The Boston Red Sox fell back into an old habit Tuesday.
The Red Sox, whose offense has improved significantly of late, squandered several scoring opportunities en route to suffering a 7-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The defeat snapped Boston’s winning streak at five games.
“We created a number of opportunities through the first five (innings),” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the game. “I thought we did an outstanding job giving ourselves those opportunities and couldn’t cash in. Unfortunately, (starter) Jake (Peavy) is in quite a stretch here where he’s pitching with his back against the wall and is doing a damn good job.”
The Red Sox produced season highs in runs (14), hits (18) and home runs (four) in Monday’s series-opening rout. Boston received contributions from up and down the lineup in hands-down its best offensive performance of the season. Runs were much harder to come by Tuesday, though, as the Red Sox were unable to deliver timely hits — a fault that was at the heart of Boston’s first-half struggles.
The first real missed opportunity Tuesday occurred in the fourth inning. David Ortiz doubled, Jonny Gomes got hit by a pitch and Shane Victorino singled to load the bases for Stephen Drew. Drew, who has swung the bat better recently, couldn’t come through. He lifted a lazy fly ball to shallow left-center field that Melky Cabrera caught on the run.
The Red Sox left two more on base in the fifth and sixth innings. Mike Napoli and Gomes led off the sixth with back-to-back singles, but Farrell opted not to bunt with Victorino batting and the Red Sox trailing 1-0. Victorino ended up grounding into a 6-4-3 double play that changed the complexion of the inning. J.A. Happ struck out Drew to finish off the escape.
The Red Sox went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. Boston again couldn’t muster up any run support for Peavy, who imploded in the sixth inning after a very solid first five frames. Jose Reyes and Dioner Navarro both went deep in the sixth as Toronto opened up a 4-0 lead.
“I pulled a ball to (Reyes), I pulled a ball to Navarro that they hit out of the ballpark,” Peavy said. “Just trying to do too much there instead of making pitches, knowing I probably couldn’t give up any more. Just trying to be too fine and overthrowing balls and not throwing them where they need to be.”
The Red Sox’s offense showed some punch in the ninth inning. Drew drilled a two-run homer and Boston finished with 11 hits. The hole was too deep, though, and the Red Sox will arrive at the yard Wednesday looking to start a new winning streak.
“Show up tomorrow and try to win,” Pedroia said after Tuesday’s loss. “You’ve got to turn the page as fast as you can and play winning baseball.”
Things still are looking up for the Red Sox, who have won eight of their last 10 games. But the missed chances — the same missed chances that proved disastrous in the first half — certainly evoked some painful memories for at least one night.