After blowing a late lead to open up a four-game series against the Texas Rangers on Monday, the Red Sox fell behind early Tuesday and could never really recover, as they dropped their third straight contest to fall back to .500 on the season in a 9-5 loss.
Making his first career start and second appearance for Boston was top pitching prospect Darwinzon Hernandez, who was recalled from Double-A Pawtucket earlier Tuesday.
Last working as a reliever in his first stint with the club back in April, the left-hander surrendered four runs, three of which were earned, on three hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.
Despite fanning 77% of the nine hitters he faced, control remained Hernandez’s biggest issue in this one, as it has been in his time with the Sea Dogs.
From the jump, the Venezuela native dazzled, punching out the side in the first while also leading off the second with his fourth K.
The trouble began with a one-out, seven-pitch walk of Hunter Pence, which was followed with a four-pitch walk of Asdrubal Cabrera to give the Rangers their first two baserunners.
Two pitches later, Rougned Odor drove in his team’s first run by ripping an RBI ground-rule double over Mookie Betts’ head in right field, which came at the benefit of the Red Sox with Cabrera being held up at third.
In the third, the free pass bit Hernandez yet again, this time with three of the first five Rangers hitters to come to the plate in the inning reaching base by way of the BB, loading the bases for Cabrera.
After falling behind 3-0 and battling back to fill the count, Cabrera ultimately won his second battle against the young southpaw, as he made it a 3-1 contest with a two-run single to center.
Hernandez would fan Odor for his seventh and final strikeout, and proceeded to allow the first two Rangers he faced to reach in the fourth with the help of a Rafael Devers fielding error before getting the hook from Sox manager Alex Cora.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (42 strikes), the 22-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 76% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing seven swings and misses while also topping out at 97.7 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.
It’s never been a question about Hernandez’s stuff, that is certainly there. It’s the control that’s the issue, and for whatever reason, he just folded after recording the first out of the second inning.
Can’t say for sure that Hernandez will make another start, but if he does, it will most likely come against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
In relief of Hernandez, Colten Brewer came on in that fourth inning, yielded a six-pitch walk to the first man he saw to fill the bases, and officially closed the book on Hernandez’s first big league start by giving up a sacrifice fly to Danny Santana to make it a 4-3 game.
From there, after Brewer escaped the fourth with back-to-back punchouts, Bobby Poyner came on for his first appearance since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday, and he, at the very least, ate some innings.
To put it bluntly, the left-hander entered with his team trailing by one run, and left with them down by six, with those last two runs coming on a two-run inside-the-park home run off the bat of Hunter Pence that was just out of Brock Holt’s reach in the top half of the sixth.
And finally, Mike Shawaryn continued to impress out of the bullpen by fanning four Rangers in two perfect frames of relief to wrap up what was another underwhelming night from Red Sox pitching.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Rangers right-hander Ariel Jurado, who had never pitched against Boston nor at Fenway Park before Tuesday.
Already down a run by the middle of the second, Xander Bogaerts answered back and got his side on the board by blasting his 13th home run of the season, this one a 422 foot shot over the Green Monster.
An inning later and trailing by a pair this time, Rafael Devers erased that deficit quickly, following by back-to-back two-out walks with a two-run triple off Jurado to break out of an 0-for-20 slump. He was stranded at third.
Fast forward to the bottom of the fifth, and some drama arose when Andrew Benintendi had a few choice words for home plate umpire Angel Hernandez following a groundout to short.
The thing was, Hernandez couldn’t hear Benintendi’s words, but first base umpire Vic Carapazza could, and without giving a warning, ejected the Red Sox outfielder as he was heading back towards his dugout.
That led to even more pandemonium, and ultimately resulted in Cora’s ejection and more colorful language from Benintendi.
Once all was settled, the Sox still trailed by three runs going into the sixth, and that deficit did not shrink.
A Michael Chavis leadoff double in the seventh off new Rangers reliever Jose LeClerc, followed by an RBI two-bagger from JD Martinez two outs later gave Boston their fourth run of the night.
And in the ninth, Mookie Betts swung at the very first pitch he saw from right-hander Chris Martin, and came away with his 11th dinger of the year, although it didn’t make much of a difference in what would go down as a 9-5 loss for the Red Sox.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox are 34-34 on the season and 5-6 in June.
Mike Shawaryn is averaging 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
JD Martinez’s last two games since returning from back spasms: 4-for-7, two doubles, one run scored, one RBI.
Andrew Benintendi on his ejection:
Alex Cora on his:
Brock Holt, who was in right field because of the Benintendi ejection, on what happened on the inside-the-park homer:
It was a bizarre night, really. Both managers got ejected, the Red Sox didn’t use one pitcher who appeared in a big league game before the start of the 2018 season, and Mookie Betts had himself a rough time of things in center field.
Next up for the Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game set, which was moved up three hours from its original start time because of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Right-hander Rick Porcello, will be getting the ball for Boston, while fellow righty Lance Lynn will be doing the same for Texas.
In his career against the Rangers, Porcello (4-6, 4.86 ERA) owns a lifetime 5.16 ERA over 12 prior starts and 68 total innings pitched.
Lynn (7-4, 4.39 ERA), meanwhile, has posted a career 2.40 ERA in three previous appearances (two starts) and 15 innings of work at Fenway Park.
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 4:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox need to wake up.