The Red Sox lost in embarrassing fashion on Monday, but rather than bounce back in a positive way Boston just picked up where they left off. Some sloppy defense early on passed the baton to wildly homer-happy pitching, and the Red Sox were never really in this game. After getting on a bit of a roll, Boston has now lost three in a row.
It’s hard to overstate how bad Monday was, with the Red Sox not just blowing a 7-1 lead, which would surely be bad enough on its own, but doing so while playing some of the worst defense seen around these parts in a very long time. And so they were looking for not only a win on Tuesday to even up this three-game set against the Rays, but a clean win with a lack of sloppy play. Well, at least that’s what you’d think they would be looking for. They sure didn’t play the part early on, though.
Eduardo Rodriguez and company did get through an easy 1-2-3 first, but after the offense did the same in the bottom of the inning the momentum quickly started to slip away. Alex Verdugo was the face of the defensive issues on Monday, and he had some more trouble on Tuesday, this time playing left field. With one out in the second, he got caught in between a fly ball to the base of the Monster and was unable to reel in what seemed like a fairly catchable ball. The result was a double, which was followed by a much more emphatic double from Manuel Margot to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
After a base hit, we got more hits from the defense when Mike Zunino hit a ball down the right field line towards the pole. Hunter Renfroe went for the lunging grab near the wall but couldn’t get a glove on it, allowing the ball to fall on the line. Renfroe, however, seemed unaware it fell in fair territory, and the Rays got two more runs on a triple. Momentum was temporarily curbed on a huge successful back pick from Christian Vázquez, but only temporarily.
That said, the Red sox did answer back a bit in the bottom of the inning, a frame that started with a base hit and a double from Hunter Renfroe high off the Monster that was just shy of being a home run. He’s had three of those in the last two games. It put two in scoring position with nobody out, but Boston managed just one run to cut the deficit to two.
And then the Rays just started to crush some pitches against Rodriguez. Randy Arozarena started the inning with a ball into left field that Verdugo couldn’t cut off to help lead to a double, but it wouldn’t matter where he was standing. The next at bat ended with Nelson Cruz launching one to straightaway center field for a two-run shot to make it a 5-1 game. Tampa Bay got another run on a homer in the fourth, this one a solo shot from Zunino. That would be the last bit of damage against Rodriguez, who couldn’t make it out of that fourth inning.
Meanwhile, the offense was struggling to match the momentum from the Rays lineup, going up against Drew Rasmussen. They did get a pair of two-out singles in the third, but failed to turn that into a run. The fourth was really when they needed to show some life trailing by five, but instead went down in order on 11 pitches.
That was pretty much the end of the game as far as I was concerned. Tampa continued to hit the ball out of the park with Michael Feliz coming in after Rodriguez. It was Cruz getting his second of the game in the fifth on a laser beam into the Monster Seats, while Zunino matched him with his second in the sixth out to center field. Both were solo shots, bringing the Rays lead to 8-1.
Things didn’t get any better when Brad Peacock came into the game, either. The righty came on for the seventh, and against his first three opponents he gave up two doubles and a walk. A couple batters after that, he allowed yet another homer for a Red Sox pitcher, this one from Jordan Luplow. By the end of Peacock’s first inning of work, it was a 12-1 game.
Boston would then show some life, getting back-to-back homers from Bobby Dalbec and Danny Santana in the bottom of the eighth, as well as an RBI single. In the ninth, Dalbec got another at bat — he didn’t start this game — and hit another home run to make it a five-run game. But that was far too little, far too late, and the last of the offense.
What was eventually a 12-7 loss dropped the Red Sox record to 79-62. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, beat the Yankees tonight. For a second straight day, Boston will have failed to leap into the top spot in the wildcard race, still trailing New York by a half-game. Toronto, meanwhile, picks up another game in the race and pulls to within two of Boston. Seattle is still playing their game, holding a one-run lead over Houston. If that score holds, Seattle will also be within two of the Red Sox. Oakland is tied early with the White Sox and trailed Boston by 3.5 games coming into today.
The Red Sox now hope to avoid a sweep in the series finale against the Rays on Wednesday. Nathan Eovaldi will be going for Boston with Shane McClanahan getting the ball for Tampa Bay. First pitch is set for 7:10 PM ET.