For the first time in two months, the Red Sox are not in first place in the American League East.
It's the torrid pace of the Rays that has really done the work. Since falling to 38-37 on June 22nd, the Rays have an amazing 23-5 record, a pace which is difficult to stay ahead of with anything shy of perfection. Still, on Friday, July 26th, it was the Orioles who finished the job.
It was another night of offensive ineptitude for the game's highest-scoring team. It was an uncharacteristically poor night from said team's top arm in John Lackey, who allowed five runs for only the second time on the year. About the only part of this game that was normal for the 2013 season was a Boston Red Sox loss to the Baltimore Orioles. The sixth in eight games.
For a very short moment, this looked like a rather different game. Three of the first five Red Sox reached base, with Tillman struggling to find the strike zone. But three pitches saw Daniel Nava go down by way of strikes, and as seems to happen about as is often the case against good pitchers, an early offensive burst resulted in nothing more than time for the opposing starting pitcher to settle in. By the second inning, Tillman had found his rhythm, and Boston's best chance had gone by the wayside.
With Tillman coming up with seven scoreless, all the Orioles really needed was one big swing against John Lackey. Instead they got three. Longballs--two from Adam Jones and one from Manny Machado--pushed four runs across against Lackey, with another coming on another Machado single. A sixth came late against Jose De La Torre with the game well-and-truly sealed.
And that's that. Boston's bats are asleep, and Tampa Bay's show no sign of slowing down. Now all that remains to be seen is how long each streak lasts, and if the hole gets any deeper than half a game.
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