After last night’s win the Red Sox have outscored their opponents in exactly 50% of their last 10 games. It is a percentage that needs to be consistently higher from here on out if they are going to return to relevancy.
Top Play (WPA): In the bottom of the sixth inning the Red Sox tied the game at one after poor defense by the Orioles allowed Alejandra De Aza and Sandy Leon to get on base via error, and then a Mookie Betts single scored De Aza. Brock Holt grounded out, advancing Leon and Betts to second and third. Dustin Pedroia then came to the plate and knocked a Bud Norris offering into left field, plating the two runners on base (WPA: + .150). Unfortunately, Pedroia appeared to pull his hamstring while rounding first base and was removed from the game. More on team injuries in a bit.
Bottom Play (WPA): In the bottom of the fifth inning, Hanley Ramirez led things off with a single to right field. Then on a second botched hit-and-run play of the game involving Hanley, he was struck on the hand by a Xander Bogaerts line drive. Hanley was called out, and left the game due to the injury. Just when things seemed at a comical low point, Pablo Sandoval rolled into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play (WPA: – .068).
Key Moment: Much has been made of David Ortiz’s struggles this season. His 94 wRC+ leaves much to be desired. But, even with these troubles he has still hit right-handed pitching really well (148 wRC+). This ability was on display in the sixth inning as he crushed a two-run homer to straight away center field:
It was Ortiz’s 11th homer on the season, and another positive sign that he can still be a productive hitter.
Trend to Watch: Team health! Coming into the game the Red Sox were already without Blake Swihart, who is currently battling a sprained left foot, and just got Sandoval out of a walking boot after his ankle sprain. Well, now they could be without Ramirez and Pedroia. As noted, Hanley was hit on the left hand by a Bogaerts line drive while he was running to second as part of a hit-and-run. The injury has been reported as just a ‘contusion’, and luckily not something more severe like a fracture. As noted above, Pedroia had the game’s top play with his key hit in the bottom of the sixth, plating two runs, but he grabbed at his right hamstring as he rounded first base. He was immediately removed from the game. Later reports indicated that it was ‘hamstring tightness’. To a somewhat lesser extent, which depends on your perspective of the ongoing Joe Kelly situation, the Red Sox may have also lost Triple-A standout Brian Johnson, who collided with a runner while covering first base in the PawSox game last night. This rash of injuries happened within a 30 minute period. The hex that is on the 2015 Red Sox continues to be working.
Coming next: The Red Sox finish up their series with the Orioles tonight before heading to St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay for a weekend series with the Rays. The Sox will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound, who in his most recent start in Kansas City (6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 1 BB, SO) confirmed that the rough outing against the Jays was merely a blip. The Jays’ offense is ridiculous, and even more so against left-handed pitching. Rodriguez is still a bright spot in this season. The Orioles will counter with Miguel Gonzalez who will be activated from the disabled list to make the start. Gonzalez, who has been shelved with a groin injury, has not started since June 9th when he battled the Red Sox for 4.1 innings giving up four hits and no runs. Gonzalez is not exactly a top-level pitcher, so hopefully the Red Sox can do some damage.
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