The Red Sox went for the sweep against the Phillies and Zack Wheeler with their worst lineup of the series. No Xander Bogaerts. No J.D. Martinez. Alex Verdugo still out with his hamstring issues. That’s three of their best four hitters, against a pitcher with a 2.52 ERA on the season. Also it’s a National League game, so pitchers hit against all logic saying otherwise.
The uphill battle was made even steeper following more poor pitching from Eduardo Rodriguez, who continued his string of recent troubles from the outset. In the first inning, Rodriguez hit Odubel Herrera, who stole second soon thereafter. He came around to score on a Rhys Hoskins single. Hoskins stole second, and then Bohm drew a full count walk to up Rodriguez’s pitch count. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Brad Miller snuck a home run down the left field line to make it 4-0.
Rodriguez was able to settle down a bit in the innings that followed, but was largely ineffective, and put the Sox in one final hole as a parting gift in the fifth inning, allowing a double to Herrera and walking Jean Segura to put a runner on first and second. Rodriguez’s final line: four innings pitched, five hits, three walks, six strikeouts, and four earned runs allowed.
Taking his place on the mound was Hirokazu Sawamura, another player who has had recent struggles. None of those were on display, as he struck out the first batter he faced, and forced the second to pop out in shallow center field. Then he struck out the final batter. An easy 1-2-3 inning for Sawamura is exactly what he needed to turn his season around hopefully, as him being a good pitcher down the stretch would greatly benefit the Red Sox.
The Red Sox had their first true rally of the afternoon in the top of the 6th inning, as with two outs, Enrique Hernandez got a hit (his - and Boston’s - second hit of the game), and Danny Santana drew a walk. With Rafael Devers at the plate, Zack Wheeler buckled down and struck him out. Talk about anti-climactic.
Franchy Cordero was the first Red Sox hitter to get anything of substance off of Wheeler, and it was a shutout breaking solo shot (say that five times fast). According to NESN, the ball travelled 474 feet, and had an exit velocity of 118.6 mph, which lines up exactly with what we knew about Cordero. He won’t run into a ton, but when he does it’s going to go wicked far. Don’t look now, but Cordero’s contact profiles have been looking better recently. While it would be presumptuous to assume this is the start of something, it may bear watching to see what he can do over the next couple of weeks.
Franchy Cordero with a 474 foot homer - 2nd longest by a Red Sox in the Statcast era (2015-present), behind only Bradley’s 478-footer in Colorado in 2019.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) May 23, 2021
Hardest hit balls ever tracked from a Red Sox player— Red Sox Stats (@redsoxstats) May 23, 2021
118.6 mph Franchy
117.5 mph Hanley
116.7 mph Devers
116.7 mph JDM
The Phillies scored in the bottom of the 8th to counter this massive home run, Miller hit a single, and Andrew Knapp hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over to second. Crucially, however, Phillips Valdez flubbed the play, and Knapp ended up on first as well. A second sacrifice moved both runners over, though this time, they successfully turned it into an out. Following an intentional walk to load the bases, a fly was hit into center field. The ball was caught, and a runner scored from third on the sacrifice fly. Herrera laced a ball down the left field line, which scored another run to make it 6-1.
Rafael Devers took one of them back in the top of the 9th with a home run that had just enough to get out of the park, and made it 6-2. There were some hijinks that resulted in a couple of hilarious errors, but the Sox went down with a whimper in this one, as they had to settle for a series win, instead of a series sweep. They fall to 29-19, into a tie for first with the Tampa Bay Rays, winners of 10 straight games.