Five Takes: Players-only meeting can't save Red Sox as losing streak hits seven

AP Photo/Kathy WillensBoston’s losing streak hit seven as they dropped both games of yesterday’s doubleheader in the Bronx.

NEW YORK — It’s only early August, but the Red Sox are on the verge of losing October.

Somewhat fittingly, the worst week of the year for Boston was punctuated by the worst day. The Sox were smoked in the first game of a doubleheader with the Yankees, 9-2, held a players-only meeting, and then dropped the nightcap, 6-4. They’ve lost seven straight.

Here are five takes from a bloodletting at Yankee Stadium:

1. Starters still aren’t cutting it

The Red Sox rotation’s run of futility continued with Chris Sale on Saturday afternoon.

Boston’s ace was tagged for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings, capping an abysmal turn for the starters. Beginning with David Price’s outing on Monday, the regular members of the Red Sox rotation posted a 9.69 ERA, allowing 28 earned runs in 26 innings.

“I mean we’ve been talking about it the whole time and they know it,” Alex Cora said. “These guys, like I’ve been saying all along, they understand that this team was built around the rotation and it hasn’t been effective. There’s no hiding.”

2. AC gets tossed

Displeased with the home plate umpire’s strike zone in the first game, Cora tried to give his team a spark.

It was easy to see the manager’s plan as he visited Sale on the mound with nobody warming in the bullpen. The second the ump came out to break things up, Cora ripped into him and was tossed.

“It was only one purpose,” Cora said. “I wasn’t talking about mechanics or anything. It was just, let me know when he’s coming and I’m going to let him how I feel.”

It didn’t work; Boston was outscored 7-1 from there.

3. The players meet

The Sox finally held a team meeting, but Cora wasn’t the one running the show.

MLB rules stipulate the clubhouse must open 10 minutes after every game, but Boston’s stayed shut for 24 following their loss in the first game, as the players held a closed-door meeting.

“When things come up, you’ve got to address it,” Sale said. “We care about each other. Obviously we’re not playing the way we want, but we take a lot of pride and we respect each other, and we love each other.

“We grind together, we win together, we lose together, and when something comes up or someone has something to say, we have enough respect for each other to get together as a group and go over some things. That’s just how it goes.”

4. It didn’t stop the bleeding

Fresh off their meeting, the Sox couldn’t beat a JV Yankees lineup.

New York all but punted on the nightcap, opting for a bullpen game with only two starters from Opening Day in their lineup. It didn’t matter. They chased Brian Johnson after three innings and did enough damage against the Red Sox bullpen. Matt Barnes wound up taking the loss after an ugly seventh inning.

5. Free fallin’

The Red Sox never lost more than three in a row last season, and they’ve now more than doubled that streak. This certainly ain’t 2018 anymore.

At 13.5 games back, they’ll surely be giving their AL East crown away, and if they don’t wake up they’re going to miss the playoffs all together. With yesterday’s losses, they fell 5.5 games behind the Rays for the final Wild Card spot.

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at cmason@northofboston.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason.