Yeah, that went about how one should expect a Joe Kelly vs. Mike Wright matchup to go.
Top Play (WPA)
This was a bizarre game, so of course the Red Sox had the most important play by WPA despite losing by four runs. In a third inning that lasted roughly an hour, Ryan Hanigan came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie ball game. He smacked a single back up the middle to score two runs (+.183) and give the Red Sox a 7-5 lead. It’s in an entirely insignificant number of plate appearances, but Hanigan now has a wRC+ over 100 in high-leverage situations compared to a 36 overall mark on the year.
The top play for the victorious Orioles came all the way back in the first inning. Mark Trumbo came up with the bases loaded and one out with his team down 1-0 and he came through with a two-run, go-ahead single. It’s very odd for a back-and-forth game like this to have a top play come in the first inning for the winning team.
Bottom Play (WPA)
David Ortiz obviously comes through in the big situations more often than not, but it wasn’t the case in last night’s game. With the game tied at eight in the sixth inning and the Red Sox putting together what looked to be a big inning, David Ortiz came to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. One could’ve easily envisioned his second homer of the game to give the Red Sox a bit of a cushion. Instead, he hit a routine double play (-.176) to end the inning. Baseball is dumb sometimes.
Joe Kelly’s Leash Has to be Getting Smaller
Regardless of how you feel about his stuff, Kelly is proving time and time again that he’s just not a good starting pitcher. Anyone can struggle against this Orioles lineup, but that’s not an excuse for a guy who has pitched like Kelly has over the last couple of seasons. His command was all over the place, and he gave up hard contact in just about every at bat.
Given how the Red Sox have treated him since acquiring him two summers ago, who knows how many more starts he’ll get. There’s not much reason to give him many more, even with the acknowledgement that the other options aren’t much better. Not long after the game, Kelly was optioned to Pawtucket. Which leads us to our next section.
Clay Buchholz Was Solid out of the Bullpen
Part of this has more to do with how low Buchholz’s bar has been set than his actual performance. He was by no means his former dominant self. With that being said, it was a solid outing that helped save the bullpen from being any more blown up than it was after Kelly’s short outing. Those four runs clearly jump out as bad, but it’s not as discouraging as it seems. He was mainly hurt by a poor sixth inning, for which he deserves plenty of blame after starting the frame off with eight straight balls. However, he was also undone by a rare error from Dustin Pedroia on what should’ve been an easy double play. He was then hurt by a small strikezone in the next inning. He’s not “fixed” by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d have more faith in him than Kelly at this point. The good news for the Red Sox is that they have two days off next week, so they have some time to figure this out.
Mookie Betts Does It Again
As bleak as things may sound from the above, the reality is that the Red Sox are still a very good baseball team. Much of that has to do with the offense, and much of that has to do with Mookie Betts right now. He hit two more homers on Wednesday night and became the first player in history to hit dingers in the first two innings of two consecutive games. Remember when he was off to a slow start? He’s now hitting .288/.335/.549 on the year.
Xander Bogaerts’ Hit Streak Continued
It’s now up to 25 games. There is no reason to read any more into the following observation: Bogaerts really cares about this hit streak. He’s visibly celebrating after he extends it every night, in a sharp contrast from Bradley’s nonchalant approach.
The Red Sox look to win this four-game set in Baltimore tonight with Rick Porcello taking on Ubaldo Jimenez. First pitch is at 7:05 ET.