The Red Sox came into the eighth inning of Saturday’s game against the Phillies at Fenway Park trailing only by a run at 3-2.
Josh Taylor, after recording the final out of the seventh, was looking to notch his 27th straight scoreless appearance out of the bullpen in the eighth, but got off to a poor start by issuing a leadoff single to Bryce Harper.
A five-pitch walk of Andrew McCutchen did not do Taylor any more favors, and neither did a two-run double off the bat of Rhys Hoskins that resulted in the left-hander’s scoreless streak coming to an unceremonious close.
Taylor would get the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after plunking the next man he faced, and in came Brandon Workman, inheriting a bit of a mess.
Workman, like Taylor, failed to record an out in the top of the eighth, as the veteran reliever walked a batter to fill the bases before yielding two runs on an RBI single and bases-loaded walk.
Turning to his bullpen for the second time in the inning, Cora handed things off to the recently-recalled Austin Brice, who proceeded to allow four additional Philadelphia runs to cross the plate on hits from Jean Segura and Harper before eventually and mercifully getting out of the inning.
By the time that happened, though, the Sox found themselves in a considerable 11-2 hole, and they would go on to lose by that score on Saturday evening.
Perez’s poor start
Martin Perez made his 18th start of the season for Boston on Saturday, and he did not end the first half of his season on much of a positive note.
That being the case because in just 3 2/3 innings of work, the left-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on six hits and two walks to go along four strikeouts and two home runs on the afternoon.
Right out of the gate, Perez fell victim to the long ball, as he served a leadoff home run to Jean Segura in the top of the first to put his side in an early hole.
An inning later, Perez again dealt with some early trouble, this time walking leadoff man Rhys Hoskins before giving up a booming two-run shot to Alec Bohm, making it a 3-0 game in favor of Philadelphia.
The Red Sox lineup was able to counter off Phillies starter Matt Moore by pushing across two runs of their own on a Xander Bogaerts solo homer (his 14th of the year) in the second and a pickoff error that allowed Christian Vazquez to score from second base in the third, cutting the deficit down to one run at 3-2.
Perez, however, saw his day come to a close sooner than he probably expected in the top half of the fourth, when he gave up a two-out single and walk to Ronald Torreyes and Andrew Knapp, making way for Hirokazu Sawamura to take over.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 73 (47 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler wraps up the first half of his 2021 campaign with a 7-5 record and an ERA of 4.04.
Red Sox bullpen takes over
In relief of Perez, Sawamura took over in the fourth, recorded the final out of the frame, and tossed a scoreless top half of the fifth as well.
From there, Garrett Whitlock retired three of the four hitters he faced in the sixth and got the first two outs of the seventh while also giving up a single to Jean Segura.
With the left-handed hitting Bryce Harper due up next for the Phils, Cora turned to the left-handed throwing Taylor, and while the southpaw got out of the inning without facing Harper thanks to a successful pickoff of Segura, that matchup is where things took a turn for the worse for the Sox.
Taylor’s scoreless streak snapped
By surrendering two runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman in the eighth inning on Saturday, Josh Taylor’s impressive run of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances was snapped.
Prior to Saturday, the last time the lefty had given up a run came on April 24, meaning he went 77 days without seeing his ERA increase.
Taylor’s streak of 26 consecutive scoreless appearances goes down as the second-longest such run in Red Sox history, trailing only Koji Uehara’s 27 straight scoreless outings during the 2013 season.
Slow day for the Red Sox lineup
While the Red Sox bats were able to get to Matt Moore for two runs early on Saturday, they were unable to get anything going offensively the rest of the way.
From the middle of the fourth inning on, Moore and the Phillies bullpen (Hector Neris, Bailey Falter, J.D. Hammer, Connor Brogdon) put nothing but zeroes on the board for their side to contribute to the victory.
All in all, Boston went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on Saturday while leaving seven men on base as a team.
Rays closing gap in division
With the 11-2 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 55-35 on the season. They have dropped three of their last four, resulting in the Rays trimming Boston’s hold of first place in the American League East down to 1/2 games.
Next up: Nola vs. Pivetta
The Red Sox will look to close out the first half of their 2021 season with a series victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.
Philadelphia will send right-hander Aaron Nola to the hill in the rubber game, while Boston will dispatch fellow righty and former Phillies hurler Nick Pivetta, who will be making his first career start against his old team in the finale of this three-game series.
First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.