The Boston Red Sox kicked off a tough stretch of their schedule with three straight losses to the Houston Astros. Luckily, they were able to figure things out this afternoon, and were able to avoid being swept in the four game set. The Sox lineup went dead cold for the majority of this series, and ended up losing a couple of winnable games in the process, which isn’t ideal for a team trying to catch the red hot Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East right now. They were able to stop the bleeding for the time being, but this wasn’t a great series for Boston.
Tuesday night’s game was an absolute blowout, as the Astros smacked around each pitcher the Red Sox brought out on the night. Eduardo Rodriguez’s month long struggles continued, as he only lasted 4.2 innings, giving up six runs to put the Sox in a big hole against a very good Astros squad. By the time Alex Verdugo drove in Boston’s first run, Rodriguez was already done for the night. Colten Brewer, who was recently called up from the WooSox, wasn’t any better, as he gave up four runs on four hits and three walks, while only managing to get three outs. By the time all was said and done, the Sox wound up losing an ugly 11-2 game, with the other run coming off of a solo shot from Hunter Renfroe.
Wednesday’s game wasn’t as ugly, but the end result was still the same. Garrett Richards did pretty well, only giving up two runs over six innings, but spent most of the game somehow getting himself out of tough situations. He left with the score at 2-1, with Boston’s only run coming on a fielder’s choice from Marwin Gonzalez. Hirokazu Sawamura would come on in relief of Richards to start the seventh, and a combination of his lack of control and poor fielding from the Sox led to three runs for Houston in the inning. Garrett Whitlock would come in and clean up the mess, but it was too little too late, and Boston would find themselves losing by a final score of 5-1.
Last night’s game was one of the most frustrating on the season, as the Sox ended up losing a very winnable game. They would load the bases in the first inning, and Renfroe would end up driving in the only run of the night on a walk before Bobby Dalbec would ground out to end the threat. Nick Pivetta would then proceed to labor through the first inning himself, but only allowed Houston to tie the game back up at one apiece. From here on out, it was all pitchers. Framber Valdez and Pivetta both settled in, and cruised through their respective outings. Unfortunately, Pivetta would give up another run in the fourth inning that would end up being the deciding factor in this one. Boston wouldn’t get another runner to second base until the ninth inning with two outs, but Christian Arroyo popped out to end the game, with the Sox losing 2-1.
While Arroyo couldn’t come through in the clutch yesterday, he did today. With the Sox staring down the barrel at their first sweep since their opening series against the Baltimore Orioles, Arroyo launched a three run home run in the second inning to give the Sox all the run support they needed. That’s because Martin Perez tossed an absolute gem today. Perez needed only 82 pitches to go 7.2 innings, and probably could have finished the game if Alex Cora let him. He only struck out four batters, but he consistently was finding ways to get guys out, which allowed the slumping Boston offense time to wake up in this one. The 3-0 lead held all the way until the seventh, where Xander Bogaerts broke out of his prolonged slump with a two run double, giving Boston a 5-0 lead. The recently recalled Brandon Workman would give up a solo shot to Yuli Gurriel in the ninth inning, but the Sox still came out on top 5-1 to avoid being swept by Houston.
The Sox chose quite a bad time to go cold, as the Astros pounced on Boston numerous mistakes this series. Had the lineup shown up at any point in the second or third games, Boston could have either split or won this series. Instead, they left their bats at Fenway apparently, and only managed to score nine runs over this four game set. For a team that now has playoff aspirations, that simply isn’t good enough. Hopefully this is a short lived slump for the lineup, because there isn’t much room for error in a packed AL East.
The hard luck losers in this series were the pitchers. Aside from the opening game blowout, the pitching staff came through in a huge way this series, and managed to keep three of these games interesting, despite a complete lack of run support. Martin Perez had arguably his best start with the Red Sox, and Nick Pivetta was a bit shaky, but still managed to go six innings and hold a potent Houston lineup to two runs, as did Garrett Richards. The rotation has been iffy at points this season, but aside from Rodriguez’s awful start, this was one of their best series of the season.
The Sox now sit two games behind the Rays for the top spot of the AL East, and they should consider themselves fortunate after the way this series went. They also have a 2.5 game lead over the New York Yankees, who they will conveniently be facing in their upcoming series. There’s a lot on the line for the Sox in this series, as they will try to make up some ground on the Rays will simultaneously hold off the Yankees in the process. This team has shown they have the ability to stay in games no matter who they are playing, but they will need the bats to make the trip this time around in they want to avoid losing another series.