By MyFM's Jake Archer - After two abysmal games to start off the series with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Red Sox were in danger of falling back to .500 for the season. They were playing uninspired baseball and seemed to be coming undone. It was way too early in the year for them to become boring, and Sox closer Craig Kimbrel called the game a “must win.” He was right, and the Red Sox did, by a score of 4-1.
In the first inning, the Sox got on the board quickly which looked like a good sign. Mookie Betts led off the game with a double, moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Dustin Pedroia and scored on an error by Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar. It was interesting but encouraging seeing the Sox come out and show some urgency to score by trying to manufacture a run.
That would be it for quite a while however, as Milwaukee starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson pitched a good game. Nelson went 6.2 innings, struck out eight and only gave up four hits and the unearned run. His counterpart, Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, continued his recent hot streak as he only gave up one run on three hits while striking out five.
Rodriguez was removed after just six innings and 87 pitches however, in a strange move by manager John Farrell. Rodriguez had the ability to go deeper in the game, hadn’t walked anyone and the bullpen was taxed yet Farrell decided to pull the plug early. I have a sneaking suspicion that Farrell just doesn’t have any idea what a double switch is in National League parks.
Anyway, the game was tied at one and the Red Sox seemed to be knocking at the door for more many times. They just simply couldn’t come up with anything and left nine men on base during the game. In the ninth inning, the Brewers brought out their closer, the once-great Neftali Feliz.
Sox catcher Christian Vazquez led off the frame with a walk and the next batter, Deven Marrero attempted to bunt him over to second base. Feliz fielded the bunt, but his throw to second base was dropped by shortstop Orlando Arcia. Now the Sox had two men on with no outs for the top of the order and the red-hot Mookie Betts. Betts cranked a three-run homerun to deep left field to put the Sox up three late and he went wild as he rounded the bases. It was the fifth homer for Betts and third in his last four games. He finished the series in Milwaukee 7-for-11 with eight RBI and five runs scored. The most important part though, was finishing the win off.
Sox closer Craig Kimbrel had already been out in the eighth inning to record two outs and would now need to get another three to secure the win and salvage the series with the Brewers. Kimbrel has been lights out so far this season and yesterday was no exception. He threw the fifth immaculate inning in Red Sox history, which means that he got three batters to strike out on three pitches each.
The Sox now head back to Boston to open a three game set with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rick Porcello will take the mound tonight opposite Alex Cobb. Porcello will try to bounce back after a rough outing against Tampa Bay at Fenway on April 14th when he allowed eight runs in 4.1 innings.