Red Sox continue to flounder in 4-3 heartbreaker


There aren’t a whole lot of positives to take away from games like this. In a heartbreaking 4-3 loss, the Red Sox dropped their third consecutive game, losing another series to the Texas Rangers. Boston’s weak bullpen reared its ugly head once more, with Koji Uehara blowing a late lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

From the start of the game, things were not looking so pretty for the Red Sox. Though the team was able to push across a run in the first inning, with Hanley Ramirez driving in Mookie Betts with an RBI single, Joe Kelly mostly dashed fans’ hopes in the bottom half of the first.

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Kelly threw six of his first seven pitches for balls, walking Rangers’ leadoff man Delino DeShields and falling behind to Shin-Soo Choo. However, Kelly was able to gain some semblance of command and he escaped the inning having only allowed one run, coming on an RBI single up the middle by Prince Fielder.

The Red Sox rallied once again in the second inning, with the Red Sox placing a pair of runners on base by virtue of singles from Pablo Sandoval and Rusney Castillo. Dustin Pedroia added another run to the board by lacing a hard grounder off the glove of Adrian Beltre and into left field, giving the Red Sox another advantage at 2-1.

Kelly made his way through the second inning without any issues but the Rangers struck again in the third. Shin-Soo Choo walked to start the inning and, just when it appeared he would be erased on a double play, Dustin Pedroia’s attempt to barehand a toss from Xander Bogaerts proved faulty, placing a pair of runners on base unnecessarily. Adrian Beltre cashed in on the opportunity, singling in a run to tie the game once more.

The game stayed deadlocked at two apiece for several more innings and the score was still tied when John Farrell pulled Kelly after five innings. Rumors had hinted that, barring a turnaround performance by Kelly, this could be his last start before a move to either the minors or the bullpen. And if those rumors were true, it’s hard to imagine that Kelly preserved his job today.

Though he only allowed two runs, he labored through just five innings of work while allowing six hits and two walks. Kelly did display an excellent changeup, varying from his normal fastball-curve combination, but he hardly showed any fastball command and it hurt him as he tossed 100 pitches over five innings.

The Red Sox were able to finally reclaim the lead in the top of the sixth, when Hanley Ramirez started the inning with a bloop single to right field. Ramirez fooled everybody in the stadium, including Rangers’ starter Wandy Rodriguez, when he took off for second and stole the base successfully. Ramirez would eventually come in to score on a hard groundball through the right side by Xander Bogaerts, putting the Red Sox on top 3-2.

The bullpens of the Red Sox and Rangers held the game in place until the bottom of the ninth, when the Red Sox turned over the game to trusty closer Koji Uehara. Normally a reliable and efficient reliever, Uehara was hurt by his defense today as Hansel Alberto reached base on a seemingly routine grounder to third for Pablo Sandoval. Alberto moved up to second and then third on a sacrifice bunt and then a grounder to the right side, placing a runner on third with two outs for Prince Fielder.

Of course, the Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Fielder (who entered play today with a .361/.412/.569 slash line). But rather than light-hitting infielder Adam Rosales, Josh Hamilton stepped into the batters’ box for a pinch-hitting opportunity with the game on the line. With a 1-1 count, Hamilton delivered, lining a hard double into the left-center gap to easily score Alberto from third and bring Fielder around from first to win the game.

After this tough loss, the Red Sox fall to 22-29 on the season, slipping to four games out of first place. The Red Sox are set to begin a series against the Twins, by whom the team was swept just last week, and will send Clay Buchholz (2-6, 4.33 ERA) to the mound versus Mike Pelfrey (4-1, 2.77 ERA).

Game Notes:

  • It’s becoming all the more clear that Joe Kelly is not cut out to be a major league starter. The Red Sox may wait until Eduardo Rodriguez‘s second MLB start on Wednesday before making a decision, but if Rodriguez looks solid, then Kelly may be bullpen bound.
  • Xander Bogaerts put forth a nice effort at the plate today, delivered a trio of hard grounders and line drives for a three-hit performance. The 22-year old is really developing as a starting shortstop both at the plate and in the field.
  • Hanley Ramirez continued a strong series in Texas, going 2-5 with a run, an RBI, and a stolen base.
  • The Red Sox were uncharacteristically aggressive on the base paths today, stealing four bases against the Rangers with Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, and even Blake Swihart chipping in.

C-. . Game Ball. Joe Kelly. STARTING PITCHING

Kelly only allowed a pair of runs, but he was lucky to escape today’s game with so little damage to his name. He allowed eight base runners and consistently labored against opposing hitters, lasting a mere five innings.

. Game Ball. . RELIEF PITCHING . B+

Layne put together a nice performance out of the bullpen today, facing four batters and retiring all of them. He struck out one over 1.1 innings of work, lowering his ERA to a nifty 2.87 on the season.

B. . Game Ball. Xander Bogaerts. OFFENSE

Bogaerts had a good day at the plate today, putting forth a 3-4 game and driving in a run. After that successful day at the plate, Bogaerts raised his average to .274 and, though he’s not having a huge breakout year, he is definitely looking the part of an MLB regular.