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Christian Vazquez And The Red Sox Walk Off With The Win In The Most Bizarre Game Of The Season

Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox

I described this as being the most bizarre game of the season, which it was, but I’m pretty sure it was also the best game of the season. It seems odd to look at Chris Sale’s pitching line in which he gave up seven earned runs, and somehow that ends up being the best game of the season, but baseball is weird like that sometimes. In a matchup between Boston’s ace and one of Cleveland’s aces, the two starters combined to allow TWELVE earned runs between them.

For as poorly as Carlos Carrasco pitched, the night started out with the Red Sox finding themselves down 5-0 in the second inning. If we’re being honest with ourselves here, the Red Sox had no business winning this game. They really didn’t. You’re gonna have your nights when your ace just doesn’t have it, and this was one of those nights for the Red Sox. Luckily for Boston, it was one of those nights for the Indians, too. Statistically, it was the second worst start of the year for Carrasco, and the worst start of the year for Sale.

This team has gotten a lot of shit lately — some of it deserved, and some of it perhaps was exaggerated — but a lot of teams would’ve rolled over and died when they fell behind 5-0 in the second inning with their ace on the mound against a team that had won nine of ten at the start of this series. The Red Sox did not do that. Instead, they started to chip away. Mitch Moreland made it a game again when he hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the second, his first home run since June 26. Since his last home run entering last night, Moreland had been hitting .133 with a .394 OPS in 27 games. To John Farrell’s credit, he has stuck with Moreland and that certainly paid off last night.

Fucking Eduardo Nunez, man. What the hell is this guy’s deal? When Adequately Sized Dick Davey Dombrowski traded for Nunez, I think the general consensus reaction was, “Hm. Okay.” Nobody was jumping for joy, nobody was criticizing Dombrowski for making a bad move. It was just like, okay that move makes sense, but what else are you gonna do to fix this team? That wasn’t the wrong reaction, either, but needless to say, Nunez has played his balls off since arriving in Boston.

In fact, he’s already done more in a Red Sox uniform in five games than Pablo Sandoval did in three years. In his five games with the Red Sox, Nunez has amassed a WAR of 0.5, while Sandoval’s WAR while he was in Boston was -2.1. Since being acquired by the Red Sox, and after going 3-for-5 with 4 RBI last night, Nunez is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with a 1.496 OPS, 4 doubles, 2 homers, and 9 RBI. Oh, and he’s also swiped two bases.

Of those three hits that Nunez had last night, one of them was an RBI double that tied the game at five, and another one was a bases loaded, bases-clearing double in which he ended up on third base and gave the Red Sox a 9-7 lead. The fucking guy has been amazing, there’s no doubt about it. And obviously it’s a small sample size, so the point isn’t that he’s going to keep this ridiculous pace up for the remainder of the year, but so far, he has been everything the Red Sox had hoped he would be and a LOT more.

The Red Sox unveiled their new 8th inning guy last night. How many 8th inning guys are we up to since last year, eleven? Twelve? Something like that. It’s been a revolving door, especially with the injuries to Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, and the Red Sox were unable to fill that void in the backend of their bullpen with an internal solution, so in comes Addison Reed from the Mets. In his Red Sox debut, Reed served up a dinger to Carlos Santana to make it a one-run game. Not a great start, in my opinion. Feel like better first impressions have been made.

But I’m gonna give Reed a pass here, because we’re going to circle back to the main point, which is that this game was just fucking bizarre. You had Sale getting shelled, Carrasco getting knocked around, Moreland crushing missiles after not being able to get a base hit over the last month, Nunez becoming Manny Ramirez reincarnated, and then yet another bizarre occurrence — Craig Kimbrel blowing the save in the 9th inning. It was just one of those nights.

Kimbrel hadn’t allowed more than one earned run in an appearance all year prior to this one, but that has now changed, and it started when Francisco Lindor led off the ninth by flicking a ball over the Monster to tie the game. If it feels like every time that Kimbrel blows a save, it’s when he gives up a bomb, it’s because every time he’s blown a save this year, he’s given up a bomb. But that’s how you beat Kimbrel. He’s so filthy that you’re not going to string together a series of hits and get something going against him, and he doesn’t walk very many batters, either. You’ve just gotta close your eyes, swing as hard as you can, and hope that you run into a fastball to put one over the fence.

Another run scored on a wild pitch by Kimbrel that gave the Tribe a 10-9 lead. After Kimbrel gave up the homer to Lindor, I tweeted something like, “This game sucks, but it’s kind of awesome at the same time.” I love back and forth battles like this, and given that it was at Fenway Park and all of the weird shit that had already happened all night, I had a weird feeling that the Red Sox were going to pull a win out of their ass that didn’t make any sense, and that’s exactly what happened.

Nunez has been awesome, but Rafael Devers has been an offensive spark plug in his own right. He got the inning started with a one-out base hit, already his fourth multi-hit game in seven starts, but then Xander Bogaerts popped out to put two away. That’s when Moreland came up with a CLUTCH strikeout, swinging at a knuckle curve that got away from the catcher, allowing Moreland to reach first base.

With two guys on, Christian Vazquez came to the plate. The same Christian Vazquez that had one home run all year, and just three home runs total at the major league level in 605 plate appearances over parts of three seasons. Not only did he hit a walk-off three-run homer, but it was an absolute piss rocket. Guy had as many career home runs as Pokey Reese had during the 2004 regular season, and then he comes up and hits the shit out of the ball like he’s a 50 home run guy.

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Wild night. Wild game. Wild card — that would be the Yankees. They slide back down to first place in the Wild Card, because that win put the Red Sox back in first place in the American League East by a half game.

Final score: Red Sox 12, Indians 10