CLEVELAND -- Just when it seemed like the Red Sox had run out of ways to lose games in the first week, they found some more Wednesday night.
After falling victim to poor starting pitching and an anemic offense in the first four contests, the Red Sox combined poor relief work and a mental lapse to lose 8-4 to the Cleveland Indians, dropping them to 0-5. With a loss in the road trip finale Thursday afternoon, they can return for their home opener with their worst start to a season since 1945.
The Sox trailed 3-2 in the sixth when it all fell apart for them. Dennys Reyes faced three hitters and put all three on base -- two by hit batsman and another by walk. With the bases loaded, Kevin Youkilis couldn't glove a liner by Michael Brantley. Youkilis stepped on third for one force out, but when he threw to the plate, catcher Jason Varitek failed to tag Travis Buck, instead stepping on the plate.
Asdrubal Cabrera then drove a three-run homer into the seats in right off Dan Wheeler, capping a four-run inning.
The Sox stitched together two runs in the second on an infield chopper by Marco Scutaro and an RBI groundout by Jacoby Ellsbury. Adrian Gonzalez added a two-run homer, his first homer as a member of the Red Sox, in the seventh.
Starter Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed three runs in five innings, needing 96 pitches to record 15 outs. The Sox have yet to get a quality start after one full turn through their rotation.
The Boston Red Sox put up six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. led the way for the Red Sox with four and three RBI respectfully. Both outfielders had two-run home runs in the Sox’ big first inning.
Knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up one earned run in four innings, his ERA for the spring is now 0.68.
The Red Sox are back in action again on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m when Rick Porcello makes his final spring training start against the Minnesota Twins.
Infielder Marco Hernandez may make the Red Sox roster after all.
Fellow infielder Josh Rutledge, the presumptive 25th man on the Red Sox, suffered a left hamstring strain on Tuesday against the Pirates, according to reporters in Florida, including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.
If Rutledge isn’t ready for opening day, Hernandez, a left-handed hitter, may have his crack.
The question is whether the Sox would be comfortable without a right-handed bat to complement both Pablo Sandoval and Mitch Moreland on the corners. Rutledge was going to give the Sox that right-handed look they sought. (When Hanley Ramirez's shoulder will be healthy enough to play first base is unclear, but isn't expected to be too long.)
Neither Rutledge nor Hernandez has played first base in the majors or minors.
A big-league rookie last year, Hernandez has done decently against lefties at the upper levels of the minors, hitting .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. He hit .315 in 54 at-bats at Pawtucket, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.
Rutledge is a Rule 5 draft pick who has to remain on the major league 25-man roster the whole season or the Sox risk losing him. Placement on the disabled list doesn’t affect his status unless he’s on the disabled list for a very lengthy time.
An alternative option is Steve Selsky, who has first-base experience, but he's already been optioned.