BOSTON -- One night after a late-inning rally sent the Rangers to extras vs. the Mariners in an eventual loss, the club hoped to carry the offensive momentum into Fenway Park on Friday night.
Instead, Texas’ offense fell flat in a 6-0 loss to Boston in the series opener of the club’s first trip to Fenway since 2019.
Despite recording seven hits to the Red Sox’s 10, the Rangers seemed to find a Boston fielder on nearly every ball off the bat.
The Rangers had their work cut out for them facing Red Sox ace Chris Sale in his second start back from Tommy John surgery. They managed five hits in five innings against the lefty -- though only three were hard-hit. Texas’ other two hits came off reliever Austin Davis, who Boston acquired at the Trade Deadline. Despite having Sale in the rearview, the Rangers were tasked with facing closer Matt Barnes in the ninth, and he struck out the side on just 15 pitches.
“I mean, listen, we faced one of the better pitchers in baseball today,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We had pressure on him for three out of the five innings. … Just the at-bat quality when we have guys in scoring position hasn’t been there. It’s not so much about getting the big hit, it’s about the at-bat quality.”
Texas went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Mimicking the night prior, the Rangers again found themselves squandering opportunities on the basepaths.
On Thursday, a baserunning error by Yonny Hernandez in the 10th was the difference for Texas. In Friday’s fourth inning, Hernandez attempted a bunt with runners on first and third. The bunt popped up to the right of the mound, and Red Sox second baseman Kiké Hernández attempted to make a play on it. But Yohel Pozo -- running from first -- collided into and interfered with Hernández for the second out of the inning. Jason Martin then lined out to end the threat.
“I thought the pivotal inning was the fourth inning,” Woodward said. “We had first and third, a perfect setup for Yonny right there, you know, a little confusion on his part about the play. Didn’t want him to run hard there, wanted him to run soft down the first-base line, you know, get that run in, get that runner at least to second base and now we have a 2-1 game.
“But the lack of execution in those spots, we’ve got to be able to get that bunt down and we’ve got to be able to know the game right there. Get that run in, put us within striking distance."
Three frames later, Brock Holt (making his second appearance at Fenway as a visitor) followed an Andy Ibáñez two-out single with one of his own. Ibáñez, though, was thrown out on his attempt to go from first to third, squashing another opportunity for the Rangers.
The Rangers found themselves in an early 2-0 hole after RBI singles from Xander Bogaerts and Hernández in the first two innings, and a three-run third broke it open. Starter Dane Dunning went 4 2/3 innings, charged with five of Texas’ six runs allowed. The right-hander threw 78 pitches, on par with his average of 75 per outing -- tied for the second-fewest in the Majors behind Boston’s Martín Pérez. Entering Friday’s opener, Dunning was 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA in his last seven outings.
Friday marked Dunning’s first career start against Boston and extended the right-hander's struggles on the road this season. He owns a 6.80 ERA in 10 starts away from Globe Life Field.
“He had really good stuff,” Woodward said. “His stuff had a lot of life to it, he just, you know, wasn’t executing. Left some pitches over the plate, and they obviously have some really good hitters. You can get them out … but if you miss middle and you make mistakes with these guys, they’re gonna make you pay, and they kind of showed that today.”