More than once it looked like that the Chicago White Sox might steal the opener of this series in Boston, but after a back-and-forth game, the Red Sox rallied in the ninth inning to prevail, 6-5.
After a quick scoreless first inning for Lucas Giolito and Eduardo Rodriguez, the power started to show for both sides. Eloy Jiménez hit a double to left field and then Jon Jay walked up to the plate fresh off his long IL stint. Jay struck out, but his a nine-pitch at-bat allowed on-deck hitter Yoán Moncada to see exactly what Rodriguez was offering ... and he clobbered that offering. With two outs, Moncada hit a ball just far and high enough over the Green Monster for his first right-handed home run of the season.
Against his old team, it has to feel good for Moncada, and for fans all over Chicago. Unfortunately, the 2-0 lead was cut into in the next half-inning, when Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a solo home run off Giolito.
After the power display in the second inning, both pitchers settled into a groove. Rodriguez wasn’t really threatened, as White Sox hitters could not get good wood on anything — including a Moncada infield single. For Giolito, his stuff was great, though he did allow the tying run in the fifth inning. He was getting hit (five hits in five innings), but his swing-and-miss stuff was still there, with six strikeouts and only one walk. Giolito did get some unexpected defensive help from Eloy Jiménez, as he doubled off Rafael Devers at third base after a catch near the left field foul wall. It was the tootiest of TOOTBLANs for Devers:
That unexpected bounty was enough to keep the Sox in the game, and Jose Abreu was able to give Giolito and the Sox the lead again in the sixth. With two outs, Abreu crushed a ball over the Green Monster to put the Sox up, 3-2.
Giolito’s luck would run out in the bottom of the sixth, as he loaded the bases with one out. He was able to strike out Christian Vazquez, but walked the next batter to tie the game at three. Evan Marshall was brought in to hold the damage at one run, and succeeded after getting Eduardo Nuñez to strike out to end the inning.
But that tie did not last long, though, as the surprising production from Sox players continued. Mr. Soon-to-be-DFA’ed Yonder Alonso broke the tie with an RBI single to drive in Jiménez.
Yolmer Sanchez then drove in Alonso for a much-needed insurance run, as Marshall ran into trouble of his own in the bottom of the inning. Mookie Betts hit a homer to dead center that barely got over the wall, but it was enough to bring the game to 5-4. Aaron Bummer came in for Marshall and was able to shut down the Red Sox for the rest of the inning. After the Sox were’t able to extend their lead in their half of the eighth, Kelvin Herrera came in — and unfortunately, Nuñez came up again to tie the game 5-5, this time with a single.
With the White Sox handled by Josh Taylor and Brandon Workman in the ninth, Jace Fry entered to try to gift us with free baseball, but immediately found himself in trouble. He allowed a double to Andrew Benintendi. Fry struck out J.D. Martinez, and was one out from freedom after inducing a ground out from Devers that pushed Benintendi to third base.
Fry intentionally walked Xander Bogaerts to set up a force at second base, and when Bogaerts stole second base (the hell?), Fry put Bradley Jr. on intentionally, setting up a force anywhere to survive to the 10th.
Well, Marco Hernandez drove in Benintendi to win the game, not with a double in the gap, a single up the middle, or a suicide squeeze. Nope, it was a ground ball.
And not a ground ball that should have won the game. Tim Anderson fielded the grounder to his right, and rather than take the easy force or tag play at third — the play was right in front of him, Moncada was in perfect position to take the throw and tag or run to the third base bag, and Fry was on the mound, shouting and gesturing to third base — TA opted for a desperate wing to first base.
The throw was in the dirt, Abreu couldn’t pick it, and Hernandez had it beat anyway.
This was a game Boston had no business winning, but the White Sox let them back into the game each time they took a lead. We can say that we’re lucky to be a game against Boston at all, but even after this defeat, the White Sox are just five games worse than Boston.
A frustrating game to say the least.
[checks to see if Mickey Callaway or Jason Vargas are around.]
See you tomorrow!