Rays clean up with a sweep over Sox
Bill Hall smashed into the fence in front of the Red Sox bullpen, the wall nearly indented from the impact.
His frustration was evident as he dropped into a sitting position, knowing there was no immediate relief from his discomfort. Not only were the Sox just three innings into an ugly beatdown by the Rays, they did not have an extra outfielder, with Jacoby Ellsbury’s ribs still on the mend and Mike Cameron sent to Massachusetts General Hospital before yesterday’s game with pain similar to the kidney stones he had last week.
B.J. Upton’s home run had just cleared that wall, a catchable ball for a defender more experienced with the ins and outs of Fenway Park. That outfielder is not Hall, who was pressed into duty.
“I thought Billy maybe had a chance, and it just kept going and going and going, ends up being a big blow,’’ manager Terry Francona said.
“Who knows how the game turns out if I make that play?’’ said Hall of the ball that hit his glove and dropped into the bullpen. “But I gave it all I had. I think that showed. Just came a little bit short.
“We’re coming up a little bit short right now. This game is a game of inches, and a couple inches here or there and we’re still in that game.’’
Hall was in pain, and so were the 37,609 fans spending Marathon Monday at the ballpark, watching the Sox’ fifth straight loss, an 8-2 blowout by Tampa Bay. It had been a knock-the-wind-out weekend, a sweep for the Rays, who have replaced the Red Sox in the pecking order of the American League East.
“When you don’t show up to play, you’re going to get beat,’’ Dustin Pedroia said. “Doesn’t matter if you play the Rays or Brookline High School.’’
The Sox are lost at the moment, sitting closer to last place than to first.
As for the Hall play, it wasn’t an error, just a missed opportunity. The error came earlier in the inning, Jason Bartlett’s single bouncing over left fielder Jeremy Hermida’s glove for a one-base error, the Red Sox’ 10th error of the season. Then Carl Crawford singled to right to put runners at the corners, and Evan Longoria’s two-run double and Upton’s three-run homer (following a walk to Carlos Pena) off John Lackey cleared the bases in the Rays’ five-run third inning.
Hall was spared an error in the fourth inning by a scoring change. Bartlett’s RBI triple — initially scored a double and an error — ended the afternoon for Lackey, who allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings, ceding the game to Scott Atchison as the crowd began to boo.
“Nothing is going our way,’’ said Victor Martinez, who went 0 for 3 and is hitting .212. “It’s 162 games. This is not going to last 162 games. Nobody wants to go out there and make outs.
“There is no excuse for that. We’re falling behind early. That doesn’t mean that we [don’t] still have to go out there and put [up] good at-bats. They’re hot. Every mistake that we made in this series, they made us pay for that. That was pretty much it.’’
Martinez said falling behind by big margins shouldn’t be such a problem for the Sox’ offense.
“We’re a little bit short right now,’’ Francona said. “Things aren’t going our way, that’s for sure.’’
That was obvious in a game as poorly played by the Sox as any this season. The Sox, who were saved by their home record last season, fell to 1-6 in the far-from-friendly confines of Fenway Park.
“We’re definitely not playing defense up to what we’re capable of doing,’’ Hall said. “Definitely not hitting up to what we’re capable of doing, and pitching as well. When you take those three facets of the game and you’re not doing them well, you’re probably going to get beat — especially by the good teams. You’ve got no shot.’’
The defense did not get all the blame. The Sox extended their hitless streak with runners in scoring position to 0 for 32.
The Sox eventually got on the board, Hermida’s two-run homer to right in the seventh following Hall’s first hit as a member of the Red Sox. But they had been shut down by Jeff Niemann, as they have been shut down by pitcher after pitcher over their first 13 games of the season. And it has seemed to only get worse.
“We don’t have a lot going on right now,’’ Francona said about the offense. “We squared up a few, but not consistently. Then [Niemann] threw his breaking ball for strikes. We’re not bunching anything together. We’re going through a really tough time. Team-wide we’re doing things not good enough. Get out in the field tomorrow and keep working.’’
What they’re doing now certainly isn’t working. And though it’s still early, the losses — nine in 13 games — are adding up quickly.
“Our concern is playing better,’’ Francona said. “When we do that, we’ll all feel better about ourselves. You can look at it any way you want — early, late, middle, divisions — we just need to play better baseball.’’