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Fake Sox Game 20: Xander Bogaerts and Eduardo Rodriguez help avoid a sweep

It wasn’t easy, but Boston squeaks by the get back in the win column.

Oakland Athletics Vs. Boston Red Sox At Fenway Park Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

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

After winning their previous four series heading into Oakland, our Fake Sox had dropped the first two against the A’s, preventing that streak from continuing. Instead, they were now just looking to avoid a sweep in Northern California as they sent Eduardo Rodriguez out to the mound to take on Chris Bassitt.

This had been a frustrating series to this point, with the starting pitching getting roughed up for the most part and the offense wasting a few chances in each of the first two games. They were looking to get some early runs here to get back on track even with Andrew Benintendi getting the day off, and they did have a chance in the first. After a couple of quick outs, J.D. Martinez smacked a two-out single and Xander Bogaerts drew a walk to put a pair on for Mitch Moreland. He would strike out, though, and the Red Sox couldn’t score.

That would be the case for the next few innings as well, as Bassitt really settled into a groove early on. The Oakland righty wasn’t perfect in any inning, but Boston managed just a single in each of the second, third and fourth innings, with Jackie Bradley Jr. stealing second with two outs in the fourth but being stranded in scoring position. So, after four innings they were still looking for their first run while also striking out six times.

On the other side, Eduardo Rodriguez got himself into a groove very early on. He didn’t want to give Oakland any momentum in the early innings while his offense was very much out of sync, and he came through with two 1-2-3 innings to start off this game.

Then, the bottom of the order came up in the third and that all changed. Chad Pinder started things off with a base hit, and that brought Mark Payton to the plate for his first at bat of the series. He sure made it count, getting ahold of a 2-1 pitch and absolutely mashing it out to right field. It flew 416 feet and it emphatically gave Oakland a 2-0 lead.

The A’s would continue hitting the ball well for a bit after that as well. Sean Murphy immediately followed it up with a double, though fortunately he’d be stranded after three straight outs. The first two were hit very well into the outfield, but just right at the fielders. Then, in the fourth, Matt Chapman jumped on the first pitch for a leadoff double, and Oakland would get another runner on a one-out walk, but Rodriguez settled down and escaped the inning.

So, the deficit for Boston was still 2-0 heading into the fifth, but with the way this series had gone that seemed insurmountable. José Peraza got a little rally going in that inning, however, with a very weak infield single, and then a couple batters later J.D. Martinez kept it going with his second two-out base hit of the afternoon. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the dish with runners on the corners and the Red Sox looking for a hit to cut their deficit in half. He did them one better, smashing one the other way on the first pitch for a 375-foot three-run shot. With one swing of the bat, the Red Sox had themselves a 3-2 lead.

The bad news is that the offense didn’t run with that momentum after the home run. They got a two-out double from Kevin Pillar in the sixth, but that was basically it for the rest of the game, putting a whole lot of pressure on the pitching to keep it going. Rodriguez was up to the task, though. The southpaw had a 1-2-3 fifth before allowing just a single in the sixth. The seventh looked like it might bring some trouble with a leadoff base hit, but a double play quickly assuaged those concerns. After another perfect inning in the eighth, Rodriguez’s day was done and it was a good one. Despite losing it for a bit in the third and fourth innings, he made it through eight strong frames allowing just the two runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts.

So, we headed into the bottom of the ninth with Matt Barnes looking to stay perfect with his sixth save and the middle of the order coming up for Oakland. Stephen Piscotty did put the tying run at first with a one-out single, but Barnes came right back and got a ground ball that led to a game-ending double play and that sixth save he was looking for.

That pushed the Red Sox record up to 12-8 as they avoided the sweep, and they took a 1.5 game lead over the Yankees in the division. Our Fake Sox are off tomorrow but return to action Friday against the Indians.

Down on the farm, Marcus Wilson had a three-hit game with a home run in a loss for the Sea Dogs, while Salem got a dominant win with a big start from Jay Groome, two homers for Tyler Esplin and one dinger for Triston Casas. Casas hit his second homer on Thursday as well.