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For The Second Game In A Row, A Ninth Inning Home Run Wins It For The Red Sox

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners

This team has died and come back from the dead more times than the Undertaker in the past couple of months.

Boston went 18-10 in the month of May, the best record in the American League and the second best record in the majors. Could not have possibly been more alive at that point. Then they followed that up with a 10-16 June, and they died. RIP in peace. The month of July started off similarly when they got smoked 21-2 by the Angels at Fenway Park. Still very much dead.

Wait a second. We’ve got a pulse here. The Red Sox started off July by winning every series to begin the month, including that one against the Angels, and the hand poked out from beneath the dirt. They were alive again, right up until they ran into the buzzsaw, AKA the worst team in the American League, the Minnesota Twins, splitting that four-game set, getting swept by the Detroit Tigers, and then going on to lose two of the first three to the last place Angels in a four-game series. They had lost seven of their last nine games. Dead. Flatline.

That brings us to Sunday when the Red Sox were trailing 3-0 in the ninth inning with two outs. They won that game thanks to a three-run home run by Dustin Pedroia, something that I don’t think any Red Sox fans were expecting. They had been playing a brand of baseball that was just good enough to lose. They were losing high-scoring close games, and they were losing low-scoring close games. Either way you look at it, they were losing. Not on Sunday. Not on Monday, either.

Eduardo Rodriguez was looking to keep the momentum going, both personally and for the team. The left-hander was demoted to Pawtucket at the end of June after accumulating an 8.59 ERA in six starts. Last night, Rodriguez went 6.1 innings allowing just one earned run on three hits with six strikeouts. Since rejoining the Red Sox on July 16, Rodriguez has a 2.63 ERA in four starts with 21 strikeouts in 24 innings.


I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong about the Red Sox’s decision to recall Rodriguez so soon. I mean, look at the facts here. He had an ERA over 8, he was tipping his pitches, and he didn’t have a third pitch. Well, he did. It just wasn’t very good, and that’s being polite. He couldn’t throw his slider for a strike, and when he did, it was getting hammered. Last night, Rodriguez threw 31 sliders, 16 for strikes, allowed just one hit on that pitch, and struck out three batters with it. It’s a vast improvement from where he was before his demotion, and I still have no idea how he made those adjustments in just two starts in Pawtucket, but I’m certainly not complaining.

The Red Sox are not a team that has performed particularly well in low-scoring games, and they’re not a particularly good team in one-run ballgames, either. Chalk one up for the good guys, because Aaron Hill’s game-tying home run in the top of the eighth set up a game-winning home run for Mookie Betts in the top of the ninth. That’s two games in a row that the Red Sox pulled out a victory in games that they honestly had no business winning. More so on Sunday than Monday, of course, but the Mariners had a win expectancy as high as 87% in the bottom of the seventh. Rodriguez certainly pitched well enough to win in Seattle, but the Red Sox had five hits, and only put a runner in scoring position once all night.

I’m with you. I know this team is frustrating, and painfully inconsistent. But I’ve looked at the panic button with this team the same way that Clay Buchholz looks at his potential. I’ve never come close to it. Why? Because, while what the Red Sox themselves are doing is important to monitor, it’s even more important to monitor what everyone else is doing. For as poorly as they’ve played for sizable stretches this year, they’ve never fallen out of it. Believe it or not, they’re a game out of first place, and I still believe they’re the best team in the division. Technically, if you go by run differential (+85), they are. That’s what’s important.

Final score: Red Sox 2, Mariners 1