Flu-ridden Boston Red Sox lackluster in 4-1 loss to Detroit Tigers
James McCann blasts a tie-breaking home run in the fifth inning for the Tigers. Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports

With three key offensive players out of the starting lineup, the  Boston Red Sox continued to struggle offensively, plating just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Tigersdropping their second straight at Comerica Park. Eduardo Rodriguez took the loss for the Sox on the mound, victim to a three-run fifth inning that ending his outing prematurely. Jordan Zimmermann earned the win for Detroit with six brilliant innings, allowing just one run.

The Tigers were boosted to victory by the bat of Jose Iglesias, who homered and doubled, driving in two runs. James McCann also went deep for the Tigers. There were few offensive bright spots for the Red Sox, but they did see Mitch Moreland break out of his slump with a 2-4 performance, while Christian Vazquez, making his first start of the year, reached base three times. 

Boston strikes first, Detroit answers 

Those quick to criticize the Red Sox point out that they have only scored in four of 38 innings this year. However, it also is worth mentioning that the Red Sox have not played with their regular starting lineup since Opening Day. Right fielder Mookie Betts hasn't played since Monday, as he is just beginning to recover from the flu. Hanley Ramirez just went down with the flu, while Brock Holt finally came back from the illness today, despite not feeling 100%.

 Xander Bogaerts is on bereavement leave, and he is not expected to return until Monday. Given all this, it is hardly surprising the Red Sox are struggling to produce offensively, a pattern that continued on Saturday afternoon.

The Sox did get on the board first, sparked by a leadoff double in the second inning from Moreland. With one out and Moreland on third, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a fly ball to the deepest part of the park. A home run in any other stadium, the ball was caught by the wall, and Bradley settled for the sacrifice fly and a 1-0 Boston lead. It was their only run of the day. They loaded the bases with one out in the third, but rookie sensation Andrew Benintendi grounded into a double play to end the threat. 

Meanwhile, Rodriguez showed signs of struggling with his control early, walking a pair of men in the second inning. He escaped that frame without harm, but he surrendered a one-out home run to Jose Iglesias, he of all of four blasts last year. Neither team got anything going again until the fifth when Rodriguez's outing completely unraveled. 

3-run fifth lifts Tigers, dooms Sox

The fifth inning of work for Rodriguez started innocently enough as he overwhelmed Mikie Mahtook on three pitches to pick up the first out. However, McCann hit a long home run to left-center field for a 2-1 lead after that, and it went downhill from there. Jacoby Jones and Jose Iglesias, the #8 and #9 hitters respectively smacked back-to-back doubles to tack on another run while leadoff man  Ian Kinsler drove in Iglesias with a RBI single for a 4-1 lead. It was all the offense they would need, as Zimmermann and the Tigers' bullpen dominated on the mound. 

Jordan Zimmermann dominated on the mound. Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports

Zimmermann refused to give the Sox life in the sixth, ensuring the ever-critical lockdown inning after a big inning from his offense. He retired the Sox 1-2-3 to end his outing. The Sox got a little something going against reliever Shane Greene in the seventh frame, with a single and hit batsmen bringing up Holt with two outs and two one.

A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position. The inning seemed reminiscent of yesterday's bullpen collapse by the Tigers when they gave up a 4-0 lead in the eighth inning. However, Greene buckled down and painted the black with a low inside fastball to catch Holt looking and end the threat. 

Kyle Ryan replaced Greene on the mound and promptly allowed the first two men to reach, leading to a first and third situation with one out. However, after coming up clutch with a three-run homer yesterday in the eighth, Pablo Sandoval couldn't come up with a big hit this time, grounding into a rally-killing, inning-ending double play.

Justin Wilson retired the Sox in order to end the game in the ninth. For the Sox, relievers Ben Taylor and Noe Ramirez kept the game close with 3 combined innings of no-hit relief. 

The two teams meet again tomorrow at 1:10 pm. The Red Sox will start Rick Porcello against Detroit's Daniel Norris. Boston expects to have Betts back, but they will still not have Bogaerts. The status of Ramirez is still questionable. 

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