While it’s seemed like the worst-case scenario has been playing out for the Red Sox in realtime as all we can do is sit and watch, a win on Wednesday night coupled with a great start from Eduardo Rodriguez seemed like it could be a start of the changing of the tides. If they could get a win on Thursday, suddenly they’d have won a series and got back to within a half-game in the division. That, uh, didn’t happen. Martín Pérez recorded four outs. The offense did mostly nothing all day long, and when they did do things it only led to greater disappointment with runners left on base. The new relievers acquired at the deadline, Hansel Robles and Austin Davis, combined to let the game get away. It was the opposite of a changing of the tides, and the Red Sox now enter a seemingly must-win series this weekend.
The Red Sox were able to snap their five-game losing streak on Wednesday, grabbing a 4-1 victory in Detroit against the Tigers to even up a three-game series. Just a tick below the importance for the win as a team was the performance from Eduardo Rodriguez. Coming off a terrible outing and in a rotation in need of some stability, the lefty shoved for five innings to lead the team to victory. They needed something similar — not necessarily in quality but rather in feeling, for lack of a better word — from Martín Pérez on Thursday in the rubber match.
They did not get it. Pérez was, to be quite frank about it, terrible. The lefty had absolutely nothing in this game and was consistently hit hard. That started with literally the first batter, as Robbie Grossman led off the bottom half of the first by blasting a fastball up in the zone into the left field seats for a no-doubt homer, giving Detroit the first blow in this game. Pérez also gave up a double in the inning, but ultimately escaped allowing just the one run.
But the hard contact came right back out from the Tigers in the second inning as well, and really the southpaw’s command seemingly only got worse as the day went on. The start to the frame was slightly better than the first, with Victor Reyes kicking things off with a triple out to center field, but another run quickly came in on a sacrifice fly. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if he had stopped there, but instead he gave up back-to-back base hits before hitting Grossman to lead the bases.
It was only a two-run game, but the Red Sox needed some momentum and it was pretty clear that Pérez was not going to get out of this game with that in hand. Patience has been the name of the game for most of this season, but we’re seeing the urgency ratchet up a bit of late, and Cora came out to pull Pérez with just one out in the second inning in a two-run game. Phillips Valdez got the call, trying to keep his team in this game in a crucial multi-inning role in which he’d had some success before the losing streak. He did allow one of the inherited runners to come in (though on a fantastic play by him on a tapper in front of the mound that got one out), but he also retired both batters he faced. The score being 3-0 after two felt like a win.
But in order to get an actual win, the kind of win we really care about, the offense needed to snap out of its funk. Even in the win on Wednesday, they hit three home runs but still wasted some other chances, which is a growing theme of the last week or two. It happened again on Thursday, starting with a 1-2-3 first and then wasting back-to-back two-out singles in the second. Bobby Dalbec was the culprit this time, striking out with two on.
Moving into the third, with the deficit at three for the first time in the game, they got things started a little earlier with a walk from Kiké Hernández and an infield single (thanks to miscommunication in the Tigers infield) from Rafael Devers, both with one out. They’d each move up a bag on a bad pickoff attempt as well, but J.D. Martinez struck out looking on a questionable call off the outside corner before Xander Bogaerts hit a bullet into the abyss that is center field in Detroit that would be caught, stranding both runners.
Valdez, to his credit, kept the momentum on his side as he had another effective slot in this cleanup role of his, retiring all six batters he’d face in the third and fourth innings to keep the deficit at three. But the offense continued to come up short. They’d waste a two-out double in the fourth and then get a leadoff single from Marwin Gonzalez in the fifth, right before the top of the order was coming up. The top three batters would go down in order, and it was another scoreless frame.
Heading into the bottom of the fifth, Hansel Robles came in to pitch for the Red Sox, and after a quick first out he gave up a base hit and issued a walk to put two men on. He came back with a big strikeout, putting him one step away from getting out of it, but then Jeimer Candelario destroyed one to deep center field. It stayed in the yard, but bounced up and over the fence for a ground rule double, making it a 4-0 game. Reyes followed that up with his second triple of the game, and that pretty much put things away, making it a six-run game.
From there, the game was largely decided, and in fact the Tigers just added on in the sixth, scoring one more run on the other new Red Sox reliever, Austin Davis. The southpaw would allow another in the seventh as well to make it an eight-run game. Meanwhile, the offense did add a token run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly, but that was all.
The 8-1 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 64-46. With the Rays having the day off, the Red Sox fall to 1.5 games out of first place in the division.
The Red Sox now look to shift the momentum as they head north of the border for their first trip to Toronto since 2019. They’ll have Nathan Eovaldi on the mound for the opener with Alek Manoah getting the ball for the Blue Jays. First pitch is set for 7:07 PM ET.