When you look at a ten-inning loss, it’s usually hard to put too much of the blame on the starting pitcher. At a certain point he is out of the game and the rest of the team surely had chances to grab a victory since the game needed extra time. That was the case here, to be fair. The bullpen was largely fantastic in this game, but Matt Barnes gave up the tying run in the eighth and Ryan Weber let the winning run cross in the tenth. Meanwhile, the offense struggled with runners on base again leaving nine on and going 0-3 with runners in scoring position. And yet, Andrew Cashner only making it through 1 2⁄3 hung over it all. The offense was playing from behind right off the bat and made weird, aggressive decisions. As did Alex Cora. Barnes, meanwhile, was forced to go a second inning and that is when he allowed that tying run. This is not to take the blame completely away from the other parts of the roster as they still have to perform regardless of circumstance. That said, it’s hard to totally ignore Cashner’s effect on this entire afternoon. Whoever you want to blame, it was what could reasonably be called an ugly series split.
Shortly after the trade deadline had passed an the Red Sox made no additions to their team, Dave Dombrowski pointed out that they did make an addition in Andrew Cashner, who was added a couple weeks before the deadline. It’s a fair point in general that a player added at that point in the month should be included in the discussion of deadline additions. However, it’s generally good to make that point if and only if that player is actually helping. Outside of one solid outing against the Yankees, Andrew Cashner is not helping.
He was on the mound for Boston on Sunday as the Red Sox were trying to recover from a blowout loss on Saturday and still come out of this weekend with a series victory. After a disappointing outing from Rick Porcello the day before, they really could have used a solid one from Cashner. That is not what they got.
Instead, it took exactly one pitch to see what kind of afternoon it was going to be from the team’s July trade addition. His first pitch to Brian Goodwin was right in a hittable zone and the Angels leadoff man ripped a ground-rule double to kick things off. Mike Trout then drew a walk before Shohei Ohtani put a base hit into left field, and three batters into the game the Angels had the bases loaded with nobody out. Cashner caught a break when Albert Pujols came up as the future Hall of Famer hit a chopper to third base. For basically anyone else in baseball it would have been one out at most with a run scoring. The run did score, but because Pujols simply cannot move at this point in his career Cashner got a big double play, a tradeoff the Red Sox will take every time. Somehow, the inning ended with L.A. only leading 1-0.
Things somehow got even worse for Boston’s starter in the second as he totally lost his command at this point. The Angels started that inning off with two straight walks, and then after a couple of outs Cashner walked one more to load the bases for Ohtani. The two-way star came through with his second single of the day, this one scoring two runs and putting the Angels up 3-0. After coming back to walk Pujols, Cashner saw his day come to an end without having even made it through two. Just a disastrous outing, but Cora got him out before things got out of hand.
Josh Taylor came in with the bases loaded and two outs but got out of the inning on just one pitch. The southpaw stayed in for two more innings after that, too, and was absolutely electric. In one of the best relief appearances — and really any kind of pitching appearance — we’ve seen this year Taylor tossed 2 1⁄3 perfect innings with five strikeouts. That includes a striking out of the side in the third.
That was a huge performance just beyond how impressive it was on the surface, too. When Taylor came into the game it really felt like it was quickly slipping away from the Sox. The lefty put the brakes on that and gave his offense a chance to climb their way back into this one. They were going up against the left-handed Patrick Sandoval, who flashed some surprisingly impressive stuff in this game. After a quick first inning that saw Rafael Devers smack a double high off the Monster but then get caught stealing third, they worked a rally in the second.
Andrew Benintendi and Sam Travis started it off with one out in the inning with a single and a walk, and then after a second out Michael Chavis saw a first-pitch ball. At that point Angels manager Brad Ausmus oddly decided to come out for a mound visit and it seemed to throw off Sandoval’s rhythm. The lefty threw seven straight balls after the visit which led to a run. Chris Owings, who got called up for this game, had a chance for a big swing with the bases full and two outs in a 3-1 game, but he struck out on three pitches.
From here we fast-forward to the fourth with the score still sitting at 3-1. That would change soon in the bottom of the inning starting with a one-out base hit from Travis. Christian Vázquez came to the plate next and he would not waste his chance. With a 1-0 count Sandoval missed middle-in with a fastball and Vázquez jumped all over it, sending it through the stanchion in left field for a game-tying two-run homer. The man only his clutch homers, you know.
That was all Boston got in the fourth, but they got right back into action in the fifth. There, after Marcus Walden came on for a scoreless top of the inning, Devers got things started with a one-out base hit. J.D. Martinez moved him up to second with a two-out single and the bases would load up on a Benintendi walk. With Travis coming up, Ausmus called upon old friend Ty Buttrey and Cora countered by pinch hitting Mitch Moreland. As it turns out, it didn’t matter who was batting as Buttrey threw a wild pitch that brought Devers home and put the Sox up by a run.
Now, it was up to the bullpen — which was already having a phenomenal day — to hold onto the one-run lead. Nathan Eovaldi got the call in the sixth and he looked mostly good. After a couple of quick outs he did give up a wall-ball double but the runner was left at second and he got a scoreless inning.
For the seventh, Matt Barnes got the call. He did give up a one-out base hit to Ohtani, but then followed that up with a big double play ball from Pujols to end the inning with the lead still in hand. He would come back out for the eighth, too, with the lead still at one. This turned out to be a mistake as his struggles continued. The righty tried to blow a fastball by Kole Calhoun but caught way too much of the zone and the Angels right fielder launched a solo shot. Just like that, this game was tied.
After getting two outs Barnes walked a batter and that was the end of his rough day. Brandon Workman got the call with the runner on first and two outs in the eighth. He gave up a base hit to the first batter he faced but came back from there with the third out of the inning to keep the game tied.
So, suddenly the Red Sox offense was playing from behind and needed to get to this Angels bullpen. They got off to a good start with Moreland drawing a walk, and he would be replaced by Mookie Betts as a pinch runner. It was a curious choice to use him for his legs and not his bat. Vázquez then came up and another curious choice was made by having him bunt. He popped it up for out number one that didn’t even move the runner over. Brock Holt then came on to pinch hit. Again, it was strange to me that they knew they’d hit for Michael Chavis but burned Betts to run. Holt is able to stay in the game to play third base which is likely the reasoning, but I would have just left Moreland in at first and let Betts hit for Chavis. Anyway, Betts then got thrown out by a mile trying to steal second base and while they’d get another baserunner they couldn’t score in the inning.
After Workman came through with a perfect ninth, the Red Sox had a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the inning. Instead, they went down in order and we were headed to extras.
Ryan Weber got the call for Boston in that tenth inning and he had been hot heading into this one. The righty did not stay hot here, though. Kole Calhoun led off for the Angels and drew a four-pitch walk, which is never how you want to start things. He did get a couple of outs after that, but Calhoun was on third with two down and Anthony Bemboom at the plate. The Angels rookie came through with a base hit through the right side, driving in a run and giving Los Angeles the five-run lead.
That left one more chance for the offense, but they couldn’t come through. Boston got a one-out base hit from Benintendi but that was all and the Red Sox went home with a frustrating loss.
The Red Sox now travel to Cleveland to take on the Indians. They’ll have Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound Monday to take on Zach Plesac. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.