Red Sox Notes: Boston’s Struggles In Close Games A Cause For Concern

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BOSTON — The mark of any good baseball team is its ability to win all different types of games, from close contests to blowouts.

The Red Sox have done just fine this season in the latter category. The former? Not as much.

Boston lost another close one to the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday, rallying on two separate occasions before falling to a 9-8 loss. After this defeat and the team’s 4-2 loss to the Tigers on Monday, the Red Sox’s last five losses have been by two runs or fewer.

“We play the game and the situation that’s in front of us,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “Sometimes it doesn’t work in our favor. Sometimes you find yourself in a hole where you’ve got to battle back, which we do. I think that’s one of the traits of this lineup and offensive unit, is that we’ve got the capability of putting up multiple runs inside of a game, and that’s been the case on more than a few occasions.”

Unfortunately for Farrell and the Sox, their offense and pitching often haven’t matched up. When the bats responded with three multiple-run innings to tie the score at 8-8, the bullpen couldn’t hold on, as Robbie Ross Jr. walked home the go-ahead run with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.

“Definitely, the pitching will turn around,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “Sometimes, the hitting won’t be doing as good and the pitching will pick us up, so hopefully it’s one of those times that we just grind through.”

The Red Sox now have a losing record this season (21-22) in games decided by two runs or fewer. They’re an impressive 34-21 in all other contests, but if Boston is serious about being a playoff contender, it needs to figure out how to win the close ones.

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Let’s hit a few more notes from Red Sox-Tigers:

— Starting pitcher Steven Wright allowed a career-high eight runs in a rough night on the mound, and a trio of former Red Sox did a bulk of the damage.

Jose Iglesias went 2-for-4 with an RBI single and two runs scored, while Victor Martinez also tallied an RBI single. But Jarrod Saltalamacchia stole the show, coming out of nowhere to go 3-for-4 with a clutch two-out, two-RBI single in the fifth.

— Pedro Martinez had plenty to say about David Price before Tuesday’s game, but his best line came when he was asked if he really thinks good friend David Ortiz will retire after this season.

“It’s way too early to tell,” Martinez said. “The season is not over yet. But as far as the way he’s going, God willing, he continues to do that.

“I’ll be the first one on board saying, ‘No, you’re not leaving,’ and I’ll put a lock on the door.”

— Speaking of Ortiz, Big Papi blasted a three-run home run in the third inning and now has hit his last nine homers at Fenway Park. The designated hitter also grounded into a game-ending double play in the ninth while representing the tying run, however.

— Left fielders Blake Swihart (ankle) and Chris Young (hamstring) both are progressing in recoveries from their respective injuries, but neither is quite ready for a rehab stint, per Farrell.

Farrell noted the next seven to 10 days are “pivotal” for Swihart as he increases activities, while Young already has begun hitting and throwing and could go out on a rehab assignment when Boston returns from its upcoming 11-game road trip.

— The Toronto Blue Jays earned a wild walk-off win against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night, officially moving ahead of the Red Sox into second place in the American League East.

Boston is 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles, while Toronto is two games back.

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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