That was about as ugly an offensive performance as you’ll see from a Red Sox offense, and that includes them being no-hit early this year. This lineup has had issues with lefties all year long, but this was another level. Wade LeBlanc, to his credit, did a wonderful job of mixing his pitches and hitting his spots, and the Red Sox had no answer. It was clear in just about every at bat that they were hopeless on almost every pitch. LeBlanc had some good luck on his side, of course, and Boston’s bats being atrocious help, but the majority of the credit here goes to the pitcher. To make matters worse, this terrible performance at the plate wasted another great start from Steven Wright. Not a fun night at the park, if we’re being honest.
The Red Sox have a problem against lefties, and while they were able to get to James Paxton on Friday that success did not carry over against Wade LeBlanc on Saturday. The junkballing southpaw, to be fair, has been outstanding since joining Seattle’s rotation and his command was mostly on point in this game, but it was frustrating as hell watching the Red Sox offense against him. They had a lot of ugly at bats that ended with them clearly looking for one pitch and watching another offering go right down the heart of the plate for strike three. They also were able to make some good amounts of hard contact, but much of it was on the ground and Seattle played outstanding infield defense all day.
As far as the action against LeBlanc, well, there wasn’t very much. In the first at bat of the game Mookie Betts actually impressed, fighting off a lot of tough pitches before finally smashing a single into left field. Unfortunately, that was about the best thing that happened for a long time. Andrew Benintendi immediately followed that up with a double play ball, and J.D. Martinez struck out to end the first.
In fact, things slowed down to a wild extent after Betts’ leadoff single. Nobody else reached base through the next seven innings, and LeBlanc retired 22 batters in a row while facing the minimum through 7 2⁄3 innings. Like I said, it was ugly and it was frustrating. LeBlanc was incredible, painting corners and mixing his pitches tremendously. The Red Sox had no answers and looked utterly hopeless in just about every at bat. The streak was finally ended when Eduardo Núñez hit a two-out single in the top half of the eighth. Alex Colomé would end that eighth inning for him.
Fortunately, the game did not get away from the Red Sox because Steven Wright was coming as close as he could to matching LeBlanc’s numbers. Granted, he wasn’t quite as good and it seemed as if his knuckleball wasn’t moving quite as much as it had in his first two starts, but he was still outstanding. There was some concern about him facing a higher level of competition this time out, but those worries did not come to fruition in reality.
Although Wright never quite got on the kind of run as LeBlanc, he was able to put up zeroes for a few innings into the game. The knuckleballer allowed just a single baserunner in the first two innings, and neither was able to advance beyond first base.
In the bottom of the third, with the score still knotted at zero, Wright ran into the most trouble he’d see in the game. In that inning, Dee Gordon hit a one-out single, and after Wright got two outs on the board Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back singles and that was enough to put one run on the board. Frustratingly, all three singles were hit on the ground and just found holes. Still, they were hit decently well, so they weren’t complete cheapies.
Either way, the score was 1-0 after three and it would stay that way for a while. Wright got back into a groove after that inning, setting Seattle down in order in the fourth and almost doing the same in the fifth but being undone by a Rafael Devers error. The sixth was also a quick one, with just one batter reaching on a single. Wright would come back out for the seventh and allow a leadoff walk, but two ground balls were enough to end the inning after that.
Brandon Workman came on for the bottom of the eighth, and he was able to pitch around a one-out double to keep the deficit for one heading into the ninth.
There, the Red Sox lineup had the pressure of facing one of the best relievers in baseball in Edwin Diaz. Brock Holt came up to pinch hit to kick things off, and he’d strike out. Jackie Bradley Jr. was up next, and he struck out as well. That left it all up to Betts, and he’d also go down by way of the K to end the game. Blech.
The Red Sox will look to snap this little two-game losing streak and salvage a split in this series on Sunday afternoon. Boston will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound to take on Mike Leake, with first pitch at 4:05 PM ET.