Red Sox 7, White Sox 3: Operator error

Thursday night, both Boston and Chicago started troubled young starters that they surely knew brought significant mess potential, and man, they certainly got what they bargained for.

1. Erik Johnson spent so much of the first three innings of Thursday night’s start cementing the sad realization that he doesn’t have the promising stuff that made him an intriguing up-and-comer in 2013, that when he slipped through the last two innings of his night without a scratch, it sparked momentary confusion.

Johnson gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, which was a lot less discouraging than a booming RBI double to Ryan Hanigan in the second. The Red Sox jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third when they led off the frame with an opposite-field shot from Hanley Ramirez, immediately followed by a booming Travis Shaw triple to center that strangely eluded Austin Jackson’s grasp. Shaw would score on a sacrifice fly, but the real problem is that Johnson sat 89-91 mph on his fastball with only moderate life and showed no signs of the hard slider that once made him a prospect.

That he cruised through his last two innings (a nifty double play got him out of the fourth) is more perplexing than his struggles.

2. More perplexing than that, is Red Sox starter Henry Owens being able to pitch over six walks in three innings with the lead. A Jose Abreu RBI double play squeezed the life out of a chance for a big first inning. After walking two in the first, Owens upped the ante and walked the bases loaded all by himself in the third, but struck out Abreu, got Melky Cabrera when Ramirez made a confusing, loopy diving catch in foul territory, and blew a fastball by Brett Lawrie to escape.

It wasn’t until Avisail Garcia drilled a hanger out on a line to leadoff the fourth, at a rare moment when the Sox had no one on base, that Owens finally got chased, albeit with a two-run lead.

3. Somehow, the Sox had not yet blown scoring opportunities in the most egregious manner possible. Abreu popping up a pitch to hammer from reliever Heath Hembree, and Jackson getting thrown out stealing blew a fourth inning that saw two hits and a walk. Three-straight one-out singles off Hembree loaded the bases in the fifth for No. 4 catcher on the depth chart Hector Sanchez. The veteran backstop unexpectedly dug deep for a yeoman plate appearance, and came within feet of emptying the bases with a double down the right field line, but had to settle for a bases loaded walk to move the game to 4-3.

Boston reliever Matt Barnes came in for triage at that point, and while Jackson gave him a war at the plate, it ended with a shallow flare down the right field line to Mookie Betts. Lawrie’s attempt to race home found Betts off-balance for the throw, but not enough to avoid being called out on a torturously close call at the plate. The sight of Hanigan’s back leg impeding Lawrie’s foot-first slide was not enough to sway replay officials.

In all, the Sox had eight hits, walked nine times, and hit a home run, and only scored three runs.

4. The Red Sox extended their lead into comfortable territory off the softer side of the White Sox typically commendable bullpen. Jackie Bradley Jr.’s opposite-field drive out to left field gave Matt Albers his first earned run since last July in the sixth. The plan of just letting Dan Jennings pitch until he forced Robin to have him stop eventually sputtered out in the eighth, where him facing David Ortiz for the second time capped off his night with a rocket RBI double to the right field corner.

5. Ortiz went 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in his final game at U.S. Cellular Field. Before the game the White Sox gave him cigars and custom-built humidor, which he will not use, because he had time to smoke all the cigars during this neverending game.


Team Record: 19-10

Next game is 7:10pm CT vs. Minnesota on CSN


Lead Image Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski // USA Today Sports Images

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