The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are coming off their fourth straight series win after taking three of four against the Mariners, finishing that one off with a marathon 14-inning victory. They were looking to make it five series in a row as they headed down to Oakland to start a three-game set against the A’s. The pitching matchup was not quite in their favor, though, with Matt Hall going up against Sean Manaea.
We’ll start on the defensive side of the ball where Matt Hall found himself in trouble early and often in this game. Generally speaking, he just could not find the strike zone to save his life. The lefty started things off in the first by allowing a leadoff walk before Marcus Semien stole second and was able to make his way over to third as Kevin Plawecki’s throw down went into center field. So, one batter in and there was already a runner 90 feet away from the plate. However, Hall managed to get out of that one with a shallow fly out, a strike out and a ground out. He also hit a batter mixed in there.
The second wasn’t so fortunate, though. Boston’s southpaw walked the second batter he faced there, putting a runner on for Oakland catcher Sean Murphy. Murphy had been having a rough season to this point, but apparently he just needed to face Matt Hall. The A’s backstop got a 2-2 pitch and jumped all over it, blasting it way out to left-center field almost 400 feet for a two-run shot. That gave Oakland a 2-0 lead. Hall also gave up a single but nothing else in the inning.
In the third, the lefty would work around a leadoff single that was immediately followed by a walk, coming back with three straight strikeouts. At this point, it was fortunate to only be a 2-0 deficit for Boston. Hall would work around two more baserunners in the fourth with a single and a hit batter in that frame before Oakland finally got going again in the fifth. There, it was a leadoff double following by back-to-back walks with a wild pitch during the second one for good measure. Suddenly, the bases were full with nobody out and it seemed Hall’s luck was running low.
Sure enough, he gave up a base hit to score one, a sacrifice fly to bring home another before issuing yet another walk to load the bases. That would mercifully do it for the lefty, leaving the bases loaded for Heath Hembree after walking six and hitting two more in 4 1⁄3 innings of work. Fortunately, Hembree was up to the task here, getting a strikeout and a ground out to keep the deficit at four.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox offense just ran into a red-hot pitcher for whom they had no answer whatsoever. Of course, in real life the Red Sox were no-hit by Manaea a couple of years ago, so he clearly has their number, even in our fake world. This game wasn’t quite as bad, but it wasn’t far off. Early on, though, it looked like it could be a solid game. Andrew Benintendi led things off in the top of the first with a double shot into the left field corner. He would be left there, though, and that would turn out to be the best chance the Red Sox had in the game.
Really, there’s just not much else to say about their effort. The had three more baserunners in the entire game with Manaea tossing all nine innings, and none of them got beyond first base. Ryder Jones drew a walk in the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. got a single in the fifth and Kevin Pillar had another single in the seventh. That was that. The most interesting storyline in those half innings was really whether or not Manaea would get a Maddux, or a complete game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches. He got the first part, but threw exactly 100 pitches to get it done.
Boston’s bullpen did have a solid game after Hall, to be fair. No runs were scored against them in 3 2⁄3 innings. Hembree got three more outs after getting out of the fifth, Parker Markel made his Red Sox debut with a scoreless inning and then Ryan Brasier finished things off with a scoreless inning of work of his own.
That loss put the Red Sox record at 11-7 on the year, still a half-game up on the Yankees in the division. Following the game, Marcus Walden was sent down to Pawtucket with Colten Brewer coming up to rejoin the team. There’s no rule in this game saying a pitcher must be down for ten days before being called back up.