Well, things are starting (or, probably more accurately, continuing) to look awfully shaky for the Red Sox. They just aren’t clicking right now and in every game there seems to be at least one inning in which everything goes poorly. Sometimes, like on Friday night, it comes on offense when the bases are loaded and the bats can’t push across a single run. Other times, it’s when the defense is on the field, as with this one.
The Red Sox actually got the first lead in this one when Hanley Ramirez led off the second with a big home run to straightaway center field.
It was an encouraging swing for a guy who hasn’t shown much since having to leave his one game in Milwaukee early. The Red Sox really need some power in the middle of their lineup, and while the rest of Hanley’s day at the plate was awfully forgettable, he did finally put a charge into another baseball.
They’d score another one in the inning thanks to some poor defense from Oakland. The Red Sox have had some trouble taking advantage of these breaks this year, so it was nice to see them come through here. Chris Young hit a pop up out to shallow right field, but both Jed Lowrie and Mark Canha lost it in the sun, allowing it to drop and for Young to get to second base. After that, a couple of ground outs advanced Young two bases and gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
From there, it was up to Drew Pomeranz to preserve it, but he and his defense were not up to the task. In the very next half inning, Pomeranz got off to a shaky start and his team didn’t help him out. Things started with two walks and a strikeout, driving up his pitch count already (more on that soon). Then, with two on, Josh Phegley hit a swinging bunt between Christian Vazquez and Pomeranz. A lot happened on this one, and you can watch it for yourself here.*
*I can’t seem to link directly to the video, so the correct one is “Plouffe scores on error, Melvin ejected.”
In the simplest terms, Vazquez picked it up and made a poor throw to first, allowing everyone to advance an extra base and a run to score. It’s more complicated than that. At first glance, it appears that it should be Pomeranz’ ball, and that’s true. However, it looked like he got a slow start to it and Vazquez then called him off. Pomeranz needs to react more quickly, to be sure. Once Vazquez decides the ball is his, though, he need to realize the odds of getting an out are slim at best. He needs to make a perfect throw at a high velocity from a short distance to a player who rarely plays first base. The odds of a bad throw were much higher than those of an out. At the end of the play, A’s manager Bob Melvin was ejected for arguing his players should each have been placed one base further.
After getting another strikeout, Rajai Davis dropped a well-placed bunt towards third base to score another run and tie the game. Once again, Pomeranz did not get to a ball he probably should have, but in this case it seemed to me that Davis was too fast to get thrown out either way.
Pomeranz would leave the inning with the game tied at two, and wouldn’t allow any more runs in the next two innings. However, in typical Pomeranz fashion, he nibbled around the strike zone too much, threw too many balls and allowed too many foul balls before putting opponents away. All of this inefficiency led him to being pulled with 97 pitches in just four innings of work. As it turns out, Pomeranz was not a fan of being taken out of the game.
That left the game on the bullpen’s shoulders. The good news is that the Red Sox pulled ahead in the top half of the fifth, again taking advantage of poor defense. An error allowed Deven Marrero to get to second on what should have been a groundout to first base, and Dustin Pedroia knocked him in with a single.
That gave Ben Taylor a 3-2 lead to work with coming out of the bullpen. It would last about five seconds. He allowed a home run to Mark Canha — who has killed Boston this weekend — to lead off the inning and tie the game. After following that up with a single, Taylor allowed another home run, this time to Khris Davis. He’d walk the next batter and be pulled out of the game for Noe Ramirez. The new pitcher did not change things, though. Ramirez would get one quick out, but then allowed a monster of a home run to Chad Pinder to give Oakland five runs in the inning and a four run lead. Ramirez allowed another home run in the sixth to put Oakland up 8-3. That was pretty much the game, with the only other highlight coming in the form of an eephus from Fernando Abad in the eighth inning.
This loss puts the team down to .500 for the first time since April 12 and while I’m still not panicking about the long-term future of the team it’s hard to deny that they are hard to watch right now. The offense is sputtering, the rotation is inconsistent and the bullpen is extremely shallow. Returns from injury will certainly help some of this, but the guys who are on the field right now need to do better than they have.