Tyler O'Neill strikes out four times as Red Sox lose to Brewers 7-2

Mac Cerullo, Boston Herald on

Published in Baseball

BOSTON — Tyler O’Neill started the season as Boston’s best hitter, but lately the Red Sox outfielder has found himself mired in a serious slump.

Things didn’t get any better Friday night.

O’Neill went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts in Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, marking a lowlight of what was a poor all-around showing for the Red Sox. Kutter Crawford endured his worst outing of the season, and the club was outplayed by the Brewers, who stand first in the NL Central and have ranked among the top teams in baseball most of the season.

O’Neill’s struggles were particularly pronounced, and dating back to Tuesday he has struck out in seven consecutive plate appearances. He’s now batting .157 with two home runs and a 43% strikeout rate in the month of May after batting .320 with nine home runs and a 24% strikeout rate in March and April.

“Just a tough night, late on the fastball,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of O’Neill. “He’s just got to keep working.”

Crawford, who has been among the best pitchers in the league through the first two months, didn’t have his best stuff on Friday. The right-hander was tagged for six runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four, and his 4.1 innings marked his fewest in a game so far.

The short start also snapped a streak of seven consecutive starts in which Crawford had pitched into at least the sixth inning.

The Brewers scored three runs off Crawford in both the third and fifth innings. Brice Turang started the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the third before William Contreras smoked a two-run home run off the Green Monster seats to make it 3-0.

David Hamilton got a run back for Boston with an RBI double in the fourth, but Milwaukee quickly responded in the fifth, with Christian Yelich ripping an RBI double and then Willy Adames delivering the knockout blow in the form of a two-run double to deep right field, which chased Crawford from the game and put the Brewers up 6-1.

The Red Sox were at least able to stay within striking distance. Dom Smith cut the deficit to four with his solo home run to dead center field in the bottom of the sixth, and in the top of the seventh Chase Anderson flirted with disaster by loading the bases with one out, only to then strike out Jake Bauers and Joey Ortiz to escape unscathed.


Earlier in the game Boston also benefitted from a sensational diving catch in center field by Ceddanne Rafaela, who covered an astonishing distance to rob Ortiz of what seemed like a sure double in the gap his first time up in the second inning.

“At this point when it’s off the bat and it’s in the center field area I think he always has a chance at this point,” Crawford said of Rafaela. “That was an unbelievable catch. He’s a good ballplayer, a good ballplayer making good plays.”

In the end it didn’t matter, and after a week in which the Red Sox regularly found ways to rally after struggling to come from behind most of the season, Friday represented a regression to the mean. Boston went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base, at one point squandering a second-and-third situation in the fourth before later stranding a man at third without scoring in the fifth.

The Brewers tacked on a run in the top of the ninth on an Ortiz sacrifice fly to round out the scoring, and the Red Sox couldn’t mount any kind of offense their last time up.

One silver lining was the play of the Hamilton, who went 3 for 4 with a double for his first career three-hit game. The rookie has seen his playing time at shortstop noticeably increase recently and since the start of May he’s now batting .322. Hamilton’s defense has also noticeably improved, which he said has helped him play with more confidence in all areas.

“Hitting is going to come and go but you’ve got to always try and play good defense, that’s going to really help the team,” Hamilton said.

Jarren Duran also went 3 for 4 with a double and Smith scored both of Boston’s runs, and Adames led the Brewers by going 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Lexington’s Sal Frelick, who started in right field and batted seventh for the Brewers, went 0 for 5 in his first game at Fenway Park as a big leaguer, but also made an impressive diving catch to end the bottom of the eighth.

Boston falls to 26-25 and will look to bounce back Saturday when Nick Pivetta (2-2, 3.04) takes the mound against Milwaukee’s Colin Rea (3-2, 4.07). First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 p.m.


©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus