If you were just tuning in for the first time in 2013, this game explains how they've arrived at this place. Hector Santiago had one bad inning, Matt Thornton threw one bad pitch, and those are mistakes this offense is incapable of erasing -- even, as we're finding out, against the team with the league's worst record.
Santiago dug a 3-0 hole with a 42-pitch second inning. After striking out Carlos Corporan to start the inning, Santiago allowed a single and two walks to load the bases. Matt Dominguez then unloaded them by turning on a rolling slider and shooting it into the left-field corner.
Not only was Santiago tough to watch from a command standpoint, but his release point issues might have factored into a slow pace. Or it might've been a couple other delays -- Tyler Flowers took a foul trip to the hand, Don Cooper made a mound visit on a 1-2 count -- that ratcheted down this game's speed setting to "dirge."
He was fine otherwise, even if a little sluggish, when you split up his numbers.
Second inning: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 42 pitches.
- The rest: 4⅓ IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 70 pitches.
Yet it was enough damage for the Sox to never lead this game. They did eventually solve Dallas Keuchel (nondescript soft-tossing lefty with a changeup) for single runs in the sixth and seventh, but that was an underachievement on a couple of levels since the Sox blew a golden scoring opportunity in the latter inning.
Dayan Viciedo led off the seventh with an ill-advised triple (a double to the right-field corner; he would've been out easily if Jose Altuve could've found the ears on the ball for a relay throw), and after an Adam Dunn strikeout, Jeff Keppinger knocked him in with a single.
Bo Porter called on Jose Cisnero to replace Keuchel, but the Sox kept the rally going. Gordon Beckham slashed a single to right to put runners on the corners, and pinch-hitting Conor Gillaspie drew a walk to load the bases. That brought Alejandro De Aza to the plate, and after fouling back a hittable pitch, eventually struck out on a good tailing fastball on the upper, outer reaches of the zone.
Alexei Ramirez came to the plate and took a first-ball fastball out of the zone. The he dumped water on the fuze by trying to check his swing on a low fastball, and bouncing it to Cisnero instead for the 1-unassisted putout, ending the threat.
After the Sox failed to post a crooked number, the Astros showed off by putting a quick "2" on the scoreboard. Jose Altuve hit a one-out infield single -- Ramirez made a sliding stop to his right, popped up and made a decent throw, but Dunn couldn't snag the short hop -- and that was the end of Nate Jones' day.
In came Matt Thornton for the purposes of 1) holding Altuve, and 2) retiring lefty Jason Castro. He accomplished neither. Altuve stole second by sliding under Hector Gimenez's high throw, and then trotted home when Castro punched a high slider on the outside corner into the nearest reaches of the Crawford Boxes.
Had the Sox lost 5-2, that pitch could've been largely irrelevant. Instead, De Aza followed up a Beckham single with his eighth homer of the year, narrowing the gap to 5-4. While De Aza partially made up for his earlier failure, Ramirez couldn't do the same. The game ended with a routine grounder to short.