The Boston Red Sox head into the All-Star Break at a cool 49-38. There’s been a good amount of panic throughout Red Sox Nation as of late — some warranted, some reactionary — so at the end of the day it’s good to realize what a solid place this team is in. They have some holes, they’ll need some breaks and they’re far from the best team in the majors. But they are a legit contender, which they reaffirmed with their three-game sweep of the (admittedly lowly) Rays.
Top Play (WPA): David Ortiz is responsible for this, of course. With one out and Dustin Pedroia on third base in the bottom of the first, Ortiz sent a Jake Odorrizi offering into the Monster to make it 3-0 Red Sox. Ortiz ends the first half at .332/.425/.675 with 21 homers and 34 (!) doubles. He’s 40 years old. Let’s never have this end.
Bottom Play (WPA): Good ole Logan Morrison got this one out of the way early, striking out with runners on first and second to end the top of the first inning (-.042). The Rays would sting a few balls off David Price as the evening progressed, but they would never truly challenge again for the remainder of the game.
Key Moment: Common sense says the Ortiz bomb, but I’d argue the moment was Price getting out of the first unscathed. Much has been made of Boston’s struggles in the first inning this season, and for good reason. Price escaping any damage felt like a bigger deal than it was, and our left-handed ace looked like the guy the Sox backed up the truck for last offseason.
Price’s final line, for those who missed the game: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 BB and 10 K. Not bad.
Trend to Watch: It’s not really a trend, I suppose, but damn did Brad Ziegler look good in his Red Sox debut. Arizona’s former closer (and Boston’s temporary one?) struck out Evan Longoria and Brandon Guyer to start his tenure with the team, then got Morrison to ground out to end the game and the first half. Ziegler isn’t quite as good as a healthy Carson Smith, but considering the minimal cost it took to acquire him and his effectiveness as of late, this should prove to be a savvy move by Dombrowski.
Coming Next: The All-Star Break, which will not be a break at all for five Red Sox who are attending (Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Wright and Ortiz) and one who’s having surgery (Kimbrel). The Sox return to regular season action on Friday, when they head to New York to take on the Yankees. Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to get the ball against Michael Pineda, so expect lots of runs!
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