Not only was that a weird, painful game, but it also took 17 hours to complete*. David Price gave up a big lead, John Farrell was super weird with the bullpen, and the offense fell asleep for a few inning. It wasn’t an ideal way to end a home stand, is what I’m trying to say.
*Don’t fact-check this.
Top Play (WPA)
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but the biggest play of the game was the one in which the Rays gained the lead. With William Cuevas in the game (we’ll get to that in a minute) and a tied score in the top of the eighth, Steven Souza came to the plate with Desmond Jennings at first base and two outs. Unsurprisingly, the pitcher in his first career appearance couldn’t come through in the game’s biggest moment, and Souza launched an RBI double (+0.283) off the Monster, giving the Rays a 9-8 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Bottom Play (WPA)
We obviously can’t put this all on Cuevas not coming through in that spot, though. The Red Sox had a chance to at least tie the game back up in the bottom half of that inning. After Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz reached base with one out, Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw had a chance to come through in the clutch. First, Ramirez hit a rocket, but it went right at Logan Forsythe (-0.120) for the second out. Then, Shaw, who tied the game up just one inning prior, flew out (-0.124) right at the base of the Monster to end the inning and Boston’s rally.
David Price’s Rough Day
The Red Sox gave David Price a lot of money to be their ace, and the early returns have not been great. Clearly it’s too early to be concerned about this, but there’s no denying that he looked off on Thursday. Even with strong stuff in the first two innings that led to an early barrage of whiffs and strikeouts, he was still having trouble locating. Consider that the first four at-bats of the game included three well-hit balls and one hit-by-pitch. It all fell apart in the fourth, as he left seemingly every pitch up in the zone and allowed five runs in the frame before exiting with two outs. Assuming he’s not broken, that should be the worst we see from Price in 2016.
What is John Farrell Doing with the Bullpen?
In this writer’s humble opinion, John Farrell gets a little too much grief from the Red Sox fan base. He didn’t help his cause on Thursday. After Matt Barnes did a solid job of keeping Boston within reach after Price’s early exit, the manager called up William Cuevas for his major-league debut in a one-run game in the seventh inning. It seemed weird, but they wanted to avoid using Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. Then, after the Red Sox tied it up in the seventh, Farrell stuck with Cuevas for the eighth. To make matters weirder, Uehara started warming up. Of course, Cuevas would give up the lead in that frame. But wait, there’s more! Uehara would never come in the game, with Cuevas instead getting another inning coming out for the ninth. He and Noe Ramirez would eventually combine to give the Rays an insurmountable lead. You can’t really blame two pitchers who were over their head. Farrell has some explainin’ to do about this one.
For some good news, Mookie Betts continued Wednesday’s offensive comeback. After a rough start to the year, he’s starting to come to life. He collected two hits on Thursday, including one huge home run that brought Boston within one in the sixth.
Travis Shaw Is: Good
If you’re anything like me, you were a little worried about Travis Shaw as the every day third baseman. He’s putting all of those concerns to bed one day at a time. As if his .340/.411/.540 line wasn’t good enough, he’s also proving to be a surprisingly talented fielder.
The Red Sox head to Houston tonight to take on Astros, one of the preseason favorites to take home the AL crown. They’ve gotten off to a surprisingly poor start this year, and the Red Sox will look to continue it. Friday’s matchup will pit Steven Wright against Collin McHugh, with the first pitch coming at 8:10 ET.
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