August 28, 2018

G133: Red Sox 8, Marlins 7

Marlins - 001 000 051 - 7 13  1
Red Sox - 012 001 031 - 8 12  0
The final emotion to surge through Fenway Park on Tuesday night was happiness, but fans (both in and outside the park) waded through a lot of frustration and anger before getting to that positive. And lurking behind that joy was the grim reality of a faltering bullpen.

After Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree flushed a 4-1 lead, the Red Sox rallied to take a 7-6 lead, with Jackie Bradley's two-out single tying the game and a wild pitch over Mookie Betts's head giving Boston the lead.

But Craig Kimbrel walked two batters on the way to (I hate to say predictably, but that's certainly how it felt) blowing the save. The Red Sox were not yet done, amazingly. Singles by J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts with one out preceded Eduardo Nunez's grounder to shortstop J.T. Riddle. The Riddler got the force at second himself but his throw to first was low and skipped off the back-hand glove of shortstop-turned-first-baseman Miguel Rojas. With the ball now somewhere down by the tarp along the right field line, Martinez literary walked across the plate for the walkoff victory.

All of that wildness produced the latest exhibit in the ongoing campaign to restore a little sanity to pitching statistics and #KillTheWin:
The win kept the Red Sox's division lead at 6.5 games because the Yankees won their game in the bottom of the ninth as well, topping the White Sox 5-4. And just like the Red Sox, they ended up with one fewer hit than the losing team. (Ain't baseball crazy! #obrien)

Brian Johnson (4.1-5-1-1-3, 73) avoided his first inning bugaboo and retired the first seven Marlins. He gave up a game-tying home run to Isaac Galloway in the third (the Red Sox had taken the lead on Bogaerts's double and Ian Kinsler's single). Johnson then gave up a single and a two-out double, but stranded both runners when J.T. Realmuto grounded out to second.

The Red Sox took a 3-1 lead in the third. Bradley singled and Betts walked. Andrew Benintendi doubled in one run and after a strikeout and an intentional walk to Martinez, Bogaerts's sac fly scored the other run.

The Marlins (comfortably last in the NL East) were pesky, though, as Starlin Castro led off the fourth with a triple. Johnson got Derek Dietrich on strikes, but he walked Austin Dean. He escaped trouble when Rojas popped to first and Galloway popped to second. Johnson was pulled after giving up a one-out single to Rafael Ortega. With Brandon Workman on the hill, Ortega was caught stealing, but Workman surrendered a walk and a single before getting the final out.

Nunez's line drive to left just cleared the Monster for a solo dong in the sixth.

With the Red Sox up by three with six outs to go, Matt Barnes gave up a single and back-to-back home runs (Realmuto and Castro) in a seven-pitch span to open the eighth. Barnes allowed a one-out single to Dean and was pulled. Rojas singled off Hembree before Hembree got the second out. But he then walked Riddle and watched as Ortega blooped a two-run single into short left. Miami led 6-4.

Tayron Guerrero, a hard-throwing right-hander, faced the Red Sox in the bottom of the eighth. I was watching the Marlins' feed and the announcers - who had acted like they were witnessing The Second Coming in the top of the inning (it was both "an offensive explosion" and "the greatest inning of the Marlins' season") - could not stop gushing about how hard Guerrero throws.

They remained blind (or at least mute) to the fact that when he dialed it up to 101, he was consistently yanking the pitch low and outside. He did it twice to Martinez before JDM singled to center. He did it two more times to Bogaerts. Guerrero's low 3-1 pitch to X looked like it was below the strike zone and should have been ball 4. (Brooks had it at th every bottom of the zone.) Bogaerts lined out to right.

But the Red Sox were more powerful than a shitty umpire. Nunez singled to right-center and Kinsler singled to center - and the bases were loaded. Blake Swihart took two outside pitches in the same spot - Nauert called one ball and the other a strike. Swihart eventually fanned on a 99 heater. Bradley took an outside pitch on 1-0 for a strike and the count was soon full. He grounded Guerrero's 32nd pitch of the inning through the infield, to the right of the second baseman, and into right-center. Two runs scored and the score was 6-6! Guerrero got ahead of Betts 0-1 before throwing four balls, the last of which was well over Mookie's head and hit the backstop on the fly. Kinsler crossed the plate with the go-ahead run.

Kimbrel recorded the first out in the ninth on a liner to shortstop. He walked Castro on a full count. He walked Dietrich on a 3-1 count. (Ball 3 looked suspiciously like a strike, but Nauert called it a ball. Brooks showed this one hitting the outside black.*) With two on, Kimbrel faced Magneuris Sierra, who was batting .161 and had an OPS of .345. (An OPS+ of 100 is league average. Sierra's OPS+ was negative 2!) Anything less than utterly overpowering Sierra should have caused Kimbrel extreme shame. Foul, ball, swinging, foul, foul. (MLBTV (or my connection) was fucking up so I switched to NESN. I wonder if the Marlins' TV guys noticed that even an astonishing poor hitter like Sierra was getting his bat on Kimbrel's fastballs. If you throw 100+, big league hitters can still hit it. But announcers always act like it's superhuman speed.)

*: NESN's Steve Lyons said the pitch was likely a strike, but Kimbrel did not get the call from Nauert because he did not put the ball where he wanted to. So even though the pitch was in the strike zone, Kimbrel "missed his location" so the umpire was justified in calling it ball. So Lyons believes umpires must read the pitcher's mind and divine his intent before making their calls. Please keep in mind that this is the same guy that said teams are sometimes supposed to lose on blown calls. How is it possible that such an idiot has held onto his job so long? Is NESN incapable of finding anyone else in the entire fuckin world that can do a better job?

So, yes, Sierra grounded the 1-2 pitch into right field, upping his average to .170 (15-for-88). Who knows, maybe his OPS+ improved all the way to zero! ... Kimbrel got another line drive for the second out. He threw a wild pitch before receiving his first gift of the night. Galloway swung at a 3-2 pitch that was so low, it was practically underground. So what should have loaded the bases actually ended the inning.

Lefty Adam Conley, who had recorded the final out in the eighth, was on the mound for the last of the ninth. But when Steve Pearce was announced as batting for Mitch Moreland, the Marlins went with righty Drew Steckenrider. Pearce flied to right, but Martinez singled to center and Bogaerts served an 0-2 pitch into right for another hit.

Nunez fouled off the first pitch. he grounded the next one up the middle. Riddle - who took over at short in the eighth as one of Marlins manager Don Mattingly's seven replacements - grabbed the ball and took a few steps to second. He forced Boagerts for the second out, but his throw was low and to the right-field side of the bag. It bounced in front of Rojas's glove, but he could not catch it. And when Martinez scored with a huge grin on his face, the Red Sox had taken their fourth and final lead of the night.
Jose Urena / Brian Johnson
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Moreland, 1B
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Nunez, 3B
Kinsler, 2B
Swihart, C
Bradley, CF
           W   L   PCT   GB   M#    RS   RA   DIFF   EXPWL
Red Sox   90  42  .682  ---        706  500   +206   86-46
Yankees   83  48  .634  6.5   25   681  527   +154   81-50

Sean McAdam, Boston Sports Journal, August 26:
So, what's going on with the Red Sox? And how worried should you be? ...

No team — none — goes through an entire season without encountering a few speed bumps. The wonder is that it took this long for a stretch like this to arrive. ...

Think of it: the Red Sox played 127 games into their schedule before encountering their second three-game losing streak of the season.

They couldn't continue playing a .700 pace over six months. Too much can happen. Pitchers get tired, hitters cool off, and the team collectively hits a wall. All of that has happened at once for the Red Sox. ...

For the first half of the season, a case could be made that Sale and Rodriguez were the two best starters in the rotation. With both on the DL, they've gotten exactly one (1) start from either of them in the last month. ...

Rodriguez is set to throw six innings Monday for Pawtucket and is on schedule to pitch in Chicago next weekend. ...[Sale] may be another two weeks away from returning ...

[Mookie Betts] has cooled in the last two weeks [.228 in his last 15 games]. He's regressed to a more passive approach at the plate and has fallen into the bad habit of striking out in his first plate appearance ...

Without Betts getting on base — Andrew Benintendi has similarly cooled ... the Sox don't have their customary traffic for J.D. Martinez when he comes to the plate. ...

The schedule is about to deal them a break. ... [On Tuesday, the Red Sox] begin a stretch of six games against two of the worst teams in baseball — the Miami Marlins and Chicago White Sox.

If they're still scuffling a week from today, it will be cause for concern.
After throwing 15 scoreless innings to begin his time with the Red Sox, Nathan Eovaldi has allowed 21 runs in 17 innings (but only 14 runs were earned, so his ERA in those games is 7.41 and not 11.12).

Ian Kinsler has hit one extra-base hit since joining the Red Sox (41 PA), a double on August 2.

Of the Red Sox's remaining 30 games, 17 are at Fenway Park (where they have been 46-18), including 15 of their last 21:
August 28-29 - 2 vs Marlins
August 30-September 2 - 4 at White Sox
September 3-5 - 3 at Atlanta
September 7-9 - 3 vs Astros
September 11-13 - 3 vs Blue Jays
September 14-16 - 3 vs Mets
September 18-20 - 3 at Yankees
September 21-23 - 3 at Cleveland
September 24-26 - 3 vs Orioles
September 28-30 - 3 vs Yankees
MFY Watch: White Sox/Yankees, 7 PM. They lead the A's in the WC Standings by 4.5 games.

No comments: