By MyFM's Jake Archer - This week the Red Sox played a four game series with the Philadelphia Phillies that was split between Fenway Park and Citizens Bank Park. The Sox were able to take the first three from the worst team in baseball before dropping the fourth game in frustrating fashion. Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
On Monday, the series started off in Boston. The Sox sent Rick Porcello to the hill to face off with Jerad Eickhoff. Coming into the game, Eickhoff was one of the worst pitchers in baseball with an 0-7 record and an ERA north of five. But early on, it looked more like Porcello who was the scrub as he got knocked around for four runs in the first inning.
The reigning American League CY Young Award winner has been quietly awful this year and I think it’s about time we start to worry about him. The only thing he is good for at this point is eating innings and grinding through games even when he is getting shelled. The Sox offense would pick him up however, as they were able to come back for one in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth to tie the game.
Of course, Porcello would go right back out in the next half inning and give up another run because apparently he does not want to win. Luckily, in the eighth inning, Hanley Ramirez stepped up and launched a game-tying homer to save the Sox. The game would then stay tied at five until the bottom of the eleventh inning, when Dustin Pedroia notched his second career walkoff hit by singling to right to score Deven Marrero.
At the end of the night, Porcello’s line score was five runs on ten hits in six innings pitched. He walked one and struck out four. The bullpen combination of Joe Kelly, Robby Scott, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Barnes pitched great as they held the Phillies down. Barnes got the win for the Sox. The offensive heroes were Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts. Betts went four for five with an RBI double, a run scored and a walk. Pedroia went two four six with two RBI. Ramirez went one for five with the solo homerun and Benintendi was three for five with a homerun and two RBI.
The next night, the Sox had David Price on the mound for his first start at Fenway of the season. The Phillies would counter with Ben Lively. Price was hot and cold all game as he had a very mixed bag of results. He only gave up three runs on four hits in six innings while striking out six, yet he walked four and couldn’t keep his pitch count down.
The Sox got on the board right away in the first inning as Lively walked in a run. They couldn’t further the damage in the inning but they added another run in the second on a Christian Vazquez RBI double. In the next half inning, Price would get tagged for a two-run homer to tie the game. Boston would answer right away with a Mitch Moreland solo shot of their own. But the Phillies would tie the game again in the sixth inning to deny Price a win and get to the bullpen.
The game would stay knotted at three for a while at this point. The Sox bullpen did another masterful job as Robby Scott, Blaine Boyer, Craig Kimbrel, Heath Hembree and Fernando Abad all contributed. They’d give up eight hits but zero runs and the game would go on until the bottom of the 12th. Finally, Andrew Benintendi stepped to the plate and delivered his first career walkoff hit on a ground-rule double to score Xander Bogaerts. The Sox had walked off in extras again while also playing their third straight game of over four hours.
Now the two teams would head to Philadelphia to finish up the series. On Wednesday night it was Brian Johnson against Jeremy Hellickson on the bump. The Sox bats were all over Hellickson right away and scored two in the first on a Bogaerts double and a Benintendi sac-fly. They came right back with three in the second on a Betts double and a Bogaerts single that scored two. It was a quick 5-0 lead and it looked like Boston might cruise to a big victory.
However, in the third inning, Sox starter Brian Johnson lost a lot of velocity and started to get knocked around. He gave three runs right back to the Phillies and then left the game with a shoulder injury that now has sent him to the DL. Hector Velasquez, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Robby Scott would come in and shut down the Phillies from that point on.
The Sox kept piling on though as they added two more runs on two solo shots by Mookie Betts. Betts was a triple shy of the cycle after just the fourth inning but he’d decide to take the homerun in the seventh inning instead.
In the series finale, the Sox were looking poised to sweep. They’d be throwing Chris Sale against some no name pitcher and a team that had a record of 21-43. Sale would do his part as well, as he went through the first seven innings giving up only two hits and no runs. The Sox bats weren’t helping him any though, and in the eighth Sale would try to take matters into his own hands. He led off the inning at the plate and hit a wall ball double, the first of his career. He was on second with no outs and Betts, Pedroia and Bogaerts due up. Betts lined a pitch to deep right field that was caught, but Sale tagged up and moved to third.
Pedroia would come up next, have an awful at-bat, and strike out. Bogaerts would then pop out to end the inning, leaving Sale stranded at third. At that point, anyone who knows anything about the Red Sox knew they blew this game. Sale came back out for the eighth, gave up two hits and a run and the Sox wouldn’t answer in the ninth. Chris Sale had gone eight innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out ten and walking one and lost. He also had been the Sox best hitter and best baserunner, but yet he didn’t get anything out of it.
It might have been the most frustrating loss of the year and it was capped by a Pablo Sandoval at-bat in which he struck out on three terrible pitches. Sale can’t do it all and he has every right to be angry, though he’d never say it publicly. Despite the loss, the Sox sit only two games back of the Yankees for first place and they will now go to Houston to face the best team in baseball, the Astros, for a three game set. The matchup tonight will be Drew Pomeranz against Mike Fiers at 8:10 pm.