Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox show their worst side with another playoff loss, 8-2
HOUSTON — Forget about talent. The Red Sox simply didn’t look ready to play.
They’re clearly better than this. They played better than this two weeks ago. And in August. And in July.
But these two playoff games have shown the Red Sox at their absolute worst.
They got pummeled out of Minute Maid Park by the Houston Astros yesterday afternoon, taking another 8-2 loss on the chin before they had to pack their bags and hop on a plane to Boston.
The precious hours between now and tomorrow’s Game 3 can’t be spent sulking or talking about how good the Astros are, though that’s precisely what the Red Sox did after their Game 2 loss.
“They’re hot, man,” said catcher Christian Vazquez. “Nothing we can do, you know? We can’t walk four guys in a row. We need to make pitches.”
Down 0-2 in the best-of-five American League Division Series against the best-hitting team in baseball, John Farrell’s crew needs a makeover.
“We have got to do a little bit more consistent job,” he said. “Bottom line.”
Maybe a team meeting.
“Oh, there are a lot of things that will be said,” veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
“I’m not exactly sure what can be said,” said outfielder Mookie Betts, who let one run score when he dropped the ball behind his head trying to throw home in the sixth inning. “But he knows more than I do. I’m sure we’ll have a little team meeting just to understand that panicking makes everything worse. Just go play and play loose.”
They could use a three-hour infield/outfield practice.
And bullpen sessions in front of special assistant Pedro Martinez, pitching development analyst Dave Bush and whomever else the Red Sox can find to provide a fresh set of eyes.
What kind of effort was that from Drew Pomeranz?
After shutting down this Houston offense six days ago with a good mix of four-seam fastballs, sinkers and curves, Pomeranz forgot about his sinker and went with only four-seamers and curveballs in two-plus innings before he rightfully took a seat on the bench.
“It was the same plan we pitched with on Saturday,” Vazquez said.
But this time Pomeranz got only two outs before he fell apart.
Against the third batter he faced, Jose Altuve, Pomeranz threw a first-pitch curveball about a foot below the strike zone, a pitcher’s pitch that the Red Sox need to make against the aggressive MVP candidate. Altuve whacked the low curve into the outfield for a single.
“These guys are all coming out swinging and swinging at a lot of stuff, being very aggressive,” Pomeranz said. “And every time we’ve made a mistake, they’ve made us pay for it.”
He then went seven pitches in a competitive at-bat against Carlos Correa before he either lost concentration, gave up or simply made a bad pitch. On a 91-mph four-seamer over the heart of the plate, Correa launched it 419 feet for a two-run homer.
By the third inning, with the Red Sox down, 2-1, Pomeranz threw leadoff hitter George Springer two straight curves, the second was belt high, and Springer lifted it over the right-field wall.
Pomeranz stuck out his arms and shook his head. He might as well have walked off the mound right there.
Alex Bregman doubled, Altuve singled and Pomeranz’ day was over. He threw just 47 pitches, tying a season low, then threw a temper tantrum in the dugout.
“I was upset,” he said. “I think you’ll find anyone who comes out of the game earlier than they’d like to to be upset.”
Carson Smith faced three batters and walked two of them as the Astros took a 4-1 lead.
David Price temporarily kept the game close with 22⁄3 brilliant innings, firing 38 pitches, before Eduardo Rodriguez and Addison Reed followed Pomeranz’ messy example, allowing four more runs to score in the sixth inning.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel was a bit wild in the early innings, and the Red Sox approached him with patience, though they couldn’t register a game-changing hit. The Sox scored just one run off him in the second inning before he retired the next 11 batters and exited in the sixth.
“I feel like these guys always score before us and we’re kind of in a hole right away,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “And especially on the road, we start hitting first and we have a chance to score first. It just hasn’t happened.”