After a 3-2 loss on Sunday gave the Tampa Bay Rays the three-game sweep, the Boston Red Sox are on their longest losing streak of the season.
Sunday’s score was much closer than what the Sox put up in their first two games against the Rays, but maybe that’s what made the loss feel so much heavier — it seemed like they were just one moment away from the win.
But the Red Sox failed to capitalize on those moments: they were 1-for-18 with any men on base, with the lone production coming in a two-out rally in the top of the ninth. Overall, Boston left a whopping 10 players on base at the end of innings and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“Offensively, it’s been weird the last few days,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “A lot of traffic but not being able to cash in. That’s something that’s been going on for a while. We had that big game in Buffalo. We’ve been playing a lot of close games, we’ve had a lot of traffic a lot of time. We need to do a better job controlling the strike zone. In certain situations, we don’t mind striking out, but in others we have to put to home plate. We haven’t done that in a while, so we have to do a better job offensively.”
One of the most notable offenders Sunday was J.D. Martinez, who individually left a game-high six men on base in his at-bats.
Martinez entered the night in the midst of a major slump. Through 10 games between July 22-31, he was 5-for-39 at the plate with two doubles, two runs and two RBIs. He was 1-for-5 on Saturday, logging his first hit since July 24.
But he continued to struggle Sunday. Martinez went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts while batting third.
In the seventh, he stepped into a big-time moment with the tying and go-ahead runs on board, but he grounded into a force out to end the inning. With two runners on in the top of the ninth, he used Boston’s last out on a fly ball to right field.
“Trying to figure it out, you know,” Martinez said postgame. “Grinding on it, trying to figure it out. I feel like I’ve hit some balls hard, come up short and kind of haven’t hit balls hard. It’s just one of those things. It happens.”
Cora continued to express confidence in the star.
“We’ve been talking about it. I’ve always said when you walk, when you control the strike zone, good things happen. He’s not doing that right now,” Cora said. “He’s actually chasing all their pitches, he was in between early on. But he’s still J.D. Martinez. I’ll take that at-bat at the end, first and third with a chance to tie the game with him at the plate.”
Here are other notes from Sunday’s Red Sox-Rays game:
— Hunter Renfroe had a big night. After hitting a solo home run to put the Red Sox on the board, he made a perfect throw from the grass over to Xander Bogaerts to get the out on a would-be double by Nelson Cruz. The play gave him his 13th assist, the most for any outfielder in MLB.
— Hansel Robles made his Red Sox debut in the sixth inning. It didn’t get off to a great start when he allowed a single to Austin Meadows on an 0-1 count, but strong infield play worked a fielder’s choice followed by a double play to end the threat.
Cora outlined the role he expected Robles to play earlier this week, and fans finally got their first look at the former Minnesota Twins reliever.
— The Sox have lost five of their last six games after winning six of their previous seven. They are 1 1/2 games behind the Rays for first place in the American League East standings.
— The Red Sox will head to Detroit — where newcomer Kyle Schwarber is expected to work out with a group of players on Monday — then play a three-game series against the Tigers beginning Tuesday.