The Red Sox were in trouble. Coming off a split of a four-game series with the lowly Twins and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Tigers, the Sox looked poised to also lose their four-game series against the middling Angels. They were staring at seven losses in their last eight games — a stretch filled with two or three incredibly frustrating losses — and a long, sullen trip to Seattle.
Then the top of the ninth inning happened. And while Game 103 was still just one game, boy did it feel like more.
Top Play (WPA): Is a play that adds .760 good? I think that’s good. That’s what Dustin Pedroia’s two-out, three-run bomb in the top of the ninth added, completely swinging the game in Boston’s favor. The Sox looked dead in the water all game, thanks in large part to a dominating performance by Tyler Skaggs. But they showed some serious fight in the top of the ninth, beginning with a walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. and a single by Aaron Hill.
Ryan Hanigan was curiously allowed to bat for himself — yes, Huston Street has reverse platoon splits, but it’s Ryan Hanigan — and Brock Holt struck out. Mookie Betts followed with an RBI single (.041) to get the Sox on the board. That left Pedroia to deliver one of the season’s most surprising moments, driving a Street offering to left-center field. Xander Bogaerts followed with a solo shot of his own (.096), and just like that, the Red Sox had five runs.
Bottom Play (WPA): The “worst” play of the game came in the bottom of the first, which was one of the more bizarre half-innings of baseball you’ve ever seen. After Yunel Escobar was thrown out (maybe) at home on a very aggressive send following a Mike Trout single, Steven Wright allowed a single to Albert Pujols to load the bases. Wright then got Andrelton Simmons to strike out, but Ryan Hanigan dropped the ball. Kole Calhoun tried to score from third but Hanigan recovered quickly and made a strong throw to the covering Wright, giving the Angels their second runner thrown out at home in a few moments. Overall, the play was worth -.174 WPA. Thank you, Angels.
Key Moment: I mean, Pedroia’s homer. We don’t want to get too dramatic, but it might be one of the key-est moments of the season so far.
Trend to Watch: Steven Wright continues to struggle. He caught some bad breaks in this game to be sure, from a Mike Trout laser that bounced off Xander Bogaerts’ glove to a few soft-contact singles to a different Mike Trout laser that hit his forearm. Still, Wright’s been anything but reliable as of late, and if one of David Price or Drew Pomeranz can’t step up to approximate Wright’s first-half performance, this team is in trouble.
Coming Next: The West Coast trip continues, with the Red Sox heading to Safeco to take on the Mariners. It will be Eduardo Rodriguez vs. James Paxton in the battle of the young lefties on Monday night. And Craig Kimbrel will be back, too.
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