July 3, 2018

G87: Red Sox 11, Nationals 4

Red Sox   - 030 060 002 - 11 12  0
Nationals - 000 201 001 -  4 12  0
Xander Bogaerts's three-run homer to center capped a six-run fifth inning and increased Boston's lead to 9-2. From there, it was smooth sailing to the Red Sox's 58th victory of the season.

J.D. Martinez drove in four runs with a single and his 26th home run of the year. His 71 RBI are easily the most in the majors (as I type this, Cincinnati's Eugenio Suarez has 63). Eduardo Nunez got the scoring started with a three-run dong.

Nationals starter Tanner Roark (7-10-9-2-4, 98) stayed in the game a bit longer than expected, presumably to avoid using an overworked bullpen for an additional inning or two. Roark faced eight more batters and recorded seven more outs than Red Sox starter Brian Johnson (4.2-8-2-2-2, 77).

Johnson looked pretty good for the first three innings. He pitched out of a 1st-and-2nd-no-out jam in the first, getting two popups and a strikeout. Sandy Leon helped out in the second by gunning down speedy Michael Taylor in his attempt to steal second. Johnson retired the Nats in order in the third.

Roark dispatched the Red Sox on seven pitches in the first, but Mitch Moreland singled to start the second. Bogaerts singled to right and Rafael Devers grounded into a force play. With runners on first and third, Nunez took a strike, then belted his sixth home run of the year to deep left-center. (Moreland left the game after this inning because of back spasms.)

Washington cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth. Bryce Harper doubled off the wall in right. Martinez twisted himself around as he went back, but it was hard to say if he would have had a shot at catching it anyway. Mark Reynolds's one-out single scored Harper. Reynolds moved to second on Taylor's single, took third on a fly to center, and came home on Roark's single to left.

Johnson got his first major league hit in the fifth, singling with one out. He was the first of seven consecutive Boston batters to reach base. Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi both singled to left, loading the bases. Roark threw inside to Martinez for ball 1 and then tried to throw another one. That pitched stayed over the plate and Martinez knocked it into left for two runs.

Steve Pearce, who had replaced Moreland and doubled in the fourth, lined a single towards the right field corner for another run. Bogaerts then crushed a 2-2 pitch to dead center. Through all of this, the Nationals' bullpen was a ghost town. Only after Roark walked Devers, the eighth batter of the inning, did the Nats dugout get on the phone to the pen. Someone may have thrown a few pitches, but he sat back down when Nunez, who had ended the fourth by hitting into a double play, ended the fifth by hitting into a double play. (Roark ended up pitching two more innings, retiring six straight batters.)

Johnson allowed a single and a walk in the fifth and was pulled after getting the second out. (There were two men on base, but Boston led 9-2 and Johnson (at 77 pitches) needed only one more out to qualify for a win. Alex Cora did not care.) Heath Hembree gave up a single, but left the bases loaded when he fanned Taylor. Pedro Severino homered off Hembree in the sixth and Brian Goodwin went deep off Michael Cuevas in the ninth.

The Red Sox had a double and two walks in the eighth, but hit into their third double play of the night, and did not score. In the ninth, Martinez homered to deep left with Benintendi on first.

AL East: The Yankees led 6-0 after four innings. Atlanta sent Luis Severino to the showers in the fifth, but New York held on 8-5.

NESN: Dave O'Brien recited a bizarre factoid when Betts batted in the fifth. It came from the Red Sox Game Notes, but I'm blaming OB because (a) he put it on the air and (b) he should know better about what qualifies as something worth mentioning and what is nonsense. Last night's game was the seventh game of Betts's career in which he had a home run and an outfield assist. Elias says Betts is tied with George Springer and Starling Marte for the most such games since the start of 2015.

Has counting games with a home run and an outfield assist ever been a thing? (No.) Will it ever - as in until the absolute end of time, after the sun had burned out and the universe shrinks back into pre-Big Bang nothingness - ever become a thing? (No.)
Brian Johnson / Tanner Roark
Betts, CF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Leon, C
Johnson, P
(Reminder: Tomorrow's game starts at 11 AM.)

The Red Sox went 17-10 in June. Matthew Kory of The Athletic writes that this team "might be one of the best Boston has seen in half a century, if not longer". They are on pace to win 107 games.
That would be more than any other Sox team has ever won, as the 1912 team currently holds the high mark with 105 wins. It is both amazing and preposterous that this Red Sox team is this good and yet isn't running away with the division. ...

The Sox were good at everything [in June]. They finished seventh in baseball in runs scored and slugging percentage, fifth in batting average and on-base percentage, sixth in ERA, fifth in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and sixth in strikeout percentage. ...

After three games in Washington, the Red Sox don't face a team with a winning record again until July 30 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. Boston plays 20 straight games against sub-.500 teams, including six against the Royals and Orioles who are on pace to lose 113 and 115 games, respectively.
Kory's lengthy summation also focuses on individual performances. Jen McCaffrey writes that manager Alex Cora has a picture from every Red Sox win this season taped to his office wall. Jon Sciambi tweeted a recent picture of Cora's gallery.

The Lowell Spinners (one of the Red Sox's Class A teams) have apologized for what "an awkward, and what some considered offensive, rendition of the Canadian national anthem" on Sunday. When the scheduled anthem singer canceled at the last minute, a member of the Spinners' staff volunteered. However, his inexperience, coupled with an audio delay between the microphone and the speakers resulted in a less-than-perfect performance (of which I can find no footage). The Spinners stated its promotion "was intended to celebrate Canada Day and show Canadian culture in a positive light, not to mock the great nation of Canada or anyone of Canadian descent."

On behalf of Canada, I accept this apology. 🇨🇦

AL East: Atlanta/MFY, 7 PM. The Red Sox are 1 GA. (The Yankees lost in 11 innings last night when The Face of Baseball™ botched a catch at the wall. "Felt it in my glove, didn't go in, they got two runs." Lurch muffed a similar attempt on Rafael Devers's fly ball on Saturday.)

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