Well, this game sucked. The Red Sox were really looking from a strong start on Thursday night after their rotation has looked so shaky of late, but they didn’t get it from Eduardo Rodriguez. Instead, he couldn’t even make it through the second as he clearly wasn’t fooling any Astros hitter at all in that short outing. The bullpen didn’t do much better, and the offense only showed life in one inning. It was an all-around bad game, is what I’m saying.
It was pretty clear from the start that this one was going to be a rough one for Rodriguez. When he is at his best, he is attacking the zone with all of his pitches. In the first at bat of the game against George Springer, Rodriguez was nibbling and throwing almost exclusively fastballs in an at bat that ended with a walk. After a strikeout in the next at bat, the Astros then got a little lucky with a couple of singles, one an infield single and one a blooper. After a big strikeout in the next at bat with the bases loaded, it looked like Rodriguez might escape the damage, but he couldn’t finish it off. Instead, he left a fastball over the outer half of the plate to Marwin Gonzalez who smacked a bases-clearing double. Yet again, as is becoming so common these days, the Red Sox fell behind early, this time by a 3-0 score.
After the Red Sox failed to get much of anything going in the bottom half — they did get a runner to second but that was only because Dustin Pedroia reached on a two-base error — Rodriguez came back out for the second and didn’t look any better. He was working noticeably slower as the inning went on, and after two quick outs he started to fall apart. It started with a solid single from Springer which was followed up by a big two-run home run from Alex Bregman to give Houston a 5-0 lead. From there, Rodriguez gave up a groundrule double and a walk and that would be the end of his outing. The Red Sox didn’t get the start they were looking for from their young lefty, and he couldn’t even give the bullpen a little rest.
Blaine Boyer came in to get the final out of the second to give Boston a chance to mount a bit of a comeback in the second. It wouldn’t be close to enough, but it gave them a little hope for a short amount of time. It started right away when Mitch Moreland hit a long home run into the right field corner on a slider that broke right into the heart of the strike zone to cut the deficit to four. After that, it was a little two-out action with Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley both reaching on singles to put runners on the corners and Xander Bogaerts coming through with a single of his own to make it a 5-2 game. Dustin Pedroia came up next in what felt like a big at bat. The Red Sox were building a little momentum, but they couldn’t keep it going, though, as Pedroia hit a routine grounder to end the rally.
That ended up being a big moment in the game as it killed the last bit of momentum the Red Sox had in this game and the Astros just ran away with things from here. Boyer did give up a couple of singles in the third but made it out of that inning unscathed. Then, though Boyer was already over 20 pitches and the heart of Houston’s lineup was coming up, Farrell stuck with the righty in the three-run game. That was a poor decision as the Astros unloaded in the fourth. They’d get a walk, a single and a ground-rule double to start things off and then Boyer finally got an out thanks to a diving catch behind him. He went right back to allowing hits after that and gave up two singles along with an intentional walk before he was pulled from the game. Fernando Abad and Austin Maddox would team up to finish off the inning but not before the Astros took a commanding 9-2 lead.
Really, there isn’t much more to say from here. On offense, the Red Sox didn’t really threaten much more against the Astros pitching staff. On the other side....well, the Astros kept being the Astros. They’d get one run off Austin Maddox and two off Matt Barnes to cap off their scoring for the night.
The bad news is, with the loss, the Red Sox failed to clinch the division Thursday night. The good news is they had their magic number drop by one thanks to the Rays putting together a mid-game comeback in New York and holding on for the victor. Now, Boston just needs one Red Sox win or one Yankees loss to clinch the division. With New York playing tomorrow afternoon, things could possibly be wrapped up before the Red Sox even play their game on Friday. Either way, Doug Fister will be on the mound for that game as the Red Sox try to recover from this horrid loss.