This was a frustrating game for an offense that has been hot and cold since the All-Star break. They were decidedly cold for this short two-game series, though they were also going up against two good pitchers. On Tuesday, it was Jake Arrieta, and while the Red Sox did give themselves some chances to do damage against the Phillies starter, they left runners in scoring position all night long. On the other side, Drew Pomeranz kept runs off the board — which is obviously his job — but didn’t really look good doing it. For this night he did what he was supposed to do, but it’s still difficult to see it carrying forward. All in all, a tough and frustrating game.
While Pomeranz was the part of this game I was watching most closely, the offense was the story early on against Jake Arrieta. This was not the same situation as Monday against Aaron Nola when they were completely and utterly dominated by a masterful performance. Arrieta was solid and came through with some really impressive pitches, but the Red Sox also found a way to square him up a few times and get themselves some scoring situations. they just failed to come through with hits when they needed them. It was incredibly frustrating to watch, to say the least.
In the first inning the Red Sox got started right away. Andrew Benintendi was in the leadoff spot with Mookie Betts getting a rest day, and he came up with a single right off the bat. He’d eventually steal second and move over to third on a wild pitch, putting him 90 feet away from scoring a first-inning run with two outs. J.D. Martinez was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners for Xander Bogaerts, but Boston decided to give that situation away. They attempted that old Little League play where the runner at first goes for second to draw a throw while the runner at third goes for the plate. The Phillies read it the whole way and easily got Benintendi at home to end the inning. It was an ill-advised decision to be sure.
The second and third, meanwhile, would go in similar fashions. Those would both start with leadoff doubles — one from Bogaerts and the other from Jackie Bradley Jr. — with three consecutive outs to follow. It’s....well, it’s not what you want. In the fourth, Ian Kinsler got on with a two-out single for his first hit in a Red Sox uniform, and he’d quickly move to third on an error by Arrieta on a pickoff attempt. Of course, he’d be stranded there. Boston followed that up with a quick 1-2-3 fifth.
Meanwhile, Pomeranz had a weird game. He certainly did not look much improved over his previous outings this year, at least in terms of stuff. He snapped off a few good breaking balls but they didn’t look overly impressive to me most of the time. His fastball did get into the 90s on a couple occasions which was nice to see, but for the most part he was hanging out in that 86-89 range that has become typical. The Phillies, like the Red Sox, had themselves some chances, and while they came through more than their counterparts it felt as if they should have done more.
In the first, Pomeranz walked the second batter he faced. This would actually become a trend in this game, as he did exactly this in each of his first four innings of the game. That walk was followed by a single that rolled to the wall in left field, pushing Rhys Hoskins to third. However, Carlos Santana got greedy and tried to stretch it to two, and he was cut down at second base. It was a huge play, and Pomeranz was able to escape the jam after that.
The second would not go as well. After again walking the second batter of the inning, Jorge Alfaro came up with two outs and the runner at first. The catcher smoked one high off the wall in left-center field, and the Phillies took a 1-0 lead. Fortunately, Pomeranz avoided spiraling from there and held them to just one in the inning.
After a relatively quick third that included only the token second-batter walk, the Phillies got going again the fourth. There, the second-batter walk was immediately followed with a double to put two in scoring position, and then Pomeranz hit a batter to load the bases. It felt like this was when the Phillies would finally break the game open, but the Red Sox lefty didn’t let that happen. They did get one run on a sacrifice fly, but leaving that inning with a 2-0 deficit felt like a win.
Pomeranz came back for one more inning in the fifth, and after a couple of quick outs he allowed a couple of baserunners. He avoided more trouble, though, getting a huge strikeout to end the inning and his outing. In all, he walked a tightrope all night but left the game with five innings of two-run ball on four hits, four walks, two hit batters and three strikeouts.
The sixth was given to Joe Kelly, which certainly felt like a risk with the game in reach. It worked out, though, with some help from his friends. Roman Quinn started that inning off with a single, but the speedster was caught stealing soon after on a great throw from Blake Swihart. Kelly took it from there, getting a couple of fly balls to end the inning.
The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, finally broke through a bit in the bottom of the inning, though some bad luck held them down. Swihart started it off with a line drive single — extending his hit streak to 11 — and Mitch Moreland followed it up with a line drive of his own, though his was caught. After Martinez ripped a double into left field, the Red Sox had a pair in scoring position with one down, and they were running out of chances. They did get one run on a groundout from Bogaerts, bringing up Kinsler with a chance to tie the game with a runner at third and two outs. He hit one well, but his liner into right field hung up just long enough for Nick Williams to make the grab and keep Philadelphia’s 2-1 lead.
The seventh was uneventful on both sides, with Heath Hembree working around a leadoff walk and Arrieta tossing a 1-2-3 bottom half. Matt Barnes then came on for the top of the eighth, and he got into a bit of trouble with a pair of singles before issuing a two-out walk to load the bases. Cesar Hernandez was up for the Phillies, and Barnes got a huge three-pitch strikeout to end the threat. Unfortunately, the top of the Red Sox order followed that up by going down in order in the bottom half of the inning.
For the ninth, the Red Sox called upon Hector Velazquez, and things didn’t go so well. He immediately allowed a double to Rhys Hoskins, and then Carlos Santana followed it up with an RBI single to extend Philly’s lead to 3-1. He’d allow another hit, but that was it.
So, Boston had one more chance against Seranthony Dominguez with the heart of their order coming up. They got off to a promising start, with Martinez drawing walk and Bogaerts getting hit by a pitch. The HBP was scary as it hit Bogaerts in the hand — we all remember what happened last year — but he remained in the game. Kinsler struck out after that, bringing up Betts in a pinch hitting opportunity, but he popped out. That left it all up to Brock Holt to keep the rally going, but he couldn’t. He watched strike three go by and the Red Sox went home with a frustrating loss.
The Red Sox have an off-day on Wednesday before starting their big four-game set against the Yankees. That series will kick off on Thursday with CC Sabathia taking on Brian Johnson, who is getting the start for Chris Sale. First pitch will be at 7:10 PM ET.
To make matters worse on Tuesday, the Yankees got an easy win over the Orioles, picking up a game on the Red Sox in the standings. Boston now leads the American League East by five games.