Woof. There’s not much to even say about this game on Sunday. On the plus side, the Red Sox got a great performance out of Doug Fister on the mound. They also got strong performances out of the bullpen from Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel. Unfortunately, they did not get a great performance from the offense. The Red Sox lineup got on base plenty and had a chance to score in just about every inning of this game, but they couldn’t get the big swing and left approximately 843 runners in scoring position. It was gross.
This one was all about the frustrating offense. On Sunday, it was not about the Red Sox getting shut down by a subpar pitcher like it had been earlier in the weekend. In a way, you can live with bad pitchers having good days, even if the Red Sox undoubtedly aided Jeremy Hellickson and Kevin Gausman on their paths to victory. At least, you can live with it more than what the Red Sox did on Sunday. Going up against old friend Wade Miley, Boston had chances to do damage in just about every inning, but they came up flat just about every time they needed a big swing. It was frustrating, to put it lightly.
It got started right in the first inning with the team already trailing 2-0. After a quick first out in the bottom half, Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts put together back-to-back hits and gave the team two men in scoring position with just one out. Unfortunately, that was followed by a strikeout and a pop out from Hanley Ramirez and Chris Young. That’s two runners in scoring position stranded, for those interested in keeping track at home.
In the second, Boston got a couple of quick outs to start the inning, but then Rafael Devers threatened some two-out magic with a double. That was followed by a Sandy Leon ground out and the Red Sox had three runners in scoring position stranded through two frames. In the third, once again after two quick outs, Betts drew a walk and Ramirez hit a single to put runners on the corners. Young struck out looking to strand the team’s third runner in scoring position through three innings. To be fair, the pitch was well off the plate and should have been ball four. Still, frustration was abound.
The Red Sox managed to not strand a runner in scoring position in the fourth, though they did get a baserunner that was immediately caught stealing second. So, hooray? They got back to the old habits in the fifth in an inning that started with a single from Leon. Of course, this was a frustrating kind of game so it wasn’t just any single. Instead, it was a single off the Monster that missed being a home run by a couple of feet. After a couple of outs and a couple of walks, Young came back up with the bases loaded and two outs looking to make up for his strikeout. Instead, he hit a weak pop up to right field and stranded the Red Sox’ fourth and fifth runners in scoring position through five innings.
In the sixth, they finally came through with a run as Xander Bogaerts and Devers hit a couple of doubles to give Boston their first run of the game. This was still a frustrating game, though, so it had to get worse from there. After a couple of walks, Betts came up with the bases loaded and two outs and struck out in a seven-pitch at bat with zero swings. It was an ugly approach in the at bat and upped the stranded RISP count to seven through six innings.
We aren’t done yet. The seventh looked as promising as many of the other innings in this game, and it had just about the same end result. This one started with back-to-back walks, and a ground ball from Bogaerts cut out the middleman and left runners on the corners with one out for Rajai Davis. He just needed a flyball in the air to tie this game at two. Instead, he hit a ground ball right at the shortstop and ended the inning, upping the stranded RISP count to eight. The count would end there, as the Red Sox failed to get much of anything going in the eighth or ninth.
Meanwhile, on the mound, the Red Sox got another strong performance from Doug Fister who looks like he could very well be a trustworthy arm down the stretch if David Price can’t return to the rotation. He broke the mold of the previous three outings from Red Sox starters, as he didn’t bury the team in a big hole to start.
That being said, he did have a rough first inning. That inning started off with a leadoff single from Tim Beckham, who would eventually move to third after a couple of outs and a balk. Fister couldn’t get out of the inning cleanly, though. Instead, he allowed back-to-back doubles to Adam Jones and Trey Mancini and just like that the Red Sox were trailing 2-0 before they even came to the plate.
The righty settled down in a big way after that inning, though. After the Mancini double he retired the next seven batters he saw before getting into some trouble in the fourth. There, he found himself in a situation with Orioles on first and third and nobody out, but Fister induced three straight ground balls to prevent Baltimore from scoring and keeping the deficit to two.
In the end, Fister ended up going seven strong innings and was a real bright spot in this game. Unfortunately, the performance from the hitters overshadowed how impressive the veteran was, but he’s been a big boost in this rotation more often than not of late. He only allowed the two runs in this game on five hits, two walks and seven strikeouts.
Addison Reed came in for Fister in the eighth and came through with an impressive 1-2-3 inning against the heart of Baltimore’s order. The ninth belonged to Craig Kimbrel in a non-save situation. The Red Sox closer did allow some hard contact, but he held the Orioles scoreless and maintained the one-run deficit heading into the bottom of the ninth.
So, the Red Sox have now lost four in a row and with the Yankees winning again on Sunday the lead in the division is down to 2.5. The Red Sox will look to clear their heads on a trip to Toronto for a three-game set against the Blue Jays beginning on Monday. They’ve had some success north of the border this year, and they’ll need that to continue as this slump has been pretty brutal to watch. They’ll have Drew Pomeranz on the bump in their attempt to right the ship.