First things first, the Red Sox have got to stop making a habit out of these games. I know they’re 15-3 in extra inning games, but you have to attribute at least a handful of those, like last night, to luck. Imagine if they were only 10-8 in extras this year? That’s not bad but they would be in second place behind the Yankees right now. Honestly, I was lucky to be able to watch that whole game. Drew Pomeranz and Kevin Gausman really picked up the pace, and they’re the main reason this eleven inning game only took three hours and twenty-seven minutes. A good way to avoid these long games would be to have a game-changing power bat available. Hanley Ramirez was supposed to be that guy, Mookie Betts isn’t going to hit 31 ding dongs like he did last year, and David Ortiz is no longer here. Those were your three biggest power threats last year, and two-thirds of them have not lived up to the expectations they had going into the year. Bryce Brentz hit 31 HR with the PawSox this season, but he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster for whatever reason. What I think this all boils down to is the acquisition of a power bat this offseason. Giancarlo Stanton would be nice, but you’re not going to meet the Marlins asking price, hopefully. I’m really talking myself into JD Martinez of the Diamondbacks. He’s a free agent after this season, he has a history with Dave Dombrowski, and he has hit 40 home runs this year. Sure, he’s thirty and can probably get a deal worth more than $20 million a year, but the Red Sox are going to need a game changing type of bat, and he fits that need. I know I’m getting too far ahead of myself, but it’s something to think about.
Okay, I got that off my chest, let’s talk about the game that was played last night. Like I said above, Drew Pomeranz was matched up against Kevin Gausman in this one, two SEC guys. Gausman outpitched Pomeranz, but not by much. The lefty put up six and a third solid innings, scattering five hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over that span. He got hit pretty hard, but managed to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard with the help of his outfielders. In the third, Andrew Benintendi ended the inning by picking off old friend Manny Machado at the plate with this great throw:
Later on in the fifth, Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Chris Davis of a solo shot with this very casual catch:
I was hoping Mookie Betts would rob the Orioles of a run, since the other two outfielders made great plays. That didn’t happen though, and Pomeranz couldn’t pick up his 17th win of the year either, despite the great effort. It was surprising to see him come back out for the seventh, but I actually like how John Farrell only had him face Chris Davis, a lefty. He got Davis to fly out, thus ending his day on a positive note.
For the second night in a row, the bullpen was relied on heavily, and they came through yet again. Carson Smith, Addison Reed, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes combined to pitch nearly five innings of perfect baseball. No hits, no walks, nothing for the Orioles, a real shut down. It was a bit nerve-racking watching Road Matt Barnes try and close out the game, but he did it to perfection and picked up his first save of the season. With all the use the bullpen has been dealing with lately, the off day on Thursday will be a good opportunity for rest.
Offensively, Kevin Gausman held the Red Sox in check. It took until the fifth inning for them to get their first hit, a Rafael Devers single, and they could only reach base three other times while facing Gausman. Once he left though, more scoring chances came, but they couldn’t capitalize right away. A leadoff single from Sam Travis in the eighth turned to nothing, a one out double from Andrew Benintendi could not turn into a run, and a one out Rafael Devers single couldn’t be turned into a run. I forgot to mention this earlier, but Devers had a really rough night at third with his throwing error in the eleventh that could have led to the tying run scoring for the Orioles. Anyway, it wasn’t until the eleventh when the Red Sox finally capitalized on a scoring chance. A leadoff single from Brock Holt was cancelled out by JBJ grounding into a fielder’s choice, putting him at first with one out. After Xander Bogaerts advanced him to second, two straight walks loaded the bases. With Mitch Moreland at the plate, a wild pitch from Brad Brach allowed the runners to advance, scoring JBJ from third. Moreland grounded out after that and that was the inning.
The win marks five straight series wins, and keeps them three games above the Yankees. Chris Sale, who owns a 4.25 ERA since the start of August, gets the start in this pretty important series finale later tonight.
87 down, 7 to go.