The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox had a tough weekend against the Yankees, but they did finish off the series with a win on Sunday to avoid the sweep, and after a day off on Monday they were back in action tonight against the Braves, who have been arguably baseball’s most disappointing team to this point. Boston had Matt Shoemaker on the mound for this game while the Braves countered with Mike Foltynewicz.
Early on, this looked very, very much like a pitchers’ duel between the two starters. Shoemaker started the game off with three perfect innings, mowing his way through the Braves lineup with ease including striking out five of the last six batters he faced in that stretch. On the other side, Foltynewicz was perfect through the first two. Christian Vázquez did break up the perfect streak being had by both pitchers when he led off the bottom of the third with a base hit, but that was followed with three straight outs to keep the game scoreless.
That brought Shoemaker back out for the fourth, and he didn’t pause his domination. He started the inning off with two straight outs including yet another strikeout for the second out. Unfortunately, that would also be his final batter of the game. The Red Sox starter tweaked his hamstring on the final pitch of the strikeout and had to be removed from the outing. The good news is that it is not a serious injury and he’ll be back out feeling 100% for his next start.
The bad news is Martín Pérez came out of the bullpen. The lefty was welcomed to the game by giving up a double to Freddie Freeman, which was followed by a walk to Ronald Acuña. That brought Austin Riley to the plate with two on and two out, and he smacked a single through the left side, allowing Freeman to score. In the blink of an eye, the Red Sox went from having a perfect game going to seeing their starter leave with an injury and then immediately falling behind 1-0. That was all the Braves would get, but it was still not what you want.
That was immediately followed up with yet another 1-2-3 inning for the Red Sox offense, and then Pérez got into more trouble in the fifth. There, he gave up back-to-back one-out singles, and it looked like Atlanta was about to add to their lead with the top of the lineup coming back around. Fortunately, Pérez got a big ground ball that he was looking for that resulted in an inning-ending double play and that kept the score at 1-0.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, the Braves shot themselves in the foot and the Red Sox fully obliged to let them do just that. Xander Bogaerts led off the inning and hit a little tapper in front of the plate. It was picked up by Travis d’Arnaud, but his throw was off the mark and Bogaerts made his way over to third base. Mitch Moreland then followed that up with a base hit to put runners on the corners and that put runners on the corners. Foltynewicz then started to lose it, throwing a wild pitch that allowed Bogaerts to come in to score. Another wild pitch in the next at bat then moved over to third base, and then Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with a sacrifice fly, and then just like that with little work done themselves the Red Sox managed to take a 2-1 lead.
The bad news is the offense did a whole lot of nothing after that inning. They did have a golden chance to extend their lead in the seventh when they loaded the bases with nobody out, but that rally was brought to a halt when Cristian Pache threw Moreland out at the plate on a potential sacrifice fly and the Red Sox were kept off the board altogether.
The good news is the bullpen was up to the task of holding the 2-1 lead. Pérez tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth right after the Red Sox took the lead. In the seventh he’d give up a leadoff single before Brandon Workman came on to record two straight outs. The righty then gave up a single and a got a strikeout before making way for Matt Barnes in the eighth. Barnes did give up a single to put the tying run in scoring position and the tying run on base with just one out, but a strikeout and a ground out kept the Braves off the board.
That brought Ken Giles into the game. He had been perfect in save chances this year before blowing a save against the Yankees on Saturday. He was trying to put that bad taste out of his mouth. That was a successful mission as Giles got the 1-2-3 inning to finish off the inning and the save.
The 2-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 39-33, and with the Yankees losing to the Pirates the deficit in the division is down to 1.5 games. Down on the farm, Pawtucket lost both ends of a doubleheader on Tuesday, Portland’s offense was shut down in a loss, Salem split their two games over the last couple of games with Noah Song dominating in the win, Greenville won both of their games, and the DSL went 3-1 in their games across the last two days.