Brock Holt is Boston's lone All-Star for now, but Tuesday night, Xander Bogaerts made his case for why he should join the super utility player in Cincinnati.
While Bogaerts' night was not perfect, it did not need to be, because Wade Miley was capable of carrying much of the burden for the Red Sox tonight. It was an outing bookended by shaky innings, the sort which comes away looking worse than it actually was, but even with that asterisk, Miley came away with a solid performance.
That shaky start came with hard contact, but without runs. With Mookie Betts handling some of that hard contact, Miley got away with a two-out double to Adeiny Hechavarria, leading into a much cleaner second inning which saw Miley strike out both Jeff Baker and J.T. Realmuto on four pitches.
The Red Sox would get on top in the bottom of the second on a series of singles from Shane Victorino, Travis Shaw, and Ryan Hanigan--the bottom three batters in the lineup--before Mookie Betts, who has been on fire of late, hit into an uncharacteristic double play to end the threat.
Unfortunately, Wade Miley was not up to the task of the shutdown inning. While he did strike out the side in the third, he did so while allowing a leadoff double Cole Gillespie, and a two-out single to Christian Yellich, scoring Gillespie from second and evening up the game at 1-1.
The bottom of the third would see the Sox waste a golden opportunity. After Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts reached second and third to start the inning, David Ortiz hit a line drive right to Michael Morse at first, leaving them stuck in place. Still, the Sox needed just a productive out from Hanley Ramirez. Instead, the left fielder struck out, and Pablo Sandoval popped up, just one example of an entirely unproductive night from the heart of the order.
Dan Haren would tighten up dramatically from there, facing the minimum through the next three innings as he finished his night with six innings of one-run ball. Wade Miley matched him, but that brings us to the shaky ending, as he was sent out for the seventh with nearly 100 pitches already on his arm. He was immediately greeted by a Realmuto double off the Monster, and an RBI single that bounced weakly down the first base line into right field. The Mariners saw fit to give him a break with a sacrifice bunt from Miguel Rojas, and Dee Gordon grounded out to get him within an out of escaping with just a one-run deficit, but Christian Yellich doubled over Mookie Betts' head, and the Marlins took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the inning after Junichi Tazawa grabbed the last out.
But the Red Sox had the perfect setup. The 4-through-6 batters who would finish the night 0-for-10 with a couple walks had just come to bat, leaving the more productive parts of the order (for whatever reason) up. Shane Victorino couldn't get the rally started, striking out on a slider away, but Travis Shaw picked up the third hit of both his night and career behind him, and Ryan Hanigan drew a walk to set up Mookie Betts.
Effectively Bogaerts' partner in crime these last five weeks, Betts was not on his game tonight, but neither was Miguel Rojas, who turned what could have been a double play ball into a bases loaded situation. That brought Brock Holt to the plate with a chance to add an exclamation mark to the first half that earned him an All-Star nod, but five pitches later he was headed back to the dugout with a strikeout.
That left it all on the shoulders of Xander Bogaerts, who had to face off against hoppin' Carter Capps (if you don't know why I'm calling him that, check out some video of his delivery). Capps fell behind 3-0, but fought back to run the count full at 3-2. Xander fouled off a couple pitches, and Capps tried to put him away with 99 MPH heat on the corner up-and-away. Bogaerts went with the pitch, and stroked a single past Dee Gordon and into right field. As Shaw and Hanigan came in to score, Mookie Betts raced around all the bases, making his way home all the way from first to put the Red Sox ahead 4-3.
While some bullpen uncertainty led John Farrell to give Miley a little too much leash in the seventh, in the eighth and the ninth he had his two men: Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara. Two lightning fast frames later, the Red Sox had their seventh win in nine games.