Red Sox

McAdam: Brian Johnson’s first-inning struggles keep putting Red Sox in hole

(Dennis Poroy/Getty Images)

In the last 10 games, the Red Sox have lost just three games. In two of those losses, the pattern was exactly the same.

Both times -- last Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies and again Sunday against the San Diego Padres -- Brian Johnson gave up three runs in the first inning. Both times, those were the only runs the Red Sox allowed, with the bullpen shutting the opposition down the rest of the way.

Sense a pattern here?

Whether it entails failing to make the proper adjustments early, or something being off with his pre-game routine, Johnson has struggled mightily in the first inning. In seven starts this season, his first-inning ERA is 11.37.

In those seven innings, he's allowed 13 hits, five walks and two homers.

It was more of the same Sunday. The first four batters reached against the lefty by which time the Red Sox were trailing 3-0. After that early stretch, he allowed just one more hit and no runs.

But as was the case last Tuesday against the Phillies, the damage had already been done. And the result -- a loss the Sox can't afford -- was the same both times.