Extra Bases

6 Things We Learned From Watching Friday Night's Sox Game

The Quick Recap

Break up the Red Sox. After closing out their mostly devastating 10-game homestand on a positive note with consecutive walkoffs, Boston blew the doors off at Houston’s Minute Maid Park to the tune of an 8-3 win over the Astros, their third straight. Rookie catcher Christian Vazquez collected his first career hit and wound up 3-4 with three RBI, David Ortiz added a three-run double when the Sox broke it open with a five spot in the sixth and John Lackey labored his way to his 10th win of the year with six solid, if unspectacular innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three Ks and five walks. The win, coupled with Tampa Bay’s loss to Toronto, pushed the Sox out of last place in the AL East.

The B Team

No Don Orsillo. No Jerry Remy. BUMMER MAN. How am I supposed to have fun watching a baseball game between two of the worst teams in the American League without them, especially on a Friday night? I mean, sure, there’s a choo choo train that scurries across the top of right field wall from time to time in the Astros’ novelty of a ballpark (that hill in center field, gah…). But both D.O. and RemDawg missing? BOTH OF THEM??? Ugh.

NESN’s alternates for the weekend, Jon Rish and “Psycho” Steve Lyons, are both pros who were fine in their fill-in assignment. Rish, who used to call Sox games, read scores and host the pre and postgame shows on WEEI before jumping ship in order to be a web systems architect at the Dana-Farber Institute, made his return to broadcasting relatively seamlessly though he could stand to talk a little bit less seeing as how this is TV and not radio. And Lyons, who is no Remy (or Dennis Eckersley for that matter) has been calling baseball on TV for so long, he could probably do these games from his hotel room. Not everyone was quite as diplomatic, though.

It certainly helped, as it always does no matter who’s calling the game that the mighty Jamie Erdahl was on hand to handle the reports from the field. Why she doesn’t work every game that every local team plays every day on every network is beyond me.

The Legend Lives On, Partner

Brock Holt hails from Stephenville, TX, which boasts a population of 17,123 and is located about 400 miles from Houston. His family, high school coach and a couple of buddies made the trek to Minute Maid Park to watch, many of them appropriately decked out in T-shirts that read, “Party Like a BrockStar” and emblazoned with the Red Sox logo.

Erdahl did a brief segment on these members of Brock Nation, showcasing an element of humanity in regard to the highly evolved baseball cyborg that is Holt, who racked up a double and an RBI-triple in his first two at-bats. It’s good to know that a ballplayin’ killing machine like Holt has a human side.

Bogaerts Still Bad

It may not seem possible, especially given the Sox offensive explosion, but the rookie third baseman sunk further into the morass of his epic slump, now well into its second month. Bogaerts posted yet another 0-fer, bouncing into two double plays, weakly fouling to third with runners on second and third with nobody out in the sixth and adding a backwards K for good measure. He is now 3-31 in July, 9-100 with one extra base hit in his last 27 games and looks the same as he has for nearly six weeks - like he has no chance and knows it. The Sox swear they have no plans to send him down to AAA and now that they’ve at least in part shifted toward a youth movement, that decision makes more sense. But you have to wonder how continuing to fail at the plate day after day, at-bat after at-bat may affect him in the long run. He’s so young and so talented that it makes sense to assume he’ll be fine eventually. Nevertheless, he is still as close to an automatic out as it gets and has shown zero signs that he’s anywhere near breaking out.

Catching Fire

The Red Sox are a perfect 3-0 since ridding themselves of A.J. Pierzynski. WHY DIDN’T THEY GET RIDA HIM SOONAH??

Backstop of the future Christian Vazquez has stepped into the breach and while he’s only played two games in the big leagues, he’s making quite the early impression. The 23-year old Vazquez’s three-RBI output was just one less than Pierzynski had accumulated since June 1, which is absolutely mind-boggling. Wherever you stand on the dismissal of Pierzynski, the bottom line was that on a team challenged for offense, it was well past time for a cranky, old guy who wasn’t remotely contributing while also having no place in the organization’s future, to go. Vazquez reaps the rewards. Onward and upward.

Murderer’s Row

Mike Napoli got the night off, which made the Sox lineup look even funnier than it normally does. Mike Carp, who hadn’t started a game since May, batted cleanup while Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been much better at the plate lately, still dragged a .223 average into the 6-hole. Bogaerts and Stephen Drew followed and while Drew tripled, walked and scored two runs, he's still batting a just-as-horrid-as-it-looks .135 with an OPS of, ahem, .456. Of course, as funny as the Sox lineup looked prior to the game what’s really hilarious is that Drew was intentionally walked for the second time in as many days. Commence hysterical laughter now. Then marvel at the eight runs this murderer's row produced.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter @jmg2776

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