Another series, another loss, another reason to think this Red Sox team is going nowhere but home come October.
By now I'm starting to wonder if we're just getting repeats of a select handful of games on NESN, because man, they all feel the same.
Offensive squander? Check. The Sox picked up nine hits, but went just 1-of-9 with men in scoring position to produce all of two runs. There were no failures quite so brutal as the bases loaded, zero outs situation of Wednesday, but just a slow, steady stream of wasted baserunners.
A disaster start? Not check! Because, as has been the case with these Red Sox of late, it's not the entire team going to hell at once. Just once component at a time. Eduardo Rodriguez was very much part of the problem the last time he took the mound, but tonight was back to delivering the sort of solid outings we've seen out of him in the second half. In fact, this was one of his best yet. He only really slipped in the third inning, allowing a home run to Austin Romine in a frame that saw two of the four baserunners he allowed in his seven innings of work.
But if the starter is good, that just means it's up to the bullpen or defense to screw things up. Or both. Tonight it was again on the relief corps, and in this case, Brad Ziegler. Called on to pitch the eighth, Ziegler got his ground balls early, but saw Gary Sanchez reach when Hanley Ramirez, the one man who did manage a hit with a runner in scoring position, found himself backing up into Sanchez' path at first trying to nab a throw Dustin Pedroia bounced into first after making an amazing stop to the third-base side of second. Sanchez crashed into Ramirez (completely unavoidably, mind), leaving him unable to make the play, and ultimately knocking the first baseman out of the game.
That train wreck at first was pretty much this inning in a nutshell. With the leadoff man on, another ground ball found its way through into right for a single, and Brett Gardner loaded them up with a base hit of his own. Ziegler would quickly surrender a line drive to Jacoby Ellsbury which deserved to go for a hit, but luckily enough seemed to be destined for Andrew Benintendi's glove...until the left fielder completely misplayed it, allowing the ball to get over his head and to the wall, bringing two men in on what should have been at worst a game-tying sacrifice fly, and perhaps a lead-saving out if Sanchez failed to score. From there, Alex Rodriguez, in his last at-bat against Boston, twisted the knife with a swinging bunt that brough Gardner in from third to provide the final score of 4-2.
They can't win against the good teams, they can't win against the bad teams. These Red Sox can't win, and at this point, expecting them to turn that around is looking like a foolish bet indeed.