The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox are coming off a very, very tough series against the Rays in which they very well could have come away with a sweep, but instead dropped two winnable games to close out the three-game set. They were supposed to go right into a three-game weekend series with the Astros after that, but rain got in the way of that plan and Friday’s game was rained out. Instead, they had a doubleheader on Saturday, starting with an afternoon affair between Justin Verlander and Nathan Eovaldi.
The two pitchers were in control of things over the first couple of innings of the game, with Eovaldi working around a one-out single in the first and a two-out single in the second to get through those two frames without a run scoring. On the other side, Verlander did give up a one-out double to J.D. Martinez but left him at second before working around a one-out walk for another scoreless frame in the second.
So, with the score still 0-0 heading into the top of the third, the Astros got going a bit, first with a one-out single from Kyle Tucker. Eovaldi had worked around singles the first two innings, but this time it was followed up by a double from José Altuve to put runners on second and third with just one out for Yordan Alvarez. The young masher came through. Eovaldi made a mistake and Alvarez crushed one 416 feet to straightaway center field for a three-run shot, and just like that it was a 3-0 lead for Houston.
The good news is Eovaldi settled down to get out of the inning quickly after the home run and followed that inning up with a perfect fourth. In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox finally got to Verlander. Alex Verdugo got things started with a leadoff double, and then Xander Bogaerts came to the plate. He didn’t hit it super well, but the shortstop went right down the line in left field 341 feet and it was enough for a two-run shot. Suddenly, Boston was within one. They’d keep going, too, with Michael Chavis and Mitch Moreland coming through with back-to-back one-out singles before José Peraza knocked in the tying run on a single of his own.
The game wouldn’t be reset for very long, though. Eovaldi started out the top of the fifth with a leadoff walk, which is rarely a good sign. Tucker came up next and jumped on a 3-2 pitch and smacked it 396 feet for a two-run shot, and just like that the Astros were back out in front with a two-run lead. That also ended the day for Eovaldi, with Martín Pérez coming in out of the bullpen.
It was still a 5-3 game in the top of the seventh, and Josh Taylor was now in for the Red Sox as Pérez had done solid work in his time in. After finishing out the sixth, Taylor struggled to start the seventh, issuing two walks that were sandwiched by a base hit to load the bases with nobody out. It looked like the Astros were about to blow this game open, and Parker Markel was coming in to try and limit the damage as much as possible. He came through and then some, getting two huge strikeouts and then a ground out to end the inning with no runs crossing the plate.
The offense rewarded Markel’s efforts, too. Peraza got the rally in the bottom of the seventh started with a one-out single, and he’d move over to third on a double from Andrew Benintendi. Martinez then followed that up with a base hit of his own before Verdugo tied the game up with a sacrifice fly. That ended the night for Verlander, and Framber Valdez came in and kept the game tied at five apiece.
After Markel came back out for a perfect eighth and the Red Sox offense managed just a walk in the bottom of the inning, Ken Giles was coming into a tie game in the ninth with the heart of the Astros order due up. He didn’t get it done. After a leadoff walk to Tucker, Alvarez would come up with one on and one out, and he did what he did early in the game. This time he went out to right field, but it was the same result. The two-run shot put Houston ahead 7-5, and Roberto Osuna shut down the Boston offense in the bottom of the inning to finish off the game.
The frustrating loss was the team’s third straight that they had a chance of winning, and it dropped their record to 28-23. They’ll be back in action tonight against Houston for the second of a doubleheader, posting here at 7:05 PM ET.