This game seemed promising at one point. Then the sixth inning happened.
Top Play (WPA)
The biggest play of this game will be no surprise for those who watched it. We’ll get more into the sixth inning in just a minute (sorry), but one play in particular stood out in the frame. With the bases loaded and the Red Sox leading by a run, Raul Mondesi came to the plate with Matt Barnes on the hill. The same Raul Mondesi who came into the game with a .504 OPS in limited action. It didn’t matter this time, as he smoked a bases-clearing triple (.317) off the wall in center field and gave the Royals a lead they would never relinquish. Gross.
Bottom Play (WPA)
Win Probability Added can be a fickle beast sometimes, particularly in cases when the winning team also has the worst play of the game. To make matters even weirder, it came in that sixth inning. With Eduardo Rodriguez still in the game after loading the bases and recording zero (0) outs, Alex Gordon had a chance to start the rally. Instead, he flew out to left field (-.101) and wasn’t able to get it deep enough to score a run. Obviously, it didn’t end up mattering.
For the Red Sox, the worst play of the game came in the third inning when they were trailing 2-0. After Jackie Bradley led the inning off with a single, Brock Holt followed it up with a 6-4-3 double play (-.089). It was the team’s third straight inning with a double play to start the game. Gross.
So, About That Sixth Inning…
If I wanted to say what I really thought about that horrible, despicable inning I’d have to put my entire life savings into the swear jar, so I’ll avoid that. In short, it was yet another example of this team failing to come through with strong situational pitching. The bullpen will get much of the blame — and don’t get me wrong, they deserve it — but Rodriguez started it all. After his team took the lead in the previous half-inning, Boston’s starter immediately loaded the bases with two walks and a ground-rule double. The lefty didn’t have his command to start the game, but looked to be regaining it in the middle innings. He hit a wall in the sixth, though, and left a hell of a jam for his bullpen to get out of. Matt Barnes was not up to the task. To be fair, two of the runs he allowed were on soft choppers back to the pitcher. On the other hand, he gave up the massive triple to Mondesi and two hard-hit singles that also scored runs. Robbie Ross came in after and allowed two more hits and two inherited runs before finally escaping the inning. In the end, the Royals scored a whopping eight runs in the inning. Gross.
The good news is the Red Sox, frustrating as they may be, are still playing meaningful baseball in late August. We are officially in scoreboard-watching season, and every game is important in a race with as many teams as this one. With Sunday’s brutal loss, they obviously lost some ground. The Red Sox now find themselves two games out of first place in the American League East behind the Blue Jays, who won on Sunday. Baltimore also won, giving Boston just a one-game lead for the top wildcard spot. Meanwhile, they have just a three-game cushion on a playoff spot, with four other teams within 4.5 games. This will go down to the wire.
The Red Sox will look to rebound from this frustrating game with the final series of this mini homestand. They start a three-game series against Tampa Bay on Monday night. They need to take advantage of their upcoming schedule that includes nine games against the Rays, A’s and Padres. If they play well in that stretch, they’ll put themselves in a good position with a final schedule that includes only AL East teams, including 13 against Baltimore and Toronto. It all starts at 7:10 on Monday with Rick Porcello facing off against Matt Andriese.
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