The way things have been going lately, the later it got, the less likely I assumed a Red Sox win would be.
I felt like I was trading hours of sleep for extra velocity towards the kick to the balls I was about to receive. That’s not a lack of belief in this team’s ability. That’s just how this west coast trip has been going. It’s either been late inning heroics, or late inning disasters, and I was leaning towards a late inning disaster, considering that the Red Sox had 2 runs on 12 hits prior to Brock Holt’s RBI single in the top of the 11th.
Shout out to the Red Sox bullpen, the real MVP of this game, for tossing five shutout innings and making this win possible. Robbie Ross Jr., Junichi Tazawa, Fernando Abad, Craig Kimbrel and Brad Ziegler combined to throw five scoreless frames, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. There were some highlights and lowlights, though. The highlight of the bullpen’s night would have to be that Kimbrel is showing no signs of rust or negative effects from his knee surgery. The right-hander averaged 98.48 MPH with his fastball, and he punched out three of the four batters he faced. Oh, and it was a non-save situation. I know how much of a big deal that was before, how he can’t pitch in those. He can.
The lowlight of the bullpen’s night was, yet again, Fernando Abad. He didn’t blow the game this time, but he came on to pitch the ninth and recorded two outs, but also allowed a pair of base runners, including walking Franklin Gutierrez to end his night. Why did his night end? Well, the two base runners certainly didn’t help, but Robinson Cano was coming to the plate. The same Robinson Cano who took Abad deep to win the game on Tuesday night. Cano had been 1-for-11 against Abad before that game-winning home run, and now he’s already out of the John Farell Trust Tree. That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen a player lose Farrell’s trust. One game.
Maybe Farrell just wanted to go with the sure thing in Kimbrel to extend the game, but either way, that’s not a good sign for Abad that the manager already doesn’t trust you in the exact situation that you were brought to Boston for.
I’m getting the sense that Red Sox fans’ expectations for Drew Pomeranz might be a little unrealistic. Yes, the Red Sox were in the market for an ace prior to the trade deadline. Yes, they acquired Pomeranz when they were looking for an ace. Yes, they gave up their top pitching prospect to acquire him. But no, Pomeranz is not an ace, nor did the Red Sox think that when they traded for him.
Look at his game log. Over the 17 starts he made with the Padres this season, he was averaging six innings per start exactly. Since he joined the Red Sox, he’s averaging five innings per start over four outings, which is skewed a little bit due to his debut that only lasted three innings. That’s about what he is. When he’s going right, Pomeranz is going to give you six innings, and he’s going to keep you in the game, allowing 2-3 runs. That’s what he did last night in Seattle when he allowed two earned runs over six innings. He’s not the savior by any means, but he’s a guy who you feel comfortable giving the ball to every fifth day, knowing that you at least have a pretty good chance of winning the game. You didn’t have that with Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly or Sean O’Sullivan, and that’s why Pomeranz is here.
Earlier in the game, the Red Sox had some of their offense supplied on Travis Shaw’s 13th home run of the season. Believe it or not, that ties Shaw’s total from last season, only he needed 36 more games to do it this year than he did last year. What made Shaw great last year was that he ate fastballs for breakfast. Shaw hit .320 with a 1.080 OPS when he saw a fastball last year, but this year he’s hitting .275 with an .873 OPS against fastballs, which is still pretty good, just not nearly the same offensive production from a year ago. Surprisingly, where Shaw has found success this season is against the changeup. Shaw’s hitting .359 with an 1.123 OPS when he sees a changeup this year, and he’s seen 148 of them.
Final score: Red Sox 3, Mariners 2