Neither juice nor fire.
If you were looking for either, you wouldn’t have found them at Fenway over the weekend.
The Red Sox were swept by the Blue Jays with Sunday’s convincing 13-1 loss. If there was any series that would define yet another missed postseason berth for the Red Sox, this would be it.
The Sox (57-54) entered the weekend just two games back of the Blue Jays for the third wild-card spot despite dropping consecutive series to the Giants and Mariners.
The club now sits five games behind the Jays for that elusive wild-card spot.
“Tough weekend,” manager Alex Cora said. “They pitched better than us and played better defense. They ran the bases better and hit. We have to turn the page right away and be ready for tomorrow. There’s not much we have to say. They just played better than us this whole weekend and obviously we’ve been through stuff like this the whole season. Up and down.”
The Red Sox, using an opener for a second straight day, made it through the first and second frames unscathed but ran into trouble during the third inning
With two outs and Brandon Belt on first, George Springer sent a ball to right-center field off Chris Murphy. Jarren Duran had a play on it but alligator-armed the ball at the wall, leading to a ground-rule double and a four-run frame.
Duran charged his mishap to losing the ball in the sun.
“It was terrible leadership on my part,” Duran said. “I didn’t talk to [Alex Verdugo] before the play because the ball was going to cross over into the sun, which would have been easier for him to make the play, but I didn’t take charge. I didn’t talk to him before the play even happened.”
Matt Chapman banged a two-run double off the left-field wall. Then, Cavan Biggio scalded a double to the Green Monster, making it 3-0. Kevin Kiermaier’s single brought in the fourth run.
“I didn’t execute pitches with two strikes, and I also didn’t get to two strikes a whole lot,” said Murphy. “With those guys, they will do damage. You saw it with that Springer at-bat and then I gave a couple doubles after that. That’s why it’s good to get to strike one and then strike two.”
By the end, infielder Pablo Reyes had to take the mound for the Red Sox.
Chris Bassitt, meanwhile, went seven innings for the Blue Jays, surrendering just a run on a Triston Casas solo shot.
The Red Sox have lost seven of eight. Sunday marked a season high in runs allowed, and their largest margin of defeat since being drubbed by the Blue Jays, 28-5, last July. The Red Sox have allowed eight or more hits in their last eight games, and were swept for the sixth time this season and third time at Fenway.
“You can make whatever you want of it,” said Justin Turner. “We lost three baseball games. Yeah, we are trying to chase down the Blue Jays. But there’s a lot of other teams we’re trying to chase down as well. So it doesn’t matter who we’re playing over there. We just have to show up and we have to play better and get better results.”
From June 30-July 28 the Sox went 16-5, the best record in baseball during that span. Yet that run could be misleading, considering the schedule. The Sox had five offdays plus the All-Star break, an antidote for an overused bullpen that has had to cover for a depleted starting staff.
But the Sox are fresh off their second West Coast trip in recent days, which came just over a week after the first. During that second West Coast swing, the Sox played six games in consecutive days. Now, they are in the midst of 10 games in as many days and the club was forced to use 15 pitchers, excluding Reyes, against the Blue Jays. The results are a fair indication of a depleted pitching staff.
“There have been a lot of close games and then you start using the bullpen heavier,” said Cora. “The games against Atlanta. The games against the Giants — even with Seattle the usage went up. That’s part of it. It’s part of the schedule. It’s 162 games and you’re going to go through stretches like this.”