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Thursday, September 19, 2013
More missed opportunities for Sox vs. O's

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com

David Ortiz
David Ortiz homered to put the Sox up early, but wasn't happy after grounding out to end the game.
BOSTON -- Following a 3-2 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday night, Red Sox manager John Farrell, and some of his players, talked about some missed opportunities. They had hit into three double plays and allowed the Orioles to rally from an early two-run deficit before stealing it in the ninth.

That whole mess paled in comparison to the following night, which resulted in more frustration for Boston. The Sox are backing into a postseason berth, and they can certainly pin plenty of blame on themselves.

"We gave ourselves plenty of opportunities," Farrell said Wednesday after a 5-3, 12-inning setback, echoing his thoughts from 24 hours earlier. "Men in scoring position, they would make a key pitch."

The Orioles made that key pitch four times to induce huge double plays in the second, third, 10th and 11th. It allowed them, for the second straight night, to erase an early 2-0 lead and hold off potential Red Sox rallies in the late innings. Boston left nine men on base Wednesday after stranding seven the night before.

What made it even more frustrating Wednesday was the fact that Baltimore did the complete opposite. The Orioles were held hitless through the first four innings before bunching three hits in the span of four batters in the fifth to plate the tying runs. And after Sox starter Jake Peavy got the first two outs of the sixth, Baltimore had three consecutive two-out hits to take a temporary 3-2 advantage.

Finally, in the decisive 12th-inning rally, the O's had three more hits in a span of five batters. Eight of their 10 hits came in the three frames in which they scored.

Boston, meanwhile, had seven hits to Baltimore's zero through the first three innings and only the two-run lead, which came on David Ortiz's two-run homer in the first, to show for it.

"It was a tough one; we grinded it out, just didn't get that big hit against [Wei-Yin] Chen and break it open," said Peavy, who quickly turned on himself. "I gotta do a better job of holding that lead, no other way to it. That was real close to seven eight scoreless, and I just let it get away from me a little bit there."

The Red Sox's only hit in seven chances with runners in scoring position was Ortiz's bomb with one out in the first. David Ross grounded into a double play to end the next inning, and in the third, Chen wiggled out of a monumental jam. Boston loaded the bases with no outs on three straight singles before Mike Napoli lined out to shortstop and Jonny Gomes grounded into a 1-2-3 twin killing.

Dustin Pedroia was stranded at third in the fifth, a leadoff single by Will Middlebrooks went for naught in the ninth and Ortiz followed a Shane Victorino base hit leading off the 10th by bouncing into an unconventional 6-5-3 DP.

Then came the 11th, when Boston played itself out of a potential game-winning run once again.

Mike Carp reached on an infield hit and Quintin Berry ran for him. Daniel Nava sacrificed Berry over, which allowed Baltimore to walk Middlebrooks and have Stephen Drew, who entered the night hitting .183 against left-handers, face O's southpaw T.J. McFarland.

Three pitches later Drew hit into the club's fourth double play, ending the last, great threat for the hosts.

Farrell said Berry was not in to steal a base. With a left-hander on the mound and the sturdy Matt Wieters behind the plate, it was not a time for such thievery, according to Farrell. Berry was simply a faster option for whatever lie ahead, which on a night like this turned out to be only a slow, painful walk back to the dugout.

"Most of the season we come through, and tonight we just didn't get it done," Nava said.

Boston has loads of opportunities to clinch a playoff spot, then the American League East and then the best record in the AL. But loads of them have already gone by the board against Baltimore.