The Red Sox Somehow Managed To Lose A Game To The Phillies With Chris Sale On The Mound

Boston Red Sox v Philadelphia Phillies

If you had told me going into this four-game, home and home series against the Phillies that the Red Sox were going to take three out of four, I’d be okay with that. But if you had told me that they were going to take the first three and then lose the fourth with Chris Sale on the mound — that, I would not be okay with, and that’s what happened last night.

When you get one of the best pitchers in the game on the mound against one of the worst lineups in the league, it’s like when a cat catches a mouse. They just toy with that fuckin’ thing and there’s nothing that the mouse can do about it. That’s pretty much what Sale did to the Phillies last night, striking out at least ten batters for the ninth time this season, increasing his MLB-leading strikeout total to 136. It wasn’t until the eighth inning that the Phillies finally got to Sale for one run after the lefty allowed a one-out single to Andrew Knapp, followed by an RBI double off the bat of Ty Kelly.

That’s all the Phillies needed, because the Red Sox lineup turned in a pitiful performance against rookie right-hander Nick Pivetta, who came into that start with a 5.52 ERA through six starts. Pivetta literally turned in the best start of his life, holding the Red Sox to four hits and struck out nine batters over seven shutout innings. You’ve gotta tip your cap to the 24-year-old kid from Canada for an outing like that, but that’s just not a game the Red Sox should be losing. Not against that pitcher, not against that lineup, not against that team, not with Chris Sale on the mound.

The highlight of the night was Sale leading off the eighth inning with a double. Dude shot one down the line and flew around the bags like he does this on a regular basis. It was pretty damn impressive until he slid hard into second base. I don’t need that bag of bones hitting the dirt at that speed. It’s like when Tom Brady runs the ball — it’s supposed to be an exciting play, and it is, but I can’t fully enjoy it because I’m having a panic attack while the best player on the field is putting themselves in a very high risk for an injury-type situation. Thankfully, he got up pain free, but the rest of that inning was anything but pain free.

Mookie Betts lined out to advance Sale to third base, and when the Red Sox only needed a fly ball to tie this game up, Dustin Pedroia turned in a very uncharacteristically poor at-bat, striking out on three pitches and looked completely lost up there against Pat Neshek. Xander Bogaerts popped out to end the inning, and the Red Sox wasted Sale’s leadoff double in incredibly frustrating fashion, but you could almost sense that they were going to do that based on how the night had gone to that point.

In the ninth inning, due up were Mitch Moreland, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Pablo Sandoval if anybody got on. Against right-handed pitching this year, Sandoval is hitting .224 with a .694 OPS. I mean, he sucks no matter how you want to twist the numbers, but he’s supposed to be better against right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching. The Red Sox got a runner on with two outs after Bradley drew a walk, and with Hanley Ramirez available off the bench, I thought there was zero chance we’d see Sandoval at the plate in this situation.

For what it’s worth, Hanley is hitting .259 with a .782 OPS against right-handed pitching this year with eight of his nine homers and all six of his doubles coming against righties. Not only that, but you also had Chris Young, Christian Vazquez and even Josh Rutledge on your bench, all of which could’ve given you a better chance in that situation than Sandoval.

In the most predictable outcome of all-time, Sandoval struck out on three pitches, two of which were literally in the dirt.

Pablo

I’m so fucking confused with what’s going on with Sandoval and the Red Sox. John Farrell had Rutledge as his starting third baseman for four straight games (June 10-13) this week, so Sandoval wasn’t even good enough to start as recently as TWO nights prior, but now he’s good enough to get an at-bat with the game on the line and represent the Red Sox last chance of continuing that game when you have multiple better options on the bench.

Can someone please explain this to me? My only guess would be that Farrell wants nothing to do with playing Sandoval, which I’m pretty confident in that being true, and perhaps Dave Dombrowski is forcing the issue here to get Sandoval more consistent playing time. There’s no other explanation for benching a perfectly healthy Sandoval all week and then letting him hit in the second most important spot of the game, first being Pedroia’s at-bat with one out in the eighth inning and Sale at third base.

One second, I feel like we couldn’t be any closer to seeing Sandoval’s release, and the next second it feels like somebody, likely Dombrowski, is campaigning for more opportunities for Sandoval. You know why else this reeks of Farrell being overruled? Farrell has been using Craig Kimbrel in all kinds of situations that he never used him in last year, basically managing for his job. Does sending Sandoval to the plate with the tying run on base with two outs in the ninth when you have Hanley, Young, Vazquez and Rutledge on your bench seem like a decision that is most conducive to winning? No. No, it does not.

And the Yankees lost again last night, so you missed an opportunity to pick up another game and get within a game back of first place, which would’ve been huge knowing that you now have a weekend series with the Astros, who just so happen to have the best record in baseball, while the Yankees have three more against the last place A’s. Not ideal.

Final score: Phillies 1, Red Sox 0

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