Red Sox Recap: Boston Tops Athletics In 11 Innings
California knows how to party. However, late into the wee hours of the morning, it was the East Coast fans who were celebrating. The Boston Red Sox took the first game of the series against the Oakland Athletics, but it took 11 innings to do it.
More from Red Sox History
- Two notable Red Sox anniversaries highlight current organizational failures
- Contemporary Era Committee doesn’t elect any former Red Sox to Hall of Fame
- Johnny Damon calls Red Sox out, reveals hilarious way he skirted Yankees’ grooming policy
- Remembering the best Red Sox Thanksgiving ever
- Red Sox World Series legends headline 2023 Hall of Fame ballot
In front of over 19 700 fans, on a cloudy, cool night at the O.co Coliseum, the wind was howling at 24 mph out into right field, as the Red Sox went to the plate against Athletics starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. The Red Sox countered with Rick Porcello on the mound.
Both teams have been struggling, as of late, in their respective American League divisions, but tonight was a fairly even matchup. After two blanked frames, the Athletics opened the scoring in the bottom of the third inning. Designated hitter Billy Butler, who has been warming up in the past 7 days, singled into the fast air current of right field, cashing in Billy Burns.
The Red Sox did not take this drawing of first blood lightly, as they responded in the top of the fourth inning. Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz singled harshly to center field, scoring Dustin Pedroia to tie the game. Ortiz advanced on a throwing error by Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien, but nothing came of it, as Big Papi was left stranded.
Semien would make up for that mistake in his very next at-bat in the bottom of the fourth, as he smacked a grounder for a double play which allowed Max Muncy to score. Not to be outdone, the Red Sox responded, again, in the top of the fifth inning, with hot-shot center fielder Mookie Betts getting into the fray with a single to left field, which scored catcher Blake Swihart. The score was tied, once again.
In the bottom of the fifth, Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt showed why he is the leader of this team, by doubling off of an 83-mph changeup to right field to score Butler. The Athletics took the lead for a third straight inning, 3-2.
The Red Sox threatened again, in the top of the sixth inning, with Ortiz leading off with a double. However, Kazmir’s attempt to pick the big man off at second base worked. The Red Sox argued the call, asking for a play review, but the call was upheld. The MLB believed that the tag was made successfully, ending the momentum Boston had.
With all of this scoring happening, like jabs in a heavyweight tilt, this display is not to say that Porcello or Kazmir were pitching badly. However, Alexi Ogando came in to relieve Porcello in the top of the sixth inning. Porcello ended his night with 3 earned runs, a walk, and 3 strikeouts in 5.0 innings of work. The 9 hits and 101 pitches are what knocked him out of the game, early. Kazmir followed suit in the top of the seventh inning. His night ended with 2 earned runs on 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 strikeouts on 111 pitches. Both men got the outs they needed to keep their respective teams in the game, but the pitch counts were what ultimately decided their bullpen relief. Kazmir was able to hold off longer because he used fewer pitches up until that point.
Now, things got pretty interesting. Both teams have had interesting seasons, so far, when it comes to their bullpens. The relievers have ballooned their ERAs, since April. Out of 15 American League teams, the Red Sox bullpen is ranked 13th, with a 3.78 ERA, while the Athletics bullpen is dead last, with a 5.18 ERA, according to ESPN.
In the top of the seventh inning, with Evan Scribner relieving Kazmir, the Red Sox bats went to work. After Shane Victorino lined out sharply and two straight singles from Xander Bogaerts and Swihart, a coaching visit to the mound was required. Can anyone say ‘panic’ for Athletics fans? Betts was the very next batter, bashing the very next pitch, an 86-mph cutter, to center field, scoring Bogaerts. Two pitches later, Pedroia smacked a grounder off of another cutter, allowing Betts to be forced out at second base, but also allowing Swihart to cross home plate. The Red Sox had taken the lead for the first time in the game, thanks to the relief efforts.
Scribner was quickly replaced by Fernando Abad.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Ogando was replaced by Craig Breslow, who threw one pitch, a 76-mph curveball, to Vogt, who, once again, drove the ball into right field, this time a sacrifice fly, to cash in former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick.
Another familiar face entered the game in the top of the eighth inning, for Red Sox Nation. Edward Mujica, recently traded to Oakland, was put into the game to quell the Red Sox bats, which he did in orderly fashion. Three up, three down. It took 16 pitches for Mujica to sit down his former teammates, banishing them into the dugout. He would be replaced by Tyler Clippard to start the ninth inning.
Nothing would change, oddly enough, after the previous runs were scored, forcing the game into extra innings.
For anyone on the West Coast, the game went a bit long, but for anyone watching on the East Coast, extra innings felt like a slow, painful torture, desiring nothing but a quick run followed by much-needed sleep. Mercifully, third baseman Pablo Sandoval provided the relief, this time.
After the Athletics replaced Clippard with Angel Castro, in the top of the eleventh inning, Sandoval swung at everything that came his way. A swinging strike and a foul ball later, Sandoval drilled a 94-mph four-seamed fastball over the right field fence, possibly aided by the heavy wind, for a solo home run to put the Red Sox on top. Boston’s reliever Matt Barnes shut down the Athletics in the bottom of the inning to seal the victory, 5-4.
- Betts went 2-for-5, with 2 RBIs, putting his batting average at .248 for the season.
- Hanley Ramirez went 0-for-4, once again, after such a hot start to the year, dropping him to a .260 batting average. No RBIs in May, so far, for the powerful, and highly-paid slugger.
- With his home run, Sandoval now leads the team with a .302 batting average for all Red Sox with 20 or more at-bats. He is only second to Betts, in the last seven days, for RBIs, with 3 to his credit.
- Shane Victorino went 0-for-4, making the comeback from injury look anti-climactic at the moment. Jackie Bradley jr. came in late to replace him in right field, but earned a walk in his only plate appearance.
- Swihart showed some skill, going 2-for-5 at the plate, while scoring 2 runs for the Red Sox. The young prospect, hopefully for Red Sox fans, will feel more at home with the big club and build on this effort in the future.
Only working 5 innings may seem like a problem, but Porcello didn’t lose the game early, making a huge hole for the Red Sox to try to claw out of and win. That puts too much pressure on the lineup to have to outscore the opponent, when they already are down by so many runs. The Red Sox were never down by more than only one run at any point in the game. The only real criticism would be that it took Porcello so many pitches to complete the job. His pitch count included 64 strikes, giving him a strike percentage of 63%, which isn’t terrible, but balls were not fooling the Athletics to swing for strikes. By trying to strike them out, his control ran up his pitch total and knocked him out of the game earlier than the Red Sox would have liked. Still, he was effective and Red Sox Nation should be pleased with his performance.
Other than Breslow allowing a run to score on 2 hits and a strikeout, the Red Sox bullpen held it together. Between Ogando,Junichi Tazawa
, and Barnes, they combined for 2 walks and 3 strikeouts, not allowing a hit in 5.1 innings of work. Barnes ended up recording his first win of the season. That’s how a bullpen gets the job done. Each of them worked quickly and effectively to hold the opposition. Breslow allowed the tying run to score, but he did not give up the game, when it looked like the Athletics would never relinquish the lead. On a night where many people may have expected the relievers to fall apart, they did what they get paid to do: protect their starter until the bats can win the game for them.
Sandoval had the winning run, but Betts’ 2 hits and 2 RBIs are what helped send the game to extra innings. Both of these men have shown clutch hitting, as of late, with their performances being the difference in a number of wins for the Red Sox. Now, if more people set the table for these two to drive in runs, the game would be out of reach for opponents before we would get to the ninth inning. The team was 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but also left 9 runners on base. It’s great to be clutch, but it doesn’t always have to be clutch when more batters get hits to keep innings alive and score more runs in the process.
More from BoSox Injection
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure