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Closing Time: Red Sox, Jon Lester can’t keep pace with Tigers, drop fifth straight

06.07.14 at 10:52 pm ET
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Saturday night was another huge example of how things have changed since we saw the Red Sox take on the Tigers last October.

This was not the postseason of a season ago. There was no dominant Jon Lester, or Junichi Tazawa for that matter. Miguel Cabrera did his Miguel Cabrera thing, while the bottom of the Tigers’ lineup proved torturous for Red Sox pitching.

What it all added up to this time around was yet another Red Sox loss.

While the Sox were able to manage some offense off of Detroit starter Max Scherzer it wouldn’t be enough, with the Tigers handing the Sox their fifth straight loss, this time beating John Farrell‘s team, 8-6, at Comerica Park.

The problems started early with the Tigers jumping all over Lester, who wouldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. The Red Sox‘ lefty allowing five runs on 12 hits while not striking out a single batter. It was just the third time in the pitcher’s career he has failed to notch at least one punch-out.

While Cabrera continued to torture Lester, it was the far lesser-known Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez who took the starter deep. For Suarez it was his first big league home run.

But even with Lester out of the game, the Red Sox did manage to keep things close for a bit. It’s why Farrell decided to bring in Junichi Tazawa in the sixth inning for the first time this season. With the Sox within two, and Suarez standing on first with one out, Tazawa came on to face Ian Kinsler and Cabrera.

It was the kind of high-leverage situation the Red Sox reliever thrived in during last season’s series against Detroit. Things didn’t quite work out the same way this time around.

After falling behind, Tazawa allowed a RBI triple into the right-center field gap by Kinsler before watching Cabrera take a first-pitch, outside  fastball the other way for a run-scoring single. The righty had got the better of the slugger all three times the two faced off during the ’13 playoffs.

The Red Sox did manage four runs on 11 hits against last year’s American League Cy Young winner, but couldn’t much going against Detroit relievers Al Alburqueque and Joba Chamberlain.

The Sox did manage a threat in the ninth inning, scoring a pair against Detroit closer Joe Nathan, while putting Grady Sizemore and Daniel Nava on first and second with two outs. But Stephen Drew‘s fly out to center would end the really, and the game.

Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox, who remain 10 games out int he American League East:

WHAT WENT WRONG

– Jackie Bradley continued to strike out at an alarming rate, this time fanning two more times. He has now struck out seven times over his last five games. Bradley did manage an RBI single in the fifth, increasing his .286 batting average with runners in scoring position he began the night with.

– The usually reliable Red Sox bullpen had some bumps in the road, with Craig Breslow, Tazawa and Andrew Miller each giving up a run. It was just the 10th time this season the Sox relievers have given up as many runs.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Dustin Pedroia took a unique strategy, jumping on a pair of first pitches for positive results. Pedroia, who almost never swings at the first offering, first took at Scherzer 0-0 pitch over the left field fence for his third home run of the season before notching a first-pitch single. It marked just the 16th and 17th time this season the second baseman has put a first pitch in play.

David Ortiz made Scherzer pay after the Tigers’ starter talked his manager, Brad Ausmus into allowing him to to stay in the game in the seventh inning. With two runners on and Ausmus appearing ready to bring in lefty Phil Coke to face the designated hitter, the Detroit starter clearly talked his skipper into allowing him to face the  designated hitter. The result would be an RBI double on Scherzer’s last pitch of the game.

– Nava showed signs of life, reaching base four times (3 hits, one hit-by-pitch).

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