On a chilly and rain-soaked Marathon Monday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were unable to complete a four-game sweep of the Angels. Boston fell to Los Angeles by a final score of 5-4 to drop back to under .500 on the season at 8-9.
After first pitch of the annual Patriots’ Day contest was pushed back from 11:10 a.m. to 12:06 p.m., Brayan Bello made his first start of the season for the Sox. The young right-hander showed signs of rust in his 2023 debut, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of work.
Bello ran into trouble right away in the top of the first. After yielding a one-out single to Shohei Ohtani and plunking Taylor Ward to put runners at first and second, the righty served up a 355-foot three-run homer to Hunter Renfroe that cleared the Green Monster and gave the Angels an early 3-0 lead.
The Red Sox were able to get one of those runs back in the latter half of the first. Matched up against Ohtani on the mound, Raimel Tapia drew a leadoff walk before taking second and third on a pair of wild pitches. He then scored from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Rob Refsnyder.
The Angels responded in the top of the second, though, as Bello gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the inning before yielding a run-scoring groundout to Renfroe to make it a 5-1 game. Bello came back out for the third and recorded the first outs. The skies then began to open up as a one hour and 25 minute rain delay commenced.
Since the delay lasted that long, Bello’s season debut was shorter than expected. The 23-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (48 strikes) and induced 10 swings-and-misses. He also averaged 95.4 and topped out at 96.9 mph with his sinker.
Once the tarpaulin was removed from the field for a second time, Kutter Crawford came on to pitch in relief of Bello. Crawford got the final out of the third and took over in an effort to preserve the rest of the Red Sox bullpen. Over 6 1/3 scoreless frames, the 27-year-old gave up just one hit and no walks while striking out five of the 21 batters he faced.
While Crawford was in the process of shutting down Angels hitters, the Red Sox struggled to get anything going offensively on the other side of the delay. In the bottom of the fourth, for instance, Rafael Devers led off with a double and Masataka Yoshida and Triston Casas filled the bases by drawing back-to-back one-out walks off lefty Tucker Davidson.
Davidson, however, did not give in. Instead, he got Enrique Hernandez to line out and Reese McGuire to fly out to escape the jam. An inning later, Jarren Duran reached base on a one-out double but was left at second after Tapia fanned and Devers grounded out to extinguish the threat.
After Crawford worked his way around a pair of throwing errors in the top of the sixth, Boston finally broke through in the bottom half of the inning. Refsnyder led off with a double and Casas ripped a one-out double off new Angels reliever Aaron Loup. Hernandez then plated Refsnyder on a sacrifice fly before McGuire drove in Casas by beating out an infield single on a feet-first slide into first base.
That sequence of events trimmed Los Angeles’ lead down to two runs at 5-3. In the seventh, Duran drew a leadoff walk off Matt Moore and immediately stole second base. Again, though, Duran was stranded in scoring position as Tapia, Devers, and Refsnyder were all retired.
Following two more scoreless innings from Crawford, the Red Sox were down to their final three outs and still trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth. With Carlos Estevez pitching for the Angels, Alex Verdugo came off the bench and led off with a pinch-hit single. A one-out walk from Tapia put runners at first and second for Devers, who scored Verdugo by lacing a 112.1 mph RBI single to right field.
Estevez then got Refsnyder to strike out and Yoshida to pop out to end the rally there. All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left nine runners on base as a team in Monday’s 5-4 loss, which technically took five hours and 24 minutes to complete.
McGuire throws out base stealer
With one out and runners on the corners in the top of the sixth inning, Reese McGuire threw out Shohei Ohtani at second base for his first caught stealing in 16 attempts to begin the year.
Duran’s 2023 debut
While Brayan Bello’s 2023 debut did not go according to plan,the same cannot be said for Jarren Duran. Batting out of the nine-hole and starting in center field, the speedy left-handed hitter went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base.
Next up: Gray vs. Sale
The Red Sox will welcome the first-place, 10-6 Twins into town for the first of a three-game series on Tuesday night. Left-hander Chris Sale is slated to get the start for Boston opposite Minnesota right-hander Sonny Gray.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)