James Paxton runs into early trouble as Red Sox get swept by Angels in 7-3 loss

The Red Sox were unable to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels on Wednesday night. Boston dropped its third straight to Los Angeles and its fourth overall in a 7-3 loss at Angel Stadium to fall to 26-24 on the season.

With Tyler Anderson starting for the Halos, the Sox had a chance to strike early. After singling to lead off the top half of the second inning, Rafael Devers went from first to third base on a one-out single off the bat of Pablo Reyes. Connor Wong then came up to the plate and worked a 2-2 count before madness ensued.

Wong whiffed at an 88.4 mph fastball at the top of the zone. At the same time, Reyes took off for second base, prompting Angels catcher Chad Wallach to unleash a throw to Luis Rengifo, who was covering the bag. Rengifo, however, noticed that Devers had taken off for home in an attempt to score and wasted little time in gunning him down at the plate to complete the inning-ending strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play.

Perhaps that sequence of events gave the Angels some momentum, because they broke through against Red Sox starter James Paxton in the latter half of the second. Paxton, who had given up just three runs through his first two starts (11 innings) of the season, issued a leadoff walk to Hunter Renfroe. Brandon Drury followed by roping a double to right field to put runners at second and third for Gio Urshela, who opened the scoring by plating Renfroe with a 315-foot sacrifice fly.

Paxton fanned Rengifo for the second out, but he extended the inning by issuing a seven-pitch walk to Wallach. Rookie shortstop Zach Neto then broke it open by crushing a 392-foot three-run home run to right field to put the Angels up, 4-0. An inning later, Paxton was bitten by the long ball again, this time serving up a one-out solo shot to the vaunted Shohei Ohtani to increase the deficit to five runs.

Though Paxton got through the rest of the third unscathed, the damage had already been done. The veteran left-hander wound up allowing five earned runs on four hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts over three innings of work. He finished with 59 pitches (35 strikes) and was charged with the losing decision as his ERA on the year rose to 5.14.

With Paxton done for the night, the Red Sox lineup finally got to Anderson in the fourth. Masataka Yoshida laced a one-out double to center field and Enrique Hernandez promptly drove him in with a two-base hit of his own to cut the Angels’ lead back down to four runs at 5-1.

Alas, Hernandez was left at second as Reyes grounded out to extinguish the threat. Nick Pivetta then came on for Paxton in the bottom of the fourth. After sandwiching a Neto single in between recording the first two outs of the inning, the righty served up a towering 396-foot two-run homer to Trout that put Boston in a 7-1 hole.

Despite the early indications that it might not have been his night, Pivetta rallied and put up zeroes in the fifth and sixth innings. The Red Sox then got one of those runs back in the seventh when Wong took Angels reliever Reyes Moronta 396 feet deep to left-center field for his fifth home run of the year.

Moments after Wong rounded the bases, Raimel Tapia ripped a one-out single and Rob Refsnyder and Justin Turner each drew two-out walks off Moronta to fill the bases for Yoshida. Angels manager Phil Nevin responded by giving Moronta the hook in favor of Chris Devenski, who got Yoshida to ground out to first.

Following two more scoreless frames from Justin Garza and Kenley Jansen, Wong came into score on an RBI single from Refsnyder with two outs in the top of the ninth. Turner then fittingly lined out to Trout to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base as a team on Wednesday. They have scored just four runs in their last 41 innings dating back to the fourth inning of Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Padres in San Diego.

Next up: On to Arizona

The Red Sox will travel to Phoenix late Wednesday night and have Thursday off. They will then open a three-game weekend series against the Diamondbacks on Friday. Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston while Arizona has yet to name a starter.

First pitch from Chase Field is scheduled for 9:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of James Paxton: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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