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Saturday, August 16, 2014
Red Sox loss plays out in familiar fashion

By Joe McDonald



BOSTON -- The Red Sox’s four-game winning streak came to a halt Friday night in a 10-inning, 5-3 loss to the Houston Astros at Fenway Park that played out in a way that has become all too familiar this season.

Let’s start with what proved to be the game-winning play for the Astros.

With the game tied at 3-3 in the top of the 10th inning, Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow loaded the bases with no outs. He finally registered the first out on a fly ball to center field. Because of the arm strength of Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr., Houston did not attempt to tag from third.

Gregorio Petit, Burke Badenhop, Cory Blaser
Gregorio Petit scored the tying run in the eighth after escaping a rundown.
Red Sox manager John Farrell brought in reliever Junichi Tazawa in hopes he could work out of the jam. He quickly recorded one out, but the Astros’ Jake Marisnick provided a two-out blooper down the right-field line that ricocheted into the seats for a two-run, ground-rule double to give Houston a 5-3 lead.

The Red Sox couldn’t respond in the bottom of the inning, so their winning streak came to an end.

“You can’t defend a bloop double, not on the line,” Farrell said. “Taz comes in [but] we’re trying to stay away from him for the third consecutive day and ended up being forced to use him. The first pitch pop-up to [Matt] Dominguez looks like we’ve got a chance to get out of it. Marisnick dumps a double just inside the line for the difference.”

This game, however, shouldn’t have even extended to extra innings. The Red Sox surrendered a one-run lead in the top of the eighth on a defensive miscue that started with rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Clay Buchholz was finished after seven good innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, with two walks and nine strikeouts. Red Sox reliever Edward Mujica entered in relief and allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the eighth inning. He was given the hook, and Tommy Layne came in and struck out the two batters he faced.

With two outs in the inning, Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop entered and induced a ground ball to shortstop. Bogaerts let the ball play him and his flip to second baseman Dustin Pedroia was not in time, as the Astros’ Dexter Fowler was safe at second.

“I saw it as a line drive, but I couldn’t get to it, so I just backed up and played it safe and tried to flip it to Pedey. I could’ve thrown to first. There was a lot of stuff going on right there,” Bogaerts said.

Because the runners were in motion on contact, Houston’s Gregorio Petit attempted to score from second. Pedroia made the throw to the plate and caught the runner in a rundown. Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez missed the tag up the line but relayed the ball to Badenhop, who dropped the throw at the plate as Petit scored. Vazquez was given an error on the throw.

“It was a tough play,” Vazquez said. “It was close at second base, and Pedey threw the ball to home plate and I was running towards the runner to get him in a rundown, but he came around the other side. I think [Petit] stayed in the line, but it was a good play by him.”

While Farrell thought Bogaerts should have made the throw to first to end the threat and the inning, Boston’s manager had no issue with Vazquez missing the tag.

“It was an aggressive play. His instincts are to run the runner back toward third base, which he was doing. I don’t think this wasn’t a mental error on his part by any means. It was an aggressive, athletic play that Petit changes course and he’s got enough room to get by him.”

Farrell made two challenges on the play: first, that the runner at second was out, then that the runner at home was out. After a delay of 2 minutes, 59 seconds, runners were confirmed safe and Houston tied the game at 3-3.

“I didn’t know that Petit got the plate from our vantage point in the dugout. With the ability to challenge the entire play, that’s where the look at second base is included in that,” Farrell said.

The loss was just another indication of how this season has gone for the Red Sox, especially against a team like the Astros, who have a worse record than Boston. There have been plenty of frustrating losses for the Red Sox this season, but Bogaerts believes this one ranks as one of the worst.

“Yeah,” Bogaerts said. “We were playing great baseball with a four-game winning streak, so for us to lose that way, after that go-ahead base hit, it’s pretty frustrating right there.”