Just when we think we’re back in, they shove us right back out.
Top Play (WPA): With a .202 WPA, Mike Napoli’s homer in the top of the sixth inning takes the cake here, just barely edging out Pedro Ciriaco’s game-tying single (.201 WPA) in the bottom of the sixth. It was no cheapie, either. Alex Wood threw a changeup that didn’t dive down far enough and Napoli parked it in the left-center field seats. It’s always nice when 2013 Napoli decides to show up.
Bottom Play (WPA): Kelly Johnson struck out for the first out of the bottom of the sixth, and with runners on first & second, that play was good for a -.099 WPA. For the Sox, Blake Swihart tried his best to earn this one, as he struck out with runners on second and third with one out in the second inning to rack up a -.087 WPA. If you wanted to qualify for this, uh, honor in the game, striking out with RISP seemed to be the way to go.
Key Moment: Junichi Tazawa giving up the go-ahead RBI single to Nick Markakis. The wheels didn’t just come off for the Red Sox after that – they blew off at Mach 1. They barely got a force out at home, then lefty Tommy Layne came in and walked lefty AJ Pierzynski, he of the 4.3% walk rate, to double the lead. To be fair – and I’m trying not to sound as bitter as possible here – Tazawa was getting squeezed by umpire Brian Knight, who had such an inconsistent strike zone that Jerry Remy took to saying that some of those pitches were undoubtedly strikes. Combine all of that and you get a game that left you with a feeling that can best be described as depressingly numbing.
Trend to Watch: The bullpen. Oh my dear lord, the bullpen. It was nothing short of terrible tonight, Brian Knight notwithstanding. Robbie Ross was the only one to even seem effective, and even he let AJ Pierzynski on base. What’s even more terrifying is that Justin Masterson looks set to join that merry band of relievers soon, in an attempt to turn a disaster into a full-blown catastrophe. I’m no sailor, but I think this ship is taking on water fast.
Coming Next: The Red Sox unleash Clay Buchholz upon the Braves, as he’ll look to bounce back from two consecutive 4-run outings. Opposing him is Shelby Miller, who has only recorded one start this season in which he didn’t go at least five innings.
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