BOSTON — A return home only killed the momentum.
The Red Sox began an eight-game homestand Friday with a 12-8, 10-inning loss to the Houston Astros at Fenway Park. Boston won five of its previous seven games on the road before suffering the defeat.
The most disheartening aspect of Boston’s extra-inning loss was that the offense was up to par. The Red Sox rallied to tie the game on three separate occasions yet couldn’t get over the hump.
Let’s run down some notes from Friday.
— Justin Masterson breezed through the first three innings before hitting a brick wall.
Masterson did not allow a hit to the first 10 batters he faced. He made up for it — negatively speaking — by allowing five runs on seven hits in the fourth inning before being yanked. It took just 13 pitches in the fourth inning for Masterson to relinquish a 2-0 lead he was staked to in the second inning.
“In that fourth, we were trying to drive some fastballs in,” Masterson said. “Now, it would look like maybe we should have mixed in some sliders, but also had I put the fastball where I was supposed to, there wouldn’t have been any issues and we would’ve been able to sneak out of that inning and progress pretty good.”
— Masterson expressed confidence in Clay Buchholz’s ability to pick up the slack Saturday.
“It would be nice to have gone further (Friday). We’ll just have to leave that up to Buck (Saturday) because he’s been slicing and dicing,” Masterson said. “We’ll sit back, press play and watch him go.”
— Meanwhile, Joe Kelly allowed three runs on four hits over six innings while suffering a loss at Triple-A Pawtucket. He struck out seven and walked four.
— Hanley Ramirez’s second-inning home run traveled 445 feet at 109 mph, according to Statcast.
Ramirez has four homers during his eight-game hit streak. He’s hitting .414 (12-for-29) with eight RBIs in that stretch.
— Ramirez appeared to forget the count in the seventh inning. Josh Fields delivered ball four and Ramirez stepped back and began fixing his batting gloves before taking his base.
— Ryan Hanigan ended the seventh inning with a groundout, but that play also featured strangeness.
Alejandro De Aza rounded second base and darted toward third base despite Hanigan grounding into the third out. Astros first baseman Chris Carter fired across the diamond in an effort to throw out De Aza and third base umpire Laz Diaz even made an out call.
In other words, everyone involved seemed to forget how many outs there were.
— Xander Bogaerts, who reached base three times and scored three runs, is batting .346 in 31 games since May 31. All-Star?
— Pablo Sandoval, who had two RBI singles against left-handed relievers, is hitting .333 (12-for-36) against left-handers since May 24. He batted .049 (2-for-41) versus lefties before that point.
Looks like doing away with switch-hitting is working out OK for The Panda.
— Mookie Betts made a very poor decision in the eighth inning that cost the Red Sox.
Betts, who reached on an error by shortstop Carlos Correa to begin the inning, advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Brock Holt. The 22-year-old then pushed the envelope a bit too far, as he was thrown out trying to steal third base with Bogaerts batting.
“Overaggressive. Ill-advised. Overaggressive,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “We sacrifice him to get him into scoring position because (Pat) Neshek is under 1.15 seconds in his unloading times. Overaggressive decision on his part to attempt a steal.”
Bogaerts ended up working a two-out walk and scoring on a game-tying, RBI double by David Ortiz. But if Betts didn’t get thrown out at third base, Ortiz’s double would have plated two runs, perhaps paving the way for a 9-8 Red Sox win.
“Hindsight, you can always make the right decision,” Betts said. “If I’m safe, it’s a great play. If I’m out, it’s terrible. So you just have to live and learn from it.”
Betts’ aggressiveness often pays dividends for Boston. He’s an instinctual player who’s not afraid to take chances. This time, it just didn’t work out.
— Noe Ramirez had a rough major league debut in the 10th inning. He suffered the loss after giving up four runs (two earned) on three hits and a hit batter.
“I’ve got to limit my mistakes,” Ramirez said. “I left too many balls up in the one (inning). That’s something that a good hitting team is going to take advantage of, so I’m definitely going to limit my mistakes, keep the ball down a little bit.”
Ramirez, pitching with Junichi Tazawa unavailable, actually became the first Red Sox pitcher since Tazawa on Aug. 7, 2009, to make his big league debut in extra innings.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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