BOSTON — The Red Sox were aggressive last season. They’ll be aggressive again this season.
It really didn’t take four regular-season games to figure that out, as their style is more about a specific mindset than anything else. The Red Sox have played aggressively in the early going this season, though, and Friday’s 6-2 home-opener loss to the Milwaukee Brewers reminded everyone of the occasional hiccup that can come with implementing such a full-throttle philosophy.
The first instance of the Red Sox’s aggressiveness hurting them Friday came in the second inning with Boston trailing 2-1. Grady Sizemore, who had just stolen third base on an aggressive play that panned out, attempted to tag up and score on Xander Bogaerts’ fly ball to medium-depth right field. Brewers right fielder Logan Schafer, whose earlier throwing error enabled Boston to score its first run, came up firing and nailed Sizemore at the plate.
“We felt like with his feet pretty much in a standstill position — even though it was a relatively shallow fly ball — we’re challenging (him).” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “No second-guessing the decision to send him there one bit. (Schafer) threw a strike from a couple hundred feet away.”
The play occurred early in the game, and Will Middlebrooks tied things up an inning later with a solo blast into the Green Monster seats. It still was a key point, though, as runs were at a premium in Friday’s contest.
The bigger instance of the Red Sox unsuccessfully pushing the envelope came with the score tied at 2 in the ninth inning. Scooter Gennett dropped down a bunt with Khris Davis on second base, and Boston pitcher Edward Mujica attempted to throw out the lead runner rather than take the sure out at first. The decision nearly paid off — it was a bang-bang play at third base — but Davis slid in safely ahead of Will Middlebrooks’ tag, thus paving the way for a four-run inning.
“Those things happen,” said Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who instructed Mujica to go to third with his throw. “We tried to be aggressive, and unfortunately it was a real close play and he was safe.
“(Gennett) bunted it a little bit hard,” Pierzynski continued. “The play’s in front of me and (Davis) didn’t get a really good jump, I didn’t think. I thought we had a chance. It was close and could have maybe gone either way.”
Playing aggressively always can go either way. Don’t expect the Red Sox to change their successful approach anytime soon, even though there inevitably will be instances, like Friday, when playing with their hallmark relentlessness comes back to haunt them.