Well, that was about as disappointing as it gets.
The Red Sox went from 2-0 to 2-2 in their series against the Rays, and finished the job with a loss reminiscent of their most frustrating failures against the Rays in years gone by.
You know the type if you’ve been following the Red Sox for any decent amount of time. They seemed to pitch better, with Drew Pomeranz putting on a clinic of swing-and-miss baseball. They seemed to hit better, with the Sox spraying line drives over all known creation.
The things they didn’t do? When they hit the ball, they didn’t hit it to the right places. And when they did hit it to the right places, they didn’t run the bases like competent baseball players.
Whether by design or by chance, it seemed like the Rays were always perfectly positioned to catch the Red Sox’ line drives. Their first seven of the game, by my count, ended up in a Tampa Bay glove. The last of which was a rope from Mookie Betts to left with the bases loaded that Mikie Mahtook barely had to move to grab. It brought a run home, but could have been so much more, particularly when you consider that Jackie Bradley Jr. ended up topping off the first pitch he saw for an easy inning-ending double play after Hanley Ramirez drew a walk to reload the bases.
Meanwhile Pomeranz had gone ahead and struck out nine batters through the first five innings, with the Rays struggling to even foul balls off. He started the sixth with a tenth, but in the span of two pitches gave up a double to the wall to Evan Longoria and a game-tying single to Brad Miller. What had taken the Red Sox a very long inning to do, the Rays erased in the blink of an eye.
If everything to that point had been frustrating, the seventh and eighth were worse. In the top of the seventh, Chris Young drew a walk, then got himself caught straying off first base by Luke Maile. The baserunning gaffe was made all the more painful when Travis Shaw proceded to double down the right field line and into the corner—a hit that likely would have scored Young from first. Then, in the bottom, Pomeranz quickly gave up a single and a double to give the Rays the lead and end what had been a remarkable start in depressing fashion.
The eighth was really just the pièce de résistance. Between a double play and Mookie Betts failing to stretch a single into a double, the Red Sox managed two hits, zero runs, and zero runners stranded. That was the game in a nutshell. A lot of work for nothing, a lot of excellence ending in awfulness, and in the end a terrible result.
Between this and yesterday’s insult-to-injury combination, the Red Sox sure managed to leave this 7-4 road trip feeling like something less than a victory.