ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Boston Red Sox need to cut one of their pitchers from the starting rotation next week with Garrett Whitlock returning from the 15-day injured list Saturday.

Tanner Houck showed Monday why he belongs in the rotation. He went six strong innings in the Red Sox’s 2-1 loss to the Angels at Anaheim Stadium.

The righty allowed just one run, three hits and two walks while striking out eight. Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani went a combined 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and one walk against him.

Houck’s impressive start came one day after Corey Kluber failed to make it out of the third inning and dropped to 2-6 with a 6.26 ERA in nine starts.

“Right now, he’s one of our best starters,” Manager Alex Cora said about Houck. “Forget the numbers. You look up and you see a 5 (ERA). That’s not him. I’m glad he pitched well against them and now get ready for the next one.”

What Cora said certainly makes it sound like Houck is sticking in the rotation. But the manager also said Sunday that Kluber will make his next start in Arizona vs. the Diamondbacks on Sunday.


The Red Sox also should stick with Houck over Kluber in the rotation simply because he’s much more vital to their future. He should keep improving as he gains more experience as a starter. It would be unwise right now to mess with his development path by putting him back in the bullpen.

Houck has struggled the second and third time through batting orders this year but he did a much better job Monday.

“It’s learning, man,” Cora said. “This is the big leagues. And not everybody can do that. And he’s gonna learn how to do it. His stuff, it’s the same stuff. It is. It’s just a matter of just keep learning where to go with pitches and all that. Little by little, he’s going to be doing that consistently”

Houck used his slider the most of all his pitches Monday, throwing it 34 times and recording seven whiffs with it.

“He did an outstanding job changing speeds, using his slider. Good fastball, too,” Cora said.

Houck mixed in 16 splitters (six whiffs), 14 cutters (two whiffs), 13 sinkers (two whiffs) and six four-seam fastballs, per Baseball Savant.“Velo was good. The action of the pitches was good. The split was really good, too,” Cora said.


The six swings-and-misses with the splitter is impressive because it was a new pitch that he didn’t appear overly confident using the past two years.

“I’ve worked on that pitch for three, four years now,” Houck said. “Really pushing the envelope. I was glad that I mixed in a little bit earlier tonight. And just felt pretty confident with it. It’s one of those pitches where I have continued to work, continued to push myself. So any time you have success on that, it’s a good feeling.”

JARREN DURAN’S parents, Octavio and Dena, are cheering on their son for all three games at Angel Stadium. They just came from San Diego where they watched their speedy son and the Red Sox take 2 of 3 against the Padres.

Octavio and Dena, who live less than 20 minutes from Angel Stadium, next will travel to Arizona to watch all three Red Sox games at Chase Field this coming weekend.

When the Red Sox return to Boston from their West Coast trip, Octavio and Dena still will watch every second. They have NESN and MLB.TV. They haven’t missed a game all season.

“Get off work and straight to the TV,” Octavio said, laughing.


“I pray a lot during the games,” Dena said. “‘Let him please get a hit. Let him please get a hit.’”

The 26-year-old center fielder has plenty of hits this season. He’s batting .321 (36 for 112) with a .376 on-base percentage, .518 slugging percentage, .894 OPS, three homers, 13 doubles, 16 runs, 19 RBI and seven steals in 32 games. He ranks second on the Red Sox in WAR behind only Alex Verdugo.

“We scream, jump up and down, high-five each other,” Dena said about watching on NESN. “The dog’s barking at us.”

Octavio added, “Every time I see him out there, it’s so surreal. I think to myself, ‘My God, he’s actually playing with players he grew up watching.’ It’s amazing.”Duran is enjoying a breakout season after opening up late last season about the mental toll of struggling in the majors. Last August, he told he felt “pretty low” and had difficulty talking about it with people.

“I’m so closed off to everybody,” he said last August. “I’m kind of just tearing myself up internally and get pretty depressed and stuff like that. I find it hard to reach out to people because I don’t want to bother other people with my problems. I kind of just build it up inside myself, which obviously makes everything a lot worse. (My teammates) have their own problems too. I don’t know what they are going through so I try not to reach out to too many people. I don’t want to bug them with my problems.”

Octavio and Dena are extremely proud of their son for opening up and expressing how he felt. They think it helped him just be himself again. He’s finally showing his fun personality.

“We’re so proud of him for doing that,” Dena said. “Last year, he was trying not to get in anyone’s way and he wasn’t being himself basically. And I think he just decided, ‘I’ve gotta be me if I’m going to do this.’ In the WBC, him wearing the Sombrero all the time, that’s his personality. He just decided to do that.”Octavio said opening up helped Jarren realize he belongs in the majors.

“He’s a perfectionist when it comes to himself,” Dena said. “When he dove for that ball the other day and he didn’t get it, he was like, ‘I should have had that.’ Which is good.”

INFIELDER YU CHANG (left hamate fracture) could start his minor-league rehab assignment on Wednesday, according to Cora.

Comments are no longer available on this story