May 23, 2018
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Red Sox offense continues to drag down pitching staff

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN

BOSTON — The Red Sox are just 3-3 over the past six games but have quality starts from their starting pitchers in all six.

In fact, the starters have turned in quality outings in eight of the last nine.

But the team couldn’t get back to the .500 mark after a loss Sunday left it at 15-17.

After four games, the Red Sox were 2-2 — and that was the last time the club was at .500. The saving grace for Boston thus far has been the mediocrity of the rest of the division.

On Sunday, right-hander John Lackey turned in his third straight quality start but had to settle for a no-decision. His six-inning/two-run effort gave the starters a 2.21 ERA over the last six games.

But the lack of clutch hitting that has plagued the defending champions since the start of the season is making the wins for the starters — 3-1 with two no-decisions in those six games — tough to come by.

The Red Sox will send struggling left-hander Felix Doubront (1-3, 5.70 ERA) to the mound against Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey (2-2, 5.50) at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Fenway Park.

Doubront is 0-3 with two no-decisions during his winless streak. He left his last start with a 5-4 lead after six innings but the lead didn’t hold and Boston lost the game as Tampa Bay completed a sweep of a split doubleheader. Doubront has never faced the Reds but is 5-1 with a 3.89 ERA in six career starts against the National League.

A nightmare for Bradley

Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. lived a nightmare at the plate Sunday. He grounded into double plays his first two times up, once with the bases loaded. Then, with second and third and one out in the seventh, he showed bunt four times and finally got a safety squeeze down, unsuccessfully. In the 10th inning, with a runner at second and nobody out, he hit a grounder to first baseman Daric Barton, who cut Will Middlebrooks down at third. Bradley is 0-for-8 and drops to .215.

Finger bothering Napoli

First baseman Mike Napoli, still experiencing pain his the left ring finger he dislocated in Chicago on April 15, sat Sunday for only the second time since getting hurt. “It speaks to his pain threshold, which is obviously high,” manager John Farrell said before Sunday’s game. “The one thing that is extremely noticeable is the two-strike approach. There’s been a willingness to cut down the swing to stay under control a little bit more without sacrificing too much power and I think it’s translated to the on-base and the overall average.”

Napoli, who did enter the game in the ninth inning, has reached base in a career-high 26 straight games (not affected because he didn’t bat on Sunday), and in 28 of 29 games this season.

No DL for Mujica

Right-handed pitcher Edward Mujica, who experienced oblique tightness warming up in Saturday, has avoided a trip to the disabled list and was considered day-to-day. This isn’t a DL situation as a result of the exam this morning,” Farrell said before Sunday’s game. “Likely unavailable today. Give him today and tomorrow, the off day (Monday), to continue to receive treatment and see where we are when we open up against Cincinnati (on Tuesday).”

TEAM NOTES: Catcher A.J. Pierzynski hit a game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning on Sunday, his second homer of the season and the first of his career at Fenway Park — and it came on his 168th official at-bat, including postseason play. … DH David Ortiz played in his 1,999th big league game on Sunday, but went 0-for-4 and was 2-for-12 with a home run in the three-game weekend series. He is batting just .241.


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