Drew Pomeranz put the Sox behind early, and the offense couldn’t make up the deficit.
Top Play (WPA)
The most important play of this game came awfully early considering how tight the score was for most of the contest, but it was also the only lead change of the night. In the midst of a rough second inning — one which we’ll get more into a bit later — J.J. Hardy came up with two men on and one out. It was a pivotal moment for Drew Pomeranz, who left a fastball high in the zone, and Baltimore’s shortstop demolished a ball into the Monster Seats (+.221). It was the beginning of the end of the Red Sox starter.
Bottom Play (WPA)
Sandy Leon has been arguably the most incredible part of the Red Sox season, which is amazing considering all of the storylines of 2016. He didn’t get the start on Tuesday, but he had a chance to come up big in a late-inning situation. With two on and two out in the bottom of the eighth, he had a chance to at least knock one in and cut a 5-3 deficit in half. Instead, he hit a routine grounder to shortstop (-.086) to end the inning and a chance at a rally for the Red Sox.
Pomeranz Gets Pummelled
The Drew Pomeranz era in Boston has been largely successful, particularly after two rough outings in his first three. His latest outing does not fit that description. After a solid 1-2-3 inning in the first, he was absolutely shelled in the second. Obviously, the Hardy home run was the big blow, but he gave up two more runs in the inning. Overall, he just had no command and couldn’t seem to get his curveball in for strikes. He walked two batters in the inning and also gave up another home run. He was given a chance to start the third, but was immediately yanked after leading the inning off by allowing a hard single off the bat of Manny Machado. There’s some speculation that this could be related to him having a couple extra days off due to his start being pushed back. If you remember, a similar circumstance preceded his rough debut with the team. However, to me it just seems more likely that it’s an example of a pitcher having a bad night against a good lineup. Pomeranz’s performance in Boston has been strong enough to not worry about one bad start, regardless of the reasoning.
The Offense Should’ve Done More
If we’re handing out blame for this one, Pomeranz deserves the most but the lineup isn’t too far behind. It was a frustrating game that was reminiscent of their dark days in mid-summer. They seemingly had Orioles starter Dylan Bundy on the ropes multiple times, but couldn’t seem to come through. In particular, the bottom half of the second stands out. They did score two runs in the frame, but Bundy walked in both runs and the team had the bases loaded with one out and the middle of the order coming up. Xander Bogaerts and David Ortiz couldn’t come through. Overall, the team was 1-10 with runners in scoring position tonight, which undersells the two walks they drew but still gives a sense of how much more they could’ve done.
The Bullpen Has Stepped Up
It wasn’t all bad news. With Pomeranz being lifted after just two-plus innings of work, it looked like this could be a runaway victory for the Orioles. Instead, the Boston bullpen that struggled so mightily in August continued its strong September with seven innings of one-run ball. Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly were particularly impressive, with each tossing two scoreless frames and avoiding the blowout. If this unit can keep up this kind of success, this team could look awfully scary.
The Red Sox and Orioles finish their series at Fenway on Wednesday at 7:00 ET. With a two-game lead in the division over both Baltimore and Toronto, we’re getting into very important territory on the schedule. Luckily for the Red Sox, they have Mr. Reliable Rick Porcello on the hill. He’ll be taking on Kevin Gausman, who’s been on an outstanding run of his own.
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