The Red Sox opened up a 4 game series with Cleveland on Monday night having taken 2 of 3 versus NYY over the weekend. Boston entered play 5 games up on the idle Yankees with a mere 39 games remaining in the MLB season. We all know Cleveland swept the Red Sox in the 2016 ALDS and the Indians have been red hot winning 8 of 10 feeling good to begin their 7 game homestand. On a night that was driven by the long ball and some extremely questionable managerial decision making, the Red Sox needed to assert their dominance over the 2016 American League Champions.
The heat wave continued last night. Benny started the game smoking a two run jack into the right field seats off of Cleveland's Mike Clevinger. Clevinger's night was short going just 4.1 IP allowing 4 runs on 4 hits in addition to issuing 4 BB. The second forgettable start in a row for the young Indians pitcher. Andrew Benintendi finished 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored on a night that would see two 2-run homeruns by the BoSox.
The Rookie of the Year conversation is very much on.
Hanley Ramirez has been showing signs of being the designated hitter the Red Sox have so desperately needed all season. It's no question they've missed to presence of retired David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup and Boston knew Hanley wasn't going to be THAT guy, but the Sox have needed his bat more than he's given it. Between his poor plate discipline and clutch-less hitting, I'll be the first to admit I've been tough on him. He's been hitting the ball hard recently usually into an opponent's glove, yet I've still questioned his position and presence in the lineup. Well, on Monday night, Hanley told me to STFU.
Unfortunately in the 7th inning, after a series of injury timeouts to both umpire Hunter Wendelstedt & Indians pitcher Andrew Miller, Hanley failed to grab some Boston insurance runs. He grounded into an inning ending double play, his 13th of the season, tying him for second most on the club. [Bogaerts - 15] It was a missed opportunity that came back to haunt the AL East Division leaders.
Eduardo Rodriguez took the hill for Boston and hasn't been able to control his pitch counts. That's nothing new with E-Rod, but we did see some careless baseball played by the young Sox left-hander, which is new. In the 4th inning he covered the first base bag on a groundball to Brock Holt, who was inserted into the lineup in replacement of Mitch Moreland, and failed to touch the bag after catching the toss. A play that would've resulted in the 3rd out of the inning. but caused him to toss 5 more pitches.
It may seem like a little thing, but come playoff time, Rodriguez may be the team's 4th pitcher in a 7 game series. Based on what we've seen from him and the ever growing concern that David Price won't be ready, its' a fact that absolutely scares the hell out me and it should you, too.
The carelessness of his outing did not end there. After managing his pitch count through the first half of the game, including a 1-2-3 5th inning, E-Rod's start was halted after 5.2 IP. A walk and the always egregious balk was enough for Farrell to call upon Joe Kelly to clean up the mess, which he did, after a good at-bat that ended with Santana flying out to JBJ in center. Joe Kelly stayed on for the 7th and finished 1.1 IP - 0 H - 0 R - 1 K.
I've said it many, many times. Boston Red Sox games do not start until the 7th inning. On Monday night, it was the 8th inning. This time there was no Sox Magic, no Fenway Faithful, zero excitement for Boston fans. It was a hot fucking mess. Farrell went to Barnes for his 245th appearance of the season [not a typo] and Barnes continued his remarkable road pitching[this is a lie] with a 1 run lead. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
Matt Barnes can go wrong and he did. He went very wrong. Barnes gave up a BB, a H & failed to record an out. Heath Hembree wasn't much better in relief of Barnes. allowing an inherited runner to score which erased Rodriguez from a potential win. Hembree was able to get an out before Robby Scott, of all people, came in to save the day striking out back-to-back Cleveland hitters sending the game to the 9th tied at 4.
After a leadoff hit for birthday boy Christian Vazquez, Chris Young pinch ran for him when the count on Jackie Bradley Jr ran to 3-0. After fly outs by JBJ [0-for-3] and Nunez [0-for-5] Mookie Betts popped out to SS and the Indians escaped the 9th.
Electing to keep Workman out of the 8th inning with a one run lead, manager John Farrell sent him out there for the tied 9th. Catcher Alberto Perez, who was the Indians player of the game after a 3 run HR and showcasing some lovely defensive baseball, laid down a sacrifice bunt that proved to be the game winning at-bat. An errant throw by 1B Brock Holt, a throw Mitch Moreland maybe could've made, sailed past 3B Rafael Devers and allowed the runner advancing to 3rd to round the bases and score with no play at the plate.
A shitty way to lose a very winnable ballgame. Farrell said after the game that Addison Reed was not available and he wanted to stay away from bringing Workman in because of his recent workload. He decided against his first instinct and Workman took the loss. Adding that if he sent Kimbrel out to work tonight then he'd have to give the Red Sox closer the next two nights off and that's not good strategy when facing Cleveland, who always seems to play against Boston very well.
When asked about the final play of the game Manager John didn't mince words when he called Brock Holt's "rushed" throw "the difference" in the game. Brock Holt had a game to forget going 0-for-4 and committing the game ending error.
This Red Sox team is the most inconsistent 18 games above .500 team in the history of baseball. One night they're rockstars at the plate and between the bases, other nights they're throwing the ball around like some T-Ball team. No offense to T-Ball teams. While I still feel confident they'll glue it all together in time for playoff baseball, I would be lying if I told you this team didn't aggravate the ever-living shit out of me. Games they should win, games that would allow them to swing momentum even further in their direction, to continue to step on the throat of the Yankees, they squander away. It's never some bomb or clutch hitting by the opponent, it's typically awful pitching, ugly defense and extremely inadequate managing that does this team in.
A game just like Monday night.
Final Score: Red Sox 4 - Indians 5
Photo Credit - Boston Red Sox