The Red Sox are desperate for some revenge against the Astros, who took two of four in Houston last week and then grabbed the first game this week at Fenway. Boston got on the board first here in this second game of the three-game set, but these Astros are relentless. They broke down Nathan Eovaldi in the third, and then piled on late to put the game away and continue to just dominate this Red Sox team. The good news: There’s only one more matchup with this team in 2021 coming on Thursday. Well, at least until an October date, perhaps.
It’s not just that the Red Sox wanted to get some revenge against the Astros in this game, but they also wanted to prove they could hang. They’ve done enough to prove they are not fluking their way to wins right now, but Houston has undeniably posed a problem. And for Nathan Eovaldi specifically, he was looking to get relatively deep into this game in front of a somewhat tired bullpen who had to cover seven innings on Tuesday. He got off to a good start on that quest, as he worked around a two-out ground-rule double from Alex Bregman for a scoreless first inning, with things ending on an outfield assist from Hunter Renfroe, throwing a perfect strike to get Bregman at the plate.
Even better, the offense was able to get going early. After facing Framber Valdez, who has now dominated the Red Sox twice in the span of a week, on Tuesday, they got to see Jake Odorizzi on Wednesday. They’ve already had some success against the righty this year, and they picked up early here on Tuesday. It was Danny Santana getting it started in the leadoff spot, drawing a walk. Rafael Devers followed that up to put two in scoring position with nobody out. It was a chance to really put an early dent in the game, but J.D. Martinez went down swinging. They did get one on a Xander Bogaerts single, but it felt like they needed to get at least two to feel okay.
Renfroe again came through, this time at the plate. With two outs, Devers was still standing on second but Renfroe made sure to get him home. He dropped a base hit through the infield and into right field right when the Red Sox needed it, and they had their two-run first inning.
Unfortunately, the next couple of innings was all about the Astros offense, with some cameos from Eovaldi and the Red Sox defense. Their starter got through the first two batters relatively quickly, but then his outfield let him down. Kiké Hernández and Renfroe had a lapse in communication on a ball to deep right-center field, and the ball landed between the two for a double on what should have been an easy third out. That was followed by a little fly ball falling into right field for a ground-rule double, and the Astros had a run.
That inning was a little fluky, but the third was just them getting the best of Eovaldi. Houston was jumping on everything early in counts, and it was working. It started with a long ball, which Eovaldi has been so good at avoiding this year. But this time, he left a cutter right over the plate and Jose Altuve put it into the Monster Seats for a solo shot, and just like that we were tied.
From there, Eovaldi issued a walk, and then after getting the first out, Houston turned it on. They smacked two straight doubles, and then ripped a base hit, and just like that three runs were on the board. It really looked like Eovaldi was on the ropes, but he settled down a bit from there. He struck out two straight to end that inning, and then worked around a bases loaded jam in the fourth for a scoreless inning. He came back with just a single in the fifth, getting farther in the game than many would have guessed in that third inning.
Over on the other side, the Red Sox went down in order in both the second and third innings. In the fourth, they quickly made sure to wake up. It was Xander Bogaerts specifically waking up. He has been a bit quiet the last couple weeks, but he led off this inning by demolishing a slider into left field for a solo shot, and suddenly the Red Sox were within two.
That was still the score as we entered the sixth, and against all odds Eovaldi was still in the game for Boston. He was able to record two outs in the inning, too, but his pitch count was now over 100 for the night. He issued a walk and that was the end of his night, with Darwinzon Hernandez coming in to end the inning thanks to some nice defense from Marwin Gonzalez.
After the offense sent a couple to the warning track but ultimately went down in order in the bottom of the inning, it was Garrett Whitlock coming in for the seventh. It wasn’t a smooth ride for the rookie, with a single and a double putting a pair in scoring position with just one. On a fly ball to right field, it looked like Renfroe was poised to save yet another run with his arm. His throw was money, but Vázquez couldn’t plant the tag low enough and Michael Brantley got in under it to score a run, pushing the deficit back up to three.
Once again, though, the offense had no answer and went down in order in the bottom of the seventh. This is when the game pretty much got away. Phillips Valdez came in for Boston, and after a strikeout to start the inning he gave up a base hit before Bregman stepped to the plate. The Astros star smashed a two-run shot out to left field, and just like that it was a five-run game, and things seemed out of reach. It could have been even worse, as Houston loaded the bases after the homer but couldn’t score any more runs.
Now, the offense needed a miracle. They did not have it in them. They had one baserunner in a scoreless eighth, and then went down in order in the ninth to finish it off. The 8-3 loss dropped the Red Sox record down to 37-25.
The Red Sox now look to avoid a sweep to the Astros on Thursday with Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound. Houston will counter with Zack Greinke, with first pitch coming at 7:10 PM ET.