The Red Sox fell to the Astros 12-8 Friday night in extra innings, and it's easy to see why.
The first four innings were pitched by Justin Masterson.
The eighth by Craig Breslow.
The tenth by fresh call-up Noe Ramirez.
Well damn, John, at that point you're pretty much asking for it.
After three more improbable scoreless innings to start the game, Justin Masterson turned in an entirely more likely five-run fourth inning against the Astros. He almost had it under control, getting a pair of outs after the first two batters reached on well-hit singles even as a run scored, but Jason Castro and Alex Presley apparently came to the realization he was throwing 87, and jumped on the first pitches they saw to bring two more runs home.
Masterson would never get that third out. He was pulled after another couple hits gave the Astros five runs total in favor of Tommy Layne, who got him out of the inning without suffering any further damage, then turned in a solid fifth as well.
That did not spell the end for the Red Sox, though. Hanley Ramirez had put them on the board with a solo shot in the second, and Mookie Betts capped off a two-out rally in the same inning with an RBI single to give them a second run. They would even manage to tie it up in the fifth, taking advantage of a strange play that saw David Ortiz break up a potential inning-ending double play by having his helmet get in the way of the throw to first to score three runs and make it 5-5.
That was their first comeback of the night. Their second would have to wait until Matt Barnes served up two runs in the seventh, with Josh Fields immediately putting the Sox in position to respond by loading the bases on two walks and a single with zero outs. Joe Thatcher didn't do much better, letting the Sox keep the conga line going by surrendering an RBI single to Pablo Sandoval. But Mike Napoli struck out against Will Harris, allowing the Astros to limit the damage to just one more run coming in on a groundout from Alejandro De Aza.
Their third comeback would come in the very next inning after Craig Breslow served up a homer to the first batter he faced. You may remember Craig Breslow as the guy who was absolutely crushed in Toronto just 24 hours prior. Junichi Tazawa did not pitch in this game. I have no explanation, and unless John Farrell is keeping some information from us on Tazawa's health, then this was just a flat-out terrible decision, and one that probably cost the Red Sox this game.
Somehow, though, the Sox survived even that, with David Ortiz doubling home Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the eighth. But then came the tenth, with the game still tied, and the Red Sox called on none other than fresh call-up Noe Ramirez to get the job done.
He did not. He hit Jose Altuve with the second pitch of his major league career, had Preston Tucker reach on an error from Mike Napoli, who is the standout failure in a largely productive lineup tonight, and then allowed the go-ahead run to score on a single from Carlos Correa. The Astros would just keep piling on against the rookie, scoring four times in total on another pair of hits and a double-steal of home to make it 12-8. There was no coming back from that.
The last couple weeks have brought a rare sense of positivity to Red Sox fans, but after a game like this, it's almost hard to remember why. The Red Sox dug themselves quite a hole in the first two months of the season, but even if they hadn't, their insistence to keep revisiting clear mistakes seems like it would be enough to sink them anyways. These players--Mike Napoli, Justin Masterson, and Craig Breslow--are not question marks. They're just done. And every time the Red Sox go back to those wells it's costing them some amount of equity.
It's not time to move on. But only because that came weeks ago. At this point, it's time to start questioning the people who are making these decisions.