The Boston Red Sox had a foot in the airplane to Atlanta for a brief two-game set with the Braves on Sunday night after new Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel retired the first two Houston Astros batters of the bottom of the ninth inning, but Colby Rasmus wanted to make sure to delay the flight. Trailing 5-3, Houston’s Carlos Correa hit a two-out double to bring Rasmus to the plate, and the left fielder sent one into orbit to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
It was Kimbrel’s first blown save in six save opportunities this season, but rose his ERA to 5.00 on the season, much higher than is needed of a closer.
After quiet innings in the 10th and 11th, Boston’s Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw led off the top of the 12th with back-to-back singles. After a Brock Holt sacrifice bunt and Ryan Hanigan working an impressive 13-pitch walk, Jackie Bradley Jr. singled in Ramirez to give Boston a 6-5 lead. Two batters later, Hanigan scored an insurance run on a passed ball, but Heath Hembree was perfectly set with just the one-run edge. Hembree, who pitched all three extra innings in relief, shut the door on Houston in the bottom of the inning to help the Red Sox claim a 7-5 victory in the rubber game.
Hembree is one of the few members of the bullpen staff who has shined in the early stages of the season. In three appearances since being recalled from Pawtucket last week, Hembree has allowed just 4 hits while striking out 11 in 7.2 scoreless innings out of the pen. Sunday night’s win improved his career record to 3-0 in four Major League seasons.
The Red Sox will return home on Wednesday night for a matchup with the Atlanta Braves for the third and fourth games of an unusual home-and-home series. Following two games against the Braves, the hated New York Yankees will come to Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. Tickets to these games, and all Red Sox home games at Fenway Park, are available HERE.