The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are heating up right at the end of the first half, entering this final series before the All-Star break against the Orioles having won four in a row including a three-game sweep against the Blue Jays. They had Thursday off, so they came into this series opener at Fenway fully rested with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound taking on Keyvius Sampson, who has been Baltimore’s best pitcher this season.
While on talent the Red Sox had the pitching advantage on paper for this one, the truth would turn out to be that neither side really had an advantage on the mound as offense would dominate the day. Rodriguez started showing cracks right away in the first, too, throwing 24 pitches and giving up a single and a walk, though he did escape without any runs.
It would be Boston who’d put runs up first, and right away in the bottom of the first inning. Sampson struggled with his control early and often in this one, leading off his night with a four-pitch walk and then giving up a double to Alex Verdugo. Just like that, Boston had two in scoring position with nobody out and a chance to take a big, early lead. They did take the early lead when Andrew Benintendi came in to score on a wild pitch, but that was somehow all they got out of the chance. While they had the 1-0 lead, it felt like they’d squandered a chance to take a commanding position on the scoreboard.
Sure enough, the Orioles came out firing in the second. Or, they did once they got two outs. Chance Sisco kept the inning alive with a two-out double, and then the floodgates opened with back-to-back singles. That tied the score at ones and brought Yusniel Diaz to the dish with two out and two on. The O’s right fielder got ahold of a mistake, smashing a 1-1 pitch to straightaway center field for a three-run shot, and just like that the Orioles had themselves a 4-1 lead.
Neither offense was going down without a fight in this game, though, and the Red Sox came right back out ready to roll in the bottom of the inning. Once again they got their first two runners on, this time thanks to a base hit and a hit batter, and then a Christian Vázquez single made it 4-2. That brought Benintendi back up for the second time in the game, and this time it was him getting ahold of a mistake. The Red Sox left fielder jumped on the first pitch and sent it 407 feet out towards the right field corner for a no-doubt home run, and the back-and-forth early innings settled in with the Red Sox getting the lead back with a 5-4 score.
From here, things did settle down for a bit and the score was still 5-4 heading into the bottom of the fourth. At this point Miguel Castro was pitching for Baltimore, and the Red Sox didn’t even need to swing the bat to get on the board. The O’s righty walked the first three batters of the inning before throwing his first pitch to the fourth batter to the backstop, giving the Red Sox a 6-4 lead. With two outs in the inning, Xander Bogaerts came through with a huge base hit to make sure it wasn’t another semi-squandered chance. Two runs scored on the single, and the Red Sox left the inning with an 8-4 lead.
In the fifth, Rodriguez had settled down in the previous couple innings but got knocked around a bit here. After a quick first out, the southpaw gave up two singles with a double in between, allowing two runs to score and ending his night. Martín Pérez would come in with a runner on first and one out, but got a big ground ball to end the inning with a double play.
The score was still 8-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth when the Red Sox flexed their muscles again. This time Verdugo smacked a one-out single that was followed by a Rafael Devers walk, and J.D. Martinez loaded the bases with an infield single. A couple batters later with two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. came through with a clutch base hit, extending Boston’s lead once again and putting them up 10-6.
In the seventh, Pérez was still in the game and the defense just completely let him down. The southpaw gave up a leadoff single, and after a ground ball Renato Núñez came to the plate with a runner on second and one out. He hit a little tapper in front of the plate, but Vázquez made a bad throw, allowing a run to score and Núñez to get to second. A few batters later Pedro Severino came up with runners on the corners and two outs, and he hit a ground ball over to third base. This one was booted by Devers, and instead of ending the inning another run scored, the inning continued and Drew Pomeranz came out of the bullpen to replace Pérez. Pomeranz did end the inning after that.
Baltimore was back to within two, but the Red Sox offense was not in the lying down kind of mood all night. They came back in the bottom of the seventh and immediately loaded the bases with nobody out. That brought Verdugo to the plate, and he brought one home with a base hit. Martinez would later draw a bases loaded walk, and once again the lead was back up to four with Boston in front 12-8.
The Orioles were going to continue to fight, though, because that’s just how the game was going. Pomeranz came back out for the eighth and gave up one more run in the inning thanks to a pair of doubles. Ken Giles then came out looking for the save in the ninth with his team up 12-9. He led things off with a strikeout, but after a single and a double he got the quick hook with Matt Barnes coming to the mound with the tying run at the plate. Barnes has struggled this year coming in with runners on base, but he got the job done here with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game and push Boston’s win streak to five.
The 12-9 win pushed the Red Sox record to 50-43. The Yankees also got a win, so the deficit in the division remains at four games.