Red Sox Notes: Xander Bogaerts’ Long Slump Bringing Rookie To New Lows

Xander BogaertsBOSTON — The 2014 season has been Groundhog Day for the Red Sox.

The Red Sox fell to eight games below .500 (38-46) Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park. Boston has scored just one run in the series, as Jake Arrieta nearly tossed a no-hitter while the Red Sox were shut out in Monday’s series opener.

The Red Sox’s offense, to put it lightly, has been bad this season, particularly as it pertains to producing with runners in scoring position. Timely hits have been the exception rather than the norm — a stark contrast from 2013.

Let’s go over some notes from Wednesday.

– Clay Buchholz, who pitched well in his return from the disabled list June 25, turned in another strong performance, giving hope that the right-hander actually might be able to salvage his dismal season.

Buchholz allowed one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out two, didn’t walk anyone and threw 100 pitches (61 strikes).

Buchholz ran into some trouble toward the end of his outing. However, he retired 13 in a row from the end of the first inning through the fifth inning and touched 93-94 mph with his fastball.

– Andrew Miller recorded two huge strikeouts in the seventh inning after Buchholz was removed with one out and runners at the corners.

– Koji Uehara wasn’t his usual self.

Uehara, who entered with the score tied 1-1 in the ninth inning, suffered the loss after giving up a run. Anthony Rizzo singled, Starlin Castro doubled and Luis Valbuena hit a sacrifice fly.

– The game ended with a challenge by the Red Sox.

Brock Holt looked to ignite a rally with a two-out, infield single in the bottom of the ninth, but Dustin Pedroia was called out on a bang-bang play at first base following a ground ball to the left side.

Red Sox manager John Farrell called for a challenge — the play was extremely close — but the initial call was confirmed, silencing the noise Boston had begun to make against Cubs closer Hector Rondon.

– Some poor baserunning killed the Red Sox in the second inning.

A.J. Pierzynski, who reached base three times, hit a ball off the Green Monster with Mike Napoli on first base. Pierzynski, the farthest thing from a speed demon, attempted to take second base but was thrown out by a mile. In fact, a slide wasn’t even necessary.

Stephen Drew walked with two outs, and the Red Sox looked to put him in motion. The result was an ugly situation in which catcher Welington Castillo picked off Drew at first base.

– Pedroia drove in Boston’s only run with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He collected three hits, marking his third three-hit performance over the last four games.

– Xander Bogaerts’ struggles are reaching new lows.

Bogaerts went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. The 21-year-old is hitting .082 (6-for-73) since June 7 and .048 (2-for-42) over his last 11 games. Only one of his six hits since June 7 has been for extra bases — a home run against the Cleveland Indians on June 13.

“I think more than anything he’s rushing a little bit in the box — rushing out to his landing,” Farrell said. “Whether that allows him to see the ball clearly in flight — that’s where you see that early commitment — and the slider’s probably giving him a little bit of trouble right now.”

Bogaerts is hitting .245 with a .324 on-base percentage in 79 games. He was hitting .299 with a .387 on-base percentage on June 7.

– Will Middlebrooks and Mike Carp both started for Triple-A Pawtucket as part of their respective rehab assignments.

Middlebrooks went 1-for-3 with a triple while serving as the designated hitter. Carp went 0-for-3 while playing first base.

– Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts were the first trio of rookies to start in the outfield for the Red Sox before Sept. 1 since Todd Benzinger, Ellis Burks and Mike Greenwell started in 1987.

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