The Red Sox were one out away from securing a three-game sweep over the Angels at Fenway Park on Sunday, but fell short of doing so in heart-breaking fashion.
With two outs and the bases empty in the top of the ninth inning, Sox closer Matt Barnes got a struggling Mike Trout to hit a pop fly to right field for what looked to be the final out of the game.
Rather than fall into a Red Sox fielder’s glove, though, the 75.9 mph bloop found a patch of grass and landed between right fielder Marwin Gonzalez, center fielder Hunter Renfroe, and second baseman Michael Chavis, all of whom were playing Trout in a shift.
Representing the tying run in a 5-4 game, Trout’s single brought Shohei Ohtani to the plate, who proceeded to wrap a go-ahead, two-run home run around Pesky’s Pole in right field to give the Angels a 6-5 lead.
Barnes was charged with his first blown save of the season as the Red Sox would go on to fall to 25-17 on the year overall and 13-12 at home.
Plawecki, Devers lead comeback
Well before a drama-filled ninth inning, the Sox found themselves in a four-run hole early on against Los Angeles.
Matched up against veteran left-hander Jose Quintana, the bottom third of Boston’s lineup provided the first offensive jolt of the day when Jonathan Arauz drove in Marwin Gonzalez from second on an RBI double — and his first hit of the season — in the bottom of the third.
Fast forward to the fifth, and the bottom of the order took charge once more, this time with Kevin Plawecki clubbing his first home run of the season 389 feet over the Green Monster to cut the Halos’ lead to two runs.
Arauz and leadoff man Michael Chavis both singled with one out in between a pitching change that saw righy Aaron Slegers take over for Quintana, which set up Rafael Devers in a prime scoring spot.
On the fourth pitch he saw from Slegers — an 0-2, 93 mph fastball — Devers crushed it 400 feet to right field for his 11th big fly of the season. The three-run blast, which had an exit velocity of over 104 mph, put the Sox ahead by a run at 5-4.
Eovaldi allows four runs over five innings, Martinez notches outfield assist
The reason the Red Sox were trailing by four runs as early as they were was due in part to the struggles Nathan Eovaldi endured in his second inning of work Sunday.
After retiring the side rather easily in the first, the veteran right-hander plunked the first hitter he faced in the second in Anthony Rendon. That would prove to be costly for Eovaldi, as he wound up surrendering four runs on four hits and a walk in the frame.
Despite the early troubles, however, Eovaldi was able to settle in to the point where he sat down eight of the final 11 Angels he faced.
He did give up a two-out double to Jared Walsh in his final inning of work that very well could have scored Ohtani all the way from first, but J.D. Martinez prevented that from happening when he threw a dart from left field and Kevin Plawecki snuffed out the two-way phenom at home plate.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (63 strikes), Eovaldi turned to his four-seam fastball 51% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 99.3 mph with the pitch.
Hit with the no-decision while raising his ERA on the season to 4.50, the 31-year-old’s next start should come against the Phillies on Saturday.
Red Sox bullpen takes over
In relief of Eovaldi, Phillips Valdez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the sixth inning. The right-hander tossed a scoreless frame, while left-hander Josh Taylor got the call for the seventh and put away the only three hitters he faced in order.
From there, Adam Ottavino issued a one-out single and walk in the top of the eighth before recording the second out and making way for Barnes.
Barnes escaped the inning and stranded both runners he inherited by getting Jose Iglesias to line out to right field. He then gave up that two-run homer to Ohtani in the ninth.
Next up: Off day, then six-game road trip
The Red Sox will enjoy an off day on Monday and head down to Dunedin, Fla. to open up a three-game series against the 22-17 Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is slated to get the start for Boston, and fellow southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu will do the same for Toronto.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)