That game simultaneously could’ve been much worse and felt much more lopsided than the final score.
Top Play (WPA)
Clay Buchholz could’ve been worse, but he gave up plenty of hard contact in this one, including during the most important play of the game. Heading into the top of the fourth, things were looking pretty good for the Red Sox. Buchholz appeared to be settling into a bit of a groove, and the offense got to Chris Sale a bit in the previous frame. Then, with one out in the inning, Buchholz left a pitch up to Todd Frazier and Chicago’s third baseman demolished a ball to the Monster Seats (+.110). Statcast had the exit velocity on the homer at 97.8 miles per hour.
Bottom Play (WPA)
For the most part, Boston was completely and utterly shut down by White Sox pitching, which isn’t something to be ashamed of when Chris Sale gets the start. The did get a few chances, though, the best of which came in the eighth after Sale left the game. Nate Jones, another very good pitcher, came on in relief and allowed two singles to bring Hanley Ramirez up with one out and a chance to take the lead with one swing. Instead, he struck out (-.096) in an ugly at bat on a night that was full of them.
Let’s Talk About Buchholz
Like I said on the top, this game could’ve been much worse. Things got off to as poor of a start as possible, when Tim Anderson hit the first pitch of the game over everything in left field. The first inning didn’t get much better, as he followed up the home run with a crushed double off the bat of Adam Eaton, who would eventually come around to score on a sacrifice fly. Outside of that and the Frazier home run, though, Buchholz was solid. Now, obviously you can’t take the bad stuff out and say it was a good start. Life doesn’t work like that. Given the rest of the rotation options, though, he probably earned himself another start. That certainly says more about the team’s depth than Buchholz.
Unheralded Bullpen Heroes Come Through
The bullpen, like the rotation, will probably need some help at the deadline, but it’s not in as rough shape as many would have you believe. Matt Barnes and Tommy Layne came through with big performances on Tuesday night, showing they can perform when needed. The former came in for Buchholz in the sixth and tossed 2.1 scoreless innings and looked good doing it. Then, Layne came in and tossed 1.2 high-leverage innings that included just one base runner despite facing all of the righties in the middle of Chicago’s lineup. The Red Sox avoided what could’ve been a crushing game for this bullpen.
Hanley Ramirez Did Not Have Fun Last Night
In a season that has been mostly disappointing at the plate, I’m not sure Ramirez has had a night in which he’s looked quite that bad. Obviously, facing guys like Sale and Jones contribute to that, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. He was guessing on every pitch, and guessing wrong most of the time. He was defenseless against Sale’s slider, and couldn’t come close to catching up to any velocity. Not only did he have the bottom play of the game, but another strikeout — this time with the bases loaded in the third — came in as the second worst play of the game by WPA. This lineup could really use a hot streak from Ramirez.
The Red Sox will look to turn this series and this homestand around tomorrow night in another lopsided pitching matchup. Jose Quintana has long been among the most underappreciated starters in all of baseball, and he’s making people take notice with his stellar season this year. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez is trying to turn it around after an abysmal start to his season. First pitch at Fenway will come at 7:10 pm EST.
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