Sox look to recharge on off-day in AZ
Paxton scuffles, Boston swept by Angels as offense has scored just 4 runs in past 41 innings
ANAHEIM -- Perhaps an off-day in the warmth of Phoenix will be a cure-all for the Red Sox, who haven’t looked like themselves for the last several days.
A happy flight is always the goal on a getaway day, but it was not to be on Wednesday night.
James Paxton had turned in solid performances in his first two starts following a two-year layoff due to a variety of injuries, but the rust finally reared its ugly head in start No. 3.
The Big Maple lasted just three innings while giving up five runs, three walks and two homers as Boston went down to 7-3 defeat and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels.
“Command was off, stuff was good,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “The leadoff walk, the two-out walk, we paid the price, but I think the stuff was OK. It’s just the command was off.”
Paxton threw 59 pitches. Of the 26 swings the Angels took, they whiffed on just six, none on fastballs. The velocity was still there, though, as Paxton topped out at 96.9 mph and averaged 95.4 mph, just a touch below what it was in his first two starts.
“Sometimes you just don’t have it,” said Paxton. “I was out there battling, trying to get outs and it just wasn’t happening for me.”
While Paxton had extra rest prior to his first two starts, he started Wednesday on the standard four days. Did that play a role in his struggles?
“My body felt fine,” Paxton said. “I just wasn’t executing. I wasn’t sharp. I was falling behind, making mistakes, and they made me pay for it. Command wasn’t great. I wasn’t able to keep the ball where I wanted to throw it. I was just missing both sides of the plate and leaving the ball up for them.”
Paxton will get an extra day going into his next start, which is set for Tuesday at Fenway against the Reds.
“I mean, the first inning was electric, right? Then he walks Hunter [Renfroe] on four pitches,” said Cora. “We get two outs and then he walks the eighth hitter, and then [Zach Neto] got a fastball above the strike zone and he got to it. I think that was it. He'll be ready. He’s got an extra day, and he’ll be ready for the Reds.”
After taking the first two games on this nine-game journey out West, the Sox have lost their last four.
Maybe this is a good time for the club to pause for some rest and relaxation in the Valley of The Sun before taking on the D-backs for the opener of a three-game series on Friday night.
“Excellent,” agreed Cora about Thursday's off-day. “Go out, hang out, play some golf, watch the [Celtics-Heat playoff] game at night and enjoy it.”
There wasn’t much enjoyment to be had in Anaheim, particularly with the offense in its biggest rut of the season, scoring four runs in the past 41 innings.
“I think we put some balls hard in play yesterday,” said Red Sox hitting coach Peter Fatse. “Nothing seemed to fall, obviously, today. Eight hits, scratched a couple across. Just got to keep going. We have done a nice job as a group all season long, and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”
Cora wasn’t panicking about the dry spell on offense.
“Part of 162,” he said. “We’ve just got to be ready for Friday. We’ll make adjustments, and we’re going to be ready.”
Cora feels that teams are starting to adjust their scouting reports on Boston’s offense, and now his team must counter, with Fatse and the hitting department continuing to work on adjustments heading into the weekend.
“I think we do some things really well as a club. Obviously, we’re an aggressive group. We hit the fastball pretty well,” said Fatse. “I think teams have started to mix and match a little bit, the last few games specifically. Just the regular ebb and flow of the season, things we’re aware of and things we’re game-planning for.”