May 17, 2019

G44: Astros 3, Red Sox 1

Astros  - 000 000 030 - 3  6  0
Red Sox - 000 001 000 - 1  9  0
Two nights ago, Eduardo Rodriguez had pitched six solid innings and the Red Sox had a 5-2 lead. Rodriguez had retired six of his last seven batters, but had also thrown 99 pitches. Manager Alex Cora decided to send Rodriguez out for the seventh. It was a very bad idea. In seven pitches, Rodriguez had loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batter. All three baserunners eventually scored. The Red Sox won that game in extra innings, but that did not make Cora's decision a good one.

After a day off (the second of the week), the Red Sox played the Astros on Friday night. Rick Porcello cruised through seven innings. He had allowed only one hit to his last 19 batters and was at 91 pitches. After what happened on Wednesday, I expected to see a reliever in the top of the eighth. But Cora tried the same thing again, sending his starter out for another inning, this time with a 1-0 lead. Houston's #9 hitter, Jake Marisnick, smoked a 1-1 pitch to left for a double, the ball bouncing twice before hitting the wall near the AL East standings. Ryan Brasier (a poor choice these days as the first guy out of the pen) started warming up. As he did, George Springer launched Porcello's next pitch one row beyond the bullpen in right-center for a 2-1 Astros lead. (Springer is now 10-for-19 with three homers against Porcello lifetime, including postseason games.)

Brasier came in and walked two batters and threw a wild pitch and allowed another run. (He has allowed seven runs in his last five innings.) Trying to sneak your starter through another inning in a 5-2 game is one thing, but in a 1-0 game, it's a different matter. Cora should have had a reliever ready as soon as Porcello allowed a baserunner. And I'm baffled as to why Brasier was the first man up instead of Brandon Workman or Matt Barnes.

After the game, Cora accepted the blame:
That was a bad decision. ... He goes seven, and every pitch is high-leverage. He did his job, you know? ... I just made a bad decision, put him in a bad spot, and we paid the price. ... Should have taken him out after seven. It's not because of what happened. I just put him in a bad spot there. ... [H]e did an outstanding job for seven against the best lineup in baseball.
Cora made another error in the bottom of the ninth. After Christian Vazquez doubled with one out, Cora allowed Eduardo Nunez to bat against Roberto Osuna. I would have taken my chances with Jackie Bradley or Steve Pearce (even against a righty). I blinked and Nunez's at-bat was over (I read online he grounded the first pitch to third). Andrew Benintendi drew a four-pitch walk. Mookie Betts had a chance to win the game, but he lined out to left. (Betts had a single and four hard-hit outs, as the indifferent BABIP gods turned their backs on him.)

The Red Sox were frustrating to watch at the plate all evening. Mitch Moreland left J.D. Martinez at second base in the first inning, Nunez stranded men at second and third in the second, and a leadoff double by Xander Bogaerts in the fourth was followed by two strikeouts and a grounder to second. After singles from Benintendi and Betts with one out in the fifth, Astros starter Gerrit Cole (5-6-0-1-7, 99) struck out Martinez and Moreland, both swinging.

Bogaerts (3-for-4) opened the sixth with a single. Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis struck out, but Vazquez (3-for-4) lined an opposite-field single to right (the team's only hit in 11 AB with RATS).

Porcello (7-6-2-1-3, 95) was stingy (until he wasn't). Through seven innings, he allowed only three hits (a one-out single in the first, two hits in the second (one of which probably should have been ruled an error on Chavis), and another infield hit in the fifth) and one walk (with two outs in the fifth). Only three Houston runners got as far as second base.

Also: NESN almost missed the first pitch of the game because the Astros' lineup was on screen for so long. (Hard to believe, and yet ...)

The Yankees moved into first place after scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth and beating the Rays 4-3. The Red Sox are 4.5 GB.

After losing on April 6, the Red Sox were 4.5 GB with 152 games to play. But making up ground is not always so easy. Since then, the Red Sox have gone 21-13 (.618, a 100-win pace) and, after losing on May 17, are still 4.5 GB, now with 118 games to play.
Gerrit Cole / Rick Porcello
Benintendi, LF
Betts, CF
Martinez, RF
Moreland, 1B
Bogaerts, SS
Devers, 3B
Chavis, 2B
Vázquez, C
Núñez, DH
Since April 27, the Astros (13-4) and Red Sox (12-4) have been the best teams in baseball. (The Cubs are also 12-4.) The Astros have also won eight games in a row and 11 of their last 12.
                                  RS  RA   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS  2B  HR   BB   K
Astros (since April 27)  14-4    121  58  .291  .356  .554  .909  31  41   63  128
Red Sox (since April 24) 14-5    131  61  .282  .379  .478  .858  36  31  104  155
                                  IP     H    R-ER  BB    K  HR   ERA   BF
Astros (since April 27)  14-4    160.0  115  58-58  49  176  20  3.26  643 
Red Sox (since April 24) 14-5    175.1  123  61-57  52  212  17  2.93  700
Roster: Sandy Leon is on paternity leave and catcher Oscar Hernandez has been called up from Pawtucket. Pitcher Chandler Shephard was designated for assignment to make room for Hernandez on the 40-man roster.

David Price is scheduled to come off the IL and start in Toronto on Monday. ... The rehab assignments of Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt have begun again, with Pedroia playing second and Holt DHing for Pawtucket tonight. ... Nathan Eovaldi will throw a bullpen session next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Marcus Walden has a 0.54 ERA over his last 20 appearances (10 appearances since April 20), with 19 strikeouts and one walk. The one run he has allowed in those 20 games (16.2 innings) was a solo home run.

Andrew Benintendi is 2-for-32 (.063) in the first inning this season. With four walks and one HBP, his first inning on-base percentage is .189. ... Jackie Bradley has yet to come to the plate in the first inning this season.

1 comment:

allan said...

Amazingly, during that 21-13 run, the Red Sox fell 8.5 GB (one of 8 days they were at least 7 GB). They closed the gap to 3 GB after last Sunday's win.