This was hard to watch. This was the showcase of Mookie Betts to make Red Sox fans weep at losing him as your franchise cornerstone. Making plays at second base and right field. A monster “Monster’ two-run homer to give the Dodgers a little separation in the sixth inning. That tied his career high in dingers with his 35th swat of 2023. Despite the Dodgers’ lead getting trimmed, he rips another RBI in the eighth to truly put things away.
Granted, it’s even harder to overcome such a good team when Betts and Freddie Freeman combine for an OPS over 1.000. That’s a scary punch.
There’s one more thing that confuses me about this game. This is Cora before the game:
Asked about bullpen availability today, Cora said, “Great. You'd like rainbows. Yeah, it’s a rainbow today on the card. We got green. We got yellow, orange, red. We’ll be OK.” Any particular color the rainbow is shaded toward? "The pot of gold," Cora quipped.— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) August 27, 2023
If you had your choice of bullpen arms today, why let Murphy get battered for four innings? I’m not saying exhaust all the arms, I get it’s a balancing act with a very tough and frankly even more important Astros series coming up to close the Wild Card gap. But why oh why would you not use any different arm—Pivetta, Winckowski—literally anyone for two innings to maybe not give up an additional three runs? That’s the difference between winning and losing in this one. Does Cora really believe they can take two of three against the Astros this week enough to sacrifice this game? I’ll eat a little crow if that happens.
Triston Casas (2-for-4, 1 HR, .044 WPA)
Casas with a four-game hitting streak now, and a little flick down the left-field line to get the offense going.
Adam Duvall (2-for-4, 1 HR, .035 WPA)
It feels like every time Duvall hits the ball, it’s going out nowadays. Going back-to-back with Justin Turner to pull the Sox back in it late. A game is nine innings, and he’s playing like it ain’t over until the final out’s made.
Tanner Houck (4.0 IP, 1 ER, 2 B, 4 K, .096 WPA)
I feel bad for Houck because he pitched well enough not to deserve a loss. He worked himself out of a bases-loaded, one-out, nervy scenario to keep things scoreless early. Other than the James Outman homer in the fourth inning, he was able to get himself out of every jam he faced. He was on a Cora-limited pitch count of 75-80 pitches and landed at 80 on the dot. The offense didn’t show up in time to support him.
Chris Murphy (4.0 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 4 K, -.299 WPA)
I don’t feel bad for Murphy because he didn’t pitch well enough not to deserve the loss. You can’t give up a run in every inning you pitch in. That simply isn’t good enough. Despite no errors, the defense didn’t exactly do you any favors either, but even with that, it wasn’t good enough.
Trevor Story (0-for-4, 1 K, -.144 WPA)
Leaving two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the first said a lot for this game. They had a chance to pounce early, and they couldn’t get it done. I know it can’t happen every game, but that hurts to set the tone early. He didn’t come through much better the rest of the game.
Alex Verdugo (0-for-5, 1 K, -.120 WPA)
The higher you are, the harder you fall. Three straight games with lead-off homers followed up by a dud. It happens. Just lands him here today.
Play of the Game
It stings, but it’s Mookie Betts’ two-run HR by WPA for the game as a whole. For the Red Sox, it’s Triston Casas’ two-run shot of his own.