A rainstorm cutting the Red Sox night short one fewer out than an official contest in the middle of a rare rally at the plate is definitely some sort of metaphor for this season as a whole, especially with a pending rainstorm on the slate for tomorrow’s season finale.
As luck would have it, in front of a dwindling audience, that’s exactly what happened.
The Red Sox did get some extra run support for Nate Eovaldi following a Christian Arroyo RBI single in the second, when Xander Bogaerts, surely someone who’s on the “every at-bat matters” list for the remainder of the season, hit an absolute monster of a grand slam in the fifth inning. On a night where Aaron Judge hit a historic 62nd home run of the season, albeit yet another solo shot, the electricity off the bat of Xander felt like a load of pressure relieved, though I’m sure not quite the same magnitude. With that grand slam, Xander extended his lead over Nomar Garciaparra (and, for that record, the likes of Bobby Dalbec, since he played shortstop for a game… right? right?) for most grand slams hit by a shortstop.
Still, seeing Bogaerts driving in men from all three bases and all but sealing the game behind a solid and dependable shoutout appearance from Nate Eovaldi was the breath of fresh air we needed before weeks of musing what our front office could be thinking of the futures of these two players and so many more. Eovaldi, at only 64 pitches through 5 and two hits allowed, with that lead, could have very easily pitched two more innings of passable baseball and still earned the win. If this was the last we see of Nathan Eovaldi in a Red Sox uniform, or of Xander Bogaerts, for that matter, at least they went out on a great game.
Here’s how Fangraphs saw the trajectory of a short win, but a win nonetheless:
As you can see, the the trajectory of that Bogaerts 421-foot laser was almost in less doubt than the course of this game afterward. When the rain starts coming down and Kevin Cash, whose Rays are preparing for a postseason run that starts in Cleveland, is waving off the umps, that’s when you know the game may be all but decided.
- Nathan Eovaldi - .293 WPA, 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 SO, 2 BB
- Xander Bogaerts - 1.41 WPA, 1-3, HR,
- Christian Arroyo - 1.37 WPA, 1-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
- Tommy Pham - -0.88 WPA, 0-3, 3 K
- J.D. Martinez - -0.26 WPA, 0-2, K, BB, 1 R
- Rafael Devers - -0.15 WPA, 0-2, BB, 1 R
Tommy Pham continues to struggle at the end of this season. It’s hard to imagine that this shortcoming at such an inopportune time will bode him well, but a $12 million price tag may beckon some reasoning. Outside of that, J.D. Martinez scored a run but also struck out, so his potential last game in a Red Sox uniform (depending on rain tomorrow) did not draw quite the same allure as some of his teammates who may be in the same boat.
Play of the Game:
.162 WPA - Bottom 5th, 1 out. Xander Bogaerts homered (Fly). Christian Arroyo scored. Connor Wong scored. Rafael Devers scored.
The grand slam being the biggest WPA play of the game surprised me almost as little as Alex Cora making an Eovaldi complete game joke in the post-game press conference. Either way, it bears repeating that Bogaerts needed this play, which would not have quite the same tenacity if Connor Wong hadn’t doubled a couple of at bats earlier (3rd of the night at .092 WPA.)
In a world where the rain holds off just a little longer, this grand slam, and the performance of most of the players with some question marks going into the offseason, was the cherry on top of perhaps a diamond in the rough from a 2022 Red Sox team lacking enough of these caliber games.
Who Was The Red Sox Player Of The Game?
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Uh, Yeah, Obviously Xander
You Seriously Asking This?
Come On, Man, Be Better