The Red Sox got off to the kind of start they were looking for in what’s the first big series of the season.
Top Play (WPA)
Jackie Bradley came into today in an extremely miniature slump, collecting just two hits in 14 at bats over four games since the last game of his hit streak. He only managed one hit on Monday, but it was the biggest of the game. After a rough fifth inning in which the Orioles managed to tie the game at two all, Bradley led off the sixth with a solo shot to center field (+.161). Bradley has been making consistently hard contact all season, and with every passing day it appears his power is more and more real. We keep expecting it to fall off at some point soon, but there’s no sign of decline in sight.
Bottom Play (WPA)
Steven Wright was in control of things for the majority of this game, but there were a couple of problem innings for him. I mentioned the tough fifth inning above, but the second could’ve been just as bad. He lost control of the knuckleball after starting the frame with a couple of strikeouts, and the Orioles were able to load the bases with two outs. With the score just 1-0 in favor of the Red Sox at the time, Caleb Joseph had a chance to change the course of the game for Baltimore. Instead, he hit a routine grounder to first base (-.082) and Wright exited the inning unscathed.
Steven Wright is still The Ace
Is calling Wright “The Ace” even a joke anymore? It’s hard to completely trust a knuckleballer on any given day, but nothing he’s done gives us any reason to doubt him. Really, the worst thing you can say about Wright is that his knuckleball has been too good and it’s making Ryan Hanigan’s job extremely difficult. Either way, he is now a third into his season and he boasts a 2.49 ERA. On top of that, he’s finding his way deep into games. After yesterday’s complete game, he now has 68.2 innings pitched on the year. Not only is that a roughly seven-inning-per-game rate, it is tied the 12th most innings in all of baseball. Everybody ahead of him on the leaderboard has 11 starts while Monday was only Wright’s tenth, and just Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Johnny Cueto are tossing more innings per start. With all of the questions at the back of the rotation, his stability has been incredibly valuable.
Remember when the Red Sox weren’t hitting home runs? LOL
There was a point in the year in which the Red Sox were scoring a ton of runs but weren’t hitting balls over the fence. We are no longer in that point of the year. As of this writing (immediately after Monday’s game), only nine teams have more dingers on the year and zero (0) teams have a higher ISO. The trend continued on Memorial Day as Bradley, David Ortiz and Marco Hernandez all went deep. We already talked about Bradley, and there are no words to do Ortiz justice. It was a special moment for Hernandez, though, whose long ball was the first of his career. The home run was a big one, as it extended Boston’s lead from two to five, essentially putting the game away. He’s likely a future utility player, but he’s shown the ability to make solid contact throughout his professional career and is proving he can stick in the majors.
Xander Bogaerts’ hit streak is at 22
Bradley couldn’t keep his hit streak going, but Bogaerts is now carrying an impressive streak of his own. After his two doubles and a walk on Monday, the shortstop is now hitting .402/.440/.627 over these 22 games. He’s pretty good.
Boston and Baltimore continue their battle Tuesday night with Eduardo Rodriguez taking on Kevin Gausman. It’s an exciting battle between two young pitchers with big-time potential. Additionally, it’s Rodriguez’s first start of the season after dealing with a knee injury since the start of spring training. First pitch comes at 7:05 ET.
Photo by Tommy Gilligan/USA Today Sports Images