Imagine how entertaining this game would have been if it meant something.
Top Play (WPA): This is going to shock you, but the top play was the go-ahead grand slam off the bat of Xander Bogaerts (0.712). Remember when some idiot complained about him only hitting singles? What a moron. It’s also worth noting that a Very Good-Looking Person predicted that grand slam before it happened.
Bogaerts go-ahead grand slam in 5…..4…..3…..
— Matt Collins (@RedSox_Thoughts) September 22, 2015
Bottom Play (WPA): The late-season Red Sox are so good, they’re not satisfied with simply taking the victory and the top play by WPA. Not only did David Ortiz’s first-inning double play (-0.126) register as the worst play of the game, but Boston actually held claim to the bottom five plays. Tampa’s worst play came on Tim Beckham’s groundout to shortstop in the ninth (-0.051). The play immediately followed Rich Shaffer’s solo home run and was yet another example of Bogaerts’ improved defense. He did it all last night.
Key Moment: Besides the genius predicting Bogaerts’ go-ahead grand slam, and the grand slam itself, I’ll go to the top half of the eighth inning for the key moment. The Rays had just finished shelling Alexi Ogando (shocking, I know), leaving Jean Machi with a bases-loaded, one-out situation. Tampa had a one-run lead, and it looked very possible, even likely, that they’d break the game open. Instead, Machi gave up a sacrifice fly and a got a strikeout to exit the inning with just a two-run deficit. Bogaerts would hit the decisive home run in the next half-inning. That’s right, the Red Sox bullpen actually did a good thing!
Trends to Watch: Bogaerts is good. Like, really good. He showed everything off last night. The grand slam was huge, of course, but he also had a double that likely would’ve been out if it wasn’t for the wind. On top of that, he made at least three plays with the glove that he would have had no shot at last year.
Mookie Betts is also pretty decent. He reached base four times, bumping him up to a .338 OBP and a nice 6.9 BB%.
Rounding out the exciting rookies, Eduardo Rodriguez was impressive tonight despite not having his best stuff. He was rocked in the first inning, and it would’ve been easy for him to implode. Instead, he buckled down and got through six solid if unspectacular innings. Pretty exciting night for a trio of exciting young players.
Coming Next: The Red Sox and Rays continue their series tonight with Henry Owens taking on Matt Moore. Just 13 more games left in the regular season.
Photo by Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports Images