BOSTON — This was a series of big innings for the Red Sox.
One by them vaulted the Red Sox to victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday. One by the Astros on Sunday put the Sox in a hole they could not climb out of.
Houston, aided by a defensive miscue by Xander Bogaerts and a Jose Altuve grand slam, hung six runs on Red Sox starter Joe Kelly in the second inning of Sunday’s series finale, providing more than enough cushion for what ended up being an 8-1 Astros win.
A few notes from the game:
— Kelly’s start was by far his worst in a Red Sox uniform. The right-hander lasted just four innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits and surrendering two home runs. He also struggled to locate his fastball, leading to a season-high total of six walks.
“It wasn’t very good,” said Kelly, who had allowed a total of three earned runs over his first two outings with Boston. “I just found myself nibbling in the beginning when I shouldn’t have instead of pounding the zone. I just started missing. When I made a good pitch, it was hard for the umpire to call it a strike because I was throwing so many balls.”
— Steven Wright was recalled from Pawtucket earlier in the day to provide relief for the Red Sox’s overworked bullpen and did just that, tossing four solid innings to close out the game. The knuckleballer struck out four, did not walk a batter and allowed just one run — a mammoth home run by Jon Singleton in the top of the ninth.
“He came in and gave us innings, kept the game in check despite the one run allowed,” manager John Farrell said. “He provides such a contrast to some of the power arms that he might follow, so it is a good fit.”
It was a huge step up from Wright’s last major league outing, which also came against the Astros last August. He started that game but lasted just one inning, getting the hook after allowing three earned runs on just one hit. His knuckleball gave catcher Ryan Lavarnway fits, resulting in four passed balls in that one frame alone.
— Brock Holt led off the game with a single, extending his hitting streak to 11 games. It’s the longest streak of his career and the longest by any Red Sox hitter this season.
— Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. put together nice showings at the plate from the bottom third of the order. Both batters singled in each of their first two plate appearances, and Bradley later added a walk to finish 2-for-3.
— Altuve had a monster day at the dish. The diminutive second baseman collected four hits to improve his major league-best batting average to .339.
Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images