Red Sox unable to backVelazquez in loss
Image via Zimbio (Aug. 18, 2018 – Source: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images North America)
Despite taking the series from the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox were unable to complete the series sweep Sunday afternon. Hector Velazquez got the start in place of the injured Chris Sale. He did enough to earn a win, but the offense did not. The Red Sox were held to no runs and just 2 hits by the Rays bullpen, with a familiar face leading the way.
While it was Diego Castillo in the “opener” role the Rays have adopted, former Red Sox Jalen Beeks set the tone for the staff. Since being traded to the Rays in the Nathan Eovaldi deal, Beeks’ numbers haven’t been good. In 4 appearances with Tampa Bay, he was the owner of a 6.38 ERA, good for a 1-3 record. However, Sunday’s game was quite the opposite.
After coming on in the second, Beeks went 4 innings of no run ball, including some moments of frustration for the Boston offense. In the fourth J.D. Martinez came up with no outs and two on. In one of the better RBI chances of the day, Beeks got J.D. to ground into a huge double play and got out of the inning. In a season where Martinez has been practically an automatic RBI bid, the double play ball went a long way in securing the outcome.
As for the Rays offense, they got on the board early. Joey Wendle drove in a run off Velazquez with a solo shot in the second. That was Velazquez’s only real hiccup on the day. 4 innings and one run should have been enough to give the Sox a chance. But, the one run was all the Rays would need. They would tack on another solo shot in the 9th. C.J. Cron went deep off of Matt Barnes to push the lead to 2-0.
The Sox were in a good position in the bottom of the ninth to stage a comeback. The top of the order was set to face closer Sergio Romo. That hope was quickly dashed. Mookie Betts led off the inning with a strikeout. The at bat was a real momentum killer, as Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland were quickly retired to end the game.
Mookie’s strikeout was indicative of his recent struggle. He’s suffering a mini slump. He’s 0-10 and 1 for his last 13. He had only one hit in the series. While ten or thirteen at bats is a small sample, this is the worst of Mookie’s struggle we’ve seen all season. Hopefully, the MVP candidate can get things back on track.