Despite his final line, Brian Johnson deserved a better fate in his major league debut. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Closing Time: Astros spoil Brian Johnson's major league debut as Red Sox lose 6th straight

Ryan Hannable
July 21, 2015 - 7:13 pm
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At this point in the season, it seems the Red Sox are inventing new ways to lose each night. Things were looking promising for the Red Sox leading 3-1 in the fifth, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play, as they went onto win the game, 8-3 and in the process handed the Red Sox their sixth straight loss. With the loss and the Yankees win, the Red Sox are now a season-high 10 games out of first place in the AL East. They also now officially have the worst record in the American League. After not pitching in 15 days, Brian Johnson didn't pitch poorly, but showed some rust in his big league debut. The 24-year-old left-hander went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits, while striking out three and walking four. He settled down after allowing a run in the first, retiring eight in a row at one point before things unraveled in the fifth. The Red Sox led 3-1, but the Astros tied the game without even putting the ball in play and then scored two more runs to take a 5-3 lead after five innings. With runners on first and third, Jake Marisnick stole second and the throw hit him on the shoulder and shot into left field, allowing him to come around to score the tying run. It was a freak play as Ryan Hanigan's throw wasn't a bad one, it was just the way the ball hit off Marisnick and how deep left fielder Hanley Ramirez was playing, which allowed the two runs to score on the play. After a walk, Johnson was lifted from the game and Justin Masterson entered, but allowed an RBI double to Carlos Correa (the run was charged to Johnson) and then an RBI groundout, which allowed the Astros to take the 5-3 lead. Masterson allowed a two-run homer the following inning to Chris Carter, his 16th of the year. The Astros added another run in the eighth off Junichi Tazawa. After scoring only four runs in four games against the Angels, the Red Sox scored three runs in the third inning. Mookie Betts' check-swing flare down the first base line that went for a double scored two runs and then Xander Bogaerts' single up the middle plated the third run. Betts' double snapped an 0-for-20 skid. Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox' loss: WHAT WENT WRONG -- The game completely shifted when the Astros tied the game on the stolen base in the fifth. While it wasn't anyone's fault on the Sox -- just a tough luck play -- it was just another way the Red Sox have managed to lose a game this year. -- Masterson was ineffective in relief of Johnson. He entered the game in the fifth with a runner on first and one out, allowing an inherited run to score and then a run of his own, as the Astros took a 5-3 lead in the frame. He then allowed a two-run homer the next half inning. He struggled mightily with his control, hitting two batters and was charged with three runs, not looking comfortable on the mound all night. -- Dustin Pedroia still hasn't found his rhythm since coming back from the disabled list last Friday. He remains hitless, going 0-for-4 in the game and is 0-for-18 since his return. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Johnson didn't have his best stuff, but deserved better than what his final line read. Whether it was rust or nerves, it took him a bit to settle in, but once he did he proved he can be successful in the majors. He relied heavily on this curveball, as it seemed that was the only pitch he could trust. -- Bogaerts continues to swing a hot bat of late, as he went 2-for-4 in the loss. He's batting .444 since the All-Star break.

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