What an insane game. It took six hours and 19 innings, but the Red Sox got a win. Most of this game was actually pretty bleak, as the offense failed to do much of anything before a ninth inning rally tied it and forced extras. Prior to that, it seemed as if Eduardo Rodriguez’ great outing (which legitimately feels like happened a week ago) would be wasted. The offense is still an issue, but in this one Rodriguez was great and the bullpen was absurdly good and that was enough to win. And when I say absurdly good, I mean it. They had eleven relievers combine for thirteen scoreless innings. What even?
Let’s start with the early positive, because who doesn’t need a little more positivity in their lives? Rodriguez was outstanding and absolutely deserved his first win since May in this game. In fact, this was easily as well as we’ve seen him pitch since coming off the disabled list. The lefty was mixing in all of his pitches from the get-go and the changeup in particular was death on righties and lefties alike. There were a few mistakes here and there, but for the most part Rodriguez did his job and more, and was fairly efficient in the process.
The first inning was a sign that things were going to go well. As many have noticed during his struggles, Rodriguez has been unable and/or unwilling to go to his secondaries early in games. Instead, he’s gone fastball heavy and teams have made him pay. In the first on Tuesday, the young southpaw threw more fastballs than anything, but also mixed in some changeups along with a couple cutters and sliders. The result was a stress-free 1-2-3 inning.
The second inning would be one of the few with real trouble for Rodriguez, and even this can’t entirely be put on him. After a quick first out, Kevin Pillar came up and hit a weak ground ball towards first base. However, with Mitch Moreland far off the bag, the ball snuck into foul ground in right field and Pillar was able to leg out a one-out double. An infield single would then move him over to third before Pillar scored on a sacrifice fly. Some could argue Rodriguez should have been able to buckle down and get a strikeout or a groundout with one out and runners on the corners, but luck played more of a role in that little rally than anything. He’d leave the inning with the deficit at just 1-0.
After that, things would get much easier for Rodriguez over the next few innings. The Blue Jays threaten a bit in the fourth with runners on the corners and just one out yet again, but the lefty got out of it with a flyout too shallow to score the run and a strikeout. The only other damage he’d give up was a solo home run to Kendrys Morales lead off the sixth. Rodriguez missed his spot on an 0-2 fastball and left it belt-high on the inner half and the Blue Jays DH made him pay with a long fly ball into the Monster Seats.
Even with the homer in his last inning of work, it was an undeniably positive outing for the Red Sox lefty. He’s been struggling of late, but he did his job and then some on Tuesday. In all, Rodriguez tossed six innings and allowed the two runs on six hits and just one walk to go with eight strikeouts.
Unfortunately, the offense was not up to the task against Estrada and they were on a path to waste Rodriguez’ great outing. The frustrating part was that the Red Sox were able to make some solid contact against the Blue Jays righty, but they couldn’t get enough muscle on the hits to put it over the defense’s head.
Although Boston had baserunners in each of the first four innings, they only had a real scoring chance once. That came in the second, right after the Blue Jays took their 1-0 lead. In that inning, Mookie Betts started things off with a loud out to left field and Hanley Ramirez started a rally with a one-out double. After another quick out and two straight walks, Jackie Bradley Jr. came up with the bases loaded and two outs. It was a huge at bat in this game, and he just couldn’t come through. He hit a weak grounder to second base to end the inning with the shutout still in hand.
Other than that, it was nothing against Estrada. He’d end up going seven innings, and other than that second inning the Red Sox failed to get a runner beyond first base. Over the last three frames of his outing, Boston went down 1-2-3 in each of them. It was an awful performance, to say the least. Things didn’t get much better against the bullpen, either, as they went down 1-2-3 in the eighth.
Then, the ninth inning came along. Thanks to strong performances from Joe Kelly, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel out of the bullpen, the lead remained at two for the Blue Jays. With closer Roberto Osuna in the game, Andrew Benintendi led the ninth off with a walk and Betts followed it up with a double. Just like that, the Red Sox had two on with nobody out. Hanley Ramirez was up next, and though he made an out he did knock in one run on a ground out and moved Betts over to third on a great piece of baserunning by the right fielder. Mitch Moreland would hit another ground ball, but with the infield in Darwin Barney could only stop it with a dive, and Betts read that off the bat. He came in to score and tie the game. Xander Bogaerts would reach on an error following that at bat and get to second on a stolen base, but Rafael Devers (pinch hitting for Christian Vazquez) struck out to end the rally and send the game to extras.
Brandon Workman came on for the Red Sox in the tenth, and he threw a stellar 1-2-3 frame with a couple of strikeouts. Boston would get a runner in the bottom half, but he was stranded at first.
In the top half of the eleventh, things got dicey for Workman in his second inning of work. Things started off with a walk to Jose Bautista and he’d move over to second on a bunt. Michael Saunders then hit a ground ball that looked like it’d score the run, but Bogaerts made a big diving stop to hold Bautista at third and put runners on the corners with one out. Justin Smoak would come up next, and he hit a fly ball to center field. For some reason, Bautista challenged Bradley’s arm and the Red Sox center fielder threw a strike to the plate to complete the double play and preserve the tie.
After this, it was a whole lotta nothin’ for both sides for a real long time. Things didn’t get interesting again until the 17th. Blaine Boyer started things off for the Red Sox and looked great with a couple of strikeouts. Farrell moved on to Fernando Abad with some lefties coming up, though, and the Blue Jays promptly hit two singles to put runners on the corners. After a long at bat with Raffy Lopez, Abad came through with a strikeout to end the jam.
The top half of the 18th inning, there was some excitement in two forms. For one thing, Carson Smith made his return. The righty looked pretty good, showing off some sick sliders. The fastball velocity needs to come back up, but he looked better than I expected. On top of that, the first batter he faced was Josh Donaldson, and the Blue Jays star was ejected after the first pitch of the at bat. It was a weird game, okay.
Finally, mercifully, the bottom of the 19th came around and the Red Sox got it done. Betts started the inning off with a double off the Monster, and Ramirez followed it up with a little bloop that found grass in center field. Six hours after the first pitch, the Red Sox went home with a walkoff win.
So, after all that, the Red Sox picked up a game in the American League East. This was thanks to the Orioles walking it off against the Yankees, and the division lead is now back to 3.5 for the Red Sox. There is still plenty of work to do, but for now we can enjoy this victory and also go get some sleep. Boston will look for the series win on Wednesday night with Doug Fister on the bump, weather permitting.