It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox are back to .500 following a 7-5 win over the Astros in 12 innings on Sunday night. Boston got a rough outing from Henry Owens and a blown save from Craig Kimbrel, but heroics from Jackie Bradley Jr., Ryan Hanigan and the bullpen gave the Sox the series win.
The Red Sox took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth, but that lead disappeared in one two-out swing by Colby Rasmus after Kimbrel left a fastball up that the left-fielder crushed to right-center. But the Sox responded in the 12th. Hanigan ended a 13-pitch at-bat with a one-out walk to load the bases, and Bradley roped a 97 mph fastball from Ken Giles to right to score Hanley Ramirez. Hanigan eventually scored on a passed ball.
Top Play (WPA): This is one we’d rather forget. The top WPA play of the night is – yup, you guessed it – Rasmus’ game-tying shot off Kimbrel in the ninth (+.488). The rally started with a two-out double by Carlos Correa, and ended when Rasmus hammered a hanging fastball off Kimbrel, who suffered his first blown save with the Red Sox. Kimbrel’s ERA now sits at 5.00 for the season.
Bradley took home the Sox’s top WPA play with his go-ahead single with the bases loaded in the 12th (+.187). Ramirez and Travis Shaw started the inning with back-to-back singles. Hanigan drew a huge walk and Bradley ripped a 1-2 offering from Giles to right.
Bottom Play (WPA): Heath Hembree ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts with two men on for the Astros. The first of those was to Evan Gattis (-.106). Gattis went down on three pitches from Hembree, then Marwin Gonzalez went down looking to end the night.
Key Moment: Yes, it was a long game. But a key moment that is easily forgotten came with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first inning. Ramirez hit a grounder to third that was fielded cleanly by Marwin Gonzalez and looked like a sure out, maybe even two. But Jose Altuve never touched the bag after receiving Gonzalez’s throw and David Ortiz – along with everyone else – was safe at second.
Ortiz called safe because Altuve isn’t touching the base AND Altuve is charged with an error? This rule, man. pic.twitter.com/fBGUNfmPUy
— Kent Morrison (@KentMGlobal) April 25, 2016
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead on the play. The extra outs proved useful as Travis Shaw walked in a run and Brock Holt hit a sacrifice fly to center to extend the lead to 3-0 before Owens even took the hill.
Trend to Watch: Owens didn’t do the Red Sox any favors, of course. The young lefty’s season debut was short-lived after throwing 86 pitches over 3.1 innings. Owens left with a 5-3 lead, but he struggled mightily with his command, throwing just 46 of his pitches for strikes and walking four batters. Owens’ biggest victim was the Red Sox’s bullpen, which was forced into early action yet again. As ESPN’s Buster Olney noted on Twitter, the Sox bullpen had been used for 21.1 innings over the last five days entering Sunday night’s game. Owens’ performance didn’t help. The Red Sox used five different relievers over the final 8.2 innings of the game, including three scoreless innings from Heath Hembree in extras, making it 30 innings tossed by the bullpen over the last six games. This puts added pressure on Boston starters to go deep into games over the next couple of days, and gives John Farrell plenty to think about when it comes to how he handles the bullpen situation this week with no off-day coming until next Monday. On top of that, Owens’ dud should make the Red Sox skeptical of how they’ll replace Joe Kelly in his absence.
Coming Next: The Red Sox will more than welcome a trip to Atlanta this week for a four-game interleague series against the Braves. Atlanta not only has the worst record in baseball, but is just 1-10 at home this season. Rick Porcello will look to continue his strong start when he opposes righty Julio Teheran, who owns a 5.09 FIP through four starts this season.
Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports Images