By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There was some hope that the Red Sox would at least be respectable this season. But the first three games of 2021 have instilled little hope of that being true.READ MORE: Hall Scores Again, Swayman Solid As Bruins Blank Islanders
Boston was swept by the Baltimore Orioles, dropping three straight in painstaking fashion. It’s happened before, as this is the 20th time that the Red Sox have lost their first three games to start a campaign. But this is the first time it’s happened since 2012, and just the second time ever that all three losses have come at home.
“It was a tough one. There’s nothing else you can say,” manager Alex Cora said of his team’s opening series. “We got beat in every aspect of the game. The first two games we didn’t play good defense and didn’t swing the bat. [Sunday], we didn’t pitch. We’re off to a rough start.”
The last time the Red Sox were swept out of Fenway Park to start the season came in 1948. At least that group went on to win 96 games.
The 2012 Red Sox that lost their first three games finished last place in the AL East. The 2011 Red Sox also lost three straight to start the year, which devolved into an 0-6 start. No Red Sox team has gone on to make the playoffs after starting a season 0-3.
How the Red Sox got to 0-3 is the most concerning part. Boston dropped two close games Friday and Saturday that were done in by sloppy play in the field and silent bats at the plate. Then the Sox got completely blown out, 11-3, on Sunday. Starter Garrett Richards gave up three runs in the first, and didn’t record an out in the third inning before being lifted for Josh Taylor, who didn’t even get out of the inning. By the time Cora went out to get Taylor, the Orioles had seven more runs cross the plate, and owned a 10-0 lead.READ MORE: BAA, Doug Flutie Team Up To Make Boston Marathon More Inclusive
Pitching issues were expected this season, especially when ace Eduardo Rodriguez was scratched from Opening Day after experiencing a dead arm. But in the first two games, it was the offense and defense that failed the team.
Newcomer Kiké Hernandez had a game-changing error in the sixth inning of Opening Day, and Rafael Devers committed a terrible throwing error on Saturday that led to Baltimore’s first two runs of the game. Devers had a rough go in the field both Friday and Saturday, and was given a day off on Sunday.
At the plate, Boston’s slugging third baseman is 0-for-6 with a walk, but he is not alone in the hitless department. Along with Devers, Alex Verdugo, Bobby Dalbec, Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe are a combined 0-for-39 with 14 strikeouts. As a team, the Red Sox mustered just five extra-base hits over the weekend, four of which came off the bat of J.D. Martinez (three doubles, homer).
If you’re looking for bright spots, there really weren’t many. Martinez is off to a hot start after a horrible 2020 season, the only batter doing anything in the lineup. Tanner Houck was dealing in his start on Saturday, with the 24-year-old striking out eight over five innings. And Garrett Whitlock stopped the madness on Sunday with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief.
But other than that, there isn’t much for the Red Sox to hang their hats on after a winless weekend to start the season.
“There were some positives, but overall we’re not proud of what happened this weekend,” said Cora. “We talk about playing good baseball against the division, playing good baseball at home, and we didn’t do that.”MORE NEWS: Red Sox Game Vs. White Sox Postponed Due To 'Winterlike Conditions'
Now the Red Sox have to deal with a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays, the defending AL champs and a team that Boston hopes to emulate with a versatile offense and solid pitching staff. Tampa comes to town after taking two of three from the Miami Marlins over the weekend.