The Red Sox got some runs on the board after an extremely frustrating stretch, and while they all came in one frame it was enough. Drew Pomeranz got the start and although he gave up a couple dingers, he was able to limit the damage all night.
The Red Sox came to the plate in the bottom of the first already trailing 1-0 (we’ll get to that later). With the way things have been going at the plate over the last few games, it seemed like an insurmountable lead. Yeah, that’s a crazy way to look at things but it’s understandable if you’ve been watching the recent games. They didn’t take long to put that nonsense to bed. After a quick first out from Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi stepped to the plate and took a high fastball from Jake Arrieta and launched it into the bullpen. For a moment, it looked like Jason Heyward might be able to rob the homer and continue Boston’s frustrations, but it cleared the glove and resulted in another celebration from the famous bullpen cop.
With the game tied at one, the Red Sox were far from done. Mookie Betts kept things going with a double into the right field gap and Hanley Ramirez brought him in with a seeing-eye single past Anthony Rizzo who was playing far off the bag. After a wild pitch moved Ramirez to second, Mitch Moreland came through with a ripped double into the right field corner to put the Red Sox up 3-1. Another wild pitch moved Moreland to third and a walk to Dustin Pedroia put runners on the corners for Jackie Bradley. The center fielder hit and RBI single which was followed by another RBI single by Christian Vazquez.
Just like that, the Red Sox offense had put up five runs in the first inning and they’d end up batting around in the frame. To do so against a very good pitcher in Arrieta was a huge confidence booster. It wouldn’t carry through for the rest of the game, though.
Boston went down 1-2-3 in the next two innings before starting another rally in the fourth. They had the bases loaded with nobody out, but Benintendi struck out for the first out. Then, Betts ripped a line drive right at Kris Bryant who was able to double up Vazquez at third base to end the inning. It was mostly bad luck, but Vazquez made a mistake in taking a step towards home on contact rather than retreating. That was the first of three consecutive innings that would end on double plays for Boston.
Meanwhile, Pomeranz did Drew Pomeranz things for the Red Sox tonight. I’m still not really sure what he is as a pitcher, but he was certainly good enough in this one. It didn’t always look like he would be, though. Just like Boston hit a home run with their second batter of the game, Bryant hit one for the Cubs after a quick first out in the top half of the first. This was a high fastball that Bryant was ready for and he crushed it over everything in left field. It wasn’t a great pitch, but mostly Bryant is just an amazing hitter.
Pomeranz would make one more mistake in the game, this time in the third inning. Once again, it was on a high fastball and once again it went over the Monster (hey, that’s the name of this site!). The only difference was it didn’t go quite as far and it was off the bat of Albert Almora instead of Bryant.
Other than those two home runs, Pomeranz did the job. He got into a little bit of trouble in just about each of his six innings, but he was always able to escape the jam. That makes the outing sound worse than it was, too. Many of the base runners weren’t quite his fault. In the second inning, for instance, he allowed two leadoff hits but they were both on extremely weak contact. In the fourth, the base runner he allowed reached on an infield single and made it to second thanks to an ill-advised decision to throw to first by Pomeranz. So, I guess that was kind of his fault but you get the point.
In all, Pomeranz had his weak moments like he always does. At some point, he’ll have to figure out how to get these home run numbers back to a manageable rate. He won’t always be so lucky as to give them up with nobody on base. On the other hand, he did have seven more strikeouts in his six innings of work and had his curveball working all night. From one of the bottom three starters, depending on how you view this rotation, the Red Sox will certainly take it.
Pomeranz left the game in the hands of his bullpen with the Red Sox up 5-2 heading into the top of the seventh. They didn’t exactly make it easy tonight. Robby Scott began the frame with a walk and a strikeout before giving way to Joe Kelly. He struck out Bryant with a nasty fastball in perfect location to start the inning, but then allowed a single to Rizzo that put runners on the corner. That was followed up with an errant breaking ball that hit the plate and got away from Vazquez, allowing a run to score and the Cubs to get within two. Ben Zobrist followed that up with another single and all of a sudden Chicago was just a run away from tying the game.
Kelly would end the inning with a flyout before things could get knotted up, which led to Heath Hembree coming in to handle the eighth. It didn’t start out promising, although it did start with an out. Willson Contreras lined out on a ball that must have been hit 500 mph.* After two singles, both hit pretty hard, John Farrell had seen enough and called upon Fernando Abad for his first high-leverage appearance of the year. Sox fans were understandably nervous, but the southpaw came through in a huge way getting two strikeouts to end the inning and preserve the lead.
*Possibly not entirely accurate.
From there, it was Craig Kimbrel time. The Red Sox closer continued to be electric, striking out three batters to close the door and give the Red Sox the lead.
The offense only had one big inning on Friday, but it was enough to get the win. They got a good performance from their starter and clutch outings from both Abad and Kimbrel. Good all-around win, and a wildly tense game for the month of April.