BOSTON — As the Boston Red Sox were quietly losing another game Sunday afternoon, I walked past three Fenway Park ushers. All bemoaned the fact that Boston did not re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew.
That didn’t take long.
The Red Sox were swept in a three-game series at home, and the second-guessing has begun.
Boston did not experience a three-game sweep at Fenway last year so, suddenly, this 2-4 baseball team is in need of repair.
“We understand everything will be compared to last year,” outfielder Daniel Nava said. “We’re only six games in.”
Boston played Sunday with two regulars on the disabled list because of serious muscle strains in their legs. Outfielder Shane Victorino began the year on the DL. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks joined him Sunday, shelved with a calf strain.
“We’re missing a power right-handed bat that was getting off to a pretty darn good start,” Boston Manager John Farrell said of Middlebrooks.
But Farrell has had to replace players before. Injuries happened last season – including two closers lost for the year – and Farrell filled the holes with players able to produce.
The manager is looking for more of the same.
“Injuries are unpredictable,” Farrell said. “We haven’t been able to get into a rhythm with our normal starting lineup. But that’s the game. We feel like we’ve got quality depth to replace guys.”
So far, the mix isn’t working well enough. That was clear after the Red Sox wasted a solid Jon Lester start, losing 4-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Boston is not getting blown out. The Red Sox were tied after eight innings in the first game of the series Friday, lost in extra innings Saturday and matched Milwaukee with nine hits Sunday.
“We’ve had a difficult time bunching some hits together,” Farrell said.
Boston’s 54 hits this season are fifth best in the American League. Its 19 runs are only better than Kansas City (16).
“If two or three balls fall in, it’s a different game,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said after Sunday’s loss. “We hit the ball hard; just not finding holes.
Last year, it seemed that those balls always fell in.
But take off the rose-colored glasses: Boston experienced three-game losing streaks last year. In early May, the Red Sox lost 9 of 11 games and fell three games out of first place.
Boston then won five straight games.
“We could lose four straight and then win 12 in a row,” Nava said.
Nava’s error in right field contributed to one of Milwaukee’s runs Sunday. He charged a sinking line drive, then realized he wasn’t going to reach it, and the ball bounced past him.
“I didn’t play the ball well, clearly, and it got by me,” Nava said.
A poor throw by catcher David Ross led to another run. But the problem went beyond defense. Lester allowed only two earned runs, yet it wasn’t good enough. In his two starts, the Red Sox have scored a total of one run.
“I can’t talk about our hitters,” Lester said. “I know they’re up there grinding out at-bats. The effort’s there … it is what it is.
“I have to worry about pitching and putting up zeroes. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to put up enough zeroes today. Their guy (Yovani Gallardo) pitched a little bit better.”
More efforts like Lester’s on Sunday will be welcomed. The Red Sox have to believe their defense will improve and the timely hits will come.
“Right now because of some guys that are out of our lineup, our margin of error becomes a little more fine,” Farrell said. “Not an excuse. Just where we are right now.”
Right now, the Red Sox are 11/2 games out of first place in the American League East. There appears to be time to make up ground.
These are not desperate times. Want to know desperate times? John Farrell was at Fenway the last time Boston was swept at home in a three-game series. He was in the visiting dugout as the Bobby Valentine-led Red Sox were losing to Toronto in September of 2012.
Maybe Boston is not yet repeating the groove of 2013, but no one is making comparisons to 2012, either.
And those three despairing ushers at Fenway won’t like the words of outfielder Jonny Gomes, who said Boston will be just fine.
“I like where we’re at,” Gomes said.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: