The Red Sox still have the best record in baseball, and they opened up a 4.5 game lead over the Yankees in the American League East, but a tiny bit of concern at arose this past weekend in Detroit.
The Sox got off to a dreadful start to the second half of the season at the plate as they produced just one run in a 1-0 win over the Tigers on Friday night and then were shutout, 5-0, on Saturday. According to baseball statistician Doug Kern (@dakern74), Saturday’s loss was the first time this season the Sox were shut out by four runs or more.
The Sox left nine runners on base Friday night and 10 on Saturday. The shutout loss was maddening for Boston in that Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi had two hits apiece, and Mitch Moreland, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Nunez and Blake Swihart all had hits. But despite eight hits as a team and three men reaching base via balls, not one Sox player crossed the plate.
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The Red Sox lead all of baseball in runs scored this season (531), so this should quickly be corrected, but it is something to monitor as the Sox get closer to a monster four-game series at Fenway against the Yankees to open the month of August.
Armed and ready
While the hitting was poor in Detroit, the Red Sox’ arms more than made up for it. The embattled David Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) had one of his best starts of the season in the Sox’ first game back from the All-Star break. The lefty went 6.1 innings, allowing just four hits and zero runs while walking just one Tigers batter.
“He was good, man,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Price. “Breaking balls, change-ups, backdoor cutters to righties … he battled. He did a good job.”
Also coming up big in that key 1-0 victory Friday was Heath Hembree, who struck out both batters he faced coming out of the bullpen.
“Little by little Hembree is becoming a big piece of our bullpen,” Cora said. “I usually bring him in for one out with men on, [Friday night] it was two [men on]. He did an outstanding job. Fastballs up in the zone, breaking ball down. He did a good job with a man at first base, picking up his tempo. That was a good test for him, and he was outstanding.”
Beating up the birds
For a chunk of this season the Red Sox and Yankees had the two best records in MLB. Probably not fair that they’re in the same division, right?
Well, the fact that both teams get to play the Baltimore Orioles 19 times truly evens things out.
Baltimore is on pace to be historically bad as it currently owns a 28-71 record. The Orioles have scored just 353 runs this season, which would be painfully bad even if they played in the weak-hitting National League (the Padres are the worst hitting team in the NL and they have plated 370 runs so far). The pathetic O’s are now set to be even worse at the plate now that Manny Machado is in Southern Calfornia with the Dodgers.
The Sox get the treat of playing the O’s in Baltimore for a three-game set starting tonight, before returning to Fenway on Thursday to face the Minnesota Twins.
Rick Porcello (11-4, 4.13 ERA) is slated to get the ball for the Sox tonight against Baltimore (7 p.m., NESN).