August 20, 2018

G126: Cleveland 5, Red Sox 4

Cleveland - 000 012 200 - 5  7  0
Red Sox   - 210 000 001 - 4 13  0
I think I finally understand the Red Sox's team-wide conviction (until the final out has been recorded) that they will win every game they play on more than an intellectual level. I can read or hear Mookie Betts's comments after August 5's stunning comeback/victory against the Yankees that the team knew they would come out on top, but it's a different matter when that attitude has, unbeknownst to you, taken up residence in your head.

I was convinced the Red Sox, down by two runs in the bottom of the ninth on Monday, would either force extra innings against Cody Allen or walkoff with their 89th win. I did not know how it would happen, but I knew it would happen. So when Betts smoked a double into the left-field corner and Andrew Benintendi walked and Allen fell behind Mitch Moreland 2-0, it felt like the pieces of a puzzle were falling perfectly into place.

Moreland chopped a slow grounder to the right side. Second baseman Jason Kipnis threw to second for the force but Francisco Lindor's relay to first was late. Betts was on third. After J.D. Martinez took ball one, Allen threw three fastballs up in the zone (out of the zone, for two of them). JDM fouled the first two off to the right side before popping the final one to first. Two outs.

Xander Bogaerts took two breaking pitches for strikes before tapping a roller towards third. The ball was on the infield grass and had no chance of rolling foul, but Jose Ramirez watched it roll anyway, since he had no play on anyone. Betts scored, Moreland was at second and Bogaerts was safe with an infield single. 5-4.

Ian Kinsler got ahead 2-1 and then fouled off three tough pitches, hoping to stay at the plate long enough to jump on a mistake. Allen missed up and away for ball three. His 28th pitch of the inning was a fastball only a few inches higher than the heart of the plate, but Kinsler could only loft it to left for the third out. The win I was sure I would be seeing did not occur, but that is truly a secondary matter to this new feeling.

The Red Sox lost their second straight game for the first time since July 25-26. (The time before that was June 19-20!)

The game began like so many this year, with the Red Sox grabbing a quick lead. Before the first inning was over, they had more hits than they had all day on Sunday. (And after two innings, they had equaled their hits total over the last two games.) After Corey Kluber (6.1-9-3-1-6, 108) struck out Betts and Benintendi, Moreland lined a single to left and Martinez doubled towards the right-field corner. Bogaerts (according to NESN's Dennis Eckersley) "dorked" a hit to shallow center and both runners scored.

In the second, the Red Sox scored again after the first two batters were retired (!). Jackie Bradley doubled to left-center, went to third on Betts's line drive single to left, and scored on Benintendi's opposite-field single to left. Kluber tied a season-high by giving up nine hits, but he did not allow another Boston runner past first base.

Rick Porcello (7-6-5-1-6, 107) began the night by pounding the zone, striking out two in the first inning and throwing only 10 pitches. He allowed two hits with one out in the second and also threw a wild pitch, but struck out Kipnis and Yan Gomes to work out of trouble. He retired the side in order in both the third and fourth, but Melky Cabrera led off the fifth with a home run.

Cleveland tied the game in the sixth when Lindor led off with an infield single, beating Porcello to the bag on a grounder to first. Michael Brantley followed with a home run into the visitors bullpen.

Porcello walked Kipnis with one out in the eighth. Gomes drilled the ball right back at Porcello, hitting him in the lower part of his chest. Porcello made a good throw to second for the force, but then fell to the grass. He was quickly on his feet and seemed to be okay as he talked with the trainer. I expected Alex Cora to pull him, since he was at 98 pitches and why take any chances? But Cora stayed with his starter and Greg Allen hit Porcello's 100th pitch into the Cleveland bullpen for a 5-3 lead.

In the home half of the seventh, Moreland walked with two outs. Adam Cimber came in and face Martinez. His first pitch was extremely low - and plate umpire Pat Hoberg called it a strike. (Hoberg had ruled that Martinez had not checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch in his previous at-bat, so JDM was doubly unhappy at this call. Hoburg had made the right call on the strikeout, but whatever.) Cimber's second pitch was a little higher than the first one, but it also looked too low. (Brooks says it was not.) Hoburg had to be consistent, so he called that a strike, too. Martinez ended up slicing a single to right-center on the next pitch, but who knows what he might have done had the umpire done his job correctly.

In the eighth, Steve Pearce doubled off Brad Hand with two outs, but Bradley struck out.

More NESN Notes: In the bottom of the second, Dave O'Brien said Martinez's opposite-field double in the previous inning had been hit "inside the bag". What actually happened was first baseman Yonder Alonso moved to his right - towards second base, away from the foul line - to try and snag the ball.

In the bottom of the third, Eckersley marveled at the fact that Lindor has "29 dongs". ... When Cimber came into the game, NESN showed some bullpen activity with the legend "Pitching Change Bonus Content" in the bottom left of the screen. (Well, I suppose it is a "bonus" when NESN doesn't cram extra commercials into the break and miss showing part of the game.)

This typo is not as bad as misspelling "Mookie", but NESN had all day to prepare this graphic - and run a spellcheck:
Typo-Spotting Bonus Content: The three factoids are correct.
Corey Kluber / Rick Porcello
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Holt, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
Pennant Preview? This week features four games against the Tito-led, AL Central-leading Clevelands. The teams are meeting for the first time this season, with three more games in Cleveland on September 21-23.

Cleveland (71-52) leads its division by 12 games, but would be 16 games behind the Red Sox if they were in the AL East.

Boston has not lost any of its last 13 series, the team's longest such streak in 46 years:
July 2-4:      Won 3 of 3 at Nationals
July 6-8:      Won 3 of 3 at Royals
July 9-11:     Won 3 of 3 vs Rangers
July 12-15:    Won 3 of 4 vs Blue Jays
July 20-22:    Won 2 of 3 at Tigers
July 23-24:    Split 1-1 at Orioles
July 26-29:    Won 3 of 4 vs Twins
July 30-31:    Split 1-1 vs Phillies
August 2-5:    Won 4 of 4 vs Yankees
August 7-9:    Won 2 of 3 at Blue Jays
August 10-12:  Won 4 of 4 at Orioles
August 14-15:  Split 1-1 at Phillies
August 17-19:  Won 2 of 3 vs Rays
Red Sox pitchers have allowed three runs or fewer in seven of their last eight games: 0, 4, 1, 1, 7, 3, 2, 2.

J.D. Martinez's streak of consecutive games reaching base at Fenway Park ended at 51 yesterday. His home stats are: .350/.419/.751/1.170.

Nathan Eovaldi talked with Chad Jennings of The Athletic on Sunday:
I've never been a part of a team that has been this successful. ... [W]e don't expect to lose any games. ... [I]t feels like we lose a lot more than we should. You know what I mean? ... We ended up losing [the final game on the last road trip], and it felt like we had lost so many games on the road trip. We had lost two. We took seven out of nine ...[W]e expect to win every game.

1 comment:

allan said...

Cora has some Tito stories:

Cora also recalled a game in New York against Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang when Francona promised the utility infielder's teammates a reward if he compiled four RBIs.
"Pedey was hitting .140, I was hitting .450 and I hit a home run and he goes, 'Four RBIs, you guys get a gift,'" Cora said. "I hit a homer right away. Boom, I've got two RBIs. Then I have a man at first in like the seventh and I hit a flyball to right in the old Yankee Stadium, the ball hit the wall and it was a triple so I only got one RBI and the other guy scored. When I got to the dugout, he was like, 'I was just hoping that ball didn't go out.' He was rooting against me, actually."

That game was April 29, 2007.
Cora homered in his 2nd AB for two runs.
Cora tripled in the 7th, but no one was on base.
He finished with 3 RBI. No gift.