Forget dropping further out of first place in the American League East. With another loss in Tampa Bay, the Boston Red Sox are on their longest losing streak of the year.
Maybe that seems a bit dramatic, since that losing streak is four games, but the Sox are now 1 1/2 games out of first place as they pack up and leave St. Petersburg, where they were swept by the Rays. Tampa Bay secured the sweep with a 3-2 win on Sunday.
The Red Sox are now 63-44, while the Rays are 64-42.
Here’s how it all went down in the series finale at Tropicana Field.
GAME IN A WORD
That feels like one we haven’t used in a while. But this game was decided by a two-run home run, with a decently even outing everywhere else in the box score. This game — unlike other recent outings — really felt like one that could’ve gone the other way with a few strong at-bats.
ON THE BUMP
— Nick Pivetta got the start, and he needed a big outing with first place in the AL East on the line. After allowing four runs in each of his last two outings, it would be easy to expect him to fall into the same trap as the rest of the Red Sox rotation on Sunday.
— Things started strong, with three strikeouts and the defense behind him to get eight straight outs through his first 2 2/3 innings.
But things took a turn with two outs in the third. He threw a four-pitch walk against Mike Zunino and looked like he would do the same for Brandon Lowe as he faced a 3-0 count. Pivetta worked his way back to a full count but on the pitch that could’ve ended the inning, allowed a two-run, two-out home run to make it 2-0 Rays.
— Pivetta worked his way into another 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts in the fourth. He struggled in the fifth, though, getting Wander Franco aboard on a lead-off single. He moved to second on a wild pitch then came home on a Manuel Margot single, and after Pivetta got two more outs, he was replaced by Josh Taylor on the hill.
Pivetta ended his night with three runs on three hits, with six strikeouts and a walk through 4 2/3 innings. Taylor saw just the one batter that ended the inning.
— In the sixth, it was time for Hansel Robles to make his Red Sox debut. Austin Meadows knocked him for a single on an 0-1 count, but he got out on a fielder’s choice then Ji-Man Choi grounded into a double play to end the threat.
— Garrett Whitlock came in for the seventh inning. He gave up two singles but defense behind him kept the Rays at bay. His defense saved him again in the eighth.
IN THE BATTER’S BOX
— Rafael Devers hit a one-out single in the first inning to immediately bring some life into the lineup. But it didn’t last, as J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts struck out to end the inning. The Red Sox went down in order in the second. Bobby Dalbec walked to lead-off the third, but three outs (including another Martinez strikeout) left him stranded.
— Hunter Renfroe got the Red Sox on the board in the fourth inning with a solo home run, making it 2-1 Rays.
That rattled Shane McClanahan, who went on to give up a single to Christian Vázquez then walk Alex Verdugo. But the Red Sox left the two men stranded on a Kevin Plawecki fly-out and a Dalbec strikeout.
— Kiké Hernández singled to lead off the fifth, but Devers grounded into a double play then Martinez flew out to end the threat.
— In the sixth, Bogaerts, Renfroe and Vázquez all made contact but went down in order.
— Verdugo gave the Red Sox some hope in the seventh inning with a lead-off double. Plawecki looked like he would change the game with a deep fly to right field, but Manuel Margot was there to make the grab at the wall. Another Dalbec strikeout made it look like the seventh would be another disappointing inning, but Verdugo came home on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
The two-out rally was building as the tying and go-ahead runs got on board, but J.D. Martinez grounded into a force out to end the inning.
— Bogaerts got aboard on a walk to start the eighth but was left stranded.
— The Red Sox took a different approach in the ninth, bringing in Jarren Duran to hit for Dalbec. But he went down swinging. A two-out rally started to brew thanks to Hernández and Devers, but Martinez flew out to end it.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Well, that’s not the kind of streak you want to be on… especially not when it rose to 1-for-14 and 0-for-5 when he had the last at-bat of the game:
The Red Sox will continue their road trip Tuesday, starting a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 p.m. ET on NESN.