Just when it looked like the Red Sox were going to catch a break and come away with a close win over the Texas Rangers on Joe Kelly day, an imperfect ninth from Koji Uehara was compounded by an error from Pablo Sandoval, allowing the Rangers to put together the two runs they needed to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run walkoff loss Sunday evening.
The Red Sox and Rangers traded (small) blows in the early innings. The Sox scored in the top of the first on singles from Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez in the, but the Rangers responded immediately with Joe Kelly walking leadoff man Delino DeShields and let him move to third with one out on a single from Prince Fielder, leaving an Adrian Betlre ground ball enough to tie it.
It was an ill omen for Kelly, who seems to be on the verge of losing his spot in the rotation. But the first-inning run would not prove to be part of a fresh disaster. Kelly let the Rangers tie it up in the third after the Sox went up on an error from Beltre, but that, too, was due to an error, this time on Dustin Pedroia botching a potential double play.
In fact, it was Pedroia's misplay that prove the omen for more costly bad defense for the Red Sox. First, though, they' take the lead in the sixth inning, with Xander Bogaerts singling home Hanley Ramirez--one of his three hits on the day--to put the Sox ahead 3-2.
That lasted until the ninth. Kelly kept the Rangers off the board in the fourth and fifth, while Alexi Ogando, Tommy Layne, and Junichi Tazawa handled the middle frames. That left just Koji and the ninth.
And to Koji's credit, he kind of did what he needed to do. But Pablo Sandoval made a mess of a leadoff ground ball from Hanser Alberto, sparking a rally that would end the game. And it wasn't much of a rally from Koji's point of view, either. A sacrifice bunt, a ground ball that moved Alberto to third with two outs, and then an intentional walk of Prince Fielder, John Farrell accepting the risk of putting the go-ahead run on base in exchange for the opportunity to get the final out against Hamilton instead. That choice may or may not have been costly--God only knows what Fielder would have done--but it certainly didn't pay off. A deep drive to left field perfectly split the outfielders, allowing Prince Fielder to score all the way from first base to win the game for the Rangers.