BOSTON — Victory appeared all but certain Monday night for the Red Sox, who loaded the bases in the ninth inning of a tie game against the Chicago White Sox.
None of those three baserunners made it the final 90 feet to home plate, however, and Chicago responded with two runs in the ensuing half-inning to hand Boston a thoroughly frustrating 3-1 loss at Fenway Park.
It was the first time the Red Sox had failed to capitalize in such a situation since 2010, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Boston opened the ninth with three consecutive walks against White Sox reliever Zach Putnam but failed to get a ball out of the infield against the pitcher who replaced him, Zach Duke.
Duke struck out pinch hitter Dustin Pedroia, got Christian Vazquez to ground out into a five-man infield and then struck out another pinch hitter, the recently recalled Ryan LaMarre, to send the game to extras.
?We create a golden opportunity for ourselves,? Red Sox manager John Farrell said. ?Bases loaded via the three walks. You think that where we are with the guys coming up, particularly (as we) get some matchups that are in our favor. Unfortunately, Duke — give him credit. He made a couple of pitches, gets a couple of key strikeouts.”
Chicago needed just one extra frame to claim victory, as a two-out, two-strike, two-run double by Jose Abreu off Boston closer Craig Kimbrel in the top of the 10th proved to be the difference.
?It was a fastball,” said Kimbrel, who also walked a batter and gave up a single in the inning. “I kind of left it over the plate too much. He?s a good low-ball hitter, and he drove it. I felt like if I could have elevated a bit, I could have gotten it by him, but that wasn?t the case.”
Some additional notes from Monday’s game, which kicked off a four-game series:
— Clay Buchholz is scheduled to make his return to the starting rotation Tuesday against the White Sox after coming out of the bullpen for much of the last month.
Buchholz had one rough outing in relief — he surrendered four runs and walked four in 3 1/3 innings against the Baltimore Orioles on June 1 — but otherwise has excelled, allowing a total of three hits and zero runs over his other four appearances.
“If Clay can build on the three innings (Saturday) and the majority of (his) appearances coming out of the bullpen, we?re moving closer to what has typically been Clay?s performance level here at the big leagues,” Farrell said before Monday’s game. “We need more consistency out of those two (rotation) slots. We fully believe the talent is among the two guys in (Eduardo Rodriguez) and (Buchholz). We get them on track, this is a deeper rotation.”
Farrell added he expects Buchholz to throw “north of 80” pitches.
— Brock Holt began a Triple-A rehab assignment Monday night, going 2-for-3 with two doubles for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Post-concussion symptoms have sidelined Holt, the Red Sox’s Opening Day left fielder, since May 18.
?We?ll probably take this week,” Farrell said. “He?ll go on a couple of days and then off a day, then go back on for a couple of days with some innings progression building up to nine innings. That third game, we?ll get some left side of the infield work at short and third base. We?ll reexamine things at the end of the week and see where he?s at.”
Holt has spent the vast majority of his playing time this season in left — 102 of his 109 at-bats, to be exact — but Farrell implied he’ll likely play more of a utility role when he makes it back to the big league lineup.
Holt earned an All-Star selection as a do-everything utility man last season, and left fielder Chris Young has swung the bat well since becoming an everyday player.
?Well, first of all, Chris Young has done an excellent job in left,” Farrell said. “We?ll match up somewhat in left field, but I can?t say it?s going to be a strict platoon, because it also gives us some flexibility to move Brock around the field.
“In the time that Brock has been here, I think when we see a guy that?s played multiple positions, that might be when he?s at his best. And I don?t want to discount that. His flexibility gives us a chance to spell other guys. But I think first and foremost, getting Brock back would be a boost.”
— Catcher Ryan Hanigan also is making progress in his return from a neck injury.
?(Hanigan had) a good work day (Monday),” Farrell said. “He?ll also go through the same work he did (Monday) on Wednesday, and then after Wednesday, if he comes out of that, we would hope to get him out on a rehab assignment later this week.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images