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Red Sox 2, Nationals 10: Different, but the same

It wasn’t the exact same loss as the 21 others that came before it, but it might as well have been.

Washington Nationals v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Every baseball game is unique. It’s like a snowflake in that way. Red Sox games in 2020 are also like snowflakes in the sense that when one starts falling from the sky I get really made because I know there are more coming, and it’s probably going to ruin the next few hours of my life. (I don’t like snow, you see.) Anyway, the Red Sox got blown out again. They are playing at a pace that would see a run differential of -284 over a full season. That mark was only “beaten” by the Tigers last year. This time around it was Martín Pérez having a terrible third and then the bullpen making it a laugher later while the offense was utterly shut down again, this time by Max Scherzer. You see what I mean. It was different, but also the same.

The Red Sox had Martín Pérez on the mound for this one, and that was a big deal for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they want to win the game, so they needed a good start to complete that goal. More long-term, though, Pérez had been pitching well coming into this one and with the Red Sox as clear sellers at this deadline continuing that into this outing meant he could be a potential flip over the next few days. And, things started out down that path and Pérez getting through each of the first two innings perfectly with little trouble presented at all.

The tide would very quickly change in the third, though. It started with Josh Harrison at the plate, and he got ahead 3-1 and looked to have drawn ball four, but was called back to the plate on an erroneous strike call. It still worked out fine for him, though, as he smacked a leadoff single. After a fielder’s choice, Victor Robles put a pair in scoring position for Trea Turner with a double, and the shortstop pounded one into the ground. He pounded it so hard, though, that it chopped right up and over Rafael Devers’s glove for a two-run double. I should mention that the infield was in on this play, a move I hate making that early in the game but one that they presumably decided on because Max Scherzer was pitching for the Nats. If Devers had been playing at his normal depth, that’s almost certianly an out and the runner may even stay at third.

Regardless, that is not what happened and so there were still no outs for Pérez and now Juan Soto was coming up with a runner in scoring position. Pérez fell behind 3-0, and scared Soto might have the green light he threw a changeup. It didn’t matter. The pitch was up in the zone and Soto drove it out into the Nationals bullpen, and just like that it was a 4-0 game. Howie Kendrick then followed that up with a solo shot of his own to make it back-to-back dingers and a 5-0 game.

On the other side, as I said, the Red Sox were going up against Scherzer, and he was firing in this one. After going down in order in the first, however, Boston did get their first two on in the second. After a fly out put runners on the corners, Kevin Pillar tried to check his swing. I suppose he did, but he also made contact and hit a soft line drive back to Scherzer, who then easily doubled up Mitch Moreland at first. Just an extremely 2020 Red Sox play.

Of course, the Pérez implosion quickly followed that, but the Red Sox did answer back a little bit in the bottom of the third. Alex Verdugo kept the inning alive with Rafael Devers coming to the plate. The third baseman smacked a double out to right-center field, bringing Verdugo home and making it a 5-1 game. It was also the 100th career double for Devers, putting him in some impressive company in this franchise’s history.

Pérez then came back out in the fourth, and after a couple quick outs he gave up back-to-back singles. Suddenly, there were runners on the corners and Soto was coming back to the plate. Pérez was kept in for the lefty-lefty matchup, but it turned out it didn’t matter. Trea Turner took off from first base on a steal attempt, but by stopping short and causing a rundown, Victor Robles had time to get in and make it a 6-1 game. Turner did end up making the out and ending the inning, but that was seemingly the back-breaker.

Scherzer just continued to roll after being handed the lead, racking up strikeout after strikeout. After picking up five in the first three innings, the future Hall of Famer struck out three more in the fourth, one more in the fifth, and two more in the sixth, all while not allowing a run. For all my math heads out there, that gave him a total of 11 over six one-run innings.

On the other side, Robert Stock came in after Pérez. He was good in his first inning of work with a three-batter inning thanks in part to a double play, but in the sixth he allowed a run on a pair of singles and a walk. Jeffrey Springs came on after that, and he tossed a scoreless seventh. He was not so good in the eighth, though, giving up a two-run shot to Harrison to make it a 9-1 game and then another run after that. Josh Taylor got the ninth and tossed a scoreless inning.

The Red Sox, of course, had their token mild outburst at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game already out of hand, getting four singles and a walk en route to another run. That would end it, with the Nats taking this one 10-2.

The Red Sox will look to bounce back on Saturday with Chris Mazza on the mound going up against old friend Anibal Sánchez. First pitch is set for 7:30 PM ET.


Courtesy of FanGraphs