The glorious celebration of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary was long over when Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine walked up the stairs to the interview room above the clubhouse to discuss a 6-2 loss Friday to the Yankees.
He answered questions for six minutes before reporters started to file out of the room. But Valentine didn’t move for about 45 seconds, staring down at the table he sat behind before sighing and rising to his feet.
Now 4-9 and losers of four straight, the Red Sox have scored more than three runs only five times and have given up six or more runs six times. Right now, they are a team that does nothing well.
Going back to last season, the Sox have lost 29 of their last 40 games. That’s too many games to be dismissed.
“Before the game was spectacular,’’ Valentine said, referring to the sight of more than 200 former players, coaches, and managers taking the field to waves of applause from the sellout crowd and strains of dramatic music. “It’s a downer now.’’
The fans had barely finished their group toast to Fenway when the first Yankees hitter, Derek Jeter, popped a ball up behind second base. The ever-trustworthy Dustin Pedroia set up to catch the ball but dropped it.
A wild pitch and a single from Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees their first run. Solo home runs by Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez (two), Rodriguez, and Russell Martin accounted for the other runs allowed by Clay Buchholz, who in 17 innings this season has allowed 17 earned runs.
“Those home runs, out of the windup, no one on, were perplexing,’’ Valentine said.
Valentine then defended Buchholz, saying the righthander is still trying to regain his form after missing much of last season. But a pitcher the Red Sox were counting on to help carry their rotation does not yet look up to the task.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova (3-0) cruised through six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He struck out five without a walk.
David Ortiz had a solo home run to left field in the second inning, the ball crashing into the top of the wall. It was initially ruled a double before a video review allowed Ortiz to continue around the bases with his second home run.
Mike Aviles had an RBI double in the fifth inning, the ball getting lost in the late-afternoon sun by Swisher in right and falling at his feet. The Red Sox were otherwise 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They had runners on base in every inning but the third against Nova and four relievers, but rarely threatened to score.
The Sox struck out or grounded out to end seven innings, six times with runners on base.
“We’ve got the talent. We just need to execute,’’ said Ortiz, who at .392 is one of the few Red Sox swinging the bat well. “You’re not going to spend the whole season just thinking about the talent that we have. We have to win games. We have to provide the opportunity to win games.
“I know that in everybody’s mind it’s the beginning of the season or whatever. But what’s it going to take, until July for us to start winning? We need to step up and do something different and make things happen.’’
Adrian Gonzalez expressed similar sentiments.
“We’re a good team. We’re just not playing good baseball. It’s frustrating the way we’re losing,’’ he said. “We have to pick it up and play better. I’m always big on playing the game right. We have to go out there and play the game right.’’
The Red Sox have their two least-experienced starters, Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard, going in the final two games of the series. This team proved last season that it could rebound from a slow start. But the memories of last September’s collapse still linger and cast doubt.
“We need to do all facets of the game better,’’ third baseman Kevin Youkilis said. “We’ve got to play the defense, we’ve got to pitch, and we’ve got to hit. We’ve got to put those together and if we don’t, we’re not going to win. We’ve got to come together as a group.’’
Some of the loudest cheers of the day were for former manager Terry Francona, one of the alumni who returned for the anniversary celebration.
By the end of the game, segments of the crowd were chanting, “We want Tito.’’
But it’s up to Valentine to figure out what to do. Injuries have altered the team he thought he would have, but the games go on.
“We’re working on getting it together,’’ Valentine said. “It’s still a very talented team, a good group of guys . . . I see guys battling the way they did the last couple of games. I just want to make sure they don’t get frustrated.’’