After opening up a three-game weekend series with a 7-6, 15-inning victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, the Red Sox saw their mini three-game winning streak come to an end on Saturday, as they fell to the Halos by a final score of 10-4 in what truly was a meltdown of a loss.
Making his first start of the season for Boston and 41st appearance overall was Josh Taylor, who was named the opener for the middle game of this three-game set earlier Saturday.
Tossing just one inning in the first start of his big league career, the left-hander kept the Angels off the board despite allowing three of the first four hitters he faced to reach base on a leadoff single and a pair of walks.
Yup, a nine-pitch punchout of Justin Upton, Taylor’s second of the night, and a first-pitch flyout off the bat of Kole Calhoun put an end to the threat, and the Arizona native got off scot-free.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 31 (17 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly 55% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing zero swings and misses and topping out at 95.8 MPH with the pitch while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.
Obviously not factoring into the decision of this one, Taylor should resume his reliever duties once the Red Sox arrive back in Boston.
In relief of Taylor, Marcus Walden entered in the second inning of what was a “bullpen day” for the Sox, and he yielded one run on a two-out Mike Trout RBI single to knot things back up at one run apiece.
From there, Brian Johnson provided some length by serving up three doubles, two of which going for runs, in the bottom half of the third, before retiring nine Angels in consecutive order from the middle of the fourth until the conclusion of the sixth.
In the seventh, Matt Barnes preserved a one-run lead by stranding one runner at second in an otherwise clean frame to make way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.
At that point, the Red Sox had a 60% chance to come away with a win on Saturday, according to FanGraphs.
Rather than seeing those odds increase in his side’s favor though, Brasier did quite the opposite, as he gave up three straight singles to lead off the eighth on fastballs over the heart of the plate.
Upton, Calhoun, and Andrelton Simmons all came through with big hits, and Simmons’ single drove in Upton from second to pull the Angels back even with the Sox at four runs each.
Brasier did manage to get the first two outs of the inning following that flurry, but crumbled once more, this time with David Fletcher and Brian Goodwin driving in a total of three Angels runs on a pair of RBI knocks. 7-4.
Unable to finish what he started, Brasier departed with runners at the corners for Josh Smith, who served up a crushing three-run bomb to the first man he faced in Pujols.
All in all, the Red Sox entered the middle of the eighth with a one-run lead in hand. By the time the final out was recorded, they were trailing by six runs. Not ideal!
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Angels left-hander Dillon Peters, someone they got to for three runs over six innings the last time they faced him at Fenway Park back on August 8th.
Kicking off the scoring right away in the top half of the first for the second straight night, J.D. Martinez get his team on the board first with a two-out RBI double just out of the reach of Kole Calhoun in right field, which allowed Rafael Devers to score all the way from first and make it a 1-0 contest early.
In the third, the red-hot Martinez struck with two outs once more, this time plating Mookie Betts from third on a run-scoring single back up the middle to re-take the lead at 2-1.
A fielding error committed by David Fletcher that allowed Martinez to advance to second and Sam Travis to reach base safely brought Andrew Benintendi to the plate with the chance to add on to that 2-1 lead, and he did so, capitalizing on his opponent’s mistake by lacing another RBI base knock to right. 3-1.
An inning later, with things even at 3-3, Brock Holt’s leadoff double and Sandy Leon’s successful sacrifice bunt put a runner at third for Betts, and he delivered with what was then a go-ahead RBI sac fly hit deep enough to center to bring in Holt and make it a 4-3 contest.
Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and the Sox had their best chance of the night to put this game to bed, with Martinez, the pinch-hitting Marco Hernandez, and the pinch-hitting Mitch Moreland all reaching base off Angels reliever Luis Garcia to fill the bases with one out for Holt.
Having only faced off against Garcia one time in his career before Saturday, Holt got ahead in the count at 2-0, fouled off a 97 MPH heater to bring it back to 2-1, and ultimately made hard, but unlucky contact off a 98 MPH heater pretty much down the heart of the plate.
Instead of it going for a run-scoring hit, Holt grounded into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play, thus killing any shot at adding on some insurance.
That missed opportunity may not have done the Red Sox in, but it certainly did not help, as the Angels went on a seven-run rally of their own in their half of the eighth, and went on to take Saturday’s contest by a final score of 10-4.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left 10 men on base as a team.
The Red Sox finished August with a record of 14-13.
With the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians losing, and Tampa Bay Rays winning on Saturday, the Red Sox currently sit 5 1/2 games off the pace for the second American League Wild Card spot. A great opportunity to make up ground in the Wild Card race goes for naught.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series and west coast road trip as a whole on Sunday afternoon.
Left-hander David Price will get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Andrew Heaney will do the same for Los Angeles.
Price will be activated off the injured list after missing the past three-plus weeks while recovering from having a TFCC cyst in his left wris removed via a cortisone shot.
In his career at Angel Stadium, the recently turned 34-year-old owns a lifetime 3.54 ERA and .260 batting average against over 11 prior starts and 73 2/3 innings pitched.
Heaney, meanwhile, limited the Sox to one run over 3 2/3 innings of work the last time he faced them on August 10th.
Since that time, the 28-year-old has shined, posting a 1.71 ERA and .160 batting average against over his last three outings, all of which the Angels have won.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the series win.
Rosters also expand on Sunday, so expect the Red Sox to announce a handful of moves shortly.