I was in attendance for Friday night’s game at Fenway, and the feel in the stadium was one of indifference. The crowd was mostly disinterested, apart from the late rally in the eighth inning. The Red Sox hitters were also mostly disinterested, as they failed to work counts as Touki Toussaint threw 92 pitches in six and a third innings. Of course, the results of the games don’t matter and you can’t blame the players for a lack of complete focus, but the stats do matter, particularly for potential free agents and arbitration cases. Still, Toussaint made quick work of the Red Sox for six innings before running into some trouble in the seventh.
On the pitching side, Garrett Whitlock struggled following a solid start from Chris Sale. Fortunately, Mauricio Llovera was able to throw a scoreless inning in the top of the eighth to keep the deficit at one. In the bottom of the inning, the White Sox showed their lack of scouting prowess by positioning the second basemen up the middle, allowing Masataka Yoshida to hit one of his signature ground balls to second base through the infield for a base hit, driving in the go ahead run. Chris Martin came in to close the game down, picking up his third save of the season in the process. The result doesn’t matter in terms of the standings, but I’m sure someone out there (me) bet a little bit of cheddar on the Red Sox over 77.5 wins, so every game still counts.
Chris Sale (5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 BB)
Gone are the days of every pitcher in the rotation throwing 200 innings in a season. Not every pitcher has to for a team to succeed, but some of them need to have provide some length. At this point, Sale isn’t the guy to provide the length. He still has stuff, evidenced by the seven strikeouts and 45% whiff rate on his slider. In a rotation with some inning eaters, he could be a great piece. Unfortunately, he’s not what the 2023 Red Sox needed.
Trevor Story (3-4, R)
I still believe in Trevor Story. That may be controversial, because he likely won’t ever live up to his contract, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive player. With his defense, his bat doesn’t need to be incredible to provide the Red Sox value. With Story at shortstop throughout April, May, and June, the Red Sox probably win a few more games, purely based on his infield defense. Give him a healthy off-season and spring training, and the bat will hopefully come along. Nobody else is taking that contract, might as well hope for the best.
Chris Martin (1 IP, SV)
Having Martin and Jansen at the back of the bullpen is such a treat. Even if the outcomes don’t matter, it’s nice to be able to protect a lead. It’s a welcome change from the days where you had to close your eyes each time Hansel Robles threw a pitch.
Garrett Whitlock (2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER)
Someone, please tell Garrett Whitlock to stop throwing high sinkers. It just doesn’t work. Keep everything down in the zone, and good things will happen. The good Whitlock is still in there somewhere.
Justin Turner (0-4)
Justin Turner, as reported below, is likely to test free agency. Even if he doesn’t return, I’ll always be thankful for the season Turner had. It’s nice to know that even in a down year, he had such a positive experience in Boston. It’s not always an easy place to play.
Adam Duvall (0-3, RBI, K)
Speaking of players likely to test free agency, Adam Duvall had a disappointing night. He tied the game with an eighth inning sacrifice fly, but was ineffective otherwise. He’ll likely be a sought after free agent, given the lack of right handed power set to hit the market. I’d like to see him back in Boston; we could really use a righty who isn’t limited by his ability to play the field (i.e. Turner)
Play of the Game
Here’s the go ahead single by Yoshida.