The Boston Red Sox continue to take years off their fans’ lives.
They came out on top of another stressful one Saturday with a 5-3 win that was a lot closer than the score would insinuate thanks to a ninth-inning rally and clutch RBIs from Christian Vázquez, Travis Shaw and Kiké Hernández.
With the win, Boston improves to 91-70 while Washington falls to 65-96.
Here’s the full box score.
ONE BIG TAKEAWAY
If you thought the Red Sox squeezed out Friday’s win over the Nationals in the series opener, they did exactly enough to pull off another Saturday.
But a win is a win, and no matter how they achieved it, they needed it to gain a game of ground on the New York Yankees, who formerly had the edge for the first American League wild card spot. The Yankees were blown out by the Tampa Bay Rays, 12-2, on Saturday. So fortunately for the Red Sox, one big swing from Rafael Devers wasn’t all they got on offense after Washington tied things up late.
But it’s going to take a lot more than “just enough” on offense to continue to extend the season. Four hits and two walks in the ninth is nice, but you’d like to see those hits come sooner for everyone’s physical and mental health.
STARS OF THE GAME
— Christian Vázquez saved the day with an RBI triple to deep right in a tie game in the top of the ninth — making for perhaps his biggest hit of his season — to score José Iglesias and steal the lead back.
— Tanner Houck had a perfect start. Literally. The righty threw five innings of hitless, scoreless ball without a walk and retired all 15 batters he faced. Houck threw 39 of his 53 pitches for strikes, helping him earn a career-high eight strikeouts. All that on just three days of rest? You love to see it.
— Rafael Devers hit his 36th home run of the season to give the Red Sox a 1-0 edge in their half of the fourth frame and they carried it through much of the game. No big deal, but the blast helped him tie Ted Williams for the third-most home runs in a season by a Red Sox player before their 25th birthday.
— Ryan Brasier got the ball in the seventh and despite loading the bases in a stressful frame, he recorded two strikeouts, including the third out, to get the Red Sox out of the jam unscathed. Understandably, he was pretty fired up.
DraftKings Sportsbook favorited the Red Sox (-150) entering the crucial game, and though the result may have been too close for comfort, bettors who placed a $150 wager would have profited $100.
NEXT UP ON NESN
The Red Sox have one more game left in the regular season, and the result of that finale against the Nationals is all that’s in their control as other AL teams will shift the playoff picture with the games they have left as well.
First pitch Sunday between Boston and Washington is 3:05 p.m. ET.