The Texas Rangers figured out what to do with the red-hot J.D. Martinez.
They sent him walking.
Martinez tormented the Rangers in Game 2 of the series, but otherwise pitched around him in Game 1 and Game 3. It’s no coincidence which games the Red Sox lost.
Martinez was walked two more times, including once in a key spot late in the game with the go-ahead run in scoring position, and the Red Sox offense didn’t quite have enough in an 8-6 loss to the Rangers on Saturday.
The Rangers have taken two of three in the series with a chance to win the series on Sunday. They finally found a way to slow down a Red Sox team that hasn’t lost a series since being swept by the Orioles to start the year.
The Sox lost Game 1, 4-1, when the Rangers walked Martinez twice. The Sox took a 6-1 win in Game 2 of the series when Martinez went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and four RBI. And by Game 3 it was obvious was the Rangers were doing.
Martinez singled in the first inning, then never saw another good pitch to hit the rest of the game.
He walked on four pitches in the third inning. In a key spot in the fifth, with runners on first and second, they had nowhere to put MLB’s home run leader, so they carefully settled for a single to right field. They struck him out in the sixth when he chased some high fastballs.
But the key moment was in the eighth inning, when the Sox trailed by one and had runners on second and third with two outs for Martinez. The Rangers didn’t think twice and issued him an intentional walk to load the bases.
Xander Bogaerts grounded to third on a second-pitch changeup to end the inning and kill the rally.
So far this series, Martinez has gone 5-for-8 with four walks, two home runs and five RBI.
Three more takeaways from this one:
1. Bogaerts’ failed opportunity in the eighth was one of many missed chances on the night. The Sox had the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth inning and couldn’t score. Christian Vazquez hit a weak grounder to force an out at home, then Bobby Dalbec and Hunter Renfroe struck out to end the inning. Overall, they left 23 runners on base.
“You got a chance to put a team away right there,” manager Alex Cora said. “Bases loaded and no outs and we don’t score. It’s just, Jeff Reboulet used to say that the other team is going to score 85% of the time if you don’t score there. So I don’t know if that’s true, you guys can take a look at it, but we had a chance to put them away and we didn’t. We had traffic all over the place today and I know we scored some runs but we had a chance to score some more.”
2. Matt Andriese’s hot start out of the bullpen has come to an end. He was handed the ball to protect a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning, but promptly allowed three runs to score, including two on a homer by Willie Calhoun. Andriese entered the game having allowed only two earned runs in 12 2/3 innings this season. He has earned Alex Cora’s trust and has been pitching in key spots of late.
“I think he wasn’t able to elevate his fastball, it actually cut to Calhoun’s barrel right there,” Cora said. “So the changeup was good but the fastball today, I talked to him a little bit and he wasn’t able to elevate with it.”
3. Eduardo Rodriguez has hit a roadblock. After starting the year looking as good as ever, Rodriguez struggled to get outs in his fifth start. The Rangers knocked him around for four runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out five, but Cora chose to remove him after just 67 pitches. He entered with a 3.53 ERA and had looked strong until facing the Rangers, who have a below-average offense this season.