Over in Boston they are writing about how the Red Sox hitters weren’t clutch tonight. They stranded 10 batters. They only hit 1-11 with runners in scoring position. Sound familiar?
The real story was the Astros clutch pitching, clutch defense, Springer lightning, and a little luck.
The Red Sox stranded runners in scoring position in five of the eight innings in which they did not score. In each of those innings their chances were killed by outstanding defense, dominant strikeouts, or hard hit balls that found Astros gloves. Nonetheless, the Red Sox held the lead 1-0 going into the 8th inning.
In the second inning second baseman Tony Kemp, yeah, you read that right, filling in for injured Aledmys Diaz, secured an Eduardo Nunez grounder rifled at 103 MPH to get the third out, saving a run.
It was later announced that Aledmys Diaz was suffering from “hamstring discomfort.” Oh know, the dread, killer disease, Astros discomfort.
In the third, although the Red Sox only got a runner as far as first base, they were robbed again by this patented Jake Marisnick superman catch in center field, snatching a hit from Mookie Betts.
In the fourth it was the out of position second baseman again who positively looked like a gold glover. Ranging far to his left, Kemp absolutely robbed Christian Vasquez on another hard hit grounder, keeping Xander Bogaerts from scoring, who had doubled to lead off the inning.
Here’s the play.
In the fifth inning it was clutch pitching that kept the Red Sox at zero in the run column. After allowing two singles, and with runners at first and third with one out, Gerrit Cole found the extra gear on his fastball, hitting one hundred, and striking out J. D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to keep the shutout.
Gerrit Cole was a hard luck pitcher yet again in his own right, leaving the game after five innings. While allowing six hits, he gave up no runs, and secured seven strikeouts, but left without getting a decision.
Ironically, in the sixth inning, the one time the Red Sox did score, they were helped by a little luck and poor Astros defense. Xander Bogaerts opened the inning with an infield hit that Tony Kemp, after some hesitation, tried to play bare-handed. Clearly his rust at this, his old minor league position, contributed to the Bogaerts base hit. Pitcher Hector Rondon struck out the next two batters, but Christian Vasquez, fighting off a well-placed slider, poked a 79 MPH soft liner 200 feet near the right field line, scoring Bogaerts for the Red Sox’ only run.
In the seventh the Red Sox went down 1-2-3, with Will Harris striking out Andrew Benintendi and Martinez in impressive fashion. Mookie Betts almost hit a line drive out of the park in right field, but Josh Reddick had just enough room to track it down. Betts was 1-5 today, but hit sharp line drives in every at bat.
In the eighth it was Ryan Pressly time. That means shut down time. Three up, three down. Thirty ninth consecutive appearance without allowing a run, a new MLB record, and, with this stunning defensive gem he got the third out.
By then Pressly was working with a 3-1 Astros lead. In the top of the eighth, Jake Marisnick lead off with a double to left field, and then George Springer unloaded this bomb to center field, his 17th, which chased starter Rick Porcello, and wasted his otherwise superb outing, making him the losing pitcher.
Question: When is George Springer gonna stop being this good?
The Astros added their third run when Michael Brantley walked, and alertly took second base on a passed ball, and then third base on a wild pitch. What a pro. He scored on a Josh Reddick sac fly.
In the ninth the Red Sox again fell just short of touching up the Astros staff, as Roberto Osuna was sent in to secure his 11th save. With one out he surrendered a double to Christian Vasquez, who was 3-4 for the night. With two outs Osuna then walked Andrew Benintendi, bringing up last year’s MVP, Mookie Betts, with the tying runs on base. Betts smashed a 107 MPH screaming line drive with an expected BA of .740, but hit it right at left fielder Brantley. So instead of a game tying double, Betts made the third out, one of the ignominious ten out of eleven Red Sox who failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position. Baseball.
And the Astros win streak extends to nine games.
Tomorrow Corbin Martin, in his second big league game, this time against the World Champions, gets the start for the Astros, who hope to make it ten in a row. His mound opponent is as yet unannounced. Game time 6:15 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.
It’s a great time to be an Astros fan.