Early deficits catching up with Sox

BOSTON -- On Marathon Monday, for the second straight game, the Boston Red Sox rallied. They showed the heart of a champion and the resiliency that defined them in 2013.

But the end result wasn't what they wanted.

The Red Sox lost 7-6 to a Baltimore Orioles team that carried a 6-0 lead into the middle innings.

While the Sox have displayed a never-say-die attitude, they also have established a bad habit of falling behind in 2014. Comebacks are nice, and every so often they lead to dramatic wins, but the strain of constantly having to erase a deficit can be a drag.

“It takes a lot of energy,” manager John Farrell said.

Boston wiped away a 5-0 deficit en route to a walk-off win Sunday night. It was their first such victory this season after having 11 in 2013. However, that was when they were playing clean baseball in virtually every department. That has not been the case this year and when a team needs to rally from behind, its margin for error is extremely limited.

The comeback on Monday may have been successful if not for a bad baserunning mistake in the eighth inning by rookie Xander Bogaerts, who was nearly picked off before getting caught too far off second base after Jonathan Herrera struck out and getting tagged between second and third for the final out. It was a rally killer, and the kind of flub one rarely saw from the machine-like 2013 edition of the Red Sox.

“That’s the kind of team and that’s the kind of mentality we have, but we can’t make the little mistakes,” catcher David Ross said. “We have to hit the cutoff man. We have to turn double plays when they’re presented. We have to, baserunning, take the extra base. Just the little things that show up in a game like today.”

The double play that was presented -- and not converted -- also involved Bogaerts, whose relay on a potential twin-killing in the eighth pulled first baseman Mike Napoli off the bag. It does not go into the books as an error, for a runner was sliding in on Bogaerts, but it was a play that needed to be made. Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger was safe at first on the play and, two batters later, scored from second on Ryan Flaherty’s base hit to center.

That run proved to be the difference in the game.

While Bogaerts was involved in two critical plays that went against Boston, the young Red Sox shortstop was not the only issue. The club continues to play from behind because of a lack of punch early in games -- the Sox have been outscored 49-25 in the first four innings this year. In 2013, they bested opponents by 128 runs (426-298) in those frames.

“While the body of work by our staff has been I think very good, we’ve had a number of games where it’s been one run, two runs, today obviously six,” Farrell said of the early deficits. “We certainly would like to get the offense going a little bit earlier rather than have to dig out of a hole.”

A 59-29 scoring advantage from the fifth inning on has helped Boston survive some early woes, but those small mistakes and the effort expended to dig out of holes on a daily basis have made for some frustrating times in the first 20 games of the season.