Has Fenway Park always been shaped like this? I feel like it shouldn’t be shaped like this. Just a thought. Also, the Orioles are 7-0? Blake Swihart is the worst baseball player of all time? What is happening? Why am I writing this?
Top Play (WPA): Clay Buchholz was actually looking pretty solid until the sixth inning. It wasn’t his best start, granted, but he flashed the changeup and curveball that he needs to be successful. Then the sixth inning happened. It started with Chris Davis effortlessly crushing a ball off the wall in left field, a noteworthy achievement given the wind blasting toward right field. Of course, that was nothing compared to Mark Trumbo, who followed that up with a blast over everything in left (+.223) that tied the game up at four. The Orioles have some stupid power, you guys.
Bottom Play (WPA): Let me start this by saying Mike Wright is not a good pitcher. I don’t think that’s a controversial statement. He was solid last night, but the Red Sox had a chance to put him away in the fourth. The score was tied at two, and after two quick outs the bases became loaded with a single and two hit batsmen. Blake Swihart came to the plate with a chance to give Buchholz a much-needed cushion early in this game. Instead, he hit a routine grounder to Jonathan Schoop at second (-.086) and the inning was over without a run being scored. It was a rough night for Swihart, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Key Moment: Remember that Trumbo home run that ended up being the most important play in the game? It probably never should’ve happened. Earlier in that at bat, he popped a ball in foul territory in front of the Red Sox dugout. It looked like a routine play. The wind messed things up for fielders all night, but if we’re being honest with ourselves it should’ve been caught. Instead, Swihart misread it and it fell past his outstretched glove. Maybe Hanley Ramirez should’ve called him off, as he had a better read on it. He probably should have. But either way, that’s a ball Swihart should’ve had. Buchholz still shares plenty of the blame for allowing Trumbo to hit a ball 1200 yards, but the whole situation could’ve been avoided.
More Swihart Sadness: That’s probably enough sadness for Swihart in one game, but there’s one more play that gets added to this list. Not only did he account for the worst play in the game by WPA, but he also was the proud owner of the third-worst play. After that mess of a sixth inning, the Red Sox still only trailed by one run in the bottom half. Once again, Boston’s catcher found himself at the plate in a big situation, this time with Travis Shaw on third and two outs. A single would’ve tied the game, but instead he hit yet another routine ground ball to second base. People on the twittersphere were already wondering when Christian Vazquez would take the starting role behind the plate, which is obviously insane. However, there’s no denying it was a rough night for Swihart. He’ll likely get a much needed night off tonight with Joe Kelly taking the hill.
The Most Clay Buchholz Start Ever: Well, that’s probably not true since he left the mound healthy, but everything else about it was quintessential Buchholz. He started the outing with some shaky control, walking two of his first six opponents. Then, he settled down and started looking like a near-ace with both his changeup and his curveball working. At one point, he struck out four of eight batters he faced while allowing just one to reach base. Then, he was hurt by a bit of dumb luck, with JJ Hardy hooking a ball around Pesky’s Pole with as short of a home run as humanly possible*. Then, of course, he imploded in the sixth. Buchholz is still the shrug emoji personified.
*He did that twice, by the way. Baseball is dumb.
Failure in Middle Relief: The Red Sox’s bullpen was supposed to be a strength for this team in 2016, and for the most part it has been. Tonight, though, they were really feeling the absence of Carson Smith. Noe Ramirez came in after Buchholz, and while he only allowed one inherited run, that was because of big defensive plays from Mookie Betts and Travis Shaw. After him, Robbie Ross entered and promptly allowed three runs (plus one inherited runner from Ramirez) to score. Things will look better once Smith comes back, but Boston really needs one more arm to step up at some point this year.
David Ortiz Still Rules, Though: No matter what else happens this season, never lose sight of the fact that we still get to watch David Ortiz. The man is incredible. He hit another home run last night, his third of the year. He also hit an RBI double in his last at bat of the game. The man is hitting .346/.393/.846 on the season. Are we sure he has to retire?
Coming Next: The Red Sox and Orioles will finish their series tonight, with Boston trying to avoid the sweep and trying to inexplicably give Baltimore their first loss of the season. On the mound, it’ll be a matchup of enigmatic pitchers with sometimes-electric stuff and generally poor results with Joe Kelly facing off against Ubaldo Jimenez. First pitch will be at 7:00 Eastern.
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