The Major League Baseball trade deadline is six days away. The cries for the Boston Red Sox to sell have never been louder.
The Red Sox dropped their fourth straight game Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Junichi Tazawa suffered the loss after imploding in the seventh inning of Boston’s 6-4 defeat.
The Red Sox now are nine games below .500 (47-56) with 59 tilts remaining on the 2014 schedule. Their playoff hopes are dwindling each day, and this next week should be interesting.
Let’s go over some notes from Friday’s action.
– Jon Lester continued his stellar run with six innings of two-run ball. He allowed six hits while striking out seven and walking one.
Lester’s outing was limited to six innings because his pitch count soared during a stressful fifth inning in which he threw 35 pitches. The left-hander made his only major mistake in the fifth inning, as Desmond Jennings drove a 2-0 fastball into the left-center field seats for a two-run homer. It was the first home run surrendered by Lester since June 7 — a span of 57 innings.
Lester has allowed two earned runs or less in eight straight starts. His ERA in that stretch is 1.07.
– David Price countered with an excellent effort of his own. The Rays ace allowed three runs on eight hits over eight innings. He struck out 10 and didn’t issue a single walk.
– David Ortiz, who played despite exiting Thursday’s game with a back injury, went 1-for-4. He tied the game 2-2 in the sixth inning with an RBI single and scored the go-ahead run when Shane Victorino singled later in the frame.
– Victorino continues to show exactly what the Red Sox missed in his absence.
Victorino launched a solo homer in the second inning — his first since May 21 — and added a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth. He’s hitting .435 (10-for-23) since returning from the disabled list last weekend.
Victorino has three multihit games (out of six games played) since returning. He’s hitting .351 (13-for-37) against left-handers this season.
– Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia collected two hits.
Pedroia’s effort was especially encouraging because he served as the catalyst for Boston’s two-run sixth inning. Pedroia started the rally with his first extra-base hit of the second half — a double into the left-center field gap.
– Jonny Gomes’ defense has been extremely shoddy lately.
Gomes failed to make a sliding catch in the second inning, as Sean Rodriguez’s line drive toward the left-center field gap bounced off his glove. Rodriguez was later credited with a double — Gomes initially was charged with an error — but it certainly was a catchable ball.
Gomes also mishandled Ben Zobrist’s game-tying single in the seventh inning. Cole Figueroa, who pinch-ran for Jose Molina, might have scored anyway, but Gomes’ bobble allowed the run to score easily.
– Andrew Miller faced two batters. He plunked Molina and struck out Logan Forsythe.
– Tazawa crumbled in the seventh inning, allowing three earned runs on two hits and two walks.
It marked the first time in Tazawa’s major league career that he issued multiple walks in a relief outing.
– Lester said after the game he would be open to re-signing with the Red Sox over the offseason even if Boston traded him before the deadline.