The Red Sox trotted out Eduardo Rodriguez — who had a fantastic first month back in a Red Sox uniform — out there against the Rangers and Jordan Lyles on Saturday night. Lyles had struggled entering today’s game with an ERA of 6.75 in his first 24 innings of the season, so today’s game represented a great chance for the Red Sox bats to catch fire again, and hopefully begin a hot streak.
An incredible defensive play saved the Red Sox early in this one. With runners on first and third, and only one out, Adolis Garcia lined a ball straight into the glove of Christian Arroyo at second base. Arroyo, thinking quickly, fired the ball over to first to double off Joey Gallo. Despite a couple of hits against him, Rodriguez was able to tightrope out of danger with a lot of help from his defense.
Hunter Renfroe had one of the coldest Aprils for the Red Sox, but he started May off on the right foot, becoming the first Sox player to hit a home run for the month. And boy, was the ball demolished. When the ball landed, the Red Sox found themselves in front with a 2-0 lead.
Hunter Renfroe MAJESTIC HR!— Boston Strong (@BostonStrong_34) May 1, 2021
In the third inning, Rodriguez found himself in a similar jam to the one he had earlier. With runners at first and third, and only one out in the inning, Nick Solak stepped up to the plate. Rodriguez was not as fortunate this time around, as Solak found a hole and drove in a run for the Rangers. That wasn’t all either, as Nate Lowe punished a hanging pitch over the heart of the plate for a two-run single to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.
Firing back in the top of the fourth, the Sox mounted a rally of their own. A Rafael Devers double, Christian Vázquez single, and Bobby Dalbec ground out brought in the tying run for the Red Sox, knotting things up at three apiece. While the rally ended shortly thereafter, Boston showed they weren’t going to take a loss quietly.
Arroyo led off the fifth inning with a single, and Alex Verdugo followed with a walk. That walk was the final action of the game for the Rangers starter, as he left with four innings pitched, six hits, two walks, and three strikeouts to show for it. The most important number was that he gave up five earned runs (more on this in a minute). Taylor Hearn came in to relieve Lyles, facing a first and second situation with no outs in the inning.
J.D. Martinez smells opportunity, J.D. Martinez takes advantage of opportunity. A slap single later, and the Red Sox took the lead back, 4-3. Xander Bogaerts got in on the action too, continuing the death by a thousand paper cuts technique, poking a single through the left side of the infield to make it 5-3, still with no outs in the inning. Unfortunately, the Sox squandered this golden opportunity.
The Rangers struck back in the bottom half, via a leadoff home run for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, to make it 5-4. Rodriguez kept it limited to the solo shot, but it was very clear that he did not have his best stuff, or even his second best stuff. His outing ended here, as he finished with five innings pitched, and eight hits and one walk allowed, striking out five. He had four earned runs on the ledger, as he struggled to get through this one.
Matt Andriese relieved Rodriguez, with a one-run lead. Unfortunately, Andriese didn’t have his best stuff today either, as he gave up a two-run home run to Willie Calhoun, as the Rangers took the lead back in the bottom of the 6th inning. They piled on after a ball snuck through the glove of both Arroyo and Renfroe. This rare defensive miscue by Renfroe allowed the seventh Rangers run to score.
A Christian Vázquez sacrifice fly drove in Xander Bogaerts in the top of the 7th to make it a 7-6 ball game, as the Red Sox Rollercoaster went hurtling off into the Twilight Zone. In a game of wild twists and turns, somehow the Red Sox playing small ball was the wildest thing to be seen to this point.
The Red Sox rallied again in the 8th inning, in the hopes of tying the game back up. Renfroe attempted to atone for his costly error, by singling to lead off the inning. Arroyo also singled following an Enrique Hernández strike out (pinch-hit for the struggling Franchy Cordero). Afer Verdugo grounded out, to push the runners over, the Rangers wisely chose to walk MVP candidate J.D. Martinez, to face Xander Bogaerts with two outs and the bases loaded. Bogaerts grounded out, to make the rally for naught.
Hirokazu Sawamura also had some struggles in this one. Once is a fluke, twice is coincidence, but thrice is a streak. Sawamura’s difficulty in this relatively high leverage situation should be put into consideration by Alex Cora going forward, as a one run game that was within reach became a two-run game via a Charlie Culberson double.
The Red Sox had one more shot to knot the game up, but were unable to mount a comeback. As a result, they fell to 17-11, having to settle for a loss tonight against the Rangers, meaning the best result they can muster is a split. Perhaps more worrying, Rafael Devers may have injured his right shoulder on a swing in the top of the ninth inning. While he remained in the game, the last thing this team needs is a significant injury to one of their better offensive players.
The Red Sox play one more in Texas, tomorrow at 12:35 PM. If they win, they emerge with a series split. If they lose, they drop a series to one of the worst teams in the American League, if not all of Major League Baseball.