The Red Sox have been an inconsistent baseball team of late. That’s better than last year when they were consistently terrible, but after their hot start this year it’s been a little disappointing. The offense in particular has been rough to watch of late, and that continued here on Wednesday. Playing amid near-constant rain, they were shut down for most of the night by Casey Mize. A clutch homer from J.D. Martinez did make things interesting and ultimately push the game to extras, but Garrett Whitlock had another rough night en route to giving up the lead in the tenth and ultimately picking up the loss. After winning an ugly one on Tuesday, they were on the wrong end of it on Wednesday.
The Red Sox and Tigers played an offensive-filled game on Tuesday to open up this series, with Boston getting the win despite its bullpen struggling mightily. After that kind of explosion on both sides at the plate, particularly from a team in the Red Sox that had been scuffling offensively of late and the Tigers who have been baseball’s worst offense this season, it made sense to expect some sort of cool down on Wednesday. We got that in more ways than one.
In one sense, they got it literally as it was miserable weather with temperatures in the 40s and rain coming down almost all night. That rain also delayed the start by 37 minutes. And then once the game did get started, neither offense could get much of anything going. For Boston, it was Martín Pérez on the mound and he had some really strong command going. he was working the edges of the zone and got a lot of Tigers to watch strikes go by all night.
And over the first few innings, Detroit really had no answers. That was literally true for the first two frames as the Red Sox southpaw retired all six batters he faced. The third proved to be a little more difficult, though only after recording a couple of quick outs. From there, Detroit finally got their first baserunner of the night on a base hit, and then a walk suddenly put two on with two outs. Pérez was able to get a big ground ball to Rafael Devers, though, and the Tigers remained off the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was trying to keep their momentum from last night, this time going up against former number one overall pick Casey Mize. The young righty’s career has been a bit shaky in the early going, but we saw some of the stuff tonight that makes him one of the more promising up-and-coming pitchers in the game. And the Red Sox didn’t manage to get a hit off him in the first three innings, though that doesn’t mean they scored no runs.
After going down in order in the first, the offense took advantage of some control issues in the second. Mize walked each of the first two batters he faced in the inning, and Boston had their chance to build a big early lead. They didn’t quite take advantage of that opportunity, but two straight ground balls were enough to get a run across the plate. It would have been nice to see more damage in that inning, but it was a 1-0 lead.
That was the same score as we headed into the top of the fourth, but the Tigers were again able to get some momentum going against Pérez. This time it didn’t come with two outs, though, instead starting the inning with a base hit which was followed by a walk to put the first two runners on. Pérez came back with two straight strikeouts, but he couldn't quite finish them off, and his defense did him no favors. JaCoby Jones ripped the first pitch he saw into left field on a line, and the Tigers were going to stop the runner at third to keep the bases full but with no runs coming across. However, Franchy Cordero booted the ball coming in on it. Once it got by, the run easily came across and we were all tied up at one.
The offense was not able to answer back (though they did get a couple of hits in the fourth to break up the early no-hit bid), and it was still a tie game heading into the sixth. Pérez was still in the game at this point, and once again the defense let him down a bit. The inning started with a ground ball to the right side, and Marwin Gonzalez (who was playing first today) got a little over-ambitious. It was a ball he should have let go by to Arroyo while he covered the first base bag. Instead, he tried to get it, failed, and Pérez couldn't win the footrace to the bag. Gonzalez was shifted off the bag, and I do wonder if he thought Arroyo was shifted to the other side. Either way, it was a mistake and likely cost them a base runner.
A couple batters later, Niko Goodrum ripped a single into right field. Hunter Renfroe made the aggressive play trying to get the runner going from first to third. He didn’t get the out, and it allowed Goodrum to get up to second. That would prove to be big, because a couple batters after that Jones came through again. This time he ripped one off the Monster. The Tigers got two on the hit instead of one, ending the night for Pérez and putting Detroit up two.
Josh Taylor came on and got the last out, but the damage was done and Boston was now playing from behind. They had their chance to do so as soon as the bottom of the sixth, too, when they had their first two batters reach. That was followed by two straight outs, though, and after Christian Arroyo was hit in the hand (again) to load the bases, Hunter Renfroe grounded out to spoil the chance and keep the deficit at two.
Hirokazu Sawamura got the call for the seventh and kept the Tigers off the board, working around a leadoff single and getting a fine catch from Cordero to end the inning. That play would be big, because the Red Sox offense was able to get things going a bit against the Tigers bullpen in the bottom of the frame. Kiké Hernández got things started with a one-out single, and a couple batters later it was all on J.D. Martinez. He’s been so good this year, and we saw it again here when he put one into the bullpen for a two-run shot. Just like that, we were all tied up.
With a new game on our hands, the Red Sox turned to Adam Ottavino with a new-look defense behind him. Arroyo had to leave after being hit on the hand, and as part of the changes Christian Vázquez moved his way over to second base. That wouldn't be a factor as Ottavino worked around a two-out double for a scoreless game to keep the game tied.
The offense went down in order in the bottom of the inning, leading to a tie game in the ninth with Matt Barnes entering the game for Boston. He did what he’s done all year, striking out the side for a perfect inning, giving his team a chance to walk it off in the ninth. It looked like it was going to be a disappointing inning, but then Hernández kept things alive with a two-out walk. Devers then swung at the first pitch he saw, ripping it into the corner in left field. Hernández couldn’t score, but suddenly the winning run was just 90 feet away. They walked Martinez, and it was all up to Xander Bogaerts. He made good contact, but his liner to left hung up and was caught, pushing us into extras.
Whitlock came on for the tenth, and he couldn’t get it done as he is hitting his first snag in the majors. He started off facing Jonathan Schoop, who worked a 10-pitch at bat that included a missed call on what should have been strike three but also some very close calls on foul balls that could’ve been extra-base hits. The ultimate result was a bloop single to put runners on the corners. (Remember, extras start with a runner on second for... reasons.) The real damage came in the next at bat, though, when Jeimer Candelario crushed one out to right field for a three-run shot to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
That was all Detroit got in that inning, but the Red Sox had their work cut out for them to try and at least extend the game. Boston did make things interesting, starting with a Marwin Gonzalez single to cut the deficit to two. He’d then move up to second on a wild pitch, and then Kevin Plawecki reached on a tapper back to the mound that Detroit pitcher Gregory Soto couldn’t handle. Suddenly, the Red Sox had runners on the corners with one out in a two-run game, and Tuesday’s Tigers starter Michael Fulmer was entering the game.
Hunter Renfroe was the first batter he’d face, and he reached on a second straight infield single. This one brought a run home, and suddenly Boston was within one. Bobby Dalbec hit a liner at the third baseman for the third out, leaving things up to Hernández. He couldn’t get it done, and the Red Sox dropped the game 6-5 and dropped their record to 18-13.
The Red Sox and Tigers finish out this three-game set with some afternoon action on Thursday starting at 1:10 PM ET. Nathan Eovaldi takes on Spencer Turnbull in the rubber match.