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Red Sox 8, Reds 9: The Comeback That Almost Was

The Red Sox looked pretty terrible to start the game, but the bats came alive in the late innings... sadly, it just wasn’t enough.

Cincinnati Reds v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Red Sox had hoped for a lot on a west coast trip that featured series against the Padres, Angels, and Diamondbacks, and they were likely less than thrilled. In that two-week excursion, they played to a 4-5 record, scored fewer than three runs a game, got shut out twice in three nights, and looked sluggish at the plate, and defensively lackluster behind what was, for the most part, some pretty commendable pitching. Boston’s frustrations were compounded by the poor play of the Celtics on Sunday night, so the city truly needed a feel-good story as the Sox had their homecoming against the Reds. The cards were in their favor in a return to Fenway: Brayan Bello was on the mound, and for the most part, he’s been in command with an incredible ground ball percentage, and an ability to get himself out of jams. And If the bats could simply finally wake up, perhaps the “Go Sox” retort given by many after that frustrating Celtics loss at the Garden could have some semblance of reality.

Yeah, that’s a funny one. Or at least, it seemed it for a vast majority of the game, I’ll give it to them though: they played with our hearts just as much as the Celtics did for the last week, all in one night.

To be fair, this game could have gotten much uglier much quicker had it not been for Bello’s determination to get out of these jams. It appeared pretty apparent early on that Bello would have some trouble finding the strike zone tonight; he walked two batters in the first inning, and after a quick 1-2-3 from the Sox, got into some trouble and allowed a run among three baserunners in the second inning. The Sox blew a bases loaded opportunity in the second, and yet another fielding error from Kiké Hernandez did not make things easier in the third, nor did the fact that Bello got into another jam in the inning. Luckily, he got out of it, but the Red Sox were again retired in order and Bello was out again within 10 minutes. It was clear the pitch count would be a factor in this one, because Bello had emerged from the first having thrown more than 30 pitches, and it did not get any easier.Perhaps his best inning was his fourth and final frame, as he struck out two to end the inning after giving up a leadoff triple.

Justin Garza did not look much better, if at all. Within two batters, the score was 4-0, and Garza narrowly prevented Fraley scoring to make it 5-0. The Red Sox were caught at the plate when Kiké tried scoring and got caught in a brutal play at the plate to record the third out. Kiké’s redemption arc ended up in a deeper hole when he recorded his second fielding error of the night. It’s becoming quite evident that this shortstop thing is just not for him, and the Red Sox need answers for that, and fast. This isn’t even counting a couple balls that were not charged as errors that simply got away from him. Christian Arroyo can not rehab rapidly enough, Trevor Story cannot return rapidly enough, Sox bigwigs cannot make the call on David Hamilton rapidly enough, and Marcelo Mayer cannot progress to the Major League roster rapidly enough. I’ll play into the average Red Sox fan’s wheelhouse with this one and say that I wonder where we can get a good shortstop from... Anyway, it’s time to complain about something else!

I spent a good portion of the remainder of the game after the sixth inning creating a meme that reads “you killed the man, not the idea” with everyone’s favorite comic relief pitcher (HA HA, get it!?) Ryan Brasier’s face on one end and Joely Rodriguez’s on the other half. Simply put, Joely yet again looked awful. After he got Justin Garza out of a jam by striking Jake Fraley out to end the sixth, his seventh inning reads as follows:

Walk, single, walk, fielder’s choice to home plate to prevent a run, walk to score a runner, grand slam to Jose Barrero, who did not start this game, Cora comes out to tell him to say goodnight. Two total outs recorded, four earned runs. Not awesome. Not awesome at all.

The Red Sox would somewhat answer in the seventh, when Reese McGuire doubled to score Enmanuel Valdez, Raimel Tapia knocked a triple to score McGuire, and Rafael Devers singled to score Tapia. It was Devers’ 500th run batted in in his career, and it was nice to see him command the plate for once after stumbling a bit lately, reminding us all that, after all, he’s still Rafael Devers.

The score was 8-3, but not for long, as the big man Tyler Stephenson hit a leadoff triple off what looked like it could have been a fielding error by Jarren Duran, and Spencer Steer sac-flied him in. The Reds would be silent the rest of that inning, and the Sox fell 1-2-3 to Buck Farmer in the eighth yet again. Still a pretty low leverage situation, Ryan Sheriff faced four hitters in the ninth, and he was by far the Boston pitcher with the most control across his 2 23 innings.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, it got really interesting.

Eduardo Salazar has pretty much been a shutdown reliever recently for Cincinnati, but the Red Sox got to him tonight. After a well-fought Hernandez out, Valdez walked, and Reese McGuire hit a powerful double to advance Valdez to third. Tapia earned his third hit of the game on a single to score Valdez.


Devers got a hit in center to record RBI number 501 and score McGuire.


Justin Turner to left, almost where Tapia hit, again to score Tapia.


The Reds pulled Salazar in exchange for their closer Alexis Diaz, who I just realized today shares my birthday.... except he stole it, since he’s three years younger than me. Red Sox Nation was on their feet.

Masataka Yoshida with an absolute laser that stayed in the park but scored Devers. By the way, Yoshida has an OPS of .853 in his debut season. What learning curve?


Duran hits a grounder that scored Turner.

9-8. Two outs. We needed this.

Triston Casas, who hadn’t gotten a hit all game and was swinging at balls he should not have been. Casas, who has been batting .194. It was time!

It was not time. Casas went down on four pitches.


Rally denied. But barely.

I’ll save the “Triston Casas isn’t ready” discussion for another game, because I like the team as a whole contributing 8 runs, and I like the 14 hits, too. I’m all for games that make me change my cynical tone while I’m writing, and there’s some strong takeaways from this one. Aside from Duran’s mediocre fielding, the outfield is looking solid. Duran even makes it up for it with his bat improvements. If I were to make a guess, it would be Duran and not Tapia who gets bumped when Adam Duvall, who is rehabbing, arrives back on the roster. Tapia has just been quite the presence against righties in a lefty-heavy lineup. Still, there were some questions about Tapia leading off the lineup on Verdugo’s night off, and he did not disappoint, going 3-for-5. He did exactly as a leadoff man is supposed to do.

The biggest takeaway is: The Red Sox were lucky they were in the position to climb back in this one. Bello had 97 pitches in 4 innings. Joely Rodriguez could not get out of the seventh if he had a cheat code book (do those still exist since Google’s emergence?) and the Reds left 11 on base in addition to scoring 9 runs.

I’m going to keep it pretty concise since I know you all will sound off: Even with a five-run ninth inning rally, it is extremely tough to win these types of baseball games when your pitching staff throws 199 pitches, including a very high percentage of pitches that miss the strike zone. I’d almost go as far as to say it’s impossible, but we saw what almost happened, so I’ll hold off. In the meantime, the Red Sox are 28-26 to round out the season. Extrapolation is a dangerous game, but that puts Boston on pace to win 84 games this season. Realistically, they’re still facing their division quite a bit (they have not faced the Yankees once this season.) The bats will just have to prove their worth, preferably on the same night that pitching shows up... so here’s hoping that ninth-inning showing woke up some inspiration among the bats so this team can finally move cohesively!

Three Studs:

Masataka Yoshida: 3-4, 1 BB, 1 RBI, 1 2B

Raimel Tapia: 3-5, 2 RBI, 1 3B, 1 2B, 2 R

Brayan Bello: Despite the poor control, line could have been much worse: 4 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K

Three Duds:

Kiké Hernandez: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 E, called out at play at the plate

Joely Rodriguez: 0.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 1 HR allowed

Triston Casas: 0-5, 2 K

Play of the Game:

It was the Barrero grand slam that moved this game from “ehhh, this game can be close” territory to “nah, never mind.” But, besides that, I think Masa’s double to bring the Sox within two should rank high on this list, too. Played a big part to move “nah, never mind” back to “this game can be close...” which is a very tough thing to do.


Who was the Red Sox’s player of the game in their 9-8 loss to the Reds on May 30, 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Masataka Yoshida
    (52 votes)
  • 22%
    Raimel Tapia
    (20 votes)
  • 4%
    Brayan Bello
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Reese McGuire
    (2 votes)
  • 11%
    Left-center field in the 9th
    (10 votes)
88 votes total Vote Now