The Boston Red Sox narrowly escaped their most recent three game set with a 2-1 series victory over the bottom feeding Detroit Tigers. Despite winning the series, the Red Sox took a step back as a team. It took everything they had to come away with the games that they won, and they had numerous chances to close the Tigers out in their loss. This was the worst we’ve seen them look since they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles to begin the season.
The series started with a high scoring affair Tuesday night at Fenway. Coming off of losing 3 of 4 to the Texas Rangers, players and fans alike were looking for the Sox to bounce back with a morale boosting win against Detroit, who has been one of the worst teams in the league this season. All started well with the lineup getting to Detroit starter Michael Fulmer early, chasing him out of the game in two-thirds of an inning, scoring four runs to start the game. The hot offense continued to hit, putting up three more in the second and giving Nick Pivetta plenty of breathing room to operate. Pivetta pitched had an OK outing, giving up three runs in five innings of work, which is just what the Red Sox need out of that 4 spot in the rotation. Pivetta has had plenty of better starts this season, but his work Tuesday was enough for the Red Sox to feel comfortable with him on the mound.
The real conflict came in the 6th inning when Austin Brice came out of the bullpen to take over for Pivetta. Brice’s stuff was off, as he gave up four runs in the inning, letting the Tigers right back in the game as they cut their large deficit down to two. Luckily for the Red Sox, the rest of the pen came prepared, as the combination of Matt Andriese, Adam Ottavino, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Matt Barnes held the Tigers to 1 hit and no runs over the next 3.2 innings. The work of the rest of the bullpen, as well as a couple of insurance runs from the lineup eventually brought the Red Sox to a 11-7 victory.
Game two featured Martin Perez on the bump for the Sox, and he gave them a good start, giving up 3 runs on 6 hits through 5.2 innings of work, which is exactly what they need out of the 5 spot in the rotation. Heading into the bottom of the 7th however, the Red Sox found themselves down 3-1. Then, red hot J.D. Martinez came up to the plate, and smacked a two-run shot into the Red Sox bullpen to tie the game. Martinez has proved over the last month that his struggles last season are completely behind him. He has been one of the best hitters in the MLB this season and is a huge reason the Sox are where they are as a team right now.
The game would need extra innings however, which did not go well for the Red Sox. Garrett Whitlock came in with the intention of sending the game to the bottom of the tenth still tied. This did not happen, as Whitlock, who has been terrific for the most part this season, surrendered a three run shot to Jeimer Candelario. The Red Sox would rally back in the bottom of the 10th to bring the score to 6-5, but Kike Hernandez would strike out with 2 runners on to end the game, and the score would be cemented at 6-5 as the Red Sox dropped game two.
Game three was one of the uglier MLB games you’ll ever watch. 21 runs, 30 hits, and 6 errors combined as the Red Sox scraped away a hard to watch victory by a final score of 12-9. There’s plenty of errors and mishaps to dissect but a win is a win and the Red Sox came away with the series win, no matter how ugly it was.
Some main takeaways from the series: Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez are two of the best hitters in the MLB, and the pitching staff has come back down to earth and shown some of their true colors as a unit. Starting with Bogaerts, he is simply a guy who can do it all. He may not play the game with the type of flash that guys like Fernando Tatis Jr. do, but he is one of the most sound, well-rounded baseball players in the world. He is above average in essentially every category, at least every category that matters. He hits for power and average and can spray the ball around the field. He is a smart base runner and has good speed, and plays shortstop better than most guys in the league. He is the quiet leader of this team, and he truly does it all.
Coming into the season, we knew the pitching staff was going to have some suspect areas, but they are far better than they were last season. They still have several flaws however, and have come back down after an above average start to the season. There has to be a happy medium with this staff that we haven’t seen yet. When the starter pitches well, the bullpen needs to be able to sustain the work that the starter put in. Obviously the staff as a whole is not as bad as some guys have shown recently, but they’re also not as good as they showed during the 9 game win streak and at other times this season. If they can just meet halfway and be slightly above serviceable, with the lineup the team has, this team has the ability to go a long way this season.
After a quick three game homestand, the Sox will pack things up and head out to Baltimore for another four game set with the O’s. After starting off hot, the Orioles find themselves back at the bottom of the AL East, although they sport a much better record than really anyone could have expected at this point. If the pitching staff can find their groove against the O’s, the Sox should have a shot to pick up a sweep against their divisional foe.
Click on the images below to shop for new Red Sox gear!