Relief Pitching Barely Holds Together After Sox Nearly Blow Lead

April 22

Kluber pitches for the Rays against Wacha in the opener of this weekend series in Tampa. The Sox put runners at the corners with one out in the top of the first for Verdugo, who singles up the middle to score Story and make it 1-0 Boston. A base hit by Hernández loads the bases before Bogaerts scores on a groundout to make it 2-0. The other runners do not score, but Kluber has to throw 22 pitches to get out of trouble. Three pitches into Wacha’s outing, Franco hits his second of the year into the right-field corner with one out to get one of those runs back and make it 2-1. The Sox get that run back and go up 3-1 on Rafael Devers’ leadoff homer to the right-field corner in the top of the third. It’s his third of the year. Bogaerts then doubles to left, which is now five straight plate appearances with a hit. He moves to third on a groundout and scores on Hernández’s single into left as the Sox pile on insurance at 4-1. A single by Jackie Bradley Junior puts runners at the corners, and he steals second with two out. Travis Shaw misses a home run by about an inch as his fly falls just to the right of the foul pole in right. He ends up striking out to keep the game close.

That ends up hurting when Franco hits his second home run of the day just fair in much the same place with two out in the bottom of the fifth. It’s 4-2. Runners are at the corners with one out in the bottom of the seventh, and Kiermaier scores on a groundout to make it 4-3 and force a pitching change. The go-ahead run flies out to end the inning. Back-to-back walks put two on with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth. The Sox get half a double play, but now there are runners at the corners with one out. A walk loads the bases, and Diekman is pulled with two out in favor of Matt Barnes, who gets the final batter to ground out. Red Sox win it, 4-3, in the most pulse-pounding win yet.