#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.
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#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 (July 31) Everything works. It was clear today that this Red Sox team is capable of beating anyone, and doing so decisively. Now, the question is: how can we see this on a regular basis? Doug Fister had a fine game today, pitching seven shutout innings before breaking down in the 8th. Meanwhile Rafael Devers and newly acquired infielder Eduardo Núñez, along with veteran Mookie Betts, provided most of the firepower. In the 2nd inning, after Devers singled off Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger, and Christian Vazquez doubled, Mookie drove in 2 runs with a single, and Núñez drove him in with a double. In the 4th, after Mitch Moreland walked and Vazquez singled, hits by Betts and Núñez drove in 2 more runs. In the 7th, Núñez doubled again and scored on a Devers single to give Boston a 6-0 lead. In the end, Núñez went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles, and Devers went 4-for-4 with one double. Although nearing the magic 100 pitch count marker, Fister came out for the 8th inning and, after giving up a hit to Austin Jackson and getting 2 out, surrendered a 2 run blast to Bradley Zimmer, ending his night. Brandon Workman finished off the Indians. Boston beat Cleveland, 6-2, at Fenway Park. Record: 58-49. Game 107/55.
#RedSox Game Summary (July 30) Barnes burner. Matt Barnes was handed a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, but he could not hold it. As has been the case lately, the Sox scored early, and the starter (Drew Pomeranz) looked good, but the bullpen bailed. Boston started the scoring with 2 runs in the 2nd off Kansas City starter Jason Hammel on singles by Hanley Ramírez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, and Christian Vazquez. They picked up their 3rd on a 5th inning solo dinger by Rafael Devers; a line drive that just nicked the shelf atop the Green Monster. The Royals got one back in the 4th when Lorenzo Cain singled and scored on an Alcides Escobar double. Things were looking good until the top of the 8th, when Barnes came on. Then, a Bogaerts error allowed Lorenzo Cain to reach, and Eric Hosmer and Salvador Pérez singled to load the bases. Escobar then singled in two runs, and he and Perez moved to 2nd and 3rd on a throwing error by Mookie Betts. With the score now tied, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and nobody out, John Farrell had seen enough, and brought in lefty Robby Scott to face the left-handed hitting Alex Gordon. Sometimes that works out. This time it resulted in a 2 RBI triple. The Sox attempted a comeback in the 9th after Jackie Bradley, Jr. walked, Christian Vazquez singled with 2 out, and they executed a successful double steal off KC closer Kelvin Herrera, who then walked the hot-hitting Rafael Devers. A picture book ending? Nope. Mookie Betts flied out. Kansas City beat Boston, 5-3, at Fenway Park. Record: 57-49. Game 106/56.
#RedSox Game Summary (July 24) Got Nuthin’. The Red Sox were shut out tonight, and while that could be due to an excellent outing by Mariners’ starting pitcher James Paxton, it looked more like batters without confidence unable to connect. The Sox were unable to get a hit until Mookie Betts singled in the 6th. They had 4 hits in the game altogether, and failed to score. Eduardo Rodriguez showed flashes of his former brilliance, but struggled in the 2nd, when Kyle Seager hit a solo homer, and Ben Gamel tripled and scored on a fielder’s choice. With one on, Jean Segura doubled in Seattle’s third run. The Mariners got their 4th run when Gamel singled and scored on a double by Danny Valencia. This was not just an overpowering performance by Seattle pitching, but a weak series of plate appearances by the Sox. Maybe, in the spirit of Bull Durham, John Farrell needs to throw an armful of bats into the showers. If it were only so simple. Seattle beat Boston, 4-0, at Safeco Field. Record: 55-46. Game 101/61.
#RedSox Game Summary (July 21) Joonyah! Jackie Bradley, Jr. turned in yet a jaw-dropping catch in center; just another day at the office for JBJ, who also went 2-for-4 with a double, a RBI, and a run scored. Chris Sale had a fine start, going 6 scoreless innings while giving up 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 9, to pick up his 200th strikeout of the season. The only Angels runs came in the 7th when Martin Maldonado hit a solo dinger to left off reliever Kyle Martin, and in the 9th, when Maldonado walked off Matt Barnes, reached 2nd on defensive indifference, and scored on a single by Ben Revere. The Sox took the Angels out of this game early, with a 5 run first. Mookie Betts started things with a double off Los Angeles at Anaheim starter Ricky Nolasco, and scored on a single by Andrew Benintendi. Benny then scored on a single by Mitch Moreland, who reached 2nd on the throw, then got to 3rd on a single by Hanley Ramirez, and scored on a wild pitch. Then, Xander Bogaerts singled to drive in Moreland. JBJ’s double then plated the X-Man, for the 5th run. In the 4th, the Sox scored on a series of singles by JBJ, Brock Holt, and Betts. Cliff Pennington also doubled off Sales, but did not score. Boston beat Los Angeles at Anaheim, 6-2, at Angels Stadium. Record: 55-43. Game 98/64.
#RedSox Game Summary (July 20) Stumbling into a split. Red Sox starter Doug Fister struggled against the Toronto Blue Jays and a key misplay helped the Jays have a big inning, gaining them the series split. Toronto scored first, after Russell Martin doubled in the 1st and scored on a double by Josh Donaldson. In the 3rd, Fister walked two batters in a row, and after another out, a third, to load the bases for Steve Pearce. He popped up, and it looked like Fister was going to get out of the inning without damage, but the sun was shining directly in the eyes of Brock Holt, who was playing 2nd in place of Dustin Pedroia (Dustin was given a partial day off; he was the DH). Holt lost the ball, and 2 runs scored. After yet another walk, Ryan Goins drove in 2 more runs, for a 4 run Toronto inning. The Jays added to their lead with a solo jack by Justin Smoak in the 5th, and in the 6th, after reliever Fernando Abad walked 2 with one out, Ben Taylor came on to yield a single to Smoak, scoring another run. The Sox did not give up on this, however. They actually had the lead in the 2nd when Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon hit back-to-back doubles off Toronto starter Francisco Liriano, driving him from the game, to score one run, and 3 consecutive singles by Deven Marrero, Holt, and Mookie Betts scored 2 more, for a total of 3 (2 were charged to Liriano, and 1 to Dominic Leone, who relieved him). In the 7th, Pedey hit a 3 run smash over the Monster (La Luna!) to bring the Sox within 1 run (7-6). But in the 9th, Justin Smoak hit his 2nd homer of the game, a solo smash to left center off Brian Workman, to ice Toronto’s cake. The boys are still a little off-kilter following the All Star break. Toronto beat Boston, 8-6, at Fenway Park. Record: 54-43. Game 97/65.
#RedSox Game Summary (July 8) Cans of corn on Cobb. Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb is not an overpowering pitcher, and his stats are only average, but today he was dominant. Not a big strikeout guy, he was putting the Red Sox away on routine ground balls and cans of corn. But he gave up just 2 hits and 1 walk over 7 2/3rds scoreless innings while whiffing 3, and Alex Colomé’s late breaking sliders for the remaining four outs were enough to shut out Boston at the Trop. Rick Porcello actually had an excellent day himself, giving up just 1 run on 6 hits and no walks over 8 innings while striking out 7, but that one run was all the Rays would need. It came in the 2nd inning, when Steven Souza, Jr. singled to lead off, reached 2nd on a subsequent single, and third on a fielder’s choice. He scored on a sac fly by Jesus Sucre. Evan Longoria doubled in the game, and Mallex Smith tripled, but neither scored. Outstanding fielding plays by Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and Dustin Pedroia helped keep the Rays in check. Mitch Moreland also doubled in the game, off Colomė. Tampa Bay beat Boston, 1-0, at Tropicana Field. Record: 50-38. Game 88/74.