This was certainly a baseball game. For a bit, it seemed like it was going to be a repeat of Tuesday’s game. The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday scoring five runs in the first three innings against Rockies pitcher German Márquez. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez looked good for most of his start, with just a brief hiccup in the fourth. Then, for some reason, he was brought back out for the seventh with 99 pitches under his belt. That did not go well, and he and Matt Barnes combined to tie the game. Boston’s offense, which quieted down in a big way in the middle innings, proceeded to strand approximately 50 runners in scoring position after the game was tied. Fortunately, Marcus Walden highlighted a huge performance from the bullpen in the late innings to preserve the tie. They did so just long enough for Michael Chavis to knock Xander Bogaerts in with a walkoff single to avoid a two-game sweep.
Eduardo Rodriguez had his work cut out for him on Wednesday night for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the Rockies are very good at hitting baseballs. Some of their offensive production every year is certainly thanks to playing at Coors Field for half of their games, but there is a ton of talent regardless of park. That’s particularly true at the top with Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado representing one of the more intimidating trios in the game. On top of just facing good hitters, Rodriguez was also following up a 17-strikeout, no-walk performance from Chris Sale the night before. Nobody expected a repeat of that, of course, but after that outing wasn’t backed up for a win, the Red Sox were looking for a good performance in the shadow of a great one, and more importantly they were looking for a win.
Fortunately, Rodriguez has been red-hot of late and is pitching just about as well as we’ve seen from him. The key here was to set the tone early, especially with the aforementioned trio of Blackmon, Story and Arenado hitting 1-2-3. The Red Sox lefty got a strikeout against Blackmon, then allowed Story to reach on an infield single — a play that probably should have or at least could have been made by Rodriguez but deflected back out towards Michael Chavis at second base — before striking out Arenado and getting a pop up to end the inning. First test was a pass.
Rodriguez did get into a bit of trouble in the second, however, allowing a leadoff single to Raimel Tapia. After getting two outs after that Ryan McMahon one-hopped the Monster, but Andrew Benintendi played it perfectly off the wall, holding the runners to first and third. Tony Wolters then grounded out and the runners were stranded. Rodriguez came back after that with an easy 1-2-3 third.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was looking for a better performance on Wednesday than the one they had on Tuesday, where it kept feeling like they were on the cusp of a commanding lead but it never came. A big reason, perhaps the biggest, was that Benintendi and Mookie Betts didn’t get on base at the top of the lineup. They were looking to change that in this game against German Márquez, who is probably in the conversation for most underrated pitcher in the game.
Those top two guys did the job in this one, though, smacking back-to-back base hits to lead off the first with runners one the corners. J.D. Martinez kept it going with a single of his own, and runners were still on the corners now with a 1-0 lead. They wouldn’t be able to put together the big inning they appeared to be poised for, however, as Mitch Moreland grounded into a double play. That did score a second run, but it killed any chance at a big rally.
In the bottom half of the third, they got back to it thanks again to the top third of the order. With one out, Benintendi tripled off the Monster in left-center field, benefitting from an outfield that is not used to playing at Fenway. Betts then knocked him in with his second single of the day, bringing Martinez back to the plate. The slugger once again showed off his power stroke that has come out so often lately, blasting a hanging slider into the bullpen in right field for a two-run shot.
So, that brought Rodriguez out to the mound with a 5-0 lead to work with in the fourth, but the Rockies finally broke through in this inning. Their rally started with a Mark Reynolds base hit, and after a fielder’s choice Ian Desmond doubled to put a pair in scoring position with just one out. David Dahl followed that up with a sacrifice fly, giving Colorado their first run of the night. That was followed by a walk that finished with a bad passed ball from Christian Vázquez to put runners on the corners, and Wolters knocked one in with a double. Suddenly, the Rockies had two in scoring position in a 5-2 game with two outs, and the Red Sox had Marcus Walden warming in the bullpen. Rodriguez settled down, though, getting a routine fly ball from Blackmon to end the inning.
He’d stay settled down in the fifth, too, getting a big 1-2-3 inning when the Rockies tried to keep him on the ropes. After Boston stranded a runner in scoring position in the bottom half, he was back out in the sixth. He did allow a single in the frame but still only faced three batters thanks to an inning-ending caught stealing.
Somewhat surprisingly considering he was at 99 pitches after six, Rodriguez came back out of the seventh. That inning started with a base hit past a diving Chavis, and that was followed by a ground-rule double to put two in scoring position in a three-run game with the top of the Rockies order coming up. Rodriguez then hit Blackmon to load the bases, and that was the end of his outing.
So, it was up to Matt Barnes with the bases loaded and nobody out in the seventh with the meat of Colorado’s lineup coming to the plate. Story ripped a base hit into left field, and the Rockies were within one and there was still nobody out. Barnes came back with a big strikeout of Arenado after that, but then he allowed a ground ball. It got the second out, but the tying run would come in to score. Meanwhile, Story was off on the pitch which avoided the inning-ending double play and put the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Red Sox opted to keep the infield back in hopes of the double play, an interesting choice since everyone seemed to know Story was going to take off at some point.
Barnes was pulled after that, not looking as sharp as we’re used to after he was used for two innings the previous night. Walden got the call to try and finish off the inning and preserve the tie game. He struck out Tapia to do just that.
So, the Red Sox were now looking to take the lead back with Márquez still in this game. Chavis got things started in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff base hit and Vázquez got one of his own to put two on with one out. With that, the Rockies turned to left-hander Mike Dunn to take on Benintendi and he came through with a strikeout. That left it up to Betts, who was facing right-hander Carlos Estévez. He popped up the first pitch he saw, stranding two and failing to take the lead.
After Walden came back on for the eighth and got another 1-2-3 inning, the Red Sox had another chance in the bottom half. With one out Moreland and Xander Bogaerts drew back-to-back walks, once again putting two on with just one out. Eduardo Núñez came on to run for Moreland at second with Rafael Devers coming up. The young third baseman just missed one, hitting a long out to right field that moved Núñez to third with one out. For the second straight inning, though, the go-ahead run was left in scoring position.
Walden tossed yet another 1-2-3 in the ninth, and then the Red Sox had another chance in the ninth. This time they got two outs to start off before Benintendi drew a walk. Betts then looked like he ended the inning without much fanfare, popping one up in shallow left field. It found no-man’s land between third base, shortstop and left field, however, and it fell to the ground. It could have very well been the game, but instead it bounced up over the wall into the stands for a ground-rule double. That forced Benintendi to stop at third, and the Red Sox had the winning run 90 feet away. Story ended up having to leave the game after that play as he collided with Tapia going for that pop up.
Meanwhile, Martinez was intentionally walked to leave it up to Núñez with a chance to be the hero. Instead, he hit a ground ball right to the shortstop and we were headed to extras for the second straight night.
Heath Hembree came on for the Red Sox for the tenth, and Arenado kicked things off with a double off the Monster. After getting two outs following the double, Hembree walked Desmond and Brandon Workman came on to try and escape the two-on, two-out jam. The righty recovered from a rough outing on Tuesday with a huge strikeout to keep the game tied.
So, the Red Sox had another chance to walk it off, and once again they threatened to do just that. It was Bogaerts starting it off this time with a double off the wall in straightaway center field. After Devers was intentionally walked, it was all up to Chavis. The rookie came through, putting a base hit through the middle to let Bogaerts score and walk it off.
The Red Sox have yet another day off on Thursday before getting back into action at Fenway on Friday. They’ll start a big three-game series against Houston then, with Rick Porcello taking the mound for that first game. He’ll take on Gerrit Cole, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.