The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox have been getting some time to relax and get some rest with some help from both the schedule-makers and Mother Nature herself. Thanks to two rain outs and two scheduled days off, Boston has played in just one of the last five days — though it was a double-header, to be fair — and are now back in action on Tuesday to start a three-game set against the AL West-leading Angels. The series opener looked to be an advantageous for the Angels with Shohei Ohtani going up against Nathan Eovaldi.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year early on for Eovaldi, who was looking to settle in against an Angels team that has thus far rolled out to one of the best starts in all of baseball. Eovaldi got the job done with a quick 1-2-3 inning. It looked like Ohtani would do the same on the other end, too, as he struck out the first two batters he faced. J.D. Martinez, though, looked as though he took advantage of those two days off and started his day off with a blast. Literally. He sent one into the Monster Seats in his first at bat, and the Sox jumped out to a very early 1-0 lead.
Both sides would then go down in order in the second, and Eovaldi looked to keep rolling into the third. Luis Rengifo had other ideas. The young second baseman, who had just gotten called up, absolutely murdered a baseball to start off this inning, crushing one 451 feet out to right field over the bullpens. Just like that, this game was back to being tied up. The good news is Eovaldi got three straight outs after that and avoided letting that moonshot snowball into a big inning.
The bad news is it looked like the Red Sox were going to have trouble getting much going against Ohtani. The aforementioned 1-2-3 second featured two strikeouts to give him five through two innings, and he’d allow just a single in the third before a 1-2-3 fourth. Fortunately, Eovaldi was able to keep pace, working around a base hit in the fourth and two walks in the fifth to keep the score knotted up at one apiece.
In the fifth, the Red Sox were able to get back in front in the same way they took the lead the first time. The only difference this time around was the batter. Christian Vázquez, who has been the worst player on the team early in this season, jumped on the first pitch from Ohtani in the inning and sent it out to the Monster Seats just like Martinez, and that made it a 2-1 ballgame.
That was all the Red Sox pitching was going to need, though they did get more. In all, the Red Sox put four runs on the board all thanks to solo homers. In addition to the two already mentioned, Alex Verdugo and Michael Chavis contributed a dinger each as well. On the mound, Eovaldi had his best outing of the season so far, ultimately going 6 2⁄3 innings allowing just two runs on nine strikeouts and two walks.
It was scary for a moment in the seventh when it was still just a one-run game. Eovaldi had given up a leadoff single to put the tying run on base, but then came back for two quick outs. With his pitch count getting up, Brandon Workman came on in relief, but he was barely necessary. Andrelton Simmons tried to steal second on the first pitch of Workman’s first batter, and was thrown out to end the inning. Workman would come back out for a scoreless eighth before Ken Giles finished it off with a perfect ninth to record his first save in a Red Sox uniform.
The 4-1 victory was a big one for the Red Sox and pushed their record up to 22-14. They are still two games up on the Yankees. In other team news, while the team made a roster move. I mentioned over the weekend that they had signed Matt Shoemaker to a minor-league deal. After just one start in Pawtucket, Shoemaker was promoted to the major-league rotation. To make room on the roster, Heath Hembree was designated for assignment and Martín Pérez was moved to the bullpen.
Meanwhile, around the league, the A’s lost Marcus Semien for five weeks due to an oblique strain. That’s a big loss as one of the best players on a team just one game back in their division. Down on the farm, once again I will not recap everything that happened since we last spoke on Saturday, but there were some highlights. First of all, Tyler Dearden won Player of the Week honors in the South Atlantic League. Pawtucket went 1-1 in their two games with César Puello hitting a pair of dingers in the win. Portland went 1-2 and Bryan Mata left with an injury scare but it turned out to be nothing serious. Salem lost all three of their games while Greenville went 1-1.