Series Recap: Red Sox vs. Indians 5/20-5/22

Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox

With two commanding victories over the Indians, the Red Sox won their eighth series of the year.  The entire lineup has caught fire at the same time; largely led by Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz.  Similarly, the pitching staff (besides you know who) has found their groove, and been able to turn out consistently good performances.

  • A year ago it was difficult to find someone who had faith in JBJ’s hitting abilities, and for good reason. He was easily fooled at the plate, and often an easy out.  However, the heavy critiquing lit a fire under his ass this offseason, and he has emerged as a completely different hitter in 2016.  Unless you live under a rock (or are a fan of an NL team), you’ll know that JBJ is currently riding a near-historic hit streak.  With a single in Sunday’s game, he reached 27 games-almost halfway to Joe DiMaggio’s record of 56.  Since his streak started, Bradley has had the best batting average in the league (.411), along with the best OPS (1.286), and slugging percentage (.800).  What’s almost more impressive than the stats, however, is the way he’s getting it done.  He doesn’t seem to be stressed out about getting a hit, and has retained near perfect defense in the outfield.  Each of his at-bats has become must watch television and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.  Unless a team decides to intentionally walk him every at-bat, which the Indians almost did, he will find a way to produce a hit.
  • While JBJ’s offense might be getting the most attention, the entire lineup has found success.  As of 5/22, the Red Sox rank 1st in: runs (251), hits (452), doubles (111), batting average (.295), OPS (.843), OBP (.358), and slugging percentage (.485).  These stats are #good. Bogaerts, who is on a 16 game hitting streak himself, has been an absolute facilitator for the offense.  Hitting .346 on the year, he went 6/14 during the series against the Indians.  Similarly, David “too old” Ortiz flexed his 34’ bicep and went 6/11.  He was two inches away from a cycle on Sunday, as his fourth hit bounced off the wall and into the stands for a ground rule double, denying him the chance to leg out a triple.  It’s going to be really neat to watch the Red Sox play the best of the National League on July 12th.
  • Hey Clay…There is some factual evidence that shows Buchholz is much better after the first few innings, but I don’t give these claims any value.  I don’t care if he’s Clayton Kershaw after the fourth inning; his guaranteed 3+ earned runs beforehand are unacceptable.  What’s even better worse is that he’s not going anywhere.  Henry Owens is having a harder time finding the strike zone than Helen Keller would, and Brian Johnson seems to have found some inner, more abstract issues to be worked out.
  • On the bright side, Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello performed like two front-of-the-rotation pitchers.  Kelly (6.2 IP, 1 H, 7 SO, 0 R) stormed off the DL in commanding fashion, and would’ve been allowed to pitch the whole game if he kept his no hitter intact.  Farrell, calling Kelly’s performance “beautiful”, has an easy decision to keep Kelly in the rotation.  Porcello, who has begun to give weight to the hype that came with his arrival, keeps on winning.  Although he only went 5.2 innings, he was able to hold the Indians to 2 runs, on 5 hits.  He threw 5 strikeouts along the way, and was able to lower his ERA to an impressive 3.47.  We are beginning to see the prowess of the starting pitching staff that was predicted from the start, with the pleasant surprise of Steven Wright.  If the main four (David Price, Porcello, Wright, and Kelly) can turn in performances similar to their recent starts, the Red Sox will be one of, if not the most complete team in the MLB.
  •  Quick Notes: I don’t love Blake Swihart in the outfield, I would prefer to see him continue to build his defensive skills behind the plate, and increase his potential trade value.  However he’s done well in left so far, and I think it’s officially #RIPRusney time.  Relief pitching has been superb.  In Sunday’s game, Craig Kimbrel absolutely disrespected the Indians.  He hit 100 mph multiple times, and only took 6 pitches to strikeout the first two batters.  Christian Vazquez is a defensive genius; he made a superb barehanded play to gun down a batter going to first

The Red Sox face the 21-21 Colorado Rockies next, and will be challenged.  Nolan Arenado is an absolute stud, and young buck Trevor Story has the potential to put anything over the wall.  Regardless, this Red Sox team has shown that they can go toe to toe with anyone else, and this is the kinda picture that comes to mind when I think of the Rockies.

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