On Thursday, the Boston Red Sox ended their three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays with a third straight defeat. This time, the Red Sox fell to the Blue Jays by a final score of 8-2 and will have to continue searching for any solutions to the myriad problems that have plagued them all year. Just like in many of their other losses, during their latest contest, the Red Sox failed to mount any sort of productive offense and get good enough starting pitching to make up for their anemic performance at the plate.
Unlike in other games, though, the Red Sox did not even perform competently at the plate before losing all semblance of hitting skill when it came to producing in run-scoring opportunities. During Thursday's contest, the Red Sox barely found themselves in any run-scoring situations to begin with. Despite having 34 plate appearances to do something meaningful at the plate, the Red Sox hitters put together a feeble hitting line of .206 BA/.206 OBP/.353 SLG/.242 wOBA, with the only significant hits being Jonny Gomes's RBI single in the first inning and Xander Bogaerts' solo shot off Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle in the third inning; even those two hits only moved the needle a little bit as after them, the Red Sox's win probability increased by a combined 12.5 percent.
Actually, the Red Sox only held the advantage in the contest for one plate appearance; after Jon Lester retired Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes for the opening out of the game, the Red Sox held a win probability of 52.2 percent. It was the closest the Red Sox would come to victory over the nine innings since Lester allowed two runs over the rest of the first inning to give the Blue Jays a lead they would never relinquish.
Lester's issues with recording outs would continue throughout his entire start as all eight runs the Blue Jays scored were charged to his account. He had unfortunate luck with his home run to fly ball ratio, with two of the five fly balls he gave up becoming home runs, really hurt his efficiency, but even without the home runs hit by Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion, Lester was not at his best. Even his 4.10 fielding-independent ERA for the game was more than a full run higher than his season mark.
When a team cannot hit and has a pitcher serving up fat pitches for opposing hitters to crush, a loss is inevitable as the Red Sox found out on Thursday. With their latest loss, the Red Sox now find themselves 5.0 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays for the American League East division lead, with no reason thus far to expect to turn their season around. Rather, we can expect the losses to continue to pile up as their hitting and starting pitching struggle mightily.