The offense decides the fate of a baseball game, but the pitching determines how that fate will be met. Last night’s game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox was one of suspenseful emotion, teetering on excitement with one crack of the bat. Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello and his counterpart on the mound, Chris Sale, provided the pathos, while Travis Shaw blessed us with the catharsis.
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Zeros continued to appear on the scoreboard, as Porcello and Sale dominated the batting lineups. In fact, Porcello retired the first nine batters in order. Had it not been for a double by White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera in the bottom of the fourth, it would have been 12 retired in a row. Both pitchers seemed to have the better of the hitters almost all night.
Porcello’s first real pressure came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when a lead-off double by Adam LaRoche and a single by Carlos Sanchez put a White Sox runner into scoring position. It only took five pitches for two quick outs to end the frame. In the bottom of the sixth inning, with two men on and two out, Porcello threw a wild pitch which, again, gave the White Sox some hope. However, another flyout ended the threat. Red Sox Nation may have felt that the inning was Porcello’s return to his former play that earned him a 5-11 record, this season. That was not the case.
Aug 26, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw (47) hits a two run home run at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
He returned in the top of the seventh inning, earning three outs in succession and finishing his night without giving up any runs. Porcello was relieved by Robbie Ross Jr. to start the bottom of the eighth inning.
Sale was having a very similar outing. When he was relieved before the top of the eighth began, Sale had allowed no runs on five hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts. He owned the Red Sox bats on this night, which must have been bittersweet as he watched his efforts go for not.
White Sox relief pitcher Nate Jones‘ first pitch, with one man on and two out, disappeared in a flash by the aforementioned Shaw. The Red Sox first baseman blasted a line-drive home run over the right field fence, scoring Xander Bogaerts in the process, taking the late lead of 2-0.
Junichi Tazawa closed out the game for his third save, helping to give Porcello his sixth win in 21 starts for the Red Sox this year.
- Rusney Castillo was picked off at first base and was tagged out in a rundown. It was the first time he’s been caught in four attempts, this season.
- The Red Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base. The White Sox went 1-for-8 and left six on base.
- Another quiet night for Hanley Ramirez, who played the role of designated hitter with David Ortiz getting the night off. Ramirez has hit .249 for the season, the lowest batting average of any of the usual starters. His three strikeouts contributed to him going 0-for-4 on the night.
- Red Sox center fielder and lead-off man Mookie Betts went 1-for-5, with no walks, and saw his batting average go down to .273. The team will need him to pick it up to get on base somehow if he wants to set the table for them.
- Boston’s infield did the damage offensively. Bogaerts went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. Rutledge also went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Combine that with Shaw’s homer, and that would be the extent of the positives from their lineup.
- Brock Holt started for Pablo Sandoval at third base, last night.
Yep, there was a wild pitch. That might have broken Porcello in past games, but not last night. He went seven innings of scoreless baseball. In July, Red Sox Nation would have taken a game of two or three runs, considering Porcello was sporting a 6.95 ERA for the month. In his first start back with the big club, Porcello didn’t give up a walk and he struck out five batters. He imposed his will on the White Sox, making them ground out seven times and fly out six times, throwing 67 of 94 pitches for strikes. That’s right, Porcello didn’t even go over 100 pitches in five innings, let alone seven. This Porcello is the one that the Red Sox paid for back in the offseason.
Ross had a perfect inning with one strikeout, and Tazawa earned the save on one hit. If it wasn’t for the lead-off single to start the ninth frame, the night would have been completely perfect for a bullpen that has struggled earlier in the year.
He only went 1-for-4, with a strikeout, but that one hit was the deciding factor in the game. His two-run homer was the latest in his quest to replace veteran first basemanMike Napoli
. In the last seven games, even though he’s only hit .179, Shaw has five RBIs, producing by hit or sacrifice. That success may only be from hitting in the five-spot in the order, but Ramirez has not had that same success in the four-spot.
Considering a rookie is doing what a big-name veteran isn’t, it’s no wonder that the Red Sox bats seem pretty quiet. The team earned seven hits and nine strikeouts, with only three walks to put any pressure on the opposing pitchers. It’s wonderful that the pitching has been much better for the Red Sox in August; now, it’s time for the bats to waken up. Everyone is fighting for a job next season, with new president Dave Dombrowski at the helm, so they better get their acts together offensively. Or else they won’t be in a Boston uniform next year.
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