The Red Sox have now won seven in a row, and this time it came in dramatic fashion. A rough start from Chris Sale and an inability to score off Phillies pitcher Drew Hutchison put Boston in an early hole, but some depth pieces and straight-up minor leaguers came together to put up four runs in the ninth for a walk off win. Can you feel the excitement?!
A rough Sale Day
The Red Sox sent their ace out to the mound on Monday, but it was not the best day for Chris Sale as he was roughed up a bit and didn’t seem to have his typical command. Despite lacking his best stuff and best command, he did make it through the first four innings of his outing having only allowed a single run. Things sort of fell apart a bit in the fifth, though, as he walked two batters, gave up a single and a three-run homer to Aaron Altherr. In all, Sale got through a full five innings of work allowing four runs on a home run, a double, three singles and three walks. On the plus side, he did strike out six in the game, though half of those came in his first inning. After the outing, Sale acknowledged that he basically had nothing working and singled out his breaking ball as the pitch that wasn’t doing what it was supposed to. Overall, I think it’s safe to say we should not be worried about Sale, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a bummer that this wasn’t a fun Sale Day.
After Sale was taken out of the game, the Red Sox bullpen continued their solid spring to keep the Phillies off the board for the most part and allow the lineup to come back in the ninth for the victory. Joe Kelly was up first, and while he did give up a double in his inning of work, he did record two strikeouts in his scoreless inning of work. Carson Smith was up next, and he also tossed a scoreless inning, though he allowed a baserunner of his own in the form of a walk. Smith and Kelly figure to be part of a three-headed monster (with Matt Barnes) to handle set up duties ahead of Craig Kimbrel to start the year, and both have looked mostly strong this spring. Tommy Layne is not going to serve that role, but he is potential left-handed depth with major-league experience, and he handled a scoreless eighth with a walk and a strikeout. William Cuevas, an organizational arm, had the ninth and gave up three singles to allow a run, though he also struck out two in the inning.
The Red Sox offense struggled a bit early, but came through late
The end of the game contained all of the excitement for the Red Sox, but if we’re being honest it’s the beginning of the game that really matters for Boston’s lineup. This is when the players who figure to have actual, major impacts on the 2018 season played, and they didn’t really do too much against the Phillies pitching staff. At least, they didn’t score many runs. That said, there were a couple of notable performances. Xander Bogaerts was the star of the day among Red Sox hitters, getting two hits in three at bats including a solo home run on Hutchison. Mookie Betts also contributed a couple of hits with a double and a single in three at bats. Hanley Ramirez was the only other starter with a hit with a double of his own. Andrew Benintendi, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers all went 0-3, though there isn’t much cause for concern among that trio.
Late in the game, things turned around. The Red Sox got three consecutive doubles to start the ninth from Jantzen Witte, Ivan De Jesus Jr. and Deven Marrero to score a pair of runs. After that, Tate Matheny came through with a one-out triple to tie the game and Chris Madera singled to win the game. Marrero is the only player of real consequence here, and he had a couple of hits off the bench in this game as he makes a final push for the final spot on the Red Sox major-league roster. One good game won’t be enough, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. As for the rest of this crew, well, walk offs are always fun.