Make it five losses in a row, with more issues coming from the offense.
Things are not going well for the Red Sox. I mean, honestly that’s all we can really say at this point. Whether or not panic is warranted feels besides the point to me. The fact is they are playing bad baseball at an inopportune time, and it continues here on Tuesday. Facing a Tigers team that is better than most think but still not great, the Red Sox got another start from Garrett Richards that was worse than it looked on paper (and it still didn’t look great on paper) and more importantly they got another lackluster day from the bats. It’s the kind of funk you know can’t last forever, but still very much feels like it will.
One of the things you’ve heard about the Red Sox amid this really rough stretch over the last week or so is that all good teams have bad stretches. And it’s true. Ultimately, they’d just lost four straight games coming into Tuesday’s game, which certainly isn’t good but it’s not unheard of. Granted, the timing of it all and the confluence of events, doing relatively little at the deadline and having these losses come against division rivals, specifically the with whom you are battling in a tight division race, mucks things up just a bit. It’s not insurmountable, but all the extra context being added in only makes the issues that much more apparent and feelings around the club more desperate. They needed to get going early and often in Detroit to get things back on the right track.
And the offense has been struggling quite a bit of late, particularly with men on base. It sure seemed like they just needed a big game from the offense to open the floodgates once again. Of course, that’s easier said than done, though they did move in the right direction in the first against Wily Peralta. There was some help there from the Tigers defense with Jeimer Candelario throwing one away to keep the inning alive and put Xander Bogaerts on second base instead of recording what should have been the final out. That brought J.D. Martinez to the plate, and he dropped in a little bloop into right field to bring home Bogaerts and give the Red Sox the early 1-0 lead.
That wasn’t exactly an overpowering offense for Boston in the first inning as they got just the one out, but they did get going again in the second. And this time it was with some authority. Hunter Renfroe led off the inning, and on a slider down in the zone he put the barrel on it and hit a missile out to right field. It was an easy solo home run, and with that swing the Red Sox had a multi-run lead, which has been unheard of.
The issue with having the multi-run lead, though, was that it was only a two-run lead combined with a struggling Garrett Richards taking on a quietly hot Tigers offense. And while he did get through the first easily, he let the Tigers start to crawl back into it in the second. Just as Renfroe led the top half off with a solo shot, Miguel Cabrera did the same in the bottom half for Detroit. He got a fastball up in the zone over the middle of the plate, and like he has so many times over the last two decades he drove it the other way for a home run. The solo shot, number 498 in Cabrera’s career, cut the Red Sox lead right in half.
After the Red Sox got two men on with just one out in the third but failed to score after a bullet from Alex Verdugo was converted into a double play, Richards did continue to hold the lead in the bottom of the inning before things got away in the fourth. Still a one-run game, the righty started the inning off by allowing back-to-back base hits before issuing a walk to load the bases, still with nobody out. That spelled trouble right away, but to his credit he ended up limiting the damage. Richards did allow the Tigers to tie the game, but that was all as he allowed just a sacrifice fly the rest of the way.
Of course, he also got himself into that trouble in the first place, so when he came back out to start the fifth it was natural to be nervous. And sure enough, with the score still 2-1 after the Red Sox stranded two runners in the top half, Richards started the bottom with a walk to the number nine hitter. Immediately after that, Akil Baddoo ripped an RBI double out to right-center field, ending the night for Richards and giving Detroit the lead.
Now it was up to Hirokazu Sawamura to make sure the deficit stayed at one, inheriting a runner at second with nobody out. He did issue walk, but also picked up a huge double play to do his job and prevent any more runs from coming across.
But what the Red Sox really needed was their offense to snap out of their funk. Instead, they managed just a two-out single in the sixth. It seemed like the seventh should be their best start with the top of the lineup coming up, and they even got the leadoff man on thanks to a Jarren Duran single. A rejuvenated Michael Fulmer was not going to make things easy, though, and he struck out the next three batters, including J.D. Martinez after Duran had moved up to second on a stolen base, keeping the Red Sox down by a run.
Yacksel Ríos came on for the seventh, and early on in the inning he looked filthy. But after picking up a pair of strikeouts to start the inning, Jonathan Schoop ripped a double and Robbie Grossman followed it up with a two-strike base hit into center field. Schoop came around to score, and it was now a two-run lead.
Ríos got out of it after that, but the offense now was running out of time against a lead that was only expanding. But they had absolutely nothing in the eighth, grounding out three times in a row, leaving themselves with only three outs to play with. It was still a one-run game in the ninth thanks to a perfect inning from new reliever Austin Davis, giving the Red Sox one last chance.
They had the bottom of the lineup coming up to face Gregory Soto, but they again went down without a run, ending another punchless night. The 4-2 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 63-45. With the Rays also losing on Tuesday, the Red Sox remain one game behind Tampa in the division.
The Red Sox now look to snap their losing streak on Wednesday with Eduardo Rodriguez taking the mound against Casey Mize. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.
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