STOP BLOWING LEADS IN THE 8TH INNING. PLEASE.
Top Play (WPA)
There wasn’t much competition for this one – Hanley Ramirez’s game-tying grand slam in the 5th inning had this locked up with a .438 WPA before the game even ended. With the Red Sox getting nothing from Steven Wright (again) and the offense sputtering (again), they finally got to Drew Smyly in the 5th, where Ramirez turned around the first pitch he saw – a high-but-not-that-high fastball over the plate – and crushed it way out of Fenway. Tie game. I think the most shocking part of all this is that the Red Sox finally scored several runs with the bases loaded.
Bottom Play (WPA)
In the top of the 6th inning, Tim Beckham tried to kickstart Tampa Bay’s response to Hanley’s salami, singling to lead off the inning. Then Robbie Ross induced a grounder out of Corey Dickerson that went straight to Dustin Pedroia, and ended in a twin killing. That double play was worth -.123 WPA, and was one of the two innings in which a Red Sox pitcher only saw three batters. The other was the 9th inning, because Craig Kimbrel is very good.
Having given up the lead late in the game once again, the Red Sox offense finally came through in the bottom of the 8th inning. Up to the plate came Aaron Hill, who hadn’t gotten a hit in his last 20 at-bats, so of course he’d be the one to knock in the go-ahead run. Unlike last night, Erasmo Ramirez couldn’t hold back the Red Sox offense, and they ended up scoring another run in that inning for good measure.
That saved the team from a potentially embarrassing situation, as no one knew who would pitch if they didn’t take the lead or win in the 8th or 9th, respectively. They had no relievers left.
Trends to Watch
1. Hanley Ramirez just had his best month of the year and might just be getting hotter. The infielder is hitting .306/.362/.600 – yes, that’s a 600 in the slugging – with three homers in his last five games. Sure, one of them might’ve been the shortest on record this year, but still, Hanley’s hammering away again.
2. Hoo boy. That bullpen couldn’t hold a lead if it was given a bucket. At this point, you just have to hope they improve, since this group isn’t collectively that bad, and Koji Uehara might return soon. But after the starter goes out, who do you turn to for the 7th inning? No one has been consistently good enough to be trusted as the first one out of the ‘pen, and even Kimbrel and Ziegler have looked shaky at times.
First, the Red Sox have their first off day in three weeks. They’ll use that to travel to the Bay Area, where they’ll take on the Oakland Athletics with David Price on the mound, and he’ll face off against Andrew Triggs.
Happy Moncada Eve, everyone.
Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports Images