A rematch of the 2018 American League Championship Series kicked off at Fenway Park on Friday, with the Boston Red Sox welcoming in the Houston Astros for a three-game weekend set.
It was a pitchers’ duel in the series opener, with Rick Porcello leading the way for the Red Sox through much of this one, but the right-hander couldn’t make it through the eighth inning and Boston fell 3-1. Gerrit Cole was stellar, throwing five shutout innings to go along with seven strikeouts and just one walk.
Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez led the offense with three hits apiece for Boston.
The Red Sox fell to 23-21, while the Astros improved to 30-15.
Here’s how it went down:
GAME IN A WORD
Good pitching minimized the scoring on both sides Friday.
ON THE BUMP
— Porcello came into Friday looking for his fourth win in his last six starts, and he put himself in great position to do so from the jump. The righty looked sharp out of the gate to continue a strong multi-week stretch.
His slider kept Houston on its toes for much of the night, pairing it well with first-pitch strikes, until he came out for the eighth inning.
Porcello went seven shutout innings, allowing just one walk and four hits over that span, but Jake Marisnick and George Springer had other ideas in the eighth. Marisnick opened the inning with a leadoff double, which brought up the American League’s home run leader. Springer belted a two-run bomb to deep center field to put the Astros up 2-1 and send Porcello packing.
Giving up just two runs in seven innings normally would be good enough, but not in a pitchers’ duel. He’d ultimately be Friday’s hard-luck loser.
— Ryan Brasier entered the game in relief of Porcello, and after getting the first out of the inning, he allowed back-to-back walks to Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa.
A shallow sacrifice fly to right field from former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick would drive in Brantley to give Houston a 3-1 lead.
— Heath Hembree came in for the ninth and would strike out the side in order.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Bogaerts and Vazquez paced the Red Sox’s offense, combining for six of Boston’s nine hits.
Bogaerts’ third hit of the night came in the form of a sixth-inning base hit. The shortstop stole second and advance to third on a wild pitch. With two outs, Vazquez singled to right field to drive in Bogaerts for the first run of the game.
That would be all for Boston at the dish. The Red Sox were a combined 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Hard to disagree with this one. Friday was one of the nicest nights of the year thus far at Fenway.
Game 2 of Boston’s three-game series with Houston is set for Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.