BOSTON -- It's just a curiosity in a season distinctly lacking the excitement of 2018, but the Red Sox have managed to turn the walk-off — what should be the most thrilling play in baseball — into an aesthetically meh anticlimax.
The Sox recorded their fifth walk-off of the season on Monday, and it fit the general pattern of its predecessors, with Marco Hernandez sending everyone home by beating out an infield single to short in a 6-5 victory over the White Sox that looked like it would be another sloppy loss, with Rafael Devers erased at third on a short fly to left, Christian Vazquez failing to put his bat on a hit-and-run fastball, and a 3-for-12 performance with runners in scoring position.
"We let some chances slip away," said manager Alex Cora. "We had men in scoring position and we didn't put one ball in play. There were a few things we did not do offensively today. Early on with Devers running the bases. We didn't put that ball in play with the hit and run in the eighth. There was a lot of stuff that didn't go right, but in the end, you know what? We won and that's the most important thing."
It wasn't exactly pretty, but with the exception of Christian Vazquez's mammoth homer over the bullpen on Friday night to complete a stirring comeback vs. the Blue Jays, the Red Sox have delivered the least dramatic walk-offs imaginable this year.
Are we going to nitpick their game-winners? You'd better believe we are. Consider the others:
-- After dropping the home opener, the Red Sox trailed the Blue Jays 6-5 in the ninth inning on April 11. Toronto closer Ken Giles tried to nail things down, but couldn't throw a strike. A walk to Mookie Betts and double by Mitch Moreland tied the game before two more walks loaded the bases with one out.
The Blue Jays brought the infield in and Rafael Devers chopped one in front of home plate and into the second base hole that landed on the infield dirt. Statcast had it traveling 135 feet at a minus-29 degree launch angle. The expected batting average? An even .100.
-- It looked like the Red Sox were going to blow a second straight heartbreaker to the Rockies on May 15 after Colorado scored three in the seventh off of Eduardo Rodriguez and Matt Barnes to erase a 5-2 deficit, but a Xander Bogaerts leadoff double in the 10th and intentional walk of Devers set the stage for Michael Chavis to ground one sharply up the middle to win it.
-- The Red Sox blew another lead, this time in the eighth, against the Rangers on June 12, but reliever Jesse Chavez lost his command in the ninth after allowing a double to Christian Vazquez and single to Jackie Bradley. He walked Chavis on four pitches to load the bases, and then issued a five-pitch walk to Betts to force in the decisive run.
-- And that brings us to Monday. The Red Sox overcame deficits of 2-1, 3-2, and 5-3 before loading the bases on a double and pair of intentional walks in the ninth. With two outs, Hernandez sliced one to deep short, where Tim Anderson passed up an opportunity for an out at third and instead unloaded a strong fall-away throw across the diamond which first baseman Jose Abreu couldn't scoop and Hernandez beat by half a step anyway.
The exit velocity of 74 mph and launch angle of two degrees suggested a hit 23 percent of the time, but as far as the Red Sox are concerned, it was a missile.
There's been a lot of that this year.
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