For the first time since June 4, the Red Sox are under .500. Boston blew a late lead and ultimately fell to the Guardians by a final score of 7-6 on Wednesday night to drop to 49-50 on the season.
Nathan Eovaldi, making his second start since returning from the injured list on July 15, allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over six innings of work.
Three of those five Cleveland runs came in the top half of the second inning. Franmil Reyes led off with a ground-rule double and moved up to third base on an Owen Miller single. Following a mound visit from pitching coach Dave Bush, Eovaldi got Nolan Jones to chop a groundball in the direction of Franchy Cordero at first base.
Cordero, while running to his right, attempted to corral the ball with his glove but picked it off the ground barehanded. With his momentum carrying him in the opposite direction, he made an awkward throw to Eovaldi, who was covering the first-base bag. Said, throw, however, was nowhere near Eovaldi and instead rolled into the Red Sox dugout. So not only did Reyes score on the play, but Miller advanced to third while Jones reached base safely.
The Guardians took full advantage of Cordero’s fielding and throwing errors, as Austin Hedges plated Miller on an RBI groundout and Straw drove in Jones on a run-scoring double to give his side an early 3-0 advantage.
The Red Sox, matched up against right-hander Cal Quantrill, responded by scoring two runs of their own in the bottom of the second. After Cordero drew a two-out walk, Bobby Dalbec crushed a 410-foot two-run home run over the Green Monster to cut the deficit to one at 3-2.
Eovaldi, meanwhile ran into more trouble in the fourth, when Jones led off with a sharply-hit double and moved up to third on a successful sacrifice bunt laid down by Hedges. Straw fanned on four pitches for the second out, but Steven Kwan and Amed Rosario kept the inning alive by stringing together back-to-back run-scoring hits.
Once more, the Sox kept the pressure on by answering with two runs in the latter half of the fourth. Christian Vazquez reached on a one-out single and then scored all the way from first on an RBI double off the bat of Cordero that neither Kawan or Rosario could handle cleanly. As a result, Cordero advanced up to third base and easily scored on a Dalbec sacrifice fly.
At the very least, Eovaldi was able to settle down a bit from there. The 32-year-old right-hander retired eight of the final nine batters he faced leading into the middle of the sixth inning. Of the 95 pitches he wound up throwing, 67 went for strikes. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.32.
The Cordero-Dalbec combo struck again in the bottom of the sixth. Moments after the former reached base on a force out, the latter followed by clubbing his second home run of the night. Dalbec’s 10th homer of the season left his bat at 107.1 mph and traveled 397 feet to dead center field. It also gave the Red Sox their first lead of the contest at 6-5.
That newfound lead would not last long, though. After John Schreiber worked a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Eovaldi, the righty was called upon again to take the mound in the eighth. He begin the frame by giving up an infield single to Jones, but the Guardians rookie was able to take second base as well thanks to another Cordero throwing error.
Schreiber then surrendered a game-tying RBI double to Straw. An inning later, Tanner Houck served up a go-ahead solo homer to Josh Naylor that put Cleveland back up, 6-5.
Emmanuel Clase came on to close things out in the ninth for the second straight night and did just that by making quick work of Jackie Bradley Jr., Yolmer Sanchez, and Rob Refsnyder.
With the loss, Boston has now dropped seven of its last eight games to fall to a dismal 6-17 in the month of July. It is also 31-41 against teams with winning records and 13-16 in one-run games this season.
According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Cordero is the first Red Sox first baseman to commit three errors in a single game since Mo Vaughn did so in 1993.
Dalbec, on the other hand, has four hits in his last seven games. Three of those have left the yard.
Next up: Crawford vs. McKenzie
The Red Sox will look to settle for a four-game series split in Thursday’s finale with the Guardians. In a starting pitching matchup featuring a pair of right-handers who went to high school in Florida, Kutter Crawford will get the ball for Boston while Triston McKenzie will do the same for Cleveland.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)