The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are in the midst of a tough stretch of their schedule, and after dropping two of three in Houston their tough road trip continues with a three-game set in Cleveland. The Indians come into the game as the best team in the American League and the second best in baseball, leading to a tough matchup for Boston. The Red Sox did have a solid pitching matchup for this one, though, with Scott Moss pitching for the Indians and Eduardo Rodriguez going for the Sox.
Boston couldn’t get anything going in the first, which brought Rodriguez out for the bottom of the first looking to keep the game scoreless. He started getting hit hard right off the bat with Francisco Lindor smacking a leadoff single. The Indians shortstop then immediately tried to steal second base, but the Red Sox sniffed it out and nailed him with a pitch out. That turned out to be a big out, because on the very next pitch Tyler Naquin drove one way out to the power alley in right field for a solo homer to make it 1-0. Rodriguez did come back with two straight outs after that, and then faced just six batters over the next two innings, in part thanks to another unsuccessful steal attempt from Lindor.
On the other end, the Red Sox managed just a single in the second but finally started to get to Moss in the third. That inning started with a base hit from Christian Vázquez before Jackie Bradley Jr., the team MVP through two months, ripped a double down the right field line. Vázquez came all the way around from first and the game was tied at one. Andrew Benintendi kept things going and gave his team the lead with another double to make it 2-1. He’d then eventually move over to third with two outs on a fly ball, and the Red Sox caught a break with Rafael Devers hitting a tapper to the right side of the infield that was perfectly placed. Devers reached on the infield single and Benintendi came in to score and give the Sox a 3-1 lead.
That was still the score as we headed into the bottom of the fourth, but the little groove Rodriguez had gotten himself in the last couple of innings quickly faded. Naquin started the inning with a base hit, and then a couple batters later Franmil Reyes came to the plate. Rodriguez made a mistake on a 2-2 pitch to the big righty and Reyes absolutely punished one, smashing a 406-foot homer to tie the game all up at three.
Rodriguez would get out of the inning from there, and then in the fifth he got in some more trouble. This time it was the bottom of the order doing the damage, with Oscar Mercado smacking a one-out single before Roberto Perez came up right behind him with a big double to bring the go-ahead run all the way around. Perez was stranded at second, though, so it was only a 4-3 game.
Boston had a chance to answer back in the top of the fifth, too, with Devers starting things off with a one-out bloop single. A couple batters later Michael Chavis came through with a base hit of his own, bringing Kevin Pillar to the plate in a big chance with runners on the corners and two outs in the one-run game. He couldn’t come through, hitting a routine fly ball out to left field to end the inning and leave the tying run 90 feet away.
Cleveland quickly took advantage of the missed opportunity in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to some puzzling game management from the Red Sox. With one out, Rodriguez gave up a double to Jordan Luplow, bringing César Hernández to the plate. For some reason, the Red Sox decided to put Hernández on base for free and take their chances with Jake Bauers. It did give the chance for a double play and present a lefty-lefty matchup, but Bauers had been red hot coming into the game. Sure enough, the Indians first baseman smacked one off the foul pole in right field for a three-run shot, making it an entirely different ballgame with a 7-3 score.
That was the third homer off Rodriguez in the game for Cleveland, and it ended the night for the lefty. The bullpen did do well, with Josh Taylor, Kevin Shackelford and Parker Markel combining for 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings. Unfortunately, the offense had no answers. Their best chance was in the eighth when they got two on with just one out, but Hunter Wood came out of the ‘pen for Cleveland to end the inning with no runs scoring.
The Indians would hang on to keep the score at 7-3, and the loss dropped the Red Sox record down to 32-28. The good news is the Yankees continued to slide themselves, dropping their seventh straight to keep the deficit in the division at a half-game. Looking around the league, the Cardinals — baseball’s best team to this point in the year — added to their bullpen by acquiring Yoshihis Hirano from the Mariners in exchange for minor leaguers Bryce Denton, Danielito Remy and Jake Burns.
Meanwhile, down on the farm, Pawtucket, Portland and Salem all had the day off. Greenville did play but lost 7-5 after giving up four in the bottom of the seventh.