The Boston Red Sox lost their tenth straight game Sunday in an 8-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, just one day after sending outfielder Shane Victorino to the disabled list. Sitting in last place in the American League East Division, the Red Sox are eight games back from division leader Toronto, and two games behind the Rays. Boston is nine games below .500 and, at 10 straight, is sitting on their worst losing streak in 20 years.
Victorino was removed from Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay after a force-play bunting run down the first base line left him hobbling on an injured right hamstring. The Red Sox injury woes keep piling on: David Ortiz sat out Saturday with a calf issue, though he returned to the lineup for Sunday’s game. Mike Napoli has been benched indefinitely thanks to flu-like symptoms, a dislocated finger, and hamstring and calf problems. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks has been out since early May with a finger injury, leaving the bag to a rotating cast that has included Brock Holt, Jonathan Herrera, and, since the re-signing of Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts.
Daniel Nava has been called up to replace Victorino, but the loss of the starting outfielder was not the only contributing factor to the Red Sox tenth straight defeat. Brandon Workman and Craig Breslow combined for eight runs allowed on 10 hits. Alex Wilson and Edward Mujica each pitched a single shutout inning in the sixth, but Breslow’s five-run seventh inning left too much damage.
Boston’s batters managed five runs thanks to a three-for-four, three-run outing by catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Brock Holt continued to make a name for himself with a run and an RBI on a single hit, but the rest of the class brought down the average for the day, leaving a total of 16 runners on base all game. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia was 1-5 for the day, and Nava and Ortiz each went hitless on four at-bats.
Yunel Escobar exacerbated the Red Sox growing frustrations with a seventh-inning two-run double that led to him taking third base on defensive indifference. Words were exchanged, and the ensuing brawl resulted in ejections for Escobar, Sean Rodriguez, and Boston’s Jonny Gomes. The Red Sox expressed their unhappiness over Escobar stealing a base with a commanding five-run lead, but Rays manager Joe Madden cited an instance in last year’s playoffs, when Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base with an 8-2 lead in the eighth inning, and Madden maintained that a five-run lead can disappear quickly. Escobar issued a statement through the Rays organization that he considers the incident to be over as far as he is concerned.
Opponents have outscored the Red Sox 52-24 during their last 10 games. Ortiz, who has been hitting .118 with no RBIs during the streak, will play first base at least once during Boston’s four-game road series in Atlanta, which starts Monday afternoon. The Boston will return home Friday to host the Rays at Fenway.
The Boston Red Sox culminated their week by adding Victorino to the 15-day disabled list and losing their tenth straight game. The defending World Series Champions will look to break their slide in Atlanta with the additions of Nava and Jackie Bradley, Jr in the outfield and some shifting of the infield lineup. Pitchers Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester will start on Monday and Tuesday.
Commentary by Christina Jones