Another day, another way to win for this red socks Team. In some ways this was an exemplary win. They got two big swings off the attack, with Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers hitting the Creepers to lead the way. On the hill, Martin Perez wasn’t in control, but he was strong. Put these two together, and winning wouldn’t be so crazy. Except that the offense missed a lot of chances, and Perez got into some jam. The latter was resolved by a superb defense, the group coming in with two of Perez’s big field passes along with a wall jump. And not take advantage of opportunities? Well, that was resolved by the bulls again getting the job done and closing the doors, mostly anyway.
Monday’s match between the Red Sox and the Angels pitted two of the most exciting teams in the match against each other. We know what Boston has been doing lately, snapping a winning streak over the weekend but still winning three in a row. Los Angeles has been making it easier on the rest of AL East recently, however, and they’ve redeemed themselves more than 0.500 times. With two teams playing very well, it was important for both sides to join the board first to try to carry as much momentum into this series as possible.
Neither side was able to do much of anything in the first half, although the Red Sox did make a few walks and have Jose Suarez build up the pitch early on. And they continued their struggle against the Left Angels, who were in the prime of the season, for the rest of the night. In the second, they made a quick exit for the first time, but then they actually made it to the board first. Christian Arroyo climbed to the plate on his first attack since returning from the injured list, and at a fast ball sitting in the middle he turned around for an unquestionable shot to the left of center. The single blast gave the Red Sox the impetus and a 1-0 lead.
They continued to put pressure on Suarez afterwards, pulled another gait and hit a base to knock out two men, with only one going out. Kiké Hernández hit, but Rafael Devers was careful not to miss the opportunity completely, coming up with a base kick of his own. The song brought Marwin Gonzalez home and made it 2-0.
As for the flip side, Martín Pérez got the start for the Red Sox, making a much better bet since the roadblock in mid-June. He’s looking like a strong arm back again, and he put in another strong showing here on Monday. His first turn was quick and easy, although the second half presented some problems. After taking a 2-0 lead, he was beaten down at the bottom of the squad, and Max Stassi walked in before giving up a key blow to his old friend Jose Iglesias.
With the men in the corners, Juan Lagaris hit a deep fly-ball into midfield. She was caught, but was deep enough to cut Boston’s advance in half. To make matters worse, Luis Renjevo appeared to give his side the lead in the next half with a shot to the left of center, but Hernandez jumped hard against the wall to finish the game with the lead in hand.
This lead was only one run, so the offense was necessary to get back into the action. They weren’t third, but with a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, they worked some magic. These two directors scored quickly to start this frame, but Hernandez was able to keep things alive by drawing. That put Devers back on the board, and he was able to run 3-0. The Red Sox wisely gave him the green light, and he was waiting for a fast ball in the area. That’s exactly what he got, and he was lifted straight into the center field for a single shot, raising the Red Sox by three.
Boston would go on to add in fifth as well, getting some help from Angels defense when he put in a mistake from Renjivo Xander Bogarts to lead the turn. He wouldn’t move up until he wore a pair of runs, and then Danny Santana – who came for Marwin Gonzalez after the latter came out with a tight hamstring – hit a soft base on the right field, sending Bogart back in a 5-1 game.
Perez had sailed through the third and fourth rounds of the Red Sox, but was starting to get a little more affected as his descent got closer. On the fifth, the Angels got their first two men with a basic and double hit, and suddenly there was a pair at the center of scoring with no one out. Los Angeles had one runner on the ground, but then at the base of Shohei Ohtani hitting the left field, Josh Rojas decided to challenge Santana’s arm. The Red Sox have been money with their late throws, and it went on in a big way on Monday night, including here as Santana cut the sprinter at the plate and Perez survived congestion with just one round.
The Red Sox southpaw is out again in the sixth, and once again he’s going to have trouble, and once again he’s going to get some help from his court. That run started with back-to-back singles, but the second song was a ball in the gap from Max Stacey, who thought he’d get two. However, Hernandez played very well near the wall, making a perfect throw at second base for another off-court pass. But even with the big play, the Angels had a man in third place with only one man.
It won’t be Perez who gets the call to escape this crowd, as Hirokazu Sawamura is called from the hall to end the run. He did just that, getting a pop-up and a ball to finish the frame somehow without any rounds, taking the Red Sox to a 5-2 lead.
After offense got a man second but failed to bring him home at the top of the seventh, Sawamura returned to the bottom of the break. He got the first thing he was looking for, but left a 1-1 fastball right over the center of the area for Rojas to demolish in the right field. Homer’s single cut the Red Sox in two. Sawamura got another one, but then Josh Taylor was brought in to confront Ohtani. Taylor won that fight by one stroke, and we were headed for eighth as we moved up two places.
The offense once again had a chance to add some insurance in the eighth with two men on, but they again failed to capitalize and continued to rely on their doubles. Fortunately, Taylor also kept stopping his end of the bargain, coming back down the inning and retiring from the side in order.
The score was still 5-3 when we got into the bottom of ninth, and it was Adam Ottavino who took the call with the Red Sox trying to avoid using Matt Barnes. Right didn’t get the start he was looking for, and issued a four-step walk to start the run. He bounced back with two straight ends after that, but the runner also moved to third base before heading home with a base stroke to bring the Angels inside one. Another hit to base followed, and suddenly both pegs and wins were at base with Ohtani coming onto the plate. Ottavino trailed by 3-1, but eventually managed to make the tournament’s best player turn into a well-placed change in the final.
The 5-4 win pushed the Red Sox’s record to 54-32. The Rays managed a win on Monday as well, keeping Boston’s division lead by 4.5 games.
The Red Sox will attempt a fourth straight win in the All-Star Game, on Tuesday, with Nathan Evaldi facing Shohei Ohtani. The first pitch is set at 9:38 p.m. ET.