Mookie drives home Bogaerts in walk-off victory. I want to bathe in that sentence.
Top Play (WPA): Stats are mostly good and give us a better understanding of the game. Sometimes they kind of make no sense. This is one of those times. In a game that featured a walk-off single, the top play was a first-inning double. To be fair, it was a huge play at the time. Russell Martin capped off a terrific at bat with two outs and men on first and second with a double down the left field line (+.169) that scored both runners, giving Toronto an early 3-0 lead. It extended a lead that wouldn’t fall until the eighth.
The big play for the Red Sox came in the bottom of the ninth, though. Mookie Betts stepped to the plate with one out and runners at first and second in a tie game. A wild pitch by Miguel Castro moved the runners to second and third. Betts followed that up with a single up the middle (+.159) that would score Bogaerts and lead to a Powerade bath for Betts and Gary Striewski.
Bottom Play (WPA): The Red Sox had the three lowest plays of this game by WPA, which isn’t overly surprising considering they spent most of the contest down by a small margin. The worst of the worst came in the eighth. Daniel Nava came up with two men on and a tie score. He ripped a pitch that looked sure to fall in for an RBI single into left field before Josh Donaldson leaped up and made the third out (-.088). It was approximately the 3,842nd great defensive play by Toronto’s third baseman in the game.
The Blue Jays’ worst play came in the top half of the seventh. Jose Reyes came up with a man on third and a one run lead with just one out. It was a prime opportunity for insurance runs and there’s a good chance solid contact would’ve been enough for Toronto to hold on. Instead, he struck out on a fastball in the dirt (-.070) to cap off what was an ugly at bat.
Key Moment: Pretty clear answer here, I’d say. Mookie Betts hit a walk off single that scored Xander Bogaerts. Just keep reading that sentence to yourself. It sounds so good.
Other than that, I think the bullpen deserves a boatload of credit here. It was by no means a perfect day for Alexi Ogando, but he held a great Blue Jays offense scoreless for two innings and gave Boston’s lineup time to come back and eventually win. Then, Koji Uehara calmed everyone’s nerves with some vintage splitters and preserved the tie in the ninth.
Trends to Watch: Where to start? The big one here is Betts, who finally looked like he’s ready to get something going at the plate. He had productive at bats in four out of five trips to the plate including a few really hard hit balls. This offseason’s darling has gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but maybe he can build off of a promising day at the plate.
Pablo Sandoval also looks like he could be getting something going, assuming he’s healthy. He went his first 16 games without a home run before hitting one in two consecutive games. He had Boston’s first three RBI of last night’s game. On top of the batting feats, he also made a phenomenal diving catch on a bunt attempt in the fourth inning, though it eventually caused him to leave the game with neck soreness. Hopefully for his sake it’s nothing serious, as it looks like he’s finally getting it going with the stick.
Joe Kelly had another 2015 Joe Kelly start last night. The results weren’t great, but he flashed dominant stuff at times. Although he had never been able to turn that stuff into high strikeout totals prior to this season, he racked up ten Ks yesterday and is up to 10.7 per nine innings on the season.
Finally, we have the Red Sox starting off yet another series strong. Boston is now 7-0 in series openers in 2015. They’ve left a lot to be desired in many of their other games, but the key to a good season is winning series, and winning the first game of series makes that goal much easier.
Coming Next: The Red Sox have two more games left in this series against Toronto, with both games coming with the odd 6:10 start time. Clay Buchholz will be taking the mound tomorrow looking for his third straight solid start. Drew Hutchinson will be taking the mound for the Blue Jays looking to build off a strong start last time out against Baltimore. Wednesday’s game will pit Rick Porcello vs. R.A. Dickey before the Red Sox get their first off-day in two weeks on Thursday.
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