It's felt like Steven Wright has been living on borrowed time for a while now. And whether it was the rain, the Astros, or just the uncertain nature of the knuckleball, it was time to pay up on Friday night.
For a good while, this looked like it was going to be yet another instance of the Red Sox running roughshod over a team. While the Astros scored first, plating a run off of Wright in the first, Boston seemed to take control in the second. Starting with a Hanley Ramirez base hit, the Red Sox sent seven straight men to the plate without recording an out. And when that out finally did come, it was on a Dustin Pedroia line drive! Even with Xander Bogaerts grounding into a double play, it was a five run inning, which is generally not the sort of thing you expect to find in a loss.
But a loss it was, because Steven Wright just couldn't keep it together. He escaped the third only with quite a bit of luck, as a line drive to first turned into a double play after the Astros put men on the corners to start the frame. But he wouldn't get anything like that in the fifth. In their big inning, Houston managed only six of their first seven batters reaching against Wright, and fittingly, scored one fewer run. It wasn't a uniform attack--a long double here, a bunt or a walk there, but it certainly got the job done. They managed one fewer runner than the Red Sox, and so one fewer run, but with the one they scored in the first, it left the game tied all-the-same.
For the Red Sox these past few days, a tie game should've been no problem. After all, they were only halfway to their usual double-digit allotment of runs. But tonight, when the Astros fought back, the lineup just sort of...died out. The same could be said for Houston's, but their one last burst outshone Boston's. With Matt Barnes taking over for Wright, George Springer got ahold of a hanging curveball and sent it flying into the Monster seats for a two-run shot.
The Red Sox would get one back when Travis Shaw found the range to dead center, but that was it for Boston's lineup. They had a few opportunities--Jackie Bradley Jr. in particular seemed dead set on giving them a shot--but could never cash in to push the tying run across, even as Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel kept them within a run. At the end of the day, that was where they stayed: one back, and on the wrong side of a score for the first time in a while.