CLEVELAND (AP) — They finished in last place again, way out of playoff contention. The Red Sox were never really in the race.
And yet, as the 2015 season ended long before New England’s trees burst with color, the future didn’t look so bleak in Boston.
“I’m proud of what we did here,” interim manager Torey Lovullo said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled with what they did to lead into 2016.”
The second straight disappointing season for the Red Sox concluded Sunday with a 3-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians, who got a solid outing from Danny Salazar and finished their own inconsistent campaign one game over .500.
This isn’t the way it usually goes for the Red Sox. But two years after winning the World Series, they’re at the bottom of the AL East for the second year in a row and it took a 28-20 finish just to get within seven games of .500.
However, the season finale included some uplifting news: The Red Sox announced that manager John Farrell, who recently ended his last round of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, will be back in the dugout in 2016.
“It’s great news,” said Lovullo, Boston’s bench coach and Farrell’s close friend who took over the club on Aug. 14. “We’re excited because we’re looking for his good health.”
Boston starter Rick Porcello (9-15) came up short in his bid to reach double-digit wins for the seventh straight season. He allowed two earned runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
“I know I made some mistakes,” Porcello said. “But other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I finished the game and the way I finished the season.”
Farrell was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in August, and his departure was another blow to an underachieving team. The 53-year-old Farrell hopes to come back in 2016, as do the Red Sox, who went 78-84 and finished last in the AL East for the second straight year. The Red Sox have posted consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1993-94.
“With a couple of key additions I think we’re going to be exactly where we want to be, and that’s win a world championship,” said Luvollo, who waived right to pursue managerial opening and signed a two-year extension to remain as Farrell’s bench coach.
David Ortiz drove in Boston’s only run with a double in the second. Big Papi was lifted for a pinch-runner after walking in the sixth, ending a season in which he surpassed 500 career homers and finished with 108 RBIs, his most since driving in 117 in 2007.
Porcello’s throwing error on a pickoff attempt and Jesus Aguilar’s RBI single gave the Indians a 3-1 lead in the third.
With runners at the corners and one out, Porcello tried to catch Lonnie Chisenhall off the bag at first but threw wildly, allowing Michael Martinez to score. Chisenhall moved up and scored on Aguilar’s base hit.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the first on consecutive doubles by Bogaerts and Ortiz, who was then retired trying to steal third. The Indians tied it on rookie Giovanny Urshela’s run-scoring single in the second.
TIP OF THE CAPS
After the final out, the Red Sox players gathered in front of their dugout and tipped their caps toward Don Orsillo, the team’s long-time TV announcer who will not be back next year. Orsillo was visibly moved by the salute.
“That was something we collectively thought would be a very nice gesture for Don,” Lovullo said. “He means a lot to all of us in different ways and means so much to the community and the Boston Red Sox. We wanted to acknowledge him for all his hard work and dedication.”
CF Mookie Betts has his on-base streak ended at 36 games. During the streak, he batted .360 (54 of 150) with 14 doubles, one triple and seven homers. It’s the longest streak since Dustin Pedroia reached in 37 consecutive games in 2011.
In addition to announcing Farrell’s return and Lovullo’s extension, the Red Sox will bring back hitting coach Chili Davis, pitching coach Carl Willis and third-base coach Brian Butterfield in 2016. First-base coach Arnie Beyeler is not being retained, and Lovullo had him bring out Boston’s lineup card before the game, a classy gesture.