There was a lot of excitement around this game as the Red Sox had a chance at a sweep, and they had a chance to do it on the back of Jalen Beeks making his major-league debut. There’s not a lot to be excited about with the farm system right now, but Beeks had been a rare bright spot and the excitement around him was justifiable. Unfortunately, things did not go his way and he dug the team in an extremely early hole from which they could not climb out. The offense didn’t help matters with some frustrating blown chances, but the early hole really defined this one.
We obviously have to start with Beeks, as that will be what we remember from this game. Now, I’ve been among the highest on the lefty for a few years now and it should go without saying that one start — particularly one that includes the adrenaline rush of a major-league debut — shouldn’t change our opinion of a pitcher too much. That being said, it seemed the hype was growing a bit too much after his big Triple-A numbers and he was never going to be the type of pitcher those stats implied. Still, he has the stuff and command to succeed if he has it all working. He didn’t have it all working on Thursday, and the Tigers gave him a taste of what the majors are like. Beeks’ stuff is fine, but it’s not overpowering and if he’s missing his spots as often as he was in this game, he’s going to get rocked by any major-league lineup. That’s exactly what happened.
Really, it was over before it even started for Beeks as Detroit wasted absolutely no time getting to the young Red Sox lefty. Well, almost. JaCoby Jones did strikeout to start the game, giving Beeks a very strong start to his major-league career. It was after this that things went downhill. Nick Castellanos followed that up with a double off the Monster (it wasn’t crushed for what it’s worth and is probably an out in most parks), and Miguel Cabrera drew a walk after that. Following the second out of the inning, Detroit went on a run. Jeimer Candelario doubled into the left field corner to make it 1-0. Then John Hicks singled to make it 3-0. Finally, Leonys Martin smacked a win-aided homer that just barely made it over the Monster to make it 5-0. That was all they’d get, but it was five runs against Beeks in his first taste of the majors. Not how you want to start a career, to say the least.
Things got hairy for the southpaw in the second as well when he loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks, but the two free passes came with two outs and he was able to induce a groundout to escape the jam without allowing another run. He wouldn’t be so lucky in the third. There, Martin hit a one-out triple and old friend Jose Iglesias immediately knocked him in with an RBI double to give Detroit a 6-1 lead.
Finally, Beeks would settle in after that double. He got a flyout and a strikeout to end that inning and strand the runner at third, and Alex Cora let him come back out for the fourth against the heart of the Tigers order. As bad as this night went, he did at least go out on a high note, setting the tough trio down in order including a strikeout against Cabrera. Even with that, the line was ugly. In all, he’d go just four innings allowing the six runs on seven hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Beeks will be back, and I’ll bet on him being better than this. Bold, I know.
Meanwhile, the offense was looking to pick up the rookie with another big-time performance against a lefty. They had one on Wednesday, but they’ve been few and far between this year. Right off the bat, it looked like it could be in the cards again. After his team went down 5-0 in the top half of the first, Andrew Benintendi quickly cut into that deficit. Tigers starter Matt Boyd gave Benintendi a fastball over the middle of the plate up in the zone and the Red Sox outfielder smashed it way out over the bullpen for a solo shot to lead off the game for the Sox. Just like that, the lead was down to four.
Unfortunately, they wouldn’t get back on the board for a little while, though it wasn’t for a lack of good contact or good opportunities. They had both, and they squandered the latter while running into some bad luck with the former. In the second, Boston got both of their leadoff batters on with a walk and a single, and they’d both move over to scoring position on a wild pitch. Blake Swihart would then draw a one-out walk, and Benintendi had a chance with the bases loaded. One swing could have tied the game, or at least closed the gap. Instead, he hit into an inning-ending double play that felt big despite it being just the second inning.
That was the best chance at a big rally they’d have for the rest of the game. They did get a runner in scoring position in the third on a two-out Mitch Moreland double, but he was stranded. In the fifth, Swihart led off with a double and moved over to third on a wild pitch, and he was able to come in and score on a ground out. Still, it was 6-2 and the Red Sox couldn’t get anything else going in the sixth.
While that was happening, Brian Johnson had come in for Beeks starting in the fifth inning. The lefty had no trouble mowing through Detroit’s lineup, and he made it look startlingly effortless. In the fourth, he set down the side in order including two strikeouts. In the fifth, he got three consecutive ground outs. In the sixth, he got two ground outs and a strikeout.
In the eighth, well, things didn’t go quite as smoothly. Johnson started out by allowing a pair of singles — ending a streak of eleven straight outs from Red Sox pitchers — and after getting a strikeout he’d allow another strikeout to give Detroit their seventh run of the game. Johnson would get out of it after that and the Tigers led by five heading into the bottom of the eighth.
The Red Sox were able to get a little going here, but they couldn’t do anything with it. I should note first that J.D. Martinez was removed from the game prior to this inning in favor of Brock Holt, but it’s unclear whether or not it was injury-related. Anyway, Holt actually started this rally with a single, and after a walk and another single Boston had the bases loaded with just one out for the second time in the game. For the second time, they squandered it, and that was pretty much the game.
The Red Sox will look to get back into the win column on Friday in the series opener against the White Sox. They’ll send Chris Sale to the mound against his old team with Chicago countering with Dylan Covey. First pitch it at 7:10 PM ET.