Red Sox fall 8-3 to Astros to tie the series

Apr 23, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches against the Houston Astros in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

Fueled by a grand slam from Colby Rasmus, the Houston Astros ended their four-game losing streak by defeating the Red Sox 8-3.

After pitching his first quality start last Monday, Clay Buchholz was trying to keep the momentum going. Entering today’s game, Buchholz’ record against the Astros was nothing but excellent by only allowing five runs in 32.2 innings of work.  The right-handed pitcher looked decent for four innings but gave up a fifth-inning grand slam to Colby Rasmus that cost the Red Sox the game.

Mookie Betts opened the game with a hit and took second base on a pickoff error. After Dustin Pedroia walked, David Ortiz scored Betts with a single to give the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead. The Astros tied the game in the bottom half of the 2nd after Buchholz gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez and a double to Luis Valbuena. Buchholz settled down by retiring Jason Castro and Jose Altuve to end the inning.

Entering the fifth inning, the Red Sox started had managed to retire eight batters in a row, but loaded the bases by walking Valbuena, giving up a hit to Altuve and hitting Carlos Correa with a pitch. With two outs and the bases full of Astros, Buchholz faced Rasmus who he had been dominating previously with his curveball and changeup.

Say whatever you want about Buchholz, but it is a fact that he has several pitches in his repertoire. Rasmus is known for not being a good curveball hitter, but Buchholz decided to throw a 93.3 mph fastball with the bases loaded on a 2-2 count. The Astros’ slugger hit the ball over the right-field stands and gave Houston a 5-1 lead, while Buchholz was visibly (and explicitly) upset in the mound.

Since it didn’t make any sense, it would be interesting to know if it was Christian Vazquez‘ decision or Buchholz’ to throw a fastball to Rasmus.

The Red Sox cut the Astros’ lead to 5-2 in the 6th and 8th inning thanks to a sac-fly from Brock Holt and a double from Josh Rutledge and with Vazquez, Betts and Pedroia due up in the 9th it looked like Boston still had a chance to win this game.

Roenis Elias made his debut with the Red Sox as a reliever in the 7th inning and continued to pitch in the bottom half of the 8th, but gave up three runs to Astros to extend their lead to 8-3.

The Astros retired the Red Sox in order in the 9th to end the game and their losing streak.

Game notes:

  • Betts looked injured in the first inning when the ball hit his hand, but he remained in the game without a problem.
  • Pedroia now quietly leads the Red Sox in hits with 22 and is tied in fourth place in the American League
  • Carson Smith is scheduled to begin his rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Tuesday and Eduardo Rodriguez on Thursday with Portland Seadogs.
  • Tomorrow will be Henry Owens debut in ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

STARTING PITCHING . D-. . Game Ball. Clay Buchholz

It is the same old song and dance with Buchholz. A decent start followed by a meltdown filled with bad decisions on the mound. A game where he showed his potential during most part of it, but surrendered a grand slam in the fifth inning is so Buchholz it hurts.

C-. . Game Ball. Tommy Layne, Noe Ramirez. RELIEF PITCHING

Noe Ramirez and Tommy Layne did an okay job, but Elias didn’t look as advertised in his Red Sox debut. The Red Sox had a real chance at winning this game until he gave up three runs in the eight.

Game Ball. Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mookie Betts. OFFENSE. B-.

The Red Sox offense has been one of the highlights of the season so far, but they continue to make mistakes that will have to change if they plan of being a winning team as the year goes on. In the top half of the first they had runners on the corners with no outs and they couldn’t score them. Those are the types of things that will add up and become obstacles in the road.