Before Jonny Gomes got on base three times in Tuesday night’s 10-7 loss against Texas, Red Sox leadoff hitters had a .273 on-base percentage. Among American League teams only the Angels and Orioles were lower.
Manager John Farrell knew there would be an adjustment needed after Jacoby Ellsbury fled to the Yankees via free agency, but he didn’t expect this sort of struggle.
“The one thing we prioritize is on-base and yet we’re still trying to generate that,” Farrell said. “We’re going to be in a situation where we’ll mix-and-match as best we can.”
The Sox put Gomes in the leadoff spot Tuesday against lefthander Martin Perez and he was 1 for 3 with two walks and a run scored. Gomes has hit leadoff twice this season, Grady Sizemore once, and Daniel Nava five times.
Nava is 3 for 20 hitting leadoff and 4 for 29 overall. He was out of the lineup Tuesday as Jackie Bradley Jr. remained in right field.
“I don’t think he’s changed his approach. At times he’s hit into a little tough luck,” Farrell said. “On Sunday you look up and he could have easily had three hits. He was on base three different times [Monday].
“Last year was not a fluke in terms of his ability to get on base. I think there’s been a tendency of late at times to try to lift the ball a little bit. That’s why you see the number of balls in the air there have been. At the same time it’s  at-bats and he’s trying to get into the flow of the season.”
The Red Sox do not have a prototypical leadoff hitter unless you count Dustin Pedroia, and Farrell would prefer to leave him hitting second.
The return of Shane Victorino from the disabled list, which should be later this month, will give Farrell another option against righthanders.
“We’re looking to take advantages of the strengths our current roster has to offer,” Farrell said. “We’re doing what we can.”
Gomes said the players understand the situation Farrell is in.
“You can’t have a revolving door in the middle of the lineup. But at leadoff guys can adjust,” Gomes said. “We’re a veteran team, we can figure it out.”
Gomes has hit leadoff only four times in his career.
“People say it’s not different but it’s different,” he said. “You feel like you need to see some pitches, see what the pitcher has. I remember watching Johnny Damon strike out on a 12-pitch at-bat or something like that and everybody in the dugout was high-fiving him.
“But at the same time, if you get a fastball you can handle first pitch, you should be aggressive. There’s a balance.”
Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre, who was the designated hitter Tuesday night, was 2 for 3 before leaving the game with a tight left quadriceps.
He will be sent back to Texas for an examination and will not be with the Rangers for the final game of the series.
Beltre has hit .311 with 201 extra-base hits and 201 RBIs over 449 games for Texas since leaving the Red Sox as a free agent following the 2010 season.
The Sox let Beltre go as part of an ill-fated strategy to sign Carl Crawford and trade for Adrian Gonzalez.
The game started at 6:10 p.m. an experiment by the Red Sox to see if an early start time will draw more fans early in the season. The Sox intended to play Monday’s game at 6:10 p.m. before ESPN picked it up and mandated a 7:10 start.
“We like earlier starting times in April and May on school nights because temperatures may be a few degrees warmer,” Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy said.
The Red Sox had some 6:10 starting times during the 2002 season, according to Kennedy, and are considering bringing that back for some early season games.
There were empty seats in the first inning but Fenway filled up considerably from there.
The crowd was announced as 34,142.
Less bang from Buch?
Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start Thursday night against the Yankees, his first appearance after giving up six runs on 13 hits over 4⅓ innings against the Brewers Saturday night.
Farrell said Buchholz has had a normal routine since his shaky start.
“It comes down to game execution,” the manager said. “We feel like he’s going to come to the mound with similar stuff that he had on Saturday night and it’s a matter of being more consistent with his location from pitch to pitch.”
Buchholz did not break 91 miles per hour with his fastball Saturday and averaged 89.7.
He averaged 91.9 m.p.h. last season and 92.2 in 2012.
A drop of 2.5 m.p.h. over less than two years would be significant for a 29-year-old pitcher.
But it also simply could be indicative of Buchholz needing to build further arm strength early in the season.
Farrell said Victorino (right hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (right calf) could start baseball activities later this week . . . The Sox are 15-30 against Texas since 2009, their worst record against any American League opponent in that time . . . Wondering why Koji Uehara came into a five-run game Monday? The closer started warming up in the eighth inning with the Sox leading by one run. Then they scored three runs in the bottom of the inning. “Dealing with Koji, once he gets hot he’s pretty adamant about getting in the game,” Farrell said. “I recognize a non-save situation in one game could take away from his availability on another day. Even in a four-run game, though, I think it’s shown over time there’s been consistency getting the closer in the game. If you get a guy on, he’s going to get up and get hot anyway.” . . . Akira Muto, the Japanese Consul General in Boston, will be at Fenway Park Wednesday afternoon to present the Red Sox with six cherry blossom trees that were planted on Yawkey Way and Van Ness Street. The Red Sox first received a cherry blossom tree from Japan in 2012 to commemorate Fenway’s 100th anniversary.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.
Correction: Because of an editing error, a photograph of members of the St. Ann Parish choir that accompanied this story in the print version of Wednesday’s sports section misstated the day the choir sang the National Anthem at a Red Sox game.