The Red Sox bullpen has been a big part of the reason why they will go into the All-Star break at least holding a share of the division title, pitching particularly well over the last six weeks or so to weather some storms endured by the rotation. But this was very much not their night, especially for Josh Taylor, Brandon Workman and Austin Brice. The three of them all had to pitch in the eighth on Saturday, an inning that started with the Red Sox trailing by only a run and ended with them trailing by nine. Taylor’s 26-game scoreless streak came to a halt, and it didn’t get much better from there. The offense and Martín Pérez had their issues as well, but this game really just came down to that eighth inning.
After picking up a win on Friday to open up their series against the Phillies, the Red Sox were looking to pick up another home win on Saturday. Not only would that give them 10 wins in a row at Fenway Park, but it’d also seal up a series victory heading into the All-Star break. In order to try and make that happen, they had Martín Pérez on the mound for the start.
The lefty has been having a bit of a strange season, starting off solid, going on a hot streak, hitting a major roadblock, and then lately managing to put up good results around some shaky underlying numbers. With this being his final start before the break, it was a good time for him to end the first half on a high note and carry that momentum into the second half.
It looked like he was going to get off to a good start against Jean Segura, getting ahead 1-2 before throwing two straight balls to fill up the count. That second ball, however, was very close but did not go the southpaw’s way. Sure enough, two pitches later Segura got a two-seam that stayed middle-in, turning it around for a bullet out over the wall in left field for a leadoff homer. One batter into the game, and the Red Sox were already trailing by a run.
Pérez did get out of the inning after that, giving up a single but also getting a double play to limit the first frame to just the four batters. But the second would bring more trouble from the Phillies, and they started the inning with a leadoff walk. That brought Alec Bohm to the plate. The Phillies sophomore has been having a tough year after showing big-time power in the shortened 2020 campaign, but he showed some of those flashes again in this at-bat. After getting ahead 3-0, he allowed Pérez to work his way back into the at-bat, filling up the count. But on the eighth pitch, Pérez didn’t quite get his cutter down low enough and Bohm smashed it out to left field for the Phillies second home of the day, giving them a 3-0 lead.
So, now it was up to the Red Sox offense to get things going. They did seem to have a good chance at doing exactly that, however, with Matt Moore taking the mound for Philly. A former top prospect, the southpaw has never really settled in at the major-league level and has had a tough 2021 to this point. Boston went down in order in the first, but then Xander Bogaerts put a charge in the offense in the second. The All-Star shortstop got a 1-0 fastball at the top of the zone, and he broke a 20-game homeless streak with a ball out to left field, cutting the Phillies lead down to two.
After Pérez got out of the third after a leadoff single, Boston got some offense in the bottom of the inning again. Things started with Christian Vázquez blooping one into right field for a leadoff double, and then a couple batters later Kiké Hernández was hit by a pitch to put two men on with one down. After that, Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp tried to back-pick Hernández off first base, allowing Vázquez to come all the way around from second to score. The throw in from Harper was well off-line as well, allowing Hernández to get up to third with two outs. That gave Boston a chance to tie things up, and they loaded the bases after two straight walks, but Rafael Devers couldn’t get the runs home and the Red Sox were still trailing by one after three.
In the fourth, Pérez was able to start off well with two quick outs, but after a single and a walk he had two men on and the top of the order coming back around. Alex Cora was not messing around here, and he called for Hirokazu Sawamura, who induced an inning-ending ground ball from Segura. The Red Sox would squander a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, and Sawamura came back on for the fifth. He retired all three batters he faced there as well, needing only 11 pitches to get through all four batters he faced.
In the bottom half, the Red Sox got what looked like it should have been a one-out double from Alex Verdugo, but he slipped around first base, holding him to a single, and he’d be left standing at first base. So as he headed to the sixth, the Phillies still held a one-run lead with Garrett Whitlock getting the call. The rookie did give up a single, but worked around it to keep the score at 3-2. He’d come back out for the seventh as well, after his offense went down in order, giving up just a single and recording two outs before Josh Taylor came on and finished the inning with just one pitch.
The Red Sox would again go down in order, though, and all hell broke loose in the top half of the eighth. Taylor came back on for that one, having not allowed a run over his last 26 outings. That streak came to an end here, and emphatically so. He wasn’t able to record an out in that inning, giving up a single and a double — both hit hard, too — while also walking a batter and hitting another. That double brought home two runs to end his scoreless streak, and Brandon Workman came on with men on first and second, still no outs on the board.
Things didn’t get any better from there. The righty has been pitching well of late, but he had nothing in this outing, walking two and giving up a base hit before his night was over. Two more runs had crossed the plate by this point, and the bases were loaded, still with nobody out when Austin Brice came on. He had just been called up earlier in the day with Matt Andriese hitting the injured list, and it was his job to clean up the mess. He could really do it, giving up a base hit, a double and a walk before finally getting the final outs of the inning. In all, the Red Sox gave up a whopping eight runs in the eighth, and suddenly a one-run contest had an 11-2 score, and things were pretty much over.
Boston did load the bases before recording a single out in the bottom of the inning, but they squandered the chance without scoring a single run. Brice tossed a perfect ninth before the Sox went down in order to finish out the game. The 11-2 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 55-35. With the Rays picking up a win, the lead in the division has dropped to a single game.
The Red Sox and Phillies have a rubber match on the docket for Sunday, with Nick Pivetta going against his old team for Boston while Aaron Nola takes the mound for the Phillies. First pitch is set for 1:10 PM ET.