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Fake Sox Game 80: Salvaging a split in L.A.

Rafael Devers leads the way in victory.

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox are coming off a frustrating loss on Tuesday in which their pitching staff just couldn’t get it done against the Angels, which to be fair does have a very good offense. Still, it was a winnable game and now they had to win on Wednesday to salvage a split out west. They had Collin McHugh on the mound against Felix Peña, which was an advantage for the Red Sox, though McHugh was going on short rest.

It did look like Boston had a good chance of getting things going early, though, when Andrew Benintendi jumped on the first pitch of the game and gapped it out to right-center field for a leadoff double. Just like that, a runner was in scoring position. Unfortunately, that was followed up with a pair of strikeouts and eventually runners were left on the corners and no runs would cross the plate.

With McHugh getting off to a solid start on his end, there was still no score as we entered the third, when the Red Sox caught a break. Christian Vázquez started the inning off with a base hit into right field, but Shohei Ohtani ran over the ball and allowed the Red Sox catcher to get to second base. That was followed up with a walk and a base hit, and the bases were full of Red Sox with nobody out. Rafael Devers came through with the big swing of the inning next, smacking a double to bring home two runs before a ground out brought home a third. Boston failed to take advantage of a chance for a real crooked inning, but it was a 3-0 lead after the top of the third.

McHugh, meanwhile, continued to look solid despite the short rest, working around a pair of baserunners in the third and then tossing a perfect fourth. In the fifth, though, the score was still 3-0 and the righty was showing clear signs of fatigue. After a strikeout to start things off, Taylor Ward ripped a double for the loudest contact off McHugh in the game so far. That was followed by a base hit and another double, and that did it for McHugh. One run had already crossed the plate, and the Angels still had two in scoring position with just one out for Josh Taylor, who had the pleasure of coming in to face Mike Trout and Ohtani. The southpaw did come through here and got out of the inning with no more runs scoring, and it was a 3-1 Red Sox lead after five.

Boston wouldn’t waste much time getting that run back, either. Xander Bogaerts reached base on an error by Pujols at first base to start off the inning, and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed that up with a double out to put a pair in scoring position. That was the end of the night for Peña as Cam Bedrosian came in to pitch. He mostly did well, but Boston did get one run home on a ground out to make it a 4-1 game.

Taylor then came out for the bottom of the sixth and got a couple of outs, but was lifted with two outs for Matt Barnes despite a lefty in Jason Castro coming up next. That would be a mistake as Barnes simply didn’t have it in this game and served up a solo homer to the Angels catcher to once again make it a one-run game. Barnes gave up another hit in the inning, too, but no more runs.

Once again, though, the Red Sox got the run right back. This time they did it with one swing of the bat as Rafael Devers continued his big day with his biggest hit of the afternoon. The third baseman crushed one 418 feet out to the power alley in right field for a solo homer, and just like that it was a three-run game again with a 5-2 Red Sox lead.

Barnes came back out for the bottom of the seventh and he still struggled. The righty did get a couple of quick outs but that was followed by a single, a double and a walk. Suddenly the tying run was on base with the go-ahead run at the plate, and Parker Markel was coming in. Markel has been a magician of getting out of jams all season, and this was nothing for him. He induced a ground out, and the inning was over with no runs scoring.

That was pretty much that. Markel and Ryan Brasier combined to toss a scoreless eighth as well before Ken Giles closed the door in the ninth. The 5-2 win salvaged a split against one of baseball’s best teams and pushed Boston’s record to 43-37. The Yankees lost, too, so the deficit in the division is back down to 2.5 games. In the department of bad news, Brandon Workman’s injury from Tuesday was diagnosed today as a sprained ankle and he’ll miss at least four weeks. Oliver Pérez, who was signed as a minor-league free agent in May, is being called up to replace him. In other injury news around the league, the wildcard-leading White Sox suffered a big blow with Lucas Giolito going down for the year with a torn rotator cuff.

Down on the farm, the PawSox lost with Tanner Houck getting knocked out after only four innings, Portland gave up one run combined as they took both ends of a doubleheader, Salem and Greenville finished up their All-Star breaks, Nixson Munoz got hit around in a Spinners loss, Matthew Lugo had a couple of doubles as the GCL team started their season with a win, and the two DSL squads each picked up wins.