It keeps getting worse for the Red Sox, who reached a new low on Monday night -- at least according to their record in relation to .500 -- with a listless 4-0 loss to the White Sox in which Boston managed just one hit against career minor leaguer Scott Carroll, and Clay Buchholz saw an otherwise decent outing spoiled by two long home runs.
MVP: Dayan Viciedo. The White Sox right fielder slumped his way through for most of two months after an excellent April, but appeared to rediscover his stroke in late June -- and last night used it to do in the Red Sox. His fifth long ball in the last 10 games, he blasted a three-run shot that landed beyond the home bullpen in right-center field and gave the White Sox what came to feel like an insurmountable four-run lead in the top of the fourth inning.
GOAT: It’s hard to pin the blame on any one guy when the offense is as meager as it was for the Red Sox on Monday – and has been for much of the season.
Boston managed just one hit off a Chicago starter for the second time in a week, although while the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta is considered to be a guy with untapped potential in the midst of a breakout year, the White Sox’ Scott Carroll is a 29-year-old rookie who spent eight years in the minors, posting a 14-15 record and 4.82 ERA over three seasons at Triple-A.
Yet the Red Sox made Carroll look worthy of All-Star consideration, managing only an A.J. Pierzynski single and a couple of walks over his 6.2 scoreless innings. The sinkerballer repeatedly got Boston to pound the ball into the ground, inducing 13 groundouts (against just one flyout), and handling the heart of the Sox order with flabbergasting ease. He got David Ortiz to ground out three times, with the designated hitter not even reaching first base while running out any of them, and not even bothering to drop his bat on the last.
Carroll had yielded at least five runs in each of his last five big-league starts – which were interrupted by a relegation to the bullpen – though the only time the Sox even got a runner to second base against Carroll was when Jackie Bradley Jr. worked a nine-pitch walk and stole second in the sixth. He was left there when Brock Holt and Daniel Nava were both retired, then Bradley was stranded again the eighth, when he singled and advanced on a fielder’s choice.
By failing to score against Chicago’s bullpen, the Red Sox were shutout for the ninth time this season, and have now scored three runs or fewer in 41 of 89 games. At 3.75, they’re scoring fewer runs per game than any team in the American League.
ICYMI: Buchholz had gone 17.1 innings without walking a batter since coming off the disabled list, but he snapped that streak by almost seeming to be pitching around All-Star Alexei Ramirez in the fourth – and Viciedo subsequently made him pay.
With first base empty after Adam Dunn’s two-out double, Buchholz threw four straight balls to Ramirez, nibbling at the corners as he did. That put two aboard for Viciedo – who was at that point 1-for-10 lifetime against the righty. Buchholz got ahead 0-and-2, but the right fielder then spoiled a curveball that broke out of the zone, took three straight balls, and worked the count full.
At 89 mph, the next pitch cut right into Viciedo’s slugging sweet spot, belt high and far enough out to get his hands extended, ultimately landing in the seats that jut into the triangle behind the Red Sox’ bullpen. What was a 1-0 game suddenly became a four-run deficit for Boston.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “We’re No. 5! We’re No. 5! Wait, what?” – Big League Brian, the Fenway stilt walker, as fans entered Yawkey Way to watch the fifth-place (of five) Red Sox.
NUMBERS TO KNOW: White Sox starter Scott Carroll hadn’t posted more than one 1-2-3 inning in any of his previous six starts, but he registered four of them in the first five innings Monday … Jackie Bradley Jr. prevented Carroll from retiring the side in order in the sixth by working a nine-pitch walk to leadoff … At the time of Viciedo’s home run, Buchholz had given up five homers since coming off the disabled list, while also striking out five over that same span. Four comparison’s sake, consider that Buchholz allowed four homers while striking out 96 last season … To his credit, Buchholz retired the final 10 men he faced, six of them by way of the K. His 111th pitch was good for his season-high seventh strikeout … Adam Dunn gained some distance on David Ortiz on the all-time home run list, hitting No. 453 in the second. That’s the 35th-most ever; Ortiz’s 450 rank 37th … John Farrell challenged Jim Joyce’s ruling that Tyler Flowers was safe at first base after Stephen Drew’s throw pulled Mike Napoli off the bag in the fifth. The call was overturned, improving the Red Sox manager to 11-for-18 on challenges this year, and seven for his last nine … Buchholz pitched effectively to AL home run leader Jose Abreu, inducing a routine ground out in the first, then blowing him away with a 93 mph heater at the top of the strike zone. Abreu finished 0-for-3 against the starter, and even after singling off Felix Doubront in the ninth he is now 1-for-14 with a walk against the Red Sox this season … The start of the game was delayed 39 minutes by the severe weather that rolled through town just before the scheduled first pitch.
WHAT IT MEANS: Not only is the loss the Red Sox’ third straight, and their sixth in the first seven games of this homestand, but it puts them in some historic company. The 2014 team joins the 1997 squad as the only Boston teams since 1966 to reach 50 losses before playing their 89th game, and with that distinction the club remains lingering in last place, 10 games behind Baltimore in the AL East.
LOOKING AHEAD: Red takes on White again Tuesday night, when a four-game series continues with Boston’s Brandon Workman opposing Chicago lefty John Danks. Workman is coming off his worst start as a major leaguer, while Danks allowed the Red Sox one run in six innings during an April outing, and has pitched well the last two times out – while his name has begun to be mentioned among those who could be moved before the July 31 trade deadline.