Red Sox drop sixth straight to Angels, lose 5-2


Red Sox drop sixth straight to Angels, lose 5-2

ANAHEIM -- If the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are going to reach the post-season this October, they'll have to do it without any further help from the Red Sox. The Sox suffered their sixth straight loss to the Angels Thursday night, 5-2, to complete the Angels' second sweep in the last week. Los Angeles also took three in a row at Fenway from Aug. 21-23. The two teams don't meet again this season. For the third straight game, the Angels scored multiple runs in the first inning, with Albert Pujols smacking a two-run double to left. After a solo run in the second, the Angels used four straight hits off Jon Lester (8-11) in the fourth to add to their lead. A sacrifice fly by Mike Aviles in the second and a fourth-inning solo homer from James Loney accounted for the only two runs of the night for the Sox, who fell to 9-19. Zack Greinke went seven innings and earned his third win for the Angels since being obtained from Milwaukee in late July. The loss signaled the first time in franchise history that the Red Sox have been swept in a season series of at least six games against any opponent.

STAR OF THE GAME: Zack Greinke Since coming to the Angels a month ago, Greinke had been pretty mediocre before Thursday night. Then, he pitched seven innings and limited the Sox to two runs in picking up his third win since the trade.
HONORABLE MENTION: Albert PujolsPujols doubled home two runs in the first, giving the Angels a lead three batters in. He then singled in the third and came around to score as the Angels enjoyed another two-run inning.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Jon LesterThough he registered his third complete game of the season, Lester saw his modest three-game winning streak come to an end, charged with five runs over eight innings.
TURNING POINT: In the third inning, the Angels pieced together four straight hits to score twice. They would add just one more over the final five innings, but they had all they would need to compete the sweep of the Sox.
BY THE NUMBERS: First baseman James Loney became the first Red Sox player in 17 years to collect at least one RBI in each of his first four games with the team. Matt Stairs was the last player to do so, in 1995.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "When you face teams like this that you don't face a lot, you have to minimize the damage early and I just didn't do that.'' -- Jon Lester.

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong


Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.