A 4-0 loss to the Rays Wednesday afternoon left the Sox with their second straight series loss after not dropping one for more than a month.
It's impossible to deny it now: the Red Sox just aren't playing well. While the series loss doesn't bring the Rays any closer than eight games back in the Wild Card race, it's not a good sign by any stretch of the imagination. 11-11 over their last 22, the Sox have gone from July world-beaters to August mediocrities.
The troubles started, again, in the first, as the Sox allowed their opponents to score first for the ninth straight game. John Lackey would not ultimately be to blame, however, as Darnell McDonald was charged with an error on Johnny Damon's flair into right field with one-out that ended up falling in for a hit, and then bouncing by the inept right fielder. McDonald realistically shouldn't have even allowed the ball to fall in--his break came incredibly late--but even then he should have kept it from skipping by him. The scorer, however, decided to only award him an error for the latter portion of the play, but that was enough. Damon advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then came home to score on a ground ball out from Ben Zobrist.
The Rays would score three more times--twice off of solo shots from Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton, and again when Terry Francona asked Lackey for a seventh inning when the starter already had more than 100 pitches on his arm--but those scores wouldn't particularly matter. Even if John Lackey had given the Sox more than the quality start he did, he wouldn't have had any chance at a win given the decrepit state the offense is in right now.
For the third straight game, the Red Sox were held to just three hits, and this time it resulted in not a single run. They did have a couple of opportunities all the same. The first inning ended when Kevin Youkilis grounded into a double play with both Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez on base, and in the sixth Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff triple was wasted when the young center fielder tried to score on a ground ball picked off the ground by David Price. By drawing three walks they did manage to keep Price from picking up a complete game like his two teammates before him, but Kyle Farnsworth proved just as unhittable to a Sox lineup that's in a very bad way right now.
The team will try to set things right Thursday in Kansas City as they take on the Royals on their home turf.