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Fake Sox Game 42: Wasted chances and a blown lead

A winnable game turns into a loss and a series split in Atlanta.

MLB: SEP 05 Red Sox at Braves Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox got off to a nice start in their little two-game series down in Atlanta, taking the first game by a score of 2-1 thank to a ninth-inning rally to give them the lead. They were looking to make it two in a row against a struggling Braves team here with Matt Hall on the mound while Atlanta had Mike Foltynewicz going.

Both pitchers got off to decent enough starts with each offense going down in order in the first, although there was some hard contact on both sides that was just hit to the wrong part of the field. In the top of the second, though, the Red Sox had a chance for a big inning when Xander Bogaerts led things off with a base hit and Alex Verdugo followed it up with a double. That put a pair in scoring position with nobody out, but the opportunity would be mostly squandered. Michael Chavis struck out for the first out, and then Mitch Moreland did bring one home, but it was on a sacrifice fly. That was all Boston would get, settling for a 1-0 lead. This would prove to be a wasted chance they’d regret later.

In fact, they’d regret it a bit almost immediately, as Ozzie Albies started the bottom half of the inning with a bang by smacking a double down the right field line. After a ground ball moved him over to third, a double from Johan Camargo would bring the run home and tie the game all up at one. Fortunately, Hall settled down from there and got out of the inning without handing Atlanta the lead.

After that second, Hall settled into a groove for a few innings, too. There was a little bit of a jam in the third when he allowed back-to-back two-out singles, but he got out of that without any runs coming across. He followed that up by facing just ten batters over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, with one of those baserunners coming courtesy of an error from Michael Chavis at third base. Either way, he held Atlanta to just the one run through six.

On the other side, the Red Sox offense was able to get to Foltynewicz a little bit. It started with J.D. Martinez in the fourth. He led that inning off and got to a 2-0 count. From the looks of it, he got whatever he was looking for in that count because he absolutely unloaded on one. It traveled 404 feet down the left field line for a solo shot and gave Boston a 2-1 lead. A couple batters later Verdugo drew a walk before Michael Chavis brought him home with a double, although he was apparently fooled by the throw in because it got cut off and he was thrown out trying for a triple. It did extend the lead to 3-1, but the inning could have been bigger than it was.

In the sixth, with the two-run lead still in tact, it looked like they were poised to potentially put the game away. Unfortunately, it was reminiscent of that second inning. Once again, they got two runners in scoring position right off the bat, this time with a walk and a double. Then, Bogaerts struck out and Verdugo grounded out. The latter brought one run home, but once again what could have been a big inning added just one run to the total and it was a 4-1 lead.

That was still the score heading into the bottom of the seventh with Matt Hall still in the game facing the bottom of Atlanta’s order. He’d get a quick first out, but then gave up three straight singles, two of which were hit well while the middle one was a weak but well-placed infield single. That loaded up the bases with just one out with the top of the order coming back around, and it ended Hall’s night.

He had a solid game, but he left a very tough situation for Brandon Workman, and it did not go well. The righty first faced Ender Inciarte, who smacked a fourth straight base hit for the Braves to make it 4-2. Workman then walked Marcell Ozuna to make it a one-run game, but came back with a big strikeout against Ronald Acuña. That left it up to Ozzie Albies with the bases full in a one-run game in the seventh. Albies won this battle, smoking his second double of the game and clearing the bases, giving Atlanta two-run lead, their first lead of the series. Workman did stop the bleeding from there, but the damage was already done and it was up to the offense to come back.

It looked like they would at least cut the deficit in half right away in the eighth when Jackie Bradley Jr. led things off with a triple right ahead of the heart of the order. However, both Martinez and Bogaerts struck out and Verdugo flew out, keeping the deficit at two. Boston then went down in order in the ninth, and that was that. Workman blew the lead after coming into a tough situation and the offense wasted a few golden opportunities, and a winnable game was lost.

The loss dropped Boston’s record to 24-18, and with the Yankees winning a third straight one-run game in Tampa the Sox trail by 1.5 games in the division. Around the league, the Nationals, just a couple days after losing Max Scherzer for two months, lost Stephen Strasburg for the year with an elbow injury. In Minnesota, José Berríos threw a 15-strikeout gem. Meanwhile, down on the farm, Marcus Walden blew the save in a loss for the PawSox, Bryan Mata tossed eight shutout innings and Jarren Duran homered in a Sea Dogs win, Jorge Rodriguez tossed six innings of one-run ball and Cameron Cannon went deep in a win for Salem, and Thad Ward pitched well in a win for Greenville.