Three things we learned from Red Sox’ 8-3 loss to Astros
1) The Red Sox can’t overcome the big inning
By Nick Friar
No one, especially not John Farrell, doubted that the fifth inning was the turning point of the game.
“The one inning today bit him,” Farrell said about Clay Buchholz’s mistake in the fifth.
If Clay Buchholz gets Colby Rasmus out, instead of grooving a fastball, Boston has all of the momentum. Whether he should’ve thrown a different pitch or not is up for debate, but he didn’t execute.
“Had he executed another breaking ball or something off-speed, maybe it works in his favor,” Farrell said. “But in that moment he felt like he could go to a two-seamer and it did not work out.”
In the top of the sixth, Boston loaded the bases but only managed one run. Another shot at momentum lost. Part of the problem: Xander Bogaerts was out with a wrist injury, so Chris Young had to face a righty -- which hasn't worked out well at all so far this season.
And although the Red Sox managed to get more runners on base, they couldn’t execute. Having a long inning takes the wind out of your sails, and brings the game to a screeching halt.
Buchholz did a great job shutting down another potential big inning in the second. But he crumbled under the pressure with two outs in the fifth, giving up a hit and walking a batter to set up the ensuing grand slam.
It also doesn’t help when the bullpen slows the game down even more, walking 4 (one intentionally) in 2 1/3 innings.
2) Boston's bullpen is lost
It’s never good when your lefty specialist enters the game and walks the first guy he faces. If Tommy Layne only came in for one hitter Saturday, his appearance would have been a waste.
He, along with Noe Ramirez and Roenis Elias, each walked a batter (Elias also had an intentional walk) over a combined 2 1/3 innings.
Both Ramirez and Elias had notably rough outings. Although Ramirez’s outing wasn’t nearly as bad as Elias', he continues to struggle.
The side-winder appeared to be a legitimate bullpen option at the end of spring training, but now has turned into a candidate to swap places with Henry Owens, who’ll make the start Sunday for Boston.
Elias, in his first year with the organization, was the newest addition to disappointments for Boston’s pen, giving up four doubles to the 11 batters he faced over 1 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox need Heath Hembree to continue to shine so John Farrell has another reliever to turn to besides the usual trio of Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel. Either way, the bullpen's 5.70 ERA over the last seven games is unacceptable.
3) Dustin Pedroia still has the ability to be a big-time second baseman
After battling injuries the past two years, and appearing to be on his way out, Dustin Pedroia has burst back on the scene. Boston’s second baseman finished Saturday with a .310 average after going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
He’s helped provide stability at the young top of the order, taking pressure off both Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, who have had their struggles in the early going.
Pedroia is also back to making great plays on the defensive end, gunning down José Altuve at third on a play that didn’t seem likely to succeed.
“Big out in that situation,” Travis Shaw said of the play.
There’s no question Boston’s youth is following Pedroia’s hustle mentality, and that’s why they continue to mount comebacks -- which now seem to be the norm for the 2016 Red Sox. Whether or not they win after the comebacks is another story entirely.