If you were to simply browse the box score, you might come away thinking tonight’s game was an excellent showing by the Red Sox. Good pitching, timely hitting, and strong performances from key players culminated in a well-rounded 5-1 win for the BoSox. However, the real story in tonight’s game comes not in Boston’s excellent performance on the field but the injuries suffered by stars Hanley Ramirez and Dustin Pedroia.
The first blow came in the fifth inning, after Ramirez singled to lead off the inning. In an incredible stroke of terrible luck, Ramirez took off on an 0-2 pitch while Xander Bogaerts executed a perfect hit-and-run, lining a ball to the right side which had been vacated by second baseman Ryan Flaherty. Unfortunately, the ball was hit just perfectly enough that it actually hit Ramirez as he ran towards second base, promptly derailing a promising inning which ended once and for all when Pablo Sandoval grounded into a double play.
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Making this play all the more painful is that the fifth inning represented a chance for the Red Sox to take an advantage in a scoreless pitching duel. To that point in the game, starters Clay Buchholz and Bud Norris had matched each other pitch for pitch and, for the first five innings, neither starter blinked.
However, the Orioles drew first blood in the sixth inning. Chris Parmelee doubled to lead off the inning and scored two batters later on a single by Chris Davis, giving Red Sox fans the thought that this would just be another game in which Buchholz pitched his heart out only to receive no run support.
Luckily, that would not be the case and fans wouldn’t have to wait long for the Red Sox bats to retaliate. The Red Sox gained a couple of baserunners to start the bottom of the sixth via some gifts by the Orioles defense, who allowed Alejandro De Aza and Sandy Leon to reach base for the top of the lineup. Mookie Betts continued his recent tear by coming through with a game-tying RBI single, but the Red Sox were far from finished.
Brock Holt advanced Leon and Betts to third and second, respectively, with just one out for Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia pulled a line drive into left field to score both runners, but the play wouldn’t be a total win for the Red Sox. After reaching first, Pedroia came up clutching his right hamstring and would be forced to leave the game with hamstring tightness, becoming the second Boston player to leave mid-game. The Red Sox didn’t miss a beat after Pedroia’s injury, though, as David Ortiz drove a line drive over the wall in center field for a two-run shot to give the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
The Red Sox didn’t look back after gaining that lead, as the pitching was lights out from then on. Buchholz returned for a seventh inning and shut down the O’s and then the Red Sox went to the classic combination of Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara for the eighth and ninth innings.
The Red Sox will look to keep the good times rolling tomorrow as they’ll gun for the series win, sending Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1, 3.13 ERA) to face Miguel Gonzalez (5-4, 3.33 ERA) and the rest of his former organization.
- While it’s obviously bad news that Ramirez and Pedroia were forced to leave the game, neither injury appears serious in the long run. Ramirez’s injury was diagnosed with a right hand contusion and Pedroia with right hamstring tightness, neither of which should warrant a trip to the disabled list. Both players could miss a few games, but these injuries shouldn’t turn into serious problems.
- After Pedroia left the game, he was replaced by Travis Shaw, who made his first career appearance in left field. If the 25-year old is able to improve his versatility by playing third base and left field in addition to his home at first, he could become a useful bench player so long as his bat plays in the big leagues.
- Before leaving the game, Ramirez picked up a pair of hits and raised his average to a very respectable .283 with his strong performance in the past few weeks.
Buchholz was phenomenal tonight, allowing just a run on eight hits and a walk while punching out seven batters in seven innings. The lanky right-hander has been very solid of late, lowering his ERA to 3.68 with tonight’s performance, and is posting one of his strongest seasons to date.
Tazawa was about as good as a reliever can be in an inning of work tonight, striking out each of the three batters that he faced.
Ortiz came up with the biggest hit of tonight’s game as his two-run homer was the blow which really put this game out of Baltimore’s reach.