3 takeaways from Red Sox's near rally in Chicago

Paxton exits after four; Duran steals three bases; Casas homers, errs late in loss to White Sox

June 25th, 2023

CHICAGO -- The Red Sox were down to their final out when they rallied to tie the White Sox at 4 in the ninth inning on Saturday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

But after Boston left the bases loaded, Chicago walked off in the bottom half of the ninth, winning 5-4 on a single by Elvis Andrus.

Here are three key moments from the loss.

Paxton exits early

James Paxton was sharp through four innings, holding the White Sox to a run and two hits, including a solo homer, while striking out three. But in the bottom of the fifth, Josh Winckowski replaced the veteran lefty on the mound.

The Red Sox later announced Paxton’s day was cut short by right knee soreness.

“He was sore, so we were thinking ahead,” manager Alex Cora said. “Took him out of the game, and he should be OK.”

Paxton said his knee flared up late in his last start, Tuesday against the Twins. That was the first time he felt the issue, and he described it as “a little bit of soreness” in his front, landing knee.

Paxton and the training staff did some work on it this week, and they will continue to get the inflammation out, he said. He expressed confidence he would make his next start. 

“I think so,” Paxton said. “We’re going to do some work on it this week. Hopefully it gets back to neutral so I can get back to normal out there.”

Cora said before Saturday’s game that Paxton would likely get an extra day of rest before his next outing, which would line him up for Friday’s series opener in Toronto.

Winckowski struggled in two innings in relief of Paxton, allowing three solo home runs. Entering the day, he had allowed three homers all season, spanning 42 1/3 innings and 172 batters faced.

“He’s been so good for us, keeping the ball in the ballpark and attacking hitters,” Cora said.
“Today he left some pitches up in the zone. They did a good job hitting it in the air.”

Duran’s thievery

Before Saturday’s game, Cora was asked whether Jarren Duran, for as good as he has been at stealing bases, is still learning in that area.

“No, I think he's in a good spot now,” Cora said. “I think he's 10-for-10, 12-for-12, if I’m not mistaken.”

Duran entered the day 11-for-12 and ended it 14-for-15 after swiping three bags against the White Sox. He was stranded in the fifth and seventh innings after stealing second base. He singled with two outs in the ninth, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored what was then the tying run on a Justin Turner single.

Duran and David Hamilton are two major threats to steal each time they reach base. Hamilton stole second on Friday and soon after scored on an errant pickoff attempt at second that trickled into center field.

“Both of them are very fast, but they go about it in different ways, right,” Cora said. “One is more aggressive, kind of. Like Jarren, with the way he cuts the bases. The aggression with the speed is real. And then with Hammy, he’s just fast. You'll see sometimes he gets bad jumps, and then he outruns the throws.”

Casas’ misplay

Boston was one out away from forcing extra innings when a sharply hit ball by Gavin Sheets deflected off Triston Casas’ glove and rolled just beyond the infield dirt.

The game was over two pitches later. Zach Remillard pinch ran for Sheets, stole second and scored on Andrus’ single.

“It was a tough hop, but he makes that play,” Cora said.

The play was initially ruled an error on Casas but was changed to a single after the game. Casas made the play on a similar ground ball two batters before Sheets. That grounder, hit by Yasmani Grandal, had a 90.4 mph exit velocity, and Sheets’ was 102.9 mph.

“I knew it was hit hard,” Casas said. “First step was correct. I was in the right position. Drop step, just like I did on the ground ball to Yasmani. It was hit pretty hard and had some English after that second hop. Kicked a little towards my face, got a glove on it and did my best to knock it down. 

“It kicked away far enough for him to get on first. But it’s a play I should have made.”