LONDON — It’s time for some change, and the Red Sox know it.
Two games against the New York Yankees at London Stadium have made it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the Sox in 2019.
The Yankees scored nine runs off Marcus Walden, Matt Barnes and Josh Taylor in the seventh inning Sunday as they stormed out of England with a 12-8 win and left the Red Sox scratching their heads on the pitcher’s mound.
The Sox scored 21 runs in the weekend series and lost both as the Yankees scored 29.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora was as blunt as he’s been all year after his team fell 11 games back in the AL East.
“It wasn’t a good weekend on the field,” Cora said. “That’s a good offensive team, we know that. They’re a lot better than last year. The attention to detail is phenomenal ...They’re paying attention to details and we have to clean the details.”
With whispers of altered baseballs and questions of the atmosphere affecting breaking pitches, there were 50 runs scored — the most ever between these teams in a two-game stretch.
“It was eye-opening the last two days, from top to bottom,” Cora said. “And I’m not saying devices (for sign-stealing) and all that stuff, just stuff that the game will dictate, we’ll scream at people and it’s right there. Throughout the evening I was looking and I saw it. And right now, they’re a lot better than us so we need to get better.”
The baseballs were flying at London Stadium again on Sunday. And it was the Red Sox who struck first this time, when Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez went deep in a four-run first inning off Stephen Tarpley, who was making his first career start.
Eduardo Rodriguez needed 115 pitches to work through 5- 1/3 innings of two-run ball and Colten Brewer kept the 4-2 lead intact through the sixth.
But Walden had nothing working for him as he started the seventh inning by allowing four straight batters to reach safely. He threw 20 pitches and didn’t record a single out while his ERA jumped to 3.48. Walden has a 7.24 ERA in his last 15 games since May 28.
“I’m missing location with my slider,” Walden said.
It’s been no better for Barnes, whose 94-mph heater wasn’t effective against the potent Yankees lineup, which smacked him around for three runs before he was removed. Barnes now has a 10.22 ERA over his last 14 games after starting the year with a 1.99 ERA through 23 games.
Is there anyone in the Red Sox’ bullpen other than Brandon Workman who can get outs with any regularity?
“There are scouting reports out,” Walden said. “It’s not a hidden secret what we’re doing. We’re able to change our approach and go back after it.”
Breaking balls down and fastballs up has been the Red Sox recipe for some time, with Workman, Barnes and Walden all relying heavily on their off-speed pitches, often early in the count as they pitch backward to get ahead.
But something needs to change after the Red Sox have now blown 17 saves this year, second-most in the majors. Only the New York Mets have more.
“We have to make adjustments,” said pitching coach Dana LeVangie. “We’re probably at that point right now. It could be a lot of everything. Attack plans, want to look at the small things just to make sure something isn’t going on that other people might know about, deliveries and making sure they’re best in their deliveries.”
The coaches admitted they need to be better, too.
“Everything,” LeVangie said. “The small things. Runners on second base, sign systems, all the above. Trying to clean up everything we’ve done good for a year and a half. Maybe we need to make adjustments.”
Their relievers threw 12- 1/3 innings and allowed 21 runs to score in two games this weekend.
Altogether, the Yankees went 32-for-85 (.376) while scoring 29 runs in those two games.
Asked if there was any explanation for all the runs, LeVangie said, “Major League Baseball put on a good show here in London, a lot of scoring, creates some really good fan interest.”
With the trade deadline now just a month away, the Sox are 11 games back in the division and trail the Texas Rangers by two games for the second wild card. They’re also behind the Indians and A’s for that spot while the Angels linger just two games behind.
Cora said this team is still capable of winning the World Series.
Xander Bogaerts, who Cora called the team’s leader, looked defeated after this one. The offense couldn’t do much better than it did.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I think we put up two of the best games offensive-wise that we had this year. I mean, especially back-to-back. And to not win, I think that’s really rough. I think if you ask anyone, if you put up close to double-digit numbers in back-to-back games, you should probably win at least one. That wasn’t’ the case.”