Red Sox

Red Sox lose marathon 17-inning game to Twins, so pull up a chair, because there's a lot to dissect

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Red Sox lose marathon 17-inning game to Twins, so pull up a chair, because there's a lot to dissect

While you were sleeping, the Red Sox and Twins played one hell of a baseball game on Tuesday night.

You want a little bit of everything? We've got a little bit of everything.

Minnesota prevailed 4-3 in 17 innings after 5 hours and 45 minutes in the longest game in both innings and time in the nine-year history of Target Field in Minneapolis and the Red Sox' longest since their epic, 18-inning loss to the Dodgers in the World Series. This finish did not lack for controversy. Red Sox manager Alex Cora and right-hander Rick Porcello screamed at the umpiring crew over a foul bunt by Eddie Rosario in the final frame when it looked like he made contact while stepping out of the batter's box, though Cora later apologized.

The Twins walked it off on Max Kepler's single into the right-field corner. But between Miguel Pineda's first pitch at 8:10 p.m. and Brian Johnson's last just moments before 2 a.m., a week's worth of action occurred.

"There was a lot of stuff weird in this game," Cora told reporters, later adding, "we'll build from this. I know that for a fact."

Let's dive in!

  • So about that Rosario bunt. Cora and catcher Sandy Leon believed he had made contact after leaving the box, but replays showed that not to be the case, which Cora acknowledged in his postgame apology. It's easy to understand why the Red Sox wanted the out, because Rosario then doubled to right to put runners at second and third with one out. 

  • David Price lasted only five innings and 73 pitches, departing in a 1-1 tie. The Red Sox announced that his absence had nothing to do with anything physical, but it still makes you wonder. Price was obviously worlds better than his last start, when he recorded only four outs vs. the Rangers, but he lacked his best stuff, recording just two strikeouts. Cora told reporters that the plan had been to limit Price's innings from the start. 

  • It's hard to say which slugger had the rougher night -- J.D. Martinez or Miguel Sano. The Red Sox DH went 0 for 8 for the first time in his career and struck out five times, including in the 17th with no outs and the go-ahead run on first. The Twins third baseman went 0 for 7 with five punchouts of his own and stranded five baserunners.

  • The Red Sox stayed in the game with some outstanding defense. Catcher Christian Vazquez picked off Twins counterpart Mitch Garver at third base for the first out of the sixth, snuffing the first-and-third rally. Center fielder Jackie Bradley added to his legend with an absurd over-the-shoulder catch while leaping into the center field wall like Spiderman to rob Jorge Polanco of possibly three bases in the eighth. First baseman Michael Chavis snared a C.J. Cron line drive and doubled off Eddie Rosario following a leadoff double in the 15th. Xander Bogaerts made a tremendous throw from deep in the hole. Mookie Betts briefly stranded the eventual winning run at third with a perfect relay. The defense gave the Red Sox every opportunity to win.

  • The bats? Another story. The Red Sox went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and worked just two walks. They recorded 17 hits, but stranded 14 runners. Every regular except Betts and Chavis recorded at least two hits; unfortunately, almost none of them were timely.

  • The beleaguered bullpen delivered a no-name tour de force. The Red Sox used nine pitchers, including fifth starter Brian Johnson, who entered in the 17th when Hector Velazquez couldn't continue after a recurrence of the back injury that had disabled him since May 29. The Red Sox received scoreless outings from Mike Shawaryn, Matt Barnes, Josh Taylor, and Colten Brewer.

  • The box score will show four one-run innings with three strikeouts for Velazquez. The box score does not tell the story. The Twins hit rockets right at defenders. Per Baseball Savant, the expected batting average on five of his outs were .520, .430, .620, .480, .510. That might've had something to do with the fact that Velazquez started grabbing his back midway through the outing. He may end up back on the IL.

  • Defending MVP Mookie Betts delivered one of his first legitimately dramatic hits of the season, a solo homer in the 13th. Unfortunately, Kepler matched him with a solo blast of his own in the bottom of the frame.

  • Months after losing an 18-inning World Series marathon before rebounding to sweep the next two games and claim a championship, the Red Sox hope to be similarly inspired before Wednesday's finale. Cora praised the energy in the dugout and the fact that everyone was engaged.

 

The teams have about 18 hours to recover before first pitch in Wednesday's finale.

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Watch Chris Sale throw his nastiest slider of the season vs. Rays

Watch Chris Sale throw his nastiest slider of the season vs. Rays

Chris Sale has had trouble locating his slider at times this season, but he threw his nastiest one of the year on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox ace, who boasts arguably the best slider in the game when he's on, threw a filthy one vs. Rays hitter Michael Brosseau to strike out the side in the second inning.

Watch below:

That nasty slider looks awfully familiar. . .

Although Sale has struggled in 2019, the southpaw is coming off a stellar start vs. the Blue Jays and continues to give the Red Sox reasons for optimism going forward.

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MLB rumors: Red Sox among teams that've talked to Giants about Will Smith

MLB rumors: Red Sox among teams that've talked to Giants about Will Smith

The Boston Red Sox would be wise to make a move to upgrade their bullpen before the July 31 MLB trade deadline. The problem for the defending World Series champions is they aren't the only team with that need.

San Francisco Giants closer Will Smith is among the best trade targets for contending teams to pursue as the deadline approaches. The 30-year-old left-hander has 24 saves, a 2.55 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings for the Giants this year. He also was named to the National League team at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game. Smith's contract expires after this season, so he would most likely be a rental for any team acquiring him.

The Red Sox have had conversations with the Giants regarding Smith, per The Athletic's Jim Bowden, but so have many other teams.

The Giants are probably the most intriguing team right now because how they play over the next nine days is expected to help determine whether they decide to sell on Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson. Smith has been one of the most in-demand relievers so far this summer, as the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Astros and Twins have all had conversations with the Giants about him. Several of those teams have realized that Watson makes for a strong fallback position for contenders who will need that sixth-to-eighth-inning lefty for October.

The roadblock for the Red Sox, and any other team interested in trading for a Giants pitcher, is that San Francisco might not become a seller at the trade deadline. The Giants are 9-1 in their last 10 games and sit just two games behind the second wild-card playoff spot in the National League entering Tuesday. Trading these pitchers would be a hard sell to the fanbase unless the team goes into a huge slump over the next week.

The Red Sox already have made one trade, acquiring veteran starter Andrew Cashner from the Baltimore Orioles earlier this month. Making a bigger deal for a bullpen upgrade likely won't be easy for the Sox. Boston's farm system lacks elite talent and depth, and outside of the top prospects (and that list is small), there aren't many names for sellers to get excited about.

The Red Sox should at least try to make some sort of bullpen deal. They sit just two games behind a wild-card spot in the American League entering Tuesday, and they have invested way too much money into their roster to become sellers or stand pat at the trade deadline.

Click here for the top rental targets the Red Sox could pursue>>>

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