The Red Sox rotation is now squarely in the middle of the American League rankings with a 4.65 earned run average. Every other playoff contender is ahead of them.
A 2-8 road trip that ended Sunday took the Sox from first place in the AL East to a tie for the first wild-card spot with the Athletics.
As the Sox open a three-game series against the Rays at Fenway Park Tuesday, the onus will be on their starters to get the team headed in the right direction again after losing nine of 11 games.
The starters are 1-7 with a 7.09 ERA and 1.53 WHIP in those 11 games and completed five innings only four times. Quality starts aren’t always the most telling statistic, but the Sox have only six in their last 33 games.
There is hope. Eduardo Rodriguez, the scheduled starter Tuesday, pitched five scoreless innings and struck out 10 against the Tigers in his last start. It was a sign the lefthander had regained his form after leaving his July 23 start against the Yankees with a migraine.
The Rays are expected to start rookie righthander Luis Patino, who has a 4.42 ERA in nine games (seven starts) and will be facing the Sox for the first time in his career.
Patino was one of the three prospects the Rays obtained from the Padres for Blake Snell in December.
The first-place Rays have won four in a row.
Coaches in limbo
Bench coach Will Venable and first base coach Tom Goodwin remain quarantined in Canada Monday under COVID-19 protocols.
Venable, who has been vaccinated, had a breakthrough positive test over the weekend. Goodwin did not test positive but was deemed a close contact of Venable.
Manager Alex Cora suggested Sunday that the Sox would promote coaches from the minor league ranks to fill in until Venable and Goodwin are cleared to return.
Return from the rings
The Sox will have five players rejoining their minor league teams this week after playing for their national teams during the Olympics.
Triston Casas will rejoin Double A Portland after going 5 for 23 with three homers, a double, and eight RBIs for the United States. Casas was named to the All-Olympic team.
Infielder Jack Lopez played in all six games for Team USA, starting three times. He was 2 for 14 with two RBIs and is expected to return to Triple A Worcester.
Portland catcher Roldani Baldwin, Worcester outfielder Johan Mieses, and Portland reliever Denyi Reyes helped the Dominican Republic to the bronze medal.
The 26-year-old Mieses was 3 of 16 with two homers, four runs, and four RBIs for the DR, which rallied to beat Korea for its medal. Mieses had the game-winning hit, a two-run homer in the eighth inning.
Reyes appeared in two games, allowing two runs over 4⅔ innings and striking out four.
Utility player Joey Meneses rejoined Worcester last week after going 6 for 12 with a homer and four RBIs for Mexico, which went 0-3.
Now that teams better understand the value of outs, stolen bases attempts have to be considered a sure thing, or close to it. The MLB success rate this season is 75 percent, a number all teams aspire to. The Sox are down to 65 percent, last in the American League and 28th overall. They have been caught 13 times, with Rafael Devers (5) and Christian Vázquez (4) accounting for most of them … The Sox have 48 games remaining, half against teams with winning records. Tuesday is the first of 10 games left against the Rays, an oddity considering they don’t have any games remaining against the Blue Jays.