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Red Sox 1, Padres 3: The offense goes missing and the Sox fail to sweep

The Red Sox couldn’t dig themselves out of the early deficit.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Early in Sunday’s game, as the Red Sox were looking for a sweep over San Diego and a continued potential push towards the postseason, it looked as though the Red Sox were in for a long afternoon. Brian Johnson allowed three runs after facing just three batters and the Padres looked to be rolling. Then, the lefty kept them off the board for three innings and the bullpen did the same for five more. Given how the offense has looked for this second half and in this series, that should have been enough. Instead, Joey Lucchesi and the Padres bullpen shut down Boston’s bats, allowing just a single solo homer to J.D. Martinez as the Red Sox couldn’t finish off the sweep out in San Diego.

As the Red Sox were searching for a sweep in San Diego on Sunday, they once again had to dig into their pitching depth for another starter who is not stretched out. Brian Johnson was taking another run in this rotation, and this latest start went much like his last outing against the Orioles. There, he allowed three runs in the first inning in what looked like a disaster waiting to happen. He settled down after that, though, eventually getting through 3 23 with only those three runs crossing the plate. The Red Sox offense came back in that game, too, which helped lead to a sweep of Baltimore.

On Sunday, they got similar results from Johnson and were looking for similar results from the offense. As I said, the results from Johnson were similar, in that on paper they were basically the exact same. At the very start of this outing, it looked like it was going to be a short disaster for the lefty. San Diego led off their game with a double from Manuel Margot before Francisco Mejía brought him home with a single. Manny Machado then came to the plate and blasted a two-run shot out to left-center field. Three batters into the game, the Padres had themselves a 3-0 lead.

Just like he did against the Orioles, though, Johnson limited the damage after the initial explosion. He did walk the fourth batter he faced, but followed that up with three outs to finish the inning. After working around a leadoff walk for a scoreless second, it did look like the Padres might get more in the third. Eric Hosmer worked a two-out walk before Ty France hit a double out to the left field corner. Hosmer tried to get home on the play, but J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts worked a perfect relay to get the out at the plate, ending the inning and keeping San Diego at three.

Now, the onus was on the offense to come back from the early-game deficit against left-hander Joey Lucchesi. After the success they had early in this series, it didn’t seem like an impossible task. Instead, the Padres southpaw totally shut them down the first time through the order. Over the first three innings Boston managed just a walk in the third.

They did, fortunately, get on the board in the fourth. After a couple of quick outs in what looked like it’d be another perfect inning for Lucchesi when J.D. Martinez stepped to the plate. The slugger stayed red-hot, smashing a solo shot out to left field for his third dinger of the series and bringing the Red Sox to within two.

The offense failed to get much of anything going for a couple innings after that, but the bullpen was doing a good job of keeping them in the game. Ryan Brasier came out for the fourth and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Andrew Cashner then came out for the fifth and got out without allowing a run. That was with the help of some luck, too, as Manuel Margot ripped a double but his shoe fell off when he was trying for third, leaving him to be tagged between second and third. Cashner would come back out for the sixth and get a conventional 1-2-3 inning.

Now, the lineup had only nine more outs to try and make up this two-run deficit. They used their first three outs quickly, going down in order in the seventh. Marcus Walden then came out for a scoreless bottom half, giving the offense two more chances.

Brock Holt got the eighth started well as a pinch hitter, dropping a leadoff base hit into left field. It seemed as though Mookie Betts followed that up with a deflating double play, but Machado booted the fairly routine play. With that, the Red Sox went from having nobody on with two outs to two on with nobody out. Rafael Devers was up next, having had a brutal day at the plate but with a chance to make up for it here. Instead, he grounded into a big double play, putting a runner on third but now with two outs. After Xander Bogaerts drew a walk, Martinez had a chance with the tying run on base and representing the go-ahead run himself. Instead, he struck out and the Red Sox remained down two.

Matt Barnes came out for a scoreless bottom of the eighth, and the offense had one last chance. They didn’t get it done. Kirby Yates set the side down in order and the Red Sox have an unhappy trip to the mountains.

The Red Sox will have a day off on Monday before heading to Denver for more interleague action against the Rockies. Boston will send Rick Porcello to the mound on Tuesday while Colorado is yet to announce their pitching plans. First pitch is scheduled for 8:40 PM ET.