December 5, 2022

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Late outburst prevents Sox from finishing sweep

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ARLINGTON — After two days of dominant performances at the plate, the Red Sox were unable to complete what would have been their first sweep of the season in a 7-1 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Sunday.

It was almost a replay of Boston’s series-opening 7-1 win on Friday: things were slim for most of the game, then the win was pretty much sealed in the sixth inning.

Sunday’s game was a bullpen day for the Red Sox. Through the first four frames, they didn’t allow a hit. But what ensued over the next few innings helped Texas avoid the sweep.

The Red Sox gave up six hits between the fifth and eighth innings. Four of them were home runs that allowed the Rangers to plate seven, and three of those four homers were hit with two outs in the inning.

With a tie ballgame heading into the sixth inning, Rangers outfielders Adolis García and Kole Calhoun hit back-to-back home runs off Ryan Brasier’s mid-90s fastball. All of a sudden, Boston was trailing 5-1.

“I had a couple guys on base, made a pitch to get to two outs and then Adolis got me,” said Brasier, who took the loss and dropped to 0-2 on the season. “I thought I made a pretty good pitch to Kole and he did the same thing that the guy before him did.”

Including those two, Brasier has given up a total of four home runs in 16 appearances this season. All of them were hit off his fastball.

“The fastball is down in the zone,” manager Alex Cora said in response to why that pitch wasn’t successful in this situation. He later pinned some of the blame on himself adding that, when Calhoun came up to the plate, “We have to do a better job managing this situation. … Maybe [it’s] on me not going to the mound or something, because we had the lefty ready for Calhoun.”

Cora said pregame that he wasn’t expecting anyone in the bullpen to go deeper than two to three innings. With a number of pitchers on the IL, Cora said he decided not to call up a starter from Triple-A Worcester because, “Roster wise, it was going to get complicated.”

“We’ve got the guys that we have here and then we actually got what we wanted — five innings and we had it set up for the rest of the day,” Cora said. “We didn’t make pitches in the sixth inning and we weren’t able to get to the last part of the game.”

Three pitchers in Boston’s starting rotation are on the injured list: Chris Sale, Michael Wacha and James Paxton. That number was four heading into the series until Rich Hill was reinstated from the COVID-IL just prior to his start on Saturday.

Wacha was placed on the 15-day IL retroactive to May 5 with left intercostal irritation, and is expected to return when eligible.

Cora said pregame Sunday that Sale and Paxton — both on the 60-day IL — haven’t been cleared to throw yet. Sale, who’s sidelined with a stress fracture in his right rib cage, is expected to return by the third week of June. Paxton, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is expected to return in July or August. Reliever Josh Taylor is also on the 60-day IL and his return date has yet to be determined.

Garrett Whitlock, Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta are scheduled to start over the next few days as Boston returns home to host Houston — which is currently leading the AL West at 23-12.

“We’ve got to keep our heads up,” Cora said. “We played well in Atlanta, we won the series here. Obviously, it didn’t finish the way we wanted. But now we go home and we’re going to be there, for what, seven days? We haven’t played well at home, and something that we did last year was dominate there. [The Astros] did what they did to us in October and we’ve just got to be ready. They’re playing good baseball.”

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