The Red Sox had a tough task ahead of them today against Jacob deGrom, the likely NL Cy Young winner. He certainly looked every bit the part in this game, but they got one big inning against him thanks to a Brock Holt home run, and then some clutch late-game action from Tzu-Wei Lin, Holt and Andrew Benintendi. On the pitching side, Chris Sale looked good to start and the bullpen was solid, though far from perfect. However, while the Red Sox got the win, Mookie Betts left with an injury, though we hope it’s not too serious.
We knew it wasn’t going to last long, but the big headline for this game was the possibility of both leagues’ Cy Young winners taking the mound against each other in the same park. It’s not the kind of matchup we get to see every day. On the Red Sox side of things, it was Chris Sale making his second start since returning from the disabled list. Alex Cora and company are, of course, taking their time with the southpaw and easing him back into action ahead of the playoffs. It is one of the nice things about having such a large lead in the division, though it’s a little frustrating as a fan who just wants to watch Sale throw baseballs.
In the brief time the lefty was on the mound, he looked good. The velocity wasn’t there as consistently as you’d love to see, but we all know Sale mixes up his fastball velocity even when fully healthy. He did mix in a few 96+ mph tosses in there while showing better command than he had in his first outing.
He only threw three innings in the game, but Sale was able to keep the Mets at bay throughout. He needed only 11 pitches to get through a 1-2-3 first, and in the second he allowed a single but only faced three batters thanks to a caught stealing. Finally, in his third inning of work, he tossed another 1-2-3 inning and his day ended with 40 pitches. It certainly seemed as though he could have kept going, but again, the Red Sox aren’t taking chances here. All in all, it was an encouraging sign and he’ll be extended a bit more his next time out.
On the other side, the Mets were rolling with Jacob deGrom, who has arguably (probably?) been the best pitcher in baseball this season. Boston has had some trouble against starting pitchers for a few weeks now, and going up against someone like deGrom was never going to be easy. That’s how it played out for a couple of innings, at least. The Red Sox went down in order in each of the first two innings, with deGrom racking up five strikeouts in the process.
Then, in the third, they got going. After a fourth consecutive strikeout for the Mets ace to start the inning, Rafael Devers got Boston’s first hit of the day with a single up the middle. Christian Vazquez then poked one through the right side on a hit and run to put runners on the corners, and that brought Betts up to the plate. He hit it well, but settled for just one run on a sacrifice fly. Brock Holt then came up with a runner on first and two outs, and he continued to be red-hot at the plate. deGrom tried to sneak by a fastball by the Red Sox utility man, but it didn’t work. Holt shockingly put one into the Boston bullpen, and suddenly they had a 3-0 lead over deGrom and the Mets.
Less shockingly, they didn’t do too much off deGrom after that, though scoring three runs off the Mets righty is no small feat. This was the first time a team has scored three off of him since before the trade deadline. Anyway, after that third inning deGrom allowed a walk and a double over the next three innings, but nothing more.
So, after Sale left and the offense scored three in the following inning, it was up to the bullpen to hold the lead for six more frames. Hector Velazquez got the first chance, and he made things difficult for himself. After two outs to start the inning, the righty hit a batter, allowed a single then threw a wild pitch to put two in scoring position. He eventually got Todd Frazier to pop one up in foul ground by third base to end the threat, however.
Velazquez would only throw that one inning, with Drew Pomeranz getting the call to start the fifth. He looked good in that inning setting the side down in order, but things didn’t go as swimmingly in the sixth for the lefty. He immediately gave up a single and a double to put two runners in scoring position just two batters into the frame, but then got a fly ball to right field that was shallow enough to hold the runner. He wasn’t so lucky the next time when Wilmer Flores hit a fly ball to right field. The run scored, though a good throw would have gotten him. Instead, Betts’ throw was much weaker than we’d typically expect. As it turns out, he had tweaked something in his left side, and after the play he was removed from the game. As of this writing it’s just being called “left side soreness,” but we’ll obviously keep you posted.
So, Betts was out of the game, but Pomeranz was not. That wouldn’t last long. Michael Conforto smacked a double into the triangle in center field — it was a ball that we’ve seen Jackie Bradley Jr. catch, but he moved over to right after Betts was removed with Tzu-Wei Lin taking over in center — to cut Boston’s lead to one. That brought on Heath Hembree to try and clean up the mess and keep the lead, and he did with a ground out.
In the seventh, Hembree would come right back out but things didn’t go as well this time around. The righty walked the first batter of the inning then hit the next, and that was it for him. Joe Kelly then came into a tough situation with two on and nobody out with a one-run lead. He’d get a strikeout and a fly out to get to within one out of escaping the jam, but Amed Rosario came through with a base hit to score a run and tie the game. That was all they’d get, but the deed was done.
After the Red Sox managed just a single (and a stolen base) against deGrom in the seventh, Brandon Workman was on for the eighth. He looked good yet again, allowing a leadoff walk but working around that with a pickoff and a pair of strikeouts.
In the bottom half, the Mets went to their bullpen with Seth Lugo entering for deGrom. Tzu-Wei Lin led things off, and he smacked a double off the Monster in left field. After moving to third on a flyout from Holt, Andrew Benintendi hit a deep fly ball and it was enough to knock Lin in and give Boston their lead back.
So, the Red Sox had a lead again, but they didn’t have Craig Kimbrel available. Instead, Steven Wright was brought on for the save chance. He walked one batter, but was otherwise perfect to lock down the victory. That’s number 103.
After taking this series against the Mets, the Red Sox have a day off before starting things back up in New York. This time it’ll be against the team from the Bronx, as they begin a three-game set against the Yankees on Tuesday. They’ll send Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for the first game to take on J.A. Happ. First pitch is at 1:05 PM ET. Weird.
As for the division, well, the Yankees dropped one to Toronto on Sunday afternoon, so the magic number is down to two. That means with just one win in this upcoming series, the Red Sox will clinch the division on the road in the Bronx. I need that in my life.