My oh my, the 2021 Red Sox season has been rather frustrating. Sure, the 2020 season was downright awful, and the 2021 season, for the most part, has been a darn delight comparatively speaking. The 2020 season was thankfully only 60 games, and those terrible 60 games gifted the Red Sox a top prospect in Marcelo Mayer. The 2021 season, meanwhile, has been more Jekyll and Hyde. There have been moments of overachieving where the Red Sox appeared as if they were destined to withstand a seven-game series against the Dodgers, a team that has nearly an All-Star at every position. But then there have been moments like we’ve seen lately, and like we saw again on Monday.
Eduardo Rodriguez, for his past was everything the Red Sox could have asked for from their starting pitcher. The biggest issue that has followed Rodriguez throughout his career has been the unwarranted “Eddie Aces” moniker. Rodriguez is not an ace, but he is a solid number three starter. Some fans will look at the surface and see a 5.00 ERA and 11 wins, but the peripherals are worth a look as well. Rodriguez owns a 3.46 FIP, and a 3.49 xFIP, which is actually better in some regard than in 2019 when it appeared a true breakout was imminent.
Rodriguez looked the part of a good midrotation starter in this game. Things were a little bit tenuous early on when he allowed a pair of early runs and struggled with efficiency. It seemed like he was destined for an early exit, but the southpaw ended his start with six innings pitched, six hits, two runs (one earned), one walk, six strikeouts. Honestly, not much more could be asked from the number three in a rotation. This loss would be on the defense and offense.
The latter, once again, just seems to shows up when it darn well pleases. The team’s heavy hitters have been either out with COVID, or back spasms, or have been mystified by the fastball. Tonight, the Red Sox first runs actually came from old and now new again friend José Iglesias, who smashed a solo home run in the third inning. Iglesias came to the rescue again in the fifth inning with a game-tying single in the fifth inning, scoring Alex Verdugo. Beyond that, the team was largely mystified by rookie Logan Gilbert, who struck out nine batters.
But where this game really ended up swinging was in the seventh with Ryan Brasier coming on to pitch. He got a couple of quick outs, and should have had a 1-2-3 inning. But instead, a two-out ground ball to the right side was booted by Kyle Schwarber, and the inning continued. Predictably, the inning proved costly when Brasier left a slider over the plate that was crushed by Mitch Haniger. The three-run shot broke a 2-2 tie.
The offense did fight back a bit in the eighth when Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers went back-to-back, bringing the score to 5-4. But that would prove to be too little too late, with the team going down in order in the ninth.
The Red Sox lost 5-4, dropping their record to 81-65. With the loss, combined with wins from Toronto and New York, Boston falls to a tie for the second wildcard spot with New York. (Technically the Yankees are ahead by percentage points.) Seattle draws to within two games of the final postseason spot while Oakland is 2.5 games back.