By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Red Sox were shut out for the second consecutive night, falling to the Oakland Athletics 1-0 Tuesday.
With the loss, the defending World Series champs dropped to 1-5 on the season.
W: Mike Fiers (2-1)
L: Chris Sale (0-2)
S: Blake Treinen (3)
Here are four takeaways from the game:
1. Ramon Laureano has the best arm in baseball, and the Red Sox found out again at the worst possible time:
Down 1-0 with one out in the ninth, Xander Bogaerts drove a ball off the wall to deep right-centerfield. Bogaerts tried to extend a double into a triple, but he picked the wrong player to run on:
— Oakland Athletics ????????⚾️ (@Athletics) April 3, 2019
What a phenomenal throw. Again. As if Laureano needed to follow up his throw of the year candidate from Monday night.
For Bogaerts, the decision to try and take third represented bad base running. He hesitated rounding second base and it cost him. He didn't run hard enough out of the box, thinking it was a home run. He was the potential tying run and got thrown out when he could have been in scoring position.
Those are the types of decisions that 1-5 baseball teams make.
2. Where have the bats gone?
Getting shut out on back-to-back nights by the likes of Aaron Brooks and Mike Fiers is a tough thing to watch. The Red Sox finally got a strong pitching performance, but couldn't capitalize.
The Sox are 10-for-46 on the season with runners in scoring position, good for a .217 average. That's after leading the majors in 2018 by batting .289 with runners in scoring position.
3. Sale dazzles and concerns at the same time:
Sale turned in the first quality start from a Red Sox pitcher this year, tossing six innings of one-run ball. He allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out one.
But Sale's lack of velocity was alarming. After sitting in the low-90's with his fastball on opening day, Sale was consistently in the upper-80's Tuesday night against the A's. He relied on a heavy diet of sliders and changeups to pitch well. Only one-third of the pitches the lefty threw were fastballs.
Sale threw 29 fastballs tonight, averaging 89.3-mph, the lowest average of his career. Previous low was 89.8 on July 27, 2012.
— Ian Browne (@IanMBrowne) April 3, 2019
Think I'm sounding the alarm bells for no reason? Think again. On the NESN broadcast, Dennis Eckersley dismissed the suggestion that Sale is just trying to pace himself to begin the season.
"This is different," Eck said.
It sure was. It was a different type of effectiveness from Sale, it was good, but it was concerning nonetheless.
4. Will it ever be acceptable to pinch-hit for Jackie Bradley Jr. against a tough lefty?
A's lefty Ryan Buchter arguably got the second biggest out of the game, striking out Bradley Jr. with the tying run on third base in the seventh inning. Buchter had already made easy work of lefties Mitch Moreland and Brock Holt in the inning, yet yielded a hard-hit double to the only right-handed batter he faced in the inning, Christian Vazquez.
Alex Cora had better options available on his bench in Eduardo Nunez and Sam Travis. He chose not to use them. It's fair to ask why Bradley can't be pinch-hit for in those situations.
The Sox and A's meet again Wednesday night. Boston will send Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound.