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Red Sox 2, Angels 4: Another quiet day for the lineup

The Red Sox offense couldn’t take advantage of a solid outing from Doug Fister.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox
Benintendi was not safe on this play
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

So, should I start with the good or the bad? Since I am indeed talking to nobody and can only answer this myself, I’ll start with the good. Specifically, I’ll begin with Red Sox starting pitcher Doug Fister who made his first start with his new organization on Sunday. The former Tiger — and former acquisition by Dave Dombrowski in what was among his best trades with Detroit — was a bit of a question mark after a couple lackluster stops before this one, but he looked very good for most of his outing on Sunday.

The one bad inning for the righty came in the second with the game still tied at zero. After he started out with a strikeout, he gave up two consecutive singles to put runners on the corners with one out. The next at bat initially seemed to end the inning as Fister induced a ground ball to Mitch Moreland at first base. Boston easily made the out at second and the original call at first base was also out for an inning-ending double play. Unfortunately, the umps overturned the call at first after a review (it was very close and could have gone either way, in this writer’s opinion) and it kept the inning going and allowed a run to score. After the inning was extended, Fister allowed a double and a single, giving the Angels two more runs and a 3-0 lead after the frame ended.

Besides that second inning, it was all good for the veteran righty. Although he’s never been one to overwhelm you with his stuff, his command and deception was enough to keep the Angels off-balance all day long. In fact, it was enough to give him six strikeouts in six innings of work. More importantly, he walked only two batters, induced plenty of weak contact and kept the ball on the ground whenever he needed it.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

One start against a Mike Trout-less Angels lineup isn’t enough to say Fister is a long-term solution in the rotation, but at least on Sunday he looked like a viable option in the fifth rotation slot. It remains to be seen what they’ll do when Eduardo Rodriguez is ready to return to action, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later point.

Unfortunately, the Red Sox offense couldn’t help out Fister in this one as, once again, they struggled to get much going against the Angels starter. For Saturday’s game, I made sure to give plenty of credit to JC Ramirez. This time, while Parker Bridwell was fine, he didn’t look so impressive that the Red Sox should have been shut down completely.

And yet, they looked lost against the righty for most of the outing and were only able to score a couple runs off of him in. Both of those came on solo home runs. The first was from Moreland in the bottom of the second when he took a high fastball and crushed it over the bullpens in right field. The other was from Jackie Bradley, who golfed a low fastball and put it just over the wall in straightaway center.

While the power was good to see, it was all we saw from the offense in this one. Making matters more frustrating was that they didn’t make Bridwell work at all. The Angels starter threw only 37 pitches through the first four innings and was at only 63 through six frames. All told, it was far too easy of a day for Bridwell, and it was helped out by a couple mental mistakes by the Red Sox.

The first came in the fourth when Andrew Benintendi hit a one-out single on a liner to right-center field. Instead of just taking the base, though, he tried to stretch it to a double and was easily thrown out at second base. It’s far from a sure thing that they’d be able to do anything with the runner on base, but they never got the chance.

The other mistake came in the fourth immediately following Bradley’s home run. At that point the Red Sox were down 3-2 and Christian Vazquez followed the leadoff home run up with a solid single. Then, with Deven Marrero at the plate, the Red Sox inexplicably called a hit-and-run play and Vazquez was caught stealing second after Marrero failed to make contact. Clearly, Marrero is not a player who should be at the plate when a hit-and-run is called.

It killed any chance at a rally, and the score would remain 3-2 heading into the seventh. Fister came back out for the top half of the inning despite already being over 90 pitches and gave up a single and a walk before being removed. Fortunately, Robby Scott got two outs and Heath Hembree came out to get the final out without allowing Los Angeles to plate any runs.

From there, the offense continued to be unable to get anything going and the Red Sox took a bad loss, both for the game and the series. To make matters ever worse, Craig Kimbrel was hittable for the first time in a long time. He allowed a run on two hits in the ninth to give the Angels a 4-2 lead, a lead that would stand through the end of the game.

The good news is the Red Sox are still in first place (as long as the Rangers hold on to their lead against the Yankees). The bad news is they lost a chance to widen the gap against a beatable Angels team. Boston will go out and try to get back on a winning streak against the Twins on Monday night.