Red Sox muster just 5 hits as offensive struggles continue in 4-1 loss to Athletics

The Red Sox have been mired in offensive struggles as of late, and those struggles continued in a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Athletics at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Facing off against rookie right-hander James Kaprielian, who was making his first career start, the Sox had a chance to pile on some runs right away in their half of the first.

With Marwin Gonzalez and Alex Verdugo reaching base on a double and walk, J.D. Martinez proceeded to rip a line drive to right-center field that appeared well hit enough to drive in Gonzalez from second.

Boston instead decided to play things conservatively, as Gonzalez was held up at third, which would prove to be costly considering the fact the only run they brought across in the inning came on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Christian Vazquez.

In the fifth, the Red Sox again had Kapreielian on the ropes, this time with Gonzalez and Verdugo at first and third with no outs.

Martinez proceeded to ground into a fielder’s choice in which Gonzalez was caught in a rundown between third and home before both Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers struck out to end the inning.

Fast forward to the eighth, the Sox found themselves in another position where they were threatening to score runs in a game they were trailing by three at 4-1.

There, Bogaerts drew a one-out walk off A’s reliever Lou Trivino and advanced all the way to third on a sharply-hit double off the bat of Devers.

With the tying run at the plate, Vazquez grounded out sharply to second base and upon receiving the throw from old friend Jed Lowrie, Athletics first baseman gunned down Bogaerts as he was trying to score from third for an inning-ending double play.

All in all, the Sox went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base as a team.

Rodriguez fans 9 over 6 innings, suffers first loss of season

While the Red Sox lineup was struggling to push anything across the A’s on Wednesday, Eduardo Rodriguez made his eighth start of the season for Boston in this one.

The left-hander yielded four runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and one walk to go along with a season-high nine strikeouts over six innings of work.

After allowing back-to-back two-out hits in the top of the second to give up his first run of the night, Rodriguez settled down for a bit before running into more trouble in the fifth.

A leadoff single from Mitch Moreland followed by a double from Elvis Andrus put the Sox starter in a tough spot, and one that allowed Lowrie to pick up an RBI and advance a runner to third on an run-scoring groundout.

With one more out to get, Rodriguez made a costly mistake in that he balked and by doing so allowed Andrus to score from third and make it a 3-1 game. He then served up a leadoff solo shot to Olson in the sixth before retiring the final three hitters he faced.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (63 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 43% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing four swings-and-misses and topping out at 94 mph with the pitch.

Later hit with his first loss of the season, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Blue Jays in Dunedin next Tuesday.

Hunter Renfroe picks up jaw-dropping outfield assist

Rodriguez very well could have surrendered more than four runs on Wednesday were it not for the efforts for his right fielder Hunter Renfroe.

On a scalding line drive to dead center off the bat of Matt Chapman in the top of the second, Renfroe — while backing up Alex Verdugo — fielded the ball off the wall and made a blistering, 92 mph throw from right-center field to nab Chapman at third after he attempted to turn a one-out double into a triple.

Renfroe’s one-hop throw reached third baseman Rafael Devers in a matter of seconds, and it was good for the second out of the inning.

Red Sox bullpen combines to toss three scoreless frames

In relief of Rodriguez, the recently called-up Eduard Bazardo came on for what was his Fenway Park debut.

Just recalled from Triple-A Worcester in place of Nick Pivetta, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list earlier Wednesday, Bazardo sat down six of the seven Athletics he faced.

The righty reliever needed 28 pitches to get through the seventh and eighth innings while picking up a pair of strikeouts.

From there, Austin Brice put together a nice bounce back performance by working a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Next up: Manaea vs. Richards

After dropping their third straight to fall to 22-16 on the season, the Red Sox will look to salvage this three-game series against the A’s during Thursday night’s finale.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will toe the rubber for Boston, and he will be opposed by left-hander Sean Manaea for Oakland.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Garrett Richards issues 6 walks as Red Sox fall to Blue Jays, 6-3

On a rainy Wednesday night at Fenway Park that caused first pitch of their game to be pushed back by about 31 minutes, the Red Sox fell short of their pursuit of another come-from-behind-victory and were instead beaten by the Blue Jays, 6-3, to drop to 12-7 on the season.

Garrett Richards struggled mightily and battled control issues in his fourth start of the year for Boston in this one.

Over 4 2/3 innings of work, the veteran right-hander yielded four runs — all of which were earned — on four hits, one hit batsman, and a season-high six walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

Richards put the first three Blue Jays he faced — Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. — on base on a walk, a HBP, and an RBI single off the bat of Guerrero Jr.

He managed to escape the top half of the first having just given up the one run, but more trouble arose for Richards in the second when he surrendered an additional three runs in an inning that included three hits, two walks, a sacrifice fly and run-scoring groundout, and a wild pitch.

After recording the final out of the second, Richards did string together a decent stretch in which he retired eight out of 10 Toronto hitters at one point, but a two-out walk of Marcus Semien in the fifth that put runners on first and second would mark the end of his day.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 92 — only 48 of which were strikes, the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 72% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing just two swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.7 mph with the pitch.

Falling to 0-2 on the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 6.48, Richards will look to bounce back in his next time out, which should come against the Mets in Queens next Tuesday.

In relief of Richards, Hirokazu Sawamura came on with two outs and two runners on in the top half of the fifth, recorded the final out of the frame, then faced the minimum three batters in a scoreless sixth inning.

From there, Phillips Valdez continued his impressive season-opening run by punching out two in a perfect top of the seventh, Austin Brice danced his way around traffic while keeping the Jays off the board in the eighth, and Josh Taylor got rocked for two runs on two hits and three walks in the ninth, which resulted in Toronto going from having a 4-3 lead to a 6-3 lead.

Taylor now owns a 10.80 ERA through his first eight appearances of the season.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that welcomed back the likes of Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton to begin things on Wednesday.

After falling behind 4-0 early on, Devers got the scoring started for his side in the fourth inning by driving in J.D. Martinez from third on an RBI groundout to short off reliever Tommy Milone.

A double and single from Marwin Gonzalez and Bobby Dalbec to lead off the fifth put the Sox in a prime position to score, and they did so when Enrique Hernandez greeted David Phelps and drilled a one-out, run-scoring double down the left field line that brought in Gonzalez from second.

Now trailing by just two runs with one out and runners in scoring position, Boston appeared ready to turn this game on its head with the meat of their lineup due to hit.

Instead of that happening, though, Verdugo was called out on strikes, Martinez walked to fill the bases, and Xander Bogaerts grounded out to retire the side and thus extinguish the threat.

Bogaerts was able to cut into the deficit by crushing his second home run in as many days in the bottom of the eighth, but three runs is all the Red Sox could manage offensively in what would go down as a 6-3 defeat.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday.

The Red Sox are 11-4 in games not started by Garrett Richards.

The Red Sox are 6-6 at Fenway Park and 6-1 away from Fenway Park.

After winning nine in a row from April 5-14, the Red Sox are 3-4 in their last seven games.

The Red Sox — after settling for a series-split against the Jays — will welcome the Mariners into town for a four-game weekend series that begins Thursday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta will be getting the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by fellow righty Justin Dunn for Seattle.

Dunn, a former first-round pick of the Mets back in 2016, spent three years at Boston College from 2014-2016.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)