The Red Sox’ offense has been cold for the entire month of September.
Entering Wednesday’s game against the Giants, the Sox had hit just .214 with 15 home runs in 533 plate appearances this month. They had scored just 3.7 runs per game, the fourth-lowest average in that span. They also had posted a .646 OPS, the second-worst in baseball.
It continued through this one, as the Sox got walloped, 11-3, with Giants manager Bruce Bochy notching career win No. 2,000. Facing a lineup that was without Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, Giants starter Jeff Samardzija cruised through 5⅔ no-hit innings.
“We’re expanding the [strike] zone,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said afterward. “We’ve been expanding the zone for a while. You look at the numbers, a lot of strikeouts, not too many walks, that’s a sign of an offense that is searching for hits, and you can’t do that.”
With two outs in the sixth, Rafael Devers’s homer off Samardzija provided a brief jolt. The blast put the 22-year-old Devers in the record books, as he became the youngest Sox player to hit 30-plus homers in a season since Tony Conigliaro hit 32 as a 20-year-old in 1965. For all that’s gone wrong this season, Devers continues to be a bright spot.
“It’s pretty special to know that I’ve made history in that way,” Devers said through interpreter Bryan Almonte. “But obviously this isn’t the season that we’ve envisioned for our team. That’s something that sticks with me more as opposed to personal accolades. I’m just glad some of my other teammates are achieving milestones for themselves, as well.”
Devers joined teammates Xander Bogaerts and Martinez in the 30-homer club. Bogaerts and Devers are the first teammates in major league history to reach 30-plus homers and 50-plus doubles in the same season. But as Devers pointed out, personal milestones don’t erase this down season.
“The most important thing is that he’s not pleased with what’s going on with us,” Cora said of Devers. “And that’s who he is. That’s the mentality that we have to have as an organization. Be a winner. It’s funny because the other day he’s like, ‘Oh, this is the first time I’m not going to be in the playoffs.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, you only have 2½ years in the big leagues, so you’ll be OK.’ ”
Sox starter Jhoulys Chacin, meanwhile, couldn’t get out the third inning. The Giants pounded him for three earned runs, including a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt, in the first inning. Chacin fanned six but threw just 72 pitches in just 2⅔ innings.
“He didn’t make a pitch on Vogt,” Cora said. “Then he made some adjustments throughout, but early on no fastball command, which actually hurt him with the Brewers, and he relies on the slider, but if you don’t respect the fastball then they can sit on it.”
The Sox used seven relievers, and sloppy defense, along with not making pitches at critical times, led to the Giants’ additional eight runs, including five in the ninth.
Jackie Bradley Jr. homered to left-center off Enderson Franco in the bottom of the ninth, but Marco Hernandez then flied out to center to end the game.
The Sox fell to 79-72. Their five-game home losing streak is their longest since 2014. Bochy, meanwhile, downplayed his milestone win.
“It’s not a number I ever thought about,” Bochy said. “I never thought about it this year, and I’m being honest. It’s gotten a little attention here recently, but that number just represents so many people — more than anybody are those players.”
In the Sox’ lost season, however, they have found their player in Devers, who at 22 has unlocked something the team can look forward to heading into next season.
“He’s put it all together. He’s working hard at it. I do feel like he was actually pressuring himself to hit 30,” said Cora of Devers, who came in hitting just .208 this month. “And now he can breathe and maybe he’ll take off again, but overall you tell me before the season .300, 30, and 100? We’re very happy.”