2-5, 2-6, and 2-4. Three straight games, three straight losses, and all of them annoyingly similar.
As in the first of these games back on Tuesday, the Red Sox once again found themselves with an early lead. On Tuesday, it was Travis Shaw driving in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts with a one-out single, promising a big night for Boston's offense. Thursday, it was again Betts scoring, but this time it was David Ortiz, adding to his home run total with an opposite-field shot into the Monster seats to make it 2-0.
But, as with both the other games, the middle innings were just completely empty for the Red Sox against Tampa Bay. The next Boston baserunner would not come until Ortiz returned to the plate, and his fourth-inning single was immediately erased by a double play ball from Travis Shaw. The Sox would manage only a couple more baserunners through the end of the eighth.
And for a while Wade Miley managed to hold the small lead he was given. He surrendered leadoff doubles to Logan Forsythe and Evan Longoria in the second and fourth innings respectively, but if that's usually not a recipe for success, he was able to escape both innings unharmed, and surrendered only a lone walk outside of those two hits through the first five innings.
The sixth, though, finally proved the difference. It was if someone had just flipped a switch on the Rays. Miley quickly recorded two outs on ground balls, but Longoria came to the plate, and took the first pitch he saw out of the park. Forsythe quickly followed it up with a single, and Asdrubal Cabrera and Steven Souza Jr. took back-to-back pitches to the Monster in left. Where Miley was working on a six-inning two-hitter, the Rays had suddenly struck for three runs on four straight hits.
Miley finally got the last out, but was tabbed once more for the seventh, where he promptly surrendered a leadoff homer to Kevin Kiermaier to right field. It was, in many ways, the story of Wade Miley this season. Just when he's built up enough steam to draw attention, he goes crashing back down.
Unfortunately, there was no late-inning rally from the Red Sox this time, when the two-run deficit might have been enough to overcome. Instead, Xander Bogaerts provided some hope by drawing a one-out walk in the ninth, and saw it quickly snuffed out as David Ortiz grounded into the game-ending double play.
If the Red Sox are going to lose this game a fourth straight time, they're at least going to have to do it against a different team tomorrow.