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Closing Time: Red Sox offensive drought persists in loss to Oakland

06.20.14 at 12:49 am ET
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The Red Sox‘ offensive futility continues to be measured by decades. With a 4-2 loss to the Athletics on Thursday night, the Red Sox now have scored two or fewer runs in six straight games — their longest stretch without a single three-run “outburst” since July 25-30, 1978.

On a night when David Ortiz was not in the lineup, Athletics left-hander Scott Kazmir had his way with the Red Sox, working primarily with a low-90s fastball and a devastating changeup that flummoxed the team’s lineup — particularly its right-handed hitters — for most of the night (save for a hanger that Dustin Pedroia hit out to account for the Sox’ lone runs of the night).

The Red Sox have scored two or fewer runs 26 times this year, tied for the fourth-most such instances in the majors. The shocking absence of offense continues to spoil what has been excellent work by the pitching staff.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— The Red Sox have now lost five straight games started by lefties.

— Against Kazmir, the Sox’ right-handed hitters went a combined 1-for-14 with seven strikeouts and no walks.

— With more than half the season remaining, the Red Sox have scored two or fewer runs 26 times. They’re on pace to do so 58 times this year, which would be the team’s most games with such a yield since 1992.

Xander Bogaerts went 0-for-4, with his OBP falling to .352 — its lowest point since April 15.

Mike Napoli went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, just his second three-strikeout game of the year. Even with Thursday’s whiff-heavy performance, Napoli is striking out in 24 percent of his plate appearances this year — down from 32 percent a year ago.

Chris Capuano, pitching for the first time since June 11, issued a walk and an RBI single, allowing the runner whom he inherited to score. He’s permitted eight of 19 inherited runners (42 percent) to score, easily the worst rate on the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

— Pedroia continued his career-long ownership of Kazmir, lofting a 3-2 changeup just over the glove of left fielder Yoenis Cespedes and the left-field fence in the top of the sixth inning for a two-run homer. He’s now 19-for-38 with two homers, eight extra-base hits, nine walks and three strikeouts against the former Rays hurler, good for a .500/.596/.842 line. He would later add a double in the ninth.

— Though he took the loss and fell to 1-5, Jake Peavy offered 6 1/3 solid innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits (including a homer and double) with three walks and four strikeouts. Peavy did permit his 14th homer of the season, a solo shot by Cespedes, but he also walked three or fewer batters for the eighth straight start (indeed, his third and final walk of the game — against the last batter he faced — represented the first time in the run that he’d given up three walks in an outing). While his early-season walk rate had been grounds for concern, in his last eight starts Peavy has averaged 2.0 walks per nine innings; he’s worked at least six innings in each of his last seven starts.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 1-for-2 with a double against Kazmir, continuing to hit for more power against left-handers than righties. He has 10 extra-base hits in 96 plate appearances against lefties, with seven extra-base hits in 142 plate appearances against righties.

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