The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox had a doubleheader on Monday against the Angels in Los Angeles, and the Angels just happened to enter the day as the best team in baseball, at least by record. Boston’s bats fell asleep in the first game in a loss despite a solid performance from their pitchers. They were looking for a recovery in the second game with Bryan Mata on the mound. The good news for them was that the Angels were going with a bullpen game after they had to use five relievers in the first game of the day.
Early on, it was more frustration for the Red Sox offense. They got a little two-out rally in the first thanks to an error and a walk, but Xander Bogaerts couldn’t bring any runs home. They then went down in order in the second. On the other side, it was a typical game for Mata, which means a lot of baserunners and inexplicable escapes of danger. The righty gave up three singles in the first two innings but didn’t allow a run.
In the third, the Red Sox took advantage of some poor pitching as Holby Milner issued back-to-back one-out walks to end his outing. Cam Bedrosian then came in, and after a fly ball moved the lead runner to third base Rafael Devers broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single to make it 1-0 Boston.
Mata once again made things hard on himself in the third, and all with two outs. He issued his first walk of the night, then gave up a single before issuing another walk. Suddenly, what was almost a 1-2-3 inning saw the bases loaded and Shohei Ohtani coming to the plate. Mata escaped the danger somehow, though, getting a ground ball over to first base to end the inning and keep his team up 1-0.
This was still the score as we headed into the bottom of the fifth, but as always happens with Mata, eventually the luck has to run out. Brian Goodwin got the rally started with a base hit and Anthony Rendon followed it up with a single of his own. Mike Trout then came through with a third straight single, and that tied the game up at one run apiece. Ohtani made it four straight singles against the Red Sox rookie, and just like that it was a one-run lead for the Angels in a game that was starting to mirror the first of the doubleheader. Mata did come back with a big strikeout after that and did eventually get out of the inning without any more runs being scored.
The Red Sox offense had a chance to answer right back in the sixth when they got the first two men on, but then they got weird. They decided to try a sacrifice bunt with Michael Chavis, but it was a terrible bunt and Devers was thrown out at third base. José Peraza later came up with two on and two out and it looked like he had an easy double out over the head of Goodwin, but the Angels left fielder made an incredible diving catch to end the inning and rob the Red Sox of at least a tie game if not a lead.
Instead, it was still 2-1 Angels and things got real dicey in the bottom of the sixth. Mata started the inning, but gave up a single, threw a wild pitch, issued an intentional walk and then gave up another single. Just like that, the bases were loaded with nobody out, and Parker Markel came into what seemed like an impossible situation. Notice I said “seemed like.” The righty got a big ground ball to start his outing and Chavis made the good throw to get the out at the plate. Then Rendon hit a line drive to left field for the second out, and David Fletcher challenged the arm of Benintendi. The latter threw a strike to the plate, got the runner and ended the inning, somehow without a run.
That was the turning point of the game. The Red Sox offense got a double from Andrew Benintendi in the seventh to start off a rally, and then with two outs Jacob Barnes lost control. The Angels reliever issued three straight walks and tied the game at two. Chavis then came through with a base hit, and just like that it was a 4-2 lead for Boston.
After Markel and Josh Taylor combined to toss a perfect bottom of the inning, the Red Sox really put it away in the eighth. J.D. Martinez came up with two on and two outs and kept the inning going with a big base hit to make it 5-2. Devers then ended it with a two-run double out to left-center field, and that was pretty much that.
It was now a 7-2 lead and the Red Sox bullpen just had to get through a couple more innings. Taylor and Martín Pérez combined to do just that without too much of an issue, and that finished off the game.
The 7-2 victory salvaged a split in the doubleheader and pushed the Red Sox record to 42-36. The Yankees won on Monday, costing the Red Sox a half-game and dropping their deficit to 2.5 games in the division. Down on the farm, it was a second straight day off for Pawtucket, Connor Wong doubled in a Sea Dogs loss, Salem and Greenville started their All-Star breaks, Chris Murphy tossed six scoreless innings in a Spinners win, and the two DSL squads split their Monday games.