By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Red Sox' bullpen has managed to lose a game to the Angels. A bad trend has gotten even worse for Boston's bullpen arms.
On the plus side, the relievers didn't pick up any blown saves in this one ... but that's only because the Boston bats were silenced by Shohei Ohtani, thus preventing the Red Sox from building a lead before giving it away.
Still, the Red Sox were very much in Thursday's matinee, which was scoreless through six innings. Rich Hill gave Boston five strong innings, allowing just two base runners (one hit, one walk) while striking out six batters -- and even the hit was a fluke, with Jackie Bradley Jr. losing a sky-high fly ball in the sun. He was lifted after throwing just 68 pitches.
Tanner Houck entered for the sixth inning and had a promising start to his outing, striking out the side and needing just 12 pitches to do so.
In the seventh, though, Houck issued a one-out walk to cleanup man Anthony Rendon before serving up a two-run home run to Jared Walsh -- a lefty who's quickly entering persona non grata territory at Fenway Park.
It wasn't a bad pitch from Houck, who kept his slider down and out of the zone. But the result was the result, which for the Red Sox these days is more often than not a bad one.
The dormant Red Sox offense stayed silent in the bottom of the inning, with Trevor Story striking out for the fourth time of the game to strand a runner. And then things got ugly.
Houck gave up a leadoff single to Brandon Marsh before hitting the No. 9 hitter in Andrew Velazquez. A Taylor Ward single then loaded the bases, and David Fletcher singled into left field, scoring a run. Ohtani made it three straight singles to stretch the lead to 4-0, before a Rendon chopper to third base scored another to stretch the lead to five.
Kutter Crawford relieved Houck and immediately gave up a two-RBI single to Walsh. Once again, it wasn't a bad pitch, as Crawford jammed the lefty with an inside cutter, but Walsh was able to muscle a trickler through the vacated left side of the infield to do damage. The once-close ballgame officially became a blowout at 7-0. Crawford gave up a leadoff homer to Marsh in the ninth, and the 8-0 score would hold as the final.
Of course, the Red Sox won't win any games when they don't score any runs. With the top four hitters in the lineup combining to strike out 10 times, Boston was unlikely to compete in this one, no matter how the bullpen performed.
But from the wider perspective, the problems for the bullpen continue to only worsen. The Red Sox are now 10-16, 8.5 games out of first place, 4.5 games out of a wild card spot, and just a half-game ahead of the last-place Baltimore Orioles. They've played eight series thus far in the season, and they've won just one of them.
"It's hard because I mean, if you look at it, right, you can start looking, 'Oh, this game, that play, this.' But still, we're not cashing in," manager Alex Cora said. "So it really doesn't matter, right? We can go, I can walk you through through the series and tell you, 'That pitch or this play or whatever,' but at the end, you have to put a complete game together and we haven't been able to do that in a while."
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