Much like Friday night’s game in which a pivotal play at the plate turned the outcome of the game, a missed touch of second led to Houston’s six runs in the second inning which spurred them to an 8-1 victory Sunday afternoon over the Red Sox at Fenway.
On the play in question, Xander Bogaerts tried to step on second then throw to first for a double play which would have ended the inning with only one run for the Astros. Bogaerts inexplicably threw the ball before he had stepped on second base, which resulted in a challenge from Astros manager Bo Porter. Umpire crew chief Jim Joyce confirmed with the New York replay office that the play was reviewable. Joyce explained that the neighborhood play hinges on the fielder being in danger of being slid into and since that wasn’t the case here, it was reviewable. Red Sox manager John Farrell was then tossed from the game when he vehemently argued that it was a neighborhood play so it was not reviewable. A nine-pitch walk to Robbie Grossman followed, which loaded the bases. Jose Altuve cleared the bases with a grand slam which made the score 6-0. In the third, a Dexter Fowler solo homer made it 7-0.
The other story line in this game was the Red Sox returning to form with their futility running the bases and hitting with men on base. In the third inning, Daniel Nava doubled to the right field corner with no outs which scored Brock Holt from first. Nava seemed to anticipate the throw from right field would go to the plate so he took several steps past second base. When the throw came in behind him, he had nowhere to go and was easily tagged out in a rundown. The miscue was compounded as David Ortiz and Yoenis Cespedes were also able to reach base, then advance to second and third with one out. Kelly Johnson and Bogaerts were not able to knock the runs in. Singles by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Will Middlebrooks to lead off the sixth also led to nothing. Overall, the Red Sox were zero for seven with runners in scoring position.
Red Sox starter Joe Kelly gave up seven hits and six walks in his four innings of work. The relief corps was the only bright spot of the day for the Red Sox. Craig Breslow pitched a scoreless fifth. Steven Wright was able to get into his first game of the season for the Red Sox. He pitched well, keeping the Red Sox close in case of a rally that never came. Wright’s only blemish in four innings was a long home run by Jon Singleton in the ninth inning which cleared the bullpen in right field by ten rows at least. Wright gave up four hits and did not walk anyone, striking out four.
The Red Sox look to improve on their 2-2 record to start this 11-game homestand as they have a return engagement of four games with the red-hot Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim who are battling the Oakland A’s for AL West supremacy.