Sunday night baseball was not for the early sleepers as the Houston Astros hosted the last of a three game series against the Boston Red Sox in look for their first back to back wins of the season.
The two worst rotations of the game lived up to their name due to lackluster outings by starters Henry Owens, who was recently recalled from Triple A to fill in the gap left by Joe Kelly who was sent to the DL with an elbow strain, and Scott Feldman.
Visitors strike quickly
Boston got off to a fast start as Mookie Betts led off the game with a single. Then Dustin Pedroia a double from the scorching hot Dustin Pedroia. Big Papi was intentionally walked for the first time in 2016 and then Travis Shaw also walked to open the score. A rough three run first inning for Scott Feldman required his teammates to level the game.
The gold glove of José Altuve failed not once but twice in the game: a pair of costly errors at second base did not aid the infield by letting unearned runs score. The silver lining of the Astros' defense came with Marwin González who made three amazing plays flashing the leather at third base while also driving runs in. .
Henry Owens is one of the top prospects of the Red Sox farm system. He was called up late in last season with mixed results so his performances on the big league level are still a question mark.
But the young southpaw had trouble finding the strike zone and in one point it looked that he only had good control on his changeup. He got away with a high fastball to Carlos Gómez that Brock Holt fielded in the warning track but he was punished by Marwin González that yet again proved that he was doing it all. The third baseman took another high fastball deep to left center for a solo shot that cut the gap to two.
Altuve makes second error
The second of the error by José Altuve was another key moment in the game. The blunder was followed by two doubled, one from Hanigan and the other for Jackie Bradley Jr. Feldman´s night was over very early, just as Henry Owen's who could only managed to produce 10 outs while giving away 4 walks.
A pair of promising right fielders were in the lineup for Sunday night's game. Mookie Betts stole the show on the last couple of games by hitting a couple of triples and bolstering runs, whereas George Springer was into it on the series finale. He made a spot on play to throw out David Ortiz attempt to extend a single to a double and then Hanley Ramirez tried to score on a tag up but was again caught by the throw. He flashed some leather and was also close to hitting a three run Springer dinger for the lead but the ball was tracked down by Mookie Betts.
Both teams clashed into a fierce bullpen battle that the Red Sox appeared to win. Chris Devenski worked well as a long reliever and Matt Barnes had also a pretty strong day at the mound. Tazawa and Uehara tossed zeros in the 7th and 8th setting the table for a Craig Kimbrel save.
A closer's nightmare
Carlos Correa greeted Boston's closer with a double off a 99 mph fastball down the plate. With just one out away from the win, Colby Rasmus stepped up to the plate and went yard again. In the previous game he had a grand slam off a Clay Buchholz' two-strike fastball. The pitching staff did not learn from their mistakes as Kimbrel unleashed another vicious fastball over the plate that was absolutely crushed to center field.
Kimbrel's second blown save lead to an intriguing ending to the game in extras. Fortunately for the Sox, the Astros also have troubles with their closer. Ken Giles arrived to spring training for that game ending role but he has been struggling lately and was demoted from the job for Luke Gregerson. Giles loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th for Jackie Bradley Jr who came through with a clutch single for the lead.
Heath Hembree shone in the spotlight with three scoreless innings in relief. Bradley dresses himself as the hero in a long night at the Minute Maid Park.
The Red Sox took the series and now fly to Atlanta for a short two game series with the Braves. The Astros will fly far north to Safeco Field against the Seattle Mariners.