This was an ugly game that was part expected and part disappointed. On the one hand, the pitching matchup always looked like a loss, and that was before Hector Velazquez was scratched. Noah Syndergaard vs. William Cuevas seemed like a cruel joke. However, for as good as Syndergaard is — and he’s fantastic — it was still disappointing to see the Red Sox offense struggle so much. In the grand scheme of things, this loss didn’t have a huge impact. But it still wasn’t fun to watch, and the offense needs to be better.
When Hector Velazquez was scratched from Friday’s start due to an illness, the Red Sox had to scramble and it seemed like they were sort of punting this game, at least from a pitching perspective. It was understandable. There’s no use in overworking important pitchers at this point in the year. So, they gave William Cuevas the ball to start and quickly moved through some other low-level pitchers. Not a blast to watch, but that’s how it goes sometimes in September.
However, on the other side the Red Sox lineup was looking to answer some questions. Obviously, they’ve been great all year and they’ve been able to come through with some big-time rallies later in the year, but they have also been prone to slow starts of late. It’s getting a big frustrating, and going up against a pitcher like Syndergaard — the type of pitcher they’ll be seeing more of in October — it was a good test for a lineup that was mostly what you can expect from the team in the postseason.
Well, the results weren’t super encouraging. Syndergaard is, of course, a great pitcher who can make many lineups look bad, but again these are the kind of pitchers the Red Sox are going to face next month. All he did early on was retire the first six batters he faced.
In the third, the Red Sox did start to get a little going, and at the very least avoided the perfect game. Ian Kinsler began that inning by smacking a single through the left side, and he immediately got in Syndergaard’s head. He quickly stole second base, and during a Jackie Bradley Jr. walk umps missed a clear balk as Syndergaard tried to keep Kinsler close at second. Still, Boston had their first two runners on in the inning and it looked like they could get some runs on the board. Instead, Blake Swihart struck out, Mookie Betts flew out and, after Kinsler and Bradley moved to scoring position on a double steal, Andrew Benintendi grounded out to end the inning.
They couldn’t do much after that, either. They got a one-out single in the fourth, but nothing more, and in the fifth and sixth they couldn’t do anything with a pair of two-out walks. In Syndergaard’s seventh and final inning, he allowed one more single but only faced three batters thanks to a pickoff of Kinsler.
Things didn’t go much better against the bullpen. Boston would get just a single in the eighth, then go down 1-2-3 in the ninth. Yikes.
On the other side, well, like I said, the Red Sox weren’t really competitive. Cuevas got the start, and he looked alright but did get himself into trouble. After a couple of quick outs to start the game (though one was hit pretty well) Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce came through with back-to-back doubles, and the Mets had a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Cuevas allowed a walk after that but escaped with the one-run deficit.
The righty came back in the second looking much sharper and he struck out the side in impressive fashion. That earned him a third inning of work, but he allowed a baserunner on an infield single to begin that inning and Alex Cora opted to make a change. It was a strange decision, but the Mets had a bunch of lefties coming up so they looked to Robby Scott. It....wasn’t the right call.
The southpaw got roughed up, to put it lightly. After getting a quick first out, he hit Conforto to bring Bruce up to the plate with one out and two on. The veteran got a two-seam fastball down and in and he knows what to do with those, putting it just over the wall in right field for a three-run shot, and in the blink of an eye the Mets lead was extended to four. After the homer, Scott wasted no time loading the bases up on a walk, another hit batter and another four-pitch walk, and finally Cora had seen enough. Scott walked two, hit two and allowed one homer while recording one out. Not what you want!
Brian Johnson came in to try and slow things down, and he looked pretty good out there. The long man is one of many fighting for one of those final spots in the playoff bullpen, and he did himself a favor in this one. I’d guess he’s still on the outside looking in, but a couple more like this could sway things. He came into the bases loaded situation and got a double play to squash that immediately. Johnson did make a mistake in the fourth when he allowed a home run to Jeff McNeil, but overall he allowed just the one run on the solo homer over 4 2⁄3 innings.
Tyler Thornburg came on for the eighth, and he was awful. The righty had likely already pitched his way off the roster for October, but if he hadn’t this sealed it. He recorded just one out while allowing three runs on a pair of homers. It was ugly, and it put the game well out of reach at 8-0. Drew Pomeranz came on and finished things off in the eighth and came back out for a scoreless ninth.
So, the Red Sox watched their four-game win streak snapped, and they’ll try to start a new streak on Saturday. The Mets still have yet to name a starter for this game, while the Red Sox will send out Rick Porcello. First pitch is at 4:05 PM ET.