I don’t really know what to say at this point. There is just absolutely no energy to this Red Sox team, which makes watching a bad team even worse. I can and have watched bad baseball teams before — both the Red Sox and others — and there are still reasons to really enjoy it. It’s just not here with this team. That’s not to say it can’t come back. I still think the players I felt were good at the start of the year are good. It’s just that right now, they’re not. Nobody is. And it’s a very dull kind of bad. Baseball is weird and can turn around, but it’s hard to even get overly frustrated with how this season is going becuase it’s so blah. I almost hope that changes more than I am hoping for any kind of change in results. And I think it will, because there’s too much exciting talent on this roster for it not to. But in the meantime, yeah, apathetic is the only word I can think of.
Anyway, the Red Sox lost again on Tuesday. Martín Pérez was good again but the Red Sox gave him basically no support despite having at least one baserunner in each of the first six innings. Then, as soon as Pérez exited, the bullpen came in and the Rays ran away with it in the blink of an eye. Good times at Fenway.
The Red Sox offense finally got going a bit after a frustrating stretch of late, but the pitching couldn’t come through. The good news is they had Martín Pérez on the mound for this one, and while I’m not convinced he’s all that good he’s been solid so far this year and he’s an actual starter. That’s a step up from Monday’s series opener. The lefty has gotten by this year despite weak peripherals largely because of weak contact, as I wrote after his last start.
Longtime readers will know my tendency to curse things, and if you’re unfamiliar take this as a perfect example. Against Mike Brosseau, the first batter he’d face after I wrote all about his weak contact, he left a cutter a little too far over the plate. The Rays second baseman took it the other way into his own team’s bullpen for a solo shot to lead off the game. The curse!
Fortunately that wasn’t a sign of things to come, though. Pérez got the next three batters he’d face in that inning, and then allow just a walk in a scoreless second. The Rays did get to him again in the third, though, with Brosseau once again at the center of it all with a one-out double. That was immediately followed by a Yandy Díaz single to give Tampa their second run against the Red Sox lefty. Pérez got out of it from there, though, and then was perfect in both the fourth and fifth. He’d get the sixth, too, and after a couple of outs and a walk he was lifted to end his night. Austin Brice finished that inning without an issue.
The pitching did the job this time around, so by the laws of 2020 that means the offense has to come up empty. Going up against a bullpen game for the Rays, they did get plenty of baserunners, they just weren’t doing the part where you knock those runs in. For example, Andrew Benintendi led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, but thanks to an inning-ending strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play the inning still only featured three Red Sox batters.
The second was when the offense actually did come through, at least a little bit. At this point it was a 1-0 Rays lead, and after a couple of quick outs Christian Vázquez kept the inning alive with a big double out to right field. That put a runner in for Michael Chavis, who continued to swing a hot bat by smacking a base hit to center field to get the run home and tie the game. They’d get another runner on, too, but only the one run.
Of course, we know the tie didn’t last long, and the Red Sox weren’t ready to answer back. They got the leadoff man on with another Benintendi infield single in the third (doubling his hit total for the season), but stranded him. The fourth saw only three batters despite Mitch Moreland getting hit by a pitch to lead things off, and the fifth featured a one-out single from Araúz but nothing else. Similarly, the sixth had a leadoff walk before a double play made it another three-batter inning. In other words, they had at least one runner in each of the first six innings, but were trailing 2-1.
It was only a matter of time until the Rays were going to extend that lead after the Red Sox wasted so many chances, and once Pérez was out was that time. Brice came back out for the seventh and after a quick first out Willy Adames smacked a base hit. That was followed by a double down the third base line from old friend Manuel Margot to make it a 3-1 game. After a walk, Brandon Lowe came on to pinch hit and he got a hold of one for a ground-rule double, extending Tampa’s lead to three.
After another run came in on a grounder, the recently called-up Robert Stock came in out of the bullpen and immediately loaded the bases with a walk. He got a big second out with a pop up, but then a passed ball made it 6-1 before Hunter Renfroe really broke things open with a two-run double to make it a seven-run game.
Naturally, the Red Sox followed up that inning with their first 1-2-3 frame of the night. They did get a run on the board in the eighth thanks to an RBI single from Alex Verdugo, but even that came with bad news as Benintendi made a bad baserunning mistake for the first out, and they only got the one run to make it 8-2. That gave them one more chance in the ninth, where they did get a triple but nothing else, mercifully ending the game.
The Red Sox, now 6-11, are desperately looking for some kind of spark and will continue that search on Wednesday. They’ll have Zack Godley on the mound for that one with Blake Snell on the mound for Boston.