The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox got off to a tough start in their stretch of five games over four days in Texas, dropping the first of two on Thursday. They rebounded with a win that night and then another in a wild game last night, and were looking to make it three in a row on Saturday. Boston had Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, who had been pitching extremely well heading into this one though was one short rest because for some reason our Fake Sox coaching staff cannot figure out how to utilize their pitching staff for doubleheaders. On the other side, Texas had Mike Minor going.
It was the Rangers southpaw who was the story of this game. It was a very quick contest in Texas, and I have a feeling this recap is going to reflect that. It actually seemed very early on like Boston’s offense was going to get to work against Minor, as they got the first two men on with Andrew Benintendi leading the game off with a walk and Alex Verdugo following that up with a single. Boston would waste that opportunity, though, as Xander Bogaerts flew out, J.D. Martinez popped out and Michael Chavis struck out to leave a pair of runners on.
It was frustrating, but it didn’t seem like the end of the world because they had eight more innings to get back going against Minor. Except, well, they never did. The Rangers lefty came back after that first and tossed a perfect second. And then he did the same in the third. And then the fourth. And then the fifth. And then the sixth. And then the seventh. At that point, for those keeping track at home, that was 21 men retired in a row, and Minor was flirting with something pretty damn close to a perfect game even if it wouldn’t have counted as one. The Red Sox didn’t let it get quite that far with Christian Vázquez breaking up the streak with a base hit in the eighth after Minor had upped said streak to 22, but he didn’t advance beyond first base. In the end, Minor was just too dominat. Over eight innings he didn’t allow a run and just gave up two singles and a walk with ten strikeouts.
The thing is, Eovaldi was doing damn well himself on the other side. In fact, he was nearly perfect himself his first time through the order. The righty retired each of the first eight batters he faced, and then Isiah Kiner-Falefa was the ninth. The Rangers catcher hit a ground ball to Mitch Moreland at first base, but Eovaldi bobbled the toss over and the Rangers had their first baserunner on an error.
The Red Sox righty got out of the inning after that, and then tossed a perfect fourth before two outs to start the fifth. That gave him a no-hitter through 4 2⁄3 and it looked like it would continue when Ronald Guzman hit a little ground ball to the right side of the infield, but apparently it was placed just in the right spot. Moreland made the play but this time his toss to first was too late, and the no-hitter was broken up on a little 68 mph infield single. That brought Scott Heinemen to the plate, and he did a bit better than that. The Rangers center fielder hit one 104 mph and also 423 feet out to center field for a two-run shot, giving Texas a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
Eovaldi settled down with a perfect sixth, but that would be the end of his game because, again, he was on short rest. Kevin Shackelford came on and gave up two singles right away, and then after a strikeout he served up a double to Danny Santana to make it 3-0 and put runners on second and third. After hitting Heineman — and Heineman chirping a little bit on his way to first — to load the bases, Brandon Workman came on to try and keep the game in striking distance. He did just that, getting a ground ball to José Peraza at second that turned into a 4-2-3 double play to end the inning.
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t matter. Workman did come through with a scoreless eighth as well, giving Boston one more chance to get something going in the ninth against Texas close José Leclerc, but it just wasn’t the day for Red Sox hitters. Leclerc tossed a perfect inning, and that was that.
The 3-0 loss dropped Boston’s record down to 26-20. The good news is the Yankees also lost, keeping the deficit in the division at just one game. More good news: Tomorrow is Rafael Devers’s last day on the IL, though it remains to be seen if they will send him on a rehab assignment or if he’ll be in the lineup on Tuesday against the Rays. Meanwhile, down on the farm, Rusney Castillo had three hits including a home run in a PawSox win, Jarren Duran had three hits and Marcus Wilson went deep in a win for the Sea Dogs, Pedro Castellanos had himself a three-hit day in a win for Salem and Brock Bell homered in a loss for Greenville.