Closing Time: Red Sox offense falls flat in loss to Blue Jays

April 27, 2014 - 11:38 am

A Red Sox lineup with David Ortiz or Shane Victorino looked ... like a Red Sox lineup without David Ortiz or Shane Victorino, as the Sox dropped the finale of their three-game set to the Blue Jays, 7-1. The Sox were shut down for most of the day by R.A. Dickey, who allowed a second-inning run but shut down the Sox from that point forward, at one point retiring 10 in a row from the third through sixth innings. The Sox amassed just five hits against the knuckleballer in his 6 1/3 innings, giving Red Sox starter Jon Lester virtually no margin for error. Though Lester had a powerful performance -- as evidenced by his seven strikeouts and no walks in seven innings -- Toronto never looked back after tallying single runs in the second and third frames to claim a 2-1 lead, and then tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the seventh. The Sox thus missed a chance to get back to .500 and to close out their first series sweep of the season. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- The Sox scored one or no runs for the fifth time thus far this year, which would project to 31 such games over the full year. Last season, the Sox had just 20 such games. -- The Red Sox' struggles with their walk rate continue. The team did not work a single free pass against Dickey, the 6th time in 26 contests this year that they've failed to do so (23 percent of games). Last year, the Sox had just 26 games in which the opposing starter didn't walk a batter (16 percent of games). -- Grady Sizemore continues to strike out with some frequency. He went 0-for-4 with a pair of punchouts in the second spot in the lineup, and he's whiffed at least once in each of his last seven games, a stretch in which he's 3-for-28 with three walks and 11 punchouts. -- A.J. Pierzynski, batting cleanup and serving as DH with Ortiz out, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. -- David Ross had a tough day, going 0-for-3 and stranding four baserunners while also dropping a foul pop-up from Melky Cabrera that, in combination with a potential play by Xander Bogaerts on a grounder up the middle in which the shortstop couldn't get the ball out of his glove cleanly (thus missing an opportunity for a force play, set in motion a three-run eighth inning that blew the game open. Cabrera singled and scored after Ross' dropped pop-up, resulting in the 18th unearned run of the year for the Red Sox, most in the AL. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Lester continues to pitch far better than his record would indication. Though he fell to 2-4, he has a 3.10 ERA and an impressive 43-to-8 strikeout-to-walk rate. That 5.1 strikeouts per walk is easily the best rate of Lester's career in April, and his ERA for the month was the second best of his career in April -- notable given that Lester spent many years puzzling through struggles in the first month of the year. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in the only Red Sox run of the game with a second inning single with runners in scoring position. Though Bradley missed an opportunity to do more damage with runners on second and third and one out in the seventh, his 1-for-2 day in such situations improved him to .400 (10-for-25) for the year with runners in scoring position. -- Xander Bogaerts collected a single and double to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.