Ramirez powers Red Sox to 5-4 win with clutch homer


Today’s game between the Red Sox and Astros represented an excellent matchup for all sorts of baseball fans. The first-place Astros squared off against the last-place (but improving) Red Sox in the rubber match of a three-game series, showcasing a pair of teams incredibly rich in young talent. Plus, two crucial members of these contingents of young talent, rookie starters Eduardo Rodriguez (4-2, 3.92 ERA) and Lance McCullers (4-2, 2.19 ERA) were on the mound.

This battle between Rodriguez and McCullers was must-view television for prospect watchers around baseball, as two of the American League’s brightest young arms went head to head. However, neither pitcher had their best stuff today, and this game turned into a story about clutch home runs in a roller-coaster seventh inning.

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As they have in every game of this series, the Red Sox scored first in this one. A single by Pablo Sandoval and a walk to Alejandro De Aza placed a pair of baserunners with two outs for the recently-activated Ryan Hanigan. The defensive-minded catcher worked a full count before shooting a liner into right field, scoring Sandoval to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.

However, that little outburst would be all the Red Sox could manage against McCullers. The Red Sox missed scoring opportunities in the third and fifth innings, but though they worked McCullers for 101 pitches in 5 innings of work, they were unable to accomplish much.

Rodriguez, though he started off his outing with three marvelous frames against the Astros, suffered from a similar bout of inefficiency. Though the Astros only pushed across one run in the inning, coming on a Jake Marisnick single to score Luis Valbuena, Rodriguez threw a staggering 38 pitches in the inning, severely limiting the length of his outing as he only lasted five innings as well.

After the fifth, the game became a battle of the bullpens and the Red Sox struck in the sixth against Houston reliever Will Harris. Hanley Ramirez reached on an error to start the inning and though it appeared he’d be stationed at third after a Sandoval double, Evan Gattis had trouble picking up the ball in left field and Ramirez was able to score and give Boston the lead. Sandoval came in to score himself when Hanigan once again laced a line drive single into right field, extending the lead to 3-1.

But that’s when the seventh inning came.

Alexi Ogando had thrown an essentially flawless sixth inning and he came back out for the seventh, where he started the inning with a quick strikeout. A Jose Altuve single and a Preston Tucker lineout later and it appeared that Houston was destined for another quiet inning against the lanky right-hander. However, it all turned when Altuve snuck into second with a stolen base and then the batter, rookie sensation Carlos Correa, proceeded to lift a long home run over the monster to tie the game. Houston’s fireworks weren’t finished, though, as Evan Gattis lined one into the seats just two pitches later to give the Astros a 4-3 in a shocking turn of events.

The Red Sox weren’t ready to give up, though, even after a leadoff strikeout by Xander Bogaerts. The Astros lifted Harris in favor of lefty Tony Sipp, who came in to face David Ortiz, who has struggled mightily against southpaws this season. However, Ortiz worked an 11-pitch at bat and walked, placing the tying run on base for Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez wasn’t concerned with tying the game, though, and he promptly gave the Red Sox the lead when he turned on a low changeup and hooked it into the seats to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead.

From then on, it was elementary for the Red Sox, who turned to Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara to close out the game with little difficulty. The Red Sox have now won three consecutive series and will look to keep the good times rolling against the Marlins on Tuesday, when they’ll send Wade Miley (8-7, 4.53 ERA) out to face Dan Haren (6-5, 3.45 ERA).

Game Notes:

  • Both Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Hanigan turned in three-hit games today as the Red Sox put together a nice offensive performance against a very tough opposing pitcher.
  • This was Junichi Tazawa’s first appearance in a game since last Sunday. Giving Tazawa, normally a borderline excessively used reliever, a week off is a strange move for John Farrell and the Red Sox, especially with no news of an injury. However, it’s good to have “Taz” back in the fold, as he is having an excellent season from the Boston bullpen.
  • David Ortiz started at first base in a non-interleague game for the first time since 2006 today, as the Red Sox are now going to absurd extents to keep Mike Napoli‘s anemic bat out of the lineup.

Game Ball. Eduardo Rodriguez. STARTING PITCHING . B.

Rodriguez’s efficiency was not his strong suit today, as he only lasted five innings. However, he showed flashes of dominance in those five innings as he only allowed a run on six hits and two walks while punching out eight Astros. The 22-year old southpaw lowers his ERA to 3.69 with another solid performance.

A. . Game Ball. Koji Uehara. RELIEF PITCHING

Uehara closed out today’s win in style, striking out a pair in a perfect ninth inning while recording his 19th save of the season.

. Game Ball. Hanley Ramirez. OFFENSE . B

Ramirez came up with a key home run for the Red Sox today and also walked once in a 1-3 game. Though the $88M signing has had his troubles in the field, he’s had few issues at the plate and has slotted in as a major power bat in the Boston lineup.