The late-game rallies won't carry the Red Sox forever. Over the entire series against Toronto — as well as the final game in Detroit — Boston has primarily delivered offensive production in the ninth.
It worked in Monday's matchup, when the Red Sox countered to score three runs off closer Sergio Santos to capture a victory. Boston was primed for another comeback on Wednesday in the ninth, but Santos shut the door this time to preserve the 3-1 win.
"Our pitchers pitched good, we didn't produce for them," David Ortiz told reporters in Toronto. "To win games, it's a combination of good pitching and good hitting."
After taking the loss, Jon Lester didn't sugarcoat the Red Sox' early woes, either, saying the club wasn't playing to its potential.
One of the sluggers who is enduring a subpar start is Kevin Youkilis. To be fair, the third baseman is altering his stance with hitting coach Dave Magadan, which explains the 2-for-20 start at the plate. But Youkilis and his teammates also ran into a sizzling pitcher in Ricky Romero, who retired 17 straight batters in the game.
"You can't look back," Youkilis said. "Sometimes a guy's got good stuff. I didn't get the job done and that's what I'm here to do. He got us out and you got to tip your cap to him. We haven't played the best ball, we're going to go to Fenway and play the best we can."
The penchant for late rallies isn't by design, obviously. But it has developed into a troubling pattern for the team over the past week. With the Rays, Rangers and Yankees ahead –– all stacked with pitching –– the road will grow tougher.
Fortunately for select players, they've overcome these blemishes. Last season, Ellsbury opened the season in a 3-for-21 slump, but wound up shattering his career numbers and vaulting into the MVP discussion.
With that precedent in mind, Ellsbury's current 3-for-23 stretch to start the year isn't catastrophic. But a change in scenery at Fenway Park may be the dose of medicine to revive the offense as a whole.
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