May 11, 2017

G34: Red Sox 4, Brewers 1

Red Sox - 100 000 003 - 4  8  0
Brewers - 000 001 000 - 1  5  2
The Red Sox had squandered numerous scoring opportunities on both Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. Over the two games (nine innings last night and the first eight today), Boston was 3-for-23 with RATS.) They had left the bases loaded in both the second and eighth innings before Mookie Betts, who doubled and scored Boston's first run, crushed a three-run homer in the top of the ninth, providing a huge wave of relief. And Craig Kimbrel showed just how fucking filthy he is right now, striking out two in the eighth (ending the Brewers' threat with the potential go-ahead run on third) and fanning Milwaukee's 3-4-5 hitters in the ninth on nine pitches.

Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3-1-0-5, 87) was superb. He allowed a one-out double to Keon Broxton in the first inning, but after Christian Vazquez erased Broxton on an attempted steal of third, Rodriguez retired the next 13 batters (with only three balls leaving the infield). Manny Pina singled to open the sixth and scored on Jonathan Villar's double into the left field corner.

With the game tied 1-1, Manager John Farrell had a tough decision in the top of the seventh. Josh Rutledge singled and the pitcher's spot was up with one out. Rodriguez had looked bad trying to bunt in the second, so Farrell sent up Chris Young as a pinch-hitter, ending Rodriguez's day at only 87 pitches. (Oh, how we love playing baseball by two sets of rules!) Home plate umpire Ben May ruled that Young was hit by Jimmy Nelson's 1-0 pitch, but after the Brewers challenged, it was overturned, as the ball had actually hit the knob of the bat. Young eventually struck out and, after a pitching change, so did Betts. (Mookie reached base in his other four plate appearances, however, walking in both the second and fifth.)

Joe Kelly allowed a double to deep left to Travis Shaw in the bottom of the seventh, before striking out Domingo Santana on three pitches for the second out. Jesus Aguilar smoked a hard grounder to third that Rutledge made a fantastic back-hand pick of, saving a run, and throwing to first to end the inning.

After leaving the bases loaded in the second, the Red Sox could not advance a runner past first for the next five innings. Corey Knebel, who finished the seventh in relief of Nelson (6.2-4-1-4-8, 106), fell behind Dustin Pedroia 3-1 before FY smoked a double to right-center. Knebel's 1-1 pitch to Xander Bogaerts got away from Pina, but Pedroia did not get a good look at the ball and by the time he did, he wisely decided to stay put. Bogaerts singled through the infield into left and Pedroia (who obviously would have scored from third) could advance only one base. During Andrew Benintendi's at-bat, Bogaerts stole second. Benintendi popped out to second. Knebel then walked Mitch Moreland, loading the bases. Knebel kept all of his pitches to Jackie Bradley up, between the belt and the chest. Bradley was ahead in the count 3-1, but then swung and missed twice. Knebel followed that by striking out Rutledge, leaving leave three Boston runners on base. (Pedroia had stranded three runners in the second.)

In the bottom of the eighth, Matt Barnes walked Orlando Arcia with one out. Eric Thames was announced as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher - and Farrell brought in Kimbrel (who had retired 30 of his last 32 batters). Kimbrel simply overpowered Thames, striking him out on a 98-mph fastball down the heart of the plate. Villar grounded a 1-1 pitch back at Kimbrel. It went through his legs (Kimbrel was sideways in his follow-through and could not reach back and down for the ball) and caromed to Pedroia, who tried for the force at second, but was too late. Kimbrel threw a wild pitch that put Arcia on third, but he struck out Broxton for the third out.

Neftali Feliz was on the hill for the top of the ninth and he had a lot of trouble throwing strikes (and perhaps a lack of concentration). He fell behind Vazquez 3-0 and after a called strike, walked him. Deven Marrero - who took over at third on a double switch when Kimbrel came in - took a ball before bunting to the first base side. Feliz grabbed the ball and threw to second. The throw was a little high but Arcia had it easily - and then dropped it. Both runners were safe and Boston had the top of the order coming up, with no one out. Betts took two balls and looked at a called strike before being unable to check his swing on a slider that was way outside and low. It's a pitch that Betts rarely even thinks about offering at, and it looked odd to see him miss so badly. Then Feliz came in with his 2-2 - and Betts smoked a rocket to deep left. It was his fifth home run of the season; his 22 RBI are tied for the team lead with Benintendi.

Pedroia followed the dong with a single to left-center, but foolishly tried for a double and was thrown out very easily. Feliz was pulled, and Carlos Torres got the next two Sox hitters.

In the ninth, Kimbrel faced Hernan Perez (called, swinging, swinging), Shaw (called, foul, called), and Santana (foul, swinging, swinging).

There was an interesting play in the top of the third. Bogaerts singled and, after Benintendi flied out, Moreland hit a line drive up the middle. The ball was sinking and Villar caught it near the ground behind second base. Then the ball came loose and he turned and flipped it to Arcia at second for the force and Arcia threw to first for an inning-ending double play. Both Bogaerts and Moreland thought the ball had been caught. Bogaerts never moved from first base and Moreland, who started running when he saw Villar's flip to Arcia, nearly collided with him at the bag.

NESN's Jerry Remy - a second baseman like Villar - said he was "convinced" Villar had deliberately dropped the ball. As far as it being an accident, Remy said, "I'm not buying that." The umpires gathered and discussed the play, and allowed the double play to stand. While they were talking, NESN showed some replays, but they were all from too far away, so the ball was either a tiny speck or not visible. After the commercial break, they had a better look, and it sure looked like Villar dropped the ball on purpose.

The Red Sox finished the road trip 3-3 and are headed home for a weekend series against the Rays.
Top of 1st Inning: Mookie Betts doubles, Dustin Pedroia bunts him to third, and he scores on an E3 on Xanders Bogaerts's grounder.

And then Dave O'Brien: "The Red Sox, for the first time in the series, have a lead." (Then he said the same thing in the top of the sixth.)

Does O'Brien have a brain disorder? ... I am fairly serious when I ask that question.
Eduardo Rodriguez / Jimmy Nelson
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Bradley, CF
Rutledge, 3B
Vazquez, C
Rodriguez, P
Roster Move: Kyle Kendrick to Pawtucket, Robbie Ross to Boston.

The Big Question Before The Third Game At Miller Park: Will Dave O'Brien claim - for the third time since he saw Mookie Betts give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead on Tuesday night - that the Red Sox have never held a lead in this series?

No comments: