It started off as well as the Red Sox could have hoped. The offense crushed two home runs in the first two innings to take an early 4-0 lead, and with Brayan Bello on the mound it seemed like the club was sitting pretty.
Then the Rangers got rolling, and Bello couldn’t do anything to stop them.
The second-year right-hander endured the worst outing of his career Wednesday, allowing eight runs over three innings in Boston’s 15-5 loss to Texas. Bello first melted down in the second, allowing six runs before recording an out in the inning, and after eventually working out of that frame, allowed two more runs in the third, the last on a bases-loaded walk.
All told, Bello allowed more runs in his outing than any Red Sox starter this season, and the most since Nathan Eovaldi allowed nine in last summer’s 28-5 debacle against the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Not a good one,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “They put some good swings on pitches in the zone, the command was off, and it’s one of those that we have to turn the page and be ready for the next one.”
The disastrous outing flipped what was initially shaping up to be a nice afternoon at the ballpark. Rangers starter Jon Gray wasn’t particularly sharp himself, allowing a towering three-run home run to Adam Duvall in the top of the first before serving up a solo shot to Bobby Dalbec in the second, his first of the season in the majors and his 34th of the year overall.
Then Josh Jung led off the second with a sharp liner off Luis Urias’ glove at second, and Adolis Garcia walked. Jonah Heim matched Duvall’s homer with a three-run shot of his own, and Mitch Garner took Bello deep for back-to-back jacks. Just like that the game was tied, and it only got worse from there.
The Rangers had seven straight batters reach safely, with Marcus Semien capping off the rally with a two-run single to make it 6-4. Dalbec turned a badly needed double play to help staunch the bleeding, his second impressive defensive highlight of the game to that point, but things didn’t go any better for Bello after he came back out in the third.
After getting two quick outs Bello got in trouble after walking Heim and hitting Garver to put two men on again. Leody Taveras extended Texas’ lead with an RBI single, and after allowing another single to load the bases, Bello walked Semien to drive in another run.
Bello forced a groundout to leave the bases loaded, but his final line was gruesome. He allowed eight runs on eight hits, four walks, two home runs and a hit by pitch along with only two strikeouts, and his ERA for the season jumped from 3.71 to 4.11.
The outing was also the latest in a troubling trend where Bello has been excellent at night but terrible during the day. In 17 night games Bello has posted a 2.80 ERA over 103 innings, but in 10 day games he now has a 6.94 ERA over 48 innings.
Texas pretty much dominated the game after things turned south in the second. Rangers manager Bruce Bochy pulled Gray after 2 1/3 so-so innings in favor of former Red Sox lefty Martin Perez, who proceeded to shut down the Red Sox offense over 4 2/3 scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense continued to tee off on the Red Sox bullpen, scoring another seven runs the rest of the way.
“That’s a team that, similar to Toronto, Houston, the Dodgers, it’s a fast break offense, and when they get going it’s hard to stop,” Cora said. “And we weren’t able to do that today.”
Jung led the way by going 3 for 5 with a two-run home run, Semien went 2 for 3 with three RBIs and a pair of walks, and Evan Carter went 3 for 4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored.
Ceddanne Rafaela hit an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to break up Texas’ string of 15 unanswered runs. He finished 2 for 5, and Duvall and Dalbec both went 2 for 4 with a home run.
The Red Sox also reached a dubious milestone as a team Wednesday, recording their 100th error of the season on Rafael Devers’ fifth-inning fielding miscue. The club took another hit in the seventh when Urias pulled up running out an infield single and left the game with a trainer. The Red Sox said afterwards he’s dealing with left calf tightness.
Boston (75-78) finishes the road trip 1-5 and falls three games below .500 for the first time since the second week of the season. The Red Sox have Thursday off before returning to Fenway Park this weekend to start the final homestand of the season. First pitch Friday against the Chicago White Sox is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
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