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Fake Sox Game 53: A return, a fight and a loss

Our Fake Sox drop their second straight series and a reliever gets punched in the mouth. Literally.

Philadelphia Phillies v Boston Red Sox Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox snapped a three-game win streak with the second game of their doubleheader on Saturday, but they had some work to do on Sunday to try and win the series in the rubber match against the Astros. The good news is this game marked the return of Rafael Devers, playing his first game since April 4 after missing six weeks with a partially torn labrum. On the mound, Bryan Mata was making his second career start while Lance McCullers was going for the Red Sox.

In his first start, Mata worked around trouble in what could have been a disaster. This time around, he was looking for a more efficient go around. It didn’t work out. Kyle Tucker welcomed Mata right away, sending the third pitch he saw into the right field seats for a solo homer to lead off the game. One batter in, and it was already a 1-0 game. Mata did come back with three straight outs after that, to his credit.

The Red Sox offense, meanwhile, looked to have their hands full as McCullers had been Houston’s best pitcher coming into this start and was coming off a great outing his last time out. Boston looked good against him, though, starting with a leadoff single from Andrew Benintendi. He would then go to steal second, and not only swipe that bag but move up to third on a throwing error by Martín Maldonado. J.D. Martinez would bring the run home with a single. Devers then had a base hit of his own in his first at bat of the return, and eventually the bases would be full for Christian Vázquez. He couldn’t come through, though, flying out to leave the bases loaded and Boston settled for the tie.

In the second, things didn’t get much better for Mata. The righty gave up a leadoff single and then a double to put two in scoring position right away. Michael Brantley then came through with a base hit that not only scored two runs but also resulted in him standing on second thanks to a bad throw home from Alex Verdugo. Houston would get runners on the corners here, but Mata worked his way out of the jam. It was 3-1 after the half-inning, but it could have been worse.

Boston again had a chance in the bottom of the inning, but again they left runners on base as Martinez watched strike three go by with two runners on base. In the third, Mata again just looked completely overmatched. He gave up a double, a single and a walk to start the inning to load the bases right away. It looked like he got a big first out on a pop up, but Xander Bogaerts dropped it in shallow left field. The big error let a run come in and failed to record the crucial first out. After a tapper in front of the plate did get the first out on a force play at home, Mata walked in a run and that was the end of his outing. Kevin Shackelford came on next and gave up three more runs, and by the end of the inning it was an 8-1 Houston lead.

The Red Sox needed to get to work at the plate, and they got off to a good start in the bottom of the third. Devers led off with a walk, and then two straight singles brought one run home. After a walk loaded the bases, there was still nobody out and this was the chance to get back into this game. It didn’t work out. They did get one more on a sacrifice fly, but they needed a big inning. Instead, it was still an 8-3 deficit.

That was still the score heading into the top of the third as the pitching on both sides had settled down. Ryan Brasier was now on for Boston, and Yordan Alvarez led off the inning with a solo home run. In what was now a 9-3 game, it hurt but the bigger story came next. Brasier followed the homer up by hitting Alex Bregman, who took offense. He charged the mound and a fight broke out. According to the play-by-play, Brasier was hit with a haymaker, which I can only assume he was punched in the face. He and Bregman were ejected.

That was pretty much the end of the events in the game. Each side did score another run, but the Red Sox never made a serious bid at a comeback. The 10-4 game dropped the Red Sox record down to 29-24. With the Yankees also losing, the Red Sox now trail by three games in the AL East. After the game, it was announced that Brasier would be suspended for seven games. Bregman got three.

Around the league, Randal Grichuk and Didi Gregorius were named the Players of the Weeks, while the Red Sox dropped to 11th in the Power Rankings. Down on the farm, Elih Marrero was the Player of the Week in the South Atlantic League. In game action, the PawSox offense was shut out in a loss, the Sea Dogs were held to one run in a loss, Salem scored four in the ninth to send the game to extras but lost in the eleventh, and Marrero had four hits in a win for Greenville.

With it being Sunday, below you can see all of the stats from Red Sox players as well as league-wide standings.