The Sox wrapped up a three-game series in Minnesota yesterday with Rick Porcello on the mound versus Connecticut native, Boston College alumnus and notable spoonerism Pat Dean. Looking for the sweep against the worst team in the American League, the Sox instead bumbled their way into a walk-off extra innings loss. It was bad and not good. To the details!
Top play (WPA): Xander giveth. With the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning, Bogaerts hit a sharp grounder toward the hole that was nabbed by third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who then airmailed his throw to second into right field. Two runs scored, and Dustin Pedroia, who had been on first base, advanced to third on the play. Xander would score when David Ortiz grounded into a double play in the next at-bat, tying the game.
Bottom play (WPA): The bottom of the eleventh inning was not a good one for Matt Barnes. He started the frame by walking Joe Mauer, who was sacrificed to second base by Trevor Plouffe. After Brian Dozier singled, John Farrell brought Mookie Betts into the infield to help stop Mauer, who was now on third, from scoring on a grounder. Needing only a fly ball to win the game, Max Kepler, who is apparently real baseball player, drilled a home run to dead center. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Key moment: Xander taketh away. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning with runners on first and third, Kepler hit a ground ball to Bogaerts in what looked like a routine inning-ender. Xander looked to make a play at second, but with Pedroia far from the bag and the runner bearing down, he threw to first instead, unnecessarily rushing the throw. He short-hopped it and Hanley Ramirez swept it up, only to see it pop out of the webbing at the last second. Xander was charged with an error, the inning continued, a run scored, and when Eduardo Escobar dinked a single to right-center in the next at-bat the Twins had a 4-1 lead.
Trend to watch: Where was Craig Kimbrel? The Sox’ closer, who is good at pitching, stayed on the bench the whole time, up to and through Barnes’s implosion. John Farrell said he was saving Kimbrel for a lead. The whole idea behind using a reliever on the road is tricky, as the ProJo’s Tim Britton has explored, but I would have preferred the Sox use the pitcher who was good and not bad:
He’s allowed a .570 OPS in non-save chances, .556 in tie games, .496 in extra innings. https://t.co/Z0kPdrqtGG
— Matt Collins (@RedSox_Thoughts) June 12, 2016
Note: By now you know what happened in Orlando yesterday. To donate to a victims’ fund, go here. Every bit helps.
Coming next: The Sox have Monday off, but are back at Fenway on Tuesday for a three-game set against the Orioles, with whom they are tied for first at 36-26. It’ll be David Price versus Chris Tillman, the latter of whom is putting together his best season yet as Baltimore’s de facto ace. He still likes giving up home runs, though, so hopefully the Sox can oblige him.
Photo by Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports Images