The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox have now dropped two in a row heading into Saturday’s game against the Cubs after dropping a frustrating 5-4 matchup on Friday that included a ton of runners left on base from the offense. They were looking to get back in the win column and still give themselves a chance to win the series with a victory on Saturday. Boston had Collin McHugh on the mound for this one while Chicago went with Kyle Hendricks.
This was just about the opposite start compared to Friday’s matchup, when the Red Sox offense took some time to get going while the Cubs got on the board early. This time, Boston was on Hendricks from the get-go, with José Peraza making an out to lead off the game but hitting it 108 mph in the process. Alex Verdugo then came up next and followed Peraza’s lead with the exit velocity, but got a bit better of a result. The Red Sox right fielder went into the wind and still managed to get it up and over the wall in right field for a solo homer, giving the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. They’d get another runner later in the inning on a Rafael Devers single, but he immediately got caught stealing to end the inning.
On the other end, McHugh was lights out early in this game. There were a couple of deep-ish fly balls, but for the most part he was extremely good, and in fact he was perfect. The Red Sox righty didn’t give up a baserunner the first time through the order, going nine up and nine down through three.
The score was still 1-0 in the fourth when the Red Sox bats finally got going a bit again. Devers got things started this time around with one out, blasting one off the wall in straightaway center field, just missing a home run and settling for a double. Xander Bogaerts came up right after that and ripped a base hit through the left side, bringing Devers home to score and extending the Red Sox lead to two. Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up with a hit of his own, too, to put a pair on, but Christian Vázquez grounded into a double play to end the inning and strand two. That was the first of three straight innings in which the Red Sox would strand a pair of runners, and the only one of those in which they actually scored a run.
Fortunately, McHugh was up to the task of protecting this lead. He was perfect yet again in the fourth to make it 12 in a row, and he made it 13 in a row to start the fifth. The perfection would get stopped in its tracks, though, when Jason Heyward came to the plate with one out and blasted a no-doubt home run to right-center field. Not only was the perfect game gone, but so was the shutout as the Cubs made it a 2-1 ballgame. Chicago would keep pushing that inning, too, getting back-to-back two-out singles to put the tying run in scoring position. Hendricks was at the plate, though, and McHugh got a ground out to end the inning and keep the lead in hand.
As we fast-forward to the eighth, it was still a 2-1 game but things were about to get pretty wild. First, in the top half of the inning, the Red Sox showed off the power. First it was Rafael Devers hitting a solo homer with one out in the inning to make it 3-1. It was his first homer in almost a month, with his last coming on May 25. Then, a couple batters later Bradley kept the inning going with a bloop single before Vázquez came up and obliterated his second homer in as many nights. This two-run shot suddenly gave the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
That insurance would prove to be very, very important, too, as McHugh came back out for the eighth and got into some trouble. He gave up a one-out double to Daniel Descalso, and then with two outs issued a walk, a single and then a huge triple to Javier Baez. After that, it was just a one-run game and the tying run was at third base. The Red Sox still stuck with McHugh, though, despite the trouble and the fact that Kyle Schwarber was coming up. Fortunately, McHugh came through, getting a routine fly ball out to right field to keep the Red Sox up by one.
Once again, Boston was able to add some insurance, too. This time it was a repeat offender doing the damage, as Verdugo came to the plate with a man on second and just one out. He worked a full count before getting a mistake on 3-2 and blasting it out to the power alley in right field for a two-run shot, his second homer of the night. Just like that, it was back to a three-run lead for Boston.
That left it up to Ken Giles to try and finish off his league-leading 20th save. He didn’t make it all that easy on himself as he gave up a couple of baserunners on a single and a walk with two outs, but he managed to keep the Cubs off the board and give the Red Sox the win.
The 7-4 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 40-35, and with the Yankees losing Boston pulled back to within three in the division. Down on the farm, Matthew Kent was solid in a PawSox loss, the Sea Dogs hit six extra-base hits in a win, Aldo Ramirez tossed 6 1⁄3 scoreless innings in a Salem win, Kervin Suarez had two doubles and a triple in a Greenville win, Lowell stayed perfect with a win, and both DSL squads got wins.