BOSTON -- The Red Sox bunt gene has apparently developed a deadly mutation, one which causes the team not to bunt in situations that appear to cry for one, then insist on laying one down in situations that typically beg for a team to swing away.
The result: The Red Sox lost their fifth in a row, this time, 7-4, to the Toronto Blue Jays, assuring themselves of another losing homestand. They were swept three straight by the Tigers over the weekend and have two left against the Jays. They are 10-15 at Fenway Park this season; only Houston had lost as many games at home this season in the American League.
Tuesday night against the Jays, who hit four home runs, which is how the game traditionally has been played in Fenway Park, the Sox twice bunted, down by three runs in the late innings. Both times they came up empty. David Ross popped up his bunt attempt in the sixth, taking the air out of a rally that already had produced two runs and had runners on first and second with no out. Jackie Bradley Jr. then lined out and Dustin Pedroia whiffed.
Fast forward to the eighth inning, same situation: Down 7-4, first two runners reach, no outs. With six outs to play with, the Sox elected to give up one, Brock Holt bunting the runners over. Ross then struck out -- he has 20 K’s in 48 plate appearances -- and Bradley popped out.
Remarkably, the Red Sox had another first-and-second, no-out situation in the ninth, and did not bunt. David Ortiz, after narrowly missing a game-tying home run, struck out, and Mike Napoli rolled into a game-ending double play.
This from a team that eschewed the bunt against the Tigers on Friday night with two on and nobody out in a 1-0 game.
Manager John Farrell, it is safe to say, was faced with some explaining to do after the game.
Joltin’ Jays: Toronto came in leading the AL in home runs and extra-base hits, and did not disappoint. Edwin Encarnacion hit two home runs and Melky Cabrera and Eric Kratz one apiece. The Jays also hit four doubles, giving them eight extra-base hits out of their total of 11 hits on the night.
Doubront goes down: Sox starter Felix Doubront, who gave up two of those home runs and a total of five runs, came out of the game after giving up back-to-back doubles to Jose Reyes and Cabrera to open the fifth. The team announced that Doubront, whose velocity was down throughout the game, had left shoulder fatigue. If he’s not available to pitch, the Sox will need another starter on Sunday against the Rays in Tropicana Field.
Gomes goes deep: Jonny Gomes hit a two-run home run with the Sox down 6-0 in the fifth. He had three hits, only the second time this season a Sox left fielder has had three hits in a game.
Bogie’s bobbles: Xander Bogaerts, no doubt distracted by the news that he’ll soon be playing third base now that Stephen Drew is returning to the Sox, was charged with two errors, one on an air-mailed throw in the first, another on a bobbled ground ball in the fifth.