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Fake Sox Game 63: A bad time for a bullpen slump

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The bullpen blows another game in yet another frustrating loss.

Minnesota Twins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

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

Our Fake Sox are coming off a rough three-game series in Cleveland in which they probably should have taken two out of three from the best team in the American League but had their bullpen implode on Wednesday in the rubber match, leading to a 12-5 loss in a game they led 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh. They had a day off yesterday to get that bad taste out of their mouths and were looking to bounce back against the red-hot Brewers, winners of eight of their last ten, to start a three-game set at Fenway. Boston had Bryan Mata on the mound while Milwaukee countered with Freddy Peralta. It should also be mentioned that prior to the game, Ryder Jones was activated off the IL while Tzu-Wei Lin was designated for assignment to make room on the active roster. Jones got the start at third base for this one as well.

The Red Sox rookie has been incredibly inefficient to start his major-league career despite getting solid results in two of his three starts so far. He did a little better to start this one, though, tossing a 1-2-3 first and allowing just a single in the second. On the other side, got some runners against Peralta early but fell asleep on the base paths. For example, Andrew Benintendi drew a leadoff walk in the first but was quickly picked off first base. Boston would draw another walk in the inning, but didn’t advance anyone beyond first base. In the second they got a one-out single from José Peraza, but he would eventually be back-picked at first base for the final out of the inning.

So we entered the third inning with the game still scoreless, and Mata hit his first snag of the game. The rookie gave up a one-out double to Manny Piña, the number nine hitter, but then came back to get a big ground out against Lorenzo Cain. That brought old friend Brock Holt to the plate with a runner in scoring position and two outs, and the Fenway favorite came through. Holt smacked a base hit into center field and Piña beat the throw home to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. Christian Yelich followed that up with a single of his own to put runners on the corners, too, but Mata struck out Justin Smoak to end the inning.

So, now it was time for the Red Sox to answer back, but they came out in the bottom of the third and recorded two quick outs to start the inning. Benintendi, however, kept things going with a little nubber to the left side of the mound that resulted in an infield single, and Alex Verdugo followed that up with an RBI double to tie the game at one. they didn’t stop there, either, with J.D. Martinez smacking a triple off the short wall in right field to bring another run home, and a Xander Bogaerts single ensured the inning would end with Boston holding a 3-1 lead.

Even better, Mata came out and worked around two baserunners in the fourth thanks to an inning-ending double play, and the Red Sox offense went back to work in the bottom of the inning. Here, Christian Vázquez got things started with an infield single — a second straight rally started this way — before Jones doubled to put two in scoring position. Benintendi then brought one run home on a ground out before Verdugo got an RBI single and the Red Sox had knocked Peralta out of the game and eventually ended the inning with a 5-1 lead.

Unfortunately, the fifth inning would be where Mata hit his wall. He started the inning by hitting the leadoff man before giving up a single to put the first two men on. After a big strikeout of Holt, Yelich came through with runners on the corners as the Brewers best player smacked a double out to left field that brought two runs home, and Milwaukee was back to within two. Mata then walked the next two batters he faced, ending his night and handing things over to Martín Pérez with the bases loaded and nobody out. The lefty actually came through here, though, getting a huge ground ball on the second pitch he threw that resulted in an inning-ending double play and keeping the lead in Boston’s hands.

The bad news is the Red Sox offense fell asleep for a few innings and couldn’t answer back after that rally from Milwaukee. It looked like the Brewers would get more in the sixth, too, when Ben Gamel hit a one-out double. With two outs, Cain then came through with a single, but Kevin Pillar — who got the start in center field for this one — had other ideas, throwing out Gamel at the plate to end the inning and keep the lead at two.

They wouldn’t be so fortunate in the seventh, though. Holt was the one to get this started against Pérez, leading things off with a single before Yelich brought him home with an RBI triple to make it a 5-4 game. It seemed to be time to take Pérez out, but they stuck with him and he got two straight ground outs, and with the infield playing in Yelich was forced to stay at third. The lefty was one out away from escaping with the lead in hand, but Luis Urías had other ideas. The shortstop, who had ended two innings with double plays already in this game, came through this time with a monster 441-foot home run over everything in left field. Just like that, it was a 6-5 lead for Milwaukee.

The Red Sox answered back by sending just three to the plate in the bottom of the inning, and Brandon Workman, who finished off the top of the seventh, came back on for the eighth. Gamel was the first batter of the inning, and he started things off by blasting a solo homer to make it a 7-5 game. Workman then got a couple of outs before walking the next two, bringing Matt Barnes in from the bullpen. He would then walk the first batter he faced before giving up a two-run single, and just like that it was suddenly a four-run Milwaukee lead.

The Red Sox then wasted a leadoff double from Mitch Moreland in the eighth, and after Ken Giles came out and struck out the side in the top of the ninth, Boston’s offense had one more chance. They finally showed some life in the ninth, with Jones leading things off with a triple, Benintendi bringing him home with a double and Verdugo coming through with a base hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out. J.D. Martinez then came up representing the tying run, but only got one home on a sacrifice fly. That was as close as things would get as Josh Hader came on and got two outs to end the inning.

The frustrating 9-7 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 33-30 as they have now lost three of four to start June and are 5-10 in their last 15 games. With the Yankees winning, Boston is now 2.5 back in the division. Down on the farm, Pawtucket split their last two with Mike Shawaryn tossing 6 13 innings in the win, Portland split their two games with Nick Longhi combining for five hits including three doubles, Salem lost both of their games though they got solid performances from both Jorge Rodriguez and Ryan Zeferjahn in the starts, Greenville lost both of their games despite a strong outing from Logan Browning in the second loss, and the DSL squads went a combined 2-2.