Three takeaways from the Red Sox ALDS Game 1 loss to the Rays
Regardless of how you look at it, the Boston Red Sox looked dull from every angle in Game 1 of their American League Divisional series matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays last night. It was the first time the Sox have been shutout in a postseason game since 2016.
A lack of contact with the ball wasn’t the biggest issue for Boston. They actually outhit the Rays nine to six. The Red Sox simply weren’t able to get enough consecutive hits throughout nine innings. The game ended with eight runners being stranded on base for Boston.
On top of being held scoreless, the troubles started on the mound early for Eduardo Rodriguez. After giving up two runs in the first, he was sent to the dugout after getting into trouble in the second inning. It just seemed like the Red Sox were never able to get any momentum rolling after falling behind 0-2 in the opening frame.
Boston will need to get over Thursday’s loss as quickly as possible, with this being a best of five series. There were definitely lessons to learn from the game, but there’s no room for them to linger. Here are my three takeaways from game one of the ALDS.
Red Sox need to play with urgency
Other than a few minutes during the eighth inning, you wouldn’t have thought the Red Sox were playing from behind in a postseason game last night. Of course, I realize you don’t want to come across as playing scared, but still. The Sox are now down one game in the series. Two more losses and the season is over.
To be honest, I’m not sure what the Red Sox could have done differently in the batter’s box Thursday night. Starter Shane McClanahan and the Ray’s bullpen looked sharp pretty much all game. And still, Boston was able to get nine hits. There’s not a whole lot you can do when the opposing pitcher is on point.
Shane Baz will be on the mound for Tampa on Friday, making just his fourth MLB start. The Red Sox need to take full advantage of the situation. They need to bring the wood out early and get a run, maybe two or three in the first inning if they can and keep the foot on the gas for nine innings.
The last thing the Red Sox need is for Baz to come out strong and get the crowd behind him playing at home. There’s a great chance the kid is going to be on edge, and Boston needs to set the tone early. As odd as it sounds, the way Tampa’s bullpen has been throwing the ball, Boston’s best chance to drive in runs might be in the first two or three innings.
Red Sox need more poise on the mound
The first two innings were rough for Boston on Thursday. After the Red Sox went without giving up a walk against the Yankees in their previous game, Rodriguez walked the Ray’s leadoff man in the first. The Boston pitching staff went on to walk a total of four batters during the game.
Nick Pivetta threw most of game one for Boston. He’s definitely had better days on the mound. Pivetta threw 4 ⅔ innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs, with four strikeouts. Without any help from Boston in the batting box, Pivetta simply looked like a kid lost at the park.
On Friday, Chris Sale will take the hill for the Red Sox, carrying a 5-1 record, 3.16 ERA, and a 1.34 WHIP. His numbers weren’t nearly as impressive in his previous two starts. During that stretch, Sale pitched 7.2 innings, giving up eight hits and five runs. Boston needs him to not only look sharp on Friday, but he also needs to be sharp for at least a good four or five innings, at least.
Red Sox need J.D. Martinez in the lineup
I mentioned earlier that the Red Sox lacked a sense of urgency on Thursday night. Leadership was also missing when Boston was on the field. During his previous 20 at-bats, Martinez has scored four runs off of six hits. He has hit two doubles and a home run while knocking in three RBIs.
Under the right circumstances, Martinez could have been in the batter’s box at the end of game one. With the Sox now down a game, I want to believe he will be starting in game two. With the leadership Martinez brings on the field, Sale on the mound, and facing an opposing pitcher making just his third big-league start, I like Boston’s chances of returning home with the series tied 1-1.