Red Sox lose to Braves, Mike Kickham makes MLB return after 6-year hiatus

Braves 7, Red Sox 5

The Braves (22-14) swept the Red Sox (12-25) at Fenway Park, making the Sox the first MLB team with 25 losses this season.

The takeaways:

1. New pitchers, same story

The Red Sox are playing musical chairs with their openers, bulk innings eaters and just about every other relief pitching role in their bullpen.

Robinson Leyer made his first career MLB start with a scoreless first inning before turning it over to Mike Kickham, who hadn’t pitched in the big leagues in six years and had a career 10.98 ERA.

Kickham, 31, was a former sixth round draft pick who’s been floating around in the minors and was a minor league signing back in December. He didn’t strike out a single batter over three innings, allowing three runs, including a homer to Adam Duvall.

Kickham’s story was bittersweet.

“I’ve learned a lot about hard work and perseverance,” he said. “You hear those terms but to actually put those into play and kind of keep a big-picture goal in mind, take the necessary steps to get back to that goal and just kind of figuring out stuff about yourself through it all, you can’t replicate that any other way than actually going through it first-hand.”

After Kickham, manager Ron Roenicke handed the ball to Andrew Triggs, a 31-year-old who was plucked off waivers from the Giants in August. Triggs went three innings, giving up three more runs, including a pair of homers by Duvall and Marcell Ozuna, who hit three homers on Tuesday.

Duvall hit another blast off Ryan Brasier in the eighth to collect his third of the day.

The Home Run Derby by Duvall and Ozuna was historic. According to Elias, they became the first teammates in MLB history to hit three homers in a game on consecutive days.

The Red Sox have been allowing homers at an unprecedented rate this season, with 65 homers allowed in 25 games.

“It’s hard to explain why the home run totals have gone up so much against us,” Roenicke said. “I know we need to do a better job of mixing up pitches. I know we need to do a better job of commanding the ball. But that’s easy to say. Everybody feels the same way. It’s not like that solves anything.”

2. When will Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis become the Bash Brothers?

Between the two of them they have as much power potential as any two players in the organization. But all they’ve been doing is whiffing.

Dalbec can’t catch up to fastballs and it’s becoming quite evident through three games. He’s behind on every heater, including the one he homered off in his debut. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is now 2-for-12 with eight strikeouts since his call-up.

Chavis is a similar story. As the designated hitter in this game Chavis went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. He’s got 34 strikeouts in 76 at-bats this year. He’s hitting .197 with a .577 OPS. And it continues to look like he might be overmatched in the big leagues.

He’s plenty talented enough to turn it around but he hasn’t been able to make any positive adjustments this year.

3. Jackie Bradley Jr. is still here

He made his presence felt in this game, with a beautiful catch up against the Green Monster, leaping off one leg and hauling it in at the top of his jump while his body slammed into the Wall.

He also homered in the fourth inning, his third of the year. And despite his quiet season he’s got a .702 OPS while playing a great center field, as we’re reminded that he always seems to put together an acceptable year at the plate.

“He’s really starting to hit the ball good again,” Roenicke said. “Quality at-bats, The oppo homer’s great to see. And if he gets a little bit of luck, those numbers of his are going to go up in a hurry. He just doesn’t seem to have that magic wand up there like some guys. But I’m really happy to see him swinging the bat better. We know it’s there. We see it every year, it’s just a matter of when it shows up.”

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