The crushing losses keep coming for the Boston Red Sox. On Tuesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox blew a 4-1 lead against the AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays, and All-Star closer Matt Barnes took the loss for the third time in his past four appearances (TB 8, BOS 4). Boston is 2-10 in its past 12 games, and the team has gone from 2 1/2 games up in the division to five games back. Ouch.
"I hope not," manager Alex Cora told reporters, including Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, when asked whether things can get worse.
The Red Sox took a 4-1 lead on Hunter Renfroe's three-run home run in the fourth inning against Luis Patiño. The Rays eventually tied the score with one run in the sixth and two runs in the seventh, and the score remained tied going into the top of the ninth inning. Barnes, pitching for the fourth time in the past four days, retired only two of the six batters he faced in the ninth.
Francisco Mejía gave the Rays the lead with a two-out single against Barnes that cleared the bases because Renfroe misplayed the ball in right field. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong for the Red Sox in the ninth inning. Here's the video:
Barnes was charged with four runs on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning. He surrendered a walk-off home run Saturday and a go-ahead three-run home run Sunday. Now he allowed four runs in a tie game Tuesday. In his past four games, Barnes has coughed up seven runs and recorded only six outs. His ERA has gone from 2.25 to 3.52.
"Barnes right now, he's doing his best. I should probably take care of him in a sense. It's not fair," Cora told reporters, including Bill Koch of the Providence Journal, noting Barnes pitched in both doubleheader games Saturday and then again Sunday. "It's been a grind for him lately. It was a grind for us tonight."
Of course, the offense could've given Barnes and the bullpen more breathing room. Most notably, Xander Bogaerts flew out with runners on second and third and one out in the fifth inning, and JD Martinez flew out with the bases loaded and two outs in the same frame. The BoSox went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. One timely hit and that 4-1 lead would've been much bigger.
According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox have seen their AL East title odds tumble from 69.0 percent to 22.1 percent during this 2-10 stretch. Their postseason odds have slipped from 95.9 percent to 66.6 percent. That's a significant dip in a short period of time. The Red Sox have done real damage to their quest for October baseball.
As for the Rays, their AL East lead is up to a season-high five games. They've won their past five games, nine of their past 11 games, 22 of their past 30 games, and 50 of their past 75 games.