BOSTON — As they close in on the quarter pole of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the Red Sox remain a work in progress.
Boston has proven it can swing the bat. It’s proven it can pitch. Doing both simultaneously? That’s been the issue for the Sox, who own a 19-21 record with 40 games in the books after Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Lately, hitting — or, rather, getting hits — has been the issue.
The Red Sox smacked the ball all over Fenway Park on Wednesday, roping line drive after line drive against first-time Rangers starter Phil Klein. That should be the recipe for offensive success. Instead, it produced little more than a series of loud outs.
“There were a number of times where you see a guy square a ball up, and someone’s either running something down in the gap or someone’s standing right there,” manager John Farrell said. “Mookie (Betts) — five hard-hit balls tonight. Hanley (Ramirez) with a couple of lineouts to end a couple of threats. (Xander Bogaerts) with a two-out line drive to center field. We’re getting a number of good at-bats. The ball’s just not falling right now.”
It rarely has of late for the Red Sox, who have been held to two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. That cold spell has, unfortunately for Farrell’s club, perfectly coincided with the sudden revival of Boston’s pitching staff.
Still, the mood in the Red Sox’s clubhouse was upbeat following the team’s latest missed opportunity.
“There’s no frustration,” first baseman Mike Napoli said. “We’re hitting balls hard. It’s not like we’re up there and we’re lost. So, we’ve just got to keep going.”
Napoli actually has enjoyed a positive series at the plate so far, going 4-for-6 in the two games after carrying a .162 average into Tuesday.
“I don’t think we’re necessarily disappointed,” added Betts, whose two hits Wednesday followed three straight flyouts to the warning track. “We’re just playing a game. It’s still early. We have a lot of season left. I know some balls will start dropping, and we’ll get a couple more wins, and we’ll talk when we get there.”
Even starter Joe Kelly, who hasn’t won since April 11 despite allowing two or fewer runs in each of his last two outings, is convinced better days are ahead.
“We haven’t played as well as we’re capable of,” said Kelly, who took the loss Wednesday, “(but) we’re not putting too much pressure on ourselves. We’re just going to go out there and keep playing and grinding away, and eventually it will all click together.”
Producing with runners on base has been the greatest struggle for the Red Sox of late. They have left 12 men on in consecutive games and gone an ugly 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position over that span.
The 22 hits in two nights has been good. The five total runs? Not so much.
But since looking on the bright side seemed to be the theme of Wednesday, a peek at the American League East standings reveals that things really could be a whole lot worse.
The Red Sox, in what has been what everyone would consider a disappointing season thus far, sit 2 1/2 games out of first place.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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