After being swept by the Yankees, the Red Sox have dropped another series in Fenway Park after dropping the rubber match to the Rays Wednesday night, 5-3.
There's only so many ways to recap this same game that we've seen time and again this season. We're only 28 games deep, but at least 14 of them seem to have been variations on the same story: terrible starting pitching, and a complete inability to hit with runners in scoring position.
Do not be fooled by Justin Masterson's four earned runs. They might make it look like his outing was, if not good, at least not a complete disaster. But it absolutely was. Masterson had no control at all, barely throwing even half his pitches for strikes. He managed to walk six batters, at one point throwing ten straight balls, and hit a batter besides. Some well-placed ground balls managed to erase some of his many, many baserunners. But Masterson never seemed the least bit in control of the game. No velocity, no control, no chance.
The only reason the game was even close, in fact, was because Edward Mujica managed to close out the fifth inning without allowing either of the runners he inherited from Masterson to score.At that point the Red Sox trailed 4-2 thanks to a brief rally led by Xander Bogaerts and Blake Swihart, each of them doubling and scoring in the third. But the offense would fail to score in either the sixth or seventh innings despite Dustin Pedroia and Allen Craig providing them with leadoff baserunners both times.
The Sox finally got back within one come the eighth, when Mookie Betts led off the inning with his third homer in as many games--another laser into the Monster seats. The rally would continue, loading the bases with one out and, but both Daniel Nava and Brock Holt would ground out, with the Rays making the out at home plate on the first of those to keep the lead. Evan Longoria even tacked on an insurance run with a majestic homer over everything in left to make it 5-3.
Mookie would have a chance for more heroics in the ninth, coming up to bat with one down and Xander Bogaerts at second base, but ended up settling for a walk. With Luis Jimenez having pinch-run for David Ortiz in the eighth, that left the pressure on Dustin Pedroia, who went down swinging on a high fastball for out two. Jimenez was predictably not up to the task of continuing the game, and the late rally fell woefully short.