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Friday, May 30, 2014

If Only The Red Sox Could Play the Braves Every Week, They'd Be in Great Shape

I get that it was a small sample size and any team can have a bad series or week (ahem) but I still can't believe that Atlanta came into Monday's opener vs. Boston seven games over .500. The Braves' record (28-25 overall, 10-13 away) took a nose dive though as they lost two at Turner Field then came to Boston and promptly lost two more at Fenway Park. The Red Sox (24-29 overall, 12-17 home) wrapped up this strange four-game/two-city set with their fourth straight victory, 4-3.

Atlanta made three errors in the last two innings so it was only fitting that this ended with a walk-off error on second baseman Tommy La Stella who couldn't handle Chris Johnson's throw from third base (that wasn't that difficult at all). The ball skipped away, allowing Jackie Bradley Jr. to come around from second with the winning run after Xander Bogaerts (3 for 5, run, RBI, double) got a good piece of Craig Kimbrel's (0-1) pitch and grounded it sharply to third.

Before yesterday, the Red Sox hadn't won three consecutive games this season so it's nice to see them finally start to find their way. As usual, starting pitching has been the key as Jake Peavy went eight innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and one walk. From there, Koji Uehara (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up his first win of 2014.

I'm not Mike Minor (7 innings, 1 earned run, 7 hits, 3 strikeouts, 0 walks) but this was one that Atlanta truly choked away since they led 3-1 in the eighth after Freddie Freeman's RBI double. Setup man David Carpenter was charged with a pair of runs in the eighth on RBI singles by Bogaerts and A.J. Pierzynski (2 for 4). Kimbrel is normally the best closer in the National League but he hadn't worked in a while so the rust showed as he came on with two outs in the eighth and retired David Ross with the bases loaded but then couldn't get anyone out in the ninth.

Jason Heyward (2 for 5) handed the Braves a 1-0 lead in the third with a solo homer then Evan Gattis made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the fourth. Brock Holt (3 for 4, run, walk) cut it to 2-1 with an RBI double in the fifth that scored Ross.

For the second weekend in a row, the Red Sox square off with the Rays (23-31, 5th in AL East). The good news for Boston is that they can't possibly do any worse over these next three games at Fenway as they did last weekend (3-game sweep at Tropicana Field). Brandon Workman (0-0) faces David Price (4-4) tomorrow night (7:10, NESN), Rubby De La Rosa makes his 2014 Red Sox debut on Saturday night (7:15, Fox) vs. Jake Odorizzi (2-4) and Jon Lester (5-6) looks to bounce back on Sunday afternoon (1:35, NESN) vs. Erik Bedard (2-3).

Boston is 1.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay who come into town having lost three in a row. A good weekend by the Red Sox would push the Rays further back into last-place, where it looks like they'll remain all season in the mediocre AL East.

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