By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON For the third straight game, the Red Sox could manage just three hits against the Rays. The ignominious trifecta served up by the Rays was of historical proportions: It was the first time in Sox history they have been held to three or fewer hits in three straight home games. The last time they were limited to three or fewer hits in three straight games was Sept. 2 -4, 1974, in Baltimore.
The Sox hit just .105 in the three games, going a combined 9-for-86, with just five runs scored, five walks and 22 strikeouts. James Shields, Jeff Niemann, and David Price each held the Sox to three hits. Shields and Niemann pitched complete games, while Price went eight strong. Shields took the Rays only loss, in the first game of Tuesdays doubleheader, despite tossing his ninth complete game of the season, more than 25 teams and five more than any other American League pitcher.
Three three-hitters in a row by the starting rotation, that is outrageous, man. Thats really good stuff, said Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Really good stuff if youre the other team. Not so good when its your team.
There are plenty of possible reasons for the lack of production:
A) The bizarre quirks of an unbalanced schedule that had the Sox on a two-city, seven-day road trip, then flying from Seattle to Boston for three games in less than 28 hours, before hitting the road again for eight more days.
B) The ol dog days of August.
C) Various dings and dents, including right heel bursitis sidelining David Ortiz for the series, Adrian Gonzalez neck still bothering him, Kevin Youkilis back still bothering him, and Marco Scutaros neck still ailing.
D) All of the above.
Were a little beat up, said Sox manager Terry Francona. Weve got some backs that are acting up and flared up. We went through a three-game stretch in about 24 hours where we didnt do much offensively. So, those things change.
Carl Crawford, who went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts, did not want to use being tired as an excuse.
I dont want to say were really tired, said Crawford, who is batting .111 (3-for-27) against his former team with seven strikeouts in eight games. I dont want to make excuses like that. But its definitely been a tough stretch.
August is always tough, a tough month. I dont know if thats really the case but August is definitely always a harder month to play in.
Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Sox batter with anything substantial to show for the series. He went 3-for-11, with two home runs, a triple, and four RBI, with three strikeouts. His three-run homer in the first game of Tuesdays doubleheader accounted for all the Sox runs in the game.
Guys like Shields, Niemann, and Price you dont expect to go out and score 10, Ellsbury said. You very well could but we knew we had to come in and swing the bats well. Unfortunately we only got three hits I think all three games. But we got to play tomorrow. So, who knows. The bats might come alive.
Were not worried; its just three games, three games out of 162. Thats the mentality you have to have. We could face them again. I dont know what we did at their place. Im sure we scored a lot more runs. But Im not worried about it.
Still, others sense the urgency.
We need to start winning some games, said Dustin Pedroia. We all want to win the division. The Yankees arent going to lose so we got to win, man. Doesnt matter who we run out there. Got to win.
They threw the ball great. All three of those guys did a great job. So we got to go out on this road trip and swing the bats better.
I dont know. If they have the answer let us know. Its three hits and one run, or three runs this couple of games is not going to get it done. So we got to figure it out ourselves.
Ortiz could do little more than sit and watch his teammates' offensive futility.
Its not good, he said. I was getting into my groove of hitting pretty well and all of a sudden you see a team thats struggling hitting. And nothing much you can do about it. Its just not a good feeling.
Like I always say, good pitching can stop good offense. And you got to give credit to those three guys that we have faced the past three games. Theyve been pitching really well and you see the guys trying but like I always say good pitching can stop good offense.
The Sox hope its just a matter getting back on the road and getting back into their groove.
Were ready to go to Kansas City and play hard and get back on track, said Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.