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Red Sox offense has zero life in shutout loss to wrap up series in Toronto

Rafael Devers had one of the Red Sox' four hits in what was a frustrating afternoon in a 1-0 loss in Toronto.Christopher Katsarov/Associated Press

TORONTO — If the Red Sox weren’t an exciting team but had a good record, you could live with that.

An entertaining team with a poor record wouldn’t be ideal, but at least you’d have a reason to watch.

The third option — a boring team with a poor record — is what has come out of the first 20 games of the season and it’s painful.

In an afternoon nap of a game Thursday, the Blue Jays beat the Sox, 1-0.

With Xander Bogaerts limited to a pinch-hitting appearance and J.D. Martinez considered too sore to play, the Sox were held to four hits — three of them singles — by Alek Manoah and two relievers.


They had five-bats with runners in scoring position and failed to get the ball out of the infield each time.

The 8-12 Sox have lost seven of nine and are 2-5 on a road trip that continues Friday night in Baltimore. A trip to Camden Yards has been a sure cure for an ailing offense in recent years and the Sox have a lot of catching up to do.

They have scored two or fewer runs nine times and are tied for the third-fewest home runs in baseball with 11, the last one coming on April 22.

This is the first time since April 11-16, 2001 that the Sox have gone six consecutive games without hitting a home run. As a team, the Sox are hitting .229 with a .619 OPS.

Pitchers are better than ever and people around the game believe the ball has been deadened when compared with previous years.

But a Red Sox team that can’t hit taters? It’s unthinkable.

Jackie Bradley Jr. argues the final called strike in Thursday's loss.Cole Burston/Getty

“We will hit homers. I think that’s going to be part of it,” manager Alex Cora said. “I think we’re doing a better job of swinging at pitches in the zone and not chasing at much. With that, I think the home runs will come.”


Rafael Devers, who hit the last Red Sox home run, is surprised to see this team experience such a power outage.

“We know we’re good hitters. Top to bottom we’re good hitters,” he said via an interpreter. “We’re ready to bounce back . . . We have guys hitting the ball really hard.”

Manoah had a lot to do with the futility Thursday. The 24-year-righthander, now 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA, primarily used a fastball/slider combination to hold the Sox down. He wasn’t afraid to challenge a lineup that had only two hitters with more than one homer.

Garrett Whitlock went three innings to take the loss. He allowed four hits and walked two with two strikeouts, never quite commanding his slider.

“You learn from these kind of outings,” Whitlock said. “You just try and go forward. When you don’t have your best stuff, you try and still pitch.”

Garrett Whitlock was removed about three innings and 61 pitches, but got the loss after allowing an unearned run.Christopher Katsarov/Associated Press

Toronto’s run was unearned. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. reached on an error by shortstop Christian Arroyo with one out in the third inning. After Raimel Tapia walked, Whitlock struck out Matt Chapman.

But Alejandro Kirk had an RBI single on an 0-and-2 slider.

The Sox had a legitimate threat in the seventh inning when unlikely cleanup hitter Kiké Hernández led off with a double down the line in right field.

Jackie Bradley Jr. grounded to first base, moving Hernández to third. With the infield in, Arroyo lined to shortstop. Bobby Dalbec then fouled out to first base.


Bogaerts pinch hit for Travis Shaw [0 for 19 this season] in the eighth and grounded out. Devers singled off Toronto closer Jordan Romano with one out in the ninth inning. But Hernández lined to left and Bradley struck out.

Count Devers among those who believes the ball has something to do with it. Whether it’s every ballpark now storing balls in a humidor or the actual composition of the ball, something is not the same.

“I believe so, but I can’t tell you for sure,” Devers said. “You start wondering if there is something different with the ball. When we played at Tampa, too, the ball wasn’t going as far as it should or it did in the past.”

But that is true for every team, not just the Red Sox.

“We have to figure it out,” Bradley said.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.