Highest WPA: BRRRRRRRRRRRRRROCK Holt, .208 (1-3, 3B, RBI)
Lowest WPA: David Ross, -.089 (0-3, 2 K, LOB)
This game was in jeopardy a number of times, with Felix Doubront laboring off the bat and then somehow being allowed to face JJ Hardy with the bases loaded in a tied game in the sixth. Then, just when the Sox finally took a two-run lead into the ninth and seemed ready to coast to victory, Koji Uehara decided to walk the leadoff man and inject just a bit of tension into the proceedings.
But that’s not why I chose this title. No, it’s much more literal than that: I spent most of this game watching Jeopardy! with my mother. We’re a few weeks behind–the last game we saw was the second game of the cute champion who looks like a cross between Emily Deschanel and Alexandra Daddario–but we blow through five or six episodes in a sitting, so we never fall *too* far back. It seemed like a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than watching a Felix Doubront start. I have no regrets.
Anyway, it seems like this was an entertaining game. David Ross got thrown at, Brock Holt did a thing, and Taz and Koji were kind enough to remind us that not every reliever the Red Sox have is a dumpster fire. Tomorrow the Sox are the Sunday night game; if it doesn’t look good early, look for the recap to be called “Once Upon A Time.”
Highest WPA: Mike Carp, .043 (2-4, 2B, R, BB)
Lowest WPA: John Lackey, -.315 (5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 6 ER, 6 K)
Well, I’ll give the Sox this: they wore down Chris Tillman quite effectively, forcing 122 pitches just to make it through five innings. Of course, having a decent night off of an opponent’s #1 doesn’t mean much when your own starter lays a turd. John Lackey hasn’t been as nauseatingly bad as he was before 2013, but he’s had issues with the long ball; tonight, he added some shaky control to the mix. Later, Burke Badenhop and Edward Mujica kept undermining my belief that they’d give us a really strong setup corps. I hate baseball sometimes.
But hey, here’s the thing: the season isn’t even three weeks old. This team has been immensely underwhelming – when it’s not the bats, it’s the arms, but it’s usually the bats too – but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen really good teams have really bad months, let alone really bad fortnights. If the “Killer A’s” of Tanaka-Kuroda-Pineda stay this good for New York, maybe the Yankees’ two game lead is already too much, but it’s a LONG damn season. Let’s not call it over yet.
Oh, and the umps screwed up another replay call. Either MLB really doesn’t care about getting things right and is just letting games stop for a few minutes to help concession sales, or there’s a deliberate effort to let some bad calls slip through so Bud Selig can claim that replay has helped sometimes but preserved THE HUMAN ELEMENT and pretend everyone wins. That’s pretty damn stupid, but hey, it’s MLB. (They got one right later on and it helped the Sox, but 50% isn’t as good as 100%, thanks.)
Highest WPA: David Ross, .368 (1-2, 2B, 2 BB, RBI)
Lowest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, -.202 (0-4, GIDP)
Can we make Friends jokes a thing for David Ross, the same way we’ve made Not Another Teen Movie jokes a thing for Jake Peavy? Probably not, if for no other reason than that I’ve never actually seen Friends, and I rather doubt that Sportspun has, either. Oh well.
Anyway, David Ross had a really good game. His big hit came in the ninth inning, driving in the eventual game-winning run. That run was moved into scoring position by a pinch-hit single from Mike Carp. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that David Ross and Mike Carp were both good at baseball, and that perhaps they should play more often. It’s a radical thought, I know.
On the other side of the ball, Jon Lester was awesome. The White Sox’ offense isn’t the most fearsome in the game, but eight innings, nine strikeouts and no walks is a damn good line against any team. It’s going to be really sad to watch him pitch for someone else next year.
Highest WPA: Dustin Pedroia, .376 (2-6, 2 BB)
Lowest WPA: AJ Pierzynski, -.434 (0-6, SF, RBI, 8 LOB)
Well, hey, it turned out to be a good thing that we saved the CLOSER–or in this case, the guy acting as CLOSER because the actual CLOSER is hurt–for a SAVE SITUATION. If Mujica, ostensibly the guy John Farrell thinks is his best reliever, had been trusted with the MOST critical situation, this game would have ended much sooner than it did.
It’s really tempting to complain about Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava and AJ Pierzynski being in the lineup against a lefthanded starter, but really, what is Farrell supposed to do? Play David Ross? Okay, sure. But beyond that, there’s only one Jonny Gomes, and he was in the lineup. Mike Napoli wasn’t available, Mike Carp can’t hit lefties, and Jonathan Herrera can’t hit. Add Napoli, Will Middlebrooks and Shane Victorino to this lineup, and it looks a fair bit more fearsome, but even then…this is not a flawless team, by any stretch of the imagination.
Honestly, this was just a game that both teams wanted desperately to give away, and eventually one did. The White Sox walked 15 batters and hit two more, and the Red Sox constantly, continually refused to take full advantage. Finally, though, Chicago just plain ran out of pitchers, and it was STILL nearly too much to ask for Boston to score off of a position player. But, hey, they did. And amazingly, Burke Badenhop didn’t explode when pitching in a SAVE SITUATION. I thought those were magical!
Highest WPA: Jake Peavy, .209 (6 IP, 3 H, ER, 8 K, 4 BB, HR)
Lowest WPA: Chris Capuano, -.440 (0 IP, BB, gave up the walkoff E6)
Mike Napoli aside, the Red Sox’ offense is very bad right now. David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts are slumping, Dustin Pedroia is hurt, and quite frankly nobody else is very good. The career years of 2013 aren’t repeating themselves, whether it’s Daniel Nava (who homered tonight to bring his OPS up to .539), or Mike Carp, or any of a dozen other guys. On top of that, Jonathan Herrera and Ryan Roberts combined to go 1-6. Too bad there wasn’t another option. Meanwhile, Jackie Bradley and Grady Sizemore combined to go 0-6 with a walk. Too bad there wasn’t another option there, either.
And hey, remember how I said “Mike Napoli aside?” Yeah, he dislocated his finger. It was gross. Don’t click that.
You would think that, with Koji Uehara sidelined, John Farrell would eschew the typical “gotta save the CLOSER” strategy and just run out his best relievers. You would be wrong, though. Not having Koji available just meant that Edward Mujica was the man who got to sit around and watch while pitchers less talented than he were sent into “they score, we lose” situations. All this because only the CLOSER (or, in this case, the setup guy thrust into the role of CLOSER because of an injury to the actual CLOSER) could get the all-important SAVE, which, of course, never came. They scored, and we lost.
Highest WPA: Mike Napoli, .144 (2-4, HR, RBI)
Lowest WPA: Mike Carp, -.175 (0-1, K, 3 LOB)
Hits in terms of “awesome” games, not in terms of…you know, hits. The offense got a few more tonight than they managed in the games previous, but the results were very similar: Two runs, and a loss. And Dustin Pedroia’s hurt, now, too, so that’s wonderful. Laugh if you want at the Yankees having an infield of Kelly Johnson, Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte and Carlos Beltran, but when your own team is playing Jonathan Herrera and Ryan Roberts everyday, it’s going to be hard to make fun of others.
At least there’s an off day tomorrow, one which–hopefully–will bring good news about Pedroia and Koji Uehara, along with the discovery that Will Middlebrooks has decided to retire from baseball and pursue a career in finance. Or needlework. Or anything that isn’t baseball and would let us bring Stephen Drew back already. Is that so much to ask?