Final, Red Sox 15-10: Rubby De La Rosa works a perfect ninth in his Red Sox debut, and we are finally done from Houston.
The nearly four-hour contest saw the Red Sox fall into a 5-0 hole early before exploding for three runs in the third, five in the fifth, five in the sixth and two more in the seventh to even the series with a 15-10 win.
Steven Wright struggled mightily in his first major league start, allowing three runs on just one hit in his lone inning of work. Brandon Workman was only marginally better, but the Red Sox’ offensive outburst allowed him to remain in the game for 4 2/3 innings despite allowing six runs on nine hits.
But it goes down as a win for the Red Sox, who protect their slim lead over Tampa Bay in the American League East. They’ll take on the Astros again Wednesday night in the rubber match, with Ryan Dempster scheduled to start opposite rookie Jarred Cosart.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 15-10: Facing right-hander Chia-Jen Lo, the Red Sox failed to add any insurance the ninth.
Dustin Pedroia popped out to shortstop, and pinch hitter Brandon Snyder flied out to Brandon Barnes at the warning track in right-center field before Mike Napoli reached on his second walk of the night.
Lo then struck out Jonny Gomes to end the inning.
Jason Castro, Marc Krauss and Brett Wallace will attempt to extend the ballgame in the bottom of the ninth against Rubby De La Rosa, who is making his Red Sox debut.
End 8th, Red Sox 15-10: So much for Drake Britton’s scoreless streak.
The first earned run allowed by the rookie hurler came via home run, as Jake Elmore took him deep to left field with one out in the eighth.
Britton was otherwise perfect, though, striking out L.J. Hoes and getting Robbie Grossman and Brandon Barnes to fly out. It’s time for the ninth inning in Houston.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 15-9: Josh Zeid retires the side in order, and the Red Sox go down scoreless for the first time since the fourth inning.
Zeid got Brock Holt to ground out to second before striking out Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino.
End 7th, Red Sox 15-9: The Red Sox finally have an effective arm tonight in Drake Britton.
Britton retired the side in order in the seventh and has not allowed a baserunner since taking over for Brandon Workman last inning. In fact, the 24-year-old has been lights-out ever since his promotion from Triple-A, tossing 11 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
Britton’s control has also been impeccable over that span, as he has walked just one batter since being called up.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 15-9: The Red Sox should just start playing Jonny Gomes solely in the late innings.
After homering in the sixth, Gomes singled with the bases loaded in the seventh, bringing his RBI total on the night to four in just two at-bats.
Josh Zeid retired Stephen Drew via fielder’s choice, with Matt Dominguez throwing home for the forceout, and struck out Ryan Lavarnway to end the inning.
Between the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the Red Sox have sent 26 men to the plate, after sending up just 18 in the first four frames combined.
Top 7th, Red Sox 14-9: Jacoby Ellsbury is showing some power tonight, taking Jose Cisnero deep for his second home run of the night.
Ellsbury’s blast, which led off the seventh inning, appeared to be the longest of the five homers hit tonight, landing halfway up the second deck in right field.
After a pair of walks — sandwiched around a Dustin Pedroia popout — and a balk, Bo Porter decided Cisnero has had enough. Josh Zeid will come on to face Mike Napoli, who is 0-for-4 with a run scored tonight.
End 6th, Red Sox 13-9: Drake Britton made quick work of his one batter in the sixth, striking out Jason Castro on four pitches.
Bottom 6th, Red Sox 13-9: The Red Sox offense has saved both Steven Wright and Brandon Workman tonight.
Workman was touched for two more runs in the sixth, but Boston’s 10-run explosion over the last two innings has allowed John Farrell to keep the young righty in the game and save the rest of his bullpen arms after Wright was chased after just one inning.
Workman did not make it through the sixth, though, as the Astros touched him for four consecutive singles. He stayed in for one more batter after Brandon Barnes’ base hit but was lifted after Dustin Pedroia was unable to turn a Jose Altuve grounder into an inning-ending double play.
Drake Britton will now come on to pitch with two outs and two runners in scoring position.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 13-7: The Red Sox were shut out in Monday’s series opener, but they’re making up for it tonight.
The first four batters reached for the Sox in the fifth as they brought their run total into double digits.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the inning with an eight-pitch walk, and Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz followed with three consecutive singles, bringing home a pair of runs in the process.
Jonathan Villar, who had shifted up the middle as part of the Ortiz shift, was unable to handle Papi’s grounder and proceeded the throw wildly to the plate, allowing Victorino to score. He also appeared to injure himself on the play and was replaced at shortstop by Jake Elmore.
After Mike Napoli grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Pedroia being caught in a rundown between third and home, Bo Porter lifted Dallas Keuchel in favor of right-hander Jose Cisnero with Jonny Gomes coming up.
Gomes, pinch-hitting for Mike Carp, smoked Cisnero’s second pitch over the left field wall, bringing in three more runs to officially initiate blowout mode.
Stephen Drew then worked a walk, but Cisnero was able to induce a pair of flyouts to end the inning — the second straight in which the Red Sox sent nine batters to the plate.
End 5th, Red Sox 8-7: Brandon Workman issues a leadoff walk, but a big 3-6-3 double play allows him to close out his first scoreless inning of his night.
Jason Castro worked the walk before Marc Krauss lined out to Shane Victorino. Brett Wallace, who homered in his last at-bat, grounded out to Mike Napoli to start the double play.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 8-7: Dallas Keuchel gets Brock Holt to ground out on his second pitch, but Brandon Workman will now be able to work with the lead for the first time tonight.
Top 5th, Red Sox 8-7: That four-run cushion didn’t last long.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the fifth inning with a walk and scored on a Shane Victorino double as the Red Sox again chipped away at Houston’s lead. Ellsbury originally stopped at third on the play but was able to come home when L.J. Hoes’ relay throw to second deflected off the sliding Victorino and into shallow left field.
Still with nobody out, Dustin Pedroia roped a double of his own, hitting almost the exact spot on the right field wall as Victorino, to score the right fielder from second.
Pedroia advanced to third on a base hit up the middle by David Ortiz, and then, after Mike Napoli fanned for the second time tonight, scored on Mike Carp’s RBI groundout.
A wild pitch by Jordan Lyles and a walk to Stephen Drew then put runners on the corners for Ryan Lavarnway. With two men out, Lavarnway atoned for his earlier errors by lining double to the wall in left field, scoring both runners and giving the Red Sox their first lead of the night.
That finally forced Astros manager Bo Porter to yank his starter. Dallas Keuchel is now in to pitch for Houston.
End 4th, Astros 7-3: The worst offense in baseball has plated runs in all four innings tonight.
L.J. Hoes led off the fourth for Houston with a triple that rolled all the way up the hill in center field (which really should not be legal). Jonathan Villar then drove him in with a base hit and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Robbie Grossman.
After Brandon Barnes walked, the Astros’ small ball backfired, as Villar was thrown out at third on a double steal attempt.
Jose Altuve grounded out to end the inning, but Houston’s cushion is back up to four runs.
Mid 4th, Astros 6-3: Jordan Lyles got back on track in the fourth, issuing a one-out walk but nothing else as the Red Sox went down scoreless.
Lyles retired Mike Carp and Brock Holt on groundouts and struck out Ryan Lavarnway.
Lavarnway is having a rough go of things tonight. In addition to his four passed balls in the first inning, the catcher has struck out in both of his plate appearances.
End 3rd, Astros 6-3: It’s bombs away here at Minute Maid Park.
Brandon Workman appeared to have settled down in the third, striking out Jason Castro and getting Marc Krauss to fly out to left field, but Brett Wallace foiled the rookie’s bid for a 1-2-3 frame with a solo homer.
Wallace turned on a four-seam fastball down the middle, the same pitch Robbie Grossman sent out of the yard last inning.
Matt Dominguez lined out to Jacoby Ellsbury in center for the final out.
Mid 3rd, Astros 5-3: All right. We have a game.
Jacoby Ellsbury launced a two-out, two-run home run over the bullpen in right-center field to cut Boston’s deficit to 5-2, and David Ortiz followed with an RBI single three batters later.
Stephen Drew got the Red Sox going with a leadoff single just out of the reach of a diving Robbie Grossman in left, but Jordan Lyles responded by striking out Ryan Lavarnway and getting Brock Holt to ground into a fielder’s choice for a pair of quick outs.
Ellsbury followed with his two-run homer, and Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia both reached (via base hit and hit-by-pitch, respectively) before Ortiz singled in Boston’s third run.
Mike Napoli stuck out to end the inning, but a 5-3 deficit is certainly a much more manageable one.
End 2nd, Astros 5-0: Ryan Lavarnway had a much easier time getting a read on Brandon Workman’s pitching in the second. Unfortunately, so did the Astros.
Workman, who replaced starter Steven Wright prior to the inning, opened the second by punching out L.J. Hoes, but things went south in a hurry.
Jonathan Villar followed with a single up the middle and — of course — stole second, and Robbie Grossman crushed a fastball into the right field seats to give Houston an early 5-0 lead.
Brandon Barnes and Jose Altuve went down in order to wrap up the frame.
Mid 2nd, Astros 3-0: The Astros have now held the Red Sox scoreless for 11 straight innings.
Jordan Lyles needed just 13 pitches to get through the second, allowing a David Ortiz single to lead off the inning but having it wiped away when Mike Napoli grounded into a double play.
Napoli checked his swing on the play, but the ensuing ground ball gave Jonathan Villar plenty of time to initiate the 6-4-3 twin killing against two baserunners not known for their wheels.
Lyles then struck out Mike Carp swinging, and the Astros will look to extend their lead against Brandon Workman in the second. After allowing three runs in the first on just one hit in the first, Steven Wright’s outing is over.
Mid 1st, Astros 3-0: This could be a long night for Stephen Wright and Ryan Lavarnway, as Lavarnway struggled mightily catching Wright’s knuckleball.
Four pitches reached the backstop in the first, allowing the Astros to take a 2-0 lead before recording their first hit.
Wright had trouble finding the plate against leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman, missing high and outside, low and inside, and low and outside before recording his first strike. Wright then caught the inside corner to run the count to 2-2 before missing high for ball four.
Grossman then continued the theme of last night’s contest by immediately stealing second base. He was on third a few seconds later when Lavarnway lost sight of a pitch, and Wright then hit Brandon Barnes with a pitch to put two men on base.
The second passed ball in the inning allowed Barnes to advance to second, and the third brought home Grossman with the game’s first run.
After Wright struck out Jose Altuve, Barnes sprinted home on yet another passed ball to give the Astros a 2-0 advantage with one out in the first.
Jason Castro then came through with the first hit of the contest, singling into right field, and Wright walked Marc Krauss on nine pitches. That prompted John Farrell to get Brandon Workman up in the bullpen.
A wild pitch put runners on second and third, and Brett Wallace’s 4-3 groundout allowed Castro to score Houston’s third run of the inning.
Wright got Matt Dominguez to fly out to the warning track in left to mercifully end the inning, but don’t be surprised if Workman strolls to the mound to pitch the second.
Mid 1st, 0-0: It was a quick first inning for Jordan Lyles, who, after getting Jacoby Ellsbury to line out to short, induced a ground ball to first off the bat of Shane Victorino and struck out Dustin Pedroia to complete the 1-2-3 frame.
The Astros will send Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes and Jose Altuve to the plate first against Steven Wright.
8:10 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury lines Jordan Lyles’ first pitch right at shortstop Jonathan Villar, and we are off and running at Minute Maid Park.
Lyles will face Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia in the first.
7:26 p.m.: Minute Maid Park’s retractable roof will come into play in a couple of different ways tonight.
The obvious impact is that it will protect the players from the brutal Houston heat, which right now is hovering right around 96 degrees, according to Weather.com.
But the roof may also have an effect on the actual play on field, as a knuckleball, Steven Wright’s specialty, often moves differently in an enclosed arena than it does outdoors. Tim Wakefield has referenced this phenomenon in the past, and some people point to having to play home games in a dome as a reason for R.A. Dickey’s struggles during his first season in Toronto (his 4.49 ERA so far is nearly two full runs higher than his final 2012 mark).
Pitchers adjust to this variation over the course of their careers, but Wright has not had that luxury. Having spent nearly his entire career in the minors, tonight will be his first professional start in an indoor stadium.
We’ll be underway from Houston in just under 45 minutes. Stay tuned.
5:40 p.m.: Catching a knuckleball can be almost as difficult as hitting one (watching those rare Tim Wakefield-Jason Varitek pairings was evidence of such), and it will be Ryan Lavarnway who shoulders that burden tonight.
Though Steven Wright has had just 12 1/3 innings of big league experience, Lavarnway has been behind the plate for eight of them. Red Sox manager John Farrell must have liked the chemistry he’s seen between the two so far, as they have combined to allow zero runs and zero passed balls during those eight innings together.
Lavarnway getting the start also allows Farrell to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia a night off. With David Ross still on the disabled list, Salty has been worked like a dog since the All-Star break, starting 11 of the team’s last 13 games and entering another as a pinch hitter.
Lavarnway, who most recently saw action last Thursday, will bat eighth for the Red Sox tonight.
Check out the full starting lineups for both teams below.
Boston Red Sox (68-46)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Mike Carp, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Brock Holt, 3B
Houston Astros (37-74)
Robbie Grossman, LF
Brandon Barnes, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Jason Castro, C
Marc Krauss, DH
Brett Wallace, 1B
Matt Dominguez, 3B
L.J. Hoes, RF
Jonathan Villar, SS
Jordan Lyles, RHP
8 a.m. ET: The Astros boast one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball, but it sure didn’t look like that Monday night.
Rookie starter Brett Oberholtzer and a pair of relievers combined to shut out the highest-scoring offense in the majors, holding the Red Sox to five hits in a 2-0 win for the home team.
The Sox hope to have better luck on Tuesday against right-hander Jordan Lyles, whose 4.91 ERA this season ranks second-to-last among full-time Astros starters. Lyles, a 22-year-old who is already in his third major league season, has not earned a win since June 18, and Houston has lost each of his last seven starts.
Opposing Lyles will be Steven Wright, a knuckleballer making his first career start. Wright has spent the majority of the season in Pawtucket, but he has made three relief appearances for the big league club. His debut was a bit of a disaster (five runs on six hits and four walks in a rain-soaked blowout loss to Oakland), but he has responded by tossing 8 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, picking up a pair of wins in the process.
First pitch is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. ET, but keep it tuned to NESN.com throughout the day for all your baseball needs.
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