In a lot of ways, Tuesday’s Red Sox game in Atlanta was a typical one for them. Their offense showed some life early, but then didn’t get it going for a long time after that. The starting pitcher, meanwhile, was able to mostly keep runs off the board but didn’t go very deep. The difference this time around was the inning with life ended up with six runs instead of the typical one or two, with Rafael Devers smacking a big grand slam, and then they actually added on more with a three-run ninth. It wasn’t the best night for Garrett Whitlock, but these are the nights when the offense is supposed to pick up the slack. Finally, they held up their end of the bargain.
More robust game notes below.
After a sweep over the weekend to the White Sox that included punch in the gut after punch in the gut, the Red Sox had a much-needed day off on Monday to clear their head and get ready to turn things around, especially at the plate. Waiting for them in Atlanta in their first game back? Kyle Wright, who had been one of the hottest pitchers on the planet to start the season. Not exactly the guy Boston wanted to see, but after getting shut down on Sunday against Dallas Keuchel, one of the coldest pitchers in the game, you never knew what could happen. This sport of baseball can be extremely dumb sometimes, after all.
It ended up being extremely stupid in exactly that way, with Wright not having it and the Red Sox offense scoring more runs in the second inning than they have in any entire game in about two weeks. The rally started after the big bats had come around, all three of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez getting out. Instead, it was Alex Verdugo getting things started with a base hit, and they were off to the races. Trevor Story had a single of his own before Franchy Cordero drew his first of three walks on the night, loading up the bases.
In a situation where typically this lineup would score one run at most, with the bases full and just one out, Christian Vázquez kept the line moving with an RBI single to give Boston the 1-0 lead. Jackie Bradley Jr. then drew a walk to make it 2-0 before, a couple batters later, Devers would step back up. The bases were still full, but now with two outs and it was a familiar scene. It seemed certain they’d waste their chance for a crooked inning. They didn’t Instead, Devers jumped all over a first-pitch fastball right over the heart of the plate. It’s not the location I’d recommend throwing to Devers personally, and obliterated it for a grand slam out to center field. All of a sudden the Red Sox had a six-run lead and were in a very unfamiliar position.
It’s a damn good thing they chose Tuesday for this little outburst, too, because Garrett Whitlock was about as shaky as we’ve seen him since joining the team last year. We know the young righty is typically in control in whatever role he finds himself, but he just couldn’t find the command for this game, even with a relatively big zone being called. Yet for how poorly he pitched relatively speaking, it was a weirdly encouraging outing because he still missed bats when he needed to and avoided a crooked number, even if it was a short outing and certainly not one he’ll want to remember.
It was pretty clearly early on that something was off as he walked two batters in the first inning, having to throw high-stress pitches almost from the start after Ronald Acuña Jr. drew a leadoff walk and ended up on third due to a stolen base and a throwing error from Vázquez. But Whitlock escaped the inning without allowing a run, and did the same in the second despite allowing a pair of singles.
The third wasn’t so fortunate, and that’s when it became crystal clear that it was not his night. There, he started off the inning by giving up a leadoff, wall-ball double to Matt Olson, then shortly thereafter threw a wild pitch way high to the backstop. He’d end up walking Austin Riley, and then giving up a sacrifice fly to give Atlanta their first run. A couple batters later, Travis d’Arnaud got a slider that didn’t quite break as far as Whitlock would’ve liked, and he got a barrel on it. Off the bat it didn’t look like too much trouble, especially given the way the ball has been flying this season, but it just kept carrying. Eventually it got into the seats, and the Braves had cut the deficit in half, making it a 6-3 game. To his credit, Whitlock did get out of it from there without anymore runs, but after coming in looking for a longer outing he lasted only three innings.
Now it was up to the bullpen to cover six innings, though they were at least handed a three-run lead from there. Of course, the offense didn’t add any insurance over the next few innings, but it didn’t matter for Tyler Danish, who looked good (I think; NESN+ crapped out for a chunk of his outing) and gave the Red Sox two scoreless innings in which he gave up a single but nothing more.
While the offense continued to be stymied after the second-inning rally, Ryan Brasier got the call for the sixth, retiring all three batters he faced, before Hansel Robles got into some trouble in the seventh. That inning started with a walk to Acuña, and after a single from Olson there were runners on the corners with nobody out. Robles got the first out on a fly ball that was just shallow enough for Acuña to (wisely) not challenge the arm of Jackie Bradley Jr., and then it looked like he’d escape the inning with a hard-hit double play ball. Instead it ended up taking a tough bounce on Bogaerts, one he couldn’t handle, and they’d settle for the one out and allowing the run to come across. It wasn’t an easy play, but it certainly should have been a double play. Robles did limit the damage for the inning to one run, but it was now a two-run game with the offense back to its old ways.
The offense seemed prime to get that run back in the eighth when Bobby Dalbec came up to pinch hit and came through with a single before moving up on a wild pitch. But even with the runner in scoring position and nobody out, they couldn’t score. Reminded them too much of extra innings, I suppose. It wouldn’t matter for John Schreiber in the eighth, as he continued to shine in a scoreless inning of work.
The offense finally got some more momentum in the ninth facing old friend Tyler Thornburg. Boston loaded the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, and a second straight walk brought home the team’s seventh run of the night. Story then came through with his second hit of the game, this one driving in two and all but putting the game away with the Red Sox now leading 9-4. That was no problem for Schreiber, who came back for the ninth and tossed another perfect inning, and the five-game losing streak was snapped.
The Red Sox now have a chance for a mini two-game sweep in Atlanta if they can win Wednesday night. It’d also give them just their second series win of the season. They’ll have Nathan Eovaldi on the mound to take on Ian Anderson, with first pitch at 7:20 PM ET.