Red Sox 1 – Tigers 4: Three Final Thoughts

Apr 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) slides in safe at home in front of Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) in the fifth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) slides in safe at home in front of Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) in the fifth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The offense struggled to put together a sustained attack and home runs did in Eduardo Rodriguez as the Boston Red Sox lost 4-1 to the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox were without Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Hanley Ramirez for the second straight game and it showed. The club was able to get by without them yesterday, riding Pablo Sandoval‘s dramatic three-run homer in a five-run eighth inning. It was a different story in this game, as they only mustered six hits and left five runners on base.

Mitch Moreland doubled in the second – officially putting an end to his mini-slump to start the season – and would later score on a Jackie Bradley Jr. sac-fly after advancing on a Sandoval fly-out to center. That was it for the offense, except for a couple of brief rallies in the third and eighth that ended in double plays.

Jose Iglesias put up a pair of RBIs and James McCann homered for the second time in as many days, supporting Jordan Zimmermann for the Tigers. The Red Sox’ depleted lineup was really evident today, as they struggled to put together anything offensively and limped to a 4-1 loss.

Eduardo Rodriguez struggles in his first start of the season

He was able to hold the top six hitters in the Detroit lineup at bay, sacrificing just one hit to Ian Kinsler, but couldn’t keep the bottom third from getting to him. Former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias touched him for a solo homer in the third on a fastball that hung over the heart of the plate and traveled 433-feet into the left field bleachers. James McCann followed him up in the fifth, driving his second homer of the series 431 feet to left.

While the long balls did him in, it was Rodriguez’s command issues that set up his struggles. He issued three free passes and threw just 41 of his 80 pitches for strikes. By his fifth and final inning, the impact of all his high-stress innings was evident, as he struggled to spot his fastball and lost control of the strike zone. The Tigers were able to put up three runs that inning and create all the space they would need.

Rodriguez ended the day with five innings pitched, allowing five hits, three walks, four earned runs, and struck out five. His next start is scheduled for Thursday afternoon’s makeup game with the Pirates at Fenway.

Betts, Bogaerts, and Ramirez are desperately missed

There’s really no team in baseball that can remove that can remove three players with the ability of Betts, Bogaerts, and Ramirez and expect to not feel the loss. The Red Sox can afford to absorb their absence for a game or two, but their makeshift lineup can only do so much. It’s starting to feel like we’re watching a split-squad game seeing Brock Holt leadoff, Marco Hernandez at short, and Chris Young patrolling right field.

The three replacements were a combined 1-for-10 with four strikeouts – including a backward K on Holt that ended the seventh with runners on second and third.

The positive news is that Betts is feeling better and was even available to pinch hit in the ninth inning if Steve Selsky had reached base, while Bogaerts will only miss one more game until his time on the bereavement list comes to an end. The negative news is that Hanley Ramirez is confirmed to have the flu – not just flu-like symptoms – and is expected to miss the next three games.

Never have I seen an illness decimate a major league locker room as this flu-bug has. In addition to Betts and Ramirez, Robbie Ross Jr. was placed on the 10-day DL with the flu, Joe Kelly didn’t make it to the ballpark, and Andrew Benintendi was reportedly throwing up in the sixth inning but stayed in the game. Not only that, NESN play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien had to leave mid-broadcast because he was experiencing symptoms. Dangerous times to be around this team.

Jackie Bradley Jr. makes a pair of stellar plays in center but leaves with an injury

JBJ has now made at least one standout play in all four games of the Red Sox young season. In the bottom of the third, he raced into the left-centre gap to make a diving catch against Tigers third baseman Nicholas Castellanos. According to MLB Advanced Media’s Statcast, the four-star grab had a 31% catch probability. In the eighth, he would rob Castellanos again – this time ranging to his left to make a sprinting catch on the warning track before colliding with the outfield wall.

After flying out to left in the top of the ninth, Bradley tripped rounding first and appeared to hyperextend his right knee. The last thing the Red Sox need is to lose another one of their star players and thankfully he was able to walk off the field himself. Early reports from the clubhouse indicate that he seems to be okay and is walking on his own, but is still being examined by the team doctor.

Minor Notes

  • With a single in the third inning, Dustin Pedroia has now hit safely in all four of the Red Sox’ games this season
  • Mitch Moreland seems to have found his groove after following yesterday’s multi-hit game with a double and single
  • Ben Taylor pitched for the second straight game, giving the Red Sox 1.1 innings in relief and struck out three. He’s struck out four of the seven batters he’s faced

Next: Will bullpen meltdowns be the norm in 2017?

Rick Porcello takes the ball for the second time tomorrow night as he tries to end the Red Sox’ two-game skid and set up a potential series split.