Wednesday night the Red Sox lost 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays. It was a disappointing, 11-inning loss to a last place team.
It wasn’t really that bad a loss though.
The worst part of the loss could easily end up having nothing to do with the final results.
The worst part may very well have occurred in the top of the seventh with rookie Andrew Benintendi on second base and Dustin Pedroia at the plate. Pedroia hit a ground ball to Rays shortstop Matt Duffy. Benintendi had left second to edge towards third base, but when he saw Duffy field the ball he hit the brakes and tried to get back to second to avoid a 6-3 double play. His knee caught on the dirt and not only was he tagged out, he crumbled to the ground in obvious pain.
Benintendi would be helped off the field with what has initially been called a “sprained knee.” The reality is beginning to feel a lot more severe.
Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe tweeted early Thursday morning that Benintendi was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday and that the rookie’s outlook didn’t appear very optimistic.
Later Thursday morning, with the MRI results still not final, Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Herald tweeted that the Red Sox had placed Benintendi on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Marco Hernandez from Pawtucket.
Those who have witnessed severe knee injuries know all too well that the nature of Benintendi’s injury, one that is non-contact and instantly forces the athlete to the ground in pain, has plenty of negative connotations.
Yes it could be nothing more than an unusually painful sprain or twist, but in all likelihood the knee might have suffered ligament damage that could require major surgery. The type of surgery that could lead to an extended absence and recovery time.
Here’s hoping that the kid is okay. Since being recalled to start the month of August the 2015 first round draft pick has been every bit as good as advertised. Monday night he made what has to be considered one of the best catches of the year.
His future is bright, but if the knee requires major surgery that future will be put on hold through the remainder of this season and quite possibly well into the 2017 campaign as well.
The Red Sox bullpen has been deservedly criticized for ineffectiveness and inconsistency but Wednesday’s loss is not a loss that should be blamed entirely on the bullpen.
The reality is that the bullpen pitched three innings, allowed zero earned runs, three hits, walked two and struck out three. The unearned run was a result of an error by reliever Heath Hembree who also absorbed the loss, but if you’re looking to find awful Red Sox bullpen performances, Wednesday night’s was hardly one that should stand out.
Some would blame Rick Porcello who started the seventh inning with a slim 3-2 lead. Porcello has been both effective and durable all season long. Bringing him out to start the eighth inning after he had already thrown 105 pitches was a questionable decision, but not an awful one.
Porcello gave up a game-tying home run to Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Once again, do you blame Porcello or Farrell for that, or do you tip your cap to Longoria? The home run was his 30th of the season and prior to the long ball he was 0-for-3. There’s been a ton of pressure on Red Sox manager John Farrell to avoid overusing his bullpen. Sticking with the guy who has been your best starting pitcher this season in a close game on the road into the eighth inning was probably the right decision, but it didn’t work out as planned.
Finally it would be silly to not discuss David Ortiz.
David Ortiz is either in hot pursuit of his first league MVP award, nearing retirement, or a combination of both.
Wednesday he took the first offering from Rays starter Matt Andriese and deposited it 376 feet into the right field stands. The two-run blast was his 30th of the season, it also put Ortiz at 100 runs batted in for the season. That’s four straight seasons of 30 or more home runs and ten seasons of 30 or more long balls for his career. Ortiz is now the oldest player in major league history to hit 30 or more home runs in a season.
That’s also four straight seasons of 100 or more RBI’s and ten 100-plus RBI seasons for his career. Ortiz is on-pace for 129 RBI’s this season. That would be his highest total since he drove in 137 back in 2006. He’s also on pace to hit 39 home runs this season, another number that would be his best since 2006.
Ortiz has now passed Ted Williams to lead the Red Sox franchise in career 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons. His 533 career home runs place him just one behind Jimmie Foxx and three back of Mickey Mantle.
It is safe to say that Ortiz is enjoying what will go down in major league history as the greatest final season ever.
Most major leaguers hope to exit the game while still being able to perform on a nightly basis. Ortiz is arguably the best hitter in the league. He’s second in batting average (.322,) first in ops (1.049,) tied for sixth in home runs (30,) second in RBI’s (100,) and first in doubles (40.)
Ortiz will get plenty of MVP competition from teammate Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.
No designated hitter has ever won the MVP award, but Ortiz is the best designated hitter to ever play the game and at the age of 40, he’s having one of the best seasons of his lengthy and amazing career.