It was the same story, just a different day — almost nothing went right for the Red Sox on Mother’s Day.
Michael Wacha, who’s been the Sox’s best pitcher so far this season, was scratched and placed on the 15-day IL with left side soreness an hour and a half before first pitch. That was unexpected, but the routine annoyances appeared too. The Red Sox played sloppy defense at times and came up aggravatingly short with runners in scoring position during an unsurprising and uninspiring 3-2 loss to the White Sox.
The Sox wasted no time creating scoring opportunities that they absolutely did not plan on converting. In the first, they put runners on first and second with one out, but a pop out on the infield by Xander Bogaerts and a line out from JD Martinez ended the threat.
The Red Sox jumped on Dallas Keuchel early, putting runners on first and second with one out, but in mind-numbingly familiar fashion, they squandered a chance to score. After Rafael Devers laced a single up the middle to initiate the threat, Xander Bogaerts popped out in the infield and JD Martinez lined out to right.
In the second, Alex Verdugo reached on a sorely-needed hard-hit single to left, but whatever momentum he created was immediately marred by a truly pathetic strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. Bobby Dalbec waved hopelessly at strike three and Verdugo didn’t even attempt a slide into second because the ball arrived about three seconds before he did.
But wait, there’s more! In the third, after the White Sox posted a three-spot in the top half, the Red Sox saw just six pitches in the bottom half before being retired. And in the fourth, after Keuchel had been sitting in the dugout for nearly a half hour because home plate umpire had to leave the game after being struck in the mask with a foul ball, the Red Sox put runners on first and second with no one out. Martinez then came up and ripped a hard double down the — hahahahahahahaha could you imagine? No, Martinez actually grounded the first pitch he saw into a double play and Christian Vázquez struck out with Devers standing on third.
On the mound, Tanner Houck was pretty good. He pitched two really efficient, scoreless innings before tailing off in the third. He ended his day having been charged with three earned runs, but it’s tough for me to say that they were all his fault.
He did give up a single and a free pass to the seven and eight hitters before nine-hitter Danny Mendick bunted to move runners to second and third. But the “single” from Leury García that plated the first run was a weak grounder that snuck under Devers’ glove. And on the “double” from that scored two runs, Verdugo was slow getting the ball in from left field, allowing Luis Robert — not necessarily a speedster — to score from second.
Hirokazu Sawamura relieved Houck, who probably wasn’t going to go much longer anyway. Because he was making a spot start for the recently injured Michael Wacha, Alex Cora was always going to lean heavily on the bullpen.
Sawamura got Yasmani Grandal to fly out quickly to end the inning and then pitched a clean fourth, despite a 15-minute delay to adjust the umpiring crew after home plate umpire Ron Kulpa left the game. Tyler Danish, the corresponding move for Wacha to the IL, pitched a scoreless inning and a third despite hitting Harrison and letting up a single and Austin Davis kept the White Sox off the scoreboard for 1.2 innings.
The Red Sox recorded eight hits through six innings and five of them came off of the bats of Bogearts and Devers. Those two started a rally in the top of the sixth by sandwiching a Trevor Story strikeout with two hits. Devers went first to third on the second single, allowing Martinez to push a run across with a slow roller to third. Vazquez finally delivered the clutch hit the Red Sox had been looking for in the next at bat, lining a one-run single to left field to pull Boston within one at 3-2.
Robles took over for the seventh and did his job. So did Jake Diekman in the eighth and Matt Strahm in the ninth. 6.1 scoreless innings from the Boston bullpen gave them a chance to complete the comeback. But the Sox did little — one hit, no walks and four strikeouts — with their final six outs.
Matt Foster struck out trebor Story, Devers and Bogaerts in the eighth. Then in the ninth, Jose Ruiz let up a high, long and loud double to Martinez that — if not for the strong winds blowing in, would have tied the game. After he got Vazquez to pop out to Harrison in short right field and Verdugo to strike out, Tony La Russa pulled Ruiz for rookie Bennett Souza, who promptly took care of pinch hitter Kevin Plawecki. Given three attempts to tie the game with a runner on second, the Red Sox failed to convert.
This loss marks the firth in a row for Boston, their longest streak of the season. They are 10-19 and it’s no longer early. They’re in trouble.