BOSTON — One of the Red Sox’ most redeeming qualities this season has been their aggressiveness. There’s a point where you become too aggressive, though, and Boston discovered that point Saturday.
The Red Sox, who pride themselves on being relentless in everything they do, made three costly mistakes on the basepaths, and it allowed the Yankees to secure a 5-2 victory. Obviously, the Red Sox would like to minimize the number of times that they beat themselves this season, but Saturday’s game serves as a reminder of the pitfalls associated with an unyielding mentality.
“It’s a fine line,” John Farrell said of being aggressive versus being overaggressive. “Game situation is gonna dictate most of it, if not all of it. It worked against us a couple of times today.”
The first baserunning blunder came in the first inning, and it really set the tempo for the rest of the contest. David Ortiz lined a single into left field with Daniel Nava on second. Nava, who was waved in by third base coach Brian Butterfield, stumbled a bit while rounding third base, and Vernon Wells gunned him down by a mile. Nava probably would have been out at the plate anyway, but the stumble allowed Wells to get away with a less-than-perfect throw.
The second gaffe came in the fifth inning, and it killed the momentum that Boston began to establish. Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes started the frame with back-to-back singles, and they each moved up 90 feet when Stephen Drew grounded out to first base for the second out of the inning. Hiroki Kuroda then fired a slider in the dirt that got away from Yankees catcher Chris Stewart. Carp attempted to score from third base, but Stewart tracked down the wild pitch and fired to Kuroda, who was covering home, to record the inning’s final out. The Red Sox, who had fallen behind, 1-0, in the top half of the inning, threw away a chance to cash in with two runners in scoring position.
“We had some opportunities and we didn’t run the bases that well today — myself included — and it cost us the ballgame,” Carp said. “[John] Lackey came out and did a good job keeping it close, and Kuroda did his thing. He’s been pretty dominant all year and he kept it rolling today.”
And finally, the third slip-up, which again involved Nava, came in the eighth inning after the Red Sox had once again established some momentum via a two-run seventh inning. Dustin Pedroia hit a popup behind the plate, and Stewart ditched his mask and raced back toward the screen. The Yankees backstop leaned over into the stands and made a fantastic play. Nava, looking to take advantage of Stewart’s off-balance grab, tagged up and headed for second. It was a fruitless effort.
“In that eighth inning, that was overaggressiveness on [Nava’s] part,” Farrell said. “He sees Stewart go into the stands, makes a catch, he regroups quickly, obviously, and makes a strong throw to second base, but down two [runs] with David [Ortiz] on deck, again, overaggressiveness on that part.”
Without Boston’s baserunning mishaps, Saturday’s result may have been different. Don’t expect the Red Sox to change their approach, though, as they understand that an aggressive style is still very much their forte.
“We run the bases well,” Carp said. “We’ve done a good job all year, moving guys, shuffling, first to third and scoring on base hits from second. It’s just one of those things, it happens and you don’t want it to happen very often. You just go back out there tomorrow and get after it.”
The Red Sox have lived on their aggressiveness all season. On Saturday, they died by it.