The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox had a good flight out of Chicago as they finished off a series victory against the Cubs on Sunday. They were looking to keep that momentum going out west, though it was a tough task against the Angels, who entered the day tied for the best record in all of baseball. Monday was a doubleheader after a game from their last series at Fenway had a rainout. This was a classic OOTP quirk that doesn’t happen in real life, as the Red Sox were the home team for this first game despite it being out in L.A. It was Matt Shoemaker on the mound for Boston with Griffin Canning going for the Angels.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be a very good day for the Red Sox. It wasn’t a perfect start for Shoemaker as he gave up a one-out single to Anthony Rendon and quickly allowed the runner to advance up to second base on a wild pitch, but he got out of the inning without a run. Then, in the bottom half, Andrew Benintendi led things off after three straight days off (from the starting lineup at least) in Chicago. There was no rust, though, as he jumped on Canning’s second pitch of the night and blasted it 387 feet for a leadoff homer, and just like that it was a 1-0 game. Momentum: Red Sox. Except the next three batters went down in order after the homer.
On the plus side, Shoemaker continued to pitch extremely well for the next few innings, including striking out the side in the second. He did get into a bit of trouble in the third when he issued a one-out walk that was immediately followed by a single right in front of the heart of this Angels order, but he got Rendon and Mike Trout to end the inning and keep the shutout going. He had another man in scoring position in the fourth thanks to a two-out single and a wild pitch but again left him stranded before coming back and allowing just a bunt single in the fifth.
So, Shoemaker was doing his part. Unfortunately, the Red Sox offense was not exactly holding up their end of the bargain against Canning after the hot start. They had a pretty solid chance in the third, though, when Kevin Plawecki led things off with a base hit. Canning hurt his shoulder there, too, and so the Angels had to go to the bullpen early. That’s a good thing for the Red Sox in the context of the doubleheader and the series as a whole, but it didn’t help in this game. They did get another baserunner when Benintendi reached on a bunt single, but after the first two men got on they couldn’t bring them home.
That just felt like a back-breaker of a wasted opportunity. Sure enough, they would send only six more batters to the plate total over the next two innings.
Entering the sixth inning, it was still just a 1-0 lead for the Red Sox, and given how good this Angels lineup is it felt like it was only a matter of time until Boston’s quiet bats would come back to bite them. Sure enough, Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box as the second batter of the inning. He got a pitch he liked from Shoemaker and smashed it the other way for a solo homer, and just like that it was an all new ballgame all knotted up at one. José Peraza then made a crucial throwing error that put a runner at second base and Brian Goodwin quickly brought him home to make it 2-1 Angels.
Plawecki then allowed a passed ball to put Goodwin at second, and then he’d move up to third base on a fly ball. This represented the end of Shoemaker’s night, with Ryan Brasier coming on to try and keep it a one-run game. He had a long at bat against Jason Castro, but it ended with a base hit through the middle to make it 3-1.
The bullpen did do the job after that single, to their credit. Brasier, Kevin Shackelford and Matt Barnes combined to shut out the Angels over the final three innings of work. Unfortunately, the offense just had no fight. They went down in order in three of their final four innings, with the one slight glimmer of hope coming on a leadoff single from Peraza in the eighth, but he didn’t make it beyond first base.
So, the 3-1 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 41-36. They have another game coming up later today to try and get back in the win column.