By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Things are going poorly for the Boston Red Sox, an issue that was accentuated in a most brutally painful fashion on Monday night in St. Petersburg.
Facing a team that hadn’t won in 12 calendar days, the Red Sox never competed. They fell behind 5-0 in the first, and then 9-0 after three. It was as ugly as ugly gets.
It was a loss that may prove to be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, as talks of firing the manager or making major roster changes have increased exponentially in the hours since the loss.
But was it rock bottom?
It was surely a bad loss, but it’s not alone in the department of missed opportunity. Here’s a closer look at some of the worst losses of the year as the season nears the halfway point.
10. June 2, at Baltimore
Typically when you hit five home runs, you win the game. If you do lose, it’s normally at least a close game. Very rarely do you hit five home runs and manage to lose by four runs. But the Red Sox pulled it off in Baltimore.
That type of thing can happen when Joe Kelly gets shelled for seven earned runs in 2.1 innings. A Dustin Pedroia error on a routine double play ball that should have preserved a tie also factors in.
The loss proved to be rather deflating, as Red Sox pitching surrendered seven home runs the following night in Baltimore.
9. June 27, at Tampa Bay
The Red Sox were never in this one, of course, but it’s the circumstance that looks the worst. The Rays had been sleepwalking through June, losers of 11 straight games in which they were outscored 72-25. Yet against the Red Sox, they looked like world beaters, scoring a week’s worth of runs in eight innings against a Red Sox team that really needed a victory.
8. June 9, at San Francisco
While some folks may have hopped aboard the David Price Blame Train a little too eagerly after this loss, the bottom line was that an ace who’s supposed to be a Cy Young contender was facing someone named Mac Williamson late in a tie game. You’d think that 11 times out of 10, David Price emerges victorious from that matchup, but somehow, Williamson managed to launch his first career homer at a fantastic time for the Giants and a rather unfortunate time for Boston. The Red Sox lost 2-1.
7. April 11, vs. Baltimore
It was a festive day at Fenway for the 2016 home opener, as Bobby Orr, Bill Russell and Ty Law were all on hand for a pregame ceremony to help celebrate David Ortiz’s final season at Fenway Park. And all was going well in a tie game in the ninth, when the Sox’ new high-priced closer entered the game to extend it to extras. However, things didn’t go according to plan, as Craig Kimbrel served up a 450-foot tater to Chris Davis, a three-run job to break a tie and put the Orioles up for good.
6. May 7, at New York Yankees
This Friday night in the Bronx was likely the most frustrating night of the year for the Sox, as both David Ortiz and John Farrell earned themselves ejections at the hand of home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. The manager earned his ejection after Ortiz argued a strike call that should have been ball four to walk in the tying run in the ninth inning. After things settled, Ortiz stepped back into the box and watched another pitch go by for strike three. Though Ortiz calmly walked to the dugout without saying a word to Kulpa, he must have let a few magic words fly once reaching the bench, as Kulpa ejected Ortiz from the game. Ortiz needed to be held back, and Farrell was back on the field despite his earlier ejection.
Of course, the Red Sox still had life after that spectacle, with the bases loaded and two outs. But Hanley Ramirez struck out swinging to end the game.
5. April 6, at Cleveland
The character of the Red Sox offense has rarely been in question, as the team has staged some furious and impressive comebacks throughout the year. That trait was born on April 7, the second game of the year, when Boston rallied from a 5-2 hole with a four-run sixth to take a 6-5 lead. John Farrell decided to leave Noe Ramirez in the game, and the reliever promptly surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the sixth, before former Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli hit the go-ahead bomb in the seventh off Junichi Tazawa.
It was early, but that one had to have stung.
4. April 19, vs. Tampa Bay
The Rays are well on their way to a last-place finish, but they’ve no doubt inflicted some pain on their buddies from Boston. In this one, Joe Kelly left in the first inning with a shoulder injury, but the Boston bullpen did a magnificent job in keeping the Rays off the board through nine innings. The problem was, the Red Sox bats were almost completely silenced, as Drew Smyly allowed just one hit over nine innings.
The game headed to the 10th in a scoreless tie, when Kevin Kiermaier hit a solo homer off Matt Barnes. The Rays would tack on two more to take a 3-0 win at Fenway.
3. June 12, at Minnesota
Facing an 18-43 Minnesota Twins club on a Sunday afternoon and looking for a sweep, the Red Sox rallied to tie the game 4-4 in the eighth inning. The game made it to extras, and Matt Barnes created some trouble for himself with a leadoff walk and later a single that made it first-and-third with one out. Still, a ground ball could have ended the inning and kept the game alive. Instead, on an 0-2 count against a batter with zero MLB homers, Barnes served up this pitch:
It was a long walk to the dugout that day.
2. April 18, vs. Toronto
The annual Patriots’ Day morning game at Fenway is one of the most celebrated days in the entire calendar year in Boston sports, and the celebration was on this year when the Red Sox held a 1-0 lead heading into the eighth inning. Koji Uehara entered and could not record an out, leaving a bases-loaded situation for Craig Kimbrel. The closer struck out the first batter he faced, but he then walked in the tying run before allowing a two-run single to blow the game wide open.
Amplifying the pain a bit, the Red Sox rallied to cut the lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, but David Ortiz struck out looking to end the game.
1. June 20, vs. Chicago White Sox
Bases loaded. Nobody out. Tie game. Bottom of the ninth inning. At this point, the Red Sox had a win expectancy of 94 percent. And with John Farrell calling upon Dustin Pedroia, the team’s best contact hitter, to get the job done, a victory seemed like a mere fait accompli. All that was left was the Gatorade bath.
But then Pedroia did the one thing he couldn’t afford to do by striking out. Christian Vazquez strode to the plate and did the same. Then the unknown Ryan LaMarre came in to hit for Marco Hernandez. He, too, struck out.
Craig Kimbrel came out to pitch the 10th in a 1-1 game and walked the leadoff hitter. Four batters later, a two-run double would prove to be enough to seal the win for the White Sox. The late-innings flub spoiled nine innings of brilliance from Steven Wright in what was certainly the most brutal way the Red Sox have lost a game all year.
A 162-game schedule affords infinite moments of “what ifs,” and that includes some improbable victories that aren’t on this list. But if one thing is clear, it’s that the Red Sox have offered enough evidence in less than half a season that they’re prone to coming up just short in a number of baseball games they simply should be winning. They’ve authored some remarkable victories, yes, but as we’ve seen in recent seasons, when these types of losses continue to pile up, it doesn’t bode well for the fate of the baseball team.