Game 116/46.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 11) The running of the bulls. The Boston bullpen has been very reliable in shutting down opponents once the Red Sox have a lead. Not this time. The Sox jumped out to an early lead when Hanley Ramirez hit a 2 run jack off Yankee starter Jaime García, and Andrew Benintendi followed with a solo dinger in the 5th. Boston starter Eduardo Rodríguez was excellent, giving up 2 hits and 2 walks, with 7 whiffs over 6 shutout innings, and despite a lead-off walk, Matt Barnes blanked the New Yorkers in the 7th. But then… trouble. After hitting Brett Gardner with a pitch, Boston reliever Addison Reed seemed to have lost his nerve, and after working Aaron Hicks to a full count, threw a weak-ass slider that resulted in a 2 run bomb. Then, after giving up a single to Gary Sanchez, he walked Aaron Judge, to end his night. On came Joe Kelly. Salvation, right? Not so fast. Kelly gave up 2 consecutive singles to Didi Gregorius and Todd Frazier, tying the game and leaving the bases still loaded with nobody out. A sac fly scored Gregorius with the go-ahead run, and another sac fly produced an insurance run. New York 5, Boston 3. In the 9th, Aroldis Chapman walked Jackie Bradley, Jr., Eduardo Núñez, and Mookie Betts, in a row, to load the bases with nobody out. A golden opportunity. Only when Andrew Benintendi flied out to left and JBJ scored on the sacrifice, for some inconceivable reason, Núñez attempted to reach 3rd (on a play from left? Really?), and was cut down. Mitch Moreland then flied out, to end the game. New York beat Boston, 5-4, at Yankee Stadium. Record: 65-50. Game 115/47.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 9) Thank you, thank you very much. Sox fans would like to express their appreciation to the Tampa Bay Rays for all the gift runs and scoring opportunities set up by the 2 errors, 2 wild pitches, and passed ball in this game. Not that the Sox didn’t make enough noise to win anyway, but those blunders sure took the pressure off. This was not a heavy hitting game for Boston, though Andrew “Benny” Benintendi went 3-for-5 with a double, Brock Holt also doubled, and Eduardo Núñez provided a couple of clutch hits. Benny drew first blood with his double, scoring on a fielding error by Rays starter Jake Odirizzi. The 5th was the big inning for Boston, as four hits, two intentional walks, a passed ball, and a wild pitch all contributed to a 5 run explosion. In the 8th, Holt’s double set up a score on a throwing error by Tampa Bay first baseman Trevor Plouffe. Sandy Leone, who had reached on that error, scored on a wild pitch by Rays reliever Sergio Romo. Rick Porcello had a solid start, with his only runs yielded in solo jacks by Adeiny Hechavarria and Brad Miller in the 6th inning. In the end, Rick went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, with 7 Ks. He also had an immaculate inning in the 5th (3 consecutive strikeouts on just 9 pitches total). This game seems to show that when things are going well, they tend to go even better. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 8-2, at Tropicana Field. Record: 65-49. Game 114/48.
#RedSox Game Summary (August 8) Low priced Sale. Chris Sale was not given much to work with, but he didn’t need much, as he blanked the Rays, and his shutout work was completed by Craig Kimbrel. Sale went 8 shutout innings, giving up just 2 hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts. The first Boston run came in the 4th when Rays starter Austin Pruitt walked Dustin Pedroia. He reached 2nd on an Andrew Benintendi single, got to 3rd on a Mookie Betts fielder’s choice, and scored on another fielder’s choice on Rafael Devers. The second came in the 9th on a series of singles by Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Boston beat Tampa Bay, 2-0, at Tropicana Field. Record: 64-49. Game 113/49.