ARLINGTON, Texas — Brayan Bello lasted only three innings against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday afternoon in what turned into an ugly 15-5 loss for the Red Sox.
The 24-year-old righthander allowed eight runs on eight hits, two of them home runs, after the Sox took a 4-0 lead.
“I don’t know what happened,” Bello said.
Maybe the time of day had something to do with his performance.
Bello is 4-7 with a 6.60 ERA in 13 day games during his two years in the majors, with opponents posting a .905 OPS.
In 26 night games, Bello is 10-11 with a 3.27 ERA, with opponents registering a .704 OPS.
At some point that’s not a coincidence, not with that much of a spread.
“It’s something I’ve noticed and it’s something we have to figure out,” pitching coach Dave Bush said. “Whether it’s the preparation ahead of time or who knows?
“It’s enough to look at it and see what we can do to help him be more consistent.”
Baseball players are nocturnal creatures. They show up for work in the middle of the afternoon and leave close to midnight.
When a homestand ends, they’ll board a flight to the next city that night, arrive at the crack of dawn, and sleep until lunch time.
The occasional day game interrupts that vampiric schedule. But learning to deal with that is part of what makes a player successful.
Some starting pitchers will prepare by getting up earlier a few days ahead of a day game. Others just discipline themselves to get to bed earlier the night before they pitch.
“Everybody’s different,” Bush said. “Some guys love day games and others hate them. I don’t know what the answer is. We have to find out what works for him.”
Bello (12-10) nearly didn’t make it out of the second inning, throwing 38 pitches and facing nine hitters. Six scored as the Rangers took the lead and kept building.
After an infield single and a walk, Bello threw a first-pitch changeup to Jonah Heim that floated in the strike zone and was driven into the seats in right field. Mitch Garver followed with a solo shot.
Leody Taveras singled and Evan Carter doubled before Bello left a sinker in the middle of the strike zone to Marcus Semien that was lined up the middle to drive in two more runs.
As the runs piled up, Bello appeared more and more dejected, looking into the dugout as though he hoped to be taken out.
Bello struck out two to start the third inning before the next five batters reached and two more runs scored. The eight runs allowed were a career worst.
His season ERA jumped from 3.71 to 4.11.
“I’ve never had a game like this before,” Bello said via a translator. “It felt like every pitch I threw they made adjustments and hit the ball hard.”
Bello said he tries to keep the same pregame routine for a day game but acknowledged he doesn’t know what to make of the glaring difference in his statistics.
“It’s the same timing for a night game,” Bello said. “To be honest I don’t know what’s going on.”
Bello held Texas to two runs over seven innings in a victory at Fenway Park on July 5. First pitch: 7:12 p.m.
Sox manager Alex Cora wasn’t interested in handing out sympathetic pats on the back.
“When it’s your turn to pitch, it’s your turn to pitch,” he said.
Nick Robertson and John Schreiber followed Bello and were hit hard. Cora compared the Texas offense to a basketball team running a fast break.
The 15 runs were the most allowed by the last-place Sox this season. They finished the road trip 1-5 and have lost 12 of 15 overall.
Texas starter Jon Gray allowed four runs over 2⅓ innings. Adam Duvall had a three-run homer in the first inning and Bobby Dalbec added a solo shot in the second.
Old friend Martín Pérez (10-4) pitched 4⅔ scoreless innings to keep the game under control for the Rangers.
Dalbec was 2 for 4 and is 6 of 14 with three extra-base hits in four games since being recalled from Triple A Worcester.