Saturday, May 11, 2013
Sox struggling in RISP situations
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- The Red Sox were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. That included three straight outs with the tying run on second base to end the game, the last being a bleeder to the mound on a first-pitch flail by Jacoby Ellsbury.
Jonny Gomes' frustration on an 0-for-4 day embodied Boston's lack of timely hitting.
Ellsbury ripped the helmet from his head before he reached first base, a sign of frustration one might expect from a group of guys who are not getting the big hits when they need them.
The Sox are hitting .183 (13-for-71) with runners in scoring position during their current 2-7 swoon, which has seen them score fewer than three runs six times. For a team that looked quite potent through much of April, it represents a departure from the norm. At least it does in the box score. Manager John Farrell says he has yet to see the slump manifest itself into anything he needs to worry about.
"We create and continually create opportunities for ourselves, multiple times in multiple innings, and yeah, there's a little frustration there but I can't say it is causing guys to come out of their approach," Farrell said. "Have to give credit where it's due, and [Toronto starter Mark Buehrle] made a number of quality pitches with guys in scoring position."
The stick-with-what-works mentality begins with the manager, who chose not to have Drew bunt Middlebrooks over in order to get the tying run to third with fewer than two outs. With guys who have had success, Farrell wants to go with what works, or at least has worked in the recent past.
"At a minimum I didn't want to take the bat out of his hands," Farrell said of Drew. "He's been driving runs in this month. He's in a pretty good place. Even if he pulls the ball on the ground, it's going to serve the same purpose to move a runner up, over, at a minimum. ... I felt with the three left-handers coming, I thought we'd take three shots at it."
Drew was jammed and lofted a soft liner to short. Nava popped out to left. Ellsbury's tapper was an easy out for Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen.
Over the course of a long season, these things balance out. On Saturday, and for much of May, the Red Sox's attack in clutch situations has been weighed down.