After winning in New York on Wednesday, the Red Sox had a quick turnaround as they had to play in Texas the next day. They got in early in the morning, and it looks as though the offense never quite woke up at all. They were shut down pretty much all night against Kyle Gibson and company, managing just one run for the entire game. Martín Pérez pitched pretty well in his own right, but he was let down a couple times by his defense, then Hirokazu Sawamura made a couple of bad pitches that each landed on the wrong side of the fence. The result was a series-opening loss to Texas.
The Red Sox were able to grab a couple of wins in Queens earlier this week to start their current short road trip, but it was very much a product of good pitching. The offense didn’t provide too much support, and they were able to be picked up by their pitching. As the team headed to Texas for this weekend’s series, the expectation was that things would go in the opposite direction, with offenses leading the way. That was not the way things went in this first game, though, as Martín Pérez and Kyle Gibson both were able to rein in the opposing offenses for another pitchers’ duel.
We’ll start with the Pérez side of things, as the lefty was going up against the his former team and the club with whom he was once one of the game’s better pitching prospects. It’s been a bit of a rough year for Pérez, particularly of late, so he needed a game to settle down, and that’s what he got here on Thursday.
It was pretty clear, in fact, that he had the good stuff going on right away, as he got through a perfect first that included a pair of strikeouts to finish it off. The second was a little more challenging as Texas managed a pair of singles, but a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play made the inning seem less stressful than it could have been. A perfect third with two more strikeouts just kept things rolling.
In the fourth, though, the Rangers did get a little bit of momentum for the first time against Pérez. It started with Joey Gallo, who hasn’t been showing the power this year that he typically boasts, but he reminded us here that he can still hit the ball hard. It wasn’t a home run, but he ripped a one-out double out to left field for the first extra base hit of the night for Texas. To make matters worse, some Little League defense on a throw back in that got by Rafael Devers allowed Gallo to get to third.
That would be big, because the next batter hit a deep fly ball out to center field to give the Rangers their first run of the game. Pérez got into a little more trouble in the fifth, too, starting the inning off with a hit batter and a base hit, but he managed to get out of the inning without any runs coming across.
So that was a good start to the night for the Red Sox lefty, but unfortunately the offense just wasn’t giving him any support against Gibson. The Rangers righty has been solid this year, and he’s done so by inducing a lot of weak contact and ground balls, something Boston found out the hard way here. Over the first two innings, they managed just one baserunner in each frame with neither advancing beyond first base.
Gibson did struggle a bit with control here and there, though, and in the third he issued back-to-back two-out walks. With the game still tied at zero at this point, it seemed like a big chance for the Red Sox to make some noise. Instead, Xander Bogaerts struck out to strand the runners and keep the goose egg on the board for Boston. That would be the case for a couple more innings as well with Gibson being perfect in both the fourth and the fifth.
In the sixth, they finally were able to change that trend with a little bit of offense. It was Alex Verdugo getting things started, leading off the inning with a double out to center field to finally get a runner back into scoring position. They’d get a couple of outs after that, but Devers salvaged the inning. In a great at bat, he went down and golfed a ball below the zone and connected enough to smack a double of his own, and just like that the game was tied at one. They couldn’t get another run across, but it was a start.
Unfortunately that momentum was not going to last very long. Pérez came back out to start the sixth, but somewhat surprisingly they had the bullpen working behind him despite not even being at 80 pitches. He had a solid inning, too, getting a quick strikeout and then a ground ball to shortstop. Bogaerts couldn’t handle the grounder, though, and a runner reached on the error. Pérez got one more out before being lifted with Hirokazu Sawamura entering the game.
That didn’t work out. Sawamura tried to get a high fastball by Jose Trevino in an 0-1 count, but it didn’t get nearly high enough. Instead it was a fastball just barely in the upper third of the zone down the middle of the plate. Trevino was all over it and sent it out for a two-run shot. The Rangers were once again on top, this time with a two-run lead.
Now it was on the Red Sox offense to wake up from this slumber they’ve fallen into the last few days, but it wasn’t going to happen in the seventh when they went down in order. The Rangers would then add a little more insurance in the bottom of the inning as Sawamura got touched up again, and again on a fastball up in the zone. This time it was Isiah Kiner-Falefa going out to straight away center field to make it a 4-1 game.
In the eighth, the Red Sox managed to have just one batter reach base when Christian Arroyo — who was pinch hitting after J.D. Martinez had to leave due to migraines — got to first on catcher’s interference, leaving them with three more outs to try and at least tie this game back up. Thanks to Darwinzon Hernandez striking out the side in the bottom of the inning, it was still a three-run deficit they were trying to make up. The offense just wasn’t there, though. They went down in order again, and that was that. The loss dropped Boston’s record to 16-10.
The Red Sox will look to get back in the win column on Friday with Nathan Eovaldi taking the mound. Kohei Arihara goes for Texas, with first pitch coming at 8:05 PM ET.