Chris Murphy makes strong debut in otherwise error-filled Red Sox loss

Tribune Content Agency

“We knew Boston had problems with their defense, guys. We didn’t know it was gonna play like this, though.”

The Cleveland Guardians broadcasters couldn’t believe their eyes when the Red Sox infield committed a slew of errors in the bottom of the fourth, giving the home team a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Perhaps they shouldn’t have been throwing stones from their glass house, as the Guardians infield had committed their own pair of errors in the top of that very inning.

Nevertheless, the Red Sox have been all errors and no comedy this season and it continues to cost them. They already led the American League with 40 errors before making three in the same inning on Wednesday night.

After Amed Rosario led off the inning with a single, Jose Ramirez reached on a fielding error by first baseman Triston Casas. Both Guardians quickly advanced on a throwing error by second baseman Enmanuel Valdez. Josh Naylor promptly re-tied the game with a single, and Cleveland took the lead in the next at-bat, when a fielding error by Rafael Devers allowed Josh Bell to reach and Ramirez to score.

Kutter Crawford was gone by then. The Red Sox starter lasted just three innings, struck out three, and allowed one earned run on five hits; the other three runs scored during his outing were unearned.

In Tuesday night’s series opener, the Red Sox had come from behind for the 18th time this season (tied for second-most in the majors) and move back into a winning record. They followed up that gutsy performance by taking two early leads and squandering them both. An early 2-1 lead turned into a 5-2 loss, putting Boston back at .500 (31-31) once again. They’ve lost seven of their last 10 games.

Errors are just one piece of the problem puzzle for this team; the bats have gone ice cold. Between April 14 and May 6, the Red Sox were hitting .295 with a .840 OPS, averaging 6.2 runs per game. Since May 7, their collective numbers have plummeted to .246, a .712 OPS, and averaging four runs per game (entering Wednesday night).

In this contest, the Red Sox collected five hits and four walks, and went 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight men on base. They’ve scored no more than two runs in 11 of their last 22 games, and with this latest loss, they’re 2-21 when scoring less than four runs.

Chris Murphy’s major league debut was the lone bright spot in this error-filled, midge-swarmed game.

Boston’s No. 14 prospect got the call on Monday, his 25th birthday. Two days later, he took the mound for the first time as a major league pitcher.

The organization’s sixth-round pick in 2019, Murphy primarily worked his way up the farm system as a starting pitcher. His most recent Triple-A game was his first relief appearance of the season, three shutout innings, one hit, three strikeouts.

That bullpen outing seemed to prepare him well for his debut. Murphy took over in the bottom of the fifth, tasked with getting the third out and stranding Ramirez on second. He needed just two pitches to get out of the inning, then returned for a few more.

By the time he walked off the mound at the end of the eighth, Murphy had pitched 3 ⅓ innings of two-hit ball with five strikeouts and one walk on just 54 pitches. His fastball velocity averaged 94.5 mph throughout the night, and topped out at 95.8 mph. His seven swings-and-misses matched Crawford’s for the most on the night.

It was an impressive performance on its own merit, a saving grace for the bullpen, and just about the only thing worth complimenting on a frustrating night in Cleveland.