Coming off an impressive two game sweep of the New York Mets, the Boston Red Sox seemed like they had the momentum to come in and pick up a series win over the Texas Rangers. Things ended up going opposite, as the Rangers would go on to pick up 3 wins over the Sox and take the series win. It was a tough series for the Sox, as their lineup was scoring pretty consistently, but watched the bullpen cough up leads in the last two games of the series. It was a disappointing result, especially considering how dominant the pitching staff was against the Mets.
Thursday night’s action featured a pitching duel between both squads. Martin Perez and Kyle Gibson both pitched into the sixth inning, but Gibson was able to finish the inning whereas Perez wasn’t. Perez still finished with a pretty solid line (5 2/3, 1 ER, 7 K) but was outdueled by Gibson and the Rangers bullpen. The Sox lineup only mustered up three hits on the evening, with Rafael Devers hitting an RBI double to give them their only run of the game, and tied the score at one in the sixth inning. Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura would combine to give the lead back to Texas, which was a lead they ultimately wouldn’t relinquish on the way to a 4-1 victory.
The bats finally woke up on Friday evening to the tune of a four home runs. J.D. Martinez would hit two home runs to put him a top the MLB with nine dingers for the time being, and Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers would each hit a solo shot as well to give the Sox all six of their runs. Nathan Eovaldi got the win after cruising through six innings, striking out five and giving up only one run. Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Austin Brice would each pitch an inning to relief to ensure the Red Sox would knot the series back up at one win a piece, with the final score being 6-1.
Saturday night featured a loss that we hadn’t really seen throughout the opening month of the season. The Sox jumped all over Jordan Lyles, tagging him for five runs and chasing him out of the game after only four innings. Eduardo Rodriguez struggled throughout his start as well, giving up four runs through five innings, but was still in line for the win after he departed. However, the bullpen faltered and ultimately coughed up the game. Matt Andriese, who had been awesome out of the pen to start the season, gave up three runs in the sixth inning, including a two run homer to Willie Calhoun that would ultimately prove to be the winner. The Sox would pull a run back in the top of the seventh, but the Rangers bullpen shut down the Sox lineup in a way that the Sox bullpen had been doing to other teams for most of the season. It was tough to see the pitching staff throw this one away, especially after the lineup gave them a decent amount of run support, but the final score settled in at 8-6 in favor of the Rangers.
In previous four game sets, the Red Sox had typically been in a similar situation needing to win the last game to tie the series. Things seemed to be on the right track, as the Red Sox held a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. Xander Bogaerts hit a solo shot, and Hunter Renfroe and Kike Hernandez both drove in runs of their own. Garrett Richards went five solid innings, picking up seven strikeouts while only giving up one run, and Darwinzon Hernandez handled the sixth. Things started to go wrong in the bottom of the seventh, with Garrett Whitlock giving up his first run of the season, before Adam Ottavino threw away the lead in the eighth, continuing a slow start to the season for him. Ian Kennedy came on for the Rangers in the ninth and only needed five pitches to close the door, giving Texas a 5-3 victory.
This was a tough series for the Sox, and it’s the first one they have actually lost since they got swept by the Baltimore Orioles to open the season. The clear issue this series was the bullpen. The Red Sox have been great at getting leads and holding them and while they had a lead in 3 of the four games, they only ended up winning one. Seeing guys like Hirokazu Sawamura and Matt Andriese struggle is tough, especially considering how effective they have been so far, but it’s unreasonable to expect them to be perfect each time they step on the mound. On the other hand, a guy like Adam Ottavino has been struggling for most of the season, and his struggles in the eighth inning almost certainly cost the Sox the game.
The Red Sox will have a day off tomorrow to recover from this tough series, before welcoming the Detroit Tigers to Fenway Park. The Tigers have been at the bottom of the AL Central for a couple of years now, and this year looks no different, as they are already 9.5 games out of first place with an 8-21 record. This should be a good opportunity for the Sox to get back on track against an inferior opponent, and hang onto their lead a top the AL East.
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