The Yankees took out the brooms, but the Red Sox were at least able to make it interesting in the end.
Top Play (WPA): The top play came early in this one when Mark Teixeira took a Joe Kelly pitch the other way to the top row of the monster seats (+.191). The dinger gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead and it was one that they’d never give back. It was the first of many rockets hit off Kelly in this game, but we’ll have more on that later.
Bottom Play (WPA): Against all odds, the Red Sox actually made this one into a game. It was a lopsided affair for the most of the night, but they somehow got to a situation with the winning run at the plate in the ninth. The Red Sox put together a rally against the immortal Andrew Miller that included an Allen Craig walk, an amazing at bat by Mookie Betts and an error by Chase Headley. David Ortiz then came to the plate representing the winning run with two outs. There would be no heroics in this one, however, as the game anticlimactically ended on a line out to center field (-.093).
Key Moment: It’s hard to pick one moment from this game that was the key, so I’m going to pick two aside from the two mentioned above. The first came in the third inning with the Yankees still holding the 2-0 lead from Teixeira’s home run. Kelly had settled in a bit in the second and had two outs with two on in the third. Getting out of that frame would have been huge, but instead he gave up a two-run double to Brian McCann. From there, the wheels came off for the Red Sox starter as he lost any semblance of command for the rest of his outing.
Boston found themselves with a few rallies that they couldn’t capitalize on in this one, but the biggest came in the fifth. After starting the inning down 8-0, they batted around and were able to push five runs across the plate. Blake Swihart came up for his second at bat of the inning with two outs, two men on and a chance to tie the game with one swing. It’s an awfully big spot for someone in their second career game, and it showed. Swihart would strike out swinging and end the rally.
Trends to Watch: The big one, as always, is the starting pitching. For all of the promise that Joe Kelly has shown this year, he’s shown just as much of what makes him struggle. The stuff is clearly there, but he’s prone to bad command and major-league hitters are going to hit fastballs over the plate no matter how hard they’re thrown. It’s still too early in the year to give up on him, but if/when the Red Sox make a move, one would think Kelly will be near the top of the list to lose his rotation spot.
In a bit of positive news, Mike Napoli hit a home run. It’s been a dreadful start of the year for the first baseman, so it was nice to see that patented power on display again. Unfortunately he also had his bad moments. His first-pitch double play to end the eighth was particularly hurtful. If the offense is going to get going the way we all expect it to, he’s going to have to hit like he has in the past.
Coming Next: The Red Sox will look to put this sweep behind them as they continue their home stand. The divisional battles keep coming, this time with the Rays coming into town. The series kicks off tonight with Clay Buchholz facing off against Jake Odorizzi. The former has been pulling off his best Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine this year, but Boston could really use the Jekyll version to stop this slide. Odorizzi, meanwhile, has been great this season including a one-run performance against the Sox a couple weeks ago.
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