LONDON — Don’t blame Great Britain.

The Boston Red Sox were soundly beaten in a pair of games at London Stadium over the weekend, taking part in the first Major League Baseball games ever played in Europe. They lost the first game, 17-13, followed by a 12-8 defeat on Sunday. The pair of losses to the New York Yankees were an ugly way to end June. The Red Sox have fallen 11 games back in the American League East.

The venue had nothing to do with it. The Red Sox would’ve lost both those games at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium or a on sandlot field in the Midwest. Their pitching staff didn’t have any answers for the potent New York lineup, which bludgeoned Boston over nine hours of baseball.

The experience will undoubtedly leave a bad taste in the mouths of Red Sox fans, but don’t blame any of this on the field. Or the pitch, as it’s called here. It was the inability to execute a pitch when needed. The Boston bullpen gave up 21 runs in 12 1/3 innings. The relievers, who had pitched better than expected early in the season, no longer have answers when the phone rings.

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Josh Taylor reacts after giving up a two-run double to New York’s DJ LeMahieu during the seventh inning of Sunday’s game in London. AP Photo/Tim Ireland

That’s what made the weekend so disappointing for the Red Sox. This was a celebration of baseball, with MLB pulling out all the stops to showcase the game for a new audience on the other side of the Atlantic. The royals (the Duke and Dutchess of England, not the Kansas City type) were on hand for the first game and celebrities from around the city came by to check out what all the hubbub was about.

If baseball wanted to make new fans of these Brits, the game can rest assured they are fans of the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees rose to the occasion and flexed their formidable muscle while the world was watching. The Sox – who rallied from a six-run deficit in the first inning on Saturday and jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead on Sunday – just couldn’t keep up.

While England now tries to figure out what to make of two games that averaged 25 runs and 4 hours and 30 minutes to play, the Red Sox have to figure out where they go from here. The AL East deficit is getting to the point where the division could be out of reach.

Over the weekend Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said his goal was to make the playoffs and win the World Series. That’s a good answer when someone asks about their hopes of winning the division. But even winning a wild card spot will be challenging now. The Sox returned to North America trailing four other teams in that race. They’ll need to play better baseball to grab a berth in the one-game wild card playoff.

“We have the talent to win the World Series,” said Cora, “but we need to play better.”

Much better. On Sunday Cora was as upset as I’ve seen him after a loss, talking about the need “to clean it up.”

Those efforts begin Tuesday night in Toronto. Last time we saw the Blue Jays they took two of three from the Sox at Fenway. The first of those wins came in a comeback after the Jays trailed 6-0. It was the biggest bullpen collapse the Red Sox had suffered in America this year.

It got worse over the weekend. The bullpen posted an ERA (European Run Average) of 15.32.

The Red Sox won’t be going back to England anytime soon. The question is whether or not they’ll be going back to the playoffs. Cora has his work cut out for him if he’s going to clean it up by the end of the season.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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