Red Sox stumble late in loss to Blue Jays, 5-0

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Red Sox stumble late in loss to Blue Jays, 5-0

TORONTO -- For seven innings, Jon Lester was in the middle of pitching perhaps his best start of the season, limiting the Toronto Blue Jays to one hit and a walk.

Then, like the Red Sox' season itself, it all imploded. Omar Vizquel supplied a run-scoring single and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria drove a two-run homer to left, sending the Blue Jays
to a 5-0 shutout of the Red Sox.

The Jays' win snapped Boston's modest two-game losing streak and denied the Sox a chance for their first three-game since the last three days of July.

Boston mustered seven hits, but was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. On three occasions, the Sox had two runners on base and just one out but couldn't come up with the big hit.

The defeat dropped them back into the cellar of the American League East, a game behind the fourth-place Jays.

With Lester gone from the game, the Blue Jays tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth off the Red Sox bullpen, with both runs charged to Daniel Bard. Bard was making his first appearance at Rogers Centre since his disastrous June 3 start that resulted in his
three-month demotion to the minor leagues.

Lester fell to 9-12. Until this season, he had never had a year in which he reached double-figures in losses.

Toronto starter Brandon Morrow blanked the Sox for the first six innings. Four relievers combined to handle the final three innings, handing the Sox their sixth shutout of the season.

First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

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First impressions: Royals' five-run first inning dooms Red Sox in 6-3 loss

First impressions from the Red Sox' 6-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals:

 

Steven Wright recovered nicely after the first inning, but the damage was done.

Wright's last five innings featured just three hits allowed -- one in the infield. But the first inning did the Red Sox in -- two walks followed by a three-run homer, then a single and a two-run homer.

Whether this was a matter of rust for Wright -- who last pitched three weeks ago Friday night -- or an early inability to command his knuckleball is uncertain.

The fact is, Wright dug an early hole for his teammates, and he had the misfortune to do so against a team with the best bullpen in baseball.

To his credit, Wright kept the game somewhat within reach thereafter, but the five-run head start proved too much of a jump.

 

It's time to worry a little about Jackie Bradley.

Bradley was just 7-for-40 in the just-completed road trip, and things didn't get any better on the first night of the homestand.

In the first, he came up with two on and two out and struck out swinging to strand both baserunners. In the third, he came to the plate with runners on the corners and, again, struck out swinging.

We're seeing the same kind of slump that Bradley fell into in previous seasons, where even contact is hard to find, with nine strikeouts in the last 16 at-bats.

Problem is, with Andrew Benitendi on the DL, there aren't a lot of options for John Farrell with the Red Sox outfield.

 

Trying to get Fernando Abad and Junichi Tazawa back on track in low- leverage mop-up didn't work.

Tazawa had a perfect seventh, but gave up a monster shot into the center field bleachers to Lorenzo Cain to start the eighth.

Abad entered, and while he did record a couple of strikeouts, also gave up a single, a walk and threw a wild pitches before he could complete the inning.

Getting some work for the two was the right idea, given that the Sox were down by three runs at the time. A good outing might help either regain some confidence and turn the corner.

But not even that could be accomplished Friday night.