By TERRY LYONS at Fenway Park
BOSTON – Just how long is too long?
Boston Red Sox SP Rick Porcello threw seven innings of four-hit shutout baseball, but two batters intro the 8th inning, the righty found himself on the wrong end of an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. Boston manager Alex Cora guessed wrong when he allowed Porcello to throw into the 8th.
Houston DH George Springer hit a two-run blast off Porcello after CF Jake Marisnek doubled and the Boston starter was knocked out of the game after throwing 95 pitches (61 strikes) and outlasting Houston starter Gerrit Cole who was equally impressive in his outing.
Cole, the Astros two-time MLB All-Star, pitched 5.0 innings allowing six hits and one walk while striking out seven Boston batters. He threw 99 pitches (62 strikes) before giving way RHP Hector Rondon in the 6th inning of a 0-0 game.
The Astros ended-up scoring three runs (two earned) in the top half of the 8th inning when Red Sox reliever Ryan Braiser failed to bail-out Porcello and they were defeated by a combination of a key walk to Michael Brantley, then a passed ball by Christian Vazquez and a wild pitch by Braiser which resulted in the decisive runs.
“That was a bad decision,” said Cora after the game. “That was a bad one from the get-go. I made a bad decision. Put him in a bad spot. We paid the price.”
On May 14th, Cora yanked his ace lefty Chris Sale after 7.0 IP after Sale threw an impressive 17-strikeout, 108-pitch outing. In that game, a 5-4 Sox loss to the Colorado Rockies, it was a Brandon Workman blown save that cost the Sox.
Tonight, it was the combo of Porcello/Braiser coughing up the lead and a stellar effort by Astros middle-man Ryan Pressly who set a major League record by throwing his 39th consecutive scoreless inning, breaking a record previously held by former Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.
After Pressly retired the Red Sox in the 8th inning, Houston closer RHP Roberto Osuna took care of business in an exciting home half of the 9th inning and Boston fell short by a final score of 3-1. Mookie Betts hit a bullet line drive to left field for the final out with two men on base.
Will Harris (1-0) was credited with the win in relief while Porcello (3-4) took the tough loss. Osuna earned his 11th save of the year. The Red Sox left 10 men on base.
Houston’s starting 2B Aledmys Diaz left the game in 2nd inning with left hamstring discomfort, according to official announcement. OF Tony Kemp replaced him at second as the club is shorthanded at middle infielder position.
Boston catcher Christian Vazquez went 3-for-4 with two doubles while shortstop Xander Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and a stolen base.
NOTES: Mother Nature cooperated big time this evening as a cold, damp dreary day turned into a simply gorgeous night at Fenway Park in the 5pm-7pm range. At first pitch, it was xx-degrees and blue skies, clearing. … The weekend forecast is good and the Astros and Red Sox play two more. On Saturday, Houston is throwing RHP Corbin Martin (1-0, 3.38 ERA) against a Sox starter TBD. The game is the FOX national broadcast at 7:15pm ET … On Sunday, it’s a 1:05pm ET first pitch with Houston throwing RHP Brad Peacock and Boston tossing ace lefty Chris Sale. … Last time out for Sale on May 14 vs Colorado, he struck-out 17 batters in a no-decision in which Boston eventually lost to the Rockies (5-4). … In his three May starts, Sale is tossing at rates of 1.39 ERA, with a .127 opponent batting average, 41 Ks and one base-on-balls. … Houston’s starter tomorrow, Corbin Martin, is a 23-year old who began the 2019 season at Triple-A Round Rock. He was drafted by the ‘Stros in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB Draft. … He earned the “W” in his MLB debut after going 5.1 IP, with a 3.38 ERA and allowing two runs on three hits vs. Texas (15-5 score). … Boston reliever Matt Barnes has struck-out 34 of the 69 batters he’s faced. … Houston all-star second baseman Altuve is sidelined and on the 10-day IL, retro to May 11th with a left hamstring injury. Altuve is expected to do a rehab assignment before returning from the IL but is eligible to play as of May 21st. … Digital Sports Desk will be on-site at Fenway all weekend. Tweet to @DigSportsDesk