August 22, 2018

G128: Red Sox 10, Cleveland 4

Cleveland - 200 020 000 -  4  8  1
Red Sox   - 100 502 11x - 10 14  0
Andrew Benintendi's bases-loaded - and bases-clearing - double was the highlight of the Red Sox's fourth inning on Wednesday night. Xander Bogaerts cracked two solo home runs and Mitch Moreland added a two-run dong. The Red Sox were able to fatten their lead while a quartet of relievers did not allow a run over the final four innings.

The win snapped Boston's seemingly-endless losing streak ... of three games. The Red Sox are the only major league team that has not lost as many as four consecutive games this season. If they avoid that ignominy over their remaining 34 contests, they will join the 1903 and 2013 clubs as the only teams in franchise history to not drop four consecutive games.

Brian Johnson again had trouble in the first inning. Francisco Lindor doubled to begin the game and, with two outs, Edwin Encarnacion, just off the disabled list, belted a 2-0 pitch into the Monster Seats for a two-run homer. (It served as an exclamation point to the comments by Dave O'Brien and Dennis Eckersley about how EE seems to always hurt the Red Sox.) In 10 starts, Johnson has allowed eight runs.

The Red Sox got one run back in their half of the inning. Benintendi reached on an error by second baseman Erik Gonzalez. He went to second on a groundout and to third on a wild pitch. From there, J.D. Martinez's single brought him in.

As has been his pattern, Johnson regrouped after a shaky first frame, retiring the side in order in the second and giving up only a two-out double in the third. An HBP and a single put runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but he struck out Greg Allen and Erik Gonzalez.

Martinez struck out on three pitches to begin the fourth. It was not a harbinger of futility. Bogaerts hit his 18th home run, tying the score. Three consecutive singles - from Ian Kinsler, Brock Holt, and Blake Swihart, the last two on first pitches - produced another run. Jackie Bradley struck out, but Mookie Betts walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Benintendi drove a 1-2 pitch into the left-field corner and all three runners scored. Oliver Perez relieved Carrasco (3.2-8-6-1-6, 81), gave up a hit to Mitch Moreland, and was pulled. Martinez worked a walk against Neil Ramirez to re-load the bases, but Bogaerts grounded to third and Jose Ramirez forced Moreland for the third out. (Boston led 6-2, but was that lead Encarnacion-proof?)

Johnson walked Lindor to start the fifth and after Michael Brantley flied to left, Alex Cora went to the pen. Heath Hembree got the second out, but Encarnacion hit a high drive down the left field line that struck one of the green advertisement signs over the Monster Seats for his second homer of the game. It was also his 19th career home run at Fenway.

Bradley led off the sixth with a double and scored on Moreland two-run shot into the Cleveland bullpen. Bogaerts kicked off the seventh with his second johnson. Bradley singled to begin the eighth and eventually scored on Martinez's line drive single to right.

The only noise Cleveland made after the fifth came against Joe Kelly in the eighth. Cleveland trailed 9-4. After Ramirez singled, Encarnacion grounded to third. Holt made a high throw to second and Kinsler had to leave the bag to catch it. The throw to first was ruled late by Gerry Davis. The Red Sox challenged that call - and it was reversed. Yandy Diaz lined out to first and after a wild pitch put Ramirez on third, Kelly walked pinch-hitter Melky Cabrera. Kelly struck out Yan Gomes to strand the two runners.

NESN: Johnson's fourth pitch of the night, a 2-1 offering to Lindor, was outside, but plate umpire Jeremie Rehak called it a strike. "Oooooo, thank you!" was Eckersley's immediate reaction.

There are many guests in the booth during Jimmy Fund Pledge Drive Week and the game gets pushed to the back burner. Still, would it trouble NESN to (at the very least) put the game in a small box in a corner of the screen? In the top of the fifth, after Lindor walked, NESN cut to an ongoing booth chat. When NESN finally switched back to the game, Johnson had already thrown two pitches to Brantley. If NESN deems the action in the booth more important than the game, okay. But don't completely ignore the game, as if we were stuck in a rain delay.
Carlos Carrasco / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Kinsler, 2B
Holt, 3B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF
Alex Cora:
Sometimes I hear people saying that it will be good for them if they start losing. I don't believe in that. What good comes out of that? Losing? No. Even winning, we're learning about our team. ... I know there's learning when you're losing, but the whole thing about, "They need to go through a bad stretch?" Not really.
Matt Collins, Over The Monster:
Where things go awry is when people start to use a series like this as some sort of measuring stick for where a team is as they look ahead to October. ... I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I can talk people down. ... But for those who don't know what to think, I'm here to tell you that reading too much into any regular season series is rarely a good idea. The Red Sox have played two bad games against a good team over the last two days. That’s it. Full stop.

It seems fans are constantly demanding this Red Sox team to prove itself, as if being 49 games over .500 isn't proof of anything. ... This series is supposed to be a referendum on how this team will play in October, which would be fine except they just had one of those, and they passed with flying colors. They swept the Yankees in four games in the biggest series of the year, but now for some reason that doesn't matter? ...

I'm not saying we should totally brush aside the issues at hand. The Red Sox are playing bad baseball right now. The offense is in a major rut, and they don't look like the group that has run through baseball like a buzzsaw for the majority of the year. ... We are seeing flaws we haven't seen much from this team. That being said, it's also a slump. ...

The Red Sox need to play better, but they have also spent the majority of the season proving they can and will play much better. To act as if this latest stretch of the year is more indicative than everything that came before it is, frankly, absurd.
There have been more than 60 instances of a position player pitching in a game this season, including four guys (Andrew Romine, Matt Davidson, Eric Kratz, Hernan Perez) who have taken the mound in three games! The Red Sox are one of only five teams that has not joined this trend. The other four: Pirates, Tigers, Yankees, Rockies.

Last weekend:
August 16: Cubs 1, Pirates 0
August 17: Cubs 1, Pirates 0
August 18: Pirates 3, Cubs 1
August 19: Pirates 2, Cubs 1 (11)

The Cubs are the first team in history to score in each game of a four-game series with every run coming on a solo home run. In this case, one per game.

Elias notes that the last time nine or fewer runs were scored in a four-game series was August 1-3, 1958, when the Pirates and Cardinals combined for eight* runs.

August 1: Pirates 2, Cardinals 1
August 2: Pirates 1, Cardinals 0
August 3: Pirates 2, Cardinals 0 (G1)
August 3: Pirates 2, Cardinals 1 (G2)

* When the final game was suspended in the bottom of the fifth with the Pirates up 2-0, eight runs had been scored in the series. The Cardinals scored one run when the game was completed on September 16. Shouldn't that ninth run be counted as occurring in the four games?


Jere said...

"They need to go through a bad stretch"

OMG! Did the media come up with a new trope!? Just when I thought they had nothing left! I gotta say, I have to give 'em credit on their creativity on this one. I mean I tried to come up with anything they could say and I didn't think of that.

So lemme get this straight-- per CHB, winning is a negative. And per this new one, losing is a positive. Therefore, the Red Sox, by winning all the time, are doing everything wrong. I don't think the Trump campaign people studied Nazi propaganda, I think they studied the Boston sports media!

Benjamin said...

This was the second game this week I noticed a new (to me) NESN fuckup. During commercial breaks they typically have a side bar up on the screen with the score in the top left and trivia (or whatever) down the side. Tonight and Monday, after the visiting team scored some runs on home runs and the half inning ended, NESN failed to update the score.

Monday's was especially egregious, since Cleveland had tied it up in the 6th, but you wouldn't know if you were just tuning in.