All good things must come to an end.
After pushing their winning streak to nine games, the Boston Red Sox finally lost on Thursday afternoon, but not before they put the rest of the league on notice. Coming into this four game set with the Minnesota Twins, the Boston Red Sox had won six games in a row, and were looking like the quality of team that many only dreamed they could be this year. They truly look like a complete team, as they’re getting quality pitching, their offense has been absolutely rolling, and their bullpen has put away game after game.
After Monday’s game 1 of the series was postponed following protests in the area of the stadium, the weather looked like it might put a damper on the Sox during Tuesday’s affair. However, even a little snow could not stop the roll Boston is on. The Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but that was all Martin Perez surrendered, as he did all he could to keep the Sox in the game. And when the Red Sox offense finally came alive, it was thanks to two huge doubles, first to tie and then to take the lead, down the right field line by Bobby Dalbec, who had been struggling so far in the season.
That was all the Sox would need, as their bullpen locked down the Twins offense, with Matt Barnes pitching a flawless 9th inning for the save to secure a 4-2 win.
On Wednesday, the teams played a double header, with both games being only 7 innings thanks to a rule that MLB introduced last season. Both games followed a similar script, with Boston riding one big inning to a win. In the first game, the Red Sox offense scored all three of their runs in the 3rd inning, capitalizing on a throwing error by Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda. Once again, the Sox pitchers only allowed two runs on the day, keeping a powerful Twins offense completely in check. However, the best play of this game was the final out, as left fielder Alex Verdugo perfectly recreated Andrew Benintendi’s game-saving catch from the 2018 ALCS.
What a play. A lot of pressure has been on Verdugo to perform since Day 1 in Boston as the main return for Mookie Betts, and he has done nothing but his best to live up to it.
In Game 2 of the double header, Verdugo was just as good. His 5th inning single broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Sox a lead they would never let up, and his 7th inning homer was absolutely crushed. In that fifth inning, the Sox scored 6 runs, putting them on their way to the eventual 7-1 final score.
Eduardo Rodriguez continued to look strong in his return to play after missing a year, going 5 solid innings only allowing one run on five hits. Garrett Whitlock, who came into spring training a total unknown, kept up his dominance in one inning of work after Rodriguez. It looks like Boston may have really stumbled onto something great with Whitlock, as he has been lights-out so far in a Sox uniform.
After the first three games of the series, Boston was sitting in first place in the division at 9-3, becoming the first team in MLB history to lose their first three games and then go on a winning streak of nine. Two weeks into the season and this group is already making history- now that’s what Sox fans like to see.
However, the winning streak was bound to end eventually, and it did just that in the final game of the series on Thursday, but the Sox went down with a fight. Trailing 3-0 going into the 8th inning, Alex Verdugo once again kept the Sox alive with a bases-unloading double following a ten pitch at-bat to tie the game. Everything is going right for the Sox right now, and Verdugo’s double was the perfect example of that.
Unfortunately, Boston wasn’t able to turn that momentum into a win, as Adam Ottavino gave up the walk-off on a bloop hit by Max Kepler.
Ottavino has struggled so far this year, so the Sox will be looking for him to turn it around and be the guy he’s been in New York and Colorado the past few seasons. This was certainly a disappointing way to lose the winning streak, but nine games is pretty impressive, and even in the loss they put up a great fight to tie the game.
Coming out of this four game set, Boston sits at 9-4 with a 2.5 game cushion at the top of the AL East. With the expectations that were set for this team coming into the year, that’s certainly a pleasant surprise, especially considering what was expected of teams like the New York Yankees. Up next for Boston is another four game set with the Chicago White Sox, with first pitch on Friday at 7:10pm.
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