Red Sox get reminder of how hard it is to win against MLB’s best

Ryan Hannable
May 17, 2019 - 10:11 pm

The Red Sox seemed to be in prime position to win Friday’s series opener against the Astros in a rematch of last year’s ALCS.

The offense forced Houston starter Gerrit Cole from the game after five innings and then took a 1-0 lead in the sixth on a two-out single by Christian Vazquez. Not to mention, starter Rick Porcello was cruising, taking a shutout into the eighth inning.

But, then things took a turn.

Jake Marisnick led the inning off with a double and then on the very next pitch, George Springer crushed a belt-high change up into the Red Sox bullpen to give the Astros a 2-1 lead — one they wouldn’t relinquish — in what turned into a 3-1 win.

Two poor pitches spoiled Porcello’s night and also a potential Red Sox win against the team with the best record in baseball. Porcello exited the game after the home run and then Ryan Brasier had a sloppy rest of the frame that saw another run score.

"I threw the two worst pitches of the night to back-to-back hitters, back-to-back pitches. And that was the result," Porcello said. "I’ve got to do a better job. [Cora] trusted me to go out there in the eighth inning and I’ve got to make better pitches at least. If they hit those then fine, but those were cookies so tough loss, let’s bounce back tomorrow."

While the Red Sox led 1-0 going into the eighth, it could have been more. And that is what the best teams do — make those failed chances come back to hurt. 

Prior to Vazquez’s RBI single, the Red Sox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position (and finished 1-for-11). If a run or two would have been scored earlier in the game, perhaps things would have gone a little different.

In the second inning, Eduardo Nunez grounded out with runners on second and third and two outs. In the fourth, a lead-off double by Xander Bogarts went all for not, and then in the fifth, J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland each struck out with runners in scoring position.

The Red Sox may have been able to get away with those squanders against some of the other teams they’ve beaten of late, but not the Astros.

Specific to Porcello, it was another solid start, but it will be most remembered for the two batter sequence in the eighth inning. The right-hander went seven-plus innings, allowing two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out three, but one mislocated pitch was the difference between a potential win and a loss.

And again, those poor pitches cannot happen against the best teams in the league.

Going into the game, the Red Sox had won 12 of their last 15 games and 17 of their last 24, but a lot of those wins came against teams at or below .500, not the team with the best record in the American League.

Friday showed despite the horrid start to the year they can compete with the best the league has to offer, but also served as a reminder of how hard it is to win against them.

Eduardo Nunez has just two walks in 75 plate appearances this season.

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