It may be fair to say what happened to the Red Sox on Tuesday isn’t exactly being Ohtani’d. The Angels superstar had only one hit, and while he was good on the mound it wasn’t the kind of line that truly jumps off the page, especially for him with his typical strikeout totals. And yet, he was the entire game, because that’s what he does. His one hit was a big double in the first inning to answer right back after the Red Sox took an early lead, and while he wasn’t missing a ton of bats he efficiently made his way through this Red Sox lineup for seven relatively easy innings. Maybe it’s being Ohtani’d. Maybe it didn’t reach that threshold. Either way, the Red Sox did not grab the victory, which ultimately is all that matters.
This had all the makings of an exciting pitchers duel in Southern California on Tuesday night, with a pair of All-Stars starting for each side. On the Red Sox side, they had Nathan Eovaldi on the mound, who is making his first All-Star appearance next week. Over on the other side, the Angels had Shohei Ohtani, and Boston got the full experience here with him hitting and pitching. And so as is the case seemingly every time you get an exciting pitching matchup, it was the offenses making themselves known early on.
For the Red Sox, it was really just one guy making himself known in Kiké Hernández. Playing center field here today, he has been getting in a groove in the leadoff spot for Boston over these last couple of weeks, and he continued that on Monday. Hernández ripped a pitch down the right field line to start off this game, getting to second base with a double. He’d then move up to third base on a ground ball before coming home on a sacrifice fly from J.D. Martinez, who just missed putting it over the fence. Instead, the Red Sox settled for a 1-0 lead.
It wasn’t going to take very long for that to evaporate. Eovaldi has been good at a few things this year, but nothing has been more impressive than his ability to limit impact swings. It’s just been hard to put up extra-base hits against the Red Sox righty. That wasn’t really the case in this game, however. David Fletcher started the bottom half of the first inning with a ground-rule double, before Ohtani made his impact at the plate with a double of his own. Two batters into the inning, the game was tied up at one.
Eovaldi did have good stuff for a lot of this night, however, and in fact followed up the two doubles with a pair of strikeouts. He was just about out of the inning with the game still tied, getting into a full count with Max Stassi. But he left a cutter middle-in to the Angels catcher, who blasted it to left field for a two-run shot. With that swing, it was now a two-run deficit for the Red Sox.
Now, the good news is Eovaldi did not let that poor first inning snowball, and was able to settle down moving forward. He worked around a two-out double in the second by striking out the other three batters he faced, and then worked around another double in the third. He followed that up with a perfect fourth before allowing a leadoff single in the fifth. He was able to escape that inning unsathed too, however, thanks to an inning-ending double play.
The bad news is that Ohtani was able to get himself in an even better zone, not only keeping the Red Sox off the board but being able to do so in incredibly efficient fashion. After that leadoff double from Hernández, Ohtani retired the next nine batters he faced to get himself into the fourth inning having allowed just the single baserunner. The Red Sox did come back with another leadoff double in the fourth, this one from Alex Verdugo, but again they couldn’t string together any more hits. Ohtani retired the next six batters after that double, getting him through five.
And not only was the Angels star and MVP favorite through five innings with a lead and just one run allowed, but he was through five having only thrown 57 pitches. The Red Sox were looking to get some sort of sustained rally, and they did get yet another leadoff double in the sixth. This one was from Connor Wong, making his third career start, and it was his first career extra-base hit. He did get over to third base on a fly ball in the next at-bat, but after a strikeout it appeared he may be stranded.
Martinez made sure that didn’t happen, dropping a base hit into left field to bring home Wong and make it a one-run ballgame. That brought Xander Bogaerts to the plate, and it looked like he may have given the Red Sox the lead with a shot out to right-center field, but Juan Lagares had other ideas. He leaped up and grabbed the ball before it could make it up and over the wall, ending the inning and keeping the Angels out in front.
Eovaldi came back out for the bottom of the sixth, but his roll would end and the Angels created more trouble. They got yet another leadoff double, a theme of the game for both sides, before a base hit put runners on the corners with nobody out. Old friend José Iglesias came to the plate with these two men on, and all he needed was a soft tapper to the left side to make it a 4-2 game. Originally, he was called safe at first as well but a replay reversed the call.
Still, there was a runner at second with just one out, and Eovaldi did get the second out after that, but then he kept the inning alive with a walk before hitting the next batter he faced. That was enough to load the bases, and also enough to get the Red Sox starter out of the game. Brandon Workman came on to face Fletcher to try and escape the inning with the deficit still at two, but a weak tapper to the left side — even weaker than the one from Iglesias — worked out for an infield single to make it a 5-2 game. That brought Ohtani to the plate with a chance to really break things open, but Workman won the battle with a strikeout to end the inning and strand the bases loaded.
For that result to matter, though, they were going to need the offense to start to step up against Ohtani. Devers did his job to start the inning, leading things off with a base hit before quickly moving up on a wild pitch. Nobody could move him from there, however, and the Red Sox stayed down by three heading into the bottom of the seventh.
After Workman came back and faced only three batters in that inning, Boston’s bats had six more outs to play with in this game. They did have Ohtani out of the game for the eighth, but it wouldn't make too much of a difference as they once again managed a base hit but nothing else.
It was Yacksel Ríos coming through for a perfect bottom half of the eighth, giving the Red Sox their final chance. They would have to mount a comeback against the red-hot Raisel Iglesias. They were able to add one more to their tally thanks to a two-out, two-strike solo shot from Hunter Renfroe, but that was all.
The 5-3 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 54-33. With the Rays game being postponed today, Boston’s lead in the division sits at an even four games.
The Red Sox and Angels will now play a rubber match on Wednesday as Boston goes for a third straight series win. They’ll have Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound for the finale with Andrew Heaney going for L.A. First pitch is set for 4:07 PM ET.