BOSTON -- The Red Sox played the most 2019 game you're ever going to see on Monday. Needless to say, it was not pretty.
You want the season in a nutshell? Try this little macadamia of misery:
-- Chris Sale pitched great, but the Red Sox fell to 4-10 in his 14 starts anyway. He found that extra gear on his fastball in the late innings and struck out 10 over seven frames. He did allow one avoidable run after getting squeezed on a two-strike slider, though, and apparently that's not good enough for this particular edition of the Red Sox. Throw a shutout next time.
-- The offense struck like a cobra, and then scurried under the porch like a vole. Andrew Benintendi's two-run homer in the first seemed like it might start something. But the offense went hydrophobic again and withered, stranding another man at third with one out and going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
"We had a chance to add on throughout the game and we didn't," said manager Alex Cora. "It's been the story of us the last month. We haven't been able to put teams away offensively."
-- Uh-oh, bullpen time! The final innings feel like a nightly dance with a chainsaw, and this time it was Matt Barnes' turn to hack off a limb. After a clean eighth from Brandon Workman, the previously reliable Barnes choked away the lead in the ninth on two singles and a double. His ERA has soared from 1.42 to 3.76 in the last three weeks. "I just sucked tonight," he said. "Plain and simple."
-- Even after falling behind 3-2, the Red Sox rallied. The first two runners reached in the ninth, but because absolutely nothing is easy, Rafael Devers nearly killed the comeback with your garden variety 4-3-6-3 double play (don't ask). With the Red Sox down to their final out, Brock Holt played the hero, slicing a single to left-center.
-- What would the quintessential 2019 Red Sox game be without some baserunning egregiousness, however? Marco Hernandez laced one into the right field corner that the cannon-armed Nomar Mazara briefly boxed around. Fill-in third base coach Andy Barkett waved in Holt until he didn't. Whether the stop sign came late or Holt simply blew through it, the result was the same -- a 9-2 putout by about 70 feet. On to extras!
-- The Red Sox squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the 10th on a Xander Bogaerts lineout before Ryan Brasier came on for the 11th, by which point it was raining, because a game only two outs from being completed in 2:15 ended up lasting 3:25.
-- If Brasier was nails last year, now he's one of those drywall anchors you accidentally hammer into an L. He allowed a leadoff double to Danny Santana and an RBI single up the middle to Elvis Andrus, and that was the end of that. The final out came with Marco Hernandez, seeing some of his first action in two years, striking out swinging.
It was a brutal loss in a season that's seeing them accumulate like the garbage in Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout's kitchen. Add the depressingly disorienting arrival of franchise icon David Ortiz, who landed from his native Dominican before being whisked to Mass. General in serious condition with a gunshot wound, and you had a recipe for what it's been like to follow this nothing Red Sox team, which is just good enough not to be bad, and just bad enough not to be good.
One year after giving us so much, they can hardly engage the clutch. They've now lost three of four to the Rays and two of three to the Indians, Yankees, and Astros (twice) in the last three weeks. Add the Rangers, who lead them in the race for the second wild card, and the Red Sox appear incapable of beating anyone of note.
They sure can find torturous ways to lose, though.
Welcome to 2019.
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