One of the best starting pitching performances of the season for the Red Sox came undone in the span of two pitches Friday night, costing them a 3-1 setback to the Houston Astros.
Rick Porcello, who had blanked the high-powered Astros lineup over the first seven innings, allowed a leadoff double to Jake Marisnick and, once pitch later, a two-run homer to George Springer into the Red Sox bullpen. Houston then added an insurance run against Ryan Brasier.
The only Red Sox run of the night came in the sixth when Christian Vazquez poked a run-scoring single down the right field line, scoring Xander Bogaerts.
They threatened in the ninth with runners at first and second against closer Roberto Osuna, but Mookie Betts lined out to left for the game's final out.
WHO: Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
WHEN: 7:10 p.m.
WHERE: Fenway Park
STARTING PITCHERS: RHP Rick Porcello (3-3, 5.15) vs. Gerrit Cole (4-4, 3.88)
TV/RADIO: NESN/MLBN; WEEI 93.7 FM
9:44 Astros run on Martinez -- sending Michael Brantley from third on a fly ball to medium right -- and it pays off with an insurance run.
9:27 And just like that, in the span of two pitches, Porcello loses the lead. A first-pitch changeup to George Springer ends up in the home bullpen, scoring Marisnick ahead of him. Porcello had retired 17-of-19 before this inning.
9:25 Porcello allows a leadoff double to Marisnick to start the eighth. He was unhappy that he got a slider up in the zone.
9:09 Vazquez punches a fastball into right field, scoring Bogaerts with the game's first run. Second hit of the night for Vazquez, who has multi-hit games in six of his last nine games.
9:02 Kemp, who made a fine run-saving play earlier, let that ball play him and fielded it on the wrong hop, allowing Bogaerts to reach with his third hit of the night.
8:48 Red Sox are already 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position tonight.
8:46 As Martinez swings and misses at strike three, Betts takes off for second. That's just his third stolen base of the season, a function of hitting second -- and ahead of Martinez in the lineup.
8:23 Interesting t note that, before the game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch was speaking about Chavis and noted that the rookie was "killing second pitches. So we'll have to see how he handles the fastball.'' So far, not well. In his most recent at-bat, Chavis saw four pitches from Cole -- all four seamers, all 98 mph or better -- and struck out.
8:22 Houston second baseman Tony Kemp -- who wasn't in the starting lineup, but replaced Aledmys Diaz in the bottom of the second -- makes a diving stop of a sharp grounder off the bat of Vazquez, taking away a run.
8:15 Bogaerts continues to swing a hot bat. He singled to lead off the second and just doubled to open the fourth -- he's reached base 12 times in his last 17 plate appearances.
8:13 Porcello has settled into a nice groove, needing just 17 pitches in the last two innings. He's retired eight in a row, and of the three hits off him, only two were legitimate - the other was a chopper to Chavis at second that he bobbled on the transfer.
7:53 That's twice in the last few nights that Michael Chavis has ranged behind the second base bag and made a strong throw, off-balance with his momentum taking him the other way, and gotten the runner at first.
7:34 Robinson Chirinos takes a called third strike, not surprising since, in nine at-bats in his career against Porcello, he's now 0-9 with five strikeouts.
7:22 Josh Reddick, who's got more experience in RF here than most visiting outfielders, nearly made that catch up against the wall, just beyond the RF foul pole. Instead, ball drops in for a double for J.D. Martinez.