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Fake Sox Game 83: Bryan Mata comes through

And the Red Sox take two of three from the NL Central leader.

MLB: Spring Training-Philadelphia Phillies at Boston Red Sox Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

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

Our Fake Sox had a tough week on the docket for the final full week of the month of June with four against the Angels and three against the Cardinals, each of whom leads their respective divisions and are among the top two in their respective leagues. Boston split with the Angels out west, and after a win on Saturday they were looking to make it a series win at home against the Cards. It was not a favorable pitching matchup for the Red Sox, though, with Carlos Martinez taking on Bryan Mata.

The Red Sox rookie, however, was as in control as we’ve seen him at any point this season. He wasn’t super efficient early on, but he did come through with a scoreless first in which he allowed only a single. It looked like things may get worse in the second when Mata issued a leadoff four-pitch walk, but the Red Sox immediately got Tommy Edman stealing and only three Cardinals came to the plate in the inning. Mata would then come out and allow just a single in a scoreless third before tossing a perfect fourth.

On the other side, the Red Sox struggled a whole bunch against Martinez. In fact, the Cardinals ace was perfect against Boston his first time through the order. He would make it ten in a row when he got Andrew Benintendi to fly out to start the fourth, too. However, on that final pitch Martinez suffered an injury and had to be removed from the game. This was a massive break for the Red Sox, and they took advantage. Alex Verdugo immediately broke up the perfect game with a base hit. A couple batters later, J.D. Martinez broke up the scoreless tie when he launched one over everything in left field for a two-run shot to make it 2-0 Red Sox. Xander Bogaerts thought that looked pretty neat and when out into the Monster Seats himself, and just like that the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead after four.

Mata came back out and gave up just a bunt single in the fifth for a shutdown inning, and the Red Sox would add more to their tally in the bottom of the inning. This time around, though, it was really just the Cardinals shooting themselves in the foot. Boston did their own work to start the rally with José Peraza smacking a base hit and Christian Vázquez following that up with a double to put a pair in scoring position with just one out. That was followed by a strikeout, but strike three got by Yadier Molina all the way to the backstop. That allowed Peraza to score and Benintendi to reach first. Then, with runners on the corners, Kwang-hyun Kim balked to bring Vázquez home. The Red Sox would leave the inning with a 5-0 lead, and their two runs in the inning came on a strikeout and a balk.

That would be it for the Red Sox offense on the day as the Cardinals bullpen settled down from there and cruised over the final few frames. It wouldn’t matter, though, because the Red Sox pitching was up to the task as well. Mata recorded two outs in the sixth before being taken out for Martín Pérez, who finished off the inning and left a runner (from Mata) on second. The lefty then faced only three batters in the seventh before recording a couple of outs in the eighth. Kevin Shackelford would strand an inherited run at second to finish that inning before coming out and finishing off the game and the combined shutout with a perfect ninth.

The 5-0 victory gave the Red Sox an impressive series victory and pushed their record on the year to 45-38. With the Yankees also winning, the deficit in the division remains down at 2.5 games. Around the league, the players of the week were Whit Merrifield and Gregory Polanco. There was also a trade with the Reds acquiring Marlins reliever Brandon Kintzler for minor leaguer Juan Martinez.

Down on the farm, Bobby Dalbec homered in a PawSox win, Jarren Duran had a pair of hits in a Sea Dogs loss, Jay Groome worked around some control issues in a Salem win, Thad Ward led the way in a win for Greenville, Jonathan Diaz homered in a Lowell victory, and all three complex teams got wins.

With it being Sunday, at the bottom of this page you can see full-season stats for all Red Sox players as well as full league-wide standings.