Despite Tanner Houck’s strong start, the Red Sox were held to just one run on four hits in a series-opening loss to the Angels on Monday night. Boston fell to Los Angeles by a final score of 2-1 at Angel Stadium to drop to 26-22 on the season.
Houck, making his ninth start of the year for the Sox, put together a solid outing in his bid to remain in the rotation. The right-hander allowed just one run on three hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts over six innings of work.
The Halos got to Houck for that lone run in their half of the second. After drawing a one-out walk, Brandon Drury went from first to third base on a Matt Thaiss single. He then opened the scoring by coming in from third on an RBI groundout off the bat of Luis Rengifo.
Houck proceeded to load the bases by hitting a batter and giving up another single, but he escaped the jam by fanning Mike Trout on an 84 mph slider at the bottom of the zone. From the middle of the third inning through the end of the sixth, the righty retired eight of the last nine batters he faced.
In addition to striking out Trout and Shohei Ohtani a combined four times on Monday night, Houck induced 17 swings-and-misses on his 83 pitches (65 strikes). The 26-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season to 4.99.
Shortly before Houck’s night to an end, the Red Sox got on the board in the top of the sixth. After being held in check by Angels starter Jaime Barria, Connor Wong led off the inning with a groundball double off veteran reliever Aaron Loup. Wong then moved up to third on an Alex Verdugo groundout and scored the then-tying run on a Masataka Yoshida RBI single.
With things knotted up at 1-1 going into the seventh, Kutter Crawford took over for Houck out of the Boston bullpen. Making his first appearance since being activated from the 15-day injured list on Friday, Crawford worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh and came back out for the eighth.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, Mickey Moniak broke the tie by crushing a 401-foot leadoff home run to deep right field to put the Angels back up, 2-1, going into the ninth. Chase Silseth then closed it out by making quick work of Verdugo, Yoshida, and Justin Turner as Crawford was charged with the loss.
At a swift two hours and five minutes, Monday marked Boston’s second-quickest game of the season behind only a 2-1 win over this same Angels team that took one hour and 57 minutes to complete back on April 16.
Next up: Bello vs. Canning
The Red Sox will look to avoid a third straight loss in the middle game of this three-game set against the Angels on Tuesday night. Brayan Bello will get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Griffin Canning will go for Los Angeles.
First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)