Red Sox’ Potent Offense Continues Strange Trend of Faltering With Runners on Base

Jacoby Ellsbury, J.P. ArencibiaBOSTON — The Red Sox don’t really have a problem producing baserunners. Once guys get on base, though, things tend to become awfully difficult.

The Red Sox missed out on a ton of scoring chances on Friday, yet it became a footnote in a 5-0 win because Jon Lester was almost perfect. Clay Buchholz wasn’t as perfect on Saturday, and the Sox’ futility with runners on base ultimately doomed them in a 3-2 loss.

Boston left nine men on base on Friday and finished 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox eventually broke through for four runs in the seventh inning, but Lester needed to be as lights-out as he was because he pitched most of the game with a one-run cushion. On Saturday, very little changed offensively, and the Sox found themselves playing catch-up for most of the afternoon. The Red Sox finished 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

What’s concerning for the Red Sox is that this isn’t a new issue. The Sox struggled to cash in on scoring chances throughout the Texas series, and now they’re once again searching for answers despite what should be a cakewalk of a series against the last-place Blue Jays.

“Just as of late when we haven’t been winning, we can’t seem to come up with that big knock,” Red Sox catcher David Ross said after Saturday’s game. “It’s just one of those things you’ve just got to be patient and really just keep battling. Guys are having good at-bats, it’s just one of those things we can’t seem to have that blooper fall.”

The Red Sox didn’t get on the scoreboard until the eighth inning on Saturday, even though they had at least one baserunner in each of the first three innings. In those three frames, they had five hits and a walk, yet Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle repeatedly escaped trouble and the Red Sox found themselves in a 2-0 hole.

“We create and continually create opportunities for ourselves, multiple times, multiple innings, and yeah there’s a little frustration there, but I can’t say it’s causing guys to come out of their approach,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “You’ve got to give credit where it’s due and Buehrle made a number of quality pitches with guys in scoring position.”

Certainly, Buehrle, who pitched seven solid innings in his best start of the year, deserves a lot of credit. But it’s just so strange to see a team with such a solid offensive approach fail to drive guys in.

Red Sox hitters see more pitches per plate appearance than any team in baseball, and they rank second in the majors in on-base percentage behind the offensively stacked Tigers. Yet Boston ranks 25th when it comes to leaving runners in scoring position per game (3.75) and 25th in team runners left on base per game (7.36)

Perhaps guys are pressing a bit with runners on, or perhaps it’s one of those strange anomalies that we’ll never really wrap our heads around. (Baseball is full of anomalies, after all.)

“That’s the major league season. It’s going to have ups and down,” Ross said. “You’re going to get some bloopers here and there and you’re going to get some homers. These guys come in and get consistent at-bats every day and that’s all you can ask for.”

Well, there is one thing you could ask for. Some extra production with runners on base would make life a whole lot easier, and perhaps even turn this rough stretch around.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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