BOSTON — The Los Angeles Angels brought their brooms to Fenway Park on Thursday.
The Angels completed a four-game sweep of the Red Sox with a 2-0 win. Matt Shoemaker flirted with a no-hitter as the Red Sox’s offense struggled for the 8,000th time — or somewhere around there — this season.
The Red Sox, who have dropped five straight, sit a season-high 15 games under .500 (56-71).
The Seattle Mariners arrive at Fenway on Friday for the start of a three-game series. Let’s first assess Thursday’s finale against the Halos.
– Shoemaker’s no-hitter was broken up by Will Middlebrooks with two outs in the seventh inning.
Middlebrooks wasn’t even in the starting lineup. He entered the game in the fourth inning after Yoenis Cespedes exited because of a personal matter. Middlebrooks, who is hitting .193, has been battling hamstring tightness.
Shoemaker was sensational. He allowed only three baserunners and struck out nine over 7 2/3 shutout innings. He joined the Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta and the Minnesota Twins’ Kyle Gibson as the only visiting pitchers to allow three baserunners or fewer over at least seven innings at Fenway Park this season.
– Rubby De La Rosa suffered the loss despite pitching pretty well.
De La Rosa surrendered one run on three hits in the first inning. He then allowed a hit and two walks in the second inning before using a pair of strikeouts to escape a bases-loaded, one-out jam. After that, things went smoothly.
“After the second inning, which he did a very good job pitching out of a bases-loaded jam, I thought he settled in,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “I thought he was really strong early on, better velocity than we’ve seen. Might’ve thrown through the sink to his fastball a little bit at that time, but he settled in and was very good.”
De La Rosa allowed two runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
De La Rosa is navigating through uncharted waters at this point. The 25-year-old compiled only 91 2/3 innings last season — his first full season after undergoing Tommy John surgery — between Triple-A Pawtucket (80 1/3 innings) and Boston (11 1/3 innings). His career-high for innings pitched before this season came in 2010, when he tossed 110 1/3 innings between Single-A and Double-A in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. De La Rosa has thrown 138 innings this season over 24 starts with Boston and Pawtucket.
“Right now I feel strong. I feel good,” De La Rosa said after Thursday’s game. “I’m a little tired right now. I’m tired because I threw more than (I ever have). But I feel strong.”
De La Rosa is 4-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 13 major league starts this season. He’s looking like a lock for the Red Sox’s 2015 rotation.
– Cespedes left the game before the top of the fourth inning because of a family medical emergency, according to Farrell.
The Red Sox skipper declined to offer any additional details out of respect for Cespedes’ privacy. He said the club is hopeful Cespedes will return to the lineup Friday.
– Middlebrooks entered the game despite not being 100 percent.
“Little tight,” Middlebrooks said after the game of his ailing right hamstring. “I wasn’t 100 percent coming into the game, but I was good enough to go. It’s fine, just a little tight.”
– Christian Vazquez again flashed his defensive skills.
Vazquez picked off Howie Kendrick at first base in the third inning. He also threw out Mike Trout trying to steal second base in the ninth inning.
Vazquez has thrown out 44 percent (seven of 16) would-be base stealers with Boston this season.
Oh yeah, it also was Vazquez’s 24th birthday.
– Allen Craig went 0-for-3 with two groundouts and a flyout in his first game off the 15-day disabled list.
– Angels manager Mike Scioscia and first baseman Albert Pujols both were ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.