October 7, 2021

ALDS 1: Rays 5, Red Sox 0

Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  9  0
Rays - 201 010 10x - 5  6  1

The Red Sox could not get anything started in Game 1 against the Rays. They had nine hits, all singles, but drew no walks, grounded into two double plays, went 1-for-7 with RATS, and stranded eight men on base. The Red Sox touched third base only twice all night, both times with two outs.

Shane McClanahan (5-5-0-0-3, 82) and three Tampa Bay relievers were consistently ahead of Boston's batters. Of the 33 Red Sox batters who took the first pitch, 22 fell behind 0-1. More than one-third of the batters who saw at least three pitches were down 0-2 after the first two (9 of 26, 35%).

This was the first game in more than 28 years in which the Red Sox were shutout despite having 9+ hits, with all of them being singles (May 3, 1993). how long ago was that? Boston's starting pitcher was Frank Viola.

The Rays scored the only run they would need after two batters and eight pitches. Eduardo Rodriguez, who lasted only nine batters (1.2-2-2-2-1, 41), walked Randy Arozarena and gave up an RBI- double to Wander Franco.

Yandy Diaz drove in another first-inning run with a two-out single. Diaz tried to help the Red Sox get the third out of the inning by sliding into first base, but he would have been safe anyway. If sliding into first actually got a runner to the bag faster, we would see sprinters sliding across the finish line (and shredding the skin on their legs in the process). But we don't, because it's a stupid move that does the exact opposite of what its practitioners think it does. Thanks for thinking of us, though, Yandy.

Nick Pivetta began the third inning and pitched into the seventh (4.2-4-3-2-4, 73). He's the first Red Sox pitcher to come into a postseason game in the third inning or earlier and pitch 4+ innings since Wes Gardner, in 1988 ALCS 3 at Oakland.

Pivetta gave up two dongs. Nelson Cruz's fly ball hit the C-ring catwalk in the Rays' drab fucking Mickey Mouse park in the third, which counts as a home run. Arozarena hit a proper bomb in the fifth and capped his night by walking* in the seventh and eventually scoring on a straight steal of home, catching Josh Taylor napping on the mound. It was the first straight steal of home in a postseason game in 66 years (Jackie Robinson, 1955 World Series). Arozarena is the first player to hit a home run and steal home in a postseason game.

(*: Plate umpire Dan Bellino called two pitches in the zone balls, so Arozarena actually walked on a 1-4 pitch.)

What did the Red Sox do at the plate? 

Schwarber beat out an infield hit with one down in the first and stole second (wheels!) as Xander Bogaerts struck out, but McClanahan fanned Rafael Devers on a 100-mph heater down the pipe. His three first-inning strikeouts were the only Ks he had in the game.

Hunter Renfroe lined a single off the left field wall to begin the second and Alex Verdugo was safe on Brandon Lowe's fielding error at second base. Lowe redeemed himself, however, by starting a 4-6-3 double play on Bobby Dalbec and Christian Vazquez flied to center.

After going in order in the third (three groundouts), Devers singled to left with one out in the fourth. After Renfrow popped to first, Verdugo singled to center, but Dalbec stranded the runners by lining out to third baseman Diaz.

Christian Arroyo singled in the fifth, but Schwarber forced him at second for the third out. In the sixth against JT Chargois, Bogaerts singled to center, but Devers flied to center and Renfroe grounded into a 6-3 DP. David Robertson pitched a clean seventh.

Boston's best chance at scoring came in the eighth, when they were already down by five runs. Facing J.P. Feyereisen, Arroyo grounded a single down the right field line. Kike Hernandez flied to right. Schwarber knocked a full-count pitch into right-center. Bogaerts popped an 0-1 pitch to center, but Kiermaier lost the ball in the ceiling and it fell for a hit, loading the bases.

Although Feyereisen's fastball topped out at 93, Devers tried three times to hit it, but came up empty each time. Strike two was down the heart of the plate. Strike three was a high pitch well out of the zone. Renfroe fouled out to first. Feyereisen also pitched the ninth, getting a strikeout and two fly outs.

Chris Sale better bring his big boy pants tomorrow.

Tommie Agee, Mets, 1969 NLCS 2 vs Phillies
Eddie Murray, Orioles, 1983 ALCS 3 at White Sox
Randy Arozarena, Rays, 2021 ALDS 1 vs Red Sox

Cardinals, 1943 WS 5 vs Yankees
White Sox, 1983 ALCS 4 vs Orioles
Red Sox, 2021 ALDS 1 at Rays

John Smoltz, the famous homophobe who is banned from MLB Network studios for refusing to get the COVID vaccine, was part of the broadcasting crew (Fox has super-strict mandates; how was he allowed in the booth?), so I'm sure there were inanities innumerable. I don't know the exact count, because I wisely had muted the sound. . . . This is amusing. This Fox Sports graphic shows the Orioles, who lost 110 games and finished 48 GB, spent eight times as many days in first place this season than the Yankees!

Update: J.D. Martinez is on the ALDS roster, but pitcher Matt Barnes is not.
Eduardo Rodriguez will get the ball for ALDS 1. The 28-year-old left-hander finished the season with the worst ERA (4.74) of his six-year career, but he pitched much better down the stretch (3.19 in his last seven games  and 2.11 in his last five).

Two starts against Tampa Bay (included in that 3.19 ERA) roughly a month ago tell us we have no idea what we'll see from EdRo tonight, although I suppose that's true of any pitcher on any night:

September 2 at Tampa Bay: 6.0-4-0-1-6, 94 - Red Sox won 4-0
September 7 at Fenway:    3.2-8-6-0-3, 68 - Red Sox lost 7-12

After that disaster on September 7, Rodriguez made four starts (along with one inning of relief in the final game of the season) and posted a 2.11 ERA, with 26 strikeouts in 21.1 innings.

The Rays will start lefty Shane McClanahan, who made a name for himself last October by being the first pitcher ever to make his major league debut in the postseason. McClanahan faced the Red Sox three times in August and September, allowing five runs in 16 innings (although four of those runs came in one outing). 

The big question for the Red Sox is whether J.D. Martinez's left ankle will be strong enough for him to play. ALDS rosters must be submitted by 10 AM ET today. If the Red Sox include Martinez but he cannot play initially, the team will be slightly short-handed. But assuming the injury is not severe, I can't see the team deciding to leave him off for as many as five games.

The Red Sox were 8-11 against the Rays this season (the Blue Jays and Yankees also went 8-11), even though they scored nearly as many runs (104) as Tampa Bay did (106) in those 19 games. An 11-2 win on April 5 and a 20-8 rout on August 11 helped even things out. Manager Alex Cora wants to point out:
I know they won the season series, but if you look at the games, you know, there was a 1-0 game with a wild pitch in the ninth inning [June 24]. There was a sun ball at Fenway [September 6] when we were up 7-1 [and lost in extra innings]. I know they're really good. . . . [B]ut we feel we have a good team.
The other ALDS also begins tonight:
White Sox (93-69) at Astros (95-67)
The two NLDS will get underway on Friday:
Dodgers (106-56) at Giants (107-55) (!!!)
Atlanta (88-73) at Brewers (95-67)

1 comment:

allan said...

Chad Jennings of The Athletic writes: "Barnes was a little better after returning from COVID-19 in September, but he still had a 9.26 ERA in the final two months . . ."

I'm no Barnes fan, but both parts of that sentence are more than a little deceptive. He was "a little better" in September? Yeah, I'd say so!

August 7-24: 4.1 IP, 11 H, 5 BB, 10 RA, 11.94 ERA
Aug. 26-Oct 1: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 2 RA, 2.84 ERA