By MyFM's Jake Archer - The Red Sox spent the weekend in Houston in a series that was considered a big test. They’d be facing off with the MLB’s best team, the Astros, and they’d need to see how they stack up. Ultimately, they took two of three despite not looking extra sharp and Boston is now tied for first place with the struggling New York Yankees. Let’s take a look at how the weekend in Texas went.
On Friday night, the Sox came out with Drew Pomeranz on the hill facing Astros righty Mike Fiers. Despite neither guy being a big time pitcher, they both held it down and kept the game low-scoring against some good lineups. Fiers was the first to blink when he allowed an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the third inning to make it 1-0 Sox. Pomeranz would go all the way into the seventh inning before allowing a solo shot by Houston catcher Brian McCann to tie the game.
The bullpens would decide this one as the Sox ran Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel out there to shut down the ‘Stros. They would combine to allow only two hits and no runs for the rest of the game. The Astros bullpen wasn’t as good as they turned to Will Harris in the eighth. Harris took the loss as he allowed Mookie Betts to take him deep for what would ultimately be the game-winning home run. Joe Kelly would pick up the win, Matt Barnes would earn a hold and Craig Kimbrel would grab another save as the Sox took the series opener.
On Saturday, the Sox would look to Rick Porcello on the mound and the Astros would go with David Paulino. Boston needed Porcello to find a way out of the funk he has been in this year, but this game would be more of the same. Houston jumped all over Porcello for three in the first inning and then added three more in the third on homers by Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran. It was quickly 6-0 and the game was out of hand. Chris Young would hit a solo shot for the Sox in the fifth, but that was all they would get.
The Astros got to Porcello for one more in the sixth and the Sox would drop the game by a score of 7-1. More importantly, the Sox need to get Porcello figuring things out. He is now 3-9 with an ERA of 5.05 and has just been getting shelled all year. They’ll need him to turn it around and quickly if they want to go anywhere this year.
On Father’s Day, the two teams were set up for a rubber match on Sunday Night Baseball. David Price would head to the hill for the Sox and the Astros would counter with Joe Musgrove. Both teams grabbed one in the first as Xander Bogaerts ripped a homerun for Boston and Brian McCann singled to score Altuve. David Price would struggle all day despite only allowing three runs. He’s had control issues recently and it looks like it may be because of a blister on his throwing hand.
Anyway, his pitch count was high early and he and Christian Vazquez were having trouble getting on the page. He allowed to loud homers to Carlos Correa in the fifth and to Jake Marisnick in the sixth before being pulled. Luckily, in the sixth inning the Sox had scored four times on another homerun by Bogaerts and a double by Jackie Bradley Jr. Bogaerts doubled his homerun total for the year as he had just two heading into the night.
So after Price left the game, the Sox still led 5-3. Heath Hembree entered from the bullpen and immediately gave up another home run, this time to George Springer, to cut the lead again. The Astros had momentum and Hembree had broken the streak of scoreless innings by the Sox bullpen at 26. The Sox got one back in the seventh as Bogaerts smacked an RBI single, but the Astros weren’t done. They made a push and scored another in the eighth on a Carlos Beltran single to left. They could have scored two, but Andrew Benintendi fired a strike to home plate to nail Altuve.
In the ninth, Craig Kimbrel picked up his 20th save of the year with a little help from his catcher. Vazquez threw Astros rookie Derek Fisher out at second on a steal attempt to end the game. The Sox now sit at 39-30 and are tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East. They end their road trip with a three game series in Kansas City starting tonight. Hector Velasquez will get the ball against Jason Hammel. First pitch will be at 8:15.