The Red Sox were able to hit well and pitch well in a single game! Who knew? Sure, it looked bad in the first couple innings, but they did it!
Top Play (WPA)
The Mayor of Ding Dong City takes this one. Travis Shaw took a four-seam fastball from Matt Wisler and cranked it 418 feet into the right field corner.
That dinger came with a .229 WPA, the highest mark in the game by about 150 points. The Red Sox have been getting off to good starts by scoring in the first inning lately, and Shaw put them in front early. The Braves wouldn’t even get three runs until the ninth inning, and by then, the game was so in hand that Pat Light made his debut.
Bottom Play (WPA)
Early on, David Price was in trouble against the Braves, which is as insane a statement as you can make in 2016. But it was a pretty tense moment, and Drew Stubbs stepped up to the plate to try and cash in with the bases loaded and two outs. Price struck him out, staking him to a -.070 WPA. The more telling part is that the worst four plays by WPA all involved Braves making harmless outs with men on base. Two of those involved strikeouts with runners in scoring position, including Stubbs’ at-bat. The fifth-worst was actually a Mookie Betts plate appearance, which ended pretty ridiculously:
Can’t really blame Mookie for that.
Shaw’s homer will get a lot of attention, but David Price’s 1-2-3 seventh inning was the moment and the dagger. Price had settled down after an uneven start, and with a 6-2 lead, it was this inning that he really started tearing the Braves’ lineup to shreds. He got through the inning with 11 pitches, striking out the last two batters, then struck out the side in the eighth. Price worried more than a few with a slow start, but he morphed into the ace we all expected him to be the longer the game went on, and as the pitch count went up, he got better. The seventh and eighth innings were one of the more exciting sequences of pitching the Red Sox have had this season.
Trend to Watch
The Red Sox and their speed on the bases. After three stolen bases last night, the Red Sox currently lead the majors in bags swiped. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are tied with five stolen bases for the team lead, and even Travis Shaw has two this year, the most notable being a (sort of) steal of home he had against the Rays last week. The Red Sox didn’t run nearly this much last year, and them being smart and aggressive on the basepaths is something to watch. I don’t expect Shaw to steal home again, but he’s defied so many expectations that I wouldn’t put it past them.
The Red Sox return home to play some superior, DH-inclusive baseball at Fenway against these same Braves. They’ll face Bud Norris, while the Red Sox will send out ace-in-waiting Steven Wright and his 1.70 ERA against Atlanta. Could Wright’s ERA go even lower?
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