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If you were hoping for a convincing response to another series-opening loss, then Game 2 of the doubleheader probably didn’t do it for you.
If you would settle for a win by any means necessary, then an effort led by Davis Martin and Lenyn Sosa isn’t a bad compromise.
Martin limited the damage to a solo homer over 5⅔ innings for his second career win, as a couple of solo shots on mistake pitches gave him the support he needed while he was in the game. Gavin Sheets’ RBI double scored a pinch-running Luis Robert for a key insurance run in the eighth inning, which a misaligned Liam Hendriks made use of during a bumpy finish.
Lenyn Sosa contributed one of the solo shots, hammering a rolling Jonathan Heasley curveball into the waterfall behind the seats in left field for his first homer and a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Martin gave back that run with a Vinnie Pasquantino solo shot in the fourth, but Yoán Moncada put the Sox back ahead in the sixth by clobbering an 86-mph hanging changeup from Heaseley during his final inning of work.
The Sox struggled to do damage on less juicy pitches, but Martin was able to stay out of trouble himself, mostly because he didn’t make his own. He allowed just two other hits (both singles) and a walk. He got a respectable 14 swinging strikes on 84 pitches, and he only allowed five hard-hit balls on the evening. The slider was particularly effective for him, which allowed him to keep his arsenal narrow.
The Sox lineup alternated good games with off nights. Eloy Jiménez reached base all four times up with three singles and a walk, but José Abreu and Yasmani Grandal combined to go 0-for-7 behind him, with three strikeouts and a double play. Sosa was 2-for-4, but Leury García and Adam Engel were 0-for-8 with five strikeouts in front of him.
Speaking of García, he seemed to tweak his front (right) knee during his first at-bat, and spent the rest of the night taking pained half-hacks with no stride. For all the leg injuries the Sox have micro-managed this year, it was bizarre seeing a one-legged García allowed to go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Tony La Russa didn’t pinch-hit for García when he came to the plate with two outs and two on in the sixth inning. He also didn’t pinch-hit a batter earlier, when the Royals specifically brought in Amir Garrett to face Sheets lefty-lefty, even though Andrew Vaughn exists.
Sheets flied out then, but at least he redeemed La Russa’s inaction later in the game. After Jiménez walked to lead off the eighth, Robert entered as a pinch-runner, only to go nowhere when Abreu struck out and Grandal lined out. Up came Sheets, who sliced a 1-0 sinker into the left-field corner. Robert scored by a comfortable margin all the way from first base, so there’s a case where the substitution won out.
It made the ninth inning a lot easier to watch, because if Hendriks gave up a leadoff single before bouncing a pair of wild pitches with a one-run margin, we could’ve started penciling in yet another winnable game lost. Instead, that run scored on a sac fly for the second out, and with the bases empty, Hendriks struck out Michael A. Taylor on three pitches to cut off the drama for good.
*Prior to his homer, Moncada made a slick sliding stop at third base, so his defense continues to be a bright spot.
*Sosa could’ve gone 3-for-4 were it not for a great diving catch by Nate Eaton in right.