Well, the Red Sox couldn’t take the first game of this series, which isn’t a major surprise since Drew Pomeranz drew the start. It wasn’t really his fault, though, as the Red Sox starter was fine, while still a bit disappointing. It was Boston’s offense that really failed to come through. Houston’s pitching has been the best in baseball this year so it’s no major surprise, but it was still frustrating. They’ll have to take the next three if they want this series.
This certainly wasn’t a great outing for Pomeranz, and the Red Sox will be looking for better stuff and command from him moving forward. That being said, he did keep his team in the game for the most part against a talented Astros team. His fastball was sitting in the low 90s — a clear upgrade for him this year — and he was snapping off some impressive curveballs. The command could still use some work, but I think most of us were expecting worse.
The top half of Houston’s lineup is particularly intimidating, so it’s no surprise that Pomeranz got off to a bit of a rocky start. After getting two outs in three batters, with a walk mixed in there, Carlos Correa came up. Pomeranz tried to sneak through a fastball up and in, but that didn’t work. Houston’s shortstop rocked it down the left field line for a two-run shot, putting the Astros up 2-0.
The second inning had better results, but it wasn’t perfect by any means. The lefty did get a couple of quick outs before allowing a walk and an infield single — sort of; it was a well-hit liner that Pomeranz knocked down — to bring George Springer to the plate. It seemed like a situation in which Pomeranz has failed to come through all year, but he did this time. After peppering the outfielder with curveballs he snuck a fastball by him for strike three to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox had some early trouble against Lance McCullers. They went down in a very quick 1-2-3 first inning before getting their first baserunner in the second on a J.D. Martinez walk. The next three batters would go down in order, though.
In the third, the Red Sox got the bats going. Still trailing 2-0, Jackie Bradley Jr. started the rally with a double off the wall in straightaway center on a ball that would have left most yards. Andrew Benintendi then drew a one-out walk before Xander Bogaerts knocked both runners in on a double that was aided by a bad route to the ball by left fielder Tony Kemp. Benintendi did score on a very close play, but it was a huge risk and he blew by a stop sign to get in. It worked out this time, but Benintendi hasn’t really earned that benefit of the doubt. Still, good or bad baserunning, the score was tied.
So, that was all they’d get in the third with Bogaerts stranded at third base, and Pomeranz was back out looking for a shutdown inning. He’d get that by facing just three batters against the heart of Houston’s order.
After the Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the fourth, the Astros got going again in the bottom half. That rally started with an infield single, and after a strikeout Pomeranz allowed a groundrule double to Tim Federowicz. At the time, the ball getting over the fence appeared to be a huge break as the runner on first would have easily scored. It wouldn’t matter, though. Kemp got one run in on an infield single that included a very close play at the plate, and Jake Marisnick knocked in the second on a perfect bunt to the right side. It was only one well-hit ball, but it led to two runs and a 4-2 Houston lead.
Neither side had a whole lot going on for a bit after that. The Red Sox did get a baserunner in both the fifth and sixth, with the runner reaching second both times, but they couldn’t plate another run either time. The Astros, meanwhile, went down 1-2-3 in the fifth to end Pomeranz’ night. Steven Wright came on next and tossed scoreless frames in both the sixth and seventh.
The Red Sox again failed to score in the eighth, and Wright had another scoreless inning in the bottom half. It was a wild scoreless inning, though, that included a controversial obstruction call against Rafael Devers (it seemed like the right call to me) and a bases loaded situation with just one one. Wright got out of it with a ground out that got the runner at home and a strikeout in an at bat that started with three straight balls.
So, the Red Sox had a two-run deficit against Astros closer Ken Giles. They did threaten a two-out rally with a bloop single and a walk — Giles’ first free pass of the year — but Blake Swihart flew out to drop the first game of this series.
The Red Sox will look to even up this four-game set with a win tomorrow night. They’ll send Chris Sale to the mound with Gerrit Cole pitching for the Astros in a marquee matchup. First pitch is at 8:10 PM ET.