The Red Sox will not go 162-0 in 2015, as Jeff Francouer overcame a cold night that Hanley Ramirez could not, powering the Phillies to a 4-2 win.
The Sox certainly expected to have at least one rough game at the plate against Philadelphia, but they certainly would not have guessed it would come against Aaron Harang rather than Cole Hamels. Where the Red Sox blasted Hamels for long ball after long ball, they could barely muster a well-hit ball against Harang.
Perhaps it was the 48 hour layoff between games that cooled down the bats. More likely, though, it was the weather. Facing 40 degree temperatures and unfavorable winds, Boston was held to just a single hit through five innings on a Pablo Sandoval line drive. That Mookie Betts giving a fly ball a ride is noteworthy should give you an idea of how little the Red Sox had to show at the plate for their efforts, with Harang managing to rack up eight strikeouts on sluggish Boston bats.
Rick Porcello was, in typical Rick Porcello fashion, putting up similar results in less flashy fashion. The Phillies had a handful of weak singles to their names to go with almost a dozen ground ball outs. What contact they managed was weak, and his pitch count was well under control headed into the sixth.
There, however, he would falter. Darin Ruf drew a one-out walk, the beneficiary of a couple close calls around the corner, then moved to second on a seeing-eye single from Cody Asche. That brought Jeff Francoeur to the plate, and while the outfielder doesn't make much contact, when he does he can put a charge into the ball. So, even on a night when hitting the ball out of the infield was an accomplishment, Rick Porcello found his one mistake pitch--a hanging slider in Francoeur's wheelhouse--blasted to left for a three-run shot. Porcello finished the inning, but the damage was done
The deficit did at least seem to wake the Red Sox up from their stupor. Dustin Pedroia and Pablo Sandoval both reached base to start the seventh, giving them a good shot to get on the board. But Hanley Ramirez' line drive stayed up just long enough for Ben Revere to rush in and make the grab, and Mike Napoli's rocket to short was, unfortunately, right to short, where Freddy Galvis made the grab and caught Dustin Pedroia straying too far from second to prevent the double play.
The Phillies would build their lead in the bottom of the inning courtesy of a three-base throwing error from Pablo Sandoval--a simple low throw that got past Mike Napoli and rolled for a while, leaving Chase Utley with an easy sacrifice fly opportunity.
The extra run would not prove the difference, but it certainly seemed important when Ken Giles fell completely to pieces in the top of the eighth. Darin Ruf booted a ball at first base to let Daniel Nava reach to start the inning, and a hard-worked walk from Ryan Hanigan gave the Red Sox two baserunners with nobody out once again. This time the Sox managed to cash in, with Xander Bogaerts singling down the left field line to put Boston on the board.
With the pitcher's spot up, out came David Ortiz, pinch-hitting for Robbie Ross. Giles finally found an out, actually putting together an excellent at bat to strike out Ortiz before getting Mookie Betts to hit a fly ball for out number two. But with just one out to go, Giles completely lost the strike zone. It took five pitches to send Dustin Pedroia to first, loading the bases, and just four more to give Pablo Sandoval an RBI base on balls, with Giles missing so bad you could have mistaken it for an intentional walk.
Giles' collapse brought Jonathan Papelbon into the game, leading to the most important at bat of the night: Papelbon vs. Ramirez. After taking a strike over the middle, Hanley got another pitch to hit and turned on it. The sound off the bat was perfect, the outfielders headed for the wall, and for a brief moment it seemed certain that Hanley had picked up his second grand slam in as many games.
But it was a cold, windy night. The ball that would have been gone in July, or June, or May, or maybe even tomorrow night just...died. Ben Revere settled underneath it right in front of the wall, and the inning ended with a whimper, leaving Papelbon to work around only a rare instance of catcher interference to end the game.
The 162-0 dream is dead. Now the Red Sox have to worry about earning a series win Thursday night.