Last night’s game between the Oakland Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, at Fenway Park, was a strange one, to say the least. In front of just under 35 000 people, the cloudy cathedral of Boston held a fascinating display of dreams and nightmares.
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The Red Sox lefty Wade Miley took the mound against Scott Kazmir, the veteran lefty who has been subject to multiple trade rumors, including Boston as a possible destination. This game was Miley’s chance to show why he was the left-handed starting pitcher whom the Red Sox brass wanted in the off-season.
Considering how Miley’s record has been, this season, people could expect anything coming from him. What they may not have expected was that the Red Sox would strike first blood. After Miley shut down the Athletics in order, Boston’s third baseman Brock Holt began the scoring, by launching a double to left field that gave Ben Zobrist some trouble fielding. The error allowed second baseman Dustin Pedroia to score. Holt also shined defensively, last night, as well:
Makes people wonder: if he is such a bolt of energy for the Red Sox, why does he not play more often? Pablo Sandoval‘s contract is the answer, not the ‘Panda’s’ play. After Miley retired the next six batters in a row, Boston’s designated hitter of the night Hanley Ramirez, not David Ortiz, drove a sacrifice fly into the air in right field, caught by former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick, which cashed in Rusney Castillo. The same happened in the fourth inning: Miley retired the Athletics’ side in order, while Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts laid down a bunt that Oakland’s third baseman Brett Lawrie proceeded to throw away in error, allowing Xander Bogaerts, Boston’s hot-hitting shortstop to score. Bogaerts has been hitting very well, but he may have had some luck, last night, in the field:
Things seemed like wine and roses for the Red Sox on the field; however, a scary moment happened off of the field that was very sobering to the home crowd as well as anyone watching or listening to the event:
It is a very important thing to note that baseball is a game, especially one that we bring our families to watch and enjoy the time that we spend on this earth, together. That boy, who had to watch his mother struck by a broken bat and bleed everywhere, will likely remember that for the rest of his life. She had to be carted onto the field and rushed across to get to the proper medics on the other side, with family following close behind. Hopefully, this incident will not discourage him, or any child to love the game of baseball, as we from Red Sox Nation, as well as all baseball lovers, would wish this woman and her family to come back to Fenway, one day, and make new and happier memories. We should remember how precious life is, and how we should honor and care for our loved ones, every chance we get.
Now, back to baseball.
In the fifth inning, Miley finally allowed a blemish on his night. Oakland’s Mark Canha singled on a line drive to right field, scoring Lawrie. Almost as a reply, Holt was at it, again. He singled to right field, which scored Pedroia, once more. The lead was now 4-1.
It was not until the top of the seventh inning that Miley allowed another run. Lawrie, making up for the previous error, pounded a 3-1 pitch for a solo home run, over the fence in left center field. Miley made quick work of the next three batters to get out of the inning.
That was all for the Athletics. In the eighth inning, Miley may have hit Sogard with a pitch, although the Red Sox contested the call to no avail by the instant replay. However, after Oakland’s Billy Burns popped out, Miley was relieved by Junichi Tazawa, who sat down the next two batters. Koji Uehara came into the game to start the top of the ninth inning. A bit of a scare, as Koji allowed Lawrie to single and Josh Phegley to double, but it was short-lived. Canha struck out to end the game, 4-2.
- Pedroia went 3-for-4, scoring two runs and bringing up his batting average to .311 for the season.
- Bogaerts was briefly at .300, but went 1-for-3, with a walk and a run scored, to bring him to a .298 batting average for the season. Still, much better than in 2014.
- New acquisition, left fielder Alejandro De Aza went 1-for-3, with a strikeout.
- Boston went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Oakland went 1-for-4.
- Kazmir pitched only 4.2 innings, allowing nine hits, three earned runs, and a walk. He struck out four Boston bats in taking the loss.
- The Oakland bullpen only allowed two hits and struck out three batters. One of their pitchers also made history:
Once again, Miley surprises his critics and fans, alike. He did give up two runs, but it didn’t feel like the world was collapsing around him. Miley threw 96 pitches, 69 for strikes, in 7.1 innings for the victory. He allowed six hits and a walk, while striking out six frustrated Athletics.
The biggest statistic for Miley’s night was the fact that he got 12 Oakland batters to ground out. Only one batter hit a fly into the air, besides the Lawrie home run. When Miley keeps the ball low, he wins. When he loses that sense of controlled strategy, your guess at how the game will go is as good as anyone’s.
Uehara may have earned his 12th save of the year, but Tazawa performed better. With Miley needing a well-deserved rest, Tazawa was able to shut down Oakland’s offense, with a strikeout to boot, to hold the starter in line for the win. It took Tazawa just eight pitches to get the two outs that he needed, while it took Koji 18 pitches for his three outs.
Sometimes, you need a closer to shut the door; however, sometimes, you need a solid set-up man to strip the opponent of any hope of getting back into the game, before they even reach the end of the game.
The team scored four runs on 11 hits, but five of those hits came from Pedroia and Holt. Two of those runs were scored by Pedroia, but it was Holt who drove him twice to home plate.
One could argue that Pedroia’s numbers were the reason that Holt could have such success. No argument, there. The qualitative factor that trumps all quantitative values, last night, was the expectation that was put on him in the two-spot. Holt’s a utility player, but he plays like a starter. He has a .300 on-base percentage with runners in scoring position, doing his job to move the runners around the bases, any way that he can. His RBIs set the tone for the night, doing what he could to make sure Miley and the Red Sox had run support to win the game over a tough opposing pitcher.
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