Series Recap - Splitting a series in which you allow 0 Earned Runs SUCKS
Spread out the runs boys, we don't need them all to happen in one game per series.
I feel like this has been a trend with every middle-of-the-road Sox team of the last decade. This offense is capable of putting up a crooked number in any game, but goes silent at least one game per series. It's infuriating. Sure, some pitchers are better than others and you don't expect to be putting up snowmen against those guys (although we have shown that we can do that). But when it is happening against pitchers with ERAs in the 4s, it is incredibly frustrating to watch. And that is exactly what happened Tuesday.
Tuesday is the issue. If this offense goes 17 innings without a run again, I will be taking my talents to European Soccer (Go Nottingham Forest). In the first 8 innings, this team looked absolutely lifeless. Our best chance was in the 6th when Castillo walked JBJ and Kiké on 8 consecutive pitches, but then Devers stepped up, opted not to walk because he wanted to make up for his error that allowed a run to score a half inning prior, and then grounded into a double play. Gross. We had one hit in the first inning, went zero dark thirty for the next 7, then realized we were playing a fucking baseball game in the 9th. Castillo went out there and got TWENTY-TWO whiffs. By comparison, Wacha had eight. Then, finally, in the 9th the offense woke up, but by then it was too little too late. Runners on second and third with no out and we somehow manage to only bring in one with our 3, 4, and 5 guy coming up. Pitiful.
We were kicked in the teeth by a part of our game that I haven't had to discuss so far, and that is the left side of our infield. I have to mention it though. Wacha was in some trouble in the 6th when he let up 2 singles to kick off the inning, but he got a grounder to pick up an out for the lead man at third, then a popup to get the second. Then Devers, charging for a slow roller, inexplicably throws the ball 30 feet to the left of Franchy, allowing the Reds' first run to score. Then in the top of the 9th, Bogey actually makes an outstanding play at short, but didn't set his feet when he threw, short hoping Franchy by a solid yard. This play, an actual first baseman probably would have made, but it's Franchy so he got put in a blender by a ball moving 50 MPH. The Reds managed 2 runs, neither of which were earned. It really sucks when the entire city of Boston is rooting for these guys to get massive extensions, but their defense tangibly lost us a game against an inferior opponent. Am I going to yell about them being extended any less loud? Absolutely not, but it stinks.
I also don't want our pitching to get lost in the shuffle. 9 innings, no earned runs. Wacha looked like pre-injury Wacha. Something was wrong with Austin Davis, Eck pointed out, as his fastball velocity was pretty noticeably down from where it usually is. However, he was able to manage 3 outs using mostly his slider. Danish came in and shut them down after getting into a first and third with 2 down situation, then picked up the next 4 outs, and Diekman also pitched. I will not be giving Diekman any flowers here, since was partially responsible for that second run scoring. The pitching was there, and it put us in a position to win. This is on our offense and our defense.
Then Wednesday, we looked like an entirely different team. The fourth inning was a breath of fresh air, scoring by putting balls in play and moving guys around the bases. Bogey had an RBI, Dugie had 2, then JBJ brought home Dugie. 4-0 Sox. Then in the bottom of the 8th, JBJ left no doubt about this one, brining home all three on a bases loaded triple. At home, Jackie is now batting .308, with a .862 OPS and 13 RBIs. That is everything we could possibly have asked of him and more. He also has shown that he can spray the ball all over the field very effectively. Take a look at this spray chart for him:
A batter than can put the ball literally anywhere on the field effectively is so hard to come by, especially in today's MLB where it seems like defenses have the perfect shift for every possibly batter. It is a joy to watch.
Whitlock also was very impressive, going 6 innings of no-run ball and only throwing 70 pitches. Keeping that count down was so important coming into this one, since he was throwing on shorter rest than usual. Again, the Reds would score on only a throwing error by Vazquez, pushing over a runner and allowing them to reach third and score on a ground out to first. Houck and Schreiber would clean things up, and complete the series in which we gave up ZERO earned runs, and still somehow managed to split the fucking series.
Now we go out west. The A's aren't the best team we'll see, but they are still a strong opponent, the Angels are looking like a different Angels team than the rest in the Mike Trout era, and they would really like to hold onto their Wild Card Spot. Then we see the Mariners, who want revenge from the four game sweep we handed them in May. Go out there, go one series at a time, and come back with a winning record.