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Fake Sox Game 16: Bouncing back for win number 10

Kevin Shackelford has a nice debut out of the bullpen.

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds - Game Two
Kevin Shackelford made his Fake Sox debut a day after being signed.

The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.

Our Fake Sox headed to Seattle on Thursday looking for a fourth straight series win and took the first game but then dropped a really rough one on Friday, which meant they had to come back and take the next two to win the series as a whole. For a fourth straight game they had a pitcher going on short rest, this time Martín Pérez, and they were going up against lefty Marco Gonzales.

Early on, both pitchers were holding their own. At the plate, Boston’s best early chance came in the second when Alex Verdugo and Christian Vázquez drew back-to-back walks. Gonzales was losing the plate a bit and Jackie Bradley Jr. got to a 3-0 count. He decided to be aggressive, though, swinging away at the pitch and grounding into an inning-ending double play and killing a potential rally. They also had a decent chance in the third when Andrew Benintendi reached on a two-out bunt single and José Peraza had a single of his own, but Benintendi was thrown out trying to get to third. It seems like that mistake happens at least once a game to this team.

Pérez, meanwhile, was solid despite pitching on that short rest. He had a couple of trouble spots early, though. In the second, he issued a leadoff walk to Shed Smith who then stole second base, but stranded him in scoring position. The third went similarly with Mallex Smith drawing a two out walk before moving up on a wild pitch, but he too was stranded.

So, we headed to the top of the fifth and both teams were still looking for their first runs. The Red Sox got things started when Bradley dropped down a bunt single against the shift, and then a couple of batters later Ryder Jones reached on an infield single. After Benintendi was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded with one out for Peraza. He couldn’t come through, though, popping out on the first pitch and putting the pressure on Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop came through. He drove a 3-2 pitch back up through the middle for a two-run single and the Red Sox were out in front with the first runs of the game.

Pérez then headed back out to the mound looking to keep the Mariners from answering back. It did not take them long at all to do just that. Dylan Moore led things off for Seattle and jumped the second pitch he saw for a line drive shot out to left field for a solo homer. Just like that, Boston’s lead was cut in half. Pérez got two more outs but they were sandwiched by a base hit, and that was it for him.

Heath Hembree came on with one on and two out, and the reliever did not get the job done. He had no control to start things out and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases up for Shed Smith, who blooped a base hit up over Bogaerts and two runs would come in to score. Hembree couldn’t control the inning for Pérez and we headed to the sixth with the Red Sox suddenly down 3-2.

Fortunately, Boston also did not take long to answer back themselves. Verdugo led things off with a base hit and then a couple batters later Bradley remained hot by ripping a double to right-center field. It didn’t bring the run home, but it did put a pair in scoring position for Michael Chavis. The first baseman did what needed to be done, smacking a base hit through the right side to bring both runners home, and the Red Sox jumped right back out in front with a 4-3 lead. A walk put two runners on again with just one out, but Boston couldn’t get any more.

Hembree came back out for the bottom of the sixth despite the struggles in the last inning, but he settled down here, getting two quick outs to start things off. That was it for him, though, as Boston turned to their newest pitcher Kevin Shackelford, who was signed on Friday. It was a quick turnaround for the righty, but he didn’t show it. He got a strikeout to end the sixth, then tossed perfect innings in both the seventh and the eighth to make a stellar debut on his new team.

On the side, the Red Sox came back in the seventh as Bogaerts led off with a walk and Verdugo reached on an infield single to put two on with one out for Vázquez. He jumped on the first pitch for an RBI single, and the Red Sox got a little insurance to push their lead to two.

So, now it was just up to Matt Barnes, who has been great in the closer role early on this year. He didn’t make things stressful this time, either, tossing a perfect ninth with one strikeout. That gave him his fifth save of the year and the Red Sox improved their record to 10-6, holding a half-game lead on the Yankees.