The defending World Series champions are having a rough go of it lately. They entered Saturday’s game against the Rays having lost eight consecutive games, including Friday’s brutal 1-0 walk-off loss to the Rays. It got worse on Saturday, as the Red Sox jumped out to an early 5-0 lead against David Price, but watched that lead slip away, eventually becoming a 5-5 tie that would last into the 15th inning.
Against reliever Andrew Miller in his first inning of work, the Rays put runners on first and second with no outs on a James Loney single to center, and a bunt single by Brandon Guyer, which moved pinch-runner Cole Figueroa to second base. On a 1-2 count, Desmond Jennings hit a weak chopper back to the mound which appeared to be an easy 1-4-3 double play, or at least a 1-4 putout. Instead, Miller’s throw missed the mark and bounced into center field, allowing Figueroa to score the winning run.
For a team that has been running as bad as the Red Sox have, it really doesn’t get any more brutal than that.
Watch the walk-off loss:
The Red Sox are now 20-28, seven games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East. Their -24 run differential is, at the moment, tied with the Rangers for the second-worst in the American League.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.