Thursday, September 10, 2015

Boston Blows Middle Game to Toronto

The Red Sox fell flat on their face in a nightmare 10th inning (Boston Globe)
The Red Sox played phenomenal baseball for nine innings Tuesday night, battling the Blue Jays to a 1-1 draw through the end of regulation. In the tenth inning, however, Boston showed why its in last place with one of the uglier innings I've seen this season, which is saying something considering how many unsightly moments there've been this year.

As the game drew on, it was only a matter of time before Boston blew up. Leave a last place team on the field long enough, and sooner or later they're going to screw up. Face Toronto's fearsome lineup, which includes three 30-homer hitters and leads all of baseball in runs scored, too many times, and eventually you pay the price.

Basically, the Red Sox lost because they went through the Blue Jays lineup one too many times last night.

Which is too bad, because Boston pitching dominated Toronto its first four trips through the order, allowing just one run on three hits. Unfortunately the Red Sox were equally quiet, managing only one run themselves and a mere four hits.

Boston's best chance to win came in the bottom of the ninth. Robbie Ross Jr. had just retired the side in the top half, setting the Sox up to walk-off with the heart of their order due up. Aaron Sanchez kept Boston at bay, working around a walk to David Ortiz (immediately erased when his pinch-runner, Rusney Castillo, was thrown out trying to steal second) to send the game into extras.

Castillo's mistake proved costly, as he may have ran the Red Sox out of a rally. Instead of a man on first with one out (Boston's win probability at that point: 64 percent), there were two outs and nobody on for Travis Shaw (win probability:54 percent). Shaw, who'd tied the game with a solo shot in the second, was unable to muster his second long ball of the evening and grounded out to end the frame.

With the middle of Toronto's order coming up and Boston's bullpen thinning out, the Blue Jays were poised to broke through. The Red Sox had blown their best chance walk away with a win, and thus avoid facing the terrifying trio of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion for a fifth time. Interim manager Torey Lovullo sent out Alexi Ogando, his sixth reliever of the evening, to deal with the aforementioned sluggers.

Ogando got into trouble immediately, as Donaldson socked his second pitch off the top of the Monster for a leadoff triple. Following a fly ball to Bautista, Ogando intentionally walked Encarnacion to set up an inning-ending double play.

To his credit, Ogando got the next two batters--Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Colabello, to hit the ball on the ground, but neither found a Boston glove. Both squirted into the outfield for run-scoring singles, giving Toronto a 3-1 edge.

That's when things turned ugly for Boston. With light-hitting Kevin Pillar at the plate, Ogando balked in a run, then uncorked a wild pitch. Pillar lifted a fly ball to Brock Holt in left, which Holt delivered to the plate ahead of a tagging Colabello. The throw was a bit up the line, however, and actually conked Colabello on the helmet as he slide into home. Had his dome not got in the way, he probably would have been called out.

As it were, the Blue Jays built a four-run lead in the blink of an eye--plenty of insurance. The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in their half of the tenth, and that was that. They'd played nine great innings but had nothing to show for it, getting saddled with a tough-luck loss.

I suppose it's been that kind of season for the Red Sox. Even when they play well, they lose.

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