The Red Sox were not going to win every game for the rest of the season, so in that sense it’s tough to be about too upset about a loss on Wednesday night. But looking at the actual game itself, it was a frustrating night reminiscent of the early portion of the season. Boston did jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the top half of the first, but that was the end of their run scoring. Facing White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, they had plenty of runners on base but went just 1-8 with runners in scoring position, and left 10 runners on base total. That erased a solid outing for Rich Hill, who gave up a big three-run homer but was otherwise strong, and snapped the six-game win streak.
More robust game notes below.
It’s been a bit of a strange season for Rich Hill back in Boston, though it’s certainly been more good than bad. The veteran is limited with his innings every time he takes the mound, which is understandable for someone in his 40s, but when he is on the mound he’s shown that he can be effective against any lineup on any given day, so long as his command is working. He showed right away on Wednesday night in Chicago that he was on his game, starting out the game by getting Tim Anderson to go down looking. It was the first time the White Sox shortstop struck out looking all season.
Hill didn’t slow down from there. He retired the other two batters to come to the plate in that first inning, then retired the side in order yet again in the second. Chciago finally managed to put a runner on base against the southpaw in the third when Hill walked the second batter of the inning, but he followed that up with a first-pitch double play to end that inning, still having faced the minimum in the game. He kept it going in the fourth as well with yet another perfect inning in his second go around against the top of the order.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense was looking to pick up where they left off on Tuesday when they scored 16 runs, facing White Sox ace Lucas Giolito. They didn’t put on the same kind of onslaught, but it wasn’t really for a lack of chances, just some chances that were wasted. Fortunately, that didn’t come to pass in the first inning as they mounted a two-out rally to get on the board early.
J.D. Martinez, who has been on another planet for the last few weeks, got yet another hit, keeping the inning alive with a line drive single the other way into right field. A walk put a pair on for Alex Verdugo. He didn’t hit it hard, but a little bloop found the grass out in left field, allowing Martinez to come in to score and the Red Sox to take the early 1-0 lead.
After that though, it was a lot of wasted opportunities. Trevor Story had a chance to extend that lead in the first with a pair on, but failed to get the run in. In the second, they got two men on with just one out, but Enrique Hernández struck out before Rafael Devers hit one hard but found a glove in center field to end the inning. Similarly, they got the first two batters to reach base in the third, but failed to score after an inning-ending double play from Story. The fourth saw two more reach only to be stranded before Giolito finally got them in order in the fifth.
It felt inevitable that all of those wasted opportunities were going to come back to bite them eventually, and the bottom of the fifth fulfilled that prophecy. Hill came back out with a no-hitter in tow, but lost it on a leadoff double from 2020 MVP José Abreu. That was followed up with Devers reverting to his past form, making a bad throw on a fairly routine play to put a free runner on, which of course proved costly. Jake Burger stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and nobody out and absolutely obliterated a slow breaking ball that stayed right over the heart of the plate, sending it out to left field. To his credit, Hill did retire the next three batters after that, but the damage was done and Boston was trailing 3-1.
The offense went down in order for a second straight inning in the sixth, bringing out Tanner Houck for the bottom half of the inning looking to keep the deficit at two. He didn’t make it terribly easy on himself, giving up a single and a walk, but came through with a big strikeout against A.J. Pollock to end the inning without any runs coming across.
Heading into the seventh, the Red Sox had the top of their order coming around as they needed to get going again with Chicago’s bullpen coming in. Though things started with two quick outs, Devers kept the inning alive with a base hit, then Martinez did the same before Xander Bogaerts drew a walk. That gave Alex Verdugo a big opportunity to at least tie the game with a hit, but instead he grounded out, leaving three more runners on base and continuing a frustrating evening for this lineup.
After Houck worked around a pair of two-out singles in the bottom half of the seventh, the offense had six more outs to play with to at least tie this game up. They were facing old friend Joe Kelly in the eighth, who struck out the first two batters he faced before leaving with some sort of leg injury. That brought in closer Liam Hendriks for a four-out save, and he got the first one right away to end the eighth.
Houck gave the Red Sox one more scoreless inning, keeping the deficit at two with one more chance coming for the offense. Hendriks just proved too much, with Boston managing a pair of walks but nothing else to finish off the 3-1 loss.
The Red Sox and White Sox now have a rubber match on the docket for Thursday night starting at 8:10 PM ET. Michael Wacha will be on the mound for Boston while Dallas Keuchel gets the ball for Chicago.