HOUSTON — The Red Sox lost the first two games of this series in Houston with five errors, bad pitching and not much offense. Things got really ugly Tuesday when both Alex Verdugo and Alex Cora were ejected, the defense made three errors and the offense went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position while stranding 10 men on base.
Brayan Bello had a message for Chris Sale when he saw him after the second loss.
“When we lost the first two games, I talked to Chris Sale,” Bello said through interpreter Carlos Villoria Benítez. “I told him, ‘It’s up to us to try to split the series and try to win these two games.’ And we did it.”
Sale pitched 5 solid innings and struck out nine in the Red Sox’s action-packed 7-5 10-inning victory on Wednesday. Brayan Bello then allowed just one run in 7 innings in a 17-1 blowout over Houston on Thursday at Minute Maid Park.
It was Bello, the 24-year-old righty, who had the message for the 34-year-old big league veteran. It wasn’t the other way around as one might expect.
“That was something I told him. He was walking in front of me and I said, ‘Hey, man, this is something that we need to do,’” Bello said.
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The Red Sox needed Bello to pitch deep into the game. He did exactly that. He threw 103 pitches, 64 for strikes. His 47 sinkers averaged 95.2 mph and he topped out at 96.8 mph, per Baseball Savant.
“It was a very good outing for me,” Bello said. “My focus is always to try to go deep into the game, try to see if I can go 6 or 7.”
Manager Alex Cora added, “Great effort by Brayan going deep into the game. We needed that.”
Boston odds to make the playoffs increased from 9.8% after Tuesday’s loss to 15.5% after Thursday’s win, per Fangraphs.com. The odds still aren’t great but the Red Sox could have essentially ended their season if they had played the same way in the final two games here as they did in the first two games. They needed the split and they got it done.
“A lot of people thought the season was over three days ago but that’s not the case, man,” Cora said. “If you follow this team, you know it’s a rollercoaster. … We’ve got a chance to keep playing good baseball. This weekend is going to be fun (vs. the Dodgers). We get them (Houston) again next week and then we just keep rolling. So it was a good road trip. Just a few bad innings, a few defensive mistakes that put us in a bad spot. But overall, we’re happy with the results and now we’ve just gotta go home and play good baseball this weekend.”