April 5, 2018

G7: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 (12)

Rays    - 000 000 020 000 - 2  6  0
Red Sox - 000 000 002 001 - 3 10  0
Hanley Ramirez's bases-loaded single to deep right field, well over the head of outfielder Carlos Gomez, scored Jackie Bradley with the winning run in the bottom of the twelfth. The Red Sox have now won six straight games, four of them by one run, and the last two in extra innings. Boston leads the AL East by two games because the Yankees lost to the Orioles 5-2.

Bradley doubled to start the inning. Christian Vazquez bunted him to third and Mookie Betts was walked intentionally. The Rays made a pitching change - and Ryan Yarbrough got ahead of Andrew Benintendi 0-2. Betts stole second and Benintendi spoiled a couple of outside pitches, fouling them off. Benintendi then took balls three and four, which loaded the bases. If he had made the second out, Tampa Bay would have likely put Ramirez on first base and pitched to Blake Swihart, who had pinch-run for J.D. Martinez in the previous inning. But Hanley got a chance to swing the bat - and he stepped in to the sounds of "Take On Me" and the first home crowd of the season chanting his first name. The Rays outfielders played shallow. Ramirez drilled Yarbrough's first pitch to the warning track in right center - and the celebration began.

(Before the game began, there was the usual military flyover, because there is nothing like a quick celebration of war to brighten a chilly afternoon. .. Fun Fact: If all the money the US has spent on its wars since 2001 ($5.6 trillion) was in $100 bills and you lined the bills end to end, you could go to the moon and back eleven times. And people think baseball players rake in a lot of money...)

David Price (7-3-0-3-5, 91) pitched seven scoreless innings, just as he did in his first start on March 30. This time, Price had to work his way out of two tight jams after having trouble with the bottom of the Rays lineup. Daniel Robertson, batting 8th, began the top of the third with a double to left center. Price fell behind Rob Refsnyder 3-0, battled back to a full count, but threw ball four. Matt Duffy grounded to Eduardo Nunez at second. Nunez bobbled the ball and Boston was able to get only the force at second, as Robertson took third. But that was where he stayed as Kevin Kiermaier popped up to shortstop Xander Bogaerts (third baseman Rafael Devers also called for the ball and bumped Bogaerts as the taller man was making the catch) and Gomez popped to Ramirez at first.

In the fifth, Price got a first-pitch groundout, but then walked Robertson on five pitches and Refsnyder on four. But, again, he was tough. He struck out Duffy on two fouls and a called strike three and got Kiermaier to ground to shortstop.

Meanwhile, Yonny Chirinos (5-3-0-0-4, 54), in only his second major league game, was having very few problems with the Red Sox. However, on this windy day, Kiermaier had trouble with Martinez's fly to center to open the second. He broke to his right, then in, then straight back, finally leaping and reaching backwards but still not getting his glove on the ball. It fell to the ground and Martinez had a stand-up triple. But seven pitches later, Chirinos was walking back to his dugout and the game was still scoreless. Bogaerts grounded out to the pitcher, Devers popped to first, and Nunez grounded to short. After Betts's single with two outs in the third, Boston had only one baserunner before the ninth inning (a two-out walk to Bogaerts in the seventh).

Carson Smith took over on the mound in the top of the eighth. Mallex Smith, pinch-hitting for Refsnyder, worked an eight-pitch walk and Duffy crushed a 1-1 pitch to dead center for a home run.

The Red Sox had the top of the order due up against Alex Colome in the bottom of the ninth. Chirinos and three relievers had allowed only three hits and one walk in eight innings. Colome allowed four hits and two walks in the ninth. Betts kicked things off by grounding an 0-2 pitch into left for a hit. Benintendi walked. Colome's first pitch to Ramirez was right down the heart of the plate and Hanley took a vicious swing, clearly trying to end the game right there (and perhaps cause a pile-up on the Pike), but he came up empty. He quickly changed tactics and deftly dumped a single into short center, scoring Betts. Martinez grounded into a double play and Benintendi went to third. Bogaerts took a ball low, swung and missed, and fouled an inside pitch before lining a double off the Wall, the ball avoiding Smith's glove and banging the tin. The game was tied 2-2.

Devers was intentionally walked. Nunez hit a hard grounder towards the hole. Third baseman Duffy dove to his left, not catching the ball but slowing it considerably so the shortstop was able to quickly get it. The bases were loaded. On a 1-2 count, Bradley grounded the ball up the middle. Second baseman Robertson ranged to his right and fired a string throw across his body. The play at first was about as close as possible. Bradley signaled safe as he crossed the bag, the umpire called him out, and the Red Sox immediately sought a review. Either the game would go into the tenth inning or the Red Sox had won.

NESN showed a slow-motion replay, but we needed to see a super-duper slow replay. Like one frame at a time. It was impossible to tell whether Bradley's foot touched the bag before the ball was in Brad Miller's glove. Which is presumably was the video reviewers determined - and decided they could not overturn the call.

Craig Kimbrel gave up a leadoff single to Denard Span in the tenth before getting two outs. Then his control deserted him. Ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, called strike, ball. The Rays had the bases loaded. Kimbrel threw a ball to C.J. Cron before regaining his form, getting two called strikes and an inning-ending swinging strike three. (Tampa Bay did not put any of Kimbrel's last 17 pitches into play. In fact, they swung at only four of them, and did not make contact.)

In the bottom of the eleventh, Martinez singled with one out and was pulled for pinch-runner Swihart. Bogaerts smoked a line drive to third for the second out. When a passed ball allowed Swihart to go to second, the Rays put Devers on first intentionally. Nunez worked the count full and grounded to third. Duffy scooped up the ball and tagged Swihart for the final out.

Lefty Bobby Poyner was sharp in relief, pitching two innings. He struck out two in the eleventh and calmly worked around a leadoff single in the twelfth, striking out Kiermaier and stranding the runner at third.

The schedule makers handed the Red Sox an early opportunity, by having them play two weak teams for the first nine games of the season. And the Red Sox have done exactly what they needed to do. They have won six of seven games and play the Rays two more times - they have a rare Friday off-day tomorrow - before another day of rest on Monday and three home games against the Yankees.

Right now, no team has a better record than the Red Sox (6-1). Manager Alex Cora: "The good thing is we haven't played our best baseball."
Yonny Chirinos / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Ramirez, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Nunez, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vazquez, C
Yonny Chirinos made his major league debut on April 1 - four innings of shutout relief against the Red Sox. The 24-year-old right-hander will make his first (obviously) major league start this afternoon in the Red Sox's home opener.

Steve Buckley, Herald:
Times being what they are, and moving forward, the Red Sox must earn their keep.

So far, they have earned their keep.

So far, they are deserving of your hard-earned entertainment dollar.

So far, it's good to be a fly on the wall to see flies off The Wall. ...

But while wins in April are just as important as wins in September, as every manager of every team has been reminding us since the days of the Boston Beaneaters and Brooklyn Bridegrooms, it's going to take more than W's to inspire fans to keep showing up. ...

What the Sox need to do is what they want you to do: Have fun. Not just hey-we-just-won-and-isn't-that-fun fun, but the kind of passion, camaraderie, joie de vivre, that you can see, or not see if it ain't there, from the very last row of the center-field bleachers.
That sound you just heard is the collective sigh from the Red Sox locker room, now that the team knows Steve Buckley has assured the world that they have "earned their keep" this year ... well, "so far". Also: Merely winning a shit-ton of games will not be enough to make the fans like and support the team. If the players do not show - every day! - that they are having real, actual fun, it will all be a complete waste. You know, because "times being what they are"...

Second place! .... The home of rocking!


allan said...

Wins, schmins. I wanna see some smiles out there!!

FenFan said...

The beatings will continue until morale improves...

johngoldfine said...

This 'have fun' theme always reminds me of men who say to women, 'You'd be so pretty if you'd just smile, hon. Won't you give me a little smile? C'mon now, let's see those pearly whites.'

Aggressive, patronizing, sexist, condescending, demeaning. And the victim either is taxed with not smiling and so having no sense of humor or smiling and feeling manipulated and degraded.

Most of those fellows out there in the ballpark are young millionaires, doing their damnedest to keep their jobs. They're at work! If they like the job, great. If they don't, too bad--but if they keep racking up dingers, turning the DPs, and striking out the side, we don't care about their fun-itude.

They don't have to and shouldn't feel any pressures other than the intrinsic pressure of game and career.

allan said...

I've always thought that teams that get great pitching and bash the ball and score bunches of runs and win a lot of games tend to enjoy playing every day a bit more than teams that get the shit kicked out of them on a daily basis and make errors and get booed by their own fans and lose a lot of games.

But that's really just a gut feeling of mine, just a sense I've have over the years. Some nerdy stathead should spend some quality basement time doing a big study to see if it's true.

allan said...

Aggressive, patronizing, sexist, condescending, demeaning

Does anyone berate the baseball writer for not exhibiting enough love for his wonderful job in every column he writes? Does anyone refuse to buy the newspaper if the enthusiasm being shown by the writer is clearly a facade?

D.Ing said...

An old coaching friend of mine, a guy who had coached a lot of winners and a few losers, once observed, "Girls need to feel good to win. Boys need to win to feel good."

Maybe Steve B's been coaching a lot of girls softball.

D.Ing said...

Allow me to second guess myself, please. I overgeneralized before.

1) I think Hanley really does need to feel good to win.
2) I think Brian Dozier and Jose Berrios (April 1, Twins-Orioles game) deserve some sort of special ring in hell for complaining about a 9th inning bunt in a game they won 7-0. Some humorless turds will just never enjoy the game and feel good.

Jere said...

Red Sox radio announcer Tim Neverett was quick to point out--during the game-winning call--that today's win was the Red Sox' first walk-off win of the season. Um...this was the first home game of the season. You can only have a walk-off win at home, so, yeah, of COURSE it was the first walk-off win of the season! On the post-game, "Mutt" gave the wrap-up, and at the end, he ALSO noted this useless stat. Do these guys understand there's no need to say this? It'd be like saying "it's their first home win of the season!"

Jim said...

Next up--being told how "likable" the Red Sox are. Please make it go away.

allan said...


Nick Sincere said...

The next thing you'll hear is how they're confident, which is a good thing, but that they need to develop some swagger like some of the mythical teams from the columnist's past.

allan said...

But not too much swagger or confidence or they will be tarred as arrogant and entitled.