David Price started for the Sox, and Dave O’Brien quickly noted that we’d probably see a lot of first-pitch swinging, given the relative lack of consequences to this one and the next game scheduled. Sure enough, Cedric Mullins struck out swinging on four pitches. Andrew Benintendi banged into the scoreboard to catch what looked like a routine flyout from Jonathan Villar, and Adam Jones grounded out on a full count to Xander Bogaerts to end it.
Mookie Betts singled to center to start the inning, then was nearly picked off while looking for steal number 30 and, hence, a 30/30 year. He really wanted the bag. A Benintendi check swing got Betts at second and no more. J.D. Martinez crushed a ball to right center that went for a double, but Beni didn’t score and Eck was aghast. It was no matter, because Xander Bogaerts ripped a 3-0 double down the left-field line to make it 2-0 Sox. Mitch Moreland then walked on four pitches, and Ryan Meisinger was in way over his head. Ian Kinsler went 0-2 but broke a cold streak by flicking it to left-center, bringing the bases loaded with one out, and Meisinger was pulled for Rafael Devers to face lefty Donnie Hart. He had the exact same double down the line that Bogaerts did, clearing the bases for a 5-0 Sox lead. There was still one out! Right fielder Blake Swihart popped out, though, and Sandy León did too, and that was that.
The first inning started poorly for Price, with Trey Mancini drilling a ball over the monster to cut the lead to 5-1, Sox. As Eck noted, when you pound the zone like Price does, “you give up solos.” You rarely walk people, but Price walked Tim Beckham nonetheless. Then Renato Núñez hit a two-run homer to make it 5-3 Sox, and something weird was going on, up to and including the ball sailing out to left field pretty easily. Joey Rickard had a single, and the badness continued apace. Price then walked Austin Wynns, and some boo birds emerged. It was all very weird! Bobby Poyner started warming in the bullpen. Maybe it worked, because Price got out number one (!) on three pitches to get Steve Wilkerson by K. Then he walked Mullins on nine pitches to bring the bases loaded for Villar. Thankfully, he got him looking on a fastball, bringing up Jones, the ninth man of the inning. He grounded out to Devers at third to mercifully end the half-inning.
Betts walked to open the bottom of the second, giving him another shot at steal number 30. He got it. Hooray to the MVP! He’s only the second 30/30 guy they’ve had, with Jacoby Ellsbury being the other. Beni ripped it into left field, but it was caught. Martinez moved Betts to third to bring Bogaerts up with two outs; he hit a long fly ball to center that was tracked down to end the second.
Price came in to start the third, and then I had to pick my daughter up from school. When I got back the score was still 5-3 and in the top of the fourth, with Price still pitching, so let’s just say we didn’t miss much. Turns out the fourth was a 1-2-3 affair for David. Good stuff!
Swihart made the first out of the inning, and León followed with a strikeout. Betts hit a double down the line because he’s the best player in baseball now, or something. (He really might be, though.) Benintendi got an infield single, bringing runners to first and third with two down, and then Martinez hit his 42nd homer of the year to make it 8-3, Sox. Bogaerts couldn’t extend the rally, and onto the fifth we went.
Villar opened with a single, and Jones moved the runner over with a grounder to Price. Mancini struck out, which must have felt good after Mancini’s donger early on. The inning ended while I was playing chess, and Moreland opened the bottom of the fifth with a quick double. Kinsler doubled him in, making it 9-3. Devers got a hit and got his fourth RBI of the day to make it 10-3. Swihart struck out, León got out, and Tzu-Wei Lin, pinch-hitting for Betts, grounded out.
Steven Wright came in for an extended garbage time appearance and struck out Núñez on a full-count knuckler. He also go Rickard on one! Wynns reached on a single, but Wilkerson must have gotten out because I left the room for a second and Benintendi was up to open the bottom of the sixth. He stroked a nice one toward second, but Wilkerson laid out for a great catch. That was it for John Means, who was pitching, by the way, I just hadn’t told you. The new pitcher was Cody Carroll, and he gave up a single to Martinez to start in what Eck might call a “shock piece.” Bogaerts hit a two-run donger to make it 12-3 and give him 100 RBI on the year. Moreland made an out, and the world didn’t end. Kinsler did too and it still didn’t.
Top of the seventh, Wright stayed on, but lots of changes in the field, with Sam Travis moving to left, Beni to center and Lin to short. Mullins grounded out to Devers to start it and Villar grounded back to Wright to meet his end. Jones grounded out and O’Brian made a great point: Wright looks ready for October.
So does Devers, who blistered a pitch over the wall to make it 13-3. Huge day! Swihart did the same thing: 14-3! León made an out. Lin walked. Benintendi hit one that barely missed going out to center, a double to make it 15-3. Martinez, who apparently didn’t get the memo, lined out, bringing up Travis, who was hitting in Bogaerts’s spot. He struck out.
Top eight? Well this is when I checked out, though I did notice infielder Jace Peterson came into pitch. Zzzz. The final score was 19-3. See you for game 2.