By the ninth inning, only scattered pockets of fans remained at Fenway Park. The Red Sox had driven the sellout crowd into the streets.
“Free Tom Brady,” chanted a group of young beer aficionados in Section 13 of the grandstands. Other fans upgraded to box seats, understanding ushers looking the other way.
There are worse things than staying to the end of a game, although the Red Sox made that difficult with a 9-2 loss against the Chicago White Sox.
It’s ugly at Fenway. The Red Sox have lost three straight and 12 of the last 14. At 44-58, they are on pace to lose 92 games. That could be optimistic, especially if the Red Sox trade a few veterans before Friday’s deadline.
“We’re not getting it done and it’s not fun,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “We need to play the game the right way.”
With the exception of a few relievers, Red Sox pitching has been almost noncompetitive against the White Sox, giving up 28 runs on 46 hits — an astonishing 25 for extra bases — over the first three games of the series.
“Bottom line is we’ve got to do a better job with pitching,” manager John Farrell said. “That’s not focusing on the starters, that’s focusing on everyone. Guys are capable of more and we need to be better.”
Ownership has voiced support for Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington, but the level of play is arguably worse than it was in 2012, when the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine after one season.
Wednesday night’s embarrassments included two errors, a White Sox runner advancing to third base when it was left uncovered, and Pablo Sandoval getting thrown out at the plate trying to score from first base on a double that rolled all the way to the wall in right-center field.
The relay throw beat Sandoval by several feet. He then left the game three innings later because of dehydration.
The double, by catcher Ryan Hanigan, split the outfielders and kept rolling. Farrell did not fault third base coach Brian Butterfield for sending Sandoval.
“Where the ball was picked up in relation to where he was on the basepaths, you think that’s a run that should score,” Farrell said. “Whether or not he was declining in speed because of the onset of the dehydration, I can’t answer that.”
The humid night was a factor. But the situation again raised the question of Sandoval’s conditioning, which appears to have gotten worse since spring training.
Sandoval was not available after the game, leaving Farrell to answer for him.
“That’s something that Pablo has dealt with his entire career,” the manager said. “It continues to be addressed. I can’t say tonight is a direct result of that but there are ongoing efforts to support that, to try and get him in the best shape possible.”
Sandoval is hitting .262 with a .689 OPS since being signed to a five-year, $95 million contract by Cherington. His defense at third base also has been poor, particularly to the backhand.
Another expensive disappointment, righthander Rick Porcello, allowed six runs on 10 hits before coming out of the game in the third inning.
Porcello gave up five earned runs over 18 innings in his previous three starts, a vast improvement from his earlier work. Hanigan had convinced the righthander to feature his sinker and abandon his changeup.
But against the White Sox, Porcello was back to being the worst starter in the American League as he couldn’t keep his fastball down.
It was the second time this season Porcello (5-11) was unable to complete three innings. His earned run average is now 5.81.
“Some of the mechanical issues that I’ve had in the past this year kind of came back tonight,” Porcello said. “You get out there in the heat of the moment and all you’re thinking about is competing.”
Adam Eaton led off the game with a home run, pulling a high slider into the stands in right field.
Melky Cabrera singled with one out and took third when Adam LaRoche singled to left field.
Hanley Ramirez actually fielded the ball adroitly and threw to the cutoff man.
But these are the Red Sox. Brock Holt let the throw get by him and Cabrera scored.
Through the first three games of the series, the White Sox have scored 11 runs on 12 hits in the first inning.
“We’ve been slapped in the face right from the get-go,” Farrell said. “Three consecutive nights we find ourselves down multiple runs early in the ballgame.”
Porcello gave up three more runs in the second inning and another in the third before he was lifted to loud boos.
Napoli had an RBI double in the fourth inning and a home run off Chicago starter Jose Quintana in the seventh.
Napoli has consistently said he doesn’t want to be traded but his recent hot streak could facilitate a deal. It would probably be a relief at this point.
Now the Red Sox face All-Star Chris Sale on Thursday. They have used their bullpen for 16 innings the last three games and will need to make some roster moves before the game.
“We’re kind of scrambling right now to get through the one or two games ahead of us,” Farrell said.