The Red Sox dutifully gathered in front of the Green Monster on Thursday afternoon to take a team photo that surely no player, coach, or fan will be in any hurry to hang on the wall.
A few hours later, another grim chapter in this sad season unfolded as the Sox were held to one hit in a 2-0 loss against the Los Angeles Angels.
A double by Will Middlebrooks with two outs in the seventh inning spared the Red Sox from the embarrassment of being no-hit. They did not otherwise come close to a hit and put only three men on base against Matt Shoemaker and two relievers.
It was the second time this season the Red Sox finished with just one hit and the 10th time they were limited to three or fewer.
The Sox had not been held to one hit at Fenway Park in a nine-inning game since April 11, 2007, when Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners threw a shutout. If history is to your liking, be advised that Hernandez faces the Sox on Friday night.
The last no-hitter against the Sox was by Chris Bosio of the Mariners in 1993.
Shoemaker came close on Thursday, putting the Sox away with ease for much of the game. He hit Brock Holt with a pitch leading off the bottom of the first inning then retired 20 in a row before Middlebrooks ended the drama.
“Nobody wants to get no-hit,” rookie Mookie Betts said. “We were talking about it, paying attention to it. Plus it was a close game. One hit could have started a rally.”
Middlebrooks, who entered the game in the fourth inning, popped up his first time against Shoemaker. But in the seventh he lined a 2-and-2 splitter down the line in left field.
“I don’t do anything different. Just try to stick with my approach,” Middlebrooks said. “He was obviously making good pitches.”
Middlebrooks, who sat out Tuesday’s game with a tight right hamstring, made it to second but was stranded there when Allen Craig grounded out.
The Sox did not put another runner on base until Betts drew a walk with two outs in the eighth inning, and Shoemaker left the game after 116 pitches.
Righthander Mike Morin came in from the bullpen. Sox manager John Farrell let rookie Christian Vazquez hit and he struck out to end the inning.
David Ortiz, the team’s hottest hitter, was available as a pinch hitter. But Farrell had decided not to use him.
“This was a day that [we were] looking to stay away from him completely,” he said.
Jason Grilli retired the Sox in order in the ninth inning for his first save with the Angels.
The 56-71 Sox have lost five straight and six of their last seven games. The Angels swept the four-game series, holding the Sox to eight runs. They have won eight of nine.
Shoemaker (12-4) went 7⅔ innings and struck out nine with one walk. In two appearances against the Red Sox this season, the 27-year-old righthander has faced 35 batters and retired 32 of them.
Shoemaker pitched in relief against the Sox on Aug. 9 in Anaheim, coming in to start the 17th and throwing three perfect innings. The Angels won that game in 19 innings.
“Lot of strikes, very good split, and was able to mix in a breaking ball either early in the count or when he did fall behind to slow us down,” Farrell said. “We couldn’t get anything going against him.”
Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa (4-5) pitched well, allowing two runs on eight hits over 6⅔ innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
The Angels took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Kole Calhoun led off with a single to center field and moved up a base when Mike Trout grounded out. De La Rosa struck out Albert Pujols swinging but Josh Hamilton doubled to left field to drive in Calhoun.
When Howie Kendrick singled to left field, Hamilton headed for the plate and was thrown out by Yoenis Cespedes.
It was the 13th outfield assist for Cespedes, tying him with Jackie Bradley Jr. for the major league lead. Four have come against the Angels, who at this point should know better than to test his strong arm.
The Angels scored their second run in the seventh inning. Erick Aybar led off with a double and stole third. After Chris Iannetta walked, Calhoun sent a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in the run.
Pujols was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes after he returned to the dugout.
When manager Mike Scioscia came out to confront plate umpire Andy Fletcher, he also was tossed.