For the first time this year, the Red Sox have dropped eight straight games thanks to a 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros, the result of a seventh-inning bullpen implosion.
For once, the Red Sox were not facing an immediate deficit. In fact, they had the early lead in the first after David Ortiz doubled home Mookie Betts.Wade Miley would stumble a bit out of the gates, allowing the Astros to respond right away as Marwin Gonzalez took him deep in the bottom of the inning, but Mike Napoli's first home run since June 17th gave the Sox their lead right back in the second.
If Miley quickly proved incapable of holding Boston's first lead, he proved far more responsible with their second. You can't call this a well-pitched game from Miley. He was in constant trouble against the Astros, in no small part because of his tendency to give away free baserunners. Miley walked two batters in each of the second and fifth innings, and gave up a few scattered hits throughout his night. But there was always just the right sequencing for Miley to escape. Through six innings, he'd yet to give up a second run.
The Red Sox, however, had not taken advantage of the opportunity to build their lead. While Lance McCullers looked ready to cough up more early, Ryan Hanigan was thrown out trying to score from second on a Brock Holt hit in the second, and the Sox wasted their own two-walk inning in the third. The fourth saw Mike Napoli stranded after a leadoff double, and after a clean fifth, the Astros decided not to risk a sixth, leaving him with just a two-run night.
Still, all the Sox needed was for their bullpen to hold. It did not.
In fact, the pen didn't even really flirt with the idea of holding. Colby Rasmus, the second batter faced by Boston's first man in in Alexei Ogando, produced a game-tying homer in the seventh. Ogando stayed in to give up a single, then gave way to Junichi Tazawa, who completed the meltdown by allowing two doubles and a single to make it a three-run frame by the Astros, who now led 4-2.
The Red Sox actually managed to tie it up right away. David Ortiz homered to start the top of the eighth, and Mike Napoli produced his third big hit of the day, this time an RBI double to left, scoring Hanley Ramirez to even things up. The team had finally showed some fight for once!
They were rewarded with Craig Breslow for the ninth inning of a tie game, and a Jose Altuve shot into the left field stands to complete the sweep.
The Red Sox lost again. They lost a game which saw Wade Miley escape five walks with one run, and saw Mike Napoli--Mike Napoli!--produce two doubles and a home run. If this is not a game the Red Sox can win, what is?