BOSTON — The Red Sox were a model of consistency throughout 2013. They’ve been anything but that in 2014.
The Red Sox fell to two games below .500 Saturday upon suffering a 6-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. The Sox now have dropped three straight and enter Sunday’s series finale trying to avoid their first four-game losing streak since the Bobby Valentine era of 2012.
The Red Sox certainly have seen better days, even if it’s not quite time to push the panic button. Let’s go over Saturday’s loss.
– John Lackey entered the contest riding high, but he got knocked around in his 5 1/3 innings.
Lackey gave up six runs (five earned) on nine hits. He struck out four, walked two and threw 96 pitches (70 strikes).
“I thought he had very good stuff,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “There were some mislocated fastballs, particularly to the arm side, that they were able to capitalize on. When you saw the doubles to the right-handers, those were balls that ended up on the inside part of the plate.”
Lackey misfiring to his arm side at home probably can be chalked up as an aberration. The Tigers definitely deserve credit, however, for an aggressive approach that worked in their favor as Lackey tried to get ahead of hitters.
Lackey’s shaky outing broke up a four-start stretch in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed two runs or fewer. The effort, however, did give Lackey a new career-high with 33 straight starts of at least five innings.
– Rick Porcello is putting together a terrific season for the Tigers.
Porcello allowed just one run on six hits over eight innings, lowering his ERA to 2.91. He struck out four, walked one and threw 110 pitches (71 strikes).
The 25-year-old ran his record to 7-1, making him the first Tigers pitcher to win seven of his first eight starts in a season since Doyle Alexander in 1987 (7-0).
– Miguel Cabrera homered on an 0-2 pitch in the third inning. He sneaked it right inside Pesky’s Pole.
– Victor Martinez went 2-for-5. He’s hitting .400 (22-for-55) since the beginning of May.
– Xander Bogaerts provided the Red Sox’s lone run with a solo homer into the Monster seats in the fifth inning. It marked Bogaerts’ first career home run at Fenway — his previous two big league big flies came on the road.
Bogaerts (21 years, 228 days) became the youngest Red Sox player to homer at Fenway since Jim Rice in 1974 (21 years, 207 days).
– David Ortiz extended his hit streak to 10 games with a 1-for-4 effort.
– The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the fourth inning. A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to end the threat.
– Edward Mujica strangely tried four times in the sixth inning to pick off Rajai Davis at second base. Mujica’s fourth pickoff attempt nearly struck second base umpire Hunter Wendelstedt before traveling into center field.
– Shane Victorino was called out on a controversial batter interference call in the eighth inning.
Victorino hit a dribbler up the first base line. He ran to first and crossed paths with Porcello — who chased the ball — on the base line. The ball rolled foul, but home plate umpire Clint Fagan called Victorino out for interference despite Victorino never touching the ball.
– This marks the third time this season the Red Sox have dropped three straight. Boston avoided a fourth loss in both previous instances.