Closing Time: Andrew Miller, Red Sox succumb to another late loss

Rob Bradford
June 20, 2014 - 9:39 pm
Andrew Miller and the Red Sox walked off with sour tastes in their mouths once again. The Red Sox reliever suffered his fifth loss of the season (tied with J.J. Hoover for most of any reliever), allowing a game-deciding RBI single from Coco Crisp with two outs in the eighth inning, handing the A's a 4-3 decision over the Sox in Oakland. It was the Red Sox' major league-leading 16th one-run loss. After retiring his first batter of the eighth, Miller proceeded to hit both Kyle Blanks and Alberto Callaspo. After fanning Nick Punto, the Sox lefty surrendered an opposite field line-drive to Crisp. Red Sox right fielder Brock Holt came up firing, but saw his throw go just enough up the third base line to let Blanks come across with the go-ahead score. Regarding the hit batsmen, Miller told reporters, "I was just trying to throw a breaking ball in the same spot to Blanks. He had chased the first one and I was trying to throw one a little bit lower to get him to chase again. Just a little bit too far with that one. The second one was just a bad pitch. It was 90-plus where I wanted to go, but you just can't afford to hit those two guys in that part of the lineup right there." Then there was the pitch to Crisp. "Fastball away. Hindsight, wrong pitch," the reliever said. "I felt like it was away. It wasn't down enough, but at the same time 2-2 pitch, we want to go right after him. Hindsight, we should've thrown a breaking ball or thrown something in." It is the second straight loss for the Red Sox, who had entered their four-game set against the A's riding a three-game winning streak. It has now been more than a week since the Red Sox scored more than three runs. "I don't know that we're struggling. We just swept the Twins," Jonny Gomes told reporters after the loss. "It's not about how many hits or how many runs; it's about wins. I'm perfectly OK with winning a 1-0 ballgame. The rest of the way, we can win them 1-0. We've just got to find a way to score one more run than them, whether it's one or 10." Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox: WHAT WENT WRONG - Stephen Drew continued to struggle mightily, going 0-for-4 while stranding five runners. The shortstop is now batting .176. A.J. Pierzynski also stranded five runners, going 0-for-3. - Drew was also doubled up in the second inning when Oakland's Craig Gentry robbed Brock Holt with diving catch and subsequent throw into second to get the Sox baserunner and prevent what would have been a Red Sox' lead. - Also coming up empty offensively was Xander Bogaerts, who ended the game with his third strikeout of the game. The rookie is now just 4-for-43 over his last 12 games. - While the Red Sox did manage to get Oakland starter Brad Mills out of the game after just four innings, they couldn't manage much offensively when it counted the most. The visitors failed to notch a single hit after David Ortiz' single with nobody out in the fifth inning. WHAT WENT RIGHT - Felix Doubront returned off the 15-day disabled list and immediately turned in a solid performance. While the lefty got off to a rough start -- allowing a first-inning, three-run home run to Josh Donaldson -- he settled down nicely to not allow another hit the rest of his outing. Doubront finished his night going 4 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking four while throwing 90 pitches. - Having entered the night going two for their last 32 with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox managed to break through against Mills in the second. With the bases loaded and one out, Jackie Bradley singled up the middle to score a pair of runners, cutting the hosts lead to a run. - The Red Sox took advantage of Mills' wildness in the third inning, with David Ortiz plating Bogaerts with an RBI single after the Sox' third baseman kicked off the inning with a walk. Coming into the night, the Red Sox hadn't drawn a free pass since Monday. They would draw four walks against Mills, who only lasted four innings while making his first start since 2012.