BOSTON – After Thursday’s 5-3 loss in the series finale to the Twins at Fenway Park, the Red Sox, for the first time this season, find themselves in second place. They are tied with the Orioles, at 21-14, percentage points behind the Yankees in the American League East.
A stretch of three straight losses, and six in their last seven, will have that effect. There are enough reasons for their suddenly shaky play. In the last seven games:
-- Sox hitters are batting .233, going 10-for-43, with runners in scoring position, leaving 49 runners on base.
-- They have scored three or fewer runs in five of their last seven games.
-- Opponents have hit .305, going 80-for-262, against Sox pitchers, after hitting just .221 prior to that.
-- Starters have posted a combined 6.69 ERA, giving up 33 runs, 27 earned, in 36 1/3 innings.
-- Sox batters have an overall run differential of +23 this season, seventh in the major leagues. They are now -1 at home, +25 on the road. But in the last seven games, their run differential is -25.
And their defense has also contributed to the problems.
In the first 17 games of the season, the Sox committed just three errors. In 18 games since then, they have committed 19. In the last seven games, they have committed 11 errors. In the last seven games, errors have led to seven unearned runs, including four on Thursday in the series finale against the Twins..
They committed two errors Thursday. Will Middlebrooks’ ninth-inning fielding error, his fifth of the season, did not lead to any runs. But John Lackey’s sixth-inning throwing error on Trevor Plouffe’s comebacker -- attempting to get a force at second when his throw sailed into center field -- allowing four unearned runs to score.
“Will’s in the ninth doesn’t come back to bite us at all, but certainly the comebacker that opened the door in the sixth,” said manager John Farrell.
“I think he turned around the wrong way. And, as ideally you’re following your lead shoulder while it’s closed, when he fielded the ball back across his body he opened up the other way and that’s what caused the arm to be a little bit late on the throw.”
-- The Sox are 3-7 in their last 10 games.
-- They are now 2-6 in their last eight games against the Twins.
-- The loss was the Sox’ second in the last 15 games when scoring the game’s first run.
-- David Ortiz went 0-for-5, hitless in consecutive games for the first time since June 22-23, 2012, against the Braves. He is 0 for his last 13, leaving 12 runners on base. He ended five innings Thursday night, including the ninth.
-- Mike Napoli’s sixth-inning double was his 16th of the season. It snapped a season-long slide of six games without an extra-base hit. He has 23 extra-base hits this season, the second-most by a Sox batter in the team’s first 35 games of a season since at least 1916, after Earl Webb’s 29 in 1931.
-- Koji Uehara struck out the side in the eighth on 14 pitches.
-- Justin Morneau went 1-for-4 with a run scored, and is now batting .375, going 42-for-112, with 11 doubles, four home runs, and 17 RBI in 29 career games at Fenway. It is the fourth-highest average at Fenway among active players, with a minimum of 65 at-bats.