Closing Time: Red Sox offense sputters as Brewers conclude Fenway sweep

April 06, 2014 - 12:36 pm

The Red Sox find themselves amidst the sort of struggle that almost never characterized their run to a title in 2013. On an afternoon where their lineup showed no life against Yovani Gallardo and the Brewers, the team endured a 4-0 defeat that concluded a three-game sweep by Milwaukee in Fenway Park. The three-game losing streak matches the longest by the Sox at any point in 2013. The three-game sweep was the first endured by the team in a series of at least that duration since dropping three straight to the Rangers last May 3-5, the only multi-game sweep endured by the Sox last year. And that setback came on the road -- the Sox never got swept at Fenway in 2013, in a year where they posted a 53-28 record at home. Indeed, this marks the first time that the Sox have gone 0-3 in their first three home games since 1984. The Sox' listless offense -- which was without Will Middlebrooks, now on the disabled list with his calf strain, and Grady Sizemore, who received a day off -- spoiled a strong performance by starting pitcher Jon Lester. Now, with the Rangers coming to town on Monday, the Sox will be left to show whether they can summon the sort of resilience that characterized the team -- and permitted it to avoid a single four-game losing streak -- in 2013. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- The Red Sox offense did little against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, mustering seven scattered hits (five singles, two doubles) against him in 6 2/3 innings, and going 1-for-7 overall with runners in scoring position. -- The Red Sox' early-innings defense was ugly. Xander Bogaerts kicked a grounder to his right, a ball that was; Jonathan Herrera covered third rather than attempting to field a bunt down the third-base line, thus losing any opportunity to record an out on the play; Daniel Nava had a single to right clang off his glove for an error. David Ross twice fired balls into center field on throws to second (only one of which resulted in an error). While the net result was one unearned run -- and the Sox' offensive woes were the primary cause of their defeat -- the team has looked unsteady in the field. -- Though Daniel Nava went 1-for-4 and collected his first extra-base hit of the season, he was twice robbed by excellent plays in his first two plate appearances, first when third baseman Mark Reynolds made a diving stop of his smash down the line to open the game and then when pitcher Yovani Gallardo, in an act of self-defense, caught a liner that Nava smoked back up the middle. He also flew out to center against reliever Zach Duke with runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, ending one of the most significant Sox threats of the game. Nava is now hitting with a .148 OBP. -- David Ortiz went 1-for-4 with a single, but continues to look like an injured player any time he runs. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Jon Lester pitched well with nothing to show for it for the second straight start. The left-hander, who the decision in the Sox' 2-1 loss on Opening Day when he tossed seven strong innings, allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits while delivering 7 1/3 innings on a day when distance was needed given the taxed state of the Red Sox bullpen following Saturday's 11-inning contest. Lester has an 0-2 record despite a 2.51 ERA and 14-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate. -- Jackie Bradley Jr. showed hints of both the swing and the defense that have the Sox convinced that he'll be a very good player. He lined his first extra-base hit of the year (a double) off the base of the scoreboard in left-center, showing the willingness to stay back and smoke line drives to all fields that characterizes him at his best as a hitter. He also showed very good range on some fly balls in center, while displaying a well above-average arm in throwing a strike on a line from the base of the wall in left-center to second base that nearly denied Khris Davis a double. Bradley went 1-for-4.