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Fake Sox Game 14: Christian Vázquez only hits clutch home runs

J.D. Martinez had one, too.

Boston Red Sox v. Seattle Mariners Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox are starting to roll a little bit, winning each of their last three series, the last of which against the Rays thanks to a rubber match win on Wednesday to bounce right back after a blowout loss on Tuesday. Now, they head out west to start a little trip on the left coast starting off with a four-game series against the Mariners. The aforementioned blowout led to some issues for the pitching staff’s schedule and Collin McHugh, as a result, started this game on short rest.

With McHugh on short rest, the offense was looking to give him a little bit of an early cushion in this game going up against Justus Sheffield, who was making his first start of the year. They made a couple of quick outs to start things off but then J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts came through with back-to-back two-out doubles and Boston was indeed on the board with a 1-0 lead after half an inning of play. Unfortunately, the Mariners wouldn’t take long to answer. J.P. Crawford was in the two-hole for Seattle and in his first at bat he launched a solo homer up and over the wall in right field, and both teams ended up scoring a run in their respective halves of the first.

After Boston went down in order in the second, McHugh got himself into a little bit of trouble in the bottom of the inning. Kyle Seager drew a one-out walk, and then McHugh made an error trying to pick him off, putting a runner in scoring position for Austin Nola. McHugh ended up hitting him, and suddenly there were two on with just one out. Fortunately, the righty worked his way out of it with two fly outs and the game remained tied.

It would stay that way after another perfect third for Sheffield, but it changed when Crawford came back around. After hitting a solo shot in his first at bat, he once again came up with the bases empty here and it was the same result. Two at bats in three innings for Crawford and he had two solo homers, giving Seattle a 2-1 lead.

The score was still 2-1 as we headed into the fifth with the Red Sox offense starting to sputter out a little bit against Sheffield. Then, with two outs in the inning Ryder Jones came through with a big double into right field to keep the inning alive and put a runner in scoring position for Andrew Benintendi. He would come through with a solid base hit, bringing Jones around to score and tying this game right up at two.

Again, though, it would not stay that way for very long and it was for the exact same reason as the other two runs. This time Crawford came up with the bases empty and two outs with McHugh still in the game. At this point it was probably smart to just not throw him strikes, but with a full count Crawford sent another one for a ride. It was his third solo homer of the game over three at bats and Seattle just like that had themselves a 3-2 lead entirely on the back of their shortstop. After following up the homer with a single, McHugh was done after 4 2⁄3 and Heath Hembree came out of the bullpen first. He did walk a batter to put two on, but got out of the inning with no more runs scoring.

So, Boston’s offense had some work to do but it wasn’t coming any time soon as they went down empty handed in each of the next two innings. Meanwhile, Darwinzon Hernandez had come in to finish the sixth and he was back out for the bottom of the seventh with the score still 3-2. Mallex Smith started things off with a double for Seattle then quickly moved to third on a wild pitch. After Crawford mercifully struck out and Shed Smith did the same, for some reason our manager Jerry Narron opted to pull the left-handed Hernandez for the right-handed Ryan Brasier with the left-handed Daniel Vogelbach coming up. That was a mistake. Vogelbach crushed one that thankfully stayed in the yard but still landed for an RBI triple to push Seattle’s lead to two. A double from Jonathan Lucroy, who our Fake Sox cut before the season, extended that lead out to three.

So, the Red Sox had some work to do with the bats and quick as they were trailing 5-2 and Sheffield was still in for Seattle. He’d get a quick first out, but then Benintendi got on with a single and Jackie Bradley Jr. ripped a double, putting two on with one out for Martinez. He came through when his team needed him, going the other way for a three-run shot and tying this game up at five runs apiece. That was the last batter Sheffield would face on the day.

So, with a brand new ballgame, Brasier came back on for the eighth and after a leadoff single got a big strikeout before giving way to Josh Taylor. The lefty came on and struck out both batters he faced to preserve the tie. In the top of the ninth, it was Christian Vázquez leading things off. He has had a brutal start to this season at the plate, but the guy only hits clutch home runs and that’s exactly what he did here. He smashed a 2-0 pitch out to left field for a solo home run and Boston had a 6-5 lead. That was all they’d get in the inning, but it was enough to bring Matt Barnes out for a save. He did issue a one-out walk but was otherwise perfect and Boston came from behind with a couple clutch homers for the win to start this road trip.

That pushes Boston’s record to 9-5 and they are sitting atop the AL East