The Red Sox are in a bad, bad way right now, which is undeniable. Some of it is not all that surprising, but what is surprising is that the offense seems to have no fight in it this year. They had a couple of solid innings early on including a home run from Mitch Moreland. On the other side, Nathan Eovaldi looked good in the first few innings. The righty caught a couple of bad breaks in the fourth, though, and things were downhill for him from there. And instead of fighting back and keeping things close, the offense just totally disappeared when it was needed most. The Red Sox formula for wins this year was always supposed to be the lineup picking up the pitching, but that continues to be a struggle day in and day out. It’s not what you want.
As Red Sox fans, it’s really only possible to be exciting about the pitching heading into a game once every five days, so when that rolls around you have to hope for the best. If Nathan Eovaldi doesn’t get the job done, well, that’s just a huge bummer. Fortunately, he had it going on for the first few innings in Tampa Bay facing off against the team that brought him back from injury and put him back on the map in 2018. It was kind of a bizarre game on both sides, but early on Eovaldi just dominated.
The righty had all of his pitches working and was locating them where he wanted. Most impressive was his fastball, which he was painting up and on the outside corner to hitter after hitter. As a result, he retired the first five batters he faced with three of them going down by way of the K. The perfect game was broken up by Joey Wendle, who smoked one to deep center field. Jackie Bradley Jr. mistimed his jump and Wendle made his way to third base with a triple. Fortunately, he would be stranded there. Eovaldi would then come back out for the third and allow just a single before getting out of it thanks to an incredible diving catch from Bradley to end the inning.
On the other side, the Red Sox were going up against Charlie Morton, who is normally very good but hasn’t looked like himself so far this year. Unfortunately for Boston, he was better in this one with his velocity ticking up a bit and the curveball biting a little more consistently. Boston was able to get on the board first, though, with Mitch Moreland coming to the plate with an out in the first after the first four batters went down. The first baseman got a curveball down in the zone but now down enough and he hit a high fly ball to right field. It wasn’t a crushed homer, but it snuck up and over the wall for a solo shot to give Boston the 1-0 lead. They’d get a single later in the inning, too, but nothing else.
The Red Sox would get another chance in the third, too, starting with a José Peraza base hit. They’d get a couple of outs after that, but then J.D. Martinez ripped one into the left field corner. It looked like a sure run with Peraza’s speed, but the Red Sox caught an awful break as it bounced off the high part of the wall and over the short part of the wall for a ground rule double, keeping Peraza at third. That left things up to Xander Bogaerts with a pair in scoring position and two outs, but he couldn’t come through. The shortstop flew out to center field to end the inning and strand the runners.
So the score was still 1-0 Red Sox heading into the bottom of the fourth, and this is where things went downhill. Eovaldi got two quick outs here including on a strikeout that Ji-Man Choi thought he tipped, causing a weird delay. After that, it looked like he got Yoshi Tsutsugo looking, but the call on the corner didn’t go his way and the inning continued with a walk. This seemed to be the beginning of the end for Eovaldi. That said, the Trop didn’t help matters. After Wendle single to put two on, Hunter Renfroe hit a pop up in foul ground that could have ended the inning. Instead, it hit one of the rings on the domes and bounced away from Rafael Devers to continue the inning. Sure enough, Renfroe followed that up with a two-run double to right-center field to give Tampa Bay the 2-1 lead. Eovaldi has to make his pitches no matter what, but this was an especially frustrating inning.
The Red Sox offense then couldn’t regain any momentum in the fifth, and the Rays came out and hit Eovaldi hard in the bottom half of that inning. The righty hit the first batter he faced before Austin Meadows smashed a triple off the wall in right field just out of reach of Alex Verdugo. Michael Pérez made it all the way home and just barely evaded the tag by Christian Vázquez, extending Tampa’s lead to three. They’d get another on a base hit, and by the end of the inning it was suddenly a 4-1 lead for the Rays.
With all of the momentum going the Rays’ way, the Red Sox needed to get something going in the sixth with the heart of their lineup coming up. Devers struck out to start things off, but Martinez followed that up with a big double out to center field. After Bogaerts also struck out, Morton’s night had ended as Aaron Loup came on to face Moreland. Michael Chavis came on to pinch hit against the lefty, but grounded out to end the inning and leave the runner in scoring position.
Phillips Valdez then came in for Eovaldi in the bottom of the sixth. The righty got a couple of outs but also gave up a single and a walk to leave two on with two outs for Josh Osich, who came on to face Pérez. The Red Sox southpaw came through with a big strikeout to keep the deficit at three. The offense was not helping matters, though, and went down in order in the seventh.
Osich then came back out for the bottom of the inning, getting a strikeout before giving up a single to end his outing. That brought Ryan Brasier into the game, who immediately fell victim to a weak single through the left side that put runners on the corners. Choi then came through with a fly ball to left field and that gave Tampa the 5-1 lead.
The Red Sox now had only six more outs to score at least four runs, and they did give themselves a bit of a chance in the eighth. Andrew Benintendi reached on an error with one out before Devers drew a walk, putting two on in front of Martinez and Bogaerts. This was the chance to get it done. Instead, both hitters struck out and the deficit stayed at four.
After Jeffrey Springs came on for a 1-2-3 eighth, the offense had one more chance in the ninth. They made a little bit of noise there with back-to-back singles from Christian Vázquez and Kevin Pillar. Jackie Bradley Jr. then reached on an infield single — an extremely close one that went to review — on a chopper to shortstop, bringing Peraza to the plate representing the tying run. The second baseman went down looking on a perfect pitch, though, leaving it up to Benitnendi. He, too, went down looking and that was that. The Red Sox dropped yet another one, making it four in a row.
The Red Sox now will look to avoid a little two-game sweep as well as a five-game losing streak on Wednesday back in Tampa. They’ll have Martín Pérez on the mound going up against Ryan Yarbrough. First pitch is set for 6:40 PM ET.