Closing Time: Tigers jump all over John Lackey as Red Sox drop third straight

May 17, 2014 - 6:01 pm
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For one of the most consistent starters in the Red Sox rotation so far this season, John Lackey's short 5 1/3 inning start in which he gave up six runs represented an anomaly in a recent string of four starts with two or less earned runs in six or more innings pitched. All the same, the timing of that departure from his impressive norm came at a difficult time for the Red Sox. With Lackey's hiccup, the Sox fell to the Tigers, 6-1, and with losses in consecutive games starter by Jon Lester and Lackey following a walkoff defeat against the Twins on Thursday, the Sox have now matched their season-long by losing a third straight contest to drop two games under .500. Saturday's start strongly resembled Lackey's start a month ago against the Orioles, where he allowed six runs on 10 hits, four walks, and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Lackey's final totals on Saturday: 5 1/3 , six runs on nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts. On a night where Lackey struggled to keep runners off the bases, the Red Sox -- who had averaged 4.3 runs per night with Lackey on the hill -- had their worst scoring output in a Lackey start so far this season, scoring a lone run on a Xander Bogaerts home run. Throughout the evening, Tigers starter Rick Porcello shut down the Red Sox to the tune of six hits, one walk and four strikeouts. The Red Sox failed to generate many opportunities to score runs, with their lone opportunity to score coming in the fourth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs in the inning. However, with A.J. Pierzynski at the plate, the Red Sox continued their season-long struggles with runners in scoring position. The Sox now stand in danger of getting swept by a white-hot Tigers team. With a loss in Sunday night's series finale, the Sox would have their first four-game losing streak since the 2012 season. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Lackey allowed his second run of the game on a third inning home run to Miguel Cabrera, a fly ball that dropped just around the Pesky Pole. Coming into Saturday's contest, Cabrera was hitting .267/.313/.533 with one home run, two RBI and one double in 16 plate appearances against the starter. Lackey continued to struggle in the fifth inning when Torii Hunter doubled on a sharp line drive to Mike Carp, scoring Ian Kinsler. Cabrera followed up with a single to Grady Sizemore that scored Hunter, making the score 4-0 in Detroit's favor. Lackey had a 2.25 ERA in the fifth inning in eight starts coming into his start on Saturday. -- Sizemore went 0-for-4 on Saturday, and he's 0-for-8 with eight groundouts (all to the right side of the infield) in the first two games of the series. -- With the bases loaded in the bottom of fourth inning with two outs, catcher A.J. Pierzynski grounded out to second baseman Kinsler, ending Boston's first legitimate scoring threat of the night. The Red Sox were hitting .341/.396/.610 with the bases loaded coming into Saturday. -- Something that the Red Sox have used extensively this season, the shift, faltered twice against the Tigers. In the second inning, Victor Martinez hit a ball through the left side of the infield where only one defender stood near second base. In the sixth inning, Avila hit a ball down the left field line, nowhere near any infielder, and ended up at second base for a double. -- Edward Mujica made an error on his fourth pick off throw with Rajai Davis on second base, throwing the ball a good five feet off the bag, allowing Davis to advance to third and eventually score on an Ian Kinsler fly ball. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX -- Xander Bogaerts hit his second home run of the season, his first career home run in Fenway Park. The home run marked the shortstop's first RBI of May and just his third extra-base hit. Bogaerts mentioned at the end of April that cold weather affects his aggressiveness at the plate. In the minor leagues, Bogaerts typically did not show his power until the weather warmed up. -- Chris Capuano tossed a pair of scoreless innings in which he punched out three. It was his fourth relief appearance this season in which he's pitched at least two innings without allowing a hit. -- The right side of the infield made a couple of strong defensive plays on the evening. Mike Napoli lunged into the stands to make a nice catch in the first inning with two outs. Dustin Pedroia made a nice diving play in the fifth inning to rob Victor Martinez of a hit.