The Red Sox might have a little bit of a David Price problem, even if his overall line today looks alright. This was supposed to be — or at least we hoped it’d be — another dominating start for the lefty after he struggled against the potent Yanees lineup. The Phillies offense is certainly nothing to write home about and it appeared to be a perfect recipe for a bounce-back performance. Instead, he didn’t really look like his old self. As jaaaaasper pointed out in the Gamethread, it is somewhat reminiscent of John Lackey pre-surgery. The stuff is clearly there, but the stuff is very much not.
Things actually got off to a very good start for Price, as he pitched an extremely quick 1-2-3 first that only took six pitches. Then, he started to lose it a bit from there. He walked the leadoff man in the second, and after recording a strikeout for the first out Price allowed a single and another walk to load the bases with just one out. Fortunately, he was able to get out of the jam on a shallow lineout — one that possibly could have scored a run if Howie Kendrick hadn’t hesitated in going back to tag up upon contact — and a flyout.
He wasn’t so lucky in the third when he started off with yet another leadoff walk and would later give up a monstrous home run to Aaron Altherr. The Phillies outfielder has shown big power this season, to be fair, but Price left a bad pitch that was just begging to be punished. Specifically, he left a cutter belt-high over the inside half of the plate.
That was all the Phillies would score off Price for a while, although he did allow yet another walk in the fourth. After a quick 1-2-3 fifth — by far his best inning since the first — Price struggled yet again in the sixth. This rally got started with a one-out ground rule double from Tommy Joseph, who would move to third on a single and score on a groundout. The double and single were both hit relatively hard, although it wasn’t as if Price got crushed in that innings.
Perhaps saying the Red Sox have a Price problem is a tad overdramatic, but there’s something...off right now. The lefty always has such great control, but he’s struggled mightily with that so far this season and walked four Phillies in his six innings of work. The Red Sox will generally take a six-inning outing in which a pitcher only gives up three runs, but it wasn’t an overly impressive start for Price in a situation when he and the team could have really used one.
Meanwhile, the offense was going up against Ben Lively, who has posted good results this year despite absolutely nothing back them up. He seemed to be a pitcher just waiting for the regression monster to catch him, and the Red Sox wanted to be the team to bring it.
In many ways, they exposed Lively for the pitcher he is, crushing balls all over the field. Unfortunately, they were not able to properly capitalize on their early rallies. In the first, for instance, they were able to load the bases with just one out. Although they did score one run on a bases loaded walk, Hanley Ramirez then grounded into an inning-ending double play to cut that rally far too short.
They had another chance at doing real damage in the second when Jackie Bradley hit a double and was eventually knocked in on a Christian Vazquez double. The Red Sox catcher was on second with just one out, but he would be stranded there. They got one more in the third when Mitch Moreland hit an absolute bomb to center field, but after Andrew Benintendi doubled in the next at bat the Red Sox went down without scoring another run. Three runs in the first three innings is certainly fine, but they could have put the game out of reach extremely early.
That turned out to hurt them, as the Red Sox couldn’t score at all in the next three innings as Lively settled into a little groove and Boston continued to strand baserunners.
So, we entered the seventh inning with a 3-3 tie and the Red Sox turned to their bullpen. Specifically, they turned to Robby Scott. The lefty got two outs before allowing a single and handing things off to Blaine Boyer, who finished things off. Meanwhile, Lively was back out there in the bottom half of the inning for the Phillies. The Red Sox managed one hit, but couldn’t plate another run and the game remained tied heading into the eighth.
In that eighth inning, things got prettay, prettay, prettay interesting. Boyer stayed in for the Red Sox and allowed a single to lead things off before recording a strikeout. Then, with Kendrick at first for the Phillies, Maikel Franco smashed a ball out to left field that missed being a home run by what appeared to be inches. Instead, it ricocheted hard off the Monster and Benintendi had to chase it down running in towards the infield. Kendrick and the Phillies decided to test Benintendi’s arm by sending the runner home, and the left fielder made a strong, accurate throw to easily cut down Kendrick at the plate. Philadelphia would eventually load the bases later in the inning, but Boyer got out of the inning without allowing a run. Then, of course, the Red Sox went down easily 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.
In the ninth, the Red Sox called upon Craig Kimbrel, who did Craig Kimbrel things by inducing a 1-2-3 inning with one strikeout. He got a little help from his first baseman when Mitch Moreland made a huge diving stop to record the final out. The offense got a base runner on a Pablo Sandoval walk, but yet again couldn’t plate a run, continuing their cold streak that had lasted since the third inning.
The tenth inning belonged to Heath Hembree, and things got a little dicey for the righty. After a quick first out, he allowed two singles to put runners on the corners with just one out. Once again, though the Phillies just couldn’t come through as Hembree got a strikeout and a flyout to end the inning. The flyout wasn’t a typical play, though, as Mookie Betts made a hell of a play falling into the stands. In the bottom half of the inning, the Red Sox got two one-out singles to put a couple on with just one out. They couldn’t capitalize, though. Mitch Moreland struck out for the second out, and then Andrew Benintendi hit a soft chopper to third base. Dustin Pedroia thought Franco was going to make the throw to first and kept charging around the third base bag towards home. Franco faked the throw and got Pedroia, who couldn’t make it back to the bag. It was a brutal sequence of events, to say the least, and a continuation of the recent trend of Pedroia making outs on the bases.
Fan Favorite Fernando Abad (that’s my new nickname for him, and it will sweep the nation) took the eleventh, and once again Philadelphia had their chance and couldn’t capitalize. This time, Daniel Nava reached on a walk and made it to third on a two-out single before Abad induced an inning-ending groundout. In the bottom half, the Red Sox got their first two runners on, and it looked like things were cooking. Then, Deven Marrero dropped a bunt — an entirely defensible decision, for what it’s worth — but the play did not work. The bunt was too hard and directly at the pitcher and Hanley Ramirez did not get a good enough break towards third, where he was thrown out. After that, Boston popped out twice and the inning was over and the game was continuing. Oh, and at this point it’s pouring. This game is so stupid.
Abad came back out in the 12th, and this time around he only had to face three batters. Of course, the leadoff hitter did get on and was only eliminated because of an incredible double play in which Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop towards the middle and flipped it to second from his stomach. In the bottom half of the inning, the game finally, mercifully, came to an end. Xander Bogaerts started the rally with a walk, and he’d move over to third on a wall-ball double from Moreland. After that, it was up to Benintendi, and the rookie came through with a ripped liner to right field to score the game winner.
It goes without saying that the Red Sox should not be having this much trouble against the worst team in baseball. Price’s control was an issue here, as was the offense’s inability to take advantage of early chances. On the other hand, wins are wins, and the bullpen was outstanding. Even better, most of the bullpen performers are towards the bottom of the depth chart. This wasn’t the prettiest game of all time, but a win is a win is a win.