#RedSox Comeback Attempt Falls Short in Sloppy 4-3 Loss to Astros

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.

 

 

 

Ryan Weber Allows One Run over Six Innings and Steve Pearce Homers for First Time This Season as #RedSox Take Series from Blue Jays with 8-2 Victory

After needing 13 innings to top the Blue Jays in a marathon game on Wednesday, the Red Sox needed just nine innings to wrap their four-game set with Toronto up on Thursday, taking the series finale by a final score of 8-2.

Making his first start and fourth overall appearance for Boston was Ryan Weber in what was supposed to be a bullpen day for the Red Sox.

As it turned out though, the right-hander worked the first six innings of this one, yielding just one run while scattering three hits, one HBP, and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one run came in the second, when with no outs and runners on first and second, a Freddy Galvis RBI double put Toronto on the board.

It looked as though things really could have taken a turn for the worst there with three straight Blue Jays reaching base to leadoff the inning, but Weber rallied by sitting down the next three hitters he faced to get out of the jam and didn’t have to look back from there.

Retiring 15 of the last 16 hitters he faced, the 28-year-old hurler’s fine outing came to a close with a six-pitch lineout of Rowdy Tellez to end the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (59 strikes), Weber relied heavily on his sinking fastball, turning to the pitch nearly 55% of the time he was on the mound Thursday with Christian Vazquez behind the plate. He also induced three swings and misses and topped out at 90 MPH with the same sinker.

Although his ERA did slightly inflate to 1.29 on the season, Weber did earn his first winning decision in a Red Sox uniform to improve to 1-0 on the year. At this point, it’s not known if the Florida native will remain in Boston’s rotation, but if he does, his next start will likely come sometime next week back at home against the Cleveland Indians.

In relief of Weber, the recently called up Travis Lakins came on for his second career appearance out of the Sox bullpen in the seventh and worked his way around a leadoff double in an otherwise perfect frame of work with the help of the infield behind him.

From there, Ryan Brasier recorded his third consecutive scoreless appearance with a 1-2-3 eighth before Hector Velazquez allowed one run on a Justin Smoak home run in the ninth en route to securing the 8-2 win for his team.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander Clayton Richard for the Blue Jays, making his first start of 2019 after opening up the season on the injured list.

Opening up the scoring for Boston in this one was the hitter responsible for Wednesday’s win in Michael Chavis, whose third inning RBI groundout to plate Eduardo Nunez from third put the Sox on the board.

That was all they could muster off of Richard, and it wasn’t until the top half of the sixth when the bats really started to get going.

With Sam Gaviglio in for Toronto to start the inning, a leadoff single from Xander Bogaerts followed by back-to-back RBI base knocks off the bats of Rafael Devers and Steve Pearce broke the 1-1 tie and gave Boston the two-run advantage.

An inning later, it was more of the same against Jays reliever Elvis Luciano, this time with Jackie Bradley Jr, Michael Chavis, and Mookie Betts reaching base to leadoff the seventh and the reigning American League MVP collecting his 25th RBI of the year on a line-drive double to score Bradley Jr. from third and make it a 4-1 contest.

In the eighth, an Andrew Benintendi leadoff single would result in another insurance run being pushed across on an RBI single from Eduardo Nunez moments later. 5-1.

And finally, in the ninth, Devers and Pearce capped off fine days at the plate, with the former driving in Bogaerts from second on an RBI infield single, and the latter coming through with his first home run of the season, a two-out, 399 foot two-run shot to left off Toronto reliever Ryan Feierabend.

Pearce’s third knock of the afternoon made it an 8-1 game, and after the Blue Jays tacked on a run of their own in their half of the ninth, 8-2 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are four games over .500 (27-23) for the first time this season.

Through 20 games this month, Rafael Devers is slashing .345/.383/.609 with six home runs and 21 runs driven in.

Before Thursday, Ryan Weber hadn’t won a big league game since April 19th, 2016 when he was a member of the Atlanta Braves.

Xander Bogaerts has recorded multiple hits in four of his last five games played.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s off to Houston for another three-game weekend series against the Houston Astros.

The ‘Stros took two out of three from the Sox at Fenway Park last weekend in what was a tightly-contested series outside of a few poor innings.

In the opening game, it will be a pitching matchup featuring a pair of left-handers representing Red Sox present and past, with Chris Sale getting the ball for Boston and Wade Miley doing the same for Houston.

Last time these two southpaws met up this past Sunday, Sale allowed three runs and struck out 10 over 5.1 innings while Miley surrendered three runs, two of which were earned,  in five innings of work. The Red Sox won that game 4-3.

First pitch of the series opener on Friday is scheduled for 8:10 PM EDT on NESN.

Xander Bogaerts Drives in Game-Tying and Game-Winning Runs as #RedSox Salvage Series Against Astros with 4-3 Victory

After dropping three of their last four at home, the Red Sox salvaged their three-game series against the Astros with a tight 4-3 win on Sunday to put an end to Houston’s 10-game winning streak.

Making his 10th start of the season for Boston in this one was Chris Sale, fresh off a career-high 17 strikeouts over seven innings in his last time out against the Colorado Rockies.

Pitching into just the sixth inning Sunday, the left-hander had to grind his way through a tough lineup, as he surrendered three runs on four hits, a season-high five walks, and one HBP to go along with 10 strikeouts the afternoon.

For the fifth time in his last six starts, Sale did reach the double-digit mark for punchouts. That much was encouraging to see. The five walks, tied for the most the southpaw has yielded in a single game, were not. Entering Sunday, Sale had given out only two free passes since the beginning of May.

Two of those walks directly led to Astros runs, with the first coming on a leadoff walk drawn by Yuli Gurriel in the second, who would eventually come around to score from third on a two-out wild pitch with George Springer at the plate.

Judging by where that slider was located, it would appear as though Christian Vazquez, who doesn’t usually catch Sale, was looking for something different and thus got crossed up, which in turn allowed the run to cross the plate.

Able to escape the second without any further damage, walks hurt the Florida native yet again an inning later, with Carlos Correa mashing a one-out, two-run homer to deep center after Alex Bregman, like Gurriel, led the frame off by drawing a seven-pitch free pass.

From that point, Sale settled in a bit by retiring eight of the next nine Houston hitters he faced before running into some more trouble in the sixth.

There, a Gurriel leadoff double, followed by back-to-back one-out walks of Robinson Chirinos and Josh Reddick loaded the bases for the Astros yet again, consequently putting an end to Sale’s outing thanks to a pitch count north of the century mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied heavily on his slider, as he turned to the pitch more than 47% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and induced a game-high 10 swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 96.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 36 times.

Hit with the no-decision, Sale will look for his second win of the season in his next time out, which will come against these same Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden was thrown into the fire, as he came on for his 16th appearance of the year with two outs to get and the bases full.

Having never faced the Astros before in his career, the right-hander managed to get the only batter he faced in the inning, Jake Marisnick, to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play before tossing another scoreless frame with the help of another inning-ending twin killing in the seventh.

After the Red Sox jumped ahead by one run in their half of the seventh, that set up Matt Barnes with the chance to preserve that lead in the eighth, and the versatile righty did just that by sitting down the only three Astros he faced in order to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

In what was the first save opportunity of his career, the 30-year-old worked his way around walking the potential tying run with one out by getting Tony Kemp to line out to Jackie Bradley Jr. to secure the 4-3 win for his team, thus securing career save number one as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Astros left-hander Wade Miley, who spent the 2015 season with Boston.

Pitching in a venue with some familiarity, the Sox bats jumped early on Miley, with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both reaching base and advancing 90 feet to second and third with one out thanks to a wild pitch from the Houston starter.

With runners in scoring position and two outs to work with, JD Martinez drove in Boston’s first run of the afternoon on a simple RBI groundout to short that gave Betts enough time to score from third. 1-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the Astros went ahead with a 3-1 lead of their own, the Red Sox erased that deficit very quickly thanks to the top of their lineup, headlined by rookie Michael Chavis making his big league debut in the leadoff spot.

On the very first pitch he saw from Miley with two outs in the inning, Chavis demolished a 88 MPH cutter and sent it 420 feet over the Monster for his eighth big fly of the season to make it a one-run game.

Just a few moments later, Betts put the tying run in scoring position with a line-drive double, and Bogaerts came through with his first of two clutch hits on the day, this time plating Betts from second on a fly ball RBI single that honestly should have been caught. Instead, the ball evaded Yuli Gurriel, Jake Marisnick, and Josh Reddick, and found a nice place to land in shallow right field. 3-3 ballgame.

And in the seventh, it was the Xander Bogaerts show once more with Betts representing the go-ahead run at first and two outs in the inning.

Facing off against Astros reliever Frambler Valdez for the first time ever, the 26-year-old shortstop laced a 1-1 RBI double off the center field wall, scoring Betts all the way from first to make it a 4-3 contest, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Since April 23rd, Chris Sale has recorded a nice 69 strikeouts over his last 38.1 innings pitched. That’s good for a K/9 of 16.3.

Speaking of nice, Marcus Walden owns an ERA of 0.69 in his last six appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Matt Barnes has not given up a run in his last nine relief outings.

Through 13 games this month, Christian Vazquez is slashing .476/.511/.714 with two home runs and three RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head north of the border for the first time this season to take on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the 19-27 Toronto Blue Jays.

Following Sunday’s win, the club optioned right-handed pitcher Josh Smith and catcher Oscar Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket, meaning David Price and Sandy Leon are likely to be activated from the injured list and paternity leave list respectively on Monday.

Price is already slated to get the ball in the first of four against his former team, while right-hander Edwin Jackson, now with his 14th big league club, will start for Toronto.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.