On a day where the two teams ahead of them and the one team directly behind them in the American League East standings all won their respective games, a sloppy Red Sox team came out absolutely flat in a blowout 10-1 loss at the hands of the Rangers at Fenway Park on Saturday night.
After Chris Sale guided them to their 70th win of the season on Friday, Eduardo Rodriguez was unable to get the job done for the Sox in the middle game of this three-game weekend series.
In what was his 24th start of the year for Boston, Rodriguez allowed five runs — all of which were earned — on eight hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over just 3 2/3 innings of work.
Following a scoreless top half of the first, Rodriguez ran into some trouble in the top of the second when he issued a leadoff double to Nathaniel Lowe that was followed by a seven-pitch walk of Yohel Pozo.
Nick Solak plated one of those two runners by drilling an RBI single through a vacant right side of the infield, and after Andy Ibanez and Jose Trevino flew out, old friend Brock Holt drove in the other on an RBI single back up the middle.
Alex Verdugo had the opportunity to gun down that runner — Pozo — at home plate, but Christian Vazquez appeared to lose his balance while going for the tag and that allowed Pozo to cross home safely on a feet-first slide.
The Sox went down 2-0 on Vazquez’s miscue, but had the opportunity to get something back in their half of the second when J.D. Martinez ripped a one-out single off Rangers starter Jordan Lyles.
Martinez promptly moved up to second base on a two-out walk drawn by Hunter Renfroe and attempted to score on a single to right field off the bat of Vazquez, but was instead thrown out at home by rookie sensation Adolis Garcia for the final out of the inning.
Despite blowing that chance, Boston did get on the board in the bottom of the third, with Enrique Hernandez following up a Bobby Dalbec leadoff double by lacing an RBI single to right field to cut the deficit in half at 2-1.
Rafael Devers nearly came through with the Sox’ third straight hit to lead off the third when he tattooed a 105.3 mph line drive to dead center field.
Rather than come up with extra-bases, though, Devers instead flew out to D.J. Peters, as the Rangers center fielder made an incredible leaping grab at the base of the center field wall before doubling up Hernandez on a rocket of a throw back to first base.
That sequence of defensive brilliance killed Boston’s rally before it really even happened, and the Texas offense built off that momentum by getting to Rodriguez for good in the fourth.
There, with two outs and a runner at second, Holt hit a comebacker back in the direction of Rodriguez, but it was one that deflected off the veteran left-hander’s left field, rolled softly into shallow right field, and allowed Ibanez to score from second.
Holt, meanwhile, moved all the way up to third base on a throwing error committed by Hernandez, and he, too, scored on an RBI double from Isiah Kiner-Filefa that marked the end of the line for Rodriguez in what had become a 4-1 game.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 68 (47 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler ultimately fell to 9-7 on the season while seeing his ERA on the season rise to 5.19 after one of the runners he left on came into score.
In relief of Rodriguez, Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen, and he officially closed the book on the lefty’s night by allowing that aforementioned inherited runner — Kiner-Filefa — to cross the plate on an RBI single from Garcia as well as a throwing error by Xander Bogaerts.
From there, Garrett Richards yielded another run back-to-back one-out doubles in the fifth, Hansel Robles tossed a scoreless sixth inning, Adam Ottavino did the same in the seventh inning, Martin Perez got shelled for four more runs in the eighth, although only two of those runs were earned on account of a pair of errors committed by Devers and Renfroe.
Austin Davis, on the other hand, kept the Rangers off the board in a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, though by then it was too little, too late.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was unable to really get anything going against Lyles after pushing across a run in the third inning.
That lone run would prove to be the only offense of the night for the home side, as Lyles and two Rangers relievers combined to hurl nine innings of one-run ball while the Red Sox — despite going 2-for-4 with runners in scoring position — left five men on base as a team.
Speaking of the No. 5, the Sox committed as many errors on Saturday night as they recorded hits (5), so that is certainly not encouraging coming from a team with postseason aspirations.
With the 10-1 defeat, the Red Sox fall to 70-55 on the season and drop to 6 1/2 games back of the Rays for first place in the American League East, though they remain 1/2 game back of the Athletics for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Allard
For how poorly they played on Saturday, the Red Sox still have the chance to go for the series win over the last-place Rangers on Sunday afternoon.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will get the ball for Boston in Sunday’s series finale, while left-hander Kolby Allard will do the same for Texas.
First pitch Sunday (weather permitting) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)