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Red Sox 7, Athletics 3: Moreland’s slam gives Boston eight straight

It’s great

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another win for the Red Sox, though this one came with a little more apprehension than the others. Granted, it wasn’t terribly worrisome, but they did fall behind early with Drew Pomeranz coming back for his first start of 2018. He wasn’t entirely sharp and he got his team in an early hole, but there’s no worries with this Red Sox team. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a big game-tying home run early and then Mitch Moreland hit a big go-ahead grand slam later in the game. Ho hum. I’d also be remiss to not mention Hector Velazquez who had to enter this game in the fourth and provided a strong performance out of the bullpen in long relief. That makes eight in a row for this Red Sox team, who by the way won this one without J.D. Martinez. Pretty good!

Things actually looked pretty bleak for the Red Sox early on in this game, or at least bleak when speaking relatively for this team. Pomeranz was, as mentioned above, making his first start of 2018 and he didn’t look like he was 100 percent back to his full potential. The location was off, he was inefficiently all around the outside of the strikezone (though that’s not abnormal for him) and he was having trouble getting his fastball above 90 mph. To be fair to the lefty, he did spin some impressive curveballs and generally got some whiffs when he needed them, but it was a lot like Eduardo Rodriguez’ first start back from injury where he just didn’t look completely right.

The first inning in particular was really rough for Pomeranz. That one started with a quick out before the wheels fell off. He’d walk the second batter he faced before allowing an RBI double into the right field corner from old friend Jed Lowrie. It looked like he got out of it with just the one run striking out the next two batters, but a curveball in the dirt got by Christian Vazquez on strike three in this second strikeout, allowing Matt Chapman to reach. It looked to me like it was a bad block attempt by the Red Sox catcher, as he kind of stabbed at it and tried to backhand it rather than getting down and knocking it to the dirt with his chest protector. Regardless, that would extend the inning and the A’s took advantage with back-to-back singles to extend the lead to 3-0. It even looked like it would get up to 6-0 when Mark Canha hit a deep fly ball to right field, but it was ruled foul and the call was upheld upon review.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

So, Pomeranz got his team in a deep hole early on and he was up over 40 pitches through just one inning. The Red Sox had Hector Velazquez warming up in that first and it seemed like Pomeranz could be done. Instead, they sent him back out and while he never looked quite right he settled down a bit for a couple innings. The lefty would allow a couple of runners in the second on a walk and a single, but they would be stranded. He’d come back and strike out the side in the third before allowing a double to start the fourth. After two outs the change was made with Pomeranz’ pitch count getting up and Velazquez entered. In all, Pomeranz allowed just the three runs over 3 23 innings on five hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts. It certainly wasn’t efficient — he needed 88 pitches to record 11 outs — and it wasn’t consistent, but it was a solid recovery after that really scary first inning for Pomeranz.

Meanwhile, the offense wasn’t doing a whole hell of a lot against Kendall Graveman, though they did respond quickly to the early deficit. Trailing 3-0 in the top of the second, they didn’t waste time getting it right back when Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nuñez hit back-to-back one-out singles in front of Jackie Bradley Jr. Then, the center fielder, who has been red hot of late, got a cutter that stayed up in the zone over the heart of the plate and he destroyed it out to right field. It looked a lot like his home run in Los Angeles, and just like that the game was tied.

From there, the game would pass us by a little bit, with some good defense on both sides allowing the pitching to cruise through the next few innings. Velazquez wasn’t striking batters out, but he was putting zeroes on the board. We’d get to the sixth with the same 3-3 score, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. The top of the Red Sox order started that inning off with three straight singles, bringing Moreland up with the bases loaded. The first baseman, who has also been locked in lately, got a hanging slider on the first pitch and jumped all over he. He hit a no-doubter out to right field for a grand slam — the team’s 500th of the season (don’t look this up) — and just like that it was a four-run lead for Boston.

From there, we fast-forward to the bottom of the seventh with the score still 7-3 and Velazquez still in the game for the Red Sox. The Athletics would challenge for the first time in a while, and it got started with yet another Lowrie double. That was followed by a hit by pitch, and then Brian Johnson came in to face the left-handed Matt Olson with two on and two out. He’d allow a single to load the bases, bringing Matt Barnes on to try and escape. He’d do just that with a big strikeout of Matt Joyce, and the Red Sox got out of it without allowing a run. Barnes would come back out for the eighth and set Oakland down 1-2-3.

Joe Kelly would come on in the ninth and get a 1-2-3 inning to finish things off. This team, it’s on fire.

So, the Red Sox will look to push their streak to nine — which would give them their second nine-game win streak of the year on April 21, which is madness — on Saturday night. This one will be a little bit earlier for us East Coast folks with first pitch coming at 9:05 PM ET. Chris Sale gets the start for the Red Sox going up against Sean Manaea.


Courtesy of Fangraphs