ST. PETERSBURG -- Swept under the roof of Tropicana Field during a lost weekend, the Red Sox went home in the midst of their first legitimate slump of the season.A 9-1 defeat on Sunday afternoon to the surging Rays, who have won eight in a row, made it six losses
ST. PETERSBURG -- Swept under the roof of Tropicana Field during a lost weekend, the Red Sox went home in the midst of their first legitimate slump of the season.
A 9-1 defeat on Sunday afternoon to the surging Rays, who have won eight in a row, made it six losses for the Sox in their last eight games.
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"Sometimes you go through tough times," said third baseman Eduardo Nunez. "Off-day tomorrow and start all over again. This happens in a long season. We know it's not going to be easy all the way through. At some point you're going to have tough times. It was a very tough week for us. Turn the page and keep going. We're in first place for a reason."
The sweep was the first of the season that manager Alex Cora's team has endured, and the first for Boston since almost exactly a year ago -- Aug. 25-27, 2017.
At 90-42, the Red Sox hold a six-game lead in the American League East after the Yankees defeated the Orioles on Sunday night at Camden Yards.
"Just a bad weekend," said Cora. "That's it. They're playing great baseball. They play great here. They've done this to some good teams. It was just a bad weekend in [St. Petersburg]. Day off tomorrow and we'll get them Tuesday."
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Starter Nathan Eovaldi (Evo) struggled against the team that traded him to the Red Sox last month, giving up eight hits and six runs (five earned) over four innings. Eovaldi was brilliant in his first two starts with the Sox, going 2-0 and not allowing a run over 15 innings. In his subsequent four starts, he is 0-2 with a 7.41 ERA and has logged just 17 innings.
"I don't really know [the difference]," said Eovaldi. "I would say just the location those first two starts, I felt really crisp and clean with everything. I was able to locate all my pitches. Now, I've been leaving a lot of my splitters over the middle part of the plate. Same with the sliders and fastballs. Just have to do a better job of locating when I'm ahead in the count to get quick outs."
Sunday was more than just a pitching problem for Boston. On a day J.D. Martinez (Flaco) and Andrew Benintendi (Benny) got a rest, Rays ace Blake Snell (Zilla) fired six innings of two-hit, one-run ball, walking two and striking out eight.
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"There was a lot of energy today," Cora said. "The guy on the mound sucked it out [of us], but we're good. We know we didn't play well this week."
The Rays outscored the Red Sox, 24-5, on the weekend.
"We didn't put at-bats together," said Cora. "They were outstanding and we weren't great."
This was the furthest the Red Sox have gone into a season without getting swept since 1995.
HE SAID IT
"We're going home. These games are over. I don't think we're coming back here this year. I don't think we want to either. Go home. We've got a day off tomorrow, which I think is huge. A lot of guys get some rest and focus for the next day." -- Xander Bogaerts, after the Red Sox finished their season series against the Rays with an 11-8 mark
After a day off on Monday, the Red Sox will try to get back on track Tuesday for their shortest homestand of the season when they host the Marlins for two games. Lefty Christopher Johnson, who gave up just one run over six innings to Miami back on April 2, makes the start. Johnson is 4-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 10 starts this season. Jose Urena will start for Miami, and first pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.