The Red Sox have had better days. Looking to build off the momentum of a sweep in Tampa Bay, Boston returned to Fenway for a four-game set against the Tigers that started with a doubleheader on Tuesday. After dropping the first game, they had to win the nightcap to salvage a split for the day. They had plenty of chances to take leads and control this game, but the offense was a disaster with runners on base. In just about every inning Boston had a runner in scoring position, and they failed to knock in the run time after time. J.D. Martinez was particularly rough on Tuesday. On the plus side, the pitching was solid with Hector Velázquez struggling his second time through the order. That tough fourth inning proved to be the difference. More positively, we saw impressive performances from prospects Michael Chavis — who crushed his first career home run — as well as Darwinzon Hernandez and Travis Lakins. It was great to see success from them, but it would have been even better in a win.
After a frustrating game in the afternoon, the Red Sox rewarded fans who stuck with them for the night game with....another wildly frustrating game! The struggles here stemmed from the offense, who had plenty of chances against Tigers righty Spencer Turnbull but failed to convert time and time again. Turnbull had absolutely no idea where the ball was going all night long, throwing a ton of balls and just generally missing his spot on a regular basis. To be fair to both him and Boston’s bats, his stuff was filthy. He had the velocity and his movement was sick enough to break a handful of bats throughout his outing. Still, the Red Sox have too many talented hitters to get as many chances as they did against him and come up empty so often.
The bats started their charge right away with Andrew Benintendi and Mookie Betts both reaching base on a hit by pitch and walk, respectively. Things were looking up, then Mitch Moreland hit a double play ball. Boston caught a break, though, when Ronny Rodriguez dropped the ball on the transfer and Detroit managed only one out. J.D. Martinez then had a chance with runners on the corners and one out after his team caught a break, but he did Detroit a favor and hit another routine double play ball. This one was converted, and the inning was over.
In the second, the Red Sox had two more reach on a one-out walk from Rafael Devers followed by an infield single from Michael Chavis. That was, again, followed by a double play ball to end the inning. The third didn’t feature a double play. Instead, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs on a single, a walk and a hit batter, but Xander Bogaerts couldn’t come through with the bags full. Still nothing on all of these chances!
After they went down in order in the fourth, the Sox came right back with another opportunity in the fifth with Turnbull still in the game. There, Benintendi and Betts both reached again, this time with one out. Moreland then hit another ground ball, against eliminating the runner at second. So, that gave Martinez yet another chance with runners on the corners. He had a rough at bat and it ended with a whiff on a pitch far off the outside corner. Five innings, four great scoring chances, zero runs. Almost impressive if it wasn’t so depressing.
Meanwhile, all of these missed opportunities were putting a lot of pressure on Hector Velázquez, who has joined the rotation after Nathan Eovaldi’s injury. He looked solid, to be fair to him. He allowed a leadoff base hit to begin the game, but Jeimer Candelario was quickly caught stealing and the Red Sox righty faced only three batters in that first inning. After he struck out the side in the second, he faced only three batters in the third as well thanks to an inning-ending double play.
So, Velázquez had faced the minimum through three, but the second turn through the order proved much more difficult. Candelario got a double this time to lead off the frame, and after a single and a walk the Tigers had loaded the bases with just one out. Alex Cora had seen enough at this point, pulling Velázquez out and calling upon Marcus Walden to escape the jam. It...did not take long for him to fail in that chance. Brandon Dixon was the first batter he saw, and the Tigers first baseman cleared the bases with a double. Fortunately, Dixon was thrown out at third and Detroit couldn’t keep threatening. Still, it was 3-0.
After Walden got out of that fourth, the Red Sox turned to 26th man Darwinzon Hernandez for a few innings. The lefty, and the top prospect in the system for some, showed the good and the bad, but it was certainly more good. He did allow a double to the first batter he saw, but he calmed down in a big way after that. Hernandez got two pop ups and a strikeout to escape that inning. Two more runners reached in his second inning of work, but again he escaped with a big strikeout.
Once the sixth rolled around, Turnbull was out of the game and the Red Sox had an opportunity to make good on some chances against Detroit’s bullpen. Theoretically, at least. In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a walk, moved over to second on a ground out then to third on a passed ball, but he was left there. Because of course he was.
Hernandez was still in for Boston to start the seventh, but he’d hit a bit of a snag here. The southpaw allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning, putting runners on the corners with nobody out. After getting a pop up to right field that was too shallow to score the run, Travis Lakins came in for his major-league debut. The righty did the damn thing, getting a strikeout and a ground out to keep the deficit at 3-0.
In the bottom half, the Red Sox got yet another leadoff runner on, and a one-out single put two on with just one out. After Martinez struck out again, continuing a brutal day at the plate for the slugger, Bogaerts did come through with a bloop single. It wasn’t a huge swing, but it was something and the Red Sox were on the board. After that, Detroit brought in a lefty to face Devers, and Cora countered with Steve Pearce. It did not work out, with Pearce striking out and ending the inning with the deficit still at two.
After Lakins faced only three in the eighth, the Red Sox had six more outs to score at least two more runs. They wasted no time getting one of those in the eighth, and it was a milestone moment. Chavis led off that inning, and he got a changeup right down the heart of the plate. We got a little taste of the kind of power he brings to the lineup, as he blasted a 441-foot moonshot over everything in left field to cut the deficit to two. Boston did get one more runner on, but couldn’t tie the game.
Cora then tried to squeeze another inning out of Lakins, and it didn’t go so well. The righty allowed two doubles in the first three at bats of the inning to give Detroit that run right back. That was all he’d allow, though, and Boston had the middle of the order coming up for the ninth down by two. They got a single in the inning, but that was it. One day. Two losses. Good times!
The Red Sox will need to win their next two in order to salvage a split in this series, and that quest will start on Wednesday. They’ll send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound for that one to take on Tyson Ross. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.