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Red Sox 3, Tigers 8: Drew Pomeranz’ Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

This was a very bad game.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Red Sox. Tigers. Baseball. It’s been a fun series. But this game was not nearly as fun as the others. This was because the Tigers took a 2-0 lead all of eight pitches into the ballgame, and they never gave it up. Up ahead is roughly 2400 words on the subject. I suggest commenting instead.

Ian Kinsler started action with a lined shot to left field, and then Nicholas Castellanos homered to center-field, where his 448 foot shot had more than enough to clear the wall. Castellanos has been enjoying Fenway a lot. Then Miguel Cabrera walked, wasting a lot of Pomeranz pitches. Thankfully, an opportune double play (hit by good friend Victor Martinez) would allow Pomeranz to stop the bleeding. J.D. Martinez forced Pomeranz to waste more pitches.. On the 8th pitch of the at-bat, and the 24th of the inning, J.D. would get a frustrating single.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
This guy...
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Frustrating came to define the inning (and the game). With the Sox needing Pomeranz to buckle down, he uncorked a wild pitch that Christian Vazquez couldn’t catch, allowing J.D. to advance to second. He scored on a single by Justin Upton, who decided there wasn’t enough blood in the first inning. I would disagree, but it’s fine, it’s ok to have a different opinion.

Jackie Bradley Jr is basically a god, though, and caught a ball that kept carrying off the bat of Mikie Mahtook. It wasn’t a terribly impressive catch, but it was impressive that things didn’t continue to spiral. After thirty pitches, the first inning mercifully ended and the Red Sox would get a chance to play baseball.

Dustin Pedroia became the first Red Sox batter to strike back at the dastardly Tigers. A double that clanged loudly off the Monster would be heard for generations to come, as the horn was sounded. The battle was on.

Unfortunately, the “Hitter’s Umpire” -as ESPN oft reminded us- called a fringe strike at the bottom inside corner, and Xander Bogaerts would strike out, leaving the job of driving in our first run to Hanley Ramirez. Hanley answered with his own ball towards the Monster. A dent in the lead was had.

Unfortunately, Hanley Ramirez also got thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double. But more unfortunately than that, Hanley would appear to be hurt. Again. After an extensive review that showed numerous angles where Hanley looked like he could have been safe, the call would be upheld. So Hanley sauntered back to the dugout, mildly hurt, and out.

Drew Pomeranz sort of bounced back in his second inning of work. He would need an amazing sliding defensive play by Xander Bogaerts with an impressive pick by Mitch Moreland at first base to pull it off, but Pomeranz escaped the second without allowing a base-runner.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Defensive wizard, Xander Bogaerts!
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Unfortunately, Daniel Norris also bounced back, largely because of a great defensive play by Nicholas Castellanos. I guess he pretty much lives to destroy the Red Sox on both sides of the ball. There are worse career paths.

Xander Bogaerts would follow up his second inning defensive excellence with more excellence to end the third inning. Last time, he robbed Ian Kinsler. This time, he robbed Victor Martinez. You can’t win a gold glove based on two defensive plays in one game in the middle of June, but I desperately wish you could.

The Red Sox would be in business in the bottom of the third. Jackie Bradley absolutely smoked a ball between Castellanos and Iglesias. If it had been hit any harder, it might have burrowed underground, and set up a lair under Fenway’s infield. A couple patient plate appearances later, Mookie Betts hit a light single to shallow left field. Suddenly, with runners on first and second, with only one out, Norris was back to walking the tightrope.

Dustin Pedroia slammed a ball into deep center field. It wouldn’t be a home run, but it was long and deep enough that Mikie Mahtook couldn’t keep up with it in conjunction with the Fenway wind. A run would score, and there were runners on second and third, with only one out, and a dangerous Xander Bogaerts at the plate. The game was 3-2, and the Red Sox were threatening to erase the lead, and take one of their own in one fell swoop.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Daniel Norris on the tight rope, as he often was in this game.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Xander would pop out on the 7th pitch of the at-bat. While there were now 2 outs, and it was looking less likely the Red Sox could score, a statement had been sent, and Norris wasted a ton of pitches just to get through this inning. Norris opted to intentionally walk Hanley, a completely justifiable move, a lefty on lefty matchup of Moreland and Norris. Norris got the long fly out, and the Red Sox were retired with the bases loaded. A singular run would score, but the Tigers retained the lead.

Things continued to happen, in spite of me wanting to keep the recap short. In the fourth inning, two quick hits off Pomeranz had the momentum swing back the other way. J.D. Martinez and Upton would be on first and second, with Mikie Mahtook wanting revenge for the embarrassment suffered the previous half inning. A sharp liner to right field would be dived at, but Mahtook emerged with a single to load the bases, while Mookie would just have to settle for not allowing a baserunner to score.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
So close, but no cigar, Mookie.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Drew Pomeranz chose an excellent time to get his first strikeout of the game, as he struck-out James McCann. He then chose an excellent time to finally find his curveball, and get his second strikeout of the game, this time retiring Jose Iglesias. He again chose excellent timing to get Kinsler to fly-out. He loaded the bases on three straight batters, but surrendered no runs at all in this inning. He finished the inning at 82 pitches, and as such, was leaving the game in the bullpen’s hands, but this is generally par for the course with Pomeranz.

Fortunately, the Red Sox bullpen, for the most part, has been reliable. This has not been the case for the Tigers, who were also heading for a bullpen game. The Red Sox offense would force Norris to throw a lot of pitches in his own fourth inning, but ultimately, no more runs would score. The game would remain 3-2, but Norris was up over 75 pitches, through four innings, ensuring a bullpen battle that should favor the Sox.

In the fifth inning, disaster struck for the Red Sox.

Xander Bogaerts would make a defensive error, allowing Nicholas Castellanos to reach base again. Miguel Cabrera put a dent in the Monster. Pomeranz was walking the tightrope yet again. This time, they would not escape disaster. A ground ball to Bogaerts led to a force out at third, a heads-up play to be sure. But to follow this help from his defense, Pomeranz walked J.D. Martinez, and then walked back to the dugout, as he would be removed from the game after 4 13 innings.

Heath Hembree was in the game. The bases were loaded. It was a battle of the bullpens that should logically favor the Red Sox, a team with a good bullpen.

Heath Hembree gave up a grand slam to Justin Upton.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Oh, Justin Upton. You do you. Just do it against another team, please.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Yeah, that’s pretty much how the game was going, why not? The book would be closed on Drew Pomeranz. Barring a comeback, Drew Pomeranz would receive his 4th loss, after giving up 8 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs, through 4 13 innings (that is decidedly not a good line to have).

The score was now 7-2, but Hembree decided to be a good sport and spot them one more run. A Mahtook groundout, McCann double, and Iglesias walk later, there was a runner on first and second with 2 outs. Ian Kinsler would single to left field, scoring McCann, and the game was now 8-2. Hembree would mercifully strike out Nicholas Castellanos and the bleeding would end once more.

The Red Sox would be left with a steep mountain just to climb back into the game, let alone win it. Betts hit a long ball off the Monster (might just be me, but it felt like the Monster took a beating tonight), to get things started, and Pedroia walked. With runners on first and second and no outs, the Sox were back in business. Bogaerts would hit another infield pop-up however, and Hanley struck out. Just like that, it looked like the rally would end without incident. Trying to force the issue, Mookie just took third base. The Tigers allowed this, thankfully, very kind of them. Moreland would pay back this kindness by striking out, and the inning would end. But Daniel Norris was at 96 pitches, and hopefully, would be leaving the game really soon. The bullpen battle would begin.

Blaine Boyer would be the next pitcher the Red Sox would burn on this night. Boyer has been a small surprise. While not terribly effective, he’s been a good garbage time reliever. He would pitch a scoreless inning, which was really nice, in my opinion. It was one of the few nice things about this game.

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
Blaine Boyer was surprisingly good tonight.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Shane Greene would replace Norris. After getting two relatively quick outs, the Red Sox often would say “no” to Greene taking the entire team down. Bradley took the ball to left field, and landed on second base with a double. Vazquez would poke a ball into right field, and the Red Sox find themselves with a third incredible, miraculous run. Mookie flied out to deep center field, and almost made it 8-4, but unfortunately the park is very large in that part of the yard, and it died. Not a good combination.

Boyer came out for a second inning of work, and he kept the Tigers from scoring again, something Pomeranz could probably take notes from. I’m not going to suggest Blaine Boyer should be a starter instead of Pomeranz, because that’s a dumb idea for a ridiculous amount of reasons (foremost that it was just two innings of work), but Blaine Boyer should totally be a starter seriously, it’s just a bad idea.

Another rally came to life in the bottom of the 7th inning, off of venerable potential HoF closer turned middle reliever Francisco Rodriguez. Pedroia drew a walk on four straight pitches. Bogaerts looked locked in, but then the first base umpire felt Bogaerts went around on a swing where he didn’t come anywhere near swinging around on, and punched him out. Hanley Ramirez, feeling all of Bogaerts rage gather inside him, lofted a ball to center for a single, to move Pedey over to second. Another long fly out killed another rally, as the Sox would go into the final 2 innings down 8-3.

There was still two more innings to play, so in came Fernando Abad. Pitching for his third time in June, Abad put down the opposition, 1-2-3.


Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals
Who is this?
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Alex Wilson came out to greet his former team in the 8th. And then he sat down at the end of the inning, after getting three outs. He allowed a runner to reach, but a double play meant the runner was removed promptly.

Abad, rewarded for pitching well in this very Abad game, saw a second inning of action, just like Boyer before him. And he retired the opposition, 1-2-3.

OK, now this is just wacky baseball.

Justin Wilson was in to close the gates, and the Red Sox just were not going to score 5 runs off of Justin Wilson, if they couldn’t take advantage of the other pitchers in the pen. Safe to say, the Red Sox lost.

Now, Pomeranz did not have a great game. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. He’s not an ace. He is, however, fully capable of pitching well, and being a serviceable fifth pitcher. Today, he didn’t accomplish any of the things that made him a good starting pitcher over the past few games. He didn’t locate in the zone, he was up against an umpire with a very tight zone, and he gave up hard contact too often.

Drew Pomeranz cannot be a major league starter if he cannot get past the fifth inning consistently. In 12 games, he has gotten past the 5th inning, and gotten at least one out in the 6th, in 6 games. This is only 50% of the games he pitches in. This is not acceptable, not just for the Red Sox, but for any major league club.

He’s a consistently frustrating player to watch. Just when you think he’s turned a corner, he takes a step back, and games like this make strategies such as the piggy-back so intriguing. Because while today was utterly awful, in most games, Pomeranz just fails to go deep. When Pomeranz is in the game, while inefficient, he tends to keep the team in the game (entered action with a 4.02 ERA, tonight’s no good, very bad start moves him to a 4.62).

Detroit Tigers v Boston Red Sox
He gave up a grand slam, but he’s not the reason we lost.
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

I don’t blame Heath Hembree for the grand slam that put things out of reach. He came in in a tough spot, pitching against a strong human being, with only one out, and the bases loaded, in the 5th inning of all times. Tonight was almost entirely on Pomeranz, and if things continue, the pitch forks are going to get more visible, and the booing louder.

The Good

  • Xander was really good, defensively, for the most part.
  • Fernando Abad and Blaine Boyer were surprise saviors of the bullpen tonight.
  • I don’t have a third good thing, other than that the Red Sox have the third best record in the American League. That’s good, right?

The Bad

  • Drew Pomeranz was pretty much the worst version of himself.
  • Xander Bogaerts struck out a lot, and din’t get a single hit.
  • Heath Hembree gave up an untimely grand slam.

The Red Sox get back to work tomorrow, against the Philadelphia Phillies. Jerad Eickhoff takes the mound for the Phillies, and Rick Porcello for the Red Sox. Hopefully that game goes better than this one. That would be great.