It looked as though the Red Sox were headed to their first extra-innings game of 2020 on Sunday when Mitch Moreland ended it all, breaking the 3-3 tie with a walk-off, two-run homer. It was Moreland’s second home run of the game, the 13th multi-HR game of his career.
The Moreland blast was all the more dramatic coming with two outs. Since 2010, RedSox Nation has cheered seven, two-out walk-off homers. Moreland and Christian Vázquez have been credited with two each.
It was the first walk-off win for the Red Sox since the 2019 finale when Mookie Betts electrically scored the winning run in his memorable curtain call at Fenway Park.
Sunday’s 5-3 win paired with Friday’s victory gave the Sox their first home series win of the season. They’re 2-3-1 in series play in 2020 overall. The loss meant the Blue Jays are still in search of their first series win of the season. It was Toronto’s third walk-off loss in 2020.
Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi came away with a no-decision, despite a decent outing. Yes, he allowed two solo home runs, but over 6.0 innings racked up 10 strikeouts and walked none. The much-maligned Sox bullpen combined for 3.0 innings of shutout relief. The pen’s ERA stands at 1.50 over the past four games.
If you like watching strikeouts, Sunday’s game had plenty to offer. Red Sox pitching struck out 15 Blue Jays. Toronto pitching reciprocated with a dozen strikeouts of the home team. The 27 combined punchouts, an increasingly common calling card of the modern game, was the 5th-most in a Major League game this season.
Once again, Red Sox offense sputtered and squandered opportunities. The Sox combined for only four hits again on Sunday, just as they did the night before. It was the first set of back-to-back home games with four or fewer hits since August 2018 and the first time by Toronto pitching since April 1992.
First Time Record
Sunday’s was the first Red Sox win in Fenway Park history after recording four or fewer hits and 12 or more strikeouts.
The only other such victory in club history was September 5, 1905 against the Philadelphia Athletics.
J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi have gone a combined 5-for-54 (.093) over their past five games. Sox Nation, longing for positive signs in the tea leaves, took some comfort from Devers’ 6th-inning home run Sunday, projected at 449 feet, the 2nd-longest of his career.
For Benintendi, the struggles have been excruciating to watch. A perennial slow starter, Benintendi’s extended plight (he is 2-for-36 (.056) overall) is all the more amplified by the abbreviated season where every game counts as almost three.
Without video, Martinez slides
Across the league players are barred this season from in-game video, something that seems to have impacted J.D. Martinez heavily. Martinez is known to be an avid consumer of video analysis in seasons past.
Through 15 teams games of 2020, Martinez’ .196 AVG is the worst start of his career. Before 2020 Martinez had never recorded no home runs over his team’s first 15 games of a season, had never before slugged as low as this year (.321).
Martinez, hopefully, is tuning out pockets of Red Sox Nation who want him to just try harder and to “get over” not having access to a critical tool. They remind him that Sox greats like Ted Williams produced at elite levels without technology, as though Martinez’ fine-grained use of video analysis is akin to flipping through emails on their iPhone.
But Martinez’ reliance on video is a big part of how he became one of the games’ top sluggers. Preventing him from using it is like asking your doctor to be just as effective without blood tests, an EKG, or an MRI machine. Certainly, modern doctors without tools still have education, experience, and instinct, but the notion they can be just as effective diagnosing problems without the tools they normally rely upon is laughable.
Odds and ends from the weekend series…In addition to being limited to just four hits in their loss on Saturday, the Sox failed to record an extra-base hit. Boston has not won a home game with just a run and no XBH since April 29, 2008…The weekend games marked the one-quarter mark in the shortened 2020 season…The Blue Jays had gone 10 games without an error until Saturday. It had been their longest error-less streak since August 2015…The Boston bullpen has allowed 3 runs in 18.0 IP over the club’s last 4 games and stranded 15 of 16 inherited runners in 2020…TV host Tom Caron marked his 25th anniversary with NESN on Sunday. Caron makes his job look easy, which is a real credit to him. Caron is a bright spot in Boston sports media.