Brandon Workman suffered his fourth straight loss. (AP)
With the July 31 trade deadline less than 24 hours away, Red Sox manager John Farrell remarked prior to Wednesday night’s game against Blue Jays that he hoped the distractions revolving around multiple rumors would have a “minimal” impact on the performance of his club.
That didn’t appear to be the case once Wednesday’s game got underway, as a combination of free passes and sloppy errors issued by the Red Sox helped Toronto come away with a 6-1 victory, earning a three-game sweep at Fenway in the process.
This is the second time this season that the Blue Jays have earned a sweep at Fenway Park, as Toronto took three-straight games from the Red Sox on May 20-22. Boston was outscored by a 22-4 margin during the just-completed series, which extended the team’s slide to eight losses in nine games.
Brandon Workman, starting in place of Jon Lester, labored through his outing, allowing four hits and five runs (two earned) over five innings of work, including a career-high four walks. Workman’s uncharacteristic command issues would prove to be costly — three of the four batters that reached base via a Workman walk eventually ended up scoring.
The Red Sox defense would also make things easy for the Blue Jays, as errors by both Workman and Xander Bogaerts in the fifth inning helped Toronto pile on three unearned runs en route to a commanding 5-0 lead.
While Workman was not able put the Red Sox in a position to come away with the win, Boston’s lineup didn’t fare much better, as Toronto starter Mark Buehrle held the Sox to just one run and six hits over 6 2/3 innings of work.
The lone Red Sox run came off the bat of catcher Christian Vazquez, who drove in Xander Bogaerts with a ground-rule double in the bottom of the fifth.
After scoring a season-high 14 runs July 21, the Red Sox have only managed to cross the plate 18 times over their last nine games.
With the loss, the Red Sox fall to 48-60 and are now a season-high 13 games behind the first-place Orioles in the AL East division standings. Through two-thirds of the season, the Sox are on pace to go 72-90 — with a chance that they’re about to sell a number of veteran pieces.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX
– Workman earned his fourth consecutive loss this season, highlighting what has been an up-and-down campaign for the 25-year-old righty. In his first five starts with the Red Sox, Workman posted a 3-0 record with a 3.21 ERA. However, over his last four starts, Workman is 0-4 with a 5.87 ERA.
After allowing three runs or fewer over his first eight starts in the majors, Workman has allowed four or more runs in four-straight outings.
– Two errors proved costly for the Red Sox in the fifth inning. After Anthony Gose walked and stole second to lead off the inning, Workman committed a throwing error while trying to retire Jose Reyes on a sacrifice bunt, allowing Reyes to score.
In the next at-bat, Melky Cabrera hit a ball to third that Bogaerts was unable to properly field, allowing runners at first and third for Toronto with no outs. After forcing Jose Bautista to pop out, Workman yielded two straight RBI singles to Dioner Navarro and Juan Francisco to close out the scoring in the frame.
– Another great performance out in centerfield for Jackie Bradley Jr. was offset by another poor showing at the plate, as the young outfielder extended his hitless streak to 15 straight at-bats.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX
– Dustin Pedroia continues to swing a hot bat, finishing the night 2-for-4 with two singles. After sputtering through a 0-for-17 stretch from July 18-22, Pedroia has now hit safely in six of his last seven games, hitting at a .384 (10-for-26) clip in the process.
– Despite another costly error in the fifth, Xander Bogaerts continues to show signs that he is regaining his composure at the plate, collecting a double in the fifth inning and another in the ninth. The doubles were to center and right, while his homer on Tuesday was to left. Bogaerts, in the midst of a brief five-game hitting streak, is hitting .343 (12-for-35) over his last nine games.
– In what might be his final appearance as a member of the Red Sox, reliever Andrew Miller was brilliant, striking out the side in the seventh inning. Miller now has 69 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings on the year.