It may not have strictly been a must-win game, but after watching what may be the worst bullpen performance of the entire MLB season, the Red Sox definitely needed a win, just to end the weekend on a positive note. Taking the mound were Rick Porcello and Marcus Stroman.
Early on, it felt like one of the keys to winning today’s game would be for Porcello to go at least six innings, and try to keep the bullpen out of this game for as long as possible. Normally that’s the strategy anyway for this team, simply because the bullpen is not very good, but this is especially true after last night, after the bullpen gave up 7 runs in the 7th and 8th inning combined, ruining a decent start by Brian Johnson. With Porcello’s history of eating innings, this felt like a pretty solid bet.
Of course, you also need to score runs. More than the other team. This is something that’s been hit-or-miss (heh) for the Red Sox this season.
Fortunately for Porcello, he had Xander Bogaerts behind him defensively, and he made some nice plays in the beginning frames. Unfortunately for Porcello, he also had the rest of the Red Sox defense behind him. After a ground rule double by Rowdy Tellez, Brandon Drury nubbed a single towards Marco Hernandez that was enough to score Tellez from second. 1-0 Blue Jays.
In the next inning, Lourdes Gurriel Jr eked out a single, and scored on a close play, as Cavan Biggio raked a double over the head of Jackie Bradley Jr. Xander Bogaerts made an impressive relay to the plate, and almost got Gurriel, but apparently Gurriel was a fan of the Matrix, because he spun around like he was in slow motion, and dodged the tag about as perfectly as he could have possibly dodged it. Naturally. 2-0 Blue Jays. Through three innings, Porcello was at 52 pitches, meaning six innings was well within reach. The only question at this point was whether the bats would wake up in time for it to matter.
There was a fun rally in the bottom of the third. Mookie Betts singled, and Andrew Benintendi walked, which led to a first and second, out out situation. Then Marcus Stroman took eleventy billion years to throw a pitch, because that is standard fare in baseball. I do not know if it is standard fare for Stroman, and would never presume as much, but so much of his game relies on throwing off timing and making a batter anxious, so it would not shock me if this was the case. Xander Bogaerts finally got pitched to, and he meekly grounded it to first, where a nearly scary moment transpired as he slid on his knee to try to avoid a collision and/or tag, and took a minute to get up. He looked fine, so let go of the breath you were holding. With runners on second and third, and two outs, J.D. Martinez came up, and grounded the ball to Brandon Drury, who tossed over to first in a close play that may or may not have taken the first baseman off the bag. Alex Cora came out, but did not challenge the play, presumably because they would not win the challenge.
The Red Sox needed a quick inning from Porcello after that let down, to get the offense back out there. They got pretty much just that. I got up to get a drink and some food from the kitchen and the inning was over by the time I got back. I’m just going to trust that nothing of importance happened, since the game’s score was the same.
At this point in the game, both Stroman and Porcello were rolling as they traded back and forth some more quick innings with no scoring, and no threats of real consequence. Porcello was doing his job, but the Red Sox bats had to hit Stroman, or at least force him out of the game, and soon.
The sixth inning began ominously, with a walk to Biggio and a ground rule double by Freddy Galvis. There were no outs, and Pretty Rick wasn’t looking too pretty for the first time all game. Then he balked, so another run scored.
Then Porcello walked Rowdy Tellez intentionally and Drury unintentionally. Then he unintentionally allowed Danny Jansen to get a two run single, and the Red Sox were suddenly down 5-0 in the 6th inning, with the bullpen (welp) getting ready.
Up until the sixth inning, Porcello looked strong, he really did. Then it all fell apart, and the Red Sox were always going to live and die by how their starter and offense did today.
If you are at all like me, you are probably thinking “there’s a startling lack of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in this write-up”. Well, my friends, I’m here to deliver. Vladdy Junior struck out to end the threat. What a bust, right!? This would be the lone good news to come out of a disaster inning that claimed the happiness of Red Sox Nation.
Marcus Stroman put a dagger in the Sox in the bottom half of the inning, and then did his Marcus Stroman thing, which irritated a lot of very unhappy people, which is fantastic for Marcus Stroman, as his team fights to get within 20 games of the division lead in June.
The seventh inning onward would end up being a bullpen game, so you already know how this story ends. Josh Smith, the flavor of the month, actually did a good job of holding the Blue Jays to 0 runs (a novel concept) in his first inning of work. Then in his second inning of work, he gave up a home run to Eric Sogard because Eric Sogard and/or Red Sox bullpen. He’d stay in for a third inning of work, primarily because it just isn’t worth tiring out an additional arm in a lost game, and he got through it just fine. All told, a good bit of work from Josh Smith. Shame the innings he pitched didn’t really matter for much of anything thanks to a languid offense and a poor sixth inning from Porcello.
The Red Sox did try to rally in the 9th, and to a small degree, they did get some level of revenge, as they scored a single solitary run, courtesy of a pitcher error. Whatever momentum we gained was quickly snuffed out by a Michael Chavis strikeout, and a Marco Hernandez liner to the second baseman. Just like that, the game was over. At least they weren’t shut out.
The Red Sox are now 42-37. That’s not great. They head into the series against the White Sox with their three best pitchers (E-Rod, Price, and Sale) up against two of the White Sox best (Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez) and somebody else that mlb.com hasn’t listed yet (is it wrong of me to hope Dylan Cease gets a cup of coffee?). This is a series the Red Sox should really win, but we probably said the same thing about the Blue Jays series, and look where we are.
- It’s over. It’s finally over.
- Vlad Guerrero Jr. went 0-5 with two strikeouts! Nice!
- Did I mention the game is over?
- At least Josh Smith tried.
- Rick Porcello had a terrible sixth inning that totally took the Red Sox out of the game.
- The offense put up about as much fight as I would if you gave me a bat. That is to say they looked completely over-matched and not like a major league baseball team.
- We let Marcus Stroman, the star pitcher of a team who is 20+ games behind the Yankees stunt on us. And the Sox just took it.
Go do something fun with the rest of your Sunday. You deserve it after that trainwreck of a performance.