Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was careful to say on Tuesday afternoon he wasn’t giving up on the season but had to be realistic about the standings and open to the idea of making trades to prepare for 2015.
That notion was reinforced a few hours later when the Red Sox lost again, 8-3, against the Chicago White Sox before a crowd of 35,345 at Fenway Park.
The Red Sox took two of three games against the Yankees in New York and returned home six games out of first. They have lost seven of eight since and now sit 10½ games behind, their largest deficit of the season.
“When we started the homestand we felt like this 10-game stretch was going to be pivotal to some internal decisions that are to be made,” manager John Farrell said. “We fully recognize where we are. This homestand has not been what we anticipated.”
Righthander Jake Peavy spoke to Cherington before the game about the possibility of being traded. That move could come at any time.
“It’s an unfortunate situation to have to sit here and talk about the reality of the situation that we’re in,” Peavy said.
Peavy is sure not to be the only veteran to go. Whether it’s by trade or release, the Red Sox now seem ready to start the process of reshaping their roster and preparing for next season.
At 39-51, the Red Sox have their worst record after 90 games since the 1997 team also was 39-51. Before that you have to go back to 1966, when the Red Sox were 37-53.
Tuesday night’s game wasn’t quite the embarrassment of Monday night, when the Red Sox were two-hit and shut out. But there was the usual assortment of runners left on base (nine), errors (two), and empty seats (thousands by the eighth inning) as the team continued its slide.
Trailing, 3-0, the Red Sox tied the score only to see Chicago score the final five runs, three in the ninth inning.
“We were looking forward to playing well at home going into the break and going to Houston and playing some teams under .500. Thought maybe we could make a push,” catcher David Ross said. “We just haven’t done it.”
Red Sox starter Brandon Workman (1-3) went seven innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket after the game.
The 25-year-old righthander has made three starts since serving a six-game suspension for throwing behind the head of Tampa Bay’s Evan Longoria and the results have not been good. Workman has allowed 13 earned runs on 15 hits [five home runs] and seven walks.
He was better Tuesday night but still not as sharp as he was before the suspension.
“I thought it was a step in the right direction off of last time,” Workman said.
Workman loaded the bases to start the second inning on a walk and two singles. Dayan Viciedo followed with a ground ball to first base.
Mike Napoli was perfectly positioned to get a force at the plate if not a double play. But he could not get a grip on the ball, then dropped it when he turned to get the out at first.
“I was going to come home. Had the ball in my hand but didn’t have control of it,” Napoli said.
A second run scored when Alejandro De Aza grounded into a double play. The Red Sox have allowed 38 unearned runs this season, seven fewer than all last season.
The Red Sox did not score over the first four innings despite putting seven runners on base against White Sox starter John Danks. To that point, they had gone 18 consecutive innings without scoring.
Down by that 3-0 deficit, the Red Sox finally started hitting. Brock Holt led off the fifth with a triple to center field, a ball that could have been a single had Adam Eaton not tried to make a diving catch. Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI double to left field.
David Ortiz launched a fly ball to center that was caught just a few feet in front of the garage door. Pedroia tagged and went to third. Napoli followed with a double off the wall in left center.
Singles by Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts scored Napoli.
For Bogaerts, it was his first hit with a runner in scoring position since May 29. He had been hitless in 29 consecutive at-bats until he lined a single to left field.
The Red Sox had a chance to take the lead with two on and one out but Danks struck out Ross and Stephen Drew swinging.
Drew was 0 for 3 with a walk and is hitless in his last 13 at-bats with six strikeouts. Drew is 11 of 84 (.131) over 24 games since the Red Sox brought him back.
Workman, given what amounts to significant run support these days, squandered it. Jose Abreu led off the top of the sixth with a single to left and scored on a home run down the line in right by Conor Gillaspie with two outs.
Workman left a full-count cutter right over the plate.
“If I could have one pitch back, it would be that one,” Workman said. “It’s definitely a situation where you want to put a zero up right there.”
Workman was downcast after being called into Farrell’s office and told he was headed back to the minors. But he could return after the All-Star break if the Red Sox make some moves.
Or, given the atmosphere at Fenway, when they make moves. The defending World Series champions are about to be broken up.