The Red Sox were a strike away from going to the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at 2-2.
But, home plate umpire Laz Diaz — who has been one of the MLB’s worst home plate umpires behind the plate in call-correctness percentiles — called the 1-2 delivery from Nate Eovaldi to Jason Castro a ball, despite being in the top corner of the zone.
That set up a go-ahead RBI single from Castro, and Jose Altuve walked before Eovaldi was relieved by Martin Perez.
Boston only continued to bleed, as Michael Brantley, on the first pitch Martin Perez threw, ripped a two-RBI double into right field. The next four at-bats consisted of ten pitches, three hits and an intentional walk. When Perez finally stopped the bleeding, it was 9-2.
In a night where the Sox looked like they had a Game 4 win and were going into Wednesday with the chance to clinch, the loss guarantees they go back to Houston no matter what they do in Game 5.
Nick Pivetta dazzles
Nick Pivetta hurled five frames with ease, coming up big as he allowed just two hits despite only striking out three.
The one run he allowed was an Alex Bregman solo shot in the top of the first inning.
Xander Bogaerts puts Sox up early
After Rafael Devers worked a two-out walk, Xander Bogaerts smacked a two-run blast well over the Green Monster, 413 feet, to put Boston up 2-1.
Bullpen strong, but not strong enough
Adam Ottavino and Josh Taylor combined for a scoreless sixth, and it was turned over to Garrett Whitlock in the seventh.
Whitlock pitched a damage-less seventh, but Jose Altuve blasted a game-tying homer to lead off the top of the eighth. He finished the eighth, and Eovaldi came out for the ninth — where the meltdown began.
Four of the runs were charged to Eovaldi, but you have to question manager Alex Cora’s decision to bring in left-hander Martin Perez.
Bloggingtheredsox.com‘s Brendan Campbell notes an important stat here, as well.
Blaming the umpire is cool and all but the Red Sox are quite literally 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position at the moment. That comes first.
— Brendan Campbell (@brendan_camp) October 20, 2021
(Photo of Martin Perez by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)