The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.
Our Fake Sox have been watching their pitching get beat up on a pretty routine basis of late, leading to a lot of short outings and, as a result of that, a lot of tired arms. They caught a break from that on Thursday when Mother Nature rained out their getaway day game against the Royals, giving them a day off before taking on the Astros in Houston for the first of a three-game set on Friday. Boston had Matt Shoemaker on the mound while the Astros were going with Brad Peacock.
Boston and Houston had just faced off last weekend for three, with the Astros taking two of those games and dominating with the bats all night long. The one solid pitching performance that weekend for the Red Sox, though, came from Shoemaker, so he was looking for more of the same on Friday. Early on, he got it. The righty retired the Astros in order in each of the first two innings.
On the other side, the Red Sox were facing a pitcher in Peacock who had just transferred back into the rotation following the trade of Zack Greinke, and Boston got off to a solid start against him. After sending just three to the plate in the first, they got going quickly in the second when Rafael Devers smacked a leadoff single in front of Xander Bogaerts. The shortstop jumped on the first pitch he saw, sending it into the Crawford Boxes in left field for a two-run homer, giving the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead. They’d load the bases later in the inning, too, but couldn’t come through. Then, in the third, J.D. Martinez launched the first pitch of the inning the other way for a 416-foot solo homer, and the Red Sox had a 3-0 lead for Shoemaker.
The righty continued to cruise for the first couple batters in the third, giving him eight straight retired Astros overall to start the game. Then, the wheels completely came off and he couldn’t recover. Andrew Knizner, who came over in the aforementioned Greinke trade, broke up the streak with a two-out single, and then the top of the order came back around and just kept hitting. After that single, Houston got a single, a walk, two more singles and a double to put five runs on the board and knock Shoemaker out of the game after just 2 2⁄3 innings. It was a disaster. Martín Pérez came in next and gave up another run, giving Houston the 6-3 lead by the time the dust had settled.
After the Red Sox offense managed just a bunt single in the fourth, Pérez got off to a brutal start in the bottom of the inning with the Astros kicking things off with a single, a double and another single to put another run on the board. The Red Sox lefty did manage to escape the inning with just one run, which felt like a win, but it was still 7-3 and all the momentum was with Houston.
The Red Sox, however, started to change that in the fifth. Alex Verdugo led things off in that inning and was hit by a pitch, but then that was followed with two outs. It was looking like more of the same until Bogaerts was also hit by a pitch to extend the inning and Jackie Bradley Jr. brought home two runs on a double. That made it a 7-5 game and Peacock was removed from the action. This was the chance to get back in the game.
Unfortunately, that’s not how things worked out. Boston couldn’t keep the two-out rally going, and then Houston put the pedal to the metal after that. After a quick first out in the bottom of the inning, Pérez issued a walk and gave up a single before Abraham Toro came up and blasted a three-run shot, taking all that momentum from the previous half-inning back and extending the Astros lead out to five.
That was essentially the end of the game. The Astros would add another run in that inning and three more over the course of the game while the Red Sox couldn’t get any more across the plate. The 14-5 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 31-26. The good news is the Yankees continued their slide with Shohei Ohtani tossing a shutout against them, so the gap in the division still stands at 1.5 games in favor of New York.
Meanwhile, down on the farm, Pawtucket went 1-1 in their two games the last couple days with the win coming on a walk-off homer from Josh Ockimey to cap off a five-run ninth, Portland went 1-1 as well with Denyi Reyes cruising and Jarren Duran homering in the win, Salem also went 1-1 with Jay Groome striking out ten in the win, and Greenville finished the trend by going 1-1 with Kervin Suarez picking up three extra-base hits in the two days.