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5 thoughts on a memorable night Red Sox want to forget

Rob Bradford
May 15, 2019 - 6:46 am

For those Red Sox fans in attendance at Tuesday night's frigid Fenway Park affair, it seemed like an occasion that would have been worthy of saving that ticket stub.

Then, out of nowhere, it became simply a game those same fans probably just wanted to forget.

Few saw the end of the script playing out like this.

When the Red Sox were left to reflect on their 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Rockies there were certainly plenty echoing Chris Sale's comments of, "Take it for what it is and keep grinding and get back on it tomorrow." For the first seven-plus innings that wasn't the predicted postgame tenor. This was supposed to be the latest celebration for a team that was feeling like they had finally fallen back into form. Nope.

A two-run home run by the Rockies in the seventh. Another in the eighth. And then just enough offense against Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier in the 11th. Colorado was efficient in offering just enough of a reminder that it has the kind of hitters Sox fans might have been a bit more worried about.

Here are five thoughts regarding the bizarre end to the Red Sox' five-game winning streak:

WE SHOULD REMEMBER SALE'S PERFORMANCE

This was Pedro-esque.

There was the career-high 17 strikeouts without a single walk, making the lefty the first pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1984 to go back-to-back games in fanning at least 14 without issuing a free pass. It was the first Red Sox starter to strikeout 17 since Pedro Martinez did it in 2000.

Sale carried a no-hitter through the first four innings for a second straight outing, punching out nine of his first 12 batters.

He was unreal. Until the seventh.

With everyone solely focused on how many strikeouts Sale would end up with the Rockies snuck back into the picture with a leadoff single from Trevor Story followed by Nolan Arenado's 354-foot homer that brought the visitors within a run.

"Fastball command and my slider was probably about as good as it’s ever been," said Sale regarding what was working for him. "On the flip side of things, this isn’t really about numbers or stats or stuff. Baseball is very much a timing game and I picked a … seven innings is great and 17 punchouts is great but at the same time, I had terrible timing with giving up the runs I did. I think (NESN analyst Jerry) Remy said it in like the 10th or 11th inning. That was the one that got them back in this game and gave them a breath of fresh air. So you know, all things aside, I think that was the one that kind of got us the most and gave them a new life and put some pep in their step. Like I said, everything else is cool. I appreciate what happened tonight. I’m not taking away from that. But at the same time, it’s pretty crappy timing to give up a two-run homer and give a team a new life."

BRANDON WORKMAN'S HICCUP CAME AT A BAD TIME

It would be difficult to blame Alex Cora for trusting Workman with the eighth inning.

After retiring David Dahl to begin the eighth he had claimed a streak of getting out 41 straight batters, the longest streak by a Sox pitcher since 1970. And even though Chris Iannetta doubled to ruin the stretch, Workman was still one pitch away from holding onto the lead after fanning pinch-hitter Ryan McMahon with lefty-hitting Charlie Blackmon at the plate.

While Blackmon is appreciably better against righty pitching (.337-.260), Workman hadn't allowed a hit to a left-handed hitter all year, striking out 10 in 26 chances. But then came a misplaced curveball on the outside edge against a hitter whose strength is hitting fastballs and everything changed.

THE RED SOX ARE HITTING A LOT OF HOME RUNS

A bunch of strikeouts. The flirtation with a no-hitter. And, to top it all off, the image of the ball leaving the yard left and right. Before the eighth, the Red Sox' three homers heading into the late innings had seemed to be the subtle punctuation for this whole night.

Michael Chavis was first with a mammoth, 451-foot blast. The rookie not only is one of four Red Sox players since 1908 to have seven homers through his first 21 games, but he also owns the five longest homers by a Sox hitter this season.

The other two came from J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers. For Martinez that makes four homers in his last six games after a 15-game drought, with Devers simply using the long ball as a reminder of how hot a hitter he is. In the last 26 games he is hitting .381 with a 1.012 OPS.

Since April 30 (13 games) the Red Sox have hit 27 homers, notching at least one in each of their last six games. It is their longest homer streak since 2016.

MATT BARNES, RYAN BRASIER CLOSING COMBO WAS HALF-GOOD

Barnes continued his eye-popping season with two innings of relief in which five of the six outs came on strikeouts. He has now fanned half of the batters faced (33 of 66).

The other piece of the closer equation, however, has hit a bump in the road.

Brasier has now given up runs in three of his five May outings, with this misstep coming courtesy a pair of walks and Mark Reynold's two-out single in the 11th. The pair of free passes marked just the second time in the righty's Red Sox career he has allowed more than one walk in an outing.

FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH, THE RED SOX HAVE BEEN GOOD PINCH-HITTERS

Lost in the loss was Mitch Moreland's run-scoring, pinch-hit single in the eighth that allowed the game to head into extra innings. An inning later Jackie Bradey Jr. also reached base while pinch-hitting, drawing a leadoff walk.

For the season the Red Sox lead the majors with a .521 batting average (11-for-21) and 1.392 OPA from their pinch-hitters (11-for-21).

The problem this time around was once Cora navigated his way through the bottom of his order, the top wasn't able to produce with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts going a combined 0-for-11 with six strikeouts. Benintendi is in a particularly bad skid, failing to notch a hit in his last 14 at-bats, including nine strikeouts.

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