It was a lot tougher than it should’ve been, but the Red Sox started off their home stand with a win. We’ll take it.
Top Play (WPA): It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the top play from last night’s game was Mike Napoli’s solo home run (.103) to lead off the 4th. The Red Sox had a 1-0 lead heading into the inning but were in need of an insurance run or six. Napoli had been struggling mightily and put together a hideous at bat in the first inning. Crushing a hanging breaking ball from Yovani Gallardo into the AAA sign above the Monster Seats was not only a huge play for the team, but also for a struggling player.
Bottom Play (WPA): Koji Uehara didn’t have the sharpest outing of his career, and both of the bottom plays for the Rangers came in what could’ve been a more painful ninth inning. After Leonys Martin started the frame off with a pinch hit home run to bring Texas within one, they needed just one or two big swings. They got a base runner after Brock Holt failed to make a tough bare-handed charging play at third base, but Elvis Andrus foiled any potential rally by flying out to right field. (-.077) Prior to that, Robinson Chirinos flew out to center (-.071) and Carlos Peguero struck out swinging. (-.051)
Key Moment: It’s tough to pick one key moment, but I’ll go with the first run of the game. The Red Sox made a point of being patient with Yovani Gallardo, and it paid off with a laborious inning. Although the inning could’ve and should’ve provided much more damage than it did, David Ortiz did score Dustin Pedroia on a single through the shift and gave Boston a much-needed early lead.
Trends to Watch: Don’t look now, but Wade Miley is piecing together a run of acceptable starts! Unlike last week’s luck-infused outing, he earned every bit of his win in this one. He struck out seven Rangers while walking just two, and looked fantastic throughout the game outside of a rough sixth inning. He’s now made four starts in May and has pitched to a 3.04 ERA with a 19/6 K/BB ratio. The Red Sox will need more of this if they’re going to climb up the AL East standings.
In less encouraging news, Pablo Sandoval was hit by a fastball square in the knee and went down quickly. He was clearly in a lot of pain, and was immediately removed from the game for testing. Luckily, the initial tests came back clean. The last thing this Boston offense needs right now is to play without Sandoval, who has had a very solid year despite his extreme struggles versus left-handed pitching.
Coming Next: The Red Sox continue their series with the Rangers tonight with Joe Kelly facing off against Phil Klein. Kelly had a much-needed good outing last time out, but he’ll need to string a few of those together before his rotation spot is truly safe. As for Klein, tonight will be his first career start, and he’s had a rough year out of the bullpen with a 7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings. The series will end Thursday night when Clay Buchholz takes on Wandy Rodriguez.
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