Watching the Red Sox these days is an exercise in expecting the worst and hoping for the best, with the ultimate outcome almost exclusively being of the former category. And it seemed like it would be that way in this one as well. Boston was leading most of the day over Texas thanks to a dominant performance from Nathan Eovaldi and a couple of homers from the offense. But then Matt Barnes couldn’t miss bats in the ninth and allowed the Rangers to tie it up. This time, however, the Red Sox did not find a way to lose. A huge two-out double from Rafael Devers kept the game alive in the tenth, and after 2 2⁄3 massive innings from Garrett Whitlock they got a walk off grand slam from Travis Shaw to end it.
Coming off what seemed to be, by my conservative estimate, the fifth “worst game of the season” in the month of August, one that frankly should have counted as two losses, the Red Sox did still have a chance to take this series against the reeling Rangers. And they were desperately looking to take the momentum first in this Monday makeup game after Sunday’s contest was postponed. The best way to do that is to get good starting pitching, and fortunately Eovaldi was up to the task. Things got a little weird for him at one point, but all in all it was a great day for the righty.
Texas had nothing on him in the first couple of innings, managing just a weakly-hit single in the first two frames. It did appear the third may cause some trouble, however, again with some bad luck. Andy Ibáñez started the inning off with a solid line drive single into center field, and then a couple batters later Yonny Hernandez came to the plate with one out. Rafael Devers was pulled in, which would prove to be important as Hernandez hit a little flare of a line drive out towards third base.
At normal depth, Devers makes the play without issue. However, since he was pulled in the ball snuck up and over his head, falling in for a single without even reaching the outfield. That put two men on with just one out, and it was a real chance for things to take a dive in the wrong direction. Instead, we got a little “ball don’t lie” action when Isiah Kiner-Falefa ripped a line drive that was snagged by a leaping Xander Bogaerts, who then tossed it over to second to end the inning on a double play.
So the pitching was good, but the Red Sox also needed a rebound performance from the offense, who on Saturday were largely shut down by a guy with a 5.33 ERA. This time they were going up against Kolby Allard, and they’d get something going in the second with Devers ending an 0-17 skid with a clean base hit through the middle to lead off the inning. Boston did follow that up with two outs, making it appear they’d waste the leadoff runner, but then Alex Verdugo changed that. The first pitch he saw was a curveball that hung right over the middle of the plate, and Verdugo jumped all over it for a two-run shot out to right field. It was only his second homer of the year off a southpaw, and it gave Boston a 2-0 lead.
From here we fast-forward to the top of the fifth, where some of that putrid defense from Saturday decided to make another appearance. Jason Martin started the inning with his second softly-hit single of the day, and then Nick Solak hit a weak ground ball over to third base. The only play for Devers was to get the out at first, but he couldn’t even get that as he bobbled the transfer for an error to put two on with nobody out.
It would only get worse, too. After a bunt moved both runners up into scoring position, Jose Trevino hit a ground ball to the left side. Devers couldn’t get it on a dive, but Bogaerts made the play in the hole and threw it over to first. It was a little up the line towards home plate, but was still catchable. But it wasn’t caught, as Dalbec couldn’t bring it in. A run scored, and Texas had runners on the corners for Hernandez.
Now it was Texas’ turn to short circuit. On a tapper back to the mound, Solak was caught in a rundown between third and home and eventually tagged out. While that was happening, Hernandez tried to get up to second but couldn’t do so quickly enough. He was caught in his own rundown, and was eventually tagged out by left fielder Kyle Schwarber to end the inning. It was a very dumb inning all around, but the final result was Boston still exiting with a one-run lead.
That was still the margin heading into the bottom of the sixth, where the Red Sox started things off with two straight outs. But then Hunter Renfroe finally got that run back to extend the lead back to two. Allard was still in the game, and he left a 1-0 cutter up in the zone over the middle of the plate. That’s not a smart place to leave a pitch to Renfroe, who smashed a solo shot out to left field to make it a 3-1 ballgame.
Meanwhile, Eovaldi was able to cruise after that bizarre fifth inning. He tossed two more perfect innings after that to complete his afternoon, giving Boston seven innings with just the single unearned run crossing the plate, striking out seven without issuing a walk. It was a dominant performance exactly when the Red Sox needed.
They’d then turn to the bullpen still holding a two-run lead after the offense failed to score despite loading the bases with just one out in the seventh. Adam Ottavino got the call for the eighth, and he had some shaky command yet again. Following a quick first out he issued a four-pitch walk, and then later allowed a two-out single to put two on for Adolis García. Ottavino was able to get through it, though, getting a weak pop up to end the inning and keep the lead at two.
That just left one more frame to be completed by Matt Barnes, who got off to an inauspicious start. He got two ground balls to start the inning, but the first couldn’t be handled by Travis Shaw on an infield single and the second found a hole to put the first two runners on. He bounced back with a big strikeout, and then got another ground ball up the middle. Bogaerts made a big stop up the middle, but then tried to turn a great double play. The flipped it up with his glove, and Christian Arroyo (who came in to run earlier in the game) tried to barehand it and make a quick transition. Instead, he failed to catch it and the bases were loaded with just one out. That brought Ibáñez to the plate, who ripped a groundrule double out to right field.
With that, we were tied up at three and Garrett Whitlock was at least looking to keep it that way, coming in with two men in scoring position and still only one out. He got one strikeout before hitting a batter to load the bases back up for Kiner-Falefa. Whitlock won that battle with a strikeout to end the inning with the game still tied.
The offense went down quickly, pushing this one into extras. Whitlock came back out for the 10th, and after starting things off with a strikeout he gave up a ground ball that snuck through the hole on the left side. The Manfredball runner at second came in to score and give Texas their first lead of the day.
That was all Texas got, and now Boston needed at least one run coming home to keep the game alive. They had the heart of their order coming up, and things started with J.D. Martinez crushing one. Unfortunately, it went out to the triangle where it was caught, though it did move Arroyo up to third. Bogaerts then hit a ground ball to the shortstop with the infield in. Despite that alignment, the contact play was on and Arroyo broke for the plate. The throw was not a good one, but Trevino made a nice scoop and applied the tag for the second out.
That seemed like the final nail in the coffin for yet another horrible loss, but Devers was able to save the day and keep things alive. Like Martinez, he went out to the triangle, but it was a bit deeper and just out of reach of D.J. Peters in center field. The double brought Bogaerts around to score and tie this game up.
The winning run would be left standing at second, bringing Whitlock back out for the 11th as well. The righty came through again with a scoreless inning this time, giving his team a chance to walk it off in the bottom half. They did just that after an error on a bunt attempt and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Travis Shaw with nobody out. He did more than he needed, smoking a walk off grand slam out to right field to win the game.
The 8-4 win pushed the Red Sox record to 71-55. With the Rays off today, Boston is now 6.5 back in the division. In the wildcard race, the Red Sox started the day trailing New York by 2.5 games for the top spot and were tied with Oakland for the second. Both teams play tonight, with the Yankees taking on the Braves while the A’s take on the Mariners, who trailed both clubs by three games.
The Red Sox remain at home as the week continues, with the Twins coming to town for a three-game set. Tanner Houck will take the mound for the opener, while Minnesota has yet to name a starter. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.