The Astros spent all Sunday afternoon staring at a sky that refused to make up its mind.
One minute, the sun had the sky all to itself, blinding Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez so badly that he had no idea where a fly ball from Red Sox third baseman Josh Rutledge went until it fell behind him like a meteor.
The next minute, the winds whipped so wildly that Astros shortstop Carlos Correa settled under a pop-up at the lip of the infield, threw his hands up when he realized the wind had gotten ahold of it like a paper plane, and looked behind him and realized left fielder Colby Rasmus had swooped in at the last minute to save the play.
Then, every so often, clouds would close in like curtains, playing a cruel game of peek-a-boo.
The Red Sox’ Mookie Betts was fortunate enough to not have to deal with the elements since the only balls that came his way in right field were either on a line or on the ground, but he could tell how tricky things were.
“It was tough, man,” Betts said after the Red Sox’ 10-9 win. “The wind blowing, that made it pretty tough. But then you have the sun there, it made it that much more tough. The ball goes in the sun, but where you think it’s going to come out, it comes out somewhere different.”
Betts was standing in the on-deck circle with the Sox trying to rally from a 9-8 hole with one out and a runner on in the seventh inning, when Ryan Hanigan shot a fly ball to right-center.
It had all the looks of a routine play, especially with Gomez, a two-time Gold Glover in center, tracking it down.
“Off the bat, you assume it’s going to just be a routine play,” Betts said.
Hanigan, who already had two hits under his belt, broke out of the batter’s box thinking the same thing. Watching it hang in the air, Hanigan figured someone would camp under it.
“I didn’t feel like I hit it well enough for it to be a hit,” he said.
Then, Hanigan looked up and saw Gomez and right fielder George Springer both hoping the other was going to make a play on the ball. Neither did.
“I mean, I saw him out there, kind of, I don’t know, feeling for it,” Hanigan said of Gomez.
The ball dropped between the two — another ugly play in a game full of them — and Rutledge raced around from first to tie the game.
“I saw it drop and I was like, ‘Ooh, all right.’ That was nice. You know, we’ll take it. You can almost feel the momentum going as we get it rolling there,” Hanigan said. “You get guys on base, you feel like something good’s going to happen right now with the way guys are swinging the bats. We’re a dangerous offense.”
Given an extra out, Betts made the Astros pay dearly, hitting a liner to right-center. Hanigan hustled around from first to score the deciding run in the Sox’ victory.
“Fortunately we were able to get an extra out there and just take advantage of it,” Betts said.
The Sox picked up their sixth win in seven games.
Hanigan went 3 for 4 with four RBIs, Hanley Ramirez went 3 for 5 with an RBI, Xander Bogaerts went 1 for 4 with a three-run homer, Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his career-best hitting streak to 21 games (the longest in the majors this season), and the Sox moved back into a tie atop the American League East with the Orioles, who lost to the Tigers.
The Sox came into the game as the only team in the AL without a multi-error game this season. They managed to commit two on the same play in the second inning, when starter Sean O’Sullivan botched a slow roller, and then Bogaerts snagged it and made an errant throw to first.
O’Sullivan gave up six runs (five earned) on five hits in 4⅓ innings. He gave up a three-run homer to Luis Valbuena in the second inning, and Correa tagged him for a solo shot in the third.
O’Sullivan was designated for assignment after the game. The team will announce a corresponding move Monday.
A throwing error by Rutledge in the sixth opened up a three-run inning for the Astros that gave them a short-lived 9-8 lead. But the Sox’ offense made up for it by producing the team’s 11th come-from-behind win of the season.
“We’ve got areas to improve upon,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “We’re working at that. While we’re in a little bit of a state of flux in the rotation, working to get a couple guys back, Sean O’Sullivan steps in, he makes a couple starts, and we win both games. So on offense, as we’re operating right now, yeah, it can cover up some miscues in some other areas.”
The Sox finished 6-1 on their homestand, scoring 73 runs. They’ve put up at least 10 hits in each of their last eight games.
They’ve been clicking so well, and after rallying Sunday after a walkoff win on Saturday, they’re also making their own breaks.
“Those things happen when you’re playing good,” Ramirez said. “Little things happen. Everything goes your way, and we’ve got to take advantage of that and keep getting wins, adding wins every day.”