CHICAGO — The Red Sox had what amounted to a joy ride to the World Series last season, staying in first place in the American League East for all but a few weeks in May. Now every day seems to bring a new trial.
The last-place Red Sox lost again Tuesday night, 2-1, against the Chicago White Sox. A frigid night ended when a throwing error by rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Chicago the winning run.
The Red Sox (5-9) have lost three straight and eight of their last 11 games. They were held to a season-low three hits and struck out 12 times.
The Red Sox also saw another key player leave the game with an injury. Mike Napoli dislocated his left ring finger sliding into second base in the ninth inning. The finger was snapped back into place and Napoli was fitted with a splint. He is day to day.
Napoli is one of the few Red Sox having a good season at the plate. He was 1 for 3 with a walk Tuesday and is hitting .302 with three home runs and nine RBIs.
“I saw my finger sideways. I didn’t know what to think but I’ve seen people with a dislocated finger before. It will probably be sore,” said Napoli, who hopes only to miss a few days.
The Sox lost the game in similarly painful fashion. Alexei Ramirez singled off Burke Badenhop (0-2) with one out. With two outs, lefthander Chris Capuano came in to face lefthanded hitting Adam Eaton and walked him on four pitches.
Righthanded hitting Marcus Semien appeared struck out when he offered at a 2-and-2 pitch and checked his swing.
Third base umpire Doug Eddings called David Ortiz out on less of a swing in the fourth inning but first base umpire Corey Blaser ruled that Semien didn’t swing at the high fastball.
“The check swing, from the open side clearly looked to us it was [a swing],” Sox manager John Farrell said. “Given some other check swings that were called here tonight, that was a little more extensive.”
Said Capuano: “I thought the pitch was a strike. I wasn’t even looking at the swing. Put the ball right where I wanted it.”
Semien grounded the next pitch to shortstop. Bogaerts had trouble getting a grip on the ball and threw low to first base. The ball bounced well in front of the bag but Mike Carp, who had replaced Napoli, couldn’t field the bounce, turning his head as the ball came at him.
“There’s no excuse for that play. It’s a ball I should have thrown right in the chest to him,” Bogaerts said. “You can use it in two ways: I can be down and keep going down from there or I can use it as a turning point. Something to move on from and turn the season around.”
The Red Sox are averaging only 3.3 runs and have been held to two or fewer runs six times. They were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and are 21 of 108 (.194) for the season.The Red Sox have been limited by injuries but also by impatient at-bats.
“We’ve got to put together a game with who is here and we’ve got confidence in everybody who’s active,” Farrell said. “It’s challenging when you put some physical issues inside of what we’re trying to do from a game plan standpoint. You make do.”
The White Sox announced it was 40 degrees at first pitch, which was wishful thinking given that the National Weather Service had the temperature at 36. The Red Sox have played in colder weather — it was 34 for an April game against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park in 2003 — but not often.
Only 13,402 fans attended the game and the teams skipped batting practice on the field because of the cold. Many of the players wore hooded sweatshirts and in some cases facemasks under their jerseys.
The White Sox also closed the upper deck of the stadium, allowing fans there to move to lower-level seats more protected from the wind.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy returned to US Cellular Field for the first since he was traded last July. The righthander allowed one run on three hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out eight.
Peavy has a 1.93 earned run average over three starts but does not have a decision.
Peavy needed 40 pitches to get through the second inning but allowed only one run. That was on a home run to right field by his old friend, Adam Dunn. He left two runners stranded by striking out Tyler Flowers looking at a curveball.
Peavy threw a relatively tidy 60 pitches over the four innings that followed.
“It sets you back when you throw 40 in one inning,” Peavy said. “Going deep in the ballgame is out the window at that point in time. But we battled through six and gave us a chance to win.”
Chicago starter Erik Johnson, a 24-year-old rookie, retired the first seven Red Sox in order before Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a walk and backup second baseman Jonathan Herrera singled.
But Grady Sizemore flied to center field before Bogaerts, who is still looking for his first run batted in, struck out. Bogaerts is hitless in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Overall, he is 8 of 41 (.195) since the Red Sox took two of three at Baltimore to open the season.
“It’s just one swing away,” he said.
The Sox scored in the fourth inning when Daniel Nava drove a high fastball deep into the stands in right field for his second home run.
The Sox left runners in scoring position in the seventh and ninth innings.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.