The Red Sox once again found themselves facing a large deficit after a terrible pitching performance Sunday afternoon, but this time there was no fighting back, with the Astros coming out on top in an 8-1 rout.
While a double play saved Joe Kelly from first-inning trouble, the defense very specifically did not bail him out in the second. With two men on and one out, Joe Kelly got a ground ball to shortstop from Marwin Gonzalez that appeared to produce an inning-ending double play. The Astros challenged the call, however, contending that Xander Bogaerts had fired to first before touching second base. Replay showed they were entirely correct, keeping the inning alive for the Astros.
While it's easy to scapegoat Bogaerts for his defensive gaffe, there's no way to excuse the rest of the inning from Joe Kelly. It wasn't Bogaerts who allowed the first four batters of the frame to reach base, bringing two runs in with the aid of a sacrifice fly. And while the inning should have been over at that point, it was still Joe Kelly who walked Robbie Grossman, and it was certainly Kelly who gave Jose Altuve a hanger to crush over the Monster for a grand slam.
Add in a solo shot for Dexter Fowler in the top of the third, and you've got a total disaster performance from the St. Louis import. Four innings and seven runs on seven hits and six walks. We knew Kelly was going through a rough year, and the peripheral warning signs were perhaps there to be seen in games one and two with Boston. But this? This is another dire entry in the logs for the pieces of Boston's rotation that are supposed to be helping turn this team around in 2015.
The Red Sox did show some signs of mounting a rally in the bottom of the first, putting the first four men on base and scoring a run on Daniel Nava's double. But Nava ran into an out trying to take third on the throw home, and with men on second and third and one out, Collin McHugh managed to collect himself in much the way Joe Kelly did not, striking out Kelly Johnson and getting a groundout from Xander Bogaerts to end the frame.
The Red Sox would have a couple more innings see multiple runners reach without result, but that was the peak of their performance at the plate for the night. The Astros would tack on a meaningless eighth run in the ninth, Jon Singleton taking Steven Wright deep to add that last little bit of insult to injury. An ugly, ugly game for everyone involved on Boston's side of things.