The Red Sox came into this game playing the best baseball they’ve played all season and were looking to keep the good times rolling in some extreme heat out in Texas.
This game went back and forth with Texas getting on the board first but not before the Red Sox threatened in the first. That would be a theme of the early parts of the game for Boston, and they got a couple baserunners in that first frame that were both left on base.
In the bottom half of the first, Rick Porcello took the hill and got into early trouble when he allowed a one-out double that was smoked out to left field by Elvis Andrus. The Rangers shortstop, and one of Xander Bogaerts’ competitors in the Final Vote, would come in to score later in the inning when Porcello threw a breaking ball in the dirt that got by Sandy Leon. While the play was called a wild pitch, it looked like a ball that Leon should have been able to block. Regardless, the Rangers had a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The Red Sox would continue to threaten in the second against a struggling Martin Perez, and they were able to make some good on their rally this time around. Things started with a Sam Travis single followed by another from Deven Marrero. After a Mookie Betts two-out walk loaded the bases, Dustin Pedroia made sure not to waste the opportunity by lofting a soft liner through the left side to give Boston a 2-1 lead. They’d eventually lead the bases loaded without scoring another run, but at least they did get those two.
At this point, both pitchers settled down in a big way and fourteen of the next fifteen batters to come to the plate were retired, including a run of nine in a row for Porcello. That brought us to the bottom of the fourth, though, as Porcello had just retired two to begin the frame. After the two quick outs, though, he made a bad mistake hanging a slider up in the zone to Rougned Odor and Texas’ second baseman smashed it over the fence in right-center field to tie the game back at two.
From here, we fast-forward to the sixth with the score still tied at two. Porcello was looking good, but Perez was settling in after struggling early on and it looked as if the Red Sox were going to be kicking themselves for wasting big opportunities in the first few innings. Instead, they came to life in the sixth with some help from the Rangers defense. The inning started with Travis smashing a double down the third base line, but he was thrown out on the basepaths in the next at bat on a fielder’s choice. After another quick out, it appeared the Red Sox were going to waste the leadoff double.
Instead, they’d catch a break with Tzu-Wei Lin at the plate as Odor bobbled a fairly routine play at second base to keep the inning alive. With runners now on the corners, Betts drew a walk to load the bases and that marked the end of the night for Perez. Texas called upon the left-handed Tony Barnette to end things against Pedroia, but first he threw a wild pitch to allow Leon to score the tie-breaking run. Pedroia wasn’t going to let that all that would score, though, as he smashed a single into center field to score more and give the Red Sox a fairly comfortable 5-2 lead.
After a shutdown sixth, Porcello was up over 100 pitches and, given the heat in Texas and the fact that Heath Hembree had been warming up earlier, it seemed logical that his night would be over. Instead, Farrell decided to send him back out for the seventh with the score still 5-2. He would get one out against Mike Napoli, but then he left a fastball up and over the plate to Carlos Gomez who destroyed a first-pitch home run to cut the deficit to two.
That brought on Matt Barnes, who finished the seventh with two outs including one strikeout of Joey Gallo. Things got a little more dicey in the bottom half of the eighth, with Robby Scott coming in to start things off against the left-handed Shin-Soo Choo. He did not get the job done, allowing a leadoff double. From there, the Red Sox turned to Joe Kelly, who allowed a flyout to move Choo to third before giving up an RBI single to Nomar Mazara. After a wild pitch — and another one that Leon should have stopped — moved the pinch-running Delino DeShields to second, Kelly came through with two massive outs to get out of the inning with a one-run lead intact.
In the ninth, the game took a bizarre turn that we just aren’t used to. For the first time in what seems like forever, Craig Kimbrel couldn’t keep the lead. He issued a first pitch fastball to Napoli and the 2013 championship team member was waiting for it. He deposited it into the left field seats and just like that the game was tied. In the next at bat, Kimbrel allowed a swinging bunt that was fielded by a charging Marrero. He’d throw the ball away, but the Red Sox got an out on a play that I couldn’t possibly do justice with words.
I have no understanding of how Dustin Pedroia did this. pic.twitter.com/kXNoNKu5AN— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) July 4, 2017
The game remained tied heading into the bottom of the tenth, where Hembree came in and dominated the Rangers lineup. Finally, in the top of the eleventh, the Red Sox offense came alive for the first time in a few innings. The rally started with a walk of Lin, and he’d move to third on a double from Betts. The Rangers opted to walk Pedroia — who had done everything for the Red Sox in this one — to load the bases and get to Andrew Benintendi. The rookie didn’t hit it hard, but his bloop just into the outfield fell between everyone and knocked in a couple to give Boston a two-run lead. Hembree would come in for the bottom half of the eleventh and shut down the Rangers for the second straight inning to finish off the victory.
This wasn’t the most dominant win of the season for the Red Sox, but they did just enough to keep their winning ways going. Pedroia was the clear standout, knocking in four runs and saving approximately 6,000 with the glove. On the mound, Porcello was good enough and got enough help from his defense while Hembree came through in the clutch with a strong two-inning outing. Kimbrel had a strangely off night, but that was bound to happen eventually and the rest of the team picked him up. That’s now five in a row for the Sox, and they’ll look to make it six with David Price on the hill on Wednesday. Everyone have a good Fourth!