The Red Sox ended a three-game split versus the Rays Sunday with a 3-2 loss to make it four straight losses.
“I really don’t think there’s room for panic here,” Boston starter Nick Pivetta said Sunday night, following the loss. “We’ve played incredible baseball up to this point. It’s a 162-game season and we’ve just kind of got to grind through this and move onto Detroit. I think we go out and win a series against them and we just kind of move on from there.”
Boston dropped the finale of a series versus the Toronto Blue Jays, 13-1, on Thursday night after splitting a doubleheader Wednesday. In the past four games, the Sox have been outscored 28-11, and Nick Pivetta was the only starter in those four games to allow less than four runs.
“Tough one,” manager Alex Cora said Sunday night. “We didn’t do much offensively. I mean, today was our best game — that’s more like it. They scored three runs, we had traffic. We didn’t push them to the plate but overall, I’m pleased with this game. We had J.D. (Martinez) with first and third with a chance to tie the game, and it just didn’t happen. But, I think overall (tonight) was a lot better.
“It’s a tough one,” Cora continued. “We get an off-day tomorrow, and we have to reset for Tuesday. But, like I said, that was a better baseball game than the last two.”
Boston’s loss Sunday comes after J.D. Martinez failed to cash in with two outs and runners on the corners in the top of the ninth, as Martinez popped out to give the Rays the victory. The Red Sox went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the loss.
“It’s been a tough stretch for everybody,” said Cora. “Obviously we’re a little bit banged up, but that was a tough series. It will be good to have an off-day tomorrow… and be ready for Tuesday.”
Prior to Sunday, Red Sox starters had recent struggles. Nathan Eovaldi allowed six runs Saturday, Martin Perez allowed six runs Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez allowed six runs while not even making it out of the fourth inning.
“We didn’t pitch the first two nights (and) tonight,” Cora remarked. “We had a lot of traffic. Offensively it’s been weird the past few days, right? A lot of traffic, but not being able to cash in — and that’s something that’s been going on for a while, right? We had the big game in Buffalo, but we’ve been playing a lot of close games. We had a lot of traffic, a lot of times. We need to do a better job of controlling the strike zone in certain situations. We don’t mind striking out, but in others we have to put the ball in play — and we haven’t done that in a while. We got to do a better job offensively, and obviously we got to pitch better — (but) today was a better day for us.”
After losing three straight series to the Angels, Phillies, and Yankees, Boston responded by winning six of seven. But since then, they’ve lost five of the past six.
“We’ve been talking about this for a while. When we control the strike zone, we’re good,” Cora stated. “When we don’t, we get into trouble. We get traffic, we get hits — we know that. But, in certain situations, we just got to be, ‘hey, take your walk.’ Pass the baton to the next guy.”
Some Red Sox hitters have seen a decline of late to go along with the team’s struggles. As noted by bloggingtheredsox.com‘s Brendan Campbell on Twitter, Xander Bogaerts is hitting just .205/.288/.319 since the All-Star break, posting a wRC+ of just 59 and hitting just one homer through 13 games (58 plate appearances).
J.D. Martinez is also just 3-for-29 (.103/.103/.108) in his past seven games, while Hunter Renfroe is just 5-for-23 (.217/.280/.478) in his past seven games.
“Earlier in the season, we were playing good and they sucked,” Cora said. “It’s a part of baseball. It’s 162 games, and you got to stay the course. Right now, we’re in a position where we’re in second place of the division with what happened this weekend, but it’s part of it. They went on a roll for a month and a half — they won maybe 25 out of 28 games, and they played extremely well, and we’re still here. I mean.. we don’t like losing, and… we want to be more consistent, but it’s just part of the season.”
Cora says that stretches like these are the same thing as when they won nine straight at the beginning of the season, after getting swept by the Baltimore Orioles to start the season.
“We’ve done it the whole season. We were 0-3 and out of the race after the third game of the season,” said the manager. “We had plenty of Opening Days throughout the season, and we have to prove ourselves throughout, and we’re still here. It’s just four games. We know that. It’s just kind of like winning nine games in a row. It’s the same thing. You’re going to get hot, you’re going to get cold.”
The Red Sox went 7-9 in their 18-game divisional stretch (two postponements) versus only the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays. They’ll face the Tigers in Detroit starting on Tuesday in a three-game set before facing the Blue Jays and Rays.
“Like I said after the third game of the season, I still like our team,” Cora said. “And when I say we won nine in a row, I still like our team. Do we have to work for our stuff? Of course. We’re not perfect. Nobody’s perfect in this league. We’ve just got to keep grinding. Like I said, today was a better day.”
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)