Another completely miserable game to watch, culminating in the fifth consecutive loss for the Sox following the All-Star break and their sixth loss in a row. Even the excitement and anticipation of watching the debut of young, talented lefty Brian Johnson was squashed after he exited early and was replaced by the vomit-inducing Justin Masterson. Twelve more games remain on the trip but at this point it feels like a thousand.
Top Play (WPA): Not surprisingly, rookie phenom Carlos Correa (.183) came up with last night’s top play. With two men on and just one out, Correa had a veteran at-bat that placed a perfectly hit double in the right-field corner before bouncing out of play. Jose Altuve came around to score giving the Astros the go-ahead run. The bounce was fortuitous for the Sox because Marwin Gonzalez was held at third base but likely would have scored if the ball stayed in play.
The next best play of the night comes from Jake Marisnick (.169), which we’ll discuss below. For the Sox, their best play of the night and the third-best play overall came from a Mookie Betts (.127) check-swing double down the first base line that drove in Alejandro De Aza and Ryan Hanigan. This gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead and actually gave me a sense of hope for the first time in weeks while watching a game.
Bottom Play (WPA): Our bottom play of the night comes from the artist formally known as the Kung-Fu Panda (-.068). With Hanley Ramirez at first base and the game not out of reach, Sandoval grounded into a double play, ending the top of the sixth and any hope of clawing back into the 5-3 game.
Maybe we can convince the Pirates that they need him as their replacement for the injured Josh Harrison? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
Key Moment: Jake Marisnick not only tripled in this contest but his stolen base in the bottom of the fifth inning was the turning point in this game. With the young Johnson on the mound, Marisnick took off and was hit by a Hanigan throw to second base, forcing Hanley Ramirez to field the ball from deep left-field. Two runs scored, tying up the game 3-3. Following this unfortunate event, Johnson walked Altuve, leading to his exit from the game. The Sox simply never recovered from this odd play, which wasn’t even the result of a very bad throw by Hanigan.
Trend to Watch: Young pitchers should continue to get chances.
Johnson’s start tonight was a good thing, not only because he is not Joe Kelly but because it gives the Red Sox a chance to start looking at what they have for 2016. There is no sense running guys out there who are known quantities when you can put in young guys like Johnson or Henry Owens and see how they perform.
Johnson really did deserve better than his line of 4.1 IP, 4 BB, 3 K, 4 ER suggests. Sure, his command was loose after 15 days off, but he did retire eight in a row heading into the fifth. I think this guy has some serious staying power.
Xander Bogaerts continues to impress in July with his third consecutive two hit-game and his .400+ batting average during the month.
Coming Next: We will be forced to watch Kelly throw a baseball again tomorrow (something I was really hoping not to endure again ever) to give the remainder of the rotation some added rest. The best I can say is look forward to some really fun trade rumors, and hopefully now that the white flag has been raised we will see more JBJ and therefore more web gems. Let the plans for 2016 commence!
Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports Images