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Red Sox 2, Orioles 5: One to Go

Penultimate, adjective, last but one in a series of things; second last.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

You may be wondering, who is watching a meaningless Red Sox game on their Saturday night? I am, for a couple of reasons. First, I have money on the Red Sox over 77.5 wins. We’re not talking about chump change either. When I approached Over the Monster and offered my services as a blogger, they practically begged me to come aboard, and now I can afford to sign up for DraftKings and use one of their free promotional $10 bets on a season-long Red Sox bet. The other reason I’m still watching these games is because I have two TVs in my living room, and it’s not hard to monitor the Red Sox while I watch college football.

Once again, the offense was fairly dormant tonight. Take a look at these stats put together by the always insightful RedSoxStats:

For the record, I’m not saying this is a result of firing Chaim Bloom, and I don’t think Stats is either. It’s likely just a lack of focus that comes along with falling out of the playoff race. The strikeout rates for some of those guys are off the charts; likely due to hitters being less selective at the plate and not as locked in.

I will say, credit to some of the veterans for still playing hard, despite the games counting for nothing. Justin Turner, on a hurt foot, tried to steal a base tonight. He was thrown out by a considerable amount, but I appreciate the effort. Rafael Devers also took an extra base on a throw to third base, diving head-first into second to beat the tag. In the grand scheme of things, the plays don’t count for anything, but it sets a good example for the gang of young players on the roster. That’s great leadership from two guys who could easily coast through the end of the season.

Three Studs

Kutter Crawford (6 IP, 1 H, 7 K, 0 BB)

You won’t find a bigger Kutter Crawford fan than me. His fastball really gives him a chance to be a great pitcher. He completely dominated tonight using 50% four-seamers. It’s not the pitch mix I’ve been advocating for, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Still, I’d like to see him make similar changes to Nick Pivetta and really lean on the slider and sweeper as his primary off-speed offerings.

Justin Turner (2-4, R)

Turner has an opt-out after the season, and he’s likely to exercise it. I’d be surprised to see him return next year, given the lack of flexibility he provides positionally. Still, he’s been a professional all season, and a very easy player to root for.

Fitzy Mo Pena (Married Today)

Congrats, Fitz.

Three Duds

Josh Winckowski (1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER)

It has to be discouraging as a pitcher to throw a gem, and have the next guy immediately give up the lead. There were rumblings that Winckowski be used as a starter again next year. To me, he’s a bullpen guy. If he pitches out of the rotation, it’s a complete failure by the front office to reinforce the pitching staff. I don’t think Winckowski can cut it without the added velocity pitching in relief brings.

Mauricio Llovera (1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER)

By extension, I am also a dud tonight for asking people not to give up on Llovera. I still believe in his stuff. There could be a roster crunch coming, and he could easily be a casualty. If he does somehow clear waivers in the event he’s DFA’d, I would be thrilled. He’s the exact type of guy you want the chance to work with in Spring training. I’m sure the Dodgers or Rays would turn him into a great piece.

Alex Verdugo (0-3, 2 K)

Verdugo is another player I wouldn’t be surprised to see moved this offseason. A .265 average with 13 home runs is fine, more than fine if you consider his outfield defense. I still can’t help but wonder if you can get more out of the corner outfield spot, or if you could move Verdugo to find some pitching, and replicate his production elsewhere. Wilyer Abreu won’t play defense at the same level as Verdugo, but if Hunter Renfroe can handle right field in Fenway, I don’t see why Abreu couldn’t. His advanced approach and years of control make him an appealing piece for the future. Plus, his swing is so pretty.