The Red Sox were looking to extend their eight game home winning streak against the Houston Astros on Friday night. Clay Buchholz was trying to continue his dominance of an Astros lineup that he shut out in July, and build on the eight inning, three earned run performance he had against the Angels six days ago. That streak did not continue, but another one did.
Yoenis Cespedes put the Red Sox on the board in the fourth inning, pounding a liner just over the Monster in left, for a 2-0 lead. It was Cespedes’ third straight series with a homer and his first ever in a Red Sox home uniform.
It appeared as if Buchholz was going to have a shutdown inning in the top of the fifth after striking out the first two hitters. Some bad luck played a part in two ways. First, with two outs, a Jake Marisnick flare eluded the outstretched glove of Xander Bogaerts. After another single put Marisnick at third, Mike Napoli was caught in between on a hard hit ball by Robbie Grossman where he was uncertain about which way to turn his glove to catch it. Before he could turn his glove, the ball skipped under it to produce the Astros’ first run of the night.
In the seventh inning, Buchholz was once against hurt by Grossman, who tied the game with a homer into the right field stands. This was the second straight game in which Buchholz allowed a game-tying homer, and his high pitch count (nearing 110) may have accounted for this result.
Christian Vazquez started the Red Sox own two-out rally with a ringing single to center field. A wild pitch sent Vazquez to second. A single to right center by Brock Holt put the Red Sox ahead, leaving Buchholz in line for the win.
Burke Badenhop came on with runners on first and second and two out in the top of the eighth. Badenhop induced the grounder he was looking for, but the high bounce allowed Dexter Fowler to beat the throw to second. Pinch runner Gregorio Petit, attempting to score, was beaten by a wide margin by Dustin Pedroia‘s throw. Instead of running straight up the line toward Petit, Vazquez stepped toward the infield, which allowed Petit to elude him. Vazquez threw to Badenhop who dropped the throw as he attempted to tag Petit, though it did appear that Petit had stepped out of the baseline. A throw to first base by Bogaerts would have beaten Matt Dominguez, who had hit the grounder to start the play, which would have kept the lead rather than trying to nip the speedy Fowler at second. The replay at second appeared to show Pedey’s foot beat Fowler’s to the bag by a couple inches but the umps didn’t think it conclusive enough of a result to overturn.
Koji Uehara threw seven pitches to retire the Astros in order in the ninth, which set up a walk-off chance for the Red Sox. The offense could only muster a Will Middlebrooks walk. Instead of using Uehara for another inning, John Farrell went in another direction which quickly proved disastrous. Farrell’s choice, Craig Breslow, put the first three runners on base. After securing one out, Junichi Tazawa (who could use two straight games off) was summoned to try to put out the fire. He nearly did, but Jake Marisnick blooped a double down the right field line which kicked into the stands to give the Astros a 5-3 lead. The Red Sox went down meekly in the bottom of the tenth to secure the win for the Astros.
Considering the two-out magic, by which the Astros scored all five of their runs tonight, one wonders if perhaps the Ben Affleck Curse is real. August 15 is the actor’s birthday. The Red Sox have lost every time they have played on his birthday since Good Will Hunting was released to theatres in 1997. That’s 15 in a row, folks. It’s a good thing the postseason is not in August.
The Red Sox are back at it tomorrow night at Fenway, as you can see below.