Bats unable to deliver in clutch situations
BOSTON -- At several points during Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Rangers at Fenway Park, the Red Sox stood one hit away from reversing their offensive fortunes. Each turn, however, featured another thwarted attempt by the underachieving Boston lineup to produce runs.
The Red Sox connected on several well-hit balls, but that contact merely resulted in an equal number of loud outs. They finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, lowering their team average in those spots to an American League-worst .203, and left 12 runners on base for the second night in a row.
"There were a number of times to see a guy square a ball and someone's either running something down in the gap or someone's standing right there," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We're getting a number of good at-bats, the ball's just not falling right now."
The club's collective batting average on balls in play was a mere .266, and the frustration at that outcome was readily apparent.
"The numbers probably say otherwise," Xander Bogaerts said, "but the amount of balls we've been hitting hard, it reminds me a lot of last year in the beginning when we weren't scoring runs. Same thing."
Bogaerts was one of several hitters to suffer from lousy luck. In the sixth inning, Boston loaded the bases when Shane Victorino singled after battling through 10 pitches in a pinch-hit at-bat. Brock Holt struck out, leaving Bogaerts in the spotlight with two outs.
Working on a 2-1 count, Rangers reliever Tanner Scheppers lost control of a pitch that would have been a ball had it not ricocheted off Bogaerts' bat. That evened the count, and Bogaerts went on to hit a hard lineout to center field.
"That's a big difference between 2-2 and 3-1," Bogaerts said. "The only thing I can try to do is get out of the way, and unfortunately that pitch is right there."
The Red Sox mounted one last charge in the ninth when Mookie Betts hit a one-out double, but then Dustin Pedroia's liner to left field was tracked down by Delino DeShields just in front of the Green Monster. After the Rangers intentionally walked David Ortiz for the second time, Hanley Ramirez grounded into a force out.
Now a quarter of the way through the season, the Red Sox (19-21) maintain an underwhelming record given their high preseason expectations. Farrell admitted the club's offense could stand to see improvement, and considering his previous mentions of tweaking the lineup, changes could be on their way in the near future.
"I think we will see an offense that is certainly going to score more runs than we have over the last eight or 10 games," Farrell said. "I like where we are right now.
"This is an offense we believe is still really strong."