Xander Bogaerts

Game 58 Recap: Athletics 4, Red Sox 7

The Red Sox finally took home a series sweep against the Athletics, leveraging a big seven-run eighth inning to snatch victory from the jaws of Bad Clay Buchholz. It’s officially a streak! (Note: Streak may not be official.)

Top Play (WPA): Go figure, it was Xander Bogaerts’ two-out, two-run double (0.531) to change a 4-3 deficit to a 5-4 lead that would hold until the final bell. When you wait until the end of the game to rack up all your runs, you can get enormous WPA swings. I think that we can all agree, after this single plate appearance, that the Xander Bogaerts (.287 True Average this season) versus Mookie Betts (.266 True Average) debate is finally over.

Bottom Play (WPA): Hanley Ramirez, batting with no outs and runners on first and second, grounded into a critical double play (-0.121) that stranded Brock Holt at second base. Despite the best efforts of Holt — who moved to third on a passed ball — all it took was a Mike Napoli whiff at that point to end the potential for a rally. Bad job, all around.

Key Moment: For me, the key was Rusney Castillo’s homer to lead off the eighth inning and chase Kendall Graveman. Castillo’s been pretty awful since coming up with the Sox this season, but this AB saw him work into a full count and finally go yard. It seemed like the kind of personal win that could break the seal on further run scoring, and that’s exactly what happened in that big inning.

Trends to Watch: Winning is a trend, right?

Okay, so that doesn’t really count. Perhaps the right trend to keep an eye on is Steven Wright, who threw three and one-third innings of effective ball in relief of Doubles McGee in this game. It was the full Wakefield, pitching on short rest, and “sneaking” through the Athletics lineup by allowing unimpressive contact and getting key outs on balls in play. No one needs Steven Wright to be a rotation stalwart or a shutdown reliever — but if he can be a swingman who doesn’t make you want to immediately throw up in your mouth, and can prove to get a strikeout here and there, he’ll be a valuable cog in the machine.

Coming Next: Momentum isn’t real, except when we really want it to be. Season savior and hyperbole king Eduardo Rodriguez faces off against his former team, the Baltimore Orioles, in the jump to a three-game series at Baltimore on Tuesday. If Rodriguez doesn’t strike out half a dozen and keep his ERA below 1.00, it’ll probably be viewed as a disappointment, but really taking two out of three against the Orioles would have to be considered a win. Now this team is living up to a little bit of its potential, so it’s all about keeping the dice rolling.

Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports Images

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