Coming off their weekend sweep of the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox were flying high into this week. Although the week got off to a good start with a win over the Miami Marlins, it quickly turned sour once the Houston Astros came to town. A down week for the Sox offense led to some struggles to win, but they’re still in great position in second place in the AL East.
The first game of the week was a makeup of a previously rained out game against the Miami Marlins. The Marlins are not a very good team, but every win counts, so it was important that the Sox finished off the delayed sweep of this three game series. And it certainly looked like Boston knew this, quickly taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a wild pitch. Alex Verdugo added to the lead with a single to left against the shift in the third inning.
Hitting like that is why the Sox saw Verdugo as a key part of the Mookie Betts trade, with his ability to go the other way a huge boost to any player at Fenway. Boston would score three more runs in the fourth inning, aided by two Miami throwing errors. That opened up a 5-1 lead that the Sox would never look back from. Starling Marte cut into the deficit with a homer in the fifth, and Isan Diaz would add an RBI double in the ninth, but the Marlins never seriously threatened the Sox in this one. The 5-3 win ran their winning streak to five games heading into their showdown with the Houston Astros.
Game 1 against Houston was ugly from the start. The Astros jumped all over Martin Perez, who up until then had been the Sox most consistent starter. It started in the first inning, with Carlos Correa hitting a fly ball to left that managed to sneak its way out of the park.
After a review, the call was confirmed and the Astros led 1-0. The Sox never got closer than that. In the second inning, the Astros added five more runs off Perez to run their lead to 6-0, and by the fourth inning they had scored all seven of their runs. Hunter Renfroe got the Sox on the board with an RBI fielders choice in the fourth inning, but that was all the Sox offense managed. The 7-1 final was ugly but it honestly felt worse. It was a rare time where a Sox starter truly got blown out of the game, as overall the rotation has done a pretty good job of giving the Sox a chance to win night in and night out. Coming off the high of a five-game winning streak, including a sweep of the Yankees, to get blown out like this was a rude awakening, but game 2 didn’t get much better.
Though Boston got off to a much better start in game 2 on Wednesday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, it was short lived. After Bogaerts and Renfroe got the Sox on the board, the Astros answered right back and would jump out to a 5-2 lead by the end of the third inning. Once again, the Astros managed to get to the usually solid Red Sox starting pitching, this time feasting on Nate Eovaldi. Though Eovaldi managed to make it through 5.2 innings, saving the bullpen a little in the process, the five runs he allowed were more than enough for Houston to take the second game of the series. Xander Bogaerts would close the gap by one run on a blast in the fourth inning, but the Astros got two insurance runs off the Sox pen to close the deal and won by a final of 8-3.
After dropping the first two of the series, the Sox were facing the prospect of being swept on their home field, just as they had done to the Yankees last weekend. However, Boston’s bats wouldn’t let that happen. It was a back and forth game, which mostly consisted of the Astros jumping out to a small lead and the Sox answering, only for the cycle to repeat itself. When the game got really interesting, though, was the fifth inning. In the top half, the Astros got three runs on a Kyle Tucker drive to center that Kike Hernandez completely misplayed for the Sox. That gave the Astros a 7-4 lead, and after the last few nights it looked like the Sox might be heading for a similar defeat. But then in the bottom of the fifth, Christian Arroyo stepped to the plate with two men on and tied it with a drive deep into the Boston night and one of the best bat flips from a Sox player this year.
The energy in Fenway was electric from that moment on, even when the Astros jumped out to another one run lead on a Jose Altuve cheapie homerun. Boston scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 12-8 lead that proved to be the final score. After the first two games ended with the Sox bats unable to keep up, it was good to see them finally awake for at least one game.
Certainly, losing two out of three to the Astros was not the result the Red Sox were looking for out of this series, but Houston is a good team that plays well no matter where the games are taking place. At this point, we know that the Sox offense is better than scoring a measly four runs over two games, so there really isn’t any cause for concern in the long run from this series. For the first time in a while, the Sox starters got roughed around and that proved to be the difference. If this turns into a pattern, with bad pitching and no offense, then yeah it’ll obviously be something to keep an eye on. But two games in the middle of June, with the Sox rebounding to score 12 the next night? Nothing to see here.
As we slowly march towards the halfway mark, there’s simply no denying it anymore: the Sox are good. They’ve scored the third most runs in the majors and are seventh in the league in run differential. Are they World Series favorites? Of course not. But after last season’s disaster, it’s nice to see the Sox back to being a respectable team again. Up next for Boston is a four game set with the Toronto Blue Jays in Boston as the Sox continue this homestand. They’ve now won 6 out of 8 and are firmly in second place in the AL East, 4.5 games up on the third place New York Yankees. The Jays have been struggling recently, so this is a good opportunity to continue piling up wins. First pitch on Friday night is at 7:10 with Garrett Richards on the hill.