The Red Sox lost their fifth straight game Saturday night, falling 3-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays which is, if nothing else, true to form. What do I mean by that? Well...
Last time the Red Sox went on a legit winning streak, they proceeded to lose five straight. So...hold on tight, folks.
— OverTheMonster (@OverTheMonster) July 23, 2014
Five games later, here we are.
This was a good old fashioned lineup shutdown from the Red Sox, as you may have guessed from the 3-0 score. The Red Sox worked the count, picked up a few baserunners, and absolutely refused to score any of them. There were a couple of double plays, as per usual, and generally just a complete lack of clutch hitting. It's the same thing we've seen time-and-again, with nine men left on base and a nice old 0-for-7 from the Red Sox with runners in scoring position.
Downright boring by this point, frankly. The only moment of note came in the first, when a Red Sox fan in the right field seats reached over the wall to snag a potential homer from David Ortiz, leading to a ground-rule double call that stood up under review. That was as close as the Red Sox got to scoring all night, with Brock Holt'getting doubled up at home trying to score from second on a David Ortiz ground out in the third coming in close behind. You might call it bad baserunning, but given how the Red Sox did the rest of the night, it might well have been worth the risk.
More interesting was John Lackey's night on the mound, fraught as it was with odd events. It started in the very first at bat, when Desmond Jennings dropped down a bunt and a bullet throw from Christian Vazquez to Mike Napoli seemed to throw the first baseman off, allowing Jennings to reach base--third base at that!--to lead off the inning. In the end, though, it was a simple ground ball single past a diving Dustin Pedroia that put the Rays ahead 1-0.
The second run also involved Vazquez, who appeared to have picked Yunel Escobar off second base with one out in the fourth inning. The call went against the Red Sox, however, and John Farrell declined to challenge, leading to an RBI single from Kevin Kiermaier to make it 2-0.
Finally, in the seventh, with two down, Lackey got ahead of Ben Zobrist with a first pitch strike, fell behind with a pair of calls he did not fully agree with, and then surrendered a solo shot to make it 3-0. Not exactly an important run given the final score, but another source of frustration for Lackey all the same.
Another loss for the Red Sox isn't so bad, though. It keeps their record in the bottom nine of the league which is important if they want to keep their first-round pick protected against signing a qualifying offer free agent. Still, it would have been nice if this weren't so inevitable at the end of a 7-1 run.