With Doug Fister taking the mound for the Red Sox in 2017, you can generally count on three things. First and foremost, that he’ll probably go at least five innings, and keep you roughly in the game, but usually playing from behind. Secondly, that he’ll walk a lot of guys. Thirdly, that he’ll allow enough hits to raise your blood pressure. Many of these things happened.
Last game out, he didn’t walk a single batter. It looked like a sign of better things to come. This was a false hope. In the second inning he walked three batters (and almost a fourth). He also allowed some hard contact. Unsurprisingly, this led to the Indians getting a bunch of runs.
He did get a possible double play ball between second and third that could have been a 6-4-3 double play that got the Sox out of the inning without any damage, but Xander Bogaerts could not reach it. Roberto Perez grabbed an RBI for his troubles. Following this, Francisco Lindor hit a screamer that would ricochet off of the awkward wall in shallow left field, to bring in two more. Fister’s third walk of the inning would load the bases. A graceful pop-up to center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr ended the disaster inning before it got more disastrous. The Sox now trailed 3-0.
Fortunately, the Red Sox have Rafael Devers. The home half of the second featured Devers hitting his 5th homer in 16 games. Shortly afterwards, Xander Bogaerts laced a ball into right-center field. Jay Bruce bobbled the catch, and Xander somehow slid around a tag to make it into second base. It was a crazy 30 seconds or so. Xander didn’t score in the inning, but it was a great play worth watching.
Fister bounced back in the third and didn’t allow any runs, but at 67 pitches, it became clear that 5 innings was as probably as deep as he’d get tonight. He simply threw too many pitches in the 2nd.
The great thing about the Boston Red Sox, is that they have two super rookies. Not just Rafael Devers, but Andrew Benintendi as well. Beni has been hitting the ball well this season, entering tonight’s game with a .279/.360/.446 line. Hitting his 17th dinger of the year, another solo shot, cutting the game to 3-2 in the third inning, Benintendi continues to make a case for being a late riser in the Rookie of the Year race, with Aaron Judge scuffling since the All-Star Break. While it’s not likely to happen (you know how media works), it’s begun to look like a real possibility that Benintendi could be a solid choice, and keep Judge from winning unanimously.
Devers apparently disagrees and thinks he should be the Rookie of the Year and MVP, because he responded with his second homer of the game in the bottom of the fourth. The game was tied because of the super rookies. The game. Was. Tied. Super Rookies. You can’t make this up. At this point, those two awards should be a formality, and we should ask when he gets his Cooperstown plaque.
Edwin Encarnacion, the man the Sox did not sign, was evidently angry that the Sox didn’t sign him. Because he crushed his own bomb in the top half of the next inning. This one was not a solo shot. Two runs scored, and the Sox trailed, despite the Super Rookies’ best effort.
Shortly thereafter, Fister would be removed from the game, mercifully, with Fernando Abad being called upon to finish the 5th. Abad walked Bradley Zimmer, raising heart rates across Red Sox Nation, but got a lineout on the next batter, and crisis was averted. The Indians led 5-3, as the game reached its official halfway mark. The Sox would need to get more offense, and take some pressure off of their super rookies.
Abad picked up Fister’s slack, as he came out to pitch the 6th inning as well. And despite Abad not being a two inning guy, Abad did a great job of keeping things quiet. He’s not really striking guys out, but he’s stealthily been a decent contributor out of the pen, much like Blaine Boyer. But a close play at first that Devers couldn’t pull off in time led to Abad being removed from the game.
Heath Hembree came in and gave up a second homer to Edwin Encarnacion, instantly. It was not a cheapie. It was loud, it was painful, and it completely deflated Fenway Park. It was the exact opposite thing you wanted in that situation. The score was now 7-3. Devers was due up, however. This game was not over.
Rafael Devers would come up to the plate with a runner on base, and a chance to cut the lead in half. Devers struck out. As it turns out, even Devers is human, and cannot hit a home run on every pitch. This is a shame, but is entirely understandable, when you consider his contributions.
The Sox rallied in the 6th and put two runners on, despite the Devers strikeout, but Brock Holt looked at strike three, and the score remained the same. C’est la vie.
In fairness to Heath Hembree, outside of the one very bad pitch that will never be spoken of after tonight, wasn’t awful. He kept the Indians from scoring any more runs and pitched through the 8th inning. The home run was deflating, but Hembree kept the bullpen from killing itself via attrition. Brandon Workman took over for him with 2 outs in the 8th inning, following a double, and was the last man out of the Sox pen this evening.
Ultimately, the Sox just couldn’t figure out the Indians tonight. Trevor Bauer was good, despite historical precedent, and the bullpen didn’t budge an inch. Maybe we’ll face them in October, and we’ll put up a better fight. Maybe we won’t. Maybe history will only repeat itself then.
The Sox go on to face the Cardinals in a twofer. Let’s have a good night, and try to remember the good things in life, like Rafael Devers.
- Rafael Devers is incredible and he needs a lifetime contract.
- Andrew Benintendi is also pretty good.
- Aaron Judge struck out again tonight. Keep the streak alive.
- Eduardo Nunez continues to hit!
- Mookie had another rough night.
- So did Xander. He’s hit .181/.238/.213 since the All-Star Break
- Doug Fister was about as bad as I’ve seen.
- Bottom third of the lineup went a combined 0-11 with 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts.