Things were looking good for the Red Sox through most of Saturday afternoon.
Nick Pivetta had a dominant start, going 5 1/3 innings, and a quieter offense managed to edge past the New York Yankees and take a 2-0 lead. Even when the visitors got one back in the sixth, it was easy to feel confident that the Red Sox would come away with the win at home.
Boston had even survived a near collapse when Tanner Houck got the ball in the seventh inning. After two straight four-pitch walks, the defense came through with a double play then Houck got the final out on strikes. He came back out for the eighth inning, and that was where everything got dicey — eventually leading to a 5-3 loss at Fenway Park.
Houck got two outs on strikes, then walked two consecutive batters.
The Red Sox then turned to lefthander Darwinzon Hernandez — a decision manager Alex Cora later said was necessary because reliever Josh Taylor is scheduled for an MRI on his back Sunday. Losing a body for any significant amount of time would be a tough blow to a bullpen that is also missing anchor Garrett Whitlock due to a pectoral injury.
Despite it all, Cora had faith in Hernandez stepping into a big spot Saturday.
“The fact that his stuff plays, he’s been throwing the ball well,” Cora said of Hernandez. “He always has to be prepared for the next hitter. It’s not like you’re thinking something negative is going to happen with the lefty, but we do believe he can get the righty out in that spot too, so we went with it.”