The Boston Red Sox have had several late inning games a couple lasting 15 innings – will eventually wear team down heading towards October
The Red Sox have the best closer in baseball. The best first half closer anyways. Craig Kimbrel blew his 4th save on the season against the Indians before bailed out by a walk off three run home run by Christian Vazquez. Before July 1st, Kimbrel only blew a single save back on April 20th against Toronto. The Red Rocket saved 17 straight before blowing back to back games in July and has now blown one in August.
Perhaps the law of averages has finally come back to bite the Sox 9th inning man. One thing is for sure. The Red Sox cannot depend on extra inning games to get the victory. While Kimbrel picked up his 3rd win on the season improving to 3 – 0, the blown saves are beginning to become a slight concern for the team. Kimbrel is supposed to be the “shut-the-door-every-game” kind of guy. His ERA has risen from 1.01 to 1.61.
Kimbrel allowed zero earned runs in the month of May, allowed two in both June and July and so far through only one appearance in August, he’s matched his allowed runs mark from the prior two months. Kimbrel needs to make a few slight tweaks to get back on his game which is otherwise stellar. It was the first game where he has allowed multiple runners to score all season.
While it’s still a respectable number, the Sox almost overly need him to be perfect to make up for their other shortcomings. While Eduardo Nunez has been able to provide a much needed spark to the team, he cannot be the only man to make the difference for the team if they are to envision themselves playing in October. He’s willed his team to victory slashing .500/2/9/2 adding four doubles, only two strike outs in five games played.
The Sox are 3 – 2 in games that Nunez has played in and in the games that he has gotten three hits, they’ve won each game. Naturally it would be unrealistic to expect one person to continue to do what he’s done at a normal rate. The Red Sox need to generate runs at a more consistent level. Going into extra inning games while fun is straining and will tire the team long term.
Playing extra inning game too often could wear guys out and cause injuries which is the last thing this team needs or wants to deal with. While getting a big bat didn’t happen at the trade deadline, Dave Dombrowski has singled out key players, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Mitch Moreland among others as players that need to step it up in the post David Ortiz era of Red Sox baseball.
The hits are going to come. It’s now just a matter of time and when. The Sox can get hot at any moment. Having the day off last night because of weather could be a great thing for the Red Sox. They need to keep the momentum up and score runs early. The starting rotation needs to go longer more often giving the bullpen a break from becoming overtaxed too early.
If all the stars align and everything happens as it should, the Sox will be of the few teams standing at the end of the line for a shot to play in the postseason. The Red Sox will now host the southsiders from Chicago for a four game set at Fenway Park. Rick Porcello will take the hill against Miguel Gonzalez. Porcello will be in search of his 5th win on the season. His last victory was back on June 23rd against the Angels.
Photo Credit – John Wilcox – Boston Herald