Rick Porcello

Kim Klement/USA Today Sports

Red Sox finally hitting a skid as division lead shrinks to 7 games over Yankees

John Tomase
August 25, 2018 - 9:51 pm

It was bound to happen at some point. The Red Sox couldn't keep winning series forever.

Remember the first weekend of July, when David Price got rocked in Yankee Stadium? That's the last time the Red Sox lost a series -- until Saturday night, anyway.

On Saturday, the Rays cruised to a 5-1 victory, guaranteeing they'll win the series no matter what happens in Sunday afternoon's finale. Coming on the heels of a 10-3 blowout on Friday, Tampa once again toyed with the Red Sox, who played a sloppy game en route to their fifth loss in seven games.

Even the greatest teams in baseball history scuffle at some point, and the 90-win Red Sox were due. They had been 10-0-4 in their previous 14 series, an unsustainable pace if ever there was one. On Saturday, starter Rick Porcello allowed three runs in five innings, but the real problem was an offense that has managed just four runs in its last 16 innings against Tampa's deceptively stout pitching staff.

The Red Sox managed just five hits in defeat, their only run coming in the second when J.D. Martinez led off with a double, took third on a Xander Bogaerts single, and scored on a Mitch Moreland double play.

With Yankees sweeping a doubleheader from the woeful Orioles, the lead in the American League East suddenly stands at seven games. Just a week ago they led by 10 1/2 games.

They were bound to face some adversity at some point, and this looks like it.

"It should teach us that we've got to come in and play and do the things that we've been doing all year that have made us successful, and teams aren't going to lay down because we got 90 wins or whatever it is," Porcello told reporters in Tampa. "We've still got to play baseball. Nothing is done here, you know? Whatever lead we have in this division, we've still got a lot of baseball to play and anything can happen, so we've got to continue to do what we've been doing, get back to playing fundamental baseball, doing the things that we're good at, and we'll be fine. But tonight was a result of me setting the tone in not a very good manner. Kind of everything followed."

Martinez went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .337 and take the AL batting lead from teammate Mookie Betts, who went 0-for-4, dropping to .335. Martinez remains one home run behind Oakland's Khris Davis, denying him the lead in the three Triple Crown categories. His 110 RBIs lead the majors.