Well, that stunk. The Red Sox were in a tough position before this game even started, having played 15 innings the night before and going with a bullpen game on Saturday. They needed everything to fall into place, and that’s basically what happened for seven innings. The pitchers weren’t perfect, but they got through seven mostly going according to plan and holding onto a one-run lead. Then, Ryan Brasier came on for the eighth and the Angels just unloaded. Los Angeles scored seven in the inning and the game was over in the blink of an eye. It sucked.
Both teams arrived late to the park on Saturday and opted against taking batting practice, each trying to give their players a little extra rest. Such is life when you are back in action a day after playing over five hours and fifteen innings in a series opener. The Red Sox have played more of such games than any other team in baseball, but that is not the kind of experience that makes things any easier as you play more.
As the two sides took the field for the second of this three-game set, things went back and forth pretty steadily in the early going. Boston was going up against another lefty in Dillon Peters, a young pitcher who has struggled a lot this year but was good against the Red Sox earlier this month. Mookie Betts sought to change that this time around after leading Friday’s game off with a homer before hitting the game-winner in the top of the fifteenth.
This time, he smacked a leadoff base hit. Betts would be switched off with Rafael Devers at first base after a fielder’s choice, and with two out J.D. Martinez got the job done. The 2018 Silver Slugger winner both in the outfield and at DH — we don’t talk enough about this, by the way — has been hitting like a dual Silver Slugger winner again and he came through in this spot. Martinez drove a double out to right-center field that just barely bounced out of Kole Calhoun’s glove on a diving attempt, allowing Devers to come around to score and make it 1-0 Red Sox.
On the other end, Boston was going with a bullpen game in this one, a tough move after such a long game the night before. Josh Taylor got the call to start this one off after struggling on Friday, particularly with control. That was the case here as well, with the southpaw showing some signs of fatigue after heavy usage for a couple of months now. He allowed a leadoff single before issuing two walks and getting just a single out in between, loading the bases up with just one down. It looked like trouble with Taylor approaching 30 pitches, but he somehow came through with a huge strikeout and a fly out to end the inning with the 1-0 lead still in hand.
After the Red Sox managed just a single in the second, Marcus Walden came on for the bottom half of the inning. Like Taylor, he got into some early trouble, allowing a single to start the inning. He would eventually issue a walk and Mike Trout would end up at the plate with two on and two out. Trout is the best player in the game for a reason, and he came through in this big spot with a base hit out to right field — one that could have been played better by Martinez — to score a run and tie this game at one apiece.
Fortunately, the Red Sox didn’t wait to answer back. Once again it was Betts getting things started, this time kicking things off with a leadoff double. After a ground out moved the runner to third, Martinez would eventually knock in yet another run with a base hit to make it 2-1. An error extended the inning and allowed Andrew Benintendi a chance with a runner in scoring position. He came through with a single of his own, and Boston would get a couple in the inning to make it 3-1.
At this point, Alex Cora turned to one of his long men with Brian Johnson getting the call in the third. The hope here, presumably, was that they’d be able to escape the lefty’s first-inning woes by pushing his first inning back a bit. It did not work. Albert Pujols started things off with a leadoff double, and a couple batters later Calhoun would hit a double of his own, bringing the Angels to within one. Luis Rengifo would keep the every-other-batter pattern going, hitting a third double of the inning for the Angels and just like that we were all tied up yet again.
Once again, though, the Red Sox offense was ready to answer right back against Peters and the Angels. This time it was the bottom of the lineup getting things going with Brock Holt smacking a leadoff double. After Sandy León bunted the runner over to third, Betts did his job with a fly ball to left field and this back-and-forth game saw the Red Sox back out in front.
Finally, after this run, Boston got a little stability on the mound. Johnson once again struggled in his first inning of work, and once again he followed that up with a big run over the next few. He suddenly turned into a dominant force, showing the best stuff we’ve seen from him since last year and retiring nine in a row over his last three innings of work, keeping the Angels at three through six innings.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox also went scoreless over the next few innings, so when Matt Barnes came on for Johnson in the seventh it was still a one-run lead for Boston. The righty got a couple of quick outs including a strikeout of Trout, but Brian Goodwin gave the Angels a chance with a big two-out double. That put the tying run in scoring position for Pujols, who has had a lot of clutch hits in this series. He didn’t have one here, though, with Barnes inducing the inning-ending ground ball to keep Boston’s lead at one.
The offense had a great chance to add on some insurance in the eighth when Martinez led off with a single and a Marco Hernández bunt ended with an error and runners on first and second for Andrew Benintendi. For some reason they decided to bunt in that situation, moving both runners to scoring position but giving away an out in the process. Eventually, Holt would come up with the bases loaded and just one out, grounding into a double play to end the inning without any runs scoring. Don’t give away outs, kids.
After that disappointing squander, Ryan Brasier was on for the bottom of the inning. Justin Upton got things started with a base hit, and then Calhoun and Andrelton Simmons each did the same. Three batters into the inning, the game was tied. Brasier did get a couple of outs after that, but he couldn’t get the third and final out he was looking for to end this game. David Fletcher ripped a breaking ball that stayed up in the zone, scoring one more and giving the Angels a 5-4 lead. After intentionally walking Trout, Brasier gave up yet another base hit to make it 7-4 and end his night.
Josh Smith then came on and allowed a three-run homer to Albert Pujols to really end this one. The Red Sox did load the bases in the ninth, but they didn’t score and that was that. A terrible game that looked good for most of the night.
The Red Sox will look to salvage a series victory on Sunday in the finale of this three-game set. They’ll have David Price for his first start in about a month while the Angels send Andrew Heaney to the mound. First pitch is set for 4:07 PM ET.