Sunday, May 5, 2013
Sox hit bump in the road in Texas
By Randy Jennings, Special to ESPNBoston.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Red Sox experienced their first bump in the road this weekend in Texas.
Not a total surprise, because even though the Red Sox are off to one of the best starts in club history, they have had recent troubles against the Rangers.
The Red Sox completed a disappointing three days on Sunday by losing to Texas 4-3 on Adrian Beltre's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.
The Rangers swept the three-game series that matched two of the American League's division leaders. Now both teams share the same 20-11 record.
The theme in the quiet Red Sox clubhouse is that everything will be fine, especially with the team heading back home. The Red Sox host the Minnesota Twin on Monday for the first of a four-game set.
David Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 25 games with a two-run home run off Yu Darvish.
"We've just got to come with the same attitude tomorrow," said David Ortiz, who extended his hitting streak to 25 games. "It's going to happen. We play really well at home."
Jon Lester, Sunday's starter who left with a no-decision, agreed. "We've got guys in this clubhouse that have been through winning streaks, losing streaks and everything in between. We didn't play well on Friday, but it was a good clean game today."
Sox catcher David Ross agreed, saying, "If we play the way we did today the rest of the year, I'd be happy with that. We'd do fine."
Strategy backfires: Boston manager John Farrell said he wanted the matchup of a right-handed pitcher facing a right-handed batter when Texas' Lance Berkman, a switch-hitter, was intentionally walked to get to right-handed hitter Beltre.
It worked once, in the seventh inning. Koji Uehara retired Beltre on a comebacker to end that threat.
But in the ninth, Beltre lined a single over the head of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, scoring Elvis Andrus from second with the winning run.
Red Sox reliever Clayton Mortensen said he was trying to throw a slider down to Beltre in the ninth inning and just failed to get it down enough.
"It wasn't a terrible pitch," said Mortensen, now 0-2. "He took it the other way. It was a good piece of hitting."
Texas never led until Andrus touched the plate.
"They don't go away," said Farrell of the Rangers. "Things seem to unfold in this park."
Lester goes 6: Lester broke his six innings of work into two parts. In the first three innings, his pitch count was low and he faced only one batter over the minimum.
In the final three innings, Rangers hitters worked the count more and eventually erased a 3-1 Red Sox lead on Nelson Cruz's two-run home run to center.
"When you have to throw more pitches to a team like this, it makes it uncomfortable," Lester said. "It seemed like the Rangers were aggressive in the first three innings and more patient in the last three."
Lester departed after throwing 115 pitches. He said the home run to Cruz, which traveled 422 feet, came on a "middle up" pitch when he was trying to get the ball inside.
Darvish impresses: Record 14 strikeouts as Yu Darvish did on Sunday and you can count making an impression with the opponent.
That was the case in the Red Sox clubhouse.
"Obviously, he has a great arm," said Farrell. "There's a reason why he's got the strikeout rate that he does."
"What can I tell you, he's got good stuff," said Ortiz. "He throws pitches hard and soft for strikes. He's got good command of his slider. He threw me six different pitches and four of them he can throw for strikes."
On his two-run home run in the first, Ortiz said he wasn't looking for any particular pitch.
"I was reacting to the pitcher, that's all," he said.