The return to the win column was brief for the Boston Red Sox. After grinding out a 2-1 extra-innings win Friday night, the Red Sox found themselves easily dispatched Saturday afternoon by Alfredo Simon while Steven Wright and Blake Swihart struggled to get on the same page in a 5-1 loss.
Having a knuckleballer on the mound can introduce some unusual dynamics to a game. Catcher defense is always important, but when they don't know where the ball is going any more than the batter, it can really take center stage in an ugly way. That was the case for Blake Swihart today, whose difficulty receiving the knuckleball proved about as costly as Wright's mistakes while throwing it.
It was, however, Wright who get the scoring started for Detroit. After all, while Swihart called for the pitch that Wright offered up, he didn't ask for it to be hung in Yoenis Cespedes' wheelhouse. Cespedes turned it into an absolute bomb over the Monster, putting the Red Sox behind 1-0 early on.
The second is where Swihart came into the mix. Alex Avila came up to bat with a man on first and one out, but quickly found himself with a runner in scoring position as a pitch got past Swihart. Avila still wasn't able to cash in, striking out on five pitches, but again Swihart's lack of familiarity with the knuckleball came into play, allowing Avila to reach base on his second passed ball of the inning. An RBI groundout from Alex McCann meant that it turned what would have been a scoreless inning into another run for Detroit.
But the trials and tribulations of both Swihart and Wright still weren't over. In the fourth, Wright saw the first two batters of the inning reach on weak singles, a passed ball moved them both along, and a double from Nick Castellanos brought both home. With Wright getting three outs in the next two at bats, he was again tagged with a run that otherwise wouldn't have scored.
Wright would leave the game with one out and two on in the fifth, giving way to Noe Ramirez who managed to escape the jam damage-free. And the Red Sox even got a run back in the bottom of the inning, with Swihar making up for some of his defensive gaffes by scoring that run after a one-out triple.
But that was the one rally the Sox would actually complete. David Ortiz was thrown out at home trying to score from second on a Hanley Ramirez single in the second. Mike Napoli grounded out with the bases loaded in the fourth. And their next hit after Swihart's triple would come with one down in the ninth. Noe Ramirez allowed a run in his second inning of work, but it didn't prove important in the least as the Red Sox lineup proved the lean days are back in Boston once more.