DETROIT — As a prelude to one of their greatest redemption campaigns in franchise history, the Red Sox last spring ran a full-page newspaper ad. It was titled, “What’s Broken Can Be Fixed,’’ and the message was superimposed over a portrait of Dustin Pedroia looking as if someone had just stolen his favorite glove and bat.
By the end of Game 4 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night, a lot of guys in the Sox clubhouse looked as if they could have posed for that portrait.
They may not have lost their gloves. But after a 7-3 loss to the Tigers that evened the series at two games apiece, the Sox appeared as if they might need to issue baseball’s version of an Amber Alert to find the bats they had used to produce more runs this season than any team in baseball.
Consider the left side of the Sox infield. By the time third baseman Will Middlebrooks yielded to pinch hitter Mike Carp in the sixth inning of Game 4, he had struck out twice, making him 1 for 10 in the series with five strikeouts.
Stephen Drew, meanwhile, lasted longer in the game than Middlebrooks but contributed no more. With another hitless performance, Drew is now 1 for 13 with six strikeouts and a walk.
That’s a combined batting average for Middlebrooks and Drew of .087. Neither has scored or knocked in a run.
Their futility has increased the possibility that Sox manager John Farrell could insert rookie Xander Bogaerts in the lineup in Game 5.
“Haven’t made a decision on [Thursday’s] lineup, but given the way the left side of the infield [is batting], we’re struggling a little bit to get production out of that side,’’ Farrell said. “So it’s something that’s being considered, for sure.’’
The lack of production is not exclusive to Drew and Middlebrooks. Despite collecting 12 hits in Game 4, the Sox are batting .186 in the series. They have scored all of 10 runs, five of which came on David Ortiz’s potentially series-saving grand slam in Game 2 and Mike Napoli’s decisive solo home run in Game 3.
But even Ortiz has foundered otherwise at the plate, going hitless in 14 at-bats other than his home run.
Credit the Tigers pitching, Ortiz suggested.
“The way they’ve been pitching, they’ve taken it to a whole new level,’’ Ortiz said.
Jake Peavy’s subpar effort in Game 4 may have aggravated matters, as the Tigers surged to a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning.
“When they opened it up like that in the game that early, you’re kind of looking for trouble because the way those guys are pitching is not a joke,’’ Ortiz said.
Should the Sox shake up their lineup, as Tigers manager Jim Leyland did by moving Austin Jackson from the leadoff spot to the eighth slot?
“I’m not writing the lineup,’’ Ortiz said, smiling. “I don’t know.’’
Sox hitters have fanned 53 times in the four games, which is startling despite Boston batters striking out more this season than any teams but the scoring-challenged Astros, Twins, and Mariners.
The Sox showed signs of promise in Game 4 as Jacoby Ellsbury broke out of his 1-for-10 slump, going 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, and an RBI. Mike Napoli went 2 for 4 with a double and scored a run, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who entered the game going 1 for 8 in the series, managed two hits and an RBI.
“They’ve done a great job of keeping us from having those big innings,’’ Saltalamacchia said. “But we’re going to take the same approach. We’re trying to get to the starting pitcher, get some runs on the board, and get to the bullpen.’’
It would help if the Sox produced better with runners in scoring position. They went 2 for 16 in Game 4 and are 5 for 31 in the series.
They will start Game 5 facing Anibal Sanchez, who nearly no-hit them in the series opener. Will they fare better?
“Hopefully,’’ Ortiz said. “Wish me luck.’’