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Red Sox Dispose Of The Orioles With Three Straight Victories, Catapult To Best Record In The Majors

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox

I’ll be honest — this game wasn’t exactly jam-packed with memorable moments. Whenever I blog Red Sox games, I’ll go over to MLB.com and pick out a video from the game to use as a highlight. The first one was Chris Sale’s strikeout reel, and the second one was Matt Barnes wearing a sleeping bag in the bullpen. So, yeah. But it was another win for the Red Sox, though!

Back on April 8, Xander Bogaerts slid into the Rays dugout to save a run from scoring. In doing so, he cracked his talus bone, landing him on the disabled list for what the Red Sox called 10-14 days. Today’s day eight. In Bogaerts’ absence, Tzu-Wei Lin reintroduced himself to Red Sox fans by doing what he does best, and that’s inexplicably becoming the hottest hitter on the planet. He did this last year when he went 13 for his first 39 (.333) with a couple doubles and seven walks, good for a .435 on-base percentage.

Since being called up after Bogaerts’ injury, Lin is 6-for-12 with a couple doubles and a pair of walks, giving him a .571 on-base percentage. Because of this, I’ve already seen some folks advocating for keeping Lin on the 25-man roster over Brock Holt when Bogaerts is ready to return. Ultimately, we’re getting excited over small sample sizes. Last year, after Lin’s hot start, he hit .118 with a .328 OPS over his final 10 games following his 13-for-36 start.

I guess what I’m saying is that, while it’s awesome to see Lin tearing it up again, this is not who he is. Neither are those last 10 games from a year ago, either. Lin, while we’ve established was a better option than Deven Marrero, is still behind Holt on the depth chart because Holt’s track record is a bit more concrete. That, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly what Lin is at the major league level. However, Holt hasn’t done himself any favors in that discussion, as he’s hitting .167 with a .519 OPS in 29 plate appearances this year. Maybe that’s something worth revisiting if Bogaerts is out longer than expected (very much possible), and both Lin and Holt continue to trend in the directions they’ve been trending in.

Speaking of Bogaerts’ absence, Boston’s shortstop was hitting .368 with an 1.111 OPS prior to his injury, by far the hottest hitter on the team at the time. Since losing Bogaerts, the Red Sox are 6-1, including a six-run bottom of the 8th rally in the game that they lost him in. Over those seven games, the Red Sox have hit .310 with an .880 OPS. That OPS leads all major league teams with their team batting average coming in second behind their next opponent, the Anaheim Angels. Ironically enough, Red Sox shortstops have collectively hit .333 with an .845 OPS in those seven games without Bogaerts, too. Overall, in the seven games without Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Hanley Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Eduardo Nunez have combined to hit .376 with an 1.137 OPS.

It was cold as balls at Fenway Park on Sunday — roughly 34 degrees — and it was clearly affecting Sale’s fastball velocity. Pitches that were four-seam fastballs were registering as changeups, as the lefty was hovering around 88-90 MPH with the fastball. Couldn’t have helped that the psychopath was out there with no sleeves on, but that was also the least shocking thing I’ve ever seen. Sale punched out eight batters over five innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run. Another day at the office for Sale, whose ERA is down to 1.23, keeping his membership to the Red Sox Starters With A Sub-2 ERA Club along with Rick Porcello (1.83).

Today’s game has already been rained out, so now the Red Sox set their sights on the Angels, who have the best run differential in the majors, a +48 to Boston’s second best +42. Anaheim is sending Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani to the mound in game one against David Price tomorrow night. In Price’s last start, he exited after one inning when he lost feeling in his fingertips. Fearing the worst, the Red Sox got the best case scenario, which was Price making his very next start.

As far as Ohtani goes, I’m not a hater like Hubbs, but I’m definitely not a believer after two starts. Not yet, at least. The velocity is impressive, no doubt, but both of his starts have been against the A’s. I’m impressed as fuck at the fact that he’s had success as a pitcher and as a hitter early on in his big league career. It’s hard enough as it is just to make it to the big leagues as one, never mind both. But I don’t think it’s unfair to want to see this guy pitch against more than one team before I start crowning him as the next big thing.

People like storylines — and trust me; I’m rooting for his — but I think the “I told you so” crowd came out a little early on Ohtani. His first true test will be against the Red Sox, and I’m sure both sides will be eager to see how they stack up against each other in this three-game series.

Final score: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1