Bradley Bogaerts Ramirez

Game 32: Red Sox 14, Athletics 7

Heading into last night’s game the Red Sox’s offense held the title of best scoring unit in the American League by more than half a run. Facing an ace-like-opponent in Sonny Gray, the group continued to put up big run totals, scoring seven off Gray and seven more off the other Athletics pitchers that marched to the mound. Clay Buchholz was not very good, but the Sox scored enough to ensure victory.

Top Play (WPA): The Red Sox offense went to work in the bottom of the fourth. Down 4-1 entering the inning, they racked up six runs on seven hits and a walk, taking a lead they would not relinquish. David Ortiz opened the frame with a double, which was followed by a Hanley Ramirez single, and then a Travis Shaw double that plated Ortiz and moved Ramirez to third (WPA: + .134). After Brock Holt struck out (more on this below), Jackie Bradley Jr. – who had a monster night – came through with the top play of the night, a single that scored Ramirez and Shaw (WPA: + .139). After a Christian Vazquez ground out, Mookie Betts doubled home JBJ (WPA + .128) and the rout was officially on. Oh, and Ortiz doubled again in the same inning.

Bottom Play (WPA): Following Travis Shaw’s double in the bottom of the fourth that knocked Ortiz in and moved Hanley to third base, Brock Holt came to the plate with the Sox down two and a chance to tie the game with a hit. Unfortunately, Sonny Gray regained his control and dotted the strike zone with fastballs, striking Holt out on four pitches, temporarily quelling the Sox’s attack (WPA: – .070). In the end, Holt’s strikeout was mostly harmless, but in the moment it was a huge out for Gray and the Athletics.

Key Moment: As noted, Jackie Bradley Jr. had a huge game last night. He went 3-for-4 with a Grand Slam. But it was his baserunning following his huge, game-tying single in the bottom of the fourth that stood out as a key moment. After Bradley Jr. reached, Christian Vazquez hit into what should have been an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. But Bradley Jr. was actually running on the pitch that Vazquez put in play and he continued to run hard after contact which allowed him to beat Athletics’ shortstop Marcus Semien to the second base bag, thus preventing the double play and keeping the inning alive. The Red Sox went on to score three runs in the inning from that point. These are the sorts of little things that can add up to having a big impact on the outcome of a game and sorta feel like the things that often didn’t happen last year.

I suppose it is worth showing his Grand Slam:

Trend to Watch: What are the Red Sox going to get out of Clay Buchholz the rest of the way? Through his first five starts he had an ugly 6.51 RA9 with not much hope lingering in his peripheral statistics that things were going to get better (e.g., 5.20 FIP, .314 BABIP). Then, last week on a cold night in Chicago, he stymied the first-place White Sox over seven effective innings and that alluring notion that Buchholz had turned a corner began to take hold. There is a Godfather 3 reference in here somewhere. But last night was a reminder of the frustrating enigma that is Clay Buchholz. He got knocked around by a mediocre-at-best Athletics offense, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks over five shaky innings. It was another mostly troubling outing in a mostly troubling season for Buchholz. His strikeout rate sits at 16.8 percent, down from his career rate, while his walk rate of 10.1 percent is up from typical levels; together, that is generally a poisonous combination. Opponents’ plate discipline numbers reveal much of the problem:




Pitches Out-of-Zone %




O-Swing %




Swing and Miss %




Relative to last year (when he was great) and his career marks, this season Buchholz is missing the strike zone more often, batters are swinging less often at those outside-of-the-zone pitches, and when batters do swing (in- or out-of-zone) they are missing less often. Basically, he is having difficulty fooling batters and will need to get better if he is to resume his 2015 level of effectiveness.

Coming next: The Red Sox will continue the home stand and series with the Athletics tomorrow night at Fenway. Sean O’Sullivan will take the mound in a spot-start as the team works around the ongoing absences of Eduardo Rodriguez and Joe Kelly and the ineffectiveness of Henry Owens. We saw O’Sullivan throw an inning in relief on Saturday against the Yankees but tomorrow will be his first start in a Red Sox uniform. Since 2009, he has accumulated 52 starts in the major leagues, featuring a three-pitch mix, that has not really fooled major league hitters (6.23 RA9, 5.71 FIP). Barring something major, I suspect that Tuesday will be O’Sullivan’s lone start for the Sox this season. The Athletics counter with one of their top pitching prospects, left-hander Sean Manaea. Manaea has made two starts with the Athletics this season and results suggest he is still acclimating to the top level. His difficulty with control has resulted in five walks in his ten innings thus far, and an oversized 7.20 ERA to go with it (5.67 FIP). With Manaea on the mound, the struggling Chris Young should get a chance to start and show off his lefty-mashing skill set.

Photo by Winslow Towson/USA Today Sports Images

Related Articles

1 comment on “Game 32: Red Sox 14, Athletics 7”


David Ortiz is just raking – besides 3 hits – he hit two other balls right on the nose; liner to dead center and out against the shift – and a smoker to Crisp in deep right center.

Leave a comment

Use your Baseball Prospectus username