The Red Sox headed to Texas earlier this weekend coming off an impressive two-game sweep against the Mets in Queens, looking to turn that momentum into a big road trip with the Rangers being a rebuilding club. Instead, Boston couldn’t get thing everything going at the same time at any point and needed a win on Sunday to salvage a split. They got the starting pitching on Sunday with Garrett Richards pitching well, but the offense failed to open up any significant lead. That would prove costly with the relievers who have been so good for most of the year — specifically Garrett Whitlock, Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes — blowing the lead. The result was yet another frustrating loss.
Garrett Richards did not get his 2021 off to the start he wanted, struggling for most of the month of April. He came out and shoved against the Mets his last time out, though, and it looked like he may have turned a corner. Of course, one good start does not a turnaround make, so he was looking to come out in Texas and prove that he indeed has figured a few things out. It wasn’t always pretty nor was it totally efficient, but Richards had his stuff and command working for most of the afternoon and put together a strong day.
The part that wasn’t pretty came right off the bat, which did leave some concern for how this afternoon would ultimately go. Richards couldn’t locate much and was yanking a lot of his pitches, and the result was a single, a walk, and a wild pitch that ultimately put two runners in scoring position. Amid the command issues, the righty was able to get a bunch of strikes in the mix. Thanks to three strikeouts surrounding the issues, Richards got out of the inning without allowing a run.
That was a tough inning, but fortunately for the Red Sox it did not foreshadow what was to come for the rest of the day. Instead, Richards kept the stuff going, but he was also able to totally improve his command to get through the rest of the outing. He struck out one in a perfect second, and then in the third he allowed just a single while striking out two in another scoreless frame.
Over on the other side, the Red Sox were never really able to make Mike Foltynewicz pay in what was largely a frustrating day at the plate. They did have a chance right off the bat when two batters reached in the first with just one out, but J.D. Martinez hit a tailor-made double play ball that was indeed converted to end the inning.
The second went a little better as they got their first lead, though it was in part due to some issues for the Rangers defense. Xander Bogaerts led the inning off with a pop up over toward Nick Solak at second base, but the roof was open for the first time during this series and the sun played a factor. Solak totally lost the ball and it dropped right next to him for a very weak single. Bogaerts then moved up to third on a one-out double from Marwin Gonzlaez, then scored on an RBI grounder from Hunter Renfroe. Gonzalez, however, was left on third.
After managing just a single in the third, they got some more offense in the fourth, and this time it was all Bogaerts. He led off this inning as well and he eventually got a fastball belt-high on the outer half of the plate. He was totally ready for it, blasting a no-doubt shot out to left-center field for a solo home run, and just like that it was a 2-0 lead for Boston. They’d quickly get a runner to second after that too thanks to a walk and a wild pitch, but nothing from there to add to their lead.
Moving along to the bottom half of the fourth, the Rangers got to Richards a bit again for the first time since the first. Joey Gallo started the inning by ripping a double out to Alex Verdugo in center. Two straight ground balls after that brought him home to cut the Red Sox lead in half. Texas got some more pressure on after Isiah Kiner-Falefa got a base hit then stole second and moved along to third when the throw down got into shallow center. He would be stranded 90 feet from the plate, though, to keep the inning in hand.
Richards had one more inning after that, but there was no trouble there as he retired all three batters he faced. That ended his afternoon with five strong innings, allowing just the single run on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. After he exited, it was Darwinzon Hernandez coming in for a scoreless inning in the sixth that included a pair of strikeouts. The second of his strikeouts also had the effect of getting Gallo and Rangers manager Chris Woodward ejected for arguing balls and strikes.
So the score was still just 2-1 as we headed into the seventh, but the Red Sox were finally able to get a little more insurance with Foltynewicz out and the bullpen coming in. Renfroe started the inning off with a base hit, and then Boston operated with a little small ball. Franchy Cordero moved the runner up to second with a bunt before a ground ball pushed him over to third. Kiké Hernández didn’t waste this opportunity, smacking a base hit the other way to bring Renfroe home and make it a 3-1 game.
With the two-run lead now in hand, Garrett Whitlock came in for the bottom of the seventh. It was a good thing they added that insurance run, too. Whitlock has been so strong this year, particularly with his changeup, but he threw a terrible one to Kiner-Falefa to lead off the inning. The offspeed pitch was right down the middle and the Rangers shortstop sent it into the seats in left field to cut the lead right back down to two. Whitlock also gave up a single and had a tough battle against Calhoun, but he ultimately allowed just the one run.
After the Red Sox were unable to answer back in the top of the eighth, it was Adam Ottavino coming out to protect the one-run lead in the bottom half. Things didn’t get off to the start he was looking for, with the righty walking the first batter he faced. That runner, Nate Lowe, would then move on to second on a stolen base. It looked like Ottavino would be able to work around the trouble with two outs after the stolen bag, but then David Dahl smacked a base hit through the left side and Lowe came in to tie the game at three.
Ottavino followed that up by issuing a walk, and that was the end of the day for him. With two on and two out in the eighth and the game tied, Matt Barnes got the call. He couldn’t get it done either, and it was an old friend doing the damage. Brock Holt smacked a base hit into center field. Even worse, Verdugo overran the ball and allowed a second run to score, and the Rangers had a 5-3 lead.
That gave the Red Sox three more outs to try and at least tie this game back up. Instead, they went down in order and took the loss. It pushes their record down to 17-12.
The Red Sox now get a day off before heading back home to try and get some new momentum against the Tigers. It looks as though Detroit is going to go with a bullpen game while Nick Pivetta should go for Boston, with first pitch coming at 7:10 PM ET.