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A dubious first for 2018: Red Sox swept

Union Leader wire reports
August 26. 2018 8:20PM
Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora talks with designated hitter Steve Pearce during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox have reached their low point.

An ugly series came to end on Sunday, when the Sox were blown out by the Tampa Bay Rays in a 9-1 loss. The win was Tampa Bay’s eighth straight, matching their season high.

The Rays became the first team all year to sweep the Red Sox, who have now lost six of their last eight games. Previously, they hadn’t lost six in any span fewer than 11 games all year.

Sunday’s loss cut their lead over the Yankees in the American League East to 6½ games, their smallest lead in almost four weeks. The Yankees were scheduled to play the last-place Orioles in Baltimore Sunday night.

What’s gone wrong for the Red Sox in this poor stretch? Just about everything, but most notably the starting pitching.

Nathan Eovaldi submitted another stinker on Sunday, giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits over four innings. After beginning his Red Sox career with 15 shutout innings in his first two starts, Eovaldi has allowed 21 runs (14 earned) over 17 innings his last four.

The Red Sox have received just one quality start, a gem from David Price, in the last eight games. The rotation has combined for a 6.47 ERA in that span.

The offense hasn’t been much better.

Blake Snell continued his brilliant season with another dominant start against the Red Sox, his fourth this year. He allowed just two hits and one run in six innings, striking out eight. Snell (16-5) became the majors’ fourth 16-game winner.

The Sox scored just five runs all series.

They were 3-for-28 on Sunday and have hit just .251 with three homers in their eight-game slide.

At least Mookie Betts got off the schneid with a single on Sunday. He had been hitless in two straight games, and five of his last eight.

Boston’s lone run came in the sixth on a walk to Sandy Leon, a double by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a sacrifice fly by Betts.

The Sox played this one without J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi, who were scheduled for days of rest, despite an off-day on Monday. Manager Alex Cora said he wanted Martinez to get two off-days in a row for the first time all year. Benintendi hasn’t been as effective against left-handed starters.

But Cora managed the bullpen like the Sox were trying to win. At the very least, he got his best relievers some work before the day off.

After Eovaldi departed, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes and Craig Kimbrel each pitched, each of them but Kimbrel allowing multiple baserunners. Kimbrel threw a perfect eighth inning while striking out the side.

The Rays’ Matt Duffy scored twice, had three hits and drove in two runs, spearheading a 12-hit attack.

The Rays jumped on former teammate Eovaldi for two runs in the first inning and never looked back. Ji-Man Choi had an RBI single and Jake Bauers a sacrifice fly to account for the scoring.

Duffy, who singled and scored in the first, duplicated the feat in the third inning when the Rays added three runs, including two on a two-out triple by Kevin Kiermaier that made it 5-0.

Duffy drove in runs with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a double in the sixth, before Michael Perez capped the Tampa Bay scoring in the seventh with a two-run double.

The Sox headed home to Fenway Park, where they’ll play two games against the last-place Miami Marlins on Tuesday and Wednesday before flying to Chicago for a four-game set with the fourth-place White Sox.

Boston Herald and Field Level Media

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