Call it the Great Regression. After racing to 20 wins in their first 28 games, the Red Sox were bound to slip, at least to some extent. Maintaining that pace would’ve meant keeping up with the 1927 Yankees, and no offense to the Red Sox offense, but it never has been Murderers’ Row. But things are spiraling downhill faster than anyone thought. Including last night’s 5-3 loss at Tropicana Field, in which the Tampa Bay Rays scored five runs in an ugly fourth inning and the Red Sox faltered in every facet, from shaky starting pitching to sloppy defense and, most glaring, a punchless offense that mustered only one hit after the first inning. “We’ve seen in the past couple of years here that when we walk in a funk, it’s pretty much everybody,” said David Ortiz, whose three-run homer in the first inning represented the Sox’ lone highlight. “It’s like, when we’re playing well, everyone is performing well at the same time. But if you look around right now, it’s pretty much everyone that’s struggling. So hopefully we bounce back, start feeling things.” Take your pick of culprits for the latest loss, the Red Sox’ ninth in 11 games. Start with starter John Lackey, who set down the first seven batters before allowing nine hits and one walk to the next 16. He lasted only 41⁄3 innings, matching his injury-marred April 6 start in Toronto for his shortest outing of the season. Then, there was first baseman Mike Napoli, who overran Matt Joyce’s harmless two-out pop-up that seemed to get lost in the Trop’s white roof. The ball fell between Napoli and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, allowing the decisive two runs to score. And then there was the offense, which went 1-for-26 with four walks after Ortiz’ homer. “Our pitching has been great. We’ve got to do a better job of swinging the bat and coming up with a big hit,” Pedroia said. “Some guys have hit the ball right at people. That’s part of the game. But we’ll click. We’ll get it going again.” For now, though, everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong.
Sox headed south
Boston Herald | May 15