BOSTON -- There weren’t many lost weekends for the Boston Red Sox last year, but already they are trying to find their way in 2014.
The defending champs were swept in their first home series of the season after a 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. It was the first three-game sweep for a visiting team at Fenway under John Farrell and drops the Sox to 2-4 on the young season.
Jon Lester did his job by allowing just two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings, but for the second time this year received little support from the bats and also saw the defense behind him make a mess of things.
Boston was good or great in nearly every department last year. They played crisp baseball. The current edition looked a bit sloppy over the weekend and lacked energy Sunday. Those subscribing to World Series hangover theories have some pretty solid evidence at their disposal.
No support system: Since Mike Napoli’s three-run homer in the third inning Saturday night, Boston’s bats have done next to nothing. The only run scored in a 17-inning span came in on a Milwaukee error Saturday. Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo was the primary cause on Sunday, throwing 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
David Ortiz was on the bench for some of the drought. Grady Sizemore was out of the lineup Sunday. Will Middlebrooks has joined Shane Victorino on the disabled list. Indeed, the batting order is a work in progress and fluctuating day-to-day. Still, there’s a rather dormant vibe for the team that led the majors in runs by a wide margin in 2013.
Replay at Fenway: John Farrell’s first use of the new replay review system was not a successful one. An out call on Jackie Bradley Jr. at first base in the second inning was upheld, taking from Farrell the right to insist on a review for the remainder of the game.
The review took just 1 minute, 38 seconds, and everyone was on pins and needles. Well, at least those who instructed Farrell to go for it were.
In the seventh, Khris Davis raced into second with a double for the Brewers, barely beating the throw. Dustin Pedroia applied the tag and, when seeing the safe sign, began to motion to the dugout to challenge. He then realized it was out of his hands. The umpires could have taken a second look, but didn’t deem it necessary.
Bogaerts’ bumble: Although he was not given an error on the play, shortstop Xander Bogaerts had a misplay in the first inning that seemed to show his inexperience. Rather than plant and backhand a grounder to his right, he tried to circle around it and had the ball bounce away for an infield hit.
Had Bogaerts been near the front end of the infield or charging hard, it would’ve been the right play. But he was deep in what Tony Gwynn called the “five-and-a-half hole” between shortstop and third, and even if he got all the way around on it he was still somewhat on the run away from first base and would not have been able to get much on the throw.
Bogaerts, who committed 19 errors in 96 games at shortstop at Triple-A Pawtucket last season, showed some shakiness at the position in this series. There will be more trying days on defense for the youngster.
On the subject of defense: It downright stunk in this series. On both sides. There were a total of nine errors (five by Boston) in the three games and several other misplays (Bogaerts had a few, Mike Carp was shaky in left in the opener, Brewers shortstop Jean Segura had an adventurous game Saturday). Among the worst sequences for the Red Sox came in the second inning Sunday, when a miscommunication by Lester and third baseman Jonathan Herrera allowed a bunt attempt by Davis to die in the grass for a hit, which was followed by an error by Daniel Nava in right that let an unearned run come in.
A throwing error by David Ross in the eighth -- the second throwing error by a Boston catcher in as many games -- allowed another unearned run to score.
Up next: John Lackey makes his 2014 home debut opposite Tanner Scheppers in the opener of a three-game series against Texas on Monday. Lackey is 12-15 with a 6.01 ERA in his career against Texas but allowed just one run in six strong innings in his only start against them in Fenway Park last year.