June 14, 2017

G65: Red Sox 7, Phillies 3

Red Sox  - 230 100 001 - 7 13  0
Phillies - 003 000 000 - 3  6  0
After three straight games lasting more than four hours - 4:06 on Sunday, 4:16 on Monday, and 4:24 on Tuesday - the Red Sox dispatched the Phillies with ease in a speedy 3:26. The win gives Boston a 16-7 record in their last 23 games.

It was The Mookie Betts Show, as the Red Sox leadoff hitter went 4-for-5, with a single, a double, and two home runs. He drove in three runs and scored four times. (He was 3/4 of the way to the cycle after only four innings, but could not get the elusive triple.) Betts also made a great diving catch in right field in the fifth, one of numerous impressive fielding plays by the Red Sox.

After Brian Johnson (2.2-4-3-1-1, 44) left the game with shoulder discomfort in the bottom of the third, Hector Velazquez came in and put a lid on a brewing Phillies comeback. He pitched 3.1 innings and allowed only one hit and one walk, and was credited with his first major league win. The Red Sox bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 21.1 innings.

This game belonged to Boston from the start. Betts and Dustin Pedroia began the evening with singles off Jeremy Hellickson (5-9-6-3-1, 93). Xander Bogaerts doubled into the left field corner to score Betts and Pedroia scored on Andrew Benintendi's fly out to left.

After Johnson retired the Phillies in order on eight pitches, the bats went back to work. Pablo Sandoval singled. Hellickson walked Sandy Leon on four pitches. Johnson tried to bunt and popped out to first in foul territory (or so I was told; NESN failed to show the catch). Betts doubled to left for one run and Bogaerts singled for two more. Boston led 5-0.

NESN returned for the bottom of the second and showed a sponsored graphic of the five AL pitchers who have recorded the most outs on fly balls. As I was questioning the point of this, since there were no Red Sox among the leaders, I heard the distinctive pop of a ball in a catcher's mitt. NESN was now showing the sponsor's pink logo and whatnot. I thought, we've just missed a pitch, haven't we? When the game was shown, Johnson threw a strike to Tommy Joseph and sure as shit: the count was 1-1.

In the top of the ninth, as Betts batted with a chance for the cycle, NESN showed replays of his previous hits. They were shown in a small box in the lower left-hand corner of the screen, a new development that NESN began at the same time they started polluting the left-hand side of the screen with redundant and irrelevant information. I'm certain that they now show replays in that box so they won't miss pitches. But they still managed to miss the first pitch to Betts because the replay box was covering the part of the screen where the catcher caught the ball! (Screenshot.) Oh my god, NESN is so lame. Despite many years spent broadcasting Red Sox games, NESN still reminds me of a public access station far too much of the time. (The network showed the big graphics 23 times tonight.)

Okay. Johnson gave up several hard hit balls in the third. Freddy Galvis doubled and, with two outs, Howie Kendrick singled him in. Aaron Altherr smashed a hanging curve for a two-run homer and Joseph doubled. What began as a mound visit by pitching coach Carl Willis ended with the trainer walking Johnson off the field. Velazquez came in to face Maikel Franco as the potential tying run. He got a grounder to third for the final out.

Betts homer in the fourth gave Boston a 6-3 lead. Velazquez gave up a two-out double to Galvis in the fourth, but Hellickson was the next batter and he grounded to short. The Phillies went in order in the fifth and managed only a two-out walk in the sixth. In those two innings, I starred four of the six outs as great fielding plays. Betts robbed Kendrick of a hit with a diving catch and Pedroia ranged to his left, spun, and threw out Altherr to end the fourth. In the fifth, Sandoval made an excellent play diving to his left and throwing out Franco and Pedroia recorded the third out with a backhand swipe at a short-hop grounder off Cameron Rupp's bat.

Philadelphia made a bit of noise with one out in the eighth against Matt Barnes. Joseph walked and Franco grounded to third. Josh Rutledge had replaced Sandoval and he threw wide to Pedroia at second. The umpire ruled the runner was safe - Pedroia's foot had come off the bag before he caught the ball. Boston asked for a review - and the call was reversed. So with two outs, Daniel Nava singled to left, putting runners at first and second. Barnes struck out Rupp to end the inning.

Robbie Scott pitched the ninth and he had two great catches made behind him. Andrew Benintendi ran into foul territory and leapt up against the side wall, reaching into the stands to grab Galvis's popup for the first out. Andres Blanco then drove the ball right back at Scott. But the ball stayed on the mound and Scott made the throw to first. Odubel Herrera hit a shot to left center, but Bradley ran back and jumped before the warning track and made the game-ending catch.

On the negative side, the Red Sox had two more runners put out on the bases, giving them 32 for the season, worst in the majors. In the seventh, Benintendi was doubled off first after Altherr made a stunning catch of Hanley Ramirez's line drive to the warning track in right. In the next inning, Bradley doubled and ran to third when Leon popped to first. He passed third base and did not step on the bag when he raced back to second, so he was easily put out.
Brian Johnson / Jeremy Hellickson
Betts, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Bogaerts, SS
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Bradley, CF
Sandoval, 3B
Leon, C
Johnson, P
Roster: The Red Sox recalled pitcher Hector Velazquez and optioned infielder Deven Marrero.

The home-and-home, four-game series with the Phillies moves to Philadelphia after the Red Sox won the two games in Boston in extra innings.

The Red Sox had not won two consecutive games lasting 11+ innings since 1975. On April 11 and 12, 1975, in the third and fourth games of the season, the Red Sox beat the Orioles 6-5 in 12 innings and 3-2 in 13 innings in Baltimore. In the first game, Baltimore's Doyle Alexander relieved starter Mike Cuellar in the sixth inning and pitched the final 6.1 innings. In the second game, Red Sox starter Reggie Cleveland pitched the first 12 innings (facing 47 batters, the most any Boston pitcher faced in a game that season) before Dick Drago came in to get the save.

(The Red Sox record for batters faced by a pitcher? Red Ruffing faced 73 Yankee batters in the first game of a doubleheader on September 5, 1927. Ruffing pitched 15 innings and gave up 16 hits and 11 walks. (Using this Pitch Count Estimator, Ruffing threw approximately 332 pitches. This one estimates 266.) Boston won 12-11 in 18 innings.)

The last time the Red Sox had consecutive extra inning walkoff wins at home was June 24 and 26, 2006, when they beat the Phillies 5-3 in 10 innings and 8-7 in 12 innings.

Also: The first four batters in the Cubs' lineup - Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, Kris Bryant, and Jason Heyward - homered against the Mets in New York, the first time in Cubs' history that each of the first four hitters in the order homered in a road game. ... The Twins banged out franchise-record 28 hits in a 20-7 win over the Mariners. (The franchise includes the Washington Senators, who had 27 hits (in 12 innings) on May 16, 1933.) Minnesota's Eddie Rosario homered three times, the first #9 hitter to hit three dongs in a game since Trot Nixon on July 24, 1999. (I was at that game!)