BOSTON — The Red Sox have been chopped down to size.
Acting Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said after Friday’s win over the Kansas City Royals that he believed Boston still could make the playoffs. It was a reasonable sentiment from someone trying to rally his troops, especially in the midst of a four-game winning streak, but the Royals offered everyone a heavy dose of reality Saturday night by defeating the Red Sox 6-3 at Fenway Park.
Let’s go over some notes from Saturday.
— Matt Barnes had a so-so outing in his second major league start.
While he settled down a bit from the second inning through the fifth, allowing only one baserunner in each frame, he surrendered a three-run homer to Salvador Perez in the sixth.
Barnes, who exited after the blast having thrown 96 pitches, was given a chance to overcome a walk and a single with one out in the sixth. He just couldn’t navigate through trouble.
“Any time you have a young pitcher that is working though lineups and having success, the last thing you want to do is pull the rug out from under them,” Lovullo said. “You want to let them feel situations, you want to let them work through and have success in certain situations.
“In this case, it works a little bit in the opposite way. I know this is going to sting a little bit and he’s going to remember it and he’s going to grow and learn. And that’s the key for a young pitcher.”
— Mookie Betts’ seventh-inning home run snapped a 102-at-bat homerless drought. He now owns an eight-game hit streak.
— Hanley Ramirez finally showed signs of life.
Ramirez scorched a line drive in the sixth inning for a hard-hit out. He then snapped an 0-for-16 skid in the eighth inning with a double off the Green Monster.
“Couple things with Hanley, the hands are back, the foot’s down, he’s staying in the middle of the diamond,” Lovullo said. “He just grinded through a really rough stretch, and every player has those moments. We’re looking for him to get things moving in a good direction after that big hit.”
Ramirez entered Saturday hitting .191 (18-for-94) with a .448 OPS, seven RBIs and 17 strikeouts to three walks over his last 24 games. He hasn’t homered since July 11, a stretch of 27 games.
— Some young players have given the Red Sox a spark, but 39-year-old David Ortiz continues to do his thing as Boston’s leader, both on and off the field.
“It’s hard to describe David. He can wear just about every hat you need,” Lovullo said before the game. “He can take a selfie with the president and then the next day be sitting with seven rookies around him and he’s the same guy and he’s always got the same message: Let’s have fun and go out there and play a good baseball game. And that never changes.”
Ortiz reached base a season-high five times (two singles, three walks). He’s hitting .352 with a 1.128 OPS since the Major League Baseball All-Star break.
— Steven Wright (concussion) won’t join the Red Sox on their upcoming six-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He’s still dealing with some balance issues while going through MLB’s concussion protocol.
Wright, who was struck on the back of the neck by a batting practice fly ball last week in Miami, is scheduled to get some work Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital. He’ll be reevaluated Tuesday.
— Rick Porcello (right triceps strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday. He could return on Boston’s upcoming road trip if the session goes well.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images