Saturday, August 11, 2012
Overly aggressive baserunning costs Sox
By Bob Finnan
CLEVELAND -- When things aren't going well -- and, if you haven't noticed, the Red Sox are quickly going belly-up -- sometimes players try to do too much.
Twice on Saturday in their 5-2 loss to the Indians, Red Sox baserunners were cut down.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was thrown out at the plate in the fourth inning trying to score on a double by Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez came about 5 feet from hitting a grand slam on the towering drive. Instead, it caromed off the left-field wall for a two-run double. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford scored easily on the play. Pedroia was right on Crawford's heels. The relay throw from third baseman Brent Lillibridge to catcher Lou Marson was perfect.
The Red Sox blew a chance at another run in the fifth. Leadoff batter Ellsbury doubled to left-center but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
"Aggressive baserunning cost us tonight," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "If [Ellsbury] had to do it again, he wouldn't do it.
"They are aggressive mistakes. You have to play aggressive."
When Pedroia was trying to score, he put third-base coach Jerry Royster in a tough predicament.
"That's the toughest play a third-base coach can have," Valentine said. "It's a very, very, very difficult play."
The baserunning mistakes contributed to a losing effort by Franklin Morales (3-3, 3.29 ERA). The left-hander allowed just two hits and three earned runs in his 5 1/3 innings. He gave up four walks and struck out six in his 108-pitch outing.
He committed a balk in the fifth inning, which allowed Michael Brantley to advance from first to second. Brantley eventually scored on Lillibridge's single, which knotted the score at 2-2.
Lillibridge, who spent one month in Boston this year, was traded to the Indians on July 24. He was 3-for-4 on the night, with a home run, double and two RBIs.
"I missed on one ball today," Morales said of Lillibridge's solo homer in the third. "I tried to throw my fastball. That's my best pitch. He got me."
Valentine thought the balk was a key play in the fifth.
"The balk cost him," he said. "We hadn't seen that called this year where the pitcher doesn't stop. I think it was the right call."
Valentine said he thought Morales pitched well enough to win.
"In the other games, he had good control of his off-speed stuff and got them called for strikes," he said. "He didn't have his curveball called for strikes tonight. He went to his changeup and was just missing with that. He pitched well enough to win. There's no doubt about that."
Besides his double, Gonzalez made two loud outs. The last one came on the final play of the game when the Indians' Ezequiel Carrera made the catch, banged into the wall and fell down, but still hung onto the ball.
Gonzalez came into the game leading the majors with a .409 batting average with runners in scoring position.
"[Morales] pitched well," Gonzalez said. "We should have done a better job scoring runs."
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks is likely lost for the year after breaking a bone in his right hand. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game.
"He's our third baseman of the future," Gonzalez said. "He was off to a great year. We all have to pick up the slack."