John Henry may think that his team needs “a miracle” to make the playoffs, but the Red Sox just keep finding ways to win baseball games.
The latest example was Friday night, when some miscommunication between Francisco Cervelli and Javier Vazquez led to a dropped pop-up in front of the mound during the top of the second inning. The miscue opened the door for the Red Sox to score three unearned runs. They ended up being the difference in a 6-3 win.
According to Tim Britton of MLB.com, Yankees manager Joe Girardi saw it as the crucial play of the game.
“It led to three unearned runs, and we lost by three runs,” Girardi
said. “It’s unfortunate that’s what it turned into. Javy got the second
out. He just couldn’t seem to get the third out.”
“Someone’s got to catch it,” said Girardi. “That’s the bottom line.”
The Red Sox, winners of two straight and eight out of their last 11, are now within five games of the first-place Yankees in the American League East. They haven’t been this close to first since July 11. There’s still quite a hill to climb, obviously, but they have a golden opportunity to make up some serious ground this weekend.
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.