If you had told me back in February that this was going to be the story beat heading into to an end of August game, I’m not sure I’d have believed you. And I’d have been even less likely to believe you if you’d said that the Red Sox would be the team in last place.
I’m going to say it, both Alex Cobb and Martin Perez have been pretty decent this year. If the Red Sox are to beat the Orioles, they probably really need to beat Alex Cobb, something that seems to be a challenge every time he’s out.
Pat Valaika drew first blood against the Red Sox in the 2nd inning, with a solo short that went opposite field. Perez was able to retire the other three batters to come to the plate, which limited the damage, but the Sox started from behind.
The Red Sox received their first chance at equalizing the score in the top of the third, when Alex Verdugo doubled with two outs. Verdugo has been one of the better hitters on the Red Sox this season, largely on the back of his now 13 game hitting streak. Entering tonight’s action, he was hitting .319/.396/.574 during the hit streak. Unfortunately, the Sox were unable to bring Verdugo home, as Devers walked and J.D. Martinez grounded out to end the inning.
The game continued in this fashion to the bottom of the fourth, when the Orioles began to threaten to extend their lead. Renato Nunez doubled with one out in the inning, to set up their cleanup hitter and their understudy. Pedro Severino struck out swinging, and Valakia hit a single to left field. As the Orioles sent Nunez home, Verdugo fired an absolute missile home. Nunez was out by a mile. Still 1-0 after four complete innings.
This turned out to be a pretty important play. With one out in the top of the fifth inning, Jackie Bradley Jr. slammed his first home run of the season. A lot of people had Bradley as a player to watch given the wacky format of the year, but he’d been having a near (if not for 2014) career worst year at the plate. This tied the game, and set the table for Cobb’s eventual collapse.
Jose Peraza immediately doubled, bringing up none other than Red Sox MVP, Alex Verdugo. Look, the result was obvious. Alex Verdugo laced another double, naturally, bringing home Peraza and giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. They would strand Verdugo at third, after a Rafael Devers sac-fly and a Martinez groundout.
Alex Cobb was removed after five innings of work, having given up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 earned runs, while striking just one batter out (Mitch Moreland). All told, you’ll take this from the Red Sox, since Cobb traditionally keeps them down well, relative to other teams.
Shawn Armstrong is not Alex Cobb, though, and the Red Sox took advantage of this fact. Moreland walked, and Christian Vazquez singled to put Moreland on second... until Moreland made a heads-up play and took third as well, putting runners on the corners with only one out. Kevin Pillar, who had previously made a highlight play in right field to rob Ryan Mountcastle of his first MLB hit, stepped in and dribbled a ball to the shortstop so slowly, that Pillar was able to beat out for an infield single, scoring the Red Sox third run of the evening.
The Orioles had seen enough. Replacing Shawn Armstrong would be Tanner Scott. Tanner Scott is evidently not Shawn Armstrong. Scott got Bradley Jr to fly out, and followed this up by getting Peraza to ground out. Red Sox up 3-1 after the top of the fifth.
The game continued by at a brisk (for the Red Sox) pace, and Perez just continued to cruise along. His first real test came in the 7th inning. A Nunez pop-out led off the inning, but the wheels started to come off shortly thereafter. Severino just hit a ball out of the reach of Peraza for a single, and then Valaika walked. Mountcastle grounded a ball to Martin Perez, who got the easy out at first. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Bryan Holaday stood at the dish. Then he flew out to Kevin Pillar, which ended the inning before things went haywire. Despite the tightrope performance, no runs scored.
Martin Perez’s outing finished after 7 innings of one run baseball. He gave up 5 hits, 1 walk, and struck out 6. This was a very good outing for Perez, who now has a season ERA of 3.45, the next best starter on the Red Sox is Nate Eovaldi at 4.98. Perez did a great job tonight.
But then Josh Taylor blew the lead in the 8th inning. With two quick outs to start his appearance, Hanser Alberto walked, bringing Anthony Santander to the plate.
Santander crushed the ball down the left field line. The only question was if it would stay fair, and it just barely did so. The game was now tied.
Fast-forward to the bottom of the 9th, Ryan Brasier is on the mound, which is always a part of the game I like to talk about. Ryan Mountcastle, who had a few well hit outs earlier in the game, finally broke through for his first big league hit. Then Ryan Brasier struck out Chance Sisco. Except he didn’t. Because the umpire called strike three a ball? Then he walked Sisco because the next pitch wasn’t close. Thankfully, it didn’t bite Ryan Brasier in the butt. He got the next guy out just fine, without the umpire causing any silliness.
So the game is tied after 9 innings. What happens next?
We play bizarro baseball, that’s what. Alex Verdugo started the 10th inning at second base, because the new rules state that games must end quickly in extra innings. Devers struck out, Martinez walked, and suddenly, the Orioles pitcher (Cole Sulser) was in a jam. First and second, with only one out, and waning control.
Then he walked Xander Bogaerts, to bring up Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded. Then he walked Moreland too, giving the Sox a 4-3 lead. Thanks weird baseball! The Orioles changed pitchers, going with Miguel Castro instead. Castro got out of the jam with no further damage.
It all comes down to this, the bottom of the 10th. The Orioles get their own man on second in Ruiz. Matt Barnes is pitching, potentially auditioning for his own trade. The Orioles square to bunt, and Mitch Moreland charges in to throw the ball to third base (there probably wasn’t going to be a play at first anyway). Safe. Runners on first and third, with no outs. Then Matt Barnes did a Matt Barnes thing and spiked a ball to the backstop, allowing the runner on third to score, and allowing the runner on first to get to second.
Oh, and there are still no outs, and now the score is tied.
Then a weak ground ball got hit in the general vicinity of Peraza. Peraza knocked it down, which saved a run (and the game), but was unable to make the throw to first in time. Runners on first and third with no outs. Winning run on third.
Then the Red Sox intentionally walked Santander to get the bases loaded for a force at the plate. Again, with no outs.
Matt Barnes danced on the tightrope, and for at least one batter, he would not lose. He struck out Andrew Velazquez looking.
But you can’t keep dancing on a tightrope. Pedro Severino laced a pitch into center field, and there was nobody home. The ball hits the ground. The game is over. I don’t like these new extra inning rules.
The Red Sox fall to 9-19, last in the AL East. They go for the series finale tomorrow in Baltimore. Come watch with us.
- Alex Verdugo for MVP, imo.
- Kevin Pillar is so good defensively.
- Way to ace off, Martin Perez.
- The new extra inning rules are bad.
- Matt Barnes is bad?
- We should have been able to score more runs with the Orioles on the ropes in the 10th.
- Nearly 4 hours... for that?
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