The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our fake Sox are in the midst of a tough week of baseball with series against two of the best teams in baseball in the Cardinals and Angels. They split the series against the Angels, but got off to a rough start against the Cardinals on Friday in an 11-inning loss. They were looking to recover from that one on Saturday as they sent Matt Shoemaker to the mound to take on Zack Greinke, who the Cardinals acquired back in May for catcher Andrew Knizner.
It seemed set up for the offenses to flourish here with both teams having good lineups and both Shoemaker and Greinke being inconsistent this year. Instead, we saw a legitimate pitcher’s duel, though as we’ll see it Greinke wasn’t really involved all that much. As it went both sides went down without a run in the first inning.
The offenses did wake up in the second. Shoemaker retired the first five batters he faced, but Harrison Bader was batter number six and he broke up that streak to start what would be a big day at the plate for him. Here, he got ahead 1-0 then jumped on a hanging curveball, launching it up into the Monster Seats for a solo homer to give the Cardinals a solo homer. Shoemaker would walk the next batter as well, but got out of it after that.
The Red Sox would answer back quickly, though, with a bit of a two-out rally. Michael Chavis got things started by ripping a double out to left field, and then José Peraza made sure not to waste the chance with a base hit back up through the middle. That would tie the game, and it also was the last batter for Greinke as he hurt his ankle on the last pitch of that at bat and he had to leave. Boston would get another runner in the inning to put the go-ahead runner in scoring position, but they only got the one run.
So, we were all tied up at one apiece now, and the offenses couldn’t come through for almost the rest of the game. Shoemaker would get into some trouble with a runner reaching scoring position in each of the next three innings, but he managed to get out of all of the jams. On the other end, the Red Sox had a few chances but were mostly kept quiet by a slew of Cardinals relievers.
As we headed into the seventh, it was still a 1-1 game and Shoemaker was coming back on. He got a quick first out but then gave up a double to Tyler O’Neill, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. The righty got Yadier Molina for out number two, but O’Niell moved to third on a wild pitch. That would end the day for Shoemaker and Ryan Brasier came in with the go-ahead run 90 feet away. Brasier came through, getting a huge strikeout to end the inning and keep the tie.
In the eighth, Brasier came back out and immediately gave up a leadoff double. After a ground ball and a walk, Parker Markel came in with runners at the corners and just one out, making it yet another potential escape scenario for him as he’s been phenomenal in this role for the last few weeks. He kept that up here, inducing a big 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and keep the score tied at one.
Then, in the bottom of the inning, Alex Verdugo led things off with a base hit then quickly moved to second as Andrew Miller balked. J.D. Martinez then came to the plate with one out and to this point was 0-3 with three strikeouts. He made up for it here, smacking a double out to right-center field to bring Verdugo home and give the Red Sox the lead. They couldn’t add any insurance, but it was a 2-1 lead heading into the ninth.
Now it was all up to Ken Giles. It wasn’t a perfect inning as he put the tying run in scoring position as Bader smacked a one-out double for his third extra base hit of the day. Giles came back after that, though, with a pair of strikeouts and that was that.
The 2-1 victory pushed the Red Sox record to 44-38. With the Yankees also winning, the deficit in the division is still at 2.5 games. Down on the farm, Mike Shawaryn led the way in a shutout win for the PawSox, C.J. Chatham hit a grand slam in a Portland win, Noah Song walked five in a Salem loss, Ryan Zeferjahn tossed 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings in a Greenville loss, Chris Murphy led the way in a shutout win for the Spinners, and all three complex teams were off.