After experiencing some air travel issues on their way to Houston and arriving much later than expected, the Red Sox opened up another three-game weekend series against the Astros Friday with a frustrating and sloppy 4-3 loss.
Making his 11th start of the season and second straight against Houston in this one was Chris Sale, fresh off a 10-strikeout, five-walk performance in his last time out this past Sunday.
This time around against the ‘Stros, the left-hander made it through six full innings, yielding four runs, only two of which were earned, on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night.
Despite what those numbers may say, Sale did not receive too much help from the defense behind him, with the Sox accounting for three total errors in only the first four innings Friday.
The first came from Steve Pearce at first base, who had the chance to record the final out of the second inning on a simple throw to Chris Sale as he was headed towards the bag on a grounder off the bat of Josh Reddick.
Instead, the ball was hurled way behind Sale and headed towards the backstop, where Sandy Leon had the chance to get the third out yet again with Aledmys Diaz, who was initially at first, rushing towards the plate.
While going for the tag though, it appeared as if Leon went for Diaz’s legs rather than the plate itself, which in turn allowed the runner to swerve his way around Leon’s mitt and score untouched to make it a 1-0 game.
An inning later, Astros center fielder and the eventual star of this contest Jake Marisnick led things off against Sale by blasting his sixth home run of the season, a 336 foot shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field. 2-0.
In the fourth, we were back to the sloppy play with runners on the corners and one out for the aforementioned Marisnick.
On the first pitch he saw from Sale, Marisnick grounded into what looked to be an out-inducing play at short, but Xander Bogaerts instead decided to try and get the out at home and failed miserable with a poor, off-balanced toss to the plate that got past Leon and Robinson Chirinos scored from third anyway.
During that same sequence, Josh Reddick advanced up to third while Marisnick should have been caught dead in a rundown between first and second, but instead retreated back to first safely thanks to a miscommunication between Michael Chavis and Steve Pearce.
Since Reddick was able to move into scoring position, George Springer was able to plate him with a sacrifice fly to left on the very next pitch of the ballgame to put his team ahead 4-0. Why Andrew Benintendi didn’t even attempt to make a throw towards home is beyond me.
Once all the dust settled from that craziness, Sale did settle down a bit from the middle of the fifth inning on by retiring the last six hitters he faced to end his outing on a more positive note.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 89 (56 strikes), the 30-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 39% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing six swings and misses while topping out at 95.5 MPH with the pitch.
Falling to 1-6 on the season now with his ERA dropping to 4.19, Sale will look for better results in his next time out, which should come in that series back at home against the Cleveland Indians.
In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden put together another impressive performance in the seventh inning of this one by working his way around a leadoff single in an otherswise clean frame, while Heath Hembree had his work cut out for him by walking the bases loaded in the eighth before escaping the jam by striking out Marisnick on four pitches to keep his team’s deficit at two runs.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend and a familiar foe in Astros left-hander Wade Miley, who, like Sale, started in last Sunday’s contest at Fenway Park as well.
Known as a rampant worker, Miley took a perfect game into the fourth inning before surrendering a one-out double to Mookie Betts.
Unable to score there or in the fifth, the Boston bats finally got to the Houston southpaw in the sixth, when Xander Bogaerts opened up the scoring for his team with a 394 foot solo shot over everything in left field.
Fast forward to the eighth, with Miley out and Ryan Pressly in for the Astros, and Jackie Bradley Jr. cut into that lead even more by depositing his third big fly in the last five days to left center to make it a two-run game.
That 433 foot homer actually broke up Pressly’s record-setting run of 40 consecutive scoreless appearances dating back to last season.
And after failing to tack on any more runs off of Pressly, it came down to the top half of the ninth with closer Roberto Osuna on the mound for Houston.
Leading off the inning, it really seemed as though Andrew Benintendi had given his team a shot by belting what would have surely been a double to deep center field, but like I mentioned earlier, the star of this game, Jake Marisnick, came up with a spectacular grab to rob the Red Sox outfielder of extra bases.
Instead of going to his bench with Rafael Devers available to pinch-hit, Sox manager Alex Cora stuck with Eduardo Nunez, who proceeded to fan on six pitches for the second out of the frame.
Down to their final out now, Christian Vazquez came on for Sandy Leon and provided a glimmer of hope by tattooing his seventh home run of the season to cut the Astros lead to one.
Unfortunately for Boston, Jackie Bradley Jr., who of couse had already homered in this one, could not put on a repeat of that at-bat, as he struck out on three straight hittable pitches to retire the side, and thus end the ballgame with a final score of 4-3.
Some notes from this loss:
The Red Sox are now 1-3 against the Astros this season. They have been outscored 17-11 in those four games.
JD Martinez went 0-for-3 with a walk in his return to the Red Sox lineup out of the cleanup spot.
Jackie Bradley Jr. has lifted his batting average from .144 to .170 in his last five games played. In other words, he is in the midst of a five-game hitting streak.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game series with David set to start for Boston.
Entering Saturday with an ERA of 3.29 through seven starts this season, Price impressed in his return from the injured list this past Monday in Toronto, limiting the Blue Jays to two runs in five innings of work.
In five career starts at Minute Maid Park, the left-hander is 5-0 with a 4.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over a total of five starts and 31 innings pitched.
Opposite Price will be right-hander Brad Peacock for Houston, who owns a lifetime 8.36 ERA in five appearances (four starts) against the Red Sox.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to bounce back.