Alright. After a disappointing series loss to Oakland, this is how you rebound. Last night, in the full game (not the continuation of Friday’s washout), the Red Sox looked more like themselves, with a great performance from James Paxton combined with a cacophony of homers. The bullpen fully got it done in tonight’s bout, and the bats stepped up in a completely different way.
Who would have thought the Red Sox could have five lefty relievers to utilize in games? In Spring Training, I had a hard time thinking of anyone else but Joely Rodriguez. Tonight, Rodriguez, along with opener Brennan Bernardino, distance-goer Chris Murphy, Joe Jacques, and Brandon Walter, proved me wrong that we have effective lefties. Josh Winckiwski and Chris Martin found their way into the mix to hold the Mets to just one run. They all must be thrilled about the off day tomorrow.
Let’s talk about the third inning. Seven hits in a row? All but one hard-hit balls, and most of those over 100 mph? One night you win with the long ball, the next, you win with small ball. A Justin Turner double, Rafael Devers single, Adam Duvall RBI double (yes, baserunning will be addressed after this), Triston Casas RBI single, Connor Wong single, Kiké Hernandez single, and a Yu Chang RBI single made a 1-0 game into a 4-0 game in the blink of an eye. A wild pitch from Drew Smith made it 5-0 before the innings end. That sequence knocked out Cookie Carrasco after the Hernandez single. Granted, Carrasco hadn’t been making many batters whiff on the evening, but to force them to the bullpen that early and give your own bullpen a big lead to work with has to be a good confidence boost.
Yes, baserunning was back to being weird tonight. Jarran Duran twice with miscues, once with some hesitancy going home in the first inning after awkwardly colliding with Carrasco while the ball was flung into left field, and another getting picked off. Rafael Devers rounding third too hard, his head down not checking the sign, then getting back picked by Mark Canha on the return. That has to get cleaned up.
Still, it didn’t prove to be of much consequence to the game’s end result. 53-47, tied once again with the Yankees 8.5 games off the division lead and 2.0 games out of the wildcard spot. The trade deadline is nine days away as of writing this recap (Sunday, July 23rd). I said earlier in the month in a different recap that the first three series out of the break would make or break how the Red Sox tackle the deadline. Two series wins (should have been three) and still in the thick of things. We’re close enough now that I can finally come to the conclusion that Bloom and co. should SMARTLY add to this team. That doesn’t mean blowing the system out and trade for Ohtani. It may still mean trading/releasing Kiké, who’s had interest by the Dodgers in a reunion. If Bloom can add controllable talent without doing too much, I’m totally OK with that strategy. If they make the playoffs? Fantastic, they become a much more desirable place in free agency. If not? They showed a lot of spunk, they have interesting core pieces for the future and they didn’t leverage too much to miss out.
Tonight’s win is certainly a lot bigger than just one win in the context of how the rest of the season may play out.
Adam Duvall (.101 WPA, 2-for-4, 2 RBI)
The power might not be omnipresent like it was in the opening weeks of the season, but Duvall is seeing the ball, making contact and doing positive things for the lineup.
Josh Winckowski (.082 WPA, 0.2 IP, 2 K)
To come into the game with runners on first and third, one down in the sixth, and to whiff Pete Alonso and Mark Vientos to escape the jam and keep your good-sized lead intact? Nails.
Rafael Devers (.079 WPA, 2-for-3, 1 run scored, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB)
I talked about his base-running blunder, but he got on base, and demolished a homer with an impressively pimped bat flip. HIs biggest feat tonight? Being mic’d up, answering a question about his favorite flavor of ice cream WHILE trying to field a pop fly at third. The kid loves baseball, smiles, and chocolate & vanilla ice cream. Who can’t love him? (go to 2:05 of the first video to see the pop fly)
Masataka Yoshida (-.131 WPA, 0-for-5)
Surprising that one of the AL’s top batting average players didn’t get a single hit in this one. Just an off night for Macho Man.
The ESPN broadcast
As cute as Devers’ mic’d up moment was, Cora was livid that it actually made him miss some fielding calls coming in from the dugout. Even that aside, it just sounds lifeless for almost the entire broadcast.
Already complained about it above. It is THREE duds, I was scrounging to find anything else to gripe about.
Play of the Game
Who was the Red Sox’s Player of the Game in their 6-1 win over the Mets on 7/23/2023?
This poll is closed
The whole bullpen
The seven consecutive hit men
Rafael Devers (for going mic’d up and then hitting a bomb)