Red Sox - 003 000 000 - 3 8 1 Astros - 100 042 01x - 8 9 0
On June 20, Boston was 10 games out of first place. By July 9, the Red Sox had whittled that deficit down to a mere five games, sparking thoughts of contention in the second half. But now, after losing their sixth game in a row, they will wake up on the morning of July 22 once again 10 games behind the Yankees in the AL East. At 42-52, Boston has the worst record in the American League.
Boston held a two-run lead for a couple of innings before Houston struck for four runs in the fifth. With runners at first and third, and Jose Altuve at the plate, Jake Marisnick took off for second. Ryan Hanigan's throw struck the sliding runner and caromed off into left field. Chris Carter, who had begun the inning with a single, trotted home from third and Marisnick came all the way around to score the tying run, his head-first slide beating Hanley Ramirez's off-line throw to the plate.
Carter hit a two-run home run off Justin Masterson in the following inning to put the game out of reach.
Brian Johnson (4.1-3-4-4-3, 87) was a bit wild in his major league debut (his last start was July 6), walking Altuve, the first batter he faced. (NESN reinforced its unprofessionalism by not showing the first pitch of Johnson's career. That's inexcusable production from a network that, after years of practice, is still unable to broadcast a complete baseball game. One can only hope Johnson's parents were either at the game or watching the Astros feed.) Altuve stole second and scored on a sac fly to give the Astros an early 1-0 lead. Johnson issued two one-out walks in the second, but stranded the runners, one of the outs a nice catch by Ramirez in left.
Alejandro de Aza lined a single to right to open the top of the third. Hanigan smoked a double to the wall in left. Mookie Betts checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch and knocked the ball inside the first base bag and down the right field line for a two-run double. Xander Bogaerts's single brought Betts home for the third run. And Johnson then went out and struck out the side in the bottom half, retiring Houston's 1-2-3 hitters.
Brock Holt doubled with one out in the fourth, but De Aza and Hanigan both struck out. Boston would not get another runner past first base over the game's final five innings. Ramirez singled in the sixth and De Aza singled in the seventh, but both were erased in inning-ending double plays.
Brian Johnson / Vincent Velasquez
Betts, CFBrian Johnson, a 24-year-old left-hander, makes his major league debut in Houston.
De Aza, RF
Sox Prospects has a report here:
Future number four or five starter. Four average pitch mix with solid-average command and control. Lacks swing-and-miss pitch and a plus offering. Advanced knowledge of pitching and sequencing. Strong pitchability, knows how to pitch. Tempo pitcher that works incredibly fast. Impressive feel for pitching having recently committed to pitching full-time. Incredibly smart and has a good understanding of reading hitters. Gives his best effort every time with a fearless, determined approach.Also: The Red Sox activated Daniel Nava and optioned Deven Marrero to Pawtucket.
For those about to pitch ...