The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox headed to Oakland with four straight series wins under their belt including three of four just over the weekend up in Seattle, but after dropping the opening game of the series on Monday they needed to take the next two in order to keep that streak alive. They had Collin McHugh on the mound as they tried to do pick up the win on Tuesday, going up against former Boston prospect Frankie Montas. They wouldn’t have Xander Bogaerts in the lineup to do it, though, as the shortstop got his first day off of the year.
The Red Sox were looking for some early offense on Tuesday after being utterly dominated on Monday, and Andrew Benintendi gave them what they were looking for when he ripped a pitch from Montas for a leadoff double to start the game. Of course, that also happened on Monday. It was just that nothing came after. This time, however, Alex Verdugo followed things up with a double of his own, and two batters into the game Boston had themselves a 1-0 lead. Frustrating would kick in after that, though, with the Red Sox eventually getting a walk but ultimately leaving runners on the corners and settling for just the one run.
McHugh, meanwhile, didn’t get the start he was looking for as he walked Marcus Semien to kick off the bottom of the first, but a double play helped him only face three batters in the inning. He’d also toss a perfect second inning. Meanwhile, in the top of the second the Red Sox got off to another good start when José Peraza smacked a leadoff single and Tzu-Wei Lin drew a walk to put the first two runners on, but they would both be frozen in place and Boston couldn’t extend on our lead.
From here, we head to the bottom of the third with the Sox still up 1-0. McHugh hit the first batter of the inning, and then Chad Pinder stole second before Tony Kemp finished a ten-pitch at bat with a little infield single to put runners on the corners with nobody out. The good news is that was followed up with a double play. The bad news is Pinder still came around to score and tie the game. Then, immediately following that, Semien came up and ripped a line drive that just got up and over the wall down the left field line for a solo home run, and just like that it was a 2-1 lead for Oakland.
Then, after the Red Sox wasted a leadoff base hit in the fourth, Matt Olson led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run of his own to double the Athletics’s lead. McHugh came back with three straight outs after the home run, but they were all hit hard and hit pretty deep, which was not a good sign. Fortunately, before he got back on the mound Boston repeated their first inning with Benintendi and Verdugo starting the frame with back-to-back doubles, pulling themselves back within one in a 3-2 game. Once again, though, they’d leave Verdugo in scoring position.
The bottom of the fifth was really the backbreaker as McHugh just didn’t have it at this point in the game. Oakland started things off with a double, a single and a walk and in the blink of an eye the bases were loaded with nobody out. McHugh then tossed in a wild pitch to let one run come in to score, and after a big strikeout he gave up a first-pitch base hit to Ramon Laureano to bring home two more, and that was that. McHugh’s day was done and it was 6-2 Oakland.
The good news is that the Red Sox bullpen continued their fantastic season after McHugh was removed in the fifth. Colten Brewer got three outs, Parker Markel got two, Kevin Shackelford got five, and Josh Taylor got one, all without allowing any more runs to score.
The bad news is it was up to the Red Sox offense to score at least four runs over the last four innings of work, and given how many chances they wasted early it was hard to have too much confidence. They did start the sixth off with a single, and after a couple of quick outs and Oakland going to their bullpen, Ryder Jones and Benintendi came through with a huge pair of back-to-back doubles, bringing Boston back to within two. Verdugo had a base hit to put the tying run on base for J.D. Martinez, but the Red Sox slugger is in a nasty cold stretch and he grounded out to end the inning and the rally.
Boston did have a couple more chances down the stretch, too, with doubles in both the seventh and eighth innings from Vázquez and Jones, respectively, but neither came in to score. Ultimately, that middle stretch of the game from McHugh was just too much to overcome for an offense that simply couldn’t get the hits when they needed them, and that ends the Red Sox series winning streak.
They push their record down to 11-8, though they’re still a half-game up on the Yankees in the division, and they’ll be trying to avoid a sweep in tomorrow afternoon’s game in Oakland. Following the game, Brewer was sent back down as him and Walden are playing musical chairs between Pawtucket and Boston. Down on the farm, Daniel McGrath had a strong start for Pawtucket, Jeter Downs, Bobby Dalbec and Marcus Wilson all went deep in a loss for Portland, Greenville dominated for a 17-1 win and Chris Mazza hit the IL in Triple-A with a torn bicep. He’ll be out for three months.