Even the best pitching staff in baseball couldn’t have saved the Boston Red Sox on Friday.
In their first game since firing pitching coach Juan Nieves, the Red Sox were whitewashed by the Toronto Blue Jays, dropping a 7-0 decision at Rogers Centre.
Boston managed just two hits in the ballgame (one in the first, another in the eighth), and while it was the first time John Farrell’s club had been shut out this season, it was a continuation of an unsettling trend: This vaunted Red Sox offense simply has not been able to score runs in the month of May.
Friday’s loss was the Sox’s sixth in their last seven games. During that span, they’ve plated more than three runs just once.
Given the team’s struggles on the mound — it did just can the man responsible for guiding its pitchers, after all — that kind of offensive production will not be what vaults Boston back to its accustomed perch atop the American League East.
“The way we’re going right now offensively,” manager John Farrell told reporters after the game, “two runs feels like a big gap, to be honest with you.”
Two runs was the Red Sox’s deficit for much of Friday night. Starter Wade Miley, who entered with a staff-worst 7.15 ERA, surrendered solo home runs in the first and second innings but quickly settled down, holding the AL-leading Jays offense scoreless over the next three frames.
“I thought overall, (it was) probably one of the better outings he’s had for us this year,” Farrell said.
The Red Sox found themselves in prime position to cut into that lead in the fourth after Jays starter Aaron Sanchez, who struggled with his command throughout the evening, walked the first two batters and hit Daniel Nava with a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Instead, the inning became a perfect encapsulation of Boston’s recent woes.
Rookie catcher Blake Swihart struck out looking on an admittedly nasty two-seam offering by Sanchez, and Xander Bogaerts grounded to shortstop Ryan Goins, who stepped on the bag and fired to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
Toronto eventually got to Miley again, touching him for another two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and if a two-run hole felt daunting, a four-run deficit seemed insurmountable. Boston put the first two men on in the top of the eighth, but the next three went down in order, and the Blue Jays added three insurance runs off Robbie Ross Jr. in the home half of the frame to salt away the win.
Over their last seven games, the Red Sox have gone 4-for-52 with runners in scoring position.
So, yes, the Red Sox’s offense isn’t inspiring boundless confidence at the moment. But given the sheer amount of talent this lineup possesses — a lineup that Friday was missing both Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) and David Ortiz (suspension) — a quick turnaround would surprise no one.
“We’re going to hit,” Miley told reporters, via the Providence Journal. “We’re capable of just getting ridiculous. Right now we’re a little slow, but this lineup is going to hit.”
Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images