Reviewing the Series: #5 Boston Red Sox
Prior to shipping up to Boston the Rays were coming off their first series win. They have since doubled that total after a series with the Red Sox that featured everything. We had a pitcher’s duel in the first game that saw Drew Smyly look as good as he as ever been. A stinker of a loss where nothing seemed to go right, and then a dramatic comeback, in which, the Rays almost squandered a big lead, but had the testicular fortitude to nail it down. These intra-division games are doubly important so it was nice to see this road trip get off to a good start. Here’s a look at the team performance for each game and the series:
The Rays were a little below average, offensively, the first two games, but more than made up for it in the slugfest. Winning game one goes almost solely to Drew Smyly even if he didn’t get the W. He allowed a sub-.100 wOBA to the Red Sox batters, and combined with the relief effort this wOBA translated to -2.3 runs. Even better than the Sale complete game shutout we saw last week. Much like that start, I have changed to zero runs so that the pythag win expectancy wouldn’t yell at me. Using those, you can see that we split blowouts the first two games and then the Rays took the nailbiter in the rubber match. The matchup projections saw this as a completely even series, overall, so it was fortunate to see the Rays take care of business and start to dig out from the early whole they put themselves in.
For the series the Rays scored around six runs more than an average team would have, which is even better than the rosy projections thought we would do. The Logans bookend this list with the good one having an outstanding series and the bad one continuing to be the worst player on the 25-man roster. He continues to be joined near the bottom with one of my favorite players, Brad Miller, who at least is making some hard contact for his outs. Back to the top we see the human hit by pitch machine Brandon Guyer who was struck by a pitch in nearly half of his plate appearances. That wasn’t all, though, as he singled twice and reached by error so in his seven ups they only got him out once. Bravo. Kevin Kiermaier, Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria also showed nice productivity with each hitting a homer. Kiermaier’s blast won us the first game, while Longo’s in the third game was a game changer that got the Rays back in the saddle. Here is who they hurt:
The two-headed monster in the first game of Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross did very well to limit the damage. As did Junichi Tazawa in his two appearances, and Craig Kimbrel in his one. Their best pitcher in the series, however, was probably Porcello. He gave them an average big league performance, but with volume. The Rays already did a great job of abusing their pen. The Red Sox might not have had anybody left standing if not for Poochie. The biggest reason for that, other than their previous series with Toronto, was due to their $217 million dollar man, David Price. Price showed exactly why it is foolish to lavish free agents with money as his velocity was down and his command was worse. The best part of the season so far, for me, was when he couldn’t get anybody out in that big fourth inning. The crowd got very silent very quickly before starting to turn on the man. You could hear it building and then the fervor of the boos rose until it was a full on eating of their own. Enjoy your new fanbase, David. Here are the Rays arms:
Smyly’s start was the very definition of a diamond. You could not ask for anything more. That start, alone, was essentially worth half a win on the year. The pen resembled Harvey Dent with some extremely good performances from those you would expect, and some very poor ones from guys that we should be counting on, and guys that are more filler than dependable. Erasmo is such a blessing to this franchise in both the way that he graciously takes the ball in whatever role he is used and, also, due to his ability to pitch well with both efficiency and effectiveness. Xavier Cedeno had his first hiccup. It’ll probably happen again, I mean those guys can hit, but more on that in a second. Then we get to Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi who were pretty bad. Odorizzi made the necessary adjustments to deal with a small zone and an aggressive opponent as he ended up giving the Rays a good enough performance, but Archie never really seemed to get comfortable despite working a couple of solid innings. Here’s why:
Say what you will about Boston’s history of racism or how they treat their women, but damn can these guys hit. Mookie Betts came out of a season-long slump to put up some great numbers and he was joined by the equally scuffling Xander Bogaerts. David Ortiz was expected to be a huge contributor, but fell a little short of what he could have done. However, the real goat for the Red Sox was Hanley Ramirez who was around three runs below average for the series. You’re never going to be able to stop all of these guys, but if you can contain it to one or two of them, especially with whatever that thing is over there that they call pitching, then you’re going to have some success.