Big games, big hits, Big Papi.
Top Play (WPA)
Joaquin Benoit vs. David Ortiz with men on base in a huge spot.
You’ve heard this story before. You already know the ending.
That’s a .367 WPA. For reference, the grand slam in the 2013 ALCS has a .452 mark. If it wasn’t for what Dustin Pedroia did in Anaheim, this would be the biggest hit of the season so far.
Bottom Play (WPA)
In a game that went back and forth so often, there really weren’t that many negative plays to go around. But in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Blue Jays tried to respond to Ortiz’s homer by leading off with a single from Ryan Goins. Devon Travis came up against Brad Ziegler, and promptly grounded into a double play. That was worth a -.118 WPA, easily the worst mark from either team.
The weird part is, MLB.com didn’t make this a highlight. What they did make into a highlight was Ziegler striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning. Sure, it’s cool, but…c’mon.
Since the Ortiz homer is all you’re going to be seeing and hearing, I’ll pick something different here for the sake of not sounding like a broken record. Koji Uehara came into the game in the eighth inning, and with one out and a man on first, he faced the reigning AL MVP, Josh Donaldson, and got a double play out of him. Huge for the Red Sox and especially for Koji, because if he’s well and truly back, the Red Sox will be a lot more terrifying come October.
Trends to Watch
1. Koji being a legitimate eighth inning option again. He’s come from being out for the rest of the season, to maybe being able to pitch in October, to locking down key at-bats against an in-division rival in September. Adding another reliable reliever to Kimbrel and Ziegler would do wonders for this team.
2. The Red Sox kicked off a stretch of 23 straight games against divisional opponents with a strong series win in Toronto. While they don’t face the Blue Jays again until their last series of the year, the Red Sox play Baltimore seven times until then, and as of right now, Baltimore is tied in the standings with Toronto. Being able to get four wins out of those contests would go a long way for the Red Sox.
The first of those games against the Orioles comes on Monday. Baltimore will start Wade Miley, while the Red Sox send out David Price against a team that, surprisingly, is 26th in the majors in OPS when facing left-handed pitching.
Photo by Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports Images