Not the best way to open up a road trip right there. Not at all. Yup, the Red Sox pretty much got blown out by a last place team in Texas last night. It’s not the best of looks, but there are three more games left in the series, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
David Price got the start in this one, and as he has for the majority of his career, struggled against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Going into last night’s outing, the lefty owned a career 6.53 ERA in eight starts at the Rangers home ballpark. That trend would continue on Thursday, as Price got lit up for seven earned runs in less than four innings pitched. Over that span, the Rangers got to the Tennessee native for six hits, four walks, and a HBP. It started with two runs in the second, which could have been worse if not for JD Martinez chasing down this flyball he had no business catching.
Price allowed another two runs to cross the plate in the third while facing six batters. But both of those innings did not compare to just how ugly the fourth was. After the Red Sox lineup had just pulled themselves within one run a half inning prior, the Rangers went off for six runs of their own.
Leading off the inning by allowing three of the first four batters he faced to reach base and plate a run, Price loaded the bases by surrendering a single to Delino DeShields. Striking out the next batter he faced, Shin-Soo Choo, on five pitches meant that there was only one more out for Price to get. Unfortunately, he walked the last batter he faced to tack on another run, and his day was done.
For whatever reason, David Price has not looked like the same guy since he gave up that eighth inning home run to Khris Davis in Oakland a couple of weekends ago. In two starts since then, the southpaw has pitched just 9.1 total innings and given up 15 runs in that stretch.
Anyway, Hector Velazquez was inserted into this game with two outs in the fourth inning, and after a wild pitch got by Christian Vazquez, the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara launched a three-run shot to right field. That put the Rangers up by seven runs and all but locked up the win.
With one out in the bottom half of the fifth, Marcus Walden came on to replace Velazquez with runners on first and third. The 29-year-old rookie would go on to have the best night of any Red Sox pitcher, as he tossed 3.2 innings of one run ball, that run being unearned, and striking out four. After the game, he was optioned back to Triple A Pawtucket to make room on the roster for reliever Bobby Poyner.
Despite the not-so-great performance from the Red Sox pitching staff last night, the defensive performance from the left side of infield has to shoulder some of that responsibility as well. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts combined for three errors on Thursday, one fielding and two throwing. Over their past three games, the Red Sox have committed a whopping seven errors. That accounts for over 46% of their season total, which is 15. I suppose this could have been expected though, given the fact Eduardo Nunez and Rafael Devers play the infield almost everyday. With Dustin Pedroia hopefully making his return to the big league club later in the month, these defensive numbers could stabilize a little bit. They still rank fifth in the AL in Fielding Percentage, so maybe I’m just overreacting to a few bad games.
Offensively, Mookie Betts built from the great day he had on Wednesday by mashing his 12th home run of the season to lead off the third inning.
At that moment, I thought we had another comeback on our hands. It looked that way at first, with Christian Vazquez and Betts driving in a pair of runs in the fifth to make it a one-run game, but things got out of hand after that.
Later in the eighth, not that it had an impact on this game, but Betts drove in his third and fourth RBIs of the night by ripping a two out double to left field.
As we enter today’s action, the 25-year-old outfielder now leads the American League in home runs (12), batting average (.370), slugging percentage (.850), and OPS (1.299). We’re just over a month into the season, but Mookie is definitely looking like a legit MVP candidate right now. He may very well be the best leadoff hitter in all of baseball.
Next up for the Red Sox is an enticing pitching matchup later tonight. It will be the 4-0 Rick Porcello squaring off the ageless wonder, Bartolo Colon. And maybe, just maybe, Blake Swihart will start behind the dish tonight. *crosses fingers*
First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET.