Xander Bogaerts has three hits, but the Red Sox quietly lose to the Guardians 8-3

With the Red Sox a week before the trade deadline and closer to the playoff picture, these final games in July should be a good opportunity for the front office to learn something about the roster.

But these Red Sox don’t have much to show for it, and neither did they, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 8-3 on Tuesday night.

The loss pushed the Sox back to .500 (49-49) and, paired with another early Orioles win, sent the Sox into the American League East basement for the first time since May 15. They are now 3-. 1/2 games back in the wild card race.

With half the team on the injured list, the Sox’ night lineups resembled those used in Fort Myers during Grapefruit League action.

The Sox called up Jalen Davis and Yulmer Sanchez from Triple-A Worcester over the weekend and started Davis in center field and Sanchez at second base on Tuesday. Rob Refsnyder was playing right field.

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Rookie starting pitcher Josh Winkowski returned from a bout with COVID-19 and looked rusty, if not tired, as he threw low-90s fastballs into the backs and bats of the Guardians’ hitters. gave He recorded just nine strikeouts and allowed five runs, including a three-run blast off Nolan Jones that put Cleveland up 5-0 in the third inning.

It was a less fitting way to celebrate David Ortiz’s Hall of Fame induction at Fenway Park, where legends of the past joined Ortiz for a special pregame ceremony.

In a short speech to the crowd, Ortiz announced that he was the Sox’s good luck charm.

They will need more than luck to get back into the playoff race. They’ll need action, and they needed it yesterday, especially at first base and in the corner outfield, where they rank near the bottom of the league in offensive production.

The Sox entered Tuesday ranked 29th in fWAR at first base (-1.1 WAR) and 27th in the outfield (0.5 WAR).

Bobby Dalbec was 0-for-4 on the Mendoza line, lowering his average to .200.

Only in the third inning did the Red Sox offense show signs of life.

Davis hit a leadoff double and Refsnyder was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts drove in a run with an RBI single. JD Martinez was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Christian Vazquez singled to left to score another.

With the bases loaded and only one out, it was the Sox’s chance to take advantage. Instead, backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, sixth in that lineup, flied out to right field and was doubled off in an attempt to tag Bogaerts from third.

Bogaerts, who is not considered a trade candidate before the deadline, attempted to score with a head-first slide and looked to sneak under the tag, but the umpiring staff, according to team officials who spoke publicly Tuesday. confirmed the outcall with replay review. And the Sox threat was over.

It was hard to blame Bogaerts for trying to do something with his legs. Had he stayed at third, the next batter would have been Yolmer Sanchez, who has spent most of the year in the minors and has a career .660 OPS.

Sanchez then suggested throwing back-to-back to try to turn a double play and cost the Sox two runs in the fourth inning.

When it was time to sing “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth, Fenway Park was half empty. Bogaerts led off the bottom of the inning with a double off the Green Monster and scored on a double by Kevin Plawicki.

Bogaerts had three hits; Eight other Red Sox hitters combined for four.

That was all there was to it from the Red Sox, another lopsided loss for a team that looked lifeless on most July nights, when they had an MLB-worst 6.69 ERA and an MLB-worst 20 errors with 6- 16 while scoring just 3.7 runs per game.