Furious rally falls just short
Red Sox make too mistakes against the Reds
By all accounts the game should have been over. The Red Sox offense was noshowing again, Brayan Bello wasn’t sharp, Kiké Hernández had committed two costly errors and Joely Rodriguez had just walked three batters and served up a crushing grand slam to put the Cincinnati Reds ahead 8-0.
Yet here the Red Sox were with the tying run at third base and a chance to cap off a stunning ninth-inning rally.
In the end the self-inflicted damage proved too much to overcome. The Red Sox scored eight runs in the final three innings but couldn’t get over the hump, with Triston Casas striking out to end the roller coaster 9-8 loss at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
“We made some adjustments a little too late and the game got fast on us,” Rafael Devers said afterwards. “They beat us today but we’ll get back tomorrow and try to get a win.”
The late rally came after a moribund stretch that saw the Red Sox effectively give away a game Cincinnati didn’t really deserve to win either. At one point the Reds were 0 for 14 with runners in scoring position and had already stranded 10 on base, but once Rodriguez walked three batters in the top of the seventh, the last of which scored a run with the bases loaded, the Red Sox were really asking for trouble.
Then, Jose Barrero made them pay.
The Reds outfielder crushed a grand slam to seemingly finish the Red Sox off, smoking an 2-0 sinker from Rodriguez off the left Green Monster light tower. At that point the Red Sox looked dead to rights, but almost immediately the bats woke up and fought right until the end.
“That inning was a very simple approach, we put the ball in play and good things happened,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the five-run ninth inning. “Hopefully we can take that going into tomorrow and keep getting momentum offensively.”
Beyond Rodriguez’s brutal outing, Cincinnati was also aided by two Hernández errors and an uncharacteristically sloppy effort by Bello.
Bello wasn’t good Tuesday, throwing 97 pitches over only four innings while needing 59 to get through the first two innings alone. He also drew just six whiffs on 47 swings, and while his fastball velocity was good (95.5 mph), it wasn’t fooling anyone. Reds batters didn’t whiff on it once in 16 swings, and he only drew one whiff on eight sinkers.
He did manage to limit Cincinnati to one run on five hits, two walks and four strikeouts, but he also didn’t get much help behind him from Hernández, who committed a throwing error on what would have been the third out of a 1-2-3 third inning. Hernández was later thrown out at home plate to end the fifth trying to score on a Raimel Tapia double, and he threw away a potential inning-ending double play ball in the sixth as well, which allowed a run to score and made it 3-0.
Cincinnati had also squandered a ton of scoring chances, but by this point the Red Sox had also failed to score with two runners in scoring position and no outs in the second and afterwards weren’t able to do anything with Reds starting pitcher Ben Lively. The 31-year-old finished with 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing four hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
The Red Sox were able to tag the Cincinnati bullpen for three runs in the bottom of the seventh on four straight two-out hits, including an RBI double by Reese McGuire, an RBI triple by Tapia and an RBI single by Rafael Devers for the 500th RBI of his career, but that was after the Reds had already blown the game open with their fiverun seventh.
Cincinnati rookie Spencer Steer tacked on a sacrifice fly in the top of the eighth, which wound up being the game-winning run when Boston scored five times in the bottom of the ninth on five straight hits. Tapia (3 for 5, 2 RBI), Devers (2 for 5, 2 RBI) and Justin Turner all had RBI singles, Masataka Yoshida (3 for 4) had an RBI double and Jarren Duran cut the deficit to one with an RBI ground out. That brought Casas to the plate but Reds closer Alexis Diaz was able to get the strikeout to end the game.
With Toronto’s 7-2 win over Milwaukee, the Red Sox (28-26) now fall back into sole possession of last in the AL East while Cincinnati (25-29) extends its win streak to four games. James Paxton (1-1, 5.14 ERA) will take the hill for the Red Sox on Wednesday against Luke Weaver (1-2, 5.45) with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m.