The Red Sox’ problems against the Astros ensued at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
Boston fell to Houston by a final score of 8-3 on Wednesday in the process of getting outhit 17-4.
With the loss, the Sox drop back down to 37-25 (1-5 against the Astros) on the season. They remain 1 1/2 games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.
Eovaldi gets bombarded
Nathan Eovaldi made his 13th start of the season for the Red Sox after missing the Astros in Houston last week.
Over 5 2/3 innings of work, the right-hander yielded five runs — all of which were earned — on a season-high 11 hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
The first of those five Astros runs came on a two-out ground-rule double in the top half of the second, while the majority of the damage was done an inning later.
A leadoff home run off the bat of Jose Altuve in the third set the tone for what would turn out to be a disastrous frame for Eovaldi, as he saw a 2-1 Red Sox lead turn into a 5-2 deficit after giving up three additional runs on three hits and a walk.
For how poorly as he pitched in the third, Eovaldi was able to rebound and — after escaping a bases loaded jam in the fourth — retired five of the six hitters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Alex Bregman in the sixth. That would mark the end of his outing.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing one swing-and-miss and topping out at 99.9 mph with the pitch.
Ultimately falling to 8-3 on the season while raising his ERA to 4.11, Eovaldi’s next start should come against the Blue Jays on Monday.
Red Sox bullpen takes over
After a busy Tuesday night, the Red Sox bullpen took over for Eovaldi with two outs in the top half of the sixth. Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call and sat down the only Astro he faced to end the inning.
From there, Garrett Whitlock surrendered one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the seventh, Phillips Valdez served up a two-run homer to Alex Bregman in the eighth, and Brandon Workman tossed a scoreless ninth to hold the Astros at eight runs.
Sox get out to early lead, then scuffle
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Astros starter Jake Odorizzi, who they got to for three runs in just three innings last Thursday.
Once more, the Sox were able to take advantage of Odorizzi early on Wednesday, with Xander Bogaerts and Hunter Renfroe each picking up an RBI in the first inning on a sacrifice fly and run-scoring single to give their side an early 2-0 lead.
While it looked like Boston could be on the verge of an offensive breakout, they were held in check the rest of the way.
Bogaerts provided the only other offense when he belted a 413-foot solo home run to lead off things off in the bottom half of the fourth.
Besides that, they went 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left two men on base as a team in the process of falling to the Astros by a final score of 8-3.
Renfroe records seventh outfield assist, could have eight
In addition to notching his 26th RBI of the season on Wednesday, right fielder Hunter Renfroe also recorded his team-leading seventh outfield assist by gunning down Alex Bregman on a 98 mph dart to home plate in the first inning.
Renfroe very well could have picked up his eighth outfield assist of the year as well on a Myles Straw sacrifice fly in the seventh that allowed Michael Brantley to just barely score from third base.
His seven outfield assists are tied for the most in the major-leagues.
Next up: Greinke vs. Rodriguez in series finale
Looking to avoid getting swept at home, the Red Sox will send left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound for Thursday’s series finale against the Astros at Fenway Park.
Rodriguez will be opposed by Astros ace right-hander Zack Greinke.
First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)