Tanner Houck costs Red Sox key AL East game by being unavailable in Toronto

Tanner Houck was unavailable for the Boston Red Sox’s series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, and his absence was felt immediately.

Earlier in the season, Boston Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck revealed that he was unvaccinated against COVID-19. That decision prohibits him from entering Canada due to their mandate. That meant he was unavailable for Boston’s pivotal road series’ against the Toronto Blue Jays this season. Houck had been the team’s closer, and his absence was felt immediately on Tuesday, June 28.

The Red Sox had a 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the ninth inning. With Houck not with the team, manager Alex Cora had to rely on other pitchers out of his bullpen to close out the game. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Blue Jays won 6-5 on a walk-off RBI single that scored George Springer.

Tanner Houck’s absence felt, as Red Sox lose in ninth to Blue Jays in Toronto

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Tyler Dannish replaced John Schreiber on the mound, and he retired Matt Chapman, Santiago Espinal, and Gabriel Moreno in order. Cora decided to bring him in for the ninth inning, and well, it did not work out.

Dannish surrendered a single to Alejando Kirk and walked Springer on five pitches to put two runners on base. Cora pulled him and called upon Hansel Robles to try and get three outs. Again, another plan that did not go in Boston’s favor, as Bo Bichette knocked in the game-tying run on a single and Guerrero hit the walk-off winner.

This was a potential huge victory for Boston, as they mounted a comeback beginning in the fifth inning after trailing 4-1. Refsnyder grounded out in the fifth, but it allowed Christian Vazquez to score. Then in the seventh, Refsnyder hit a two-run homer to tie the game at four runs apiece. Boston would take the 5-4 lead in the eighth on an RBI single by Vazquez.

As if the loss and Houck’s absence did not sting enough, ESPN’s Buster Olney points out that if the season were to end on June 28, the Red Sox would have to face the Blue Jays in Toronto in the postseason.

A pivotal AL East victory slipped out of the hands of the Red Sox due to the implosion of the bullpen in the ninth. They already lost the series after a 7-2 loss on Monday and this walk-off defeat. Boston will look to take the final game on Wednesday before heading to Chicago to take on the Cubs on July 1-3.

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