If Boston Red Sox closer Tanner Houck needs an audition tape to send to cirque de soleil, he has the perfect one for them from Friday night.
Houck dangerously walked a tightrope with no room for error in both the ninth and tenth innings after blowing a save opportunity against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
But even though the Yankees loaded the bases with less than two outs in both frames, Houck made it through the high-wire act by inducing two double plays as the Red Sox held off New York to earn a thrilling 5-4 win in 11 innings.
Following the contest, Houck explained how he maintained his composure in such a pressure-packed situation.
“Just take a step back, take a deep breath,” Houck said, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “It’s a lot of practicing on and off the field of just (trying) to control the heart rate, understand that… you’ve got to continue to work, continue to do your thing, and not kind of let your emotion overtake you.”
After already pushing a run across the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees loaded the bases with no outs. Red Sox manager Alex Cora joked he was looking for a triple play in that situation. Houck got the next best thing.
Houck got Jose Trevino to ground out into a 5-2-3 double play and then got DJ LeMahieu to ground out back to him to end the threat.
The Yankees almost got to Houck again in the tenth when they loaded the bases with one out, but this time, the right-hander got a tailor-made double play ball off the bat of Gleyber Torres. Jeter Downs and Xander Bogaerts turned it perfectly to end the inning.
“The slider is nasty, but the two-seamer is real,” Cora said as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “There’s a lot of mishit balls. A lot of groundballs. It’s hard to hit the ball in the air with him. … That’s the reason I like pitching him late in games.”
It was a terrific bounce-back effort from Houck after he allowed the Yankees to level the score due to his own miscues. Trying to protect a one-run lead in the ninth, Houck allowed an infield single to start the frame and then plunked Matt Carpenter on a 2-2 pitch.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa then laid down a sacrifice bunt right back to Houck, but Houck threw the ball away into left field trying to get the lead runner at third base.
But even with that blunder, Houck put it behind him quickly to rise to the occasion.
“We’re human just like everyone else. We get emotional,” Houck said. “But I realized, let’s not overreact, got to go out there and finish the inning.”
The Red Sox will look to take the second game of their series with the Yankees on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. ET.