Timely hitting, a solid effort from #Ed and a Hanley bomb led the Red Sox to a series win against the best team in the AL on Sunday afternoon. Slowly but surely, the Sox are crawling back toward relevancy, or something close to it.
Top Play (WPA): Oddly enough, Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh with David Ortiz on base takes the cake here at a whopping .419. I’m not going to go back and check, because I’m lazy, but I think that’s the highest-WPA play of the year for the Sox. Give plenty of praise to Hanley, but don’t forget the tough at-bat Ortiz put up against LHP Tony Sipp to get on base in the first place.
The next-best plays come courtesy Carlos Correa (.285) and Evan Gattis (.226), who hit back-to-back homers off of Alexi Ogando in the seventh. This was a good game, but Boston needs to fix this bullpen.
Finally, Pablo Sandoval’s RBI double to left in the sixth (.180) and Mookie Betts’ double in fifth (.135) round out the top five.
Bottom Play (WPA): In the bottom of the fifth, Xander Bogaerts came to the plate with two men on and one out. Bogaerts grounded out softly to second base, but Ryan Hanigan was off with contact at third, which was ill-advised given his lack of speed and Houston’s defensive alignment. Hanigan was out at the plate, and while Bogaerts reached first safely Hanigan’s out was still enough to register this as the worst play of the day (-.116).
Houston’s two worst plays came in the bottom of the ninth, courtesy Carlos Correa and Colby Rasmus (who fouled out bunting), while Boston’s next-worst plays came in the form of Shane Victorino and Ramirez GIDPs.
Key Moment: Ramirez’s homer, for sure. This game had a very “here we go again” quality when Ogando gave up back-to-back bombs, but Ortiz and Ramirez answered the bell, as you’d hope the middle of your lineup would. Ramirez looks like an offensive force again, and if he plays defense the way he has for the past two weeks and not the way he did the first two months of the season, that contract will work out just fine.
Trend to Watch: There are a few trends here.
For starters, the Red Sox finally look like the offense we all thought we’d see at the season’s start, and that’s with Dustin Pedroia on the DL and Mike Napoli MIA. Betts, Brock Holt, Bogaerts, Ortiz, Ramirez and Sandoval all feel like real threats to do damage in any given at-bat, and contributors like Alejandro De Aza, Shane Victorino and even Ryan Hanigan all seem capable of pitching in, too. This is more like it.
#Ed had a strange start, dominating in the sense that he struck out eight Astros in just five innings but struggling in the sense that he only lasted five innings. Still five innings of one-run ball against the AL’s best team is pretty decent for a guy who was in Triple-A six weeks ago. He continues to be a hugely important addition to the rotation.
Finally, the Sox have now won seven of their last 10 games. They need to keep playing at this pace to matter, but it’s great to see nonetheless.
Coming Next: The Red Sox have today off before hosting the Marlins for two games. Wade Miley is set to face off against Dan Haren on Tuesday. Sweeping the Ms before the division-leading Yankees come to town later in the week could make the AL East race a lot more interesting in short order. We’ll see!
Photo by Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports Images