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Scattered Thoughts from a Game One loss

The Rays might be good.

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Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game One Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Red Sox did not get the start they had hoped for in this ALDS against the Rays, always kind of being in the game but never quite feeling like that was the case. They ultimately dropped this one 5-0. Here are some scattered thoughts on the night.

  • I think I have to start with Rafael Devers and his potential injury. In case you missed it, Jeff Passan dropped a little bomb out of nowhere that Devers is apparently playing hurt, though the Red Sox did not confirm that after the game. Lou Merloni also mentioned during Thusday’s game that Devers did not look right. I really don’t have too much to add as I don’t have much information, but I can say the obvious. It is a major, major blow if Devers isn’t playing at something even resembling peak health. Obviously something to monitor this afternoon when Alex Cora and company meet with the media.
  • It was a frustrating game for the offense, who did make a lot of hard contact even if it felt like they couldn’t come through. There were some bad at bats with runners on base to be sure, but then you look at someone like Bobby Dalbec who had two big at bats with runners on and hit the ball over 100 mph both times, one on a line. But they both found gloves. It was that kind of night. Boston had 10 batted balls of at least 100 mph but didn’t score a run. I’m not really sure how you fix that except just hope it goes better.
  • That said, it is a little disingenuous to put it all on the baseball gods because the Rays helped themselves plenty. They play such clean baseball, and while a lot of their defensive praise goes out to individual players (and deservingly so in most cases) their positioning is absolutely bananas. It should be impossible for them to be in place for all of these batted balls, or for an outfielder to be positioned in such a way to hold a would-be double to a single. Their positioning is flawless, and it comes down to great scouting and great coaching.
  • The other thing that stood out for the Rays was the young talent they have in their core. Their three biggest contributors in this game were Randy Arozarena, Wander Franco, and Shane McClanahan, who are all rookies. Arozarena had the big game with the homer and steal of home that we’ll get to in a second, but Franco is clearly the man here. He’s only 20 years old but already I’m terrified every time he’s in the box. Let’s just all cross our fingers that he doesn’t agree to a pre-arb extension.
Division Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays - Game One Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
  • So yeah, the steal of home. First off, steals of home are always rad, in my opinion, so even in serving as something of a dagger for the Red Sox in this game I still couldn’t help to be excited. That said, Arozarena was clearly telegraphing it and everyone should have seen it coming. Taylor, a lefty, had his back facing the runner and Devers was way off the bag in the shift. Cora said after the game that Taylor was playing games with Arozarena, but from where I was sitting — on a couch in Maine, for what that’s worth — it was the other way around. And just to keep it on Arozarena for a second, his power got the attention last postseason, but the impact this guy can make with his legs is massive as well.
  • We’ve gotten this far without talking about it, but Eduardo Rodriguez just didn’t have it. He was certainly negatively impacted by factors out of his control, whether it be a bobble in center field from Kiké Hernández or a slow roller ending up as an RBI single, but this is mostly on him. This was just a vintage Rodriguez start in the sense that he just didn’t trust his stuff, nibbled, and didn’t have the command to pull it off. While he was hurt by some bad luck, he also benefited a bit too because of the five outs he did record, a few were smoked and very well could have been damaging. That may be the last time we see Rodriguez in a Red Sox uniform, and it was not a good final impression if that was the case.
  • On the other hand, I thought Nick Pivetta stepped up in this one. His actual performance was more “meh” than anything, but his damage largely came on solo home runs, which is how you want to give up runs if you’re trying to eat innings. He did just that, going 4 23 in this game — three full innings more than Rodriguez — and got the team into the seventh with two outs before he was lifted. If the game works out in a way tomorrow where the Red Sox need to lean heavily on their big guns in the bullpen, don’t forget about Pivetta being a big reason why they’re extra fresh.
  • I thought the decision to bring out Garrett Richards in the second was weird. I certainly didn’t have a problem with the quick hook for Rodriguez, and I understood wanting to give Pivetta a clean inning to work with in the third, but I figured if Richards was in it would be to eat some innings. This wasn’t something I thought was a major problem or anything, to be clear. And it worked out well as Richards for the one out he needed to end the inning. It was just a little strange and not the way I would’ve expected things to have gone.
  • The Trop struck again. Nelson Cruz hit a catwalk homer, and while it was probably a homer no matter what — some people seemed to think Hernández might have had a shot, but I don’t see it — but it just is the worst. It’s not aesthetically pleasing, and it’s not what a home run should be. Get out of here with the sky obstacles. That said, the Trop did help the Red Sox at what could have been a huge moment when Kevin Kiermaier lost the ball in the roof to load the bases, but still get rid of the dome please.
  • He definitely didn’t stand out in any significant way in this game, but Christian Arroyo took some good swings for a guy who has barely played in a month. That’s encouraging.
  • A lot of people had thoughts on the new FOX score bug, so I figured I’d share mine. I think it’s fine. I know you all feel better knowing that.