The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox had a weird start to their Thursday as they were the home team in a road park to start off a doubleheader in Texas. That one did not go so well with Collin McHugh putting his team behind 7-0 without even making it out of the first. The offense nearly came all the way back and the pitching was great for the final eight frames, but ultimately they came up just short. They were looking to get that bad taste out of their mouths with a win in the night cap to split the doubleheader, and had Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound while Texas was going with a bullpen game.
This was a game that was dominated by the pitching, with very little action to go around on either side. Over the first couple of innings, the best chance for Boston came when they got a pair of runners on in the second with two outs, but Kevin Plawecki went down swinging to strand the runners. Rodriguez actually allowed a pair of runners to start off the bottom of that inning as well with a walk and a hit batter, but came back with a pop up and a double play to avoid any damage.
With the game still scoreless heading into the third, Andrew Benintendi started his nice day at the dish, ripping a double down the first base line to kick off the inning. A bunt moved him over to third, and after J.D. Martinez drew a walk Xander Bogaerts came through with a sacrifice fly to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Another walk did move Martinez up to scoring position, but the Sox would settle for just the single run in the inning.
Rodriguez continued to cruise from there, working around a two-out double in the third and then tossing a perfect fifth, so the score was still 1-0 in the fifth. Benintendi would lead off the top of this inning as well, and he took it even further this time, literally. Continuing what has been a really solid year out of the leadoff spot thus far, he smacked one way out to center field. The wind was blowing out in that direction and that helped out as it carried up over the glove of a leaping Danny Santanta for a solo homer, his third of the year, and gave Boston a 2-0 lead.
Rodriguez, again, worked with that lead and wasn’t about to give it up. He gave up a single in the bottom of the fifth but negated that with an inning-ending double play, and then he worked around a couple of two-out baserunners in the sixth to keep his shutout going. So, as we entered the bottom of the seventh, it was still a 2-0 game and Rodriguez was coming back out. He got two outs to start the inning, but then allowed an infield single followed by a big double, and just like that the shutout was gone and the Red Sox lead was cut in half with the tying run now standing at second base. Despite having 107 pitches under his belt, Rodriguez was kept out there for the next batter as well, but this time it worked out. Ronald Guzman flew out, and the Red Sox were still hanging on with a 2-1 lead.
Boston would load the bases with two outs in the eighth but fail to add to their lead, and Josh Taylor came in for the eighth in a one-run game with Matt Barnes out of commission after pitching in the afternoon. Taylor did his job, though, making quick work of all three batters he faced.
The game would then get a bit less stressful in the ninth, with Plawecki of all people getting it started with a leadoff double that was just feet away from being a solo homer. After Benintendi was intentionally walked, Jackie Bradley Jr. loaded the bases with a single and then Martinez brought home two with a base hit of his own to make it 4-1. Bogaerts followed that up with a double play, but it did bring home one more run and it was a 5-1 game by the time the inning was over.
With it no longer being a save chance, Taylor remained in the game for the bottom of the ninth, but gave up a single to start off the inning. That was followed by a strikeout but also a stolen base, and then another strikeout to put the game one out away from its ending. Rougned Odor kept the inning alive with his second straight infield single, though, and with 29 pitches Taylor had to come out and Ken Giles had to come in. Giles gave up another infield single to let one run come in and bring the tying run to the plate, but came through with a big strikeout to end the inning and the game.
The 5-2 victory pushed the Red Sox record up to 25-19, and with the split doubleheader they now sit two games behind the red-hot Yankees in the division. Down on the farm, Bobby Dalbec went deep in a win for the PawSox, Domingo Tapia tossed seven scoreless in a win for the Sea Dogs, Salem walked it off for a 6-5 victory, and Kervin Suarez was a homer away from the cycle in a win for Greenville.