Boston’s bats were cold, but a rejuvenated Rick Porcello combined with a bad Braves lineup were enough to help the Red Sox come away with their second straight win to push them over .500.
Top Play (WPA)
The final score of this game was 1-0, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the most important play was the one that produced the lone run. Julio Teheran was in something of a groove all night, and was carrying a shutout into the seventh. Jackie Bradley ruined that with one out in the frame by ripping a solo shot (+0.222) into the right field seats. Just how much more important was this play than any other in this game, you ask? Well, the next highest rated play by WPA was a Jeff Francoeur double (+.093).
Bottom Play (WPA)
The Red Sox pitching was in control for most of this game, but there was one spot in which it looked like the Braves could get something going. In the bottom of the seventh, fresh off Bradley’s go-ahead home run, Atlanta managed to get a first-and-third situation with two outs. Rick Porcello had just been taken out of the game, which some idiot disagreed with, and Dustin Pedroia had just muffed a double play ball that could’ve ended the inning. Now, Aybar had runners on the corner with Robbie Ross on the mound. The lefty reliever came through in the clutch and froze Aybar with a curveball (-0.108) to end the threat. An added bonus was seeing Christian Vazquez fist pump and run off the field before the strike was even called.
Rick Porcello Is: Good?
For most of last season, Rick Porcello looked like something close to a lost cause. He had changed up his repertoire to a detrimental degree, and was allowing hard contact on seemingly offering. Early this year, and late last year for that matter, he has looked like an entirely different pitcher. He continued that trend tonight. Now, it obviously has to be mentioned that he was facing a Braves lineup that left the field tonight with a .583 OPS, 30 points worse than the next worst offense. They also have no power — they have three (3!!!) home runs on the year — and dingers are still Porcello’s biggest weakness. With that being said, the Red Sox pitcher still looked great last night, and was getting plenty of whiffs on his sinker and changeup. Maybe the Red Sox do have their number two pitcher after all?
A Much-Needed Shutdown Night for the Bullpen
Boston’s relief corps was supposed to be a strength in 2016, but underperformance and a massive workload have prevented that from happening. They looked terrific on Monday, however. It started with Ross, who came in with two runners on and induced a ground ball and got a strikeout to escape the frame unscathed. Koji Uehara followed up and got out of the eighth with one strikeout and two pop outs. It should be mentioned, however, that he also walked another batter. His season rate is now up to an alarming 11.4 percent. Kimbrel took over in the ninth in his old home park and got a one-two-three inning with two strikeouts. It should be mentioned, however, that he was bailed out by an inexplicably missed call in which he got away with hitting Freddie Freeman in the foot. So, there were a couple blips, but overall it was a refreshing day for the pen.
The Bats Were Quiet
It was an almost-shockingly quiet performance from Boston’s lineup on Monday after carrying the team for much of the early season. Of course, they were missing David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. They also had Josh Rutledge hitting fifth. Still, it’s jarring to see just one run and six hits from this team. However, they did produce plenty of hard contact that found its way right at defenders, and Teheran had his good stuff going. There’s nothing to be concerned about in the long-term here.
The Red Sox end their quick two-day stint in Atlanta tomorrow before escaping the dumb NL rules for a little bit. They’ll look to continue their winning ways with David Price, who’s in desperate search for a bounce-back outing. You can’t ask for a better lineup to face with that goal in mind. Boston’s lineup will look to light up the scoreboard against Matt Wisler. First pitch is at 7:10 ET.
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