Red Sox

BSJ Game Report: Red Sox 2, Marlins 0 – Houck gets some help to win first start

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

All you need to know, in quickie form, about the Red Sox' 2-0 win over the Marlins, complete with BSJ analysis and insight:

BOX SCORE

HEADLINES

Sox found right opponent for Houck: It wasn't pure happenstance that Tanner Houck made his major league debut Tuesday night against the Miami Marlins. The Red Sox and their Baseball Operations department carefully selected this series in Miami as a good place for him to start his first game. It's well-documented that Houck has had his struggles against left-handed hitters. Having ditched his changeup, he spent much of his time this summer at the team's alternate training site developing a splitter to give him an effective weapon against lefties. The Sox certainly didn't want his first outing to come against, say, Tampa Bay, whom they just played. The Rays fielded a lineup of nine lefty hitters last Friday against the Sox and surely would have tried the same tactic against Houck. Meanwhile, the next opponent is the Yankees, and even though there are no fans, introducing someone to the big leagues in that environment is probably not the way to go. So, the Sox chose the Marlins, who, not incidentally, only had two lefties in the lineup as Houck blanked them for five innings, allowing just two hits.

Defense shines: Houck didn't get a ton of offensive support from the Red Sox lineup -- thanks in no small part to Miami starter Sandy Alcantara, who held them to a run over six innings. The Sox scored just twice -- once in the sixth, after Houck departed the game, and an insurance run in the eighth. But although that hardly constituted an outbreak, the Sox did help Houck in other ways. Third baseman Rafael Devers made two sterling plays deep in the infield -- one on Miguel Rojas for the final out in the seventh and another on Starling Marte to complete an inning-ending forceout in the eighth. And that wasn't all. Leading off the eighth, left fielder Yairo Munoz made a fine, over-the-shoulder running catch to take extra bases away from Jazz Chisholm, crashing hard into the left field wall in the process. Together, the three plays helped keep the Marlins off the board, as the Sox posted their second shutout win of the season.

Baserunning miscue looms large for Marlins: Houck had barely worked up a sweat in the bottom of the first when Corey Dickerson lashed an opposite field single to the gap in left-center to open the frame. As Red Sox outfielders Munoz and Jackie Bradley concerted in left-center, Dickerson, running hard out of the box, accelerated as he reached first and decided to go for two bases. Munoz cut the ball off and fired to second, where Christian Arroyo was waiting to apply the tag on Dickerson. Instead of having to deal with a baseunner in scoring position one hitter into his debut, Houck had an out to work with. On the very next pitch, he got Marte to fly to right, getting himself two outs on as many pitches. When he struck out Jesus Aguilar for the third out, he was out of the first inning unscathed -- with some help from Dickerson -- and soon settled into a good rhythm.

TURNING POINT

Houck was in a bit of jam in the fourth inning, having walked two to give the Marlins runners at first and second with two out. Facing Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas, arguably, the Marlins' best hitter, Houck delivered a slider for a called third strike, frustrating Rojas to no end and stranding two baserunners.

TWO UP

Dylan Covey: Making his first big league appearance in more than a month, Covey gave the Red Sox two perfect innings of relief following Houck.

Jackie Bradley Jr. With two on and two out in a scoreless game in the sixth, Bradley swung at a pitch on the outer edge of the zone and sliced it to left to produce the only run the Red Sox would need.

ONE DOWN

J.D. Martinez: Martinez was without a hit in three at-bats and is now in a 1-for-30 slump, with his batting average dipping to .201.

QUOTE OF NOTE

"Right now, I'm kind of high on life. That win was truly amazing.'' --Tanner Houck.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING

  • Tanner Houck became the first Red Sox rookie starting pitcher to win his major league debut since Eduardo Rodriguez in 2015.
  • Alex Verudgo saw his streak of scoring at least one run in 10 consecutive interleague games come to an end.
  • Both Rafael Devers and Bobby Dalbec extended their hitting streak to eight straight games.

UP NEXT: The Red Sox and Marlins continue their series Wednesday at 6:40, with RHP Mike Kickham (1-0, 5.00 ) facing LHP Trevor Rogers (1-1, 6.50)