RECAP: David Price Shines but Bullpen Falls Apart as #RedSox Drop Series Opener to Astros.

Coming off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves this past week and an off day on Thursday, the 97-44 Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park to embark on a nine-game homestand, where they were first greeted by the defending World Series champion Houston Astros for a three-game weekend series.

Earlier in late May/early June, these two teams, arguably the two best in the American League, split a four-game set at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros taking the first two and the Red Sox taking the last two.

Getting the start for this series opener, his 27th of the season, was David Price, who last we saw, took a 103 MPH line drive off his left wrist in the third inning of August 29th’s contest against the Marlins.

The left-hander would have to depart from that outing after that occurred, and nine days later, he was back at it against a team he gave up three runs to in six innings of work back on June 2nd.

Pitching into the seventh inning of this one, Price picked up right where he left off prior to that Marlins start with another stellar performance, as he surrendered just two earned runs on two hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.

Retiring 14 straight hitters at one point, the Tennessee native had full control of the strike zone on Friday, and he used that to his full advantage by consistently painting the corners, which led to the double-digit punch outs.

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Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (57 strikes), Price’s night would come to an end after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced in the seventh to reach base, which would ultimately be the Red Sox’s demise.

Out of those 101 pitches, the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball 44% of the time on Friday, and topped out at 94.2 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Unable to pick up a much deserved winning decision at the fault of his bullpen, Price will look to build on what was a strong start to his month of September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays, a former club of his, sometime next week.

In relief of Price, Alex Cora turned to Ryan Brasier with one out and runners on first and second in the top half of the seventh.

Brasier closed the book on Price’s outing by allowing both of those inherited runners to score as well as another on a pair of RBI doubles from Yuli Gurriel and Tony Kemp.

Just like that, the Red Sox found themselves trailing in a game they appeared to have full control of.

Joe Kelly was next up for the eighth inning after his team had just tied things up in their half of the seventh.

Despite some solid numbers recently, Kelly found himself struggling once again, as he allowed the first three Astros hitters he faced to reach, which loaded the bases without a single out recorded.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Carlos Correa gave Houston a brand new lead while the runners on base advanced to scoring position.

That was followed by a wild pitch in the next at bat with Tyler White at the plate, which allowed Jose Altuve to cross the plate.

With White Still up at bat, Kelly could not get a 2-2 85 MPH knuckle curveball by the Astros DH, and he laced it into left field to drive in Alex Bregman from third  and give his team a three-run lead.

Finally, just trying to keep the Red Sox within the three runs they trailed by at this point, Tyler Thornburg worked his way around two singled in a scoreless ninth inning of work, not like it mattered that much at that point.

All and all, here is the final pitching line from the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night:

2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Not great.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who, in his only other start against Boston as an American League hurler, pitched seven innings while allowing three runs to score back on June 1st in Houston.

With the regulars back in the Boston lineup, Cole was solid yet again, although Red Sox hitters did make him work quite a bit.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was JD Martinez, whose sacrifice fly in the first inning drove in Mookie Betts from third to give the Red Sox an early advantage.

Fast forward to the fourth, Xander Bogaerts extended that lead a bit by blasting his 20th home run of the season, a 432 foot shot to dead center.

Three innings later, after the Astros had jumped out to a 3-2 lead, JD Martinez answered right back with an RBI single of his own to pull this thing back at even.

That would be the final Red Sox run of the night, however.

Some notes from this 6-3 loss:

In eight starts since the All-Star break, David Price has posted a 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over 50.2 innings pitched.

I know RBI are not the greatest statistic but JD Martinez already has 117 of them on September 8th.

Over the last 14 days, the Red Sox bullpen owns a 5.40 ERA in 55 total innings pitched. That’s good for the 26th best ERA in baseball over that span.

Going for their 98th win this evening, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston in his second start since returning from the disabled list.

In his four-year career, the left-handed Rodriguez has only made two starts against the Astros, both of which have come at Fenway Park.

In those two starts, Rodriguez has surrendered six earned runs in a total of 6.2 innings pitched. That’s a good for a 8.10 ERA.

Opposite Rodriguez for this middle game will be another right-hander in Houston’s Charlie Morton, who the Red Sox got to for six runs in less than six innings back on June 3rd, a game Boston ran away with.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET Saturday.

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RECAP: Chris Sale Struggles Continue Against Astros as #RedSox Drop Second Game in Houston.

For the second night in a row, a Red Sox starting pitcher gave up four runs in his start against the Houston Astros. Yup, Drew Pomeranz gave up four in five innings on Thursday, and Chris Sale just so happened to do so in six innings pitched on Friday.

In his 13th start of the season, Sale had a bit of a tough time in the first. Similar to what they did to Pomeranz on Thursday, the Astros put two runs on the board early. It started with a leadoff walk to George Springer, who eventually scored when Carlos Correa reached first on a strikeout. That was followed by a Yuli Gurriel single, which scored Alex Bregman from third, and just like that, the Red Sox found themselves down early.

The lefty would settle down a bit after that, as he scattered two more runs on four hits and no walks over the next five innings. By the time he departed, the Red Sox were only trailing by one.

Certainly not the best out of Sale against a team he has owned in the past, and that now marks two straight starts where he has not looked like his dominant self. In those two starts against the Braves and Astros, the Florida native has surrendered 10 earned runs on 11 hits in just 10.1 innings pitched. He’ll look to rebound next time out against the Detroit Tigers.

With his pitch count at exactly 100 (67 strikes) heading into the bottom half of the seventh, Sale was replaced in favor of Matt Barnes.

The UCONN alum worked his way around back to back singles to lead off the inning while holding the Astros scoreless in his only frame of work. That made way for Joe Kelly in the eighth, who has arguably been one of the better relievers in baseball up to this point in the season.

In fact, over his last 10 appearances, Kelly has held opponents to a .091 BAA in 10.1 innings pitched. That was not the case last night though, as the Astros got to the righty for three runs on two home runs to pretty much put this ting out of the reach. For Kelly, it was the first time he had surrendered a run since May 10th against the Yankees.

Needing two outs to get to the top of the ninth, Brian Johnson got the final call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he too worked his away around back to back singles AND a bases loaded jam to get out of the inning.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup could only muster three runs against Astros starter Gerrit Cole last night. Cole, who entered last night with the American League lead in strikeouts, managed to fan seven in seven innings pitched. Over that span, Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and JD Martinez were the only ones to drive in a run on Friday.

Holt put the Red Sox on the board in the second with an RBI double, and Moreland and Martinez went back to back with solo shots in the fourth.

That was that, and the Astros pitching staff held them scoreless over the last five innings to pick up the 2-0 series lead.

Next up for the Red Sox is the third game of this series later tonight. In a matchup of premier pitchers, Cy Young Award winners, and former teammates, it will be David Price vs. Justin Verlander.

Over their past three starts respectively, both starters have been phenomenal. Price owns a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings pitched, and Verlander owns a 0.83 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Also, Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia have both hit the 10-day disabled list in the last 24 hours. Betts won’t be able to return until next Friday at the earliest, and in their place, first baseman Sam Travis and reliever Bobby Poyner have been recalled from Triple A Pawtucket. It will certainly be interesting to see how they manage without two very important players.

Anyway, first pitch of tonight’s game is scheduled for 7:15 PM ET tonight on FOX. Should be a decent pitchers duel.