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Closing Time: Red Sox see hopes flushed by Blue Jays in shutout loss

07.24.14 at 3:35 pm ET
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Hours before the Red Sox took on the Blue Jays in the finale of a four-game set, Red Sox manager John Farrell took stock of the potential impact that the team’s forthcoming weekend series in Tampa Bay could have on the team’s approach to the July 31 trade deadline.

“I’m sure it’s going to have an impact on the type of trades that we make,” Farrell told reporters. “I will say this: I think there will be moves that will go on regardless of our record over the next seven days. All that will play out in due time.”

The Red Sox may have taken any mystery out of their status at the trade deadline on Thursday afternoon, however. A listless Red Sox team was crushed by the Blue Jays, 8-0, on a day when rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman no-hit the team through six innings before Shane Victorino dumped a single to center to open the seventh. The Sox didn’t hit, they made miscues in the field and they received one of their worst lines of the season from a starting pitcher.

After a 14-1 victory in the first game of the series, the Red Sox went on to drop three straight contests, undoing a significant amount of the impact of their run of eight wins in nine games, dropping back to eight games under .500 and alone in last place in the division, nine games behind the Orioles.

Entering the week — the start of a stretch of 13 straight games against AL East opponents — some Sox officials felt that five or six wins over the week of games in Toronto and Tampa Bay could position the team to be buyers looking for reinforcements prior to the trade deadline. Now, that goal has been eliminated, making ever clearer the need for the team to focus on 2015 and beyond.

It seems an extreme reaction to three games, but the Red Sox had entered the All-Star break having permitted themselves no margin for error through their poor first-half play. As such, the team’s outlook is now clearer. Assets who are part of the team through 2014 but not beyond likely offer their greatest value via trade. An honest self-assessment for the team would suggest a fairly clear need to view the postseason this year as an unrealistic aspiration.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Rubby De La Rosa had perhaps the worst start of his career. He allowed a career-high seven runs (six earned), matched his career-worst yield for hits (nine, including two doubles, a triple and a homer) and matched the shortest outing of his career by lasting just four innings (all three batters who faced him in the fifth inning reached). He struck out just one batter — the fewest strikeouts he’s ever had in a start. De La Rosa worked almost exclusively with his fastball and changeup (he threw just a handful of sliders, with the Blue Jays content to lay off of all but one of them), and with De La Rosa’s changeup staying up and over the plate, he proved vulnerable to the sort of struggle that he hadn’t encountered this year. The 25-year-old’s ERA increased nearly a run, from 2.64 to 3.54.

Brock Holt matched a career-high with three strikeouts. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.

David Ortiz, who homered in the first three games of the series, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He ended up leaving the game during an at-bat in the ninth, escorted by a team trainer.

— For the first time in 10 games, Xander Bogaerts punched out multiple times.

— The Sox’ cause was hindered by some sloppy defense from a couple of players with Gold Glove talent at their positions. Christian Vazquez committed a run-scoring first-inning passed ball, while Jackie Bradley Jr. saw a long fly ball clang off his glove — for which he ranged a mile — clang off his glove for a triple. Though ruled a three-base hit, Bradley was in position to make the catch.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Shane Victorino singled to open the seventh, breaking up the no-hitter. He also reached on a walk.

Stephen Drew negotiated a walk, giving him 10 walks in as many games. He has a .439 OBP during that run.

— Bradley achieved a milestone, taking part in his seventh double play of the year when he caught a fly ball and doubled Jose Reyes off first. His seven double plays are the most ever by an outfielder in his rookie season.

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