Tonight, history was made. The Rays started a game by using 9 players who were either left handed hitters or switch hitters. Somehow this had never happened before in the modern era. Of course, the Rays are a playoff team, and have a decent chance at winning a World Series. The Red Sox might be the worst team in baseball this year. This is a mismatch no matter how you slice it.
Andrew Triggs started the game for the Red Sox. As you may remember, I recapped the last game Andrew Triggs started as well. I feel like I’m becoming his personal recapper.
What’s new this time is the opponent. Last time it was Robbie Ray who is not very good. This time it was Blake Snell who is very good. If Hamels-Harang theorum has taught us anything though, it’s that it doesn’t really matter who is pitching for the other team, this Red Sox team will always have a chance, offensively.
The Red Sox would need to score against Snell or the Rays bullpen though. In the 2nd inning, Yoshi Tsutsugo hit a solo shot to put the Rays on the board first, leaving the Red Sox to play from behind at the start of the game. The pitcher? It was Matt Hall. Triggs was removed at the beginning of the 2nd inning.
The Red Sox had their first threat of the game in the third inning. With two outs on the board, Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers both singled, to put runners on first and second for Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts really gave Snell a hell of a battle. Bogaerts kept fouling pitches off, but was ultimately retired on the 8th pitch of the at-bat, grounding out to Snell, who threw over to first for the inning ending out. Bummer.
The Rays had their own rally in the bottom half. Joey Wendle singled off of Matt Hall. Brandon Lowe singled, bringing Wendle over to second. Ji-Man Choi lined out, no advance. Then Lowe and Wendle pulled off a double steal. The throw had the runner at second, but because we can’t have nice things, Christian Arroyo couldn’t handle the throw, and there were runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out.
Kevin Kiermaier grounded out, which brought Wendle home, making it 2-0, and Tsutsugo had a loud lineout that mercifully ended the inning before things got out of hand. Through two innings, Matt Hall allowed two runs.
Thus ended Matt Hall’s best outing in a Red Sox uniform. You think I’m joking, but I am not. This was the first time all season that Hall’s single game ERA was at or below 9.00 all season. Progress.
Wait. Just kidding. You seriously thought they’d remove Matt Hall? It would be nice if that was the end of things, but this is not your father’s Red Sox team. He came back out for the fourth inning too.
Nate Lowe singled and Michael Perez drew a walk, and Hall was back in a jam in the fourth inning, with one out, and the bat of Austin Meadows (who to be fair, has struggled in 2020) looming. You know what happened next, naturally. Austin Meadows doubled, scoring both runners, and all of a sudden, that “best outing of his Sox career” thing was over. It was back to being a typical Matt Hall outing.
They finally removed Matt Hall after a very bad performance. Phillips Valdez came out, making me wonder why they didn’t just go to him in the first place. Valdez has been one of the best Red Sox pitchers this season, and was called upon to put out a massive fire. He inherited runners on first and second with only one out. He immediately got out of it with just three pitches. Amazing.
With Matt Hall removed, I want to talk a bit more about why it was a bad decision to have Hall come out for the fourth inning. The game was eminently winnable at that point, and Hall was in the midst of his best performance yet, but he looked shaky and was giving up some pretty hard contact at times. Logically speaking, it would not have been surprising if Matt Hall did poorly. More so, if the Red Sox wanted to win this game, they could have turned to any number of arms in their pen that were still somewhat fresh given the recent days off the club has had.
I can only concur that Ron Roenicke and the Red Sox are tanking, because having him come out for a third inning of work was negligent, and the result was a process of bad decision making. I had been fairly ambivalent on Ron Roenicke as a manager, trying to avoid any words that I couldn’t take back, but I am fairly certain at this stage that I do not want Roenicke as the manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2021. His decision making has rarely been based in anything logical, and when veering off the beaten path, he’s also been beaten because that’s just not his game. This decision to have Matt Hall pitch a third inning may appear on the surface to be benign, but it was a bad decision and nearly everyone should have seen that it was just a ticking time bomb. The fact Roenicke went with Hall anyway scares me, even if Hall won’t be on the team next year.
Valdez did super well the rest of the way. To say I am shocked would be an understatement. I had every expectation in my body completely and utterly subverted by the awesomeness that was the best pitching performance I had seen all night. There wasn’t much competition, granted, but still!
A Red Sox pitcher would make his debut tonight! Unfortunately it was not Tanner Houck. It was Domingo Tapia. Even more unfortunately, on the second pitch of his career he gave up a dinger to Nate Lowe. You could say that escalated quickly. The ball sure did. Other than the dinger, he actually pitched fairly well, and flashed some plus life on his fastball, which topped out at 101 mph. The box score will always show that he gave up a 9.00 ERA, but it doesn’t properly credit what he can be for the Red Sox in the coming year.
There would be more layers to our misery for the evening. Or I should say more (Robinson) Leyers. He came in to relieve Tapia for the 7th inning. He started well, striking out Brandon Lowe. But then he walked Choi and Kiermaier... and the wheels started to come off, as they so oft have for the Red Sox in 2020. Tsutsugo singled, scoring Lowe, and then the other Lowe, Nate Lowe, hit a three-run homerun, to make it a 9-0 Rays lead.
The Red Sox put up a fight in the top of the 8th for their second major threat of the game. Alex Verdugo hit a liner that was handled on a bounce for a single. Rafael Devers followed this with a one bounce gapper of his own that moved Dugie over to second. Bogaerts grounded into a fielder’s choice, but moved Verdugo to third. With the first run 90 feet away, and Christian Vazquez up to the plate... Vazquez grounded into a double play, inning over, threat over. Still 9-0.
The game is basically over. The only drama left is in seeing if Bobby Dalbec can hit a home run in an unbelievable sixth straight game. All the same, the Rays get to continue playing offense and we need to report the facts. After Meadows struck out to start the bottom of the 8th, Wendle got a double. A wild pitch moved Wendle over to third, and Brandon Lowe walked, putting runners on the corners with one out.
Choi doubled, scoring Wendle and putting Lowe on third. Then Kiermaier grounded out, scoring Lowe, and putting Choi on third, with two outs. Tsutsugo struck out to end the frame, with the Rays up 11-0.
Dalbec did not hit a home run. The streak is over. But he did something nobody else was capable of. He drove in a run. After Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a double, Dalbec followed up with a double of his own. This scored Bradley, ensuring the Red Sox would not be shut out.
The Red Sox failed to do anything else with their remaining outs, and lost 11-1. Alex Verdugo made a diving attempt to prolong the game, but he can’t do everything. They fall to 16-30, putting them squarely in competition for the worst record in baseball, with the Rangers and Pirates. They’ll try again tomorrow (presumably).
- I like Alex Verdugo.
- Phillips Valdez is pretty good.
- Bobby Dalbec got an RBI.
- Please stop using Matt Hall.
- Ron Roenicke made more questionable decisions, I guess.
- God, this team is misery on the whole.
|Umpire Strikes Back
|I am also hoping we never see Ron Roenicke again
|Well, I hope I didn't,
|Lol Senza She's Just As Dedicated As Us (Watch The Whole Clip)
Thank you for joining me in suffering.