Boston Red Sox: Game 4 proves be the fatal blow in Boston’s season

Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Enrique Hernandez #5 of the Boston Red Sox (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox appeared to be well on their way to their fifth World Series appearance of the 21st century.

After taking a tough loss in Game 1, the Red Sox lineup continued their offensive explosion from the ALDS, and scored a combined 21 runs over Games 2 and 3 to take a commanding 2-1 lead over the Houston Astros. Simply put, Boston had dominated Houston, and it seemed like their pitching staff was on the ropes.

Game 4 offered a chance for Boston to essentially put this series to bed. Houston’s bullpen was running on fumes, and they were basically forced into starting Zack Greinke in this one. With a win, Boston would have had a chance to win the series in Game 5, just as they did to Houston back in 2018.

Instead, Boston faltered, and in the process, they handed this series right back over to Houston. You can’t afford to throw away opportunities to beat a team like the Astros, but that’s just what the Sox did last night. Any question of who had the momentum in this series is gone; it’s Houston, and the reason for that is because the Red Sox threw away their best shot to win this series on Tuesday night, and they are likely going to pay the price for it as a result.

Game 4 loss proving to be the Boston Red Sox fatal error

There was a time in Boston’s 9-2 loss in Game 4 where the score was actually close, and even in the Red Sox favor for a point in time. The offense wasn’t really hitting, but neither was Houston’s thanks to a great starting effort from Nick Pivetta. But once manager Alex Cora dipped into the bullpen, he made a series of confusing moves that ended up unraveling the game for the Sox.

It all starts in the sixth inning after Josh Taylor was brought on to relieve Pivetta. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Taylor gave up a single to Game 5 hero Yordan Alvarez. Cora responded by bringing on Adam Ottavino to face Carlos Correa, which worked out perfectly as Ottavino struck out Correa on just four pitches.

The problem was that was all Ottavino did. Cora decided to remove one of their best relivers after just four pitches in a game that they led by just one run. In a game of this magnitude, you can’t use one of your best relievers on just one batter, and the Boston Red Sox would end up paying for this later on down the line.

Compounding this awful move was an even worse move, which was bringing in Garrett Whitlock for the seventh inning. Whitlock has easily been Boston’s best reliever this season, and if you aren’t going to have him close games, atleast save him for a high leverage situation.

Whitlock did his job holding down the fort in the seventh, but then was brought back out for the eighth inning. This immediately backfired when Whitlock gave up a first pitch solo home run to Jose Altuve, allowing Houston to tie the game. Late in games, you want to keep the opposition on their toes, but Cora failed to do that, and gave Altuve a whole half inning beforehand to prepare for Whitlock.

And if those two weren’t bad enough, Cora decided to warm up the presumed Game 6 starter in Nathan Eovaldi. Eovaldi has a reputation for being an absolute stud out of the bullpen, but this seemed desperate. Aside from Ryan Brasier though, Cora didn’t have anyone else to use because he already burned through his best relievers.

Eovaldi responded by giving up four runs and turning this one into a laugher. It didn’t help how he was eventually relieved by Martin Perez, who somehow still has a spot on this team. Perez would give up three of his own, paving the path to the Sox demise.

This game flipped all the momentum in this series. Boston’s lineup didn’t hit aside from Xander Bogaerts two-run home run, but it didn’t matter. They had the lead, and had the guys in their bullpen ready to hold onto the lead. Instead, Cora got cute with his bullpen usage, and it ended up blowing up in his face.

It translated over to Game 5, where the Astros walloped the Boston Red Sox for the second night straight. Chris Sale did his job for the most part, as his final tally of four earned runs doesn’t really show how well he pitched. The problem was the offense got virtually nothing off of Framber Valdez in this one after forcing him out of Game 1 after just 2.2 innings.

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Now Houston has all the momentum in their dugout. They are home for the next two games, only needing to win one of them to advance to the World Series. Valdez’s superb outing saved their bullpen, and they will have pretty much their entire cast of characters available for Game 6. Not to mention, their lineup has finally found their stroke after being nonfactors for the majority of the first three games.

The Boston Red Sox could have been making a push to go to the World Series tonight if they played their cards correctly in Game 4. Instead they blew it, and promptly got blown out by a score of 9-1 tonight. Boston is down to their final breath right now, and their mishandling of Game 4 will go down as the downfall of their season.