Red Sox Notes: John Farrell Searching For ‘Best Combinations’ In Lineup

BOSTON — Rusney Castillo’s first major league game of 2015 was a forgettable one for the Red Sox.

The Los Angeles Angels scored nine runs in the fifth inning Friday as they downed the Red Sox 12-5 in the teams’ series opener at Fenway Park. Boston produced only one less hit than L.A. — the Halos had 12 to the Sox’s 11 — but poor pitching paved the way for the Red Sox’s third consecutive loss.

While Castillo could provide a spark to the lifeless Red Sox, Friday’s defeat showed Boston’s current issues run deep. The team lacks consistency in all phases, making for a frustrating situation.

Let’s run down some notes from Friday.

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— Rick Porcello suffered his first loss in over a month. He allowed seven earned runs on seven hits while striking out four and walking three over 4 1/3 innings.

The performance snapped a streak of eight consecutive games in which Red Sox starters allowed two earned runs or fewer.

— The fifth inning was a total disaster.

Porcello left with one out and Boston trailing 6-3. Matt Barnes, who has been solid since being recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 9, surrendered two homers — one to Chris Iannetta and one to Erick Aybar — while recording only one out.

The nine runs were the most the Red Sox have allowed in a single inning since Boston gave up nine runs in the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on July 28, 2014.

— Castillo received a big ovation in his first at-bat. Those cheers turned to boos a short time later, as the Cuban outfielder dropped a routine fly ball in right field amid the fifth-inning chaos.

Castillo, who collected one hit, has a five-game hit streak dating back to last season. He has scored at least one run in each of his last six major league games.

— Hanley Ramirez exited the game after the fifth inning with left hand soreness. He was struck on the hand by a pitch in the fourth inning and later was replaced by Daniel Nava.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game that Ramirez’s initial scan was negative. The team will check with Ramirez when he arrives at the ballpark Saturday.

Ramirez recently dealt with a shoulder injury and doesn’t have a single RBI this month.

— It’s been a rough season for Nava. He grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, lowering his average to .167.

Nava, who previously abandoned switch-hitting in favor of batting exclusively left-handed, again batted right-handed versus a left-hander for his crucial seventh-inning at-bat.

Nava has played a meaningful role for the Red Sox over the last couple of years. But as he continues to struggle, one has to wonder how long Boston will stick with the 32-year-old.

“He’s in a situation where he’s coming in to spell guys, and that was the case here tonight,” Farrell said. “Daniel’s had very good stretches for us and a very productive hitter. We know early last year that he was in a situation similar to where he’s at right now.”

— Mike Napoli is showing life. He crushed his fifth homer and is 5-for-15 with two homers over his last four games.

— Will Farrell shake things up if the Red Sox continue to struggle?

“You’re always looking at the lineup for possible combinations,” Farrell said after the game. “Do you ride a hot hand? We started to do that a little bit tonight, with a little bit of change tonight, adding Rusney and moving (Xander) Bogaerts up in the lineup.

“Still, we’ve got a number of guys with long track records and it’s on the consistent approach that they’ve shown for many years. I can’t say that there’s going to be a complete overhaul of the lineup. There’s change that’s been made already, but we’re going to continue to look for the best combinations.”

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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