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Fake Sox Game 70: The best pitchers falter late

A winnable game in what’s turning into a brutal weekend.

Divisional Round - New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox entered this weekend playing their best baseball in almost a month just in time for a massive series against the Yankees. Entering Friday’s game they trailed New York by just a game and a half in the division, but after a blowout loss they now trail by 2.5 games and need to win the next two to take the series. For Saturday’s game they did have the pitching advantage with Eduardo Rodriguez going up against Jonathan Loaisiga.

In the first two innings, nothing really got going as the Red Sox sent just six to the plate and the Yankees went down in order in the first and then Rodriguez worked around a three-single second inning thanks in part to an outfield assist at the plate by Alex Verdugo.

Things took a turn on both sides in the third, though, obviously starting with the Yankees at the top of the inning. Their singles party against Rodriguez continued here, following up that second inning where they got three singles and then they got three more back to back to back in the third. That put one run on the board to give them a 1-0 lead, and with two on and nobody out there was a threat for more. Rodriguez settled down from there, though, getting three big outs in a row to keep the deficit at just one.

The deficit wouldn’t last long, either, with the Red Sox getting some singles of their own. With one out, José Peraza and Kevin Plawecki came through with back to back singles to get the rally started. Andrew Benintendi then followed that up with a single of his own to tie the game, and Giancarlo Stanton made an error out in left to move the other two runners up to second and third. Verdugo then gave the Red Sox a lead with a sacrifice fly out to right field before Rafael Devers smacked a single of his own, and just like that it was a 3-1 Red Sox lead.

Now it was up to Rodriguez to keep the momentum on Boston’s side. It did not work out, and it quickly went sour. Miguel Andújar led things off for New York after getting the day off Friday and made his impact on this game in the fourth, blasting a leadoff homer out to the Monster Seats to immediately cut the Red Sox lead down to one. Boston’s southpaw came back with two strikeouts from there, but then gave up a double to the Erik Kratz, the number nine hitter, before Brett Gardner brought him home with a single and just like that we were all tied up at three.

From here, things slowed down to a halt with both pitching staffs starting to dominate. Rodriguez would end up getting through eight and allowing just the three runs with ten strikeouts and just one walk. Loaisiga didn’t make it so deep into the game, but heading into the bottom of the eighth the score was still 3-3.

Devers got things going for the Red Sox in this inning with Adam Ottavino on the mound, smacking a one-out double on the first pitch he saw to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. J.D. Martinez then moved him over to third base with a base hit before Bogaerts came through with a huge single to bring the run home and give the Red Sox a 4-3 lead. They had a chance at more, too, with two on and one out, but Chad Green came in and struck out each of hte next two batters to end the inning.

Still, there was now a lead heading into the ninth and Ken Giles was on the mound. Giles had been perfect in save situations this year between Boston and Toronto, and had allowed a run just twice in 16 appearances with the Red Sox. Notice I said had. With one out, Gio Urshela came to the plate. He went the other way and didn’t hit it all that hard, but he wrapped one around Pesky’s Pole for a solo homer, and that was that. The game was tied. Giles then gave up a double before Matt Barnes came in to get the last two outs and keep the game tied.

Boston did get the leadoff man on the start the bottom of the ninth when Peraza was hit by a pitch, but he wouldn’t advance beyond first base. So, we headed to extras where Barnes came back out. All year long Barnes has struggled most when he has had to come in after sitting between innings, and that continued here. He gave up a leadoff double to Gleyber Torres, and then later issued a one-out intentional walk to Aaron Judge. That brought Andújar to the plate, and things got extremely weird. The DH hit one into the left field corner, allowing Torres to score easily. The Red Sox then pulled off a perfect relay to get Judge at the plate. That’s good! Except Plawecki got greedy and tried to get Andújar, who was trying for third base. That throw got away, and in the end Andújar came all the way around to score. It was technically a double, but it was effectively a two-run home run with a middle man being thrown out. I don’t know. Either way, it was now 6-4.

As it turned out, that extra run turned out to be massive because Martinez was the second batter of the bottom of the inning against Aroldis Chapman. He had a tough game to that point, but he destroyed a 442-foot homer to straightaway center field to make it 6-5. Bogaerts then followed that up with a single to put the tying run on base, and would even move up to second on a wild pitch. Tommy Kahnle came in, though, and struck out the next two batters to end the inning and the game.

The extremely frustrating game ended with a 6-5 Red Sox loss, dropping them to 3.5 back in the division. After the game, Kevin Pillar also asked for a trade because he isn’t enjoying his lack of playing time, so that’s neat. Around the league, Alex Wood signed a six-year, $44.4 million deal with the Dodgers. Down on the farm, Bobby Dalbec had a double and a triple in a win for the PawSox, Domingo Tapia got hit around in a Sea Dogs loss, Salem was shut out, and Brock Bell tossed eight shutout innings in a Greenville win.