The Boston Red Sox went into Friday’s series opener against the Detroit Tigers with the odds stacked against them, as three of their best hitters — Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts — all were out of the lineup.
But ultimately, it was the pitching that did in the Red Sox, and the Tigers went home with a 6-5 win at Comerica Park.
After seven scoreless innings, Boston exploded for five runs in the top of the eighth, including Pablo Sandoval’s go-ahead, three-run homer. But Heath Hembree, Robby Scott and Joe Kelly combined for four two-out walks and an RBI single to give back a lead the Tigers didn’t give up.
Here’s how it all went down.
GAME IN A WORD
The Red Sox’s flu-ravaged lineup was having a rough time getting anything going against Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, but they picked apart Detroit’s relievers with a five-run eighth inning to pull ahead. However, the Red Sox’s bullpen was equally shaky in the bottom half of the inning, giving up two runs to allow the Tigers to retake the lead.
IT WAS OVER WHEN …
The Red Sox couldn’t score with two baserunners in the ninth.
Despite a valiant effort, Boston ultimately couldn’t make up for the bullpen’s mistakes. Dustin Pedroia singled, and Mitch Moreland hit a double to put runners on second and third with two out, but Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez got Chris Young to pop out to first base, ending the game.
ON THE BUMP
— Steven Wright didn’t have the best start, but it also wasn’t the worst start, considering his situation. After battling a shoulder injury in the second half of the season, the Red Sox knuckleballer still wasn’t 100 percent heading into spring training. But while the shoulder didn’t seem to bother Wright, he still had control issues with his knuckleball.
Wright struggled in the first inning, giving up one run on two walks and a single, but he cruised from the second inning through the fifth with some help from his defense, which turned two of the Red Sox’s three total double plays during that span. Wright allowed another run in the sixth, and two-run homer he gave up to Tigers catcher James McCann ultimately ended his day. Wright pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs on seven hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
— Hard-throwing Red Sox right-hander Ben Taylor finished the seventh by striking out Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler. It was Taylor’s major league debut.
— Hembree looked to be rolling after striking out Nick Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera to start the eighth inning, but he was done after walking Victor Martinez and Justin Upton right after. Scott came in and gave up an RBI double to pinch-hitter Mikie Mahtook to tie up the game.
Kelly replaced Scott and walked McCann and JaCoby Jones to put the Tigers ahead before getting a forceout.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Sandoval was the star of Friday’s game, and yes, it is 2017. The third baseman hit a double in the fifth inning and reached on an error in the seventh, but it was the three-run, go-ahead homer he drilled in the eighth that got the Red Sox on their feet. Sandoval finished 2-for-4 with one run scored and three RBI.
— Young made up for Mookie Betts’ absence, as he went 2-for-5 and knocked in Boston’s first run of the game with an RBI double in the eighth.
— Dustin Pedroia and Mitch Moreland each went 2-for-5 for the Red Sox. The first baseman added a run in the eighth and a double in the ninth.
— Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-4 with one run and an RBI.
— Andrew Benintendi didn’t have a hit, but his patience at the plate earned him two walks. The left fielder scored on Young’s double in the eighth and went 0-for-2.
— Sandy Leon had a rough day at the plate, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Shortstop Marco Hernandez also went hitless at 0-for-4.
— Brock Holt went 1-for-2 with a walk before being replaced by Steve Selsky in the seventh. Selsky went 0-for-2.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Sandoval’s homer wasn’t too shabby.
The Red Sox continue their all-afternoon series in Detroit on Saturday in another 1:10 p.m. ET affair. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be on the mound for the Red Sox against Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. Both are making their first start of the season.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images