The Boston Red Sox have played, for the most part, good baseball of late.
Since dropping six of their first seven games in August, the Sox have gone 10-5 and won seven out of their last 10 games, leaving them still within shouting distance in the American League wild card race.
But losses like Sunday’s 3-1 offensive stinker against the down-and-out San Diego Padres cannot happen. Boston had ample opportunity to sweep a lowly National League club and close the wild card gap to five games on an afternoon where the Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians (the three teams the Sox are chasing) all lost.
With five weeks left in the season, a win Sunday would have tasked the Sox with gaining one game per week in the standings to make the postseason. That is not an easy hurdle to climb, but it is climbable nonetheless.
The Red Sox do not have many losses like Sunday’s left to give if they intend on playing past September. Still, manager Alex Cora was not ready to panic after the loss.
“I mean, we’re good. We’re not where we want to be. But we’ll talk about it September 1st,” Cora said of the team’s current standing on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We get there and see where we’re at and go from there.”
Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Red Sox-Padres game:
— It always was expected to be a bullpen game on Sunday with Brian Johnson starting on the mound, and while he allowed a three spot in the first inning, Johnson did recover to throw two scoreless innings, leading him to suggest that a change in gameplan might be necessary.
“I feel like I am not as sharp in the first as I am in the other innings,” Johnson said. “Maybe you have to change things up for me a little bit. Maybe switch the gameplan. Cause it seems to be working when I go in the second and in the third than in the first. The first inning has just been sloppy.”
Johnson is 0-2 as a starter with a 5.08 ERA.
— For all the struggles it endured in the first half of the season, Boston’s bullpen has done plenty to help right that ship.
Sunday, the ‘pen put the Sox in position for another comeback win after taking over for Johnson in the fourth. One night after using six relievers, the Sox used four arms out of the bullpen, with Ryan Brasier, Andrew Cashner, Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes combining to toss five shutout innings.
The bullpen has allowed just nine earned runs over its last 54 innings.
— Chris Owings went 0-for-2 with a walk after getting the start at second base.
In his last 95 major league at-bats, Owings is batting .084 with 45 strikeouts, according to Boston Sports Info. Meanwhile, Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez each had hits off the bench in the loss, accounting for half of the Red Sox’s hits.