Coming off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves this past week and an off day on Thursday, the 97-44 Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park to embark on a nine-game homestand, where they were first greeted by the defending World Series champion Houston Astros for a three-game weekend series.
Earlier in late May/early June, these two teams, arguably the two best in the American League, split a four-game set at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros taking the first two and the Red Sox taking the last two.
Getting the start for this series opener, his 27th of the season, was David Price, who last we saw, took a 103 MPH line drive off his left wrist in the third inning of August 29th’s contest against the Marlins.
The left-hander would have to depart from that outing after that occurred, and nine days later, he was back at it against a team he gave up three runs to in six innings of work back on June 2nd.
Pitching into the seventh inning of this one, Price picked up right where he left off prior to that Marlins start with another stellar performance, as he surrendered just two earned runs on two hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.
Retiring 14 straight hitters at one point, the Tennessee native had full control of the strike zone on Friday, and he used that to his full advantage by consistently painting the corners, which led to the double-digit punch outs.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (57 strikes), Price’s night would come to an end after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced in the seventh to reach base, which would ultimately be the Red Sox’s demise.
Out of those 101 pitches, the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball 44% of the time on Friday, and topped out at 94.2 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.
Unable to pick up a much deserved winning decision at the fault of his bullpen, Price will look to build on what was a strong start to his month of September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays, a former club of his, sometime next week.
In relief of Price, Alex Cora turned to Ryan Brasier with one out and runners on first and second in the top half of the seventh.
Brasier closed the book on Price’s outing by allowing both of those inherited runners to score as well as another on a pair of RBI doubles from Yuli Gurriel and Tony Kemp.
Just like that, the Red Sox found themselves trailing in a game they appeared to have full control of.
Joe Kelly was next up for the eighth inning after his team had just tied things up in their half of the seventh.
Despite some solid numbers recently, Kelly found himself struggling once again, as he allowed the first three Astros hitters he faced to reach, which loaded the bases without a single out recorded.
A sacrifice fly off the bat of Carlos Correa gave Houston a brand new lead while the runners on base advanced to scoring position.
That was followed by a wild pitch in the next at bat with Tyler White at the plate, which allowed Jose Altuve to cross the plate.
With White Still up at bat, Kelly could not get a 2-2 85 MPH knuckle curveball by the Astros DH, and he laced it into left field to drive in Alex Bregman from third and give his team a three-run lead.
Finally, just trying to keep the Red Sox within the three runs they trailed by at this point, Tyler Thornburg worked his way around two singled in a scoreless ninth inning of work, not like it mattered that much at that point.
All and all, here is the final pitching line from the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night:
2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Not great.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who, in his only other start against Boston as an American League hurler, pitched seven innings while allowing three runs to score back on June 1st in Houston.
With the regulars back in the Boston lineup, Cole was solid yet again, although Red Sox hitters did make him work quite a bit.
Starting the scoring right away in this one was JD Martinez, whose sacrifice fly in the first inning drove in Mookie Betts from third to give the Red Sox an early advantage.
Fast forward to the fourth, Xander Bogaerts extended that lead a bit by blasting his 20th home run of the season, a 432 foot shot to dead center.
Three innings later, after the Astros had jumped out to a 3-2 lead, JD Martinez answered right back with an RBI single of his own to pull this thing back at even.
That would be the final Red Sox run of the night, however.
Some notes from this 6-3 loss:
In eight starts since the All-Star break, David Price has posted a 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over 50.2 innings pitched.
I know RBI are not the greatest statistic but JD Martinez already has 117 of them on September 8th.
Over the last 14 days, the Red Sox bullpen owns a 5.40 ERA in 55 total innings pitched. That’s good for the 26th best ERA in baseball over that span.
Going for their 98th win this evening, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston in his second start since returning from the disabled list.
In his four-year career, the left-handed Rodriguez has only made two starts against the Astros, both of which have come at Fenway Park.
In those two starts, Rodriguez has surrendered six earned runs in a total of 6.2 innings pitched. That’s a good for a 8.10 ERA.
Opposite Rodriguez for this middle game will be another right-hander in Houston’s Charlie Morton, who the Red Sox got to for six runs in less than six innings back on June 3rd, a game Boston ran away with.
First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET Saturday.