The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are in the middle of one of their roughest stretches in the season, particularly in their last three as they lost all of those games and arguably could have won each of them. The last of those games was just this afternoon, so they had a quick turnaround as they looked to get back in the win column against the Astros tonight. Boston had Matt Shoemaker on the mound for this one while Houston countered with José Urquidy.
Just like in the afternoon game, the offenses got off to a slow start as the starters were the story of the first few innings. After not even making it out of the first inning his last start, Shoemaker did well early here, allowing just a walk over two scoreless innings. He did get in a little trouble in the second when he allowed a two-out double to Kyle Tucker before José Altuve came through with a base hit to right. Alex Verdugo, however, came through for his pitcher, throwing Tucker out at the plate to end the inning and keep Houston off the board. On the other side, the Red Sox went down without getting a man past first base in the first three innings.
So, it was still scoreless heading into the fourth, but Shoemaker couldn’t keep it that way in the top half of the inning. Yordan Alvarez, the hero of the afternoon game, started the inning off with a double before moving to third on an infield single. He’d come in to score, then, on a ground out. Houston would get runners on the corners later in the inning, too, but Shoemaker came through with a huge strikeout to keep the deficit at 1-0.
That was still the score heading into the bottom of the fifth, but this is when everything would change. Boston’s offense had been sputtering up to this point, but they came to life all at once, starting with a leadoff walk. That was followed by a wild pitch, and then with one out they got back-to-back singles, and just like that it was a tie game. The Red Sox weren’t stopping there, though, getting a walk, a double and two straight singles to put them up 5-1, knocking Urquidy out of the game and bringing in Josh James with runners on the corners with still only one out. They’d get two more on James thanks to a single and a sacrifice fly, and by the time the inning was over and done with Boston had jumped out to a 7-1 lead.
Even better, Shoemaker did not seem at all fazed by the long layoff between innings, coming out and dominating with a 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. James then came out in the bottom of the inning, and basically ended the game. He gave up a single before walking two in a row to load the bases for J.D. Martinez with nobody out, and Martinez came through. The slugger smoked a 2-1 pitch out to straightaway center field for a grand slam, and the rout was on with an 11-1 game.
Things did end up getting more interesting than they should have, however. Shoemaker came back out for the seventh and gave up a leadoff homer to George Springer and then back-to-back one-out doubles to make it 11-3. The Astros almost got another run, too, but Verdugo came through yet again and threw out his second runner at the plate.
After Shoemaker and Kevin Shackelford combined for a perfect eighth, the Red Sox just had three more outs to get. In the bottom of the inning, though, there was a 77-minute rain delay, which clearly affected Shackelford. The Red Sox tried to go back to him to start the inning anyway, and he issued a walk and then a base hit before Ryan Brasier came in. He’d give up two singles and a triple, and suddenly it was an 11-7 game with a runner at third and just one out. Brandon Workman came on next, and after getting a strikeout he issued two straight walks.
Suddenly, the bases were loaded with two outs, and Matt Barnes was coming in to face his college teammate, Springer. He had a home run earlier in the game, of course. Barnes immediately through a wild pitch, and that brought Houston to within three. He came through in the end, though, getting Springer swinging to end the inning and the game.
It was almost a disaster, but ultimately the 11-8 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 29-23. They are now three games back in the division. After the game, they got more good news as Rafael Devers was called back from his rehab assignment to join the team for Sunday’s series finale. Chad De La Guerra was optioned back to Pawtucket. There were also a couple of trades around the league, with the biggest sending Zack Greinke to the Cardinals while catcher Andrew Knizer and prospect Junior Fernandez head to the Astros. In the other deal, the Tigers sent C.J. Cron to the Angels in exchange for Pedro Diaz and old friend Victor Acosta.
Down on the farm, looking at the past two days, the PawSox won two of three games with Rusney Castillo homering and Ryan Weber tossing 5 2⁄3 innings in the first game Saturday, Portland’s bats went quiet in a pair of losses, Salem split their two games with Jay Groome tossing six runs with just one unearned run and Tyler Esplin hitting a walkoff home in the win, and Greenville broke out for 22 combined runs in two victories.