First pitch: Reality is it can get worse from here

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First pitch: Reality is it can get worse from here

The losses pile up now, like yesterday's trash, one on top of the other, each indistinguishable from the next.

Nobody mentions the playoffs any more, for good reason -- the Red Sox are now closer in the standings to the worst record in the league (Minnesota) than they are to the team leading the wild card chase (Oakland).

There are now more hollow promises about "getting healthy and making a run,'' no predictions that, pretty soon, things will click.

Those are all gone now. Wednesday's one-sided loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pushed the Red Sox one day closer to the end, one step closer to total irrelevance.

And here's the thing: It can still get worse.

There are still 38 games remaining, almost a quarter of the season. Included in that stretch are 22 road games, almost all against teams with better records.

Actually, when it comes to the home-road split in the final six weeks, location is almost irrelevant. At 29-36, Sox have one of the worst home records in the league.

You name it, and it's a concern. Two games into the Randy Niemann Era, the starting pitching is as poor as it's been all season, though Niemann can hardly be expected to exact an overnight turnaround in performance.

The offense has scored three runs or fewer in 8 of the last 12 games and seem to limit their damage to an inning -- sometimes two -- per night.

The fight seems to have left them. Rallies are almost non-existent; comebacks appear to be a thing of the past. Over the last five games, the Red Sox have been scoreless in 36 of the last 45 innings, or 80 percent of the time.

Injuries, of course, are a factor. David Ortiz remains sidelined and there's no telling how much his mere presence is missed in the middle of the lineup. It doesn't help that Will Middlebrooks, one of just two righthanded regulars with a slugging percentage above .420, is out for the remainder of the season with a broken wrist.

And so, the lineup takes on the look of a split-squad sent to Bradenton on March morning -- journeyman and role players sprinkled in among some regulars in the hopes of passing as a major league lineup.

With Middlebrooks and Carl Crawford gone for the year and Ortiz still at least a few days away, Bobby Valentine is left to mix and match almost daily. In late August.

And it shows.

"We just can't seem to string a good inning together here and there and gain any momentum offensively,'' lamented outfielder Scott Podsednik. "When you look at good offensive clubs, they do that -- they take what's given to them, they grind out at-bats and keep coming at you.

"We're potetnially trying to do too much. Each player is trying to be that guy to get things going and it's counterproductive.''

In part because of the injuries and roster churn, the team lacks an identity, and as such, lacks consistency.

"There's been so many new personalities coming in and trying to jell,'' noted Podsednik. "You've got to have 25 guys, day-in, day-out all on the same page. So, yes, that might have something to do with it. The goal should be, each and every night, is to play for one another, pick each other up. We've had so many new faces, so many guys trying to come in and establish themselves, that I think it's hard for this whole team to get into a good rhythm and get in the right frame of mind to play, day-in and day-out.''

And here's the hard part: It's not over yet. Not by a long shot.

Farrell launches 'Farrell's Fighters' ticket program for cancer patients

Farrell launches 'Farrell's Fighters' ticket program for cancer patients

Red Sox manager John Farrell, who was diagnosed with and successfully treated for lymphoma in 2015, today announced a new ticket program, “Farrell’s Fighters,” that invites patients being treated for the disease and their family to a game each month throughout the season.
 
“It was a challenging battle going through the treatment a few years ago, and beyond the support of family and friends, one of the things that helped me get through it was the escape I found in the game of baseball,” Farrell said in a team statement. “I hope this program can provide a positive, momentary break for the patients and their families from the daily rigors of treatment, and for baseball to be a tonic for them, as it was for me.”
 
In addition to VIP seats at the game, the program will include a meeting with the Red Sox manager, a tour of the ballpark, the chance to watch batting practice, and lunch or dinner in the EMC Club restaurant.
 
“Farrell’s Fighters” will launch with patients from Massachusetts General Hospital, where Farrell was treated in 2015, but will expand to include other area hospitals. The first patient to take part in the program is Nate Bouley, 42, of Sudbury, Mass., who was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, and is in remission for the third time. Bouley, his wife, and two children will attend the Red Sox-Mariners game Sunday.

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

Red Sox' seven-run rally in seventh keys 9-4 win over Rangers

BOSTON -- Chris Sale was perfectly happy to sit back and watch the Red Sox hitters do the work this time.

Sale cruised into the fifth inning, then was rewarded in the seventh when the Boston batters erupted for seven runs on their way to a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night.

Sale (5-2) struck out six, falling short in his attempt to become the first pitcher in baseball's modern era to strike out at least 10 batters in nine straight games in one season.

But he didn't seem to mind.

"It was fun," said the left-hander, who received more runs of support in the seventh inning alone than while he was in any other game this season. "You get run after run, hit after hit. When we score like that, it's fun."

Dustin Pedroia waved home the tiebreaking run on a wild pitch, then singled in two more as the Red Sox turned a 3-1 deficit into a five-run lead and earned their third straight victory. Sam Travis had two singles for the Red Sox in his major league debut.

"I was a little nervous in the first inning," he said. "I'd be lying to you guys if I said I wasn't."

Mike Napoli homered for Texas, which has lost three of four to follow a 10-game winning streak.

FOR SALE

Sale, who also struck out 10 or more batters in eight straight games in 2015 with the White Sox, remains tied for the season record with Pedro Martinez. (Martinez had 10 straight in a span from 1999-2000.)

After scoring four runs in support of Sale in his first six starts, the Red Sox have scored 27 while he was in the game in his last five. He took a no-hitter into the fifth, but finished with three earned runs, six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.

"Guys pulled through for me when I was probably pretty mediocre," he said.

NO RELIEF

Sam Dyson (1-5) faced seven batters in relief of Martin Perez and gave up four hits, three walks - two intentional - and a wild pitch without retiring a batter.

"Martin threw the ball really well and I came in with two guys on and couldn't get an out," Dyson said. "Sometimes they hit them where they are, and sometimes they hit them where they aren't."

Asked if he felt any different, he said: "Everything's the same.

"If I get my (expletive) handed to me, it's not like anything's wrong," he said. "Any more amazing questions from you all?"

SEVEN IN THE SEVENTH

It was 3-1 until the seventh, when Andrew Benintendi and Travis singled with one out to chase Perez. Mitch Moreland singled to make it 3-2, pinch-hitter Josh Rutledge singled to tie it and, after Mookie Betts was intentionally walked to load the bases, Moreland scored on a wild pitch to give Boston the lead.

Pedroia singled in two more runs, Xander Bogaerts doubled and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dyson was pulled after walking Chris Young to force in another run.

Austin Bibens-Dirkx got Benintendi to pop up foul of first base, but Napoli let it fall safely - his second such error in the game. Benintendi followed with a sacrifice fly that made it 8-3 before Travis was called out on strikes to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was shaken up when he dived for Betts' grounder up the middle in the third inning. He was slow getting up. After being looked at by the trainer, he remained in the game.

Red Sox: LHP David Price made his second rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing six runs - three earned - seven hits and a walk. He struck out four in 3 2/3 innings, throwing 89 pitches, 61 for strikes, and left without addressing reporters. 3B Pablo Sandoval also played in the game, going 2 for 4 with two runs.

"He felt fine physically," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, who added he would talk to Price on Thursday morning to determine how to proceed. "We had a scout there who liked what he saw."

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP Nick Martinez (1-2) to the mound in the finale of the three-game series.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (3-3) looks to snap a personal two-game losing streak.