Sometimes when you’re in a rough stretch like the Sox have been, you need a game like this. You need a game where you can go out there, and piece together a win. Yes, it was ugly. Regardless, it still adds one to the win column and when you’re a scuffling team trying to hang around in the division standings, that’s exactly what you need. The scoring began with Travis Shaw hitting a solo shot in the 2nd inning to put Boston ahead 1-0. This lead grew to 2-0 in the 5th after back to back doubles from Bryce Brentz and Mookie Betts. Unfortunately in the bottom half of the inning, the wheels began to fall off for Drew Pomeranz.
The Mariners were able to mount a 5th inning comeback tying the game 2-2 after Pomeranz allowed a solo home run and an RBI single. For the next 5 innings, it was nothing but goose eggs for each team. This finally changed in the 11th inning when Brock Holt drove in Travis Shaw on a single to center field. Finally at 1:58am Eastern Time, Brad Ziegler closed out the game and allowed the few Red Sox fans that were crazy enough to watch ‘til this point to go to sleep knowing they closed the gap in the AL East to 2 games. Now let’s talk about what we can take away from this four hour, 11 inning marathon.
It almost pains me to say that Drew Pomeranz earned a quality start. A quality start in baseball is defined as at least 6 innings pitched and no more than 3 earned runs allowed. Pomeranz may have gone 6 innings and allowed 2 earned runs, but that was ugliest performance I’ve seen out of a Red Sox starter in a while. How can a start be considered “quality” if you walk 6 batters? 6 BATTERS! Every time he threw the ball, I could tell that he had absolutely no idea where it was going. There was only about 2 or 3 times all game that I noticed Pomeranz hit the spot he was supposed to hit and have the pitch result in a strike. The only reason he didn’t get lit up was because the ball was never close enough to the strike zone to make solid contact. Then when he would throw fastballs directly down the middle, the batters were so thrown off by the fact that the ball was in the strike zone that they would foul it straight back. Maybe that is not 100% accurate, but that’s sure as heck what it looked like to me. If we look back at the box score in a couple weeks, we’ll have forgotten about all the details and see a quality start for Pomeranz and a 3-2 win for the team. Unfortunately, this start was anything but quality and not something that Drew can build on.
Craig Kimbrel is back and even better than when he left. Kimbrel came in with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, with runners on 1st and 2nd in a non-save situation, and got the job done. This showed the fans that even though Kimbrel has not excelled in non-save situations, Farrell will not hesitate to put him out there when he needs a big out. He got Robinson Cano to ground out on just two pitches allowing him to be able to come back out for the 10th. In the 10th inning, Kimbrel was dominant as ever striking out the side and making legitimate sluggers such as Nelson Cruz and Adam Lind look like they were the worst kids on a little league baseball team who later quit because they got sick of batting 12th and playing right-center field. If this is the Craig Kimbrel that Red Sox fans can expect for the rest of the season, going into the 9th inning with a one run lead is going to become a lot less stressful.
This game was unlike the ones they’ve been playing lately. This wasn’t a game in which the pitching was dominant and the offense was terrible, it wasn’t a game that the offense took over and the pitching gave it up, it was somewhere in between. The offense was just good enough to scrape by (13 hits is impressive but only scoring 3 runs on those 13 hits is disgraceful), and the pitching kept the offense in the game despite allowing far too many base runners for comfort. (*cough* *cough* Drew Pomeranz) Nevertheless, sometimes you’re going to need to grind out a win like this one and move on. I’m sure the Sox wanted to come away from this series with more than a split, but all they can do now is chalk this one up in the win column and shift their focus to Los Angeles.